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DOD review of terrorist database shows data retained by mistake

[JURIST] The US Department of Defense [official website] said Thursday that a review of one of the government's national security databases, the Threat and Local Observation Notice system or TALON program [Wired report], uncovered approximately 260 improper entries into the system. The database serves as a reporting system for possible threats by international terrorists to Pentagon employees or facilities, and an investigation into the system's contents was launched [JURIST report; press release] in December after reports revealed that it included information on US peace activists who posed no real security threat. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the 260 incorrect entries amounted to less than two percent of the 13,000 total database entries and denied that the TALON program is a form of domestic spying [JURIST news archive] by the US government. Whitman said that the review has also shown the value of the database and according to a March 2006 memo [PDF text] from Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, TALON "has been productive. It has detected international terrorist interest in specific military bases and has led to and supported counterterrorism investigations."

The Pentagon said it will begin oversight reviews of the TALON system, including appointing supervisors to review any material scheduled for entry to ensure it is a proper submission. The entries into the database are made by DOD civilian and military personnel who witness suspicious activities. Reuters has more.

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