[Marxism] Spying on students

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jan 19 09:00:22 MST 2006


http://chronicle.com/daily/2006/01/2006011901n.htm

Today's News

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Antiwar Protests on 8 Campuses Appear on Pentagon List of 'Threats' to 
National Security

By KELLY FIELD

Washington

Antiwar protests at eight colleges have made a Pentagon watch list of 
"suspicious incidents."

The 400-page list, which was obtained by NBC News, includes information on 
1,500 "threats" to national security that occurred over a recent 10-month 
period, and characterizes them as either "credible" or "not credible."

The campus protests, all of which were aimed at military recruiters, 
occurred at New York University (twice), the State University of New York 
at Albany (twice), Southern Connecticut State University, City College of 
the City University of New York, the University of California campuses at 
Berkeley and at Santa Cruz, an unspecified campus of the University of 
Wisconsin, and "a New Jersey university." Only one of the events, the 
protest at Santa Cruz, was cited as a "credible threat."

Snehal A. Shingavi, a Ph.D. candidate in English who participated in the 
Berkeley protest, said he was surprised to learn that his actions were 
considered a threat. The demonstration drew only 20 students, he said, and 
was, by protest standards, quite tame.

"It just shows how far off base the Department of Defense is with respect 
to what are genuine threats," said Mr. Shingavi, a member of Berkeley's 
Stop the War Coalition. "That student activists protesting war are seen as 
a threat to national security is patently laughable."

Kermit L. Hall, president of SUNY-Albany and a constitutional scholar, said 
he was "disappointed" that the Defense Department had not at least notified 
the university that a protest on its campus was on the list. The failure to 
do so, he said, shows "no regard for our independence or autonomy as a 
higher-education institution."

A Pentagon spokesman denied reports that the department was spying on 
college students, but confirmed that the department maintains a database of 
"unfiltered" threat information, known as Talon.

Run by a Pentagon office called Counterintelligence Field Activity, the 
database contains "dots" of information provided by law-enforcement, 
intelligence, and security agencies and from "concerned citizens," the 
spokesman said. "The idea is that a trained analyst can look at the threat 
and see, Is it verifiable? Is it connectable?, so we can connect the dots 
before the next major attack occurs."

To at least one former Army intelligence officer, however, the Defense 
Department's actions look like history repeating itself. Christopher H. 
Pyle, a politics professor at Mount Holyoke College who blew the whistle on 
the Defense Department for monitoring antiwar and civil-rights protests 
during the 1960s, said students have been asking him what risks they take 
in protesting.

"I think this could inhibit people in their exercise of their protest 
rights," he said.

Several members of Congress have written to Secretary of Defense Donald H. 
Rumsfeld to voice their concerns about the database.

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