Pentagon hired contractor to advise on collecting information on
churches, mosques, other U.S. sites
By Jonathan S. Landay
Knight Ridder Newspapers
-- -- WASHINGTON - A Pentagon
intelligence agency that kept files on American anti-war
activists hired one of the contractors who bribed former Rep.
Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., to help it collect data on
houses of worship, schools, power plants and other locations in
the United States.
MZM Inc., headed by Mitchell Wade, also received three contracts
totaling more than $250,000 to provide unspecified "intelligence
services" to the White House, according to documents obtained by
Knight Ridder. The White House didn't respond to an inquiry
about what those intelligence services entailed.
MZM's Pentagon and White House deals were part of tens of
millions of dollars in federal government business that Wade's
company attracted beginning in 2002.
MZM and Wade, who pleaded guilty last month to bribing
Cunningham and unnamed Defense Department officials to steer
work to his firm, are the focus of ongoing probes by Pentagon
and Department of Justice investigators.
In February 2003, MZM won a two-month contract worth $503,144.70
to provide technical support to the Pentagon's Joint
Counter-Intelligence Field Activity, or CIFA. The top-secret
agency was created five months earlier primarily to protect U.S.
defense personnel and facilities from foreign terrorists.
The job involved advising CIFA on selecting software and
technology designed to ferret out commercial and government data
that could be used in what's called a Geospatial Information
System. A GIS system inserts information about geographic
locations, such as buildings, into digital maps produced from
According to a "statement of work," the data that CIFA was
interested in obtaining included "maps, street addresses, lines
of communication, critical infrastructure elements, demographic
and other pertinent sources that would support geocoding and
Geocoding involves assigning latitudes and longitudes to
locations, such as street addresses, so they can be displayed as
points on maps. Such tools increasingly are being used by U.S.
corporations and law enforcement agencies.
MZM was to "assist the government in identifying and procuring
data" on maps, as well as "airports, ports, dams,
churches/mosques/synagogues, schools (and) power plants," said
the statement of work.
"In many cases, the government already owns such data, and for
reasons of economy, government-owned data is preferred," said
the statement. It isn't clear why U.S. intelligence agencies
couldn't do the work themselves.
Navy Cmdr. Gregory Hicks, a Pentagon spokesman, said MZM began
working on the project in October 2002, when the agency was
Its job was to help the agency integrate technology into its
"information architecture to help CIFA use available (satellite)
imagery, which is produced legally by other commercial and
government agencies," Hicks said.
"GIS software ... is designed to allow integration of geographic
and imagery data with threat information to provide complex
analytic products," he said. "Not knowing the location of key
infrastructure and points of interest, such as bridges, chemical
plants, schools, parks, and even religious facilities, as they
relate to threat information, could significantly affect the
accuracy of such analysis and plans and lead to disastrous
He was unable to discuss further details of CIFA's dealings with
MZM, citing the ongoing investigations into Wade's dealings with
CIFA recently has come under fire following disclosures that it
maintained information on individuals and groups involved in
peaceful anti-war protests at defense facilities and recruiting
The information was stored in a database that was supposed to be
reserved for reports related to potential foreign terrorist
In a March 8 letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a senior
Pentagon official said that a review of the Cornerstone database
had identified 186 "protest-related reports" containing the
names of 43 people that were mistakenly retained in the
"These reports have since been removed from the Cornerstone
database and refresher training on intelligence oversight and
database management is being given to all CI
(counter-intelligence) and intelligence personnel," said the
letter from Robert W. Rogalski, an acting deputy undersecretary
The disclosure that CIFA was storing information on anti-war
activities added to concerns that the Bush administration may
have used its war on terrorism to give government agencies
expanded power to monitor Americans' finances, associations,
travel and other activities.
The administration's domestic eavesdropping program and FBI
monitoring of environmental, animal rights and anti-war groups
have also fueled such fears. The administration contends that
its programs are legal and insists that they're designed to
ensure civil liberties while protecting national security.
A Washington Post story last year contained a brief reference to
the White House contracts in a report on the company's dealings
with the Pentagon.
Wade, who faces up to 20 years in prison, was one of four men
charged in the Cunningham case. Cunningham, who resigned from
Congress in November after serving for 15 years, was sentenced
to eight years and four months in prison earlier this month.
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