September 16, 2009
http://snipurl.com/rxe5k [Raw Story]
Police to get access to classified military intelligence
BY JOHN BYRNE
September 16, 2009
In a move raising eyebrows among civil liberties advocates, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it would give so-called local and state “fusion centers” access to classified military intelligence in Pentagon databases.
Fusion centers are hubs for local law enforcement, the private sector and the intelligence community, and were created in an effort to fight terrorism. There are more than seventy known centers across the United States.
The decision to give fusion centers access to classified intelligence appears to a shift in policy by Homeland Security. In July, Secretary Janet Napolitano “that fusion centers were not intended to have a military presence, and that she was not aware of ones that did,” according to the New York Times.
The centers have been a flashpoint of criticism from civil liberties groups. The American Civil Liberties Union, in particular, has been a vehement critic.
“As fusion centers gain more and more access to Americans’ private information, the information about them being made available to the American public remains woefully inadequate,” Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement. “There is a stunning lack of oversight at these fusion centers and, as we’ve seen, these centers are rapidly becoming a breeding ground for overzealous intelligence activities. Opening the door for domestic law enforcement to gain access to classified military intelligence coupled with no guidelines restricting the military’s role in fusion centers is a recipe for disaster.”
In February, the ACLU highlighted a bulletin issued by a West Texas center. The Texas bulletin said it was “imperative for law enforcement officers to report” the activities of lobbying groups, Muslim civil rights organizations and anti-war protest groups in their region.
The model also took fire in April after a Virginia fusion center directive became public, which declared that US universities had become “radicalization node”s for potential terrorist activity – singling out several historically black colleges. The memo also called out “hacktivism” as a potential terrorist threat.
Remarkably, among the fusion center’s critics is the Justice Department itself. A December, 2008 “Privacy Impact Assessment” of the centers issued by the Department listed a number of key privacy weaknesses of the intelligence nexuses.
Among the problems listed were: “Justification for fusion centers; Ambiguous Lines of Authority, Rules, and Oversight; Participation of the Military and the Private Sector; Data Mining; Excessive Secrecy; Inaccurate or Incomplete Information; and Mission Creep.”
Defenders take message to Congress
A Homeland Security proponent, Robert Riegle of the State and Local Program Office, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, defended the centers in testimony to Congress in April, saying they’d experienced numerous law enforcement successes as a result of information sharing.
“Fusion centers are the core means by which we promote Federal, State, local and Tribal information sharing. Today, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice recognize 70 fusion centers, including ones in every state and every major city of the United States,” Riegle said. “Nearly half of these centers have been stood up since 2006 and have grown rapidly in number and effectiveness. Many fusion centers are in their infancy and many infrastructure challenges remain, but the successes that the centers have realized thus far give us good reason for our continued support.”
“Fusion centers are force multipliers,” Riegle added. “They leverage financial resources and the expertise of numerous public safety partners to increase information awareness and help our law enforcement agencies more effectively protect our communities. Thoughtful analysis about risks to our communities supports elected officials and homeland security leaders. This enables states and localities to better utilize limited financial resources to make effective, risk-based decisions about public safety matters and mitigate threats to the homeland.”
The ACLU isn’t so sure.
“Congress must take the necessary steps to ensure that a thorough and rigorous oversight mechanism is in place to ensure that Americans’ most sensitive information is protected,” the ACLU’s legislative director said. “Without proper guidelines, fusion centers will continue to threaten our privacy while doing nothing to improve security.”
August 4, 2009
Recently there were shocking revelations that Army spies infiltrated and spied on a an anti-war group in Washington State, in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. This agent was part of a larger network of law enforcement and intelligence agencies under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In some cities, these networks were consolidated into “fusion centers”.
Well, it looks like Hawai’i military officials are trying to establish their very own intelligence fusion center in Hawai’i. The GAO reported in “Homeland Security: Federal Efforts Are Helping to Alleviate Some Challenges Encountered by State and Local Information Fusion Centers”, October 2007:
According to a State of Hawaii Department of Defense official, for the past 2 years officials from civil defense and state law enforcement have discussed the possibility of establishing a fusion center in Hawaii. Specifically, they have discussed establishing an intelligence unit under state and local law enforcement control to complement the FBI’s JTTF in Honolulu. A state fusion center would provide intelligence and analysis to all disciplines, especially law enforcement. Planning officials are not seeking a center that is only focused on the prevention and disruption of terrorism, but one that would complement other departments, agencies, and task forces within the context of all hazards. The official noted that the establishment of a fusion center in Hawaii depends on the adequacy and allocation of Homeland Security grant funds in fiscal years 2007 and 2008. According to the official, Hawaii’s fiscal year 2007 allocation will not support the current investment strategy for a fusion center. The official said that they will have to wait until fiscal year 2008 or find an alternative funding strategy.
