Maybe it’s twenty plus years of social work that has done this to me. Or perhaps it’s simply a matter of giving a damn about people I’ve never met in towns I’ve never been to, concerns about whether they have enough to eat, a place to live, a sense of safety and hoping these random strangers don’t have to wake up to fear, or massive oil spills, or exploding factories or unemployment. Maybe it’s all simply a matter of wanting this country to yes, encourage entrepreneurs and people who pull up their flags by the bootstraps, but at the same time take care of those who haven’t yet, perhaps as a result of being lost, sick, mired in obsessions or failures and yes, even the ones who are just plain lazy.
Some believe there’s a place for everyone at the table, even if the food’s been purchased by food stamps…and I would be one, believing that as a country of citizens we need to care for one another, especially for those who don’t seem to care for themselves at all right now. Either that, or soon enough when we try to look away from those desperate scenes that cause us such discomfort, we’re only going to find more scenes, even more desperate staring right back at us.
So yeah, tonight I’ll be up in North Beach, standing on Broadway looking to the fireworks over San Francisco Bay and I’ll be thinking about this country’s future, same as everyone else looking up nationwide, with a lot on my mind and a lot in my heart and I’ll be thinking about all of you…all of us, caring and doing better.
Ani Difranco – Coming Up
Independence…from bias, from fear, from ignorance, from a lack of common care, from hate, crass judgement, superiority, misplaced nationalism and American exceptionalism, consumer lifestyles and politics, from the distractions we create and those created for us while the futures are looted by those who left their compassion on the wrong side of that boardroom door, or political office or bank vault or dust from a limousine lobbyist as he or she sped away to the next gig that divided all of us just a little bit more.
Yeah, it’s the fourth.
Let’s go get a beer and think about how we can improve these scenarios. I, for one, have more mistakes than fingers and toes and I think I might like to change that some…
Ed. Note: Since this story broke, the Coast Guard has been trying to deny the evidence, then admitting the rule is in effect, then producing false photographs to show vandalism of boom as reasons why, then saying the photographs were a mistake…many of these corrections done by a woman named Rachel Polish who works PR for a company that has BP as a client, while at the same time an active member of the Coast Guard, and their media liaison…see link at end for developing story…
The United States government, unwilling to take control of the oil spill from British Petroleum, has finally decided to take control of something else in the Gulf of Mexico: the information.
Via the official web page for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, Obama last week issued a new law taking affect on July 4th that will make it a felony crime for any journalist, reporter, blogger or photographer to get close to any oil cleanup operation in the Gulf of Mexico. Should any reporter decide to go anyway – get out there, decide that this ban is unconstitutional and get the story anyway, the photos, the video, so the people of this country will know what is happening in the Gulf, that reporter could be arrested and prosecuted for a felony crime, and given a fine of 40,000 dollars.
Four weeks ago at a press conference, Thad Allen promised everyone in the Gulf region transparency regarding this cleanup and much like when he claimed the “top-kill” had been a success, these statements turn out to be false.
It has now become official policy that everyone must stay 65 feet away from cleanup operations or be threatened with felony arrest. Thad Allen, Coast Guard Commander in the Gulf, says this is for the safety and security of the cleanup operations and for the safety of reporters as they don’t want the cleanup to be hampered in any way, or anyone to be hurt. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana in commenting on the spill has said “we are at war,” and these restrictions on the press are reminiscent of Iraq, where reporters’ mobility was restricted, instead embedded with the troops for “safety and security reasons,” but in truth it was quickly realized by journalists that this was a way for the government to shape the information, to control the news. Now in the Gulf of Mexico the Obama administration is taking a lesson from Bush, and is hard at work controlling the press for the benefit of their office and British Petroleum.
Long gone are the days of Richard Gibbs, White House Press Secretary denying that journalists are being chased out by BP and the police BP hired to do security; we’ve entered a new phase where rather than being harassed, reporters will now be arrested. This is not transparency in government. This is a way to shield the citizens from the massive catastrophuk that is the oil spill and the BP/administration response. This is the way to keep the public from learning that the skimming vessels are not in the water, that the boom is not being deployed properly, that oil soaked boom is not being collected, that BP isn’t cleaning the oil from the beaches, instead they are dumping sand to cover it up. This law is the way to keep the American people uninformed.
Recently after his election to office, Barack Obama had this to say to Diane Sawyer:
“I had campaigned on process—part of what I had campaigned on was changing how Washington works, opening up, transparency.”
What a difference a year makes.
What a difference a catastrophuk makes.
