Unconstitutional Police Spying

Why are Army Spies Infiltrating Anarchist and Peace Groups?

Activists in Olympia, Washington discovered a spy in their midst when they examined documents released in response to a FOIA/ Public Records request.

For two years, a Army civilian from nearby Fort Lewis had spied on Port Militarization Resistance, Students for a Democratic Society, and anarchist groups. As a member of the base's Force Protection Unit (which is part of the local fusion center), he shared information with local, state and national agencies. This is a huge story, involving not only illegal government spying, but military involvement in domestic law enforcement and Fusion Centers. It also shows the value of pursuing information using FOIA and state public records requests. Read more here (news report) and here (LibertyBeat blog).


Defending Dissent Foundation hosted our first FOIA party under the auspices of the DC Bill of Rights Coalition. The party was a great success, resulting in over 50 individual FOIA requests to a variety of agencies including the FBI, CIA, Pentagon and local police agencies. Indeed, the party was such a success we are planning several more in the DC area and are working with activists in Berkeley, Boston, and elsewhere to plan parties.

By organizing FOIA parties around the country, we hope to get information from the files of various police and intelligence agencies to create a more comprehensive picture of the extent to which activists are under surveillance in order to build a case for stricter guidelines. These parties will also provide a forum for us to hear the concerns of activists, and an opportunity to exchange information about the way the FBI guidelines, fusion centers and the growth of the surveillance state threatens their ability to organize. After the party, we'll work together to develop an action plan based on the response we get from the FOIA requests.

DO Try This At Home!

To be effective, we need people to volunteer to host FOIA parties in their towns. It's isn't difficult, and it is fun! Please contact DDF if you are interested in working on a party in your neck of the woods. Call the office at 202-529-4225 or send us an email: info@defendingdissent.org

Feds Helped State Police Track Activists

When the Maryland State Police’s extensive undercover operation targeting advocacy groups was revealed, Senators Cardin (D-MD), Mikulski (D-MD) and Feingold (D-WI) immediately wrote to the various federal intelligence agencies to find out what role those agencies played in the spying. The Senators are still awaiting answers from some agencies, but the Department of Homeland Security did write back, claiming they had no role and no knowledge of the unconstitutional spying. I guess they kept their fingers crossed when they typed that response, because it turns out not to have been exactly true…

The DC Anti War Network (DAWN) was one of the groups targeted by the Maryland State Police (MSP) spying, and a document recently released by the police reveal that DHS was also keeping an eye on the group and sharing information about their activities with the MSP. An entry in the police files on DAWN dated June 21, 2005 says:

“The US Department of Homeland Security, Atlanta, recently forwarded two emails from [REDACTED] an affiliate of the DC DAWN Network and the [REDACTED]. Activists from DAWN, [REDACTED] and other groups working under the banner of [REDACTED] are going to stage several small (12-15) weekly demonstrations at the Silver Spring Armed Forces Recruitment Center (AFRC). If there is enough support these will become weekly vigils.”

Obviously this entry raises a number of questions: why did DHS have these emails, how did they get them, why did they forward them to MPS and, of course, why did DHS deny to members of Congress that they apparently not only had knowledge of the MPS investigation but were participating in it?

Senators Mikulski and Feingold wrote a follow up letter to DHS asking those questions and more. They are still waiting for a response. Click here to read the Mikulski/Feingold letter.

We Need Spy Stories!

Has your group been infiltrated or monitored by local, state or federal police or intelligence agencies in the last 5 – 10 years? If so, we need your stories for a possible Congressional investigation into unconstitutional police spying. Send your stories to sue.udry at defendingdissent.org

Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Mikulski (D-MD) have promised a group of Maryland activists that they will call for an investigation into spying – asking either the Government Accounting Office or the Justice Department Inspector General to document the extent of unconstitutional spying on activists. They've asked us to send reports of police spying around the country to their staff. This could be a great opportunity not only to uncover the true extent of spying, but to build a case for strong legislation against spying (apparently the Constitution just isn't enough).

Background: Earlier this year we learned (because of a FOIA request filed by the Maryland ACLU) that the Maryland State Police had infiltrated and monitored dozens of peace, environment, anti-death penalty and consumer groups. 53 activists were classified on a State Police database as 'terrorists'. Senators Cardin and Mikulski have taken up the issue and have pledged their support. They are also working with Senator Feingold (D-WI).

The Maryland ACLU is leading the charge in Maryland, fighting for the release of all files and for strong legislation to prohibit police spying on political activities. Check out their website for addtitional information.


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