DOD to ACLU: We surrender.

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

It might seem hard to believe, but it is true. The Department of Defense (DOD) considers protests an example of "low-level terrorism," at least according to an exam DOD employees were required to take this year. You would have thought that the Pentagon learned its lesson after its nationwide surveillance program targeting peace activists, called TALON, was exposed in 2005 and roundly condemned. The program and the secretive Pentagon unit that ran it, the Counterintelligence Field Activity Agency (CIFA), were both shuttered in 2007. Apparently it is easier to kill a program than change an attitude.

According to a whistleblower that came to the ACLU, a multiple choice question on the 2009 DOD Anti-terrorism Awareness training exam asked which of the following was an example of low-level terrorism:

  • Attacking the Pentagon
  • Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)
  • Hate crimes against racial groups
  • Protests

The right answer is: "protests."

The ACLU fired off a letter to Gail McGinn, Acting Under-Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, demanding that the materials be corrected immediately. Yesterday the DOD responded in an interview with, admitting the question was on the test that more than 1,500 department employees took. A Pentagon spokesman was quoted stating what should have been obvious:

"They should have made it clearer there's a clear difference between illegal violent demonstrations and peaceful, constitutionally protected protests," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les Melnyk said on Thursday.

The DOD agreed to remove the question from the test and to send an e-mail to each employee that took it "explaining the error and the distinction between lawful protests and unlawful violent protests."

We are happy that the Pentagon is removing the test question, the fact that this mistake was even made shows a continuing lack of sensitivity to the important role that free speech plays in our society. In addition to anti-terrorism training, there seems to be a need for training on basic constitutional values at the Pentagon as well.

We also applaud the bravery of the whistleblower that brought this insult to constitutional values to light, which only highlights the need for Congress to pass legislation this year that provides real protection for federal employees who report waste, fraud, abuse or misconduct within the government. Tell your Senator you want to protect the workforce that is charged with protecting us all by granting all federal employees full and independent due process rights when they blow the whistle or refuse to violate the law, enforced through jury trials in federal court once administrative measures are exhausted, and "full circuit" review.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post had incorrectly linked to our letter to the DOD twice. The correct link to has been added.

View comments (11)
Read the Terms of Use


How Orwellian,protest is terrorism while bombing innocent populations is patriotism.
Furthermore even from the perspective
of the war mongers this is a waste of time since the so called peace movement
hasn't done squat to really resist this war of revenge.


They would consider the Founding Fathers terrorists because anybody that fights against tyranny is a terrorist. Is this not the same country where Patrick Henry gave the "Give Me Liberty or Give me Death" speech? Was Patrick Henry advocating terrorism?


It's so much worse than most people think. As Judge Anthony Napolitano said, we're(largely) a "nation of sheep." God help us.


LOL. Well ACLU is not anything about founding fathers. They are racists themselves. ACLU is all about fighting for rights of criminals whom break the law: illegal aliens, muslim terrorists. ACLU is nothing about citizen rights. They detest USA and the constitution. To mention a post about ACLU with founding fathers is disgraceful.


wow. Makes you admire the Iranians. I think Americans clearly believe this drivel. I did not march against the illegal takeover of our government in 2000 by the BUSH crime syndicate for fear of being thrown in a hole somewhere without contact of an attorney. Just in case you are wondering. Obama has not withdrawn this choice of executive power. You may still just "disappear" for the safety of america, no attorney, no calls home, just a cuddly hole in Syria. You bet your sweet golfballs I am not going to demonstrate against this "democratic" government. And when we don't demonstrate we must be happy about what our government is doing. Right?


Wrong statement for the wrong issue but that's okay.

Today there was a recreational celebration in a park attached to our library.

Guess who was observed sitting in the parking lot conducting surveillance?

The Department of Homeland Security. A pastor approached him and gave him his business card, invited him over, and told him that he was available if he wanted to talk.

Our country has become ridiculous in its attempt to find work for a plethora of government agencies that do not have enough to do.

I say sue the TSA and continue to do whatever is necessary to return this country to the home of the free.....


I echo "Kafka's" thoughts -- something is seriously wrong. Let's push back and reclaim our freedom -- in a peaceful manner, I might add, lest my statement be misconstrued by the reactive.

"The enemy is us." Those wishing to destroy this country don't have to do anything but sit back and watch us destroy ourselves. We're doing a fine job of it.


Joey, you are the racists. You clearly demonstrate your racism in your post - "illegal aliens" and "muslim terrorist." You think you'll never be tortured and detained because you falsly believe that the ones behind the curtain share in your racism. No, they don't. They are simply using your racism against you, allowing you to sit back and do nothing. Just wait until it's YOU they go after, by that time they'll be no one to stand up for you.


This morning June 25th 2009 on the news, there was an Iranian Ambassador from Mexico (or Brazil... I'm not sure) who said that the violent protestors in Iran would be considered as terrorists.
The news anchor had a smirk and a sarcastic comment on this.
So if you do it, it's dictatorship, if we do it, it's patriotism?
Smacks of double standards, I say...

eric dexter

I have a collection of intresting music related sites pre-2001 and magazines that have 911 roleplayed. (terrorist bass for screenshot) you can find more in jeskola buzz machines. I am having trouble with an abusive wiretap that is harrasing me about my finances, including trying to time the abuse to certain financial statements that have come through the mail.. Is there a way to get rid of the jackass I am having trouble with??


Stay Informed