So now Obama decides to join British Petroleum in spending valuable time and resources not in fighting the oil spill, but in attempting to control the information about the Gulf, and in kind…your response. Of course, however…the Coast Guard has assured that when reporters request access it will be granted nine times out of ten, but British Petroleum has maintained for the past two months that they aren’t keeping reporters out at all…and we’re supposed to take the government’s word for it? What happens when negative stories are reported, when dead wildlife gets photographed? Will those reporters then be denied access? Will only friendly journalists be allowed in?
Anderson Cooper describes this law as banning reporters from “anywhere we need to be…in order to get closer, you have to get direct permission from the Coast Guard captain of the Port of New Orleans. You have to call up the guy. What this means is that oil-soaked birds on islands surrounded by boom, you can’t get close enough to take that picture.” He goes on to say, and say directly to Thad Allen, “We are not the enemy here.”
Please pay attention Mr. Cooper – according to BP and Obama, “the enemy” is precisely what you are, anyone with a mass audience is – especially if they are in favor of an informed electorate making descisions based on factual knowledge, not government and corporate spin.
So…to the Coast Guard and Thad Allen, to British Petroleum and Barack Obama…I do hope you all enjoyed your Fourth of July festivities and celebrated our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, and maybe next year, you might take a break from your red, white and blue photo opportunities on manicured lawns and actually read ’em.
Hypocrites. Perhaps, start here:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Call into radio shows, television news programs, talk to your friends and tell them to call their elected representatives, write letters to the editor…or get creative to deep six this bullshit rule about press access, or lack thereof. Do whatever comes to mind, even if it seems crazy…or better yet – during the next election cycle, you could vote for a Republican President who is more in the pocket of big oil and creates more programs to curtail your freedoms in the name of National Security than the jack-ass Democrats…
Almost forgot where I was for a moment…
This is being disenfranchised.
And don’t forget to let Thad know I said to …
Have a nice day.
Read all about Rachael Polish, her conflict of interest and evidence of yet another point of collusion between BP and the Coast Guard:
So Hillary goes to Poland and worries that “the walls are closing in” on organizations like unions, advocacy groups and activist groups that are an essential part of forming democracies and she expresses surprise that the countries where suppression occurs still claim to be “democracies.” She goes on to say “We must be wary of the steel vise in which governments around the world are slowly crushing civil society and the human spirit.” Activists, according to Clinton are being harassed, censored, cut off from funding, arrested, prosecuted or killed.
Then Obama released a statement on Wednesday that expressed his concerns regarding “the spread of restrictions on civil society, the growing use of law to curb rather than enhance freedom and widespread corruption that is undermining the faith of citizens in their country.”
The problem countries so named are:
Zimbabwe, the Congo, Ethiopia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, China and Russia.
These things don’t occur in America you see. They didn’t happen with Bush and they certainly do not happen with Obama and Secretary of State – Clinton.
During the Democratic Convention located in Denver, activists were arrested and denied access to attorneys, forced to march in shackles and denied phone calls. Other people arrested were done so brutally, reporters were taken to jail and the police were wearing t-shirts about beating the crowds. And then during the Republican National Convention in Minnesota it was more of the same: the police raided activist groups before the convention even began, arresting demonstrators and reporters. Youth were beaten, peaceful marches were tear-gassed and hundreds of people were denied their rights time and time again. These tactics were about suppression and fear, about chilling the first amendment rights of the people, for when you make the masses afraid of repercussions when under law there should be none, then people don’t turn out. And when the media is in on the game and the only time they seem to report brutality is when it happens to one of their own…it continues, but I’m sure Hillary and Obama have a complete understanding of all this, or perhaps not. What I do know is while they were enjoying themselves in the Pepsi Center in Denver, people on the streets outside were getting hurt, people who shouldn’t have been hurt at all – brutalized by cops with little restraint.
So yes, Hillary…you’re correct that this type of atmosphere leads to the undermining of faith by the citizens in their country.
Oh, but there is so much more…and I’m not even going to bring up torture, the patriot act (Not Yet Repealed!), the inability of your administration to pass a shield law for whistle-blowers or the press, or to really protect anyone who isn’t “too big to fail…”
What’s that? Not Enough Proof?
Haven’t convinced you yet?
Let’s go by state by state…why not?
Military Intelligence Spied on Alaskans for Peace. According to an Electronic Frontier
Foundation FOIA, military intelligence spied on the anti-war group Alaskans for Peace and
Justice in 2005.
