The Pentagon is expected to close an intelligence office that has drawn fire from lawmakers and civil liberties groups who charge that it was part of an effort by the Defense Department to expand into domestic spying, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The move, government officials told the Times, is part of a broad effort under Defense Secretary Robert Gates to review an intelligence architecture built by his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld.
The intelligence unit, called the Counterintelligence Field Activity office, was created by Rumsfeld after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as part of an effort to counter the operations of foreign intelligence services and terror groups inside the United States and abroad, the Times noted.
Yet the office, whose size and budget is classified, came under fierce criticism in 2005 after it was disclosed that it was managing a database that included information about anti-war protests planned at churches, schools and Quaker meeting halls, the paper reported.
According to the Times, the Pentagon’s senior intelligence official, James Clapper, has recommended to Gates that the counterintelligence field office be dismantled and that some of its operations be placed under the authority of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Pentagon officials said Gates had yet to approve the recommendation, the Times wrote.