The revelation that military personnel were spying on civlians engaged in protected political activities is a chilling flashback to the days prior to Senator Sam Ervin’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights and Senator Frank Church’s Select Committee on Intelligence, that led to the founding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Amy Goodman interviewed Christopher Pyle, who as an Army intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, helped to expose the illegal military spying on peace groups within the U.S. and worked for Senator Ervin’s investigation. Here’s an excerpt:
AMY GOODMAN: Who else was listed at the time, both individuals and organizations that you saw targeted?
CHRISTOPHER PYLE: Well, one of the printouts that the military gave me of their surveillance for a particular week in 1968 included the infiltration of a Unitarian Church. In more recent years, surveillance of Quaker groups, the infiltration of Quaker groups in Florida, who were planning to protest military recruitment in their local high school. These are the people who, according to the TALON reports, are considered to be potential threats to military security.
AMY GOODMAN: And explain what you mean by TALON.
CHRISTOPHER PYLE: TALON is a collection of intelligence reports of threats to military bases that were collected by an unknown group for many years after 9/11 called the Counterintelligence Field Activity. It had a thousand employees. It was located in the Pentagon. And it was monitoring civil disturbances around the country, following a pattern very much like the 1960s and ’70s.
The idea was that if you could follow enough protesters in the-protests in the country, or enough disturbances, you could tell when the country was going to overheat and the military would have to be called in. In the 1960s, they thought that if they could tell how many protests there were on college campuses, they could then predict riots in the black ghettos of the major cities of the United States. It was ludicrous intelligence work, but that’s what they had in mind.
July 28, 2009
Democracy Now! Broadcast Exclusive: Declassified Docs Reveal Military Operative Spied on WA Peace Groups, Activist Friends Stunned
Newly declassified documents reveal that an active member of Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance in Washington state was actually an informant for the US military. The man everyone knew as “John Jacob” was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. The military’s role in the spying raises questions about possibly illegal activity. The Posse Comitatus law bars the use of the armed forces for law enforcement inside the United States. The Fort Lewis military base denied our request for an interview. But in a statement to Democracy Now, the base’s Public Affairs office publicly acknowledged for the first time that Towery is a military operative. “This could be one of the key revelations of this era,” said Eileen Clancy, who has closely tracked government spying on activist organizations. [includes rush transcript]
Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, Olympia-based activist with Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance. He submitted the Freedom of Information Act request that revealed his friend and fellow activist “John Jacob” was actually military spy John Towery.
Drew Hendricks, Olympia-based activist with Port Militarization Resistance. Also worked with John Towery, aka “John Jacob,” on activist causes before Towery’s exposure as a military spy.
Mike German, National Security Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. He was an FBI agent specializing in domestic counterterrorism from 1988 to 2004.
Larry Hildes, Bellingham-based attorney and National Lawyers Guild member who has represented Washington state-based activists with Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance in criminal and civil cases.
Eileen Clancy, Founding member of I-Witness Video who has documented government surveillance of activist groups for years. Her group was targeted by police raids last summer during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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ANJALI KAMAT: We begin with a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive. Peace activists in Washington state have revealed an informant posing as an anarchist has spied on them while working under the US military. The activists are members of the group Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance, which protests military shipments bound for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before his true identity was revealed, the informant was known as “John Jacob,” an active member of antiwar groups in the towns of Olympia and Tacoma. But using documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, the activists learned that “John Jacob” is in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at the nearby Fort Lewis military base.
The activists claim Towery has admitted to them he shared information with an intelligence network that stretches from local and state police to several federal agencies, to the US military. They also say he confirmed the existence of other government spies but wouldn’t reveal their identity.