FBI Infiltration of Islamic Center. An FBI agent testified in court in 2009 that an informant had
been planted at an Islamic Center in Irvine, California. Surveillance has prompted some Muslims
to avoid mosques and cut charitable contributions out of fear of being questioned or branded as
LAPD Special Order #11, dated March 5, 2008 includes a list of 65 behaviors LAPD officers shall report. The list includes such innocuous, clearly subjective, and First Amendment]protected activities as, taking measurements, using binoculars, taking pictures or video footage with no apparent aesthetic value,drawing diagrams, taking notes, and espousing extremist views.
When the city of Santa Cruz decided to cancel their annual First Night New Year’s Parade, community activists decided to create their own parade, the Do It Yourself (DIY) New Yearfs Parade. Police found out about parade plans in
late October 2005 and decided to spy on the group by infiltrating their parade planning meetings. Police Chief Howard Skerry promised a complete investigation but tapped Deputy Chief Vogel, the very person who authorized the infiltration, to determine whether the authorization was appropriate. Not surprisingly, Vogel’s report cleared the Santa Cruz Police Department of any wrongdoing.
Undercover Campus and County Sheriffs Attend Cal State Fresno Lecture on Veganism. On November 10, 2004, the California State Fresno student group Campus Peace and Civil Liberties Coalition (CPCLC) hosted an on-campus lecture by a speaker formerly employed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The lecturer addressed approximately 60 people about the benefits of a vegan diet. Six of those 60 attendees were undercover police officers, three from the county sherifffs department and three from the campus police department.
The Sacramento Chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) 2004 Veteran’s Day protest at the Sacramento Military Entrance Processing Station landed them as the first entry on a published Department of Defense (DOD)
Threat and Local Observation Notices (TALON)
Costa County Sheriff’s Homeland Security Unit Officers Infiltrate Union Demonstration. When Southern California Safeway store workers went on strike in 2003.2004, a delegation of religious leaders planned a pilgrimage to the Safeway CEO’s home to deliver postcards supporting the striking workers. Sheriff’s deputies from Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Homeland Security Unit went to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), and staff directed them to a contact number on a flyer. Despite the fact that the sheriff’s department had been in contact with the pilgrimage organizers, union leaders saw the same sheriff’s deputies in plainclothes attending a demonstration at a Safeway store in San Francisco.
Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Infiltrates Peace Fresno. An undercover Fresno County Sheriff’s
deputy infiltrated a non-violent activist group, Peace Fresno, attending meetings and rallies,
taking minutes for the group on one occasion and traveling to a demonstration in Sacramento.
A Peace Fresno member learned of the infiltration when an obituary in the Fresno Bee revealed
the deputy’s true identity and identified him as a member of the Fresno County Sheriff’s
Department’s anti-terrorist team.
On April 7, 2003, the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) issued a bulletin warning of violence by demonstrators at an anti-war demonstration at the Port of Oakland. Police responded in an excessive manner, firing wooden dowels at protesters and injuring over 50 people. The public disclosure of that bulletin, a significant follow-up investigation by the Oakland Tribune, and advocacy by the ACLU led Attorney General Bill Lockyer to commission a review of the agency.
On May 12, 2003, activists returned to the Port of Oakland for a demonstration against the
police response to the April 7 protest. Documents obtained by the ACLU of Northern California
during litigation over the original April 7 incident revealed that two undercover Oakland police
officers infiltrated the protest planning group and selected the route of the march.
Sacramento Police Department Videotapes Peaceful Protesters. On February 15, 2003, peace
and justice organizations held a demonstration in Sacramento to protest the then impending
war in Iraq. Approximately 10,000 people attended the peaceful demonstration. The
Sacramento Police Department provided security for the event. They also sent a police
department employee to videotape the demonstration. Sacramento Police confirmed that
taping of the protest was at least partially intended to modify protesters’ behavior.
During the huge protests against the war in Iraq between October 2002 and February 2003, several San Francisco police officers posed as protesters to monitor crowd activities. This infiltration of the protests by undercover officers
was never authorized by the chief of police, representing a failure to follow San Francisco’s
Guidelines for First Amendment Activities.
A group of military reservists and law enforcement officers led by the co-founder of the Los Angeles County
Terrorism Early Warning Center (LACTEW) engaged in a years long conspiracy to steal highly classified intelligence files from the Strategic Technical Operations Center (STOC) located at the U.S. Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton, California and secret surveillance reports from the U.S. Northern Command headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Some of the stolen files pertained to surveillance of Muslim communities in Southern California, including mosques in L.A. and San Diego, and revealed federal surveillance program targeting Muslim groups in the United States.
