ACLU sues Pentagon over database on war protesters

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday demanding more information about a Defense Department database that collected information on anti-war groups and U.S. citizens.

The lawsuit asks that the Defense Department turn over records it collected in its TALON database, a system developed by the Air Force in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks as a way to collect information about possible terrorist threats.

Anti-war groups and other organizations, including a Quaker group — the American Friends Service Committee — protested after it became public that the military had monitored anti-war activities, organizations and individuals who attended peace rallies. The lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia.

Defense Department spokesman Cmdr. Greg Hicks said the Pentagon would not comment on a pending lawsuit.

Pentagon officials did an internal review of TALON — or the Threat and Local Observation Notice — and concluded that it was an important tool in counterterrorism investigations. The review also found that as many 260 reports were improperly collected or kept in the system.

The lawsuit argues that the organizations and individuals monitored have a right to know what information the military has collected about them.