US kills controversial anti-terror database

Long criticized for keeping track of regular everyday citizens, the government’s anti-terror database will officially close Sept. 17.   The Threat and Local Observation Notices or TALON, was established in 2002 by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz as a way to collect and evaluate information about possible threats to U.S. servicemembers and defense civilians all over the world.  Congress and others protested its apparent use as an unauthorized citizen tracking database.  The TALON system came under fire in 2005 for improperly storing information about some civilian individuals and non-government-affiliated groups on its database.  The Air Force developed TALON, or the Threat and Local Observation Notice system in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a way to gather data on possible terrorist threats.   Anti-war groups and other organizations, protested after it was revealed last year that the military had monitored anti-war activities, organizations and individuals who attended peace rallies. The Defense Department conducted a four-point review of the system in December 2005 and, as a result, purged a large amount of information that was deemed unnecessary from the database, the DoD said in a release. The Defense Department Inspector General reviewed TALON, and in a report dated June 27, 2007, found that the program legally gathered and maintained information on individuals and organizations.  It is being closed because reporting to the system had declined significantly, and it was determined to no longer be of analytical value, said Army Col. Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman said I a release.  The announcement was not unexpected as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made it clear in April he wanted to change the Pentagon's intelligence gathering operations and said TALON would likely be shut down. The department is working to develop a new reporting system to replace TALON, but in the interim, all information concerning force protection threats will go to the FBI's Guardian reporting system.

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