An LAPD officer, claiming to be at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue to ticket cyclists who failed to stop at red lights, kicked at a passing bicyclist during a protest ride against BP’s role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
In August 2005, the ACLU obtained the documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) request containing information on the Colorado American Indian Movement and the
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. The files show that JTTF agents opened “domestic
terrorism” investigations after they read notices on web sites announcing an antiwar protest in
Colorado Springs in 2003 and a protest against Columbus Day in Denver in 2002.
Law Enforcement Infiltrates Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. In 2003, Rocky Mountain
Peace and Justice Center was engaged in several civil disobedience actions, along with other
peace and social justice groups. On two occasions, they learned that they had been infiltrated
by undercover law enforcement officers who had attended their nonviolence trainings and
participated in the actions with them.
Colorado Springs Police Records and Shares Names and License Plate Numbers of Environmental
Activists. Environmentalist and conservationist groups organized a peaceful demonstration at
the North American Wholesale Lumber Association’s (NAWLA) annual convention in Colorado
Springs in June 2002. The Colorado Springs police provided the Denver Intelligence Unit with a
two-page list of names and license plate numbers of participants in the nonviolent protest. The
cover sheet indicates that the list of names and plates would be forwarded to the JTTF, who was
apparently expecting the information. An FBI spokesperson admitted that the agency requested
the list of plate numbers.
In April 1999, FBI JTTF agent, joined by two members of the Denver Intelligence Unit, monitored two peaceful
demonstrations protesting the NATO bombing of Serbia. Detectives followed one participant to
her car three blocks away to get her license number so she could be identified.
Activist Arrested for Photographing Governor at Public Event. Hartford Police arrested activist
Ken Krayeske after he photographed Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell at a public event. Connecticut State Police monitored Krayeske’s blog, which was critical of the Governor, and sent local police his photograph as a potential threat to the Governor. Activist Ken Krayeske alleges in court documents that State Police used phony e-mail identities to subscribe to bulletin boards and e-mail lists of political parties, such as the Green Party and the Democratic Party, and advocacy groups such as the Central Connecticut State University Progressive Student Alliance
During the 2004 and 2005 Air-Sea Shows, the Friends Meeting of Ft. Lauderdale distributed
information about conscientious objection to recruiters and interested civilians and handed out
peace literature. Peter Ackerman learned that this action had landed him on a government
watch list when, shortly after news broke about domestic surveillance by the Department of
Defense, a local reporter called him and asked if he was a “credible threat”.
The Broward Anti-War Coalitionfs protest at the Florida air and sea show was included as a Department of Defense
(DOD) Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database threat entry. The U.S. Army Recruiting Command and the JTTF in Miami had been briefed on the planned protest, which was intended to “counter military recruitment and the pro-war message with guerrilla theatre.'”
FBI Surveillance of SOA Protest. FBI surveillance of School of the Americas (SOA) Watchfs
peaceful protests and acts of civil disobedience outside Fort Benning, once classified as
“Routine,” after 2001 became “Priority” and subject to “Counterterrorism” monitoring.
Military Lists Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition as a Threat to DOD. A Department of Defense
(DOD) Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) report listing Atlanta area protests
organized by the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition (GPJC) contends that the Students for
Peace and Justice Network poses a threat to DOD personnel. Citing a DHS source, the TALON
supports its claim by listing prior acts of civil disobedience in California and Texas, including a
protest at the University of California Santa Cruz campus, a sit-in, and street theatre.
Vegetarian Activist Arrested for Writing Down License Plate Number of DHS Agent Who
Monitored Her Protest. Caitlin Childs was arrested after a peaceful protest on public property
outside the Honey Baked Ham store on Buford Highway in DeKalb County for taking down the
license plate number of the car belonging to the DHS agent who had been photographing the
protestors all day.
Veteran Surveilled for Participation in Recruiting Station Protest. Debbie Clark, who was
honorably discharged from the US army after eight years of active duty and who is married to a
man who remains on active duty in the military, found herself under Pentagon surveillance
when she participated in a protest near an Army Recruiting Station in Atlanta, GA on Ponce de
In March 2008, DHS produced a terrorism watch listh report about a Muslim conference in Georgia at which several Americans were scheduled to speak, even though it did not have any evidence the conference or the
speakers promoted radical extremism or terrorist activity, and such speech is constitutionally
FBI Field Intelligence Group Lists Green Party as Potential Target for Eco]terrorism Investigation.
