Senator wants answers on Pentagon spying


    Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday asked for answers on an obscure
    Pentagon agency that included reports on student anti-war protests and
    other peaceful civilian demonstrations in a database meant to detect
    terrorist activities.

    “Under what circumstances can peaceful
    protests at universities or by anti-war groups be monitored?”
    Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H.
    Rumsfeld.

    “What authorities, and under what regulations, do
    military counterintelligence units have to conduct investigations on
    U.S. persons?” she wrote.

    At issue is a classified database of
    information about suspicious people and activity inside the United
    States that’s maintained by a three-year-old Pentagon agency called the
    Counterintelligence Field Activity, whose size and budget also are
    classified.

    The database, which a Pentagon fact sheet says is
    meant to capture information “indicative of possible terrorist
    pre-attack activity,” came to light a month ago when NBC News obtained
    details on its contents. The Pentagon acknowledged including
    information on anti-war activities and other meetings that should have
    been removed.

    The Pentagon announced a review of the program, and
    Feinstein’s office has been told that all inappropriate records have
    now been removed.

    Among the reports until recently maintained in
    the database was one on an April protest at the University of
    California, Santa Cruz, by UCSC Students Against the War, Feinstein
    said Pentagon officials have confirmed to her staff.

    Pentagon
    spokesman Cmdr. Greg Hicks said Thursday the review was ongoing. He
    said he had not seen Feinstein’s letter but that Rumsfeld would respond
    to it after reviewing it.