The military’s role in the spying raises questions about possibly illegal activity. The Posse Comitatus law bars the use of the armed forces for law enforcement inside the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: The Fort Lewis military base denied our request for an interview. But in a statement to Democracy Now!, the base’s Public Affairs office publicly acknowledged for the first time that Towery is a military operative. The statement says, quote, “John Towery performs sensitive work within the installation law enforcement community, and it would not be appropriate for him to discuss his duties with the media.” Fort Lewis also says it’s launched an internal inquiry. We invited John Towery on the broadcast, but he didn’t respond to our interview request.
In a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, we’re now joined in Seattle by the two activists who exposed John Towery as a military informant. Brendan Maslauskas Dunn counted John Towery, or “John Jacob,” as a close friend. But he discovered Towery’s identity after obtaining government documents under a Freedom of Information Act request. Brendan is an Olympia-based activist with Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance. We’re also joined in Seattle by Drew Hendricks. He is an Olympia activist with Port Militarization Resistance who worked closely with John Towery, aka “John Jacob.” This is their first broadcast interview since coming forward with their story.
Brendan, let’s begin with you. Just lay out how you found out about this military spy.
BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: Well, thanks for having us, Amy.
I actually did a public records request through the city of Olympia several months ago on behalf of the union I’m in, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the records request I did, I had asked for any documents or emails, etc., that the city had, especially in discussions or any kind of communications between the Olympia police and the military in the city generally, anything on anarchists, anarchy, anarchism, Students for a Democratic Society or the Industrial Workers of the World. I got back hundreds of documents from the city.
One of the documents was an email that was sent between personnel in the military, and the email address that was attached to this email was of John J. Towery. We didn’t know who that was, but several people did a lot of research to find out who that was, and they identified that person as being John Jacob.
AMY GOODMAN: And what was your first reaction? Who was John Jacob to you?
BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: John Jacob was actually a close friend of mine, so this week has been pretty difficult for me. He was-he said he was an anarchist. I met him over two years ago through community organizing and antiwar organizing I was involved with in Tacoma and Olympia with other anarchists and other activists.
And he was really interested in Students for a Democratic Society. He wanted to start a chapter of Movement for a Democratic Society, which is connected to SDS. He got involved with Port Militarization Resistance, with Iraq Vets Against the War. He was-you know, knew a lot of people involved with that organization.
But he was a friend of mine. We hung out. We gave workshops together on grassroots direct democracy and anarchist struggle. I mean, he was a friend. A lot of people really, really did like him. He was a kind person. He was a generous person. So it was really just a shock for me this week when all of this was determined.
ANJALI KAMAT: And, Brendan, what did John Towery, who you used to know as “John Jacob,” say to you when you confronted him?
BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: Well, after it was confirmed that he was in fact John Towery, I knew he wouldn’t call me, so I called him up the day after. This was this past Thursday. And I called him up; I said, “John, you know, what’s the deal? Is this true?” And he told me; he said, “Yes, it is true, but there’s a lot more to this story than what was publicized.” So he wanted to meet with me and another anarchist in person to further discuss what happened and what his role was.
So, when I met him, he admitted to several things. He admitted that, yes, he did in fact spy on us. He did in fact infiltrate us. He admitted that he did pass on information to an intelligence network, which, as you mentioned earlier, was composed of dozens of law enforcement agencies ranging from municipal to county to state to regional and several federal agencies, including Immigration Customs Enforcement, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, Homeland Security, the Army in Fort Lewis.
So he admitted to other things, too. He admitted that the police had placed a camera, surveillance camera, across the street from a community center in Tacoma that anarchists ran called the Pitch Pipe Infoshop. He admitted that there were police that did put a camera up there to spy on anarchists, on activists going there.
He also-one other thing he spoke of-I don’t know if this is true. I mean, honestly, I don’t know what to believe from John, but he said that the police in Tacoma and Olympia had been planning for a while on raiding the anarchist Pitch Pipe Infoshop and also the house I lived in with several other activists in Olympia. And they had approached John several times, saying, you know, “Do they have bombs and explosives and drugs and guns and things like that?” which is just disgusting to even think that they would suggest that. They’re just trying to silence us politically. They’re going after us for our politics and for our work, you know, around Port Militarization Resistance and around antiwar organizing. And, of course, John told them, no, we didn’t have any of those stuff. He told them the truth.
But he also mentioned that there were other informants that are among us.