An FBI intelligence analyst wrote a 2005 memo identifying future targets of the animal rights
and environment [sic] rights movements and/or those committing crimes on behalf of the
movement in the Georgia area, which listed the Green Party as a terrorist group.
FBI Questions Idaho Progressive Student Alliance Leaders. In May 2005, the ACLU and ACLU of
Idaho filed FOIA to request information on behalf of the Idaho Progressive Student Alliance
(IPSA), a non-partisan student group that focuses on social, economic, gender, and
environmental justice. IPSA President Arielle Anderson and Secretary Audra Green were
questioned by FBI agents in March 2004 regarding the IPSA’s boycott of Taco Bell to protest the
conditions of Immokalee workers in Florida.
Military Reports on American Friends Service Committee Action. The American Friends Service
Committee (AFSC) appears in a Department of Defense (DOD) Threat and Local Observation
Notice (TALON) report regarding the group’s planned protests at a recruiting center in
Springfield, Illinois. A “special agent of the federal protective service, U.S. Department of
Homeland Security,” provided information he received in an email alert from the AFSC: “[A]
series of protest actions were planned in the Springfield, IL area . . . to focus on actions at
military recruitment offices with the goals to include: raising awareness, education, visibility in
community, visibility to recruiters as part of a national day of action focused on military
A Middle Eastern man in traditional clothing sparked a three]day police manhunt in Chicago when a passenger on
the bus he was riding notified the police that he was clicking a hand counter during the trip. A
JTTF investigation into the episode revealed he was using the counter to keep track of his daily
prayers, a common Muslim practice.
In preparation for the NGA meeting, the Indianapolis Police Department (IPD) Intelligence Unit created a gprotest zoneh outside of the hotel where the governors stayed and where many of the meetings took place. The local police soon learned that a group of demonstrators wished to walk the eight or nine blocks from St. Mary’s Catholic Church to the protest zone. The demonstrators were silent and non]disruptive, yet. They were met by twenty to thirty IPD police officers riding on bikes and in cars. The IPD decided, on the spot, to develop the route that the demonstrators were required to take. Following the completion of protest activity in the protest zone, a number of the demonstrators wished to return to St. Mary’s in a group as a continuation of their protest but were again escorted back by the police. Several of the protestors sued O’Connor for violating their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest by altering their route. On February 9, 2005, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana found in favor of the protestors.
In February 2004, it came to light that four peace activists and Drake University had received federal grand jury
subpoenas, which were delivered by a local JTTF officer. The U.S. Attorney’s statement on the subpoenas shows that they were all related to a mid-November seminar at Drake University, led by the National Lawyers Guild, on non]violent civil disobedience.
An FBI informant and a Ramsey County Minnesota Sherifffs Deputy went undercover to infiltrate Iowa City peace groups in advance of the Republican National Convention, and attended an Iowa City campus anti-war demonstration. FBI files include detailed descriptions of a dozen Iowa political activists.
Kansas Police Department Trains Rental and Maintenance Staff to Spy for Them. One Kansas police department trains maintenance and rental staffs of apartment complexes, motels, and storage facilities to look for things like printed terrorist materials and propaganda.
Minister Placed on FBI List for Ordering Books on Islam. Rev. Raymond Payne, a Greenup County minister, was detained for more than an hour by Canadian border officials while trying to enter the country in fall 2004 on a sightseeing trip. Rev. Payne has never been arrested, has never been charged with a crime, and has never even participated in a protest. Border officials indicated that he was being detained because he is the subject of an FBI file. Rev. Payne believes he may have come under federal scrutiny immediately after September 11 when he ordered books over the Internet about the Islamic religion, including several copies of the Koran. He did so at the request of his congregation to help the church members gain a better understanding of the faith.
An April 2005 Department of Defense (DOD) Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) points to an altercation between a soldier and an individual at a university anti]war rally in New Orleans. Despite acknowledging that “[i]t
is unknown if the individuals involved in the incident are students at the local university or associated with the Veterans for Peace organization,” the report alleges that the incident demonstrates that VFP should be viewed as a possible “threat” to DOD personnel.
The FBI intercepted and stored email communications pertaining to protests at the Brunswick Naval Air Show and against the christening of an Arleigh Burke Class destroyer organized by Veterans for Peace and cosponsored by Pax Christi Maine, PeaceWorks, WILPF, Peace Action Maine, Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Coalition for Peace & Justice, Island Peace & Justice, Winthrop Area People for Peace, and Waldo County Peace & Justice.
