A peaceful anti-war protest conducted April 30, 2005, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was incorrectly listed in a Defense Department intelligence database as a potential terrorist threat, and the problems with the database corrected, a DoD spokesman said Thursday.
DoD maintains a database known as Threat and Local Observation Notice, or TALON, to collect reports of potential terrorist activity or force protection issues at military installations and elsewhere. After NBC News in December revealed the existence of the database, and a large number of items which seemed to have no connection to terrorism or force protection, DoD announced it would clean up the database and provide better training on what should and should not be included.
One of the junk reports in the database involved the Broward Anti-War Coalition, a group of anti-war protesters who held signs and passed out literature at the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show on April 30, 2005. The American Civil Liberties Union obtained the report (PDF) from a Freedom of Information Act request and released it Thursday.
“The Broward Anti-War Coalition [BAWC], with support from other local groups, is planning to conduct a large-scale protest at the Fort Lauderdale Air & Sea show,” the report said.
“BAWC plans to counter military recruitment and the ‘pro-war’ message with ‘guerrilla theater and other forms of subversive propaganda,'” it said.
Peter Ackerman, a member of the coalition who organized the protest last year for Fort Lauderdale Friends, a Quaker group, said the protest drew 30 people, who cooperated fully with police regarding where to stage the demonstration.
The most outrageous thing protesters did? They passed out pamphlets about how to be a conscientious objector to military recruiters, Ackerman said. — Miami Herald
Maj. Patrick Ryder, spokesman for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, told the Miami Herald that the problems which led to the event being incorrectly added to the TALON database have since been corrected.
A March 30 DoD memo said that 260, or nearly two percent, of the 13,000 entries in the database had been inappropriately added to the database or wrongly retained. Guidelines for the TALON database require items found not to be a threat to military assets or personnel to be removed from the database within 90 days.