AMY GOODMAN: Brendan, we’re going to break. Then we’re going to come back to this discussion. I really want to talk to Drew Hendricks about John’s involvement in IT, in the technical aspects, the coordination of the LISTSERVs.
Today, a Democracy Now! exclusive, an exposé on a military spy in peace groups in Olympia, Washington. Brendan Dunn is our guest, Olympia activist with Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance. He discovered that his friend, fellow activist “John Jacob,” was actually a military spy. And Drew Hendricks will be joining us in a minute, talking about his involvement. John Towery, their friend, “John Jacob.” Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, a national broadcast exclusive. A military spy in the ranks of antiwar activists in Olympia, Washington.
We have a number of guests. We’ve just been speaking with Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, Olympia activist with Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance. He discovered, through an FOIA request, a Freedom of Information Act request, that his friend, fellow activist “John Jacob,” was actually working with Fort Lewis base in Washington state, was a military spy in his organizations.
Drew Hendricks is with us, as well, in Seattle, also an Olympia activist with the same groups, Port Militarization Resistance. He worked with John Towery, his real name-”John Jacob” is how they knew him-before the exposé that has now coming out.
Drew, tell us how you met John and how he was involved in the organizations.
DREW HENDRICKS: I first met John in September of 2007, and he approached me as somebody who claimed to have base access, which turned out to be true. He did admit that he was a civilian employee for the Army. And what he was offering me were observations and inside knowledge of operations on Fort Lewis.
I let him know that I wasn’t willing to have any classified information from him and that I wasn’t engaged in espionage. I was looking for open source information and looking for insight into movements of military materials over the public roads, so that people other than myself could orgnize protests or organize blockades, as they might see fit, and it wasn’t appropriate for me to be involved in their plans. It was only appropriate for him let me know things that I could confirm from open ground, from public spaces. He abided by those rules, for the most part.
And he did not reveal his role to me that he was actually part of a force protection cell, that he was actually reporting to DES fusion and part of the intelligence operation of Fort Lewis. He wasn’t admitting to me that his reports were going to Washington Joint Analytical Center, which is a function of the Washington State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Intimidation-I’m sorry, Investigation.
But he did provide what he purported to be observations of operations on Fort Lewis, and he was involved with the group for a few months before I mistakenly and stupidly, in retrospect, trusted him with co-administration of our LISTSERV, our shared means of talking to each other over electronic media.
AMY GOODMAN: And the LISTSERV involvement, how much control he had over who was involved in your groups, Drew?
DREW HENDRICKS: Well, he could tell from that access who all was subscribed to the LISTSERV. He couldn’t control who was coming into or out of meetings, but he could find out who people were, if they were subscribed to the LISTSERV. And he did challenge some people who were attempting to get to the LISTSERV for their credentials, for people who could vouch for them being people who were not law enforcement or people who were not military intelligence who were coming into that activity. He wasn’t in control of what messages people could send, but as an administrator on RiseUp, he could have unsubscribed people, and there were some people that were disruptive that he did unsubscribe, in a way that the other LISTSERV administrators, for the most part, agreed with.
He wasn’t found to be abusing his authorities as a LISTSERV administrator directly, although he probably reported that list upwards in his chain of command or his chain of employment. And that served a significant chilling role for him as a military employee. He’s a civilian employee, but he is a former military-enlisted person. And so, he understood, or should have understood, that what he was doing was legally inappropriate. I’m not a lawyer, but in my opinion and from the history I’ve read, what he was doing was rather extraordinary, from the histories that I’ve read.
ANJALI KAMAT: I want to bring three others into this discussion. Joining us from Washington, DC is Mike German. He’s the National Security Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. He previously served as an FBI agent specializing in domestic counterterrorism from 1988 to 2004.
Also joining us here in New York is Eileen Clancy. She’s a founding member of I-Witness Video, a video collective that has documented government surveillance of activist groups for years. Her group was targeted by police raids last summer during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
And on the line with us from Bellingham, Washington is Larry Hildes, an attorney and National Lawyers Guild member who has represented Washington state-based activists with Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance in criminal and civil cases.
Larry, I want to go to you. Can you talk about your involvement with this and on what bases you have represented these activists?
LARRY HILDES: Absolutely. Good morning, by the way.