The Maryland State Police spied on more than 30 activist groups, mostly peace groups and anti-death penalty advocates, and wrongly identified 53 individual activists and about two dozen organizations as terrorists. The Maryland State Police shared information about these cases with the Baltimore City Police Department, the
Baltimore County Police Department, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, the Washington Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, a local police representative of the FBIfs JTTF, a National Security Agency security official, an unnamed military intelligence officer, and DHS. DHS further disseminated e-mails from one of the peace groups.
I know this list is rather long, extensive..etc…but that’s the whole goddamned point…Land of the free and home of the brave?
In December 2002, a police officer at the University of Massachusetts campus at Amherst was recruited by the FBI to spend several days a week working exclusively for its Anti]Terrorism Task Force. The arrangement came to light after FBI agents, acting on the basis of information provided by the campus officer, questioned a faculty member and an organizer for a campus union. The faculty member is of Iraqi descent and the union organizer is from Sri Lanka.
A plain-clothes Harvard University detective was caught photographing people at a peaceful protest for intelligence gathering purposes. Protesters who then photographed the officer were arrested. HUPD officers are sworn special State Police officers often work gin conjunction with other agencies, including the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police, Cambridge Police, Somerville Police, and many federal agencies. A university spokesman refused to say what the HUPD does with the photographs it takes for intelligence gathering purposes, so it is unknown whether this
information was shared.
The ACLU of Massachusetts recently obtained a copy of the Commonwealth Fusion Center’s Standard Operating Procedures. The procedures allow undercover police officers to attend public meetings to gather intelligence even when there is no reasonable suspicion of illegal activity.
In April 2009, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan sent a letter to Attorney General Holder after mosques and other groups reported that their members have been asked by the FBI to monitor people coming to mosques and donations they make.
Prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force attempted to recruit a University of Minnesota student arrested for vandalism to go undercover at vegan pot-lucks in order to spy on groups organizing protests.
The weekend before the start of the Republican National Convention, Ramsey County Sheriffs and St. Paul
police conducted pre-emptive raids against a video journalist group, I-Witness, whose documentation of police misconduct during the 2004 Republican National Convention were instrumental in overturning criminal charges against protesters there. Police also conducted several other raids, apparently in coordination with the FBI, and made pre-emptive arrests of people planning to protest at the RNC.
State and local police conducted pre-emptive mass arrests of more than 200 protesters and innocent pedestrians in Riverfront Park on the opening day of the Republican National Convention.
On the final day of the RNC police conducted mass arrests, including 323 people gathered on the Marion Street and Cedar Street bridges. All 323 were later released without charge.
In 2004, the ACLU of New Jersey sent open public records requests to the 50 largest New Jersey municipalities to obtain documents disclosing the identification of, or criteria for designating individuals as, “potential threat elements.” Eight municipalities responded with refusals to disclose their records, claiming they were exempt from disclosure under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
An April 2005 Department of Defense (DOD) Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) from an “active duty U.S. Army officer” reports on protests organized by the group Veterans for Peace (VFP), which the TALON describes as “a
peaceful antiwar/ anti]military organization.” Without any evident factual basis, the TALON states that although VFP is “a peaceful organization . . . there is potential [that] future protest[s] could become violent.”
An undercover Albuquerque Police Department detective attended organizing meetings for a protest against
the Iraq war that was held on March 23, 2003. The detective used a false name, joined email contact lists, and gathered intelligence about the organizers. Undercover APD officers also attended the demonstration posing as protestors.
On April 20, 2005, John Amidon, a member of Veterans For Peace, spoke to about 75 students and community members at SUNY Albany. Seven months later, when NBC News aired a story about groups being spied on by the
government, Amidon learned that the SUNY Albany event was one of the events that had been monitored.
A February 2005 Department of Defense (DOD) Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) focuses on protests planned by the War Resisters League (WRL) near New York City recruiting stations. The document describes
WRL as advocating “Gandhian nonviolence.” CODEPINK and United for Peace and Justice are mentioned as joining WRL in protest events.
For at least a year prior to the 2004 protests at the Republican National Convention in New York City, undercover NYPD officers fanned out across the country from Albuquerque to Miami and, posing as activists and sympathizers, infiltrated hundreds of groups planning to attend the protests.
A student who created an internet-connected bicycle that printed messages in water-soluble sidewalk chalk as he rode
was arrested by the NYPD while he was demonstrating the device to a news reporter. The arrest was not spontaneous, but was arranged by the NYPD’s RNC Intelligence Unit, which had collected a file on him. The arrest disrupted his plan to ride around during the Republican National Convention, printing sidewalk messages sent in via his website. He was released the following day without charge but the bike was not returned.
