Monday, December 19, 2005

FBI Spying on Citizen Groups

The NYT reports "counterterrorism agents at the FBI have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations" on an array of citizen groups.
A.C.L.U officials said the latest batch of documents released by the F.B.I. indicated the agency's interest in a broader array of activist and protest groups than they had previously thought. In light of other recent disclosures about domestic surveillance activities by the National Security Agency and military intelligence units, the A.C.L.U. said the documents reflected a pattern of overreaching by the Bush administration. A.C.L.U officials said the latest batch of documents released by the F.B.I. indicated the agency's interest in a broader array of activist and protest groups than they had previously thought. In light of other recent disclosures about domestic surveillance activities by the National Security Agency and military intelligence units, the A.C.L.U. said the documents reflected a pattern of overreaching by the Bush administration.

The the F.B.I. "has used employees, interns and other confidential informants" within groups to obtain information. The following groups were mentioned in heavily redacted documents obtained through FOIA lawsuits by the ACLU:
  • Greenpeace as to whether it was connected to Earth Liberation Front or Animal Liberation Front.
  • Catholic Workers... a group working on poverty issues that FBI said had a "semi-communistic ideology"
  • PETA's protest against llama fir
  • Vegan Community Project...an Indianapolis group
  • people protesting logging practices at a lumber industry gathering in 2002.
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (from WaPo)
  • The ACLU (from WaPo)
  • peace activists who attended a 2002 conference at Stanford University (from WaPo)
  • groups planning demonstrations at last year's conventions (from WaPo)
So now we know of FBI, NSA and the Pentagon all spying on US citizens. It is so Nixonian. I never thought I would see the return of such actions by our government.
I do not disagree with surveillance of terrorists when done within the law however my fear has been the government would over reach to spy on dissidents or activists unrelated to terrorism and it appears I was right to have been fearful. How far has Bush gone? This is very disturbing.
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