Video: Pentagon admits spying errors

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updated 12/15/2005 8:30:15 PM ET 2005-12-16T01:30:15

Thursday, Pentagon officials admitted that some of the information on anti-war protesters included in a secret Pentagon database "should never have been on the list in the first place."

A Defense Department spokesman also announced a "thorough review" of domestic intelligence operations and refresher classes on how to properly collect and store intelligence, especially involving U.S. citizens.

The database of "suspicious incidents" obtained by NBC News includes legitimate threats, such as someone taking pictures outside a recruiting station and a lookout for a suspected al-Qaida terrorist.But it also contains information on anti-war meetings or protests, including one group's peaceful discussion at a Quaker meeting house.  

Rep. Jane Harmon, D-Calif., is a top Democrat overseeing U.S. intelligence operations. She says the Pentagon appears to have gone beyond legitimate collection of intelligence to protect U.S. forces and facilities. 

“The notion that appropriate protest activities consistent with the First Amendment would harm our troops is farcical,” Harmon says, “and not the kind of work the Pentagon should be doing.”

Privacy rights advocates, like Evan Hendricks, say the Pentagon must do more to correct its mistakes.

“The Pentagon needs to start notifying people that we collected information about you illegally, and here's the information we have on you and start the process of purging that out,” he says.

On Thursday night, Pentagon officials said as far as they know, no military personnel were sent to spy on or infiltrate anti-war groups.

Lisa Myers is NBC’s Senior Investigative Correspondent

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