Mariam Jukaku, a 24-year old Muslim]American journalism student at Syracuse University, was stopped by Veterans Affairs police in New York for taking photographs of flags in front of a VA building as part of a class assignment. After taking her into an office for interrogation and taking her driver’s license, the police deleted the photographs from her digital camera before releasing her.
Debbie Clark, who was honorably discharged from the US army after eight years of active duty and who is married to an active duty military man, found herself under Pentagon surveillance when she participated in a protest at Fort Bragg in March 2005 led by veterans and military families.
A protest entitled “Stop the War NOW!” was reported as a potential terrorist threat in a March 2005 Department of Defense (DOD) Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON). The TALON describes the protest, aimed at a military recruiting station and federal building in Akron as including a rally, march, and “Reading of Names of War
Portland, Oregon became the first city in the nation to withdraw local law enforcement participation from the JTTFs rather than allow them to participate without proper oversight.
On May 30, 2008 a Federal Protective Service officer engaged in undercover surveillance of a peaceful antipesticide
rally in Eugene, Oregon, located several blocks from any federal building. The FPS officer called Eugene Police Department officers to the scene and pointed to an individual who EPD immediately arrested.
Two documents released in March 2006 reveal that the FBI investigated gatherings of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice (TMC) because the organization opposed the war in Iraq. The FBI memo points out that the Merton Center is a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism. Several members of TMC have found themselves under surveillance.
A 21-year-old Penn State senior was arrested in his own backyard in Philadelphia for snapping a picture of police activity in his neighborhood with a cell phone camera. He was taken to the police station where police threatened to charge him with conspiracy, impeding police, and obstruction of justice, but he was later released without charge.
After making public comments criticizing the FBIfs treatment of Muslims in Pittsburgh, Dr. Moniem El-Ganayni, a nuclear physicist and naturalized American citizen, had his security clearance improperly revoked by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) despite 18 years of dedicated service. Though they never told him the reason his clearance was revoked, during seven hours of interviews, representatives from the DOE and the FBI never alleged a breach of security but instead questioned El-Ganayni about his religious beliefs, his work as an imam in the Pennsylvania prison system, his political views about the U.S. war in Iraq, and the speeches he’d made in local mosques criticizing the FBI.
A Pawtucket resident was arrested by the Rhode Island JTTF for failing to appear in court on a minor larceny charge. The involvement of the JTTF in this case is puzzling, and the Middle Eastern name of the person arrested suggests the use of racial profiling in the JTTF’s activities. The ACLU of Rhode Island filed a FOIA request in May 2005 seeking information about this particular arrest as well as information about how the practices and funding structure of the JTTFs.
The Department of Defense (DOD) Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database includes a report of a
December 2004 protest outside of a National Guard recruitment station organized by Rhode Island-based Community Coalition for Peace (RICCP). The TALON document begins by stating that it is being provided only to alert commanders and staff to potential terrorist activity or appraise them of other force protection issues.
In February 2009, a DHS-supported North Central Texas Fusion System intelligence bulletin described a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the U.S. The bulletin was reportedly distributed to over 100 different agencies.
An inadvertently released power point presentation by the North Central Texas Fusion Center describes searching blogs and websites for threatening words like protest and hate. A category for processing is expressed opinion on HLS [Homeland Security] issues.
In the wake of the influx of evacuees after Hurricane Katrina, the Texas Department of Homeland Security contracted with Northrop Grumman Corporation for a $1.4 million database project that would bring together a wide variety of law enforcement and government data, as well as consumer dossiers gathered by the private data company ChoicePoint. The project was intended to create a global search capability, which would then be made available to the
Texas Fusion Center. The project failed due to concerns over the security of the data: it was not clear who at Northrop had access to the data, or what had become of it
Sherifffs deputies in Texas stopped an Al-Jazeera television crew that was filming on a public road more than a mile away from a nuclear power plant and conducted extensive background checks on them. The police said they found no criminal history or other problems.
The FBI utilized a prominent and influential activist as an informant against Texas activists for 18 months
prior to the RNC. FBI reports produce by the informant include gdozens of people, most of whom have never been charged with a crime.
U.S. Joint Forces Command Disseminates Information on Planned Parenthood and National Alliance. The U.S. Joint Forces Command liaison, working with the FBI’s Olympic Intelligence Center, collected and disseminated information on members of Planned Parenthood and National Alliance, a white supremacist group, regarding their involvement in protests and distributing literature as part of the governmentfs security preparations for the 2002 Olympics.
