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Defense Department to Close Talon System

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2007 – The Defense Department announced today that it will close the Talon intelligence reporting system Sept. 17 and maintain a record copy of the collected data in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements. 

Talon was established in 2002 by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz as a way to collect and evaluate information about possible threats to U.S. servicemembers and defense civilians at stateside and overseas military installations. It is being closed because reporting to the system had declined significantly, and it was determined to no longer be of analytical value, said Army Col. Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman.

The department is working to develop a new reporting system to replace Talon, but in the interim, all information concerning force protection threats will go to the FBI’s Guardian reporting system, Keck said.

“No one should think that we’re no longer looking at force protection and making sure that information that law enforcement people, security people get reported is moving up some way to be evaluated so that we take force protection precautions and evaluate if there’s a threat or not,” Keck said. “That’s still certainly happening.”

The Talon system came under fire in 2005 for improperly storing information about some civilian individuals and non-government-affiliated groups on its database. The Defense Department conducted a four-point review of the system in December 2005 and, as a result, purged a large amount of information that was deemed unnecessary from the database.

The Defense Department Inspector General reviewed Talon, and in a report dated June 27, 2007, found that the program legally gathered and maintained information on individuals and organizations. However, the report found that the department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity maintained Talon reports without determining whether the information should be retained for law enforcement and force protection purposes.

Keck said the department will evaluate possible future reporting systems, but that there is no timeline to establish a new system. It may be determined that the Guardian system or another reporting system already in place serves the needs of the Defense Department, he said.

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