Yeah, I’ve been-I got involved-there was a sit-in at the gate of the Port of Olympia back in May of 2006 to protest use of the port for military shipments to Iraq and Afghanistan. And it’s been a wonderful experience. I have represented these folks through several rounds of criminal cases throughout Pierce and Thurston Counties, Tacoma and Olympia. And now we are suing, based in part on spying, in conjunction with the Seattle office of the ACLU.
And it got strange fairly early. We were in trial in March of 2007, arguing that these folks were not guilty of criminal violations for sitting at the gate, when they weren’t allowed into the port itself. The prosecutors kind of hinted that there was-that they had inside information that they shouldn’t have had. And the fourth day of the trial, as it’s clear that we have the jury, prosecutor’s office came out with a confidential jury analysis sheet that my office had done, that was circulated only on the internal attorney-client LISTSERV that was exclusively for the defense team, and announced that this was all over the internet and got a mistrial.
And we’re trying to figure out in the courtroom what’s going on here. Never seen anything like this. We know it’s not on the internet. And the person who set up the LISTSERV-so we’ve got LISTSERV stuff going on even before Mr. Towery’s involvement-person on the LISTSERV discovers that there’s two people who we never heard of, who they had not subscribed, he had not allowed onto the list. Those two turned out to be Tacoma police officers. And we’ve now found that the Tacoma police knew that this document was going to be revealed, knew it would probably be a mistrial, and was speculating-and knew exactly when it would be and was speculating what the effects would be. So, the spying started early.
It was very clear that they treated these folks-the worst thing they’ve ever done is acts of civil disobedience, peacefully, nonviolently trying to stop military blockades by standing in front of tanks and Strykers-that they were treating this like a very, very serious situation. So we knew that early. And it’s become clear that there was a lot of spying going on throughout this process. We kind of knew that this was coming.
Right now I’m defending a group of demonstrators who were arrested in Olympia in November of ’07, allegedly trying to block a troop convoy or a Stryker convoy from coming out of the port to go back to Fort Lewis to be repaired and sent back to Iraq again. And the police reports talk about-the incident commander talks about the fact that they had Army intelligence sources reporting to them detailed discussions that were going on in private meetings that Port Militarization Resistance was having, where they were discussing tactics and strategies. And based on that information, they decided that our clients from that action, who were sitting in an empty road outside of a closed gate, with no military vehicles in sight, were intending to blockade traffic and were arrested for attempted disorderly conduct, a charge we’ve never seen in our lives.
So we started trying to find out what’s going. We got the judge to agree to sign subpoenas, which were immediately refused by the head of the civil division of the US attorney’s office in Seattle, Brian Kipnis, saying they had no standing and they weren’t going to respond, and ordered the Army not to give us this information. So-
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us more about this US attorney. And also, isn’t he the attorney who prosecuted Ehren Watada-
LARRY HILDES: That’s exactly-
AMY GOODMAN: -the first officer to say no to going to war in Iraq, refusing to lead young men and women there for a war he felt was immoral?
LARRY HILDES: That’s exactly right, Amy. He handled the Ninth Circuit appeals and stood up in the courtroom and said, “OK, he’s had his appeal. Now we need to go forward. He needs to be prosecuted. We want a second court-martial,” and continued to argue that. And the day that the decision came-Ninth Circuit decision came down saying, “No, this was double jeopardy; you can’t do this,” he said, “Well, we’re going to prosecute him on the remaining claims anyway,” which, of course, has not happened.
He was also involved in a number of the Guantanamo cases and has been arguing that evidence of torture shouldn’t come out, because it would reveal confidential information about how Guantanamo was set up. So, his role has been, throughout this, to obstruct.
I sent him a letter saying, “OK, now we have this information. I ask for your help in investigating this, because this is a crime.” Under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1887, it is a crime for the US military to become involved in civilian law enforcement. And they’ve chipped away at it, but it’s still a crime. I got a letter back now telling me I have to ask the Army. I got this yesterday, saying, “You have to go through channels with the Army.” I’ve gone through channels with the Army, and the Army has told me they’re not allowed to talk to me, because he told them not to. So we’re going back and forth with this guy.
