The Pentagon: TALON Program Scrapped
A controversial Pentagon surveillance program has been scrapped. The five-year-old system, whose acronym stands for Threat and Local Observation Notices, was established by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to gather and assess possible threats to the U.S. military and civilian workers at military bases domestically and overseas. TALON came under increasing presssure after the names of non-violent groups like the Quakers were discovered in the database.
Information paper on TALON available here.
A CIA internal report was released after sustained pressure from Congress. The report’s litany of failure is impressive: CIA director George Tenet failed to follow through on his 1998 declaration of war against al-Qaeda. The CIA failed to make a strategic plan to fight terror. It failed to shift resources or use them effectively. It was too dependent on foreign intelligence services. It failed to penetrate al-Qaeda. Analysts failed to detect and understand critical pieces of intelligence it was collecting. The CIA, FBI, and NSA failed to cooperate and share information.
You can read the Executive Summary here.
American intelligence officials interviewed by NEWSWEEK ruefully agree that the hunt to find bin Laden has been more a game of chance than good or “actionable” intelligence. Since bin Laden slipped away from Tora Bora in December 2001, U.S. intelligence has never had better than a 50-50 certainty about his whereabouts. “There hasn’t been a serious lead on Osama bin Laden since early 2002,” says Bruce Riedel, who recently retired as a South Asia expert at the CIA. “What we’re doing now is shooting in the dark in outer space. The chances of hitting anything are zero.”