Fusion Center Describes Universities and Diversity as Threats. The Virginia Fusion Center’s March 2008 terrorism threat assessment described the state’s universities and colleges as nodes for radicalization and characterized the diversity surrounding a Virginia military base and the state’s historically black colleges as possible security threats.
Asked by the Washington Post for an example of a successful use of a fusion center, the best one official could apparently come up with was the arrest and detention of a Muslim man spotted videotaping the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. But the Post goes on to note that the person in question, a U.S. citizen, was quickly released and never charged with any crime.
John J. Towery, a civilian employee of Fort Lewis assigned to Fort Lewis Force Protection, posed undercover as an anarchist using the name John Jacob and took part in Olympia Port Militarization Resistancefs (OlyPMR) activities
from 2007 until June 2009. Towery was one of several OlyPMR listserv administrators and therefore had direct access to OlyPMR membership lists.
Shirley Scheier, a 54-year-old artist and Associate Professor of Fine Art at the University of Washington, was stopped by police for taking pictures of power lines as part of an art project. Police frisked and handcuffed Scheier, and placed her in the back of a police car for almost half an hour. She was eventually released, after officers photographed maps that Scheier used to find the power station. The officers also told her she would be contacted by the FBI about the incident.
Philip Chinn, a 22-year old anti-war activist from The Evergreen State College, was arrested while traveling to an anti-war protest at the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen. Aberdeen Police acknowledged that detectives had been
watching Chinn and others as they prepared for the protest and, on the day of, broadcasted an “attempt to locate” his car, which was described as containing “three known anarchists.” Criminal charges were dismissed after tests showed Chinn had no alcohol or drugs in his system.
In March 2004 a Committee of the DC City Council reported the Metropolitan Police Department used undercover officers to infiltrate protest groups without evidence of criminal wrongdoing, repeatedly took pre-emptive actions to prevent demonstrations, including arrests, and failed to protect the free speech and assembly rights of protesters.
On October 15, 2003, the FBI issued Intelligence Bulletin no.89, entitled “Tactics Used During Protests and Demonstrations.” Bulletin 89 advised that “mass marches and rallies against the occupation in Iraq” were scheduled to occur on October 25, 2003, in Washington, D.C, and San Francisco, and although the FBI had no information indicating
that “violent or terrorist activities [were] being planned as part of these protests, the possibility exists that elements of the activist community may attempt to engage in violent, destructive, or disruptive acts.” The protest tactics identified in Bulletin 89 included, Internet activity to recruit, raise funds, and coordinate activities; false documentation to gain access to secure facilities; marches, banners, and sit-ins; vandalism, physical harassment, and trespassing; drawing large numbers of police officers to a specific location in order to weaken security at other locations; use of homemade bombs; and intimidation of law enforcement through videotaping, without distinguishing between First Amendment]protected activity and criminal acts.
A Department of Homeland Security intelligence official assigned to the Wisconsin Statewide Information Center produced a threat assessmenth about a February 2009 rally involving local pro and anti-choice groups even though
the groups posed no threat to homeland security. A lawyer representing the groups has filed a request for the report through Wisconsin open records laws, but local officials have refused to release it, citing gsensitive law enforcement information.
Would you believe I left out half of the examples in the ACLU report?
So this is our America.
And after this weekend is over and I’m back at work on Tuesday, people at the agency will ask me what I did to celebrate the Fourth of July. What am I supposed to tell them, that I went and watched fireworks? That I wore an American Flag t-shirt, bandanna and pants? That I went out in my community and celebrated this country down by the shores of Lake Michigan? Can’t do that. It would be participating in these myths about what this country is instead of what it has become, and being complicit in that doesn’t feel good to me, being complicit in myths like first amendment rights, including the freedom to peaceably assemble. Yes, I can assemble with all my neighbors to watch fireworks. That is allowed, but what if I were to assemble with all my neighbors, peacefully…around the offices of a bank too big to fail that had set up a number of my neighbors to lose their homes? Would this be permitted? It would depend on the size of the crowd and their effectiveness. Too big and too effective and they will shut you down or put you in a protest cage like they do at the conventions…or much, much worse…arrest, intimidation, repercussions…as shown in that lengthy list above the picture of old glory. Maybe next time Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama might take a look at their own backyard and clean it up before criticizing others. Rather than continue with the status quo, perhaps they might decide to really make change, that kind of change that those of us, who actually believe in the freedoms they claim we have, might have faith in.
So for now, you can keep your fireworks…
I think I’ll stay in tonight and think about things, and you know…be patriotic and shit.