He has been in the US attorney’s office throughout much of the Bush administration. And apparently his job is to obstruct and punish those involved in protesting the war and those protesting torture. Interesting character. I had never heard of him before this. Apparently has a close relative-there aren’t that many Kipnises, but there are some-who runs a security firm that specializes in analysis of national security issues. So it’s a cozy little family network there. So-
ANJALI KAMAT: I’d like to turn to Mike German and bring him into the conversation, National Security Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, DC. Mike German, what’s your response to all of this?
MIKE GERMAN: Well, I think his analysis is exactly right. This is a pretty clear violation of Posse Comitatus. Now, what the military would argue, and has argued, is that they have a right to engage in force protection, which obviously, in its normal understanding of that term, is a defensive sort of capability, i.e. they can put guards at the gates of military bases and protect from threats from without. But they seem to have been, since 2002, considering that as an offensive capability, where they’re actually sending operatives out to spy on community activists, which is, of course, prohibited and something that, you know, the First and the Fourth Amendment become engaged.
And, you know, this is something that we found out through a FOIA back in 2005 the military was engaged in through a group called the Counterintelligence Field Activity. And they had a database of activists called Talon that, again, collected this US person information that the military has no business collecting. And that was shut down. But unfortunately, you know, they just created a new mechanism. This appears to be the fusion centers and these fusion cells that they’re using that, they seem to think, give them a method of circumventing Posse Comitatus and the restrictions on military intelligence gathering in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean, Mike, by fusion centers.
MIKE GERMAN: About two years ago, me and a colleague at the ACLU started investigating a lot of federal money going to what were called intelligence fusion centers. And I was only two years out of federal law enforcement at that point, and I had never heard this term, so I became concerned. And what these centers are is multi-jurisdictional intelligence centers that involve state, local and federal law enforcement, as well as other government entities-you know, a lot of times there are emergency services type of entities, but actually can’t involve any government entity-but also involve oftentimes the military and private companies.
So we produced a report in November of 2007 warning of the potential dangers that these multi-jurisdictional centers had, because it was unclear whose rules applied. Were we using federal rules? Were we using state rules? Local rules? And what was military and private company-what rules govern their conduct? So we put out this report in November of 2007. At that point, there were forty-two fusion centers. By July of 2008, we had found so many instances of abuse, we put out an updated report. At that point, there were fifty-eight fusion centers. Today, the DHS recognizes at least seventy-two fusion centers. So these things are rapidly growing, without any sort of proper boundaries on what activities happen within them and without really any idea of what it is the military is doing in these fusion centers and what type of access they have to US person information.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn back for a moment to the two activists in Olympia. They’re speaking to us from Seattle today, first time they’re speaking out nationally, Brendan Dunn and Drew Hendricks. Just give us a sense, Brendan, of why you got involved in activism. People might be listening and watching right now and wondering, “I’ve never even heard of Port Militarization Resistance,” or perhaps the new Students for a Democratic Society, based on the old. What’s your background, Brendan?
BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: Well, I guess I really started to get involved with activism and organizing-it was in high school, but it wasn’t until after high school, when my friend’s brother was shot and killed by the police in Utica, New York. His name was Walter Washington. And the community developed a response to that, and, you know, that’s what really started to get me thinking and actively organizing. That’s really when I got involved.
I moved to Olympia a little over three years ago. Since then, I’ve been involved with a lot, with Students for a Democratic Society. And, you know, the more police repression I’ve learned about or experienced and just repression, generally, that it’s moved me in a more radical direction. That’s when I started to pick up anarchist politics and organizing.
So I’ve been involved with Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance-just makes sense to me, because the military-this is one of the most highly militarized areas of the country, if not the world, western Washington is. And it just makes sense to me that if we want to throw a gear in the war machine, the best way to do it is in our own backyard, our own towns. And in our case, it’s in the Port of Olympia, the Port of Tacoma, the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen. And that’s where direct action makes sense and community struggle makes sense.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Drew Hendricks, your involvement in Port Militarization Resistance, known for trying to stop some of the-for example, the Stryker vehicles from being sent to Iraq?
DREW HENDRICKS: Yes. My primary activity with Port Militarization Resistance is as a coordinator for intelligence collection, so that people have the time that they need to make good decisions about what it is that they’re going to do. I’ve taken one direct action myself against said activity early on in the end of May 2006. I blocked a couple of gates shut overnight and was arrested during that action and found and put in jail for a few hours. But for the most part, my role has been to collect information and disseminate it to the people who need to know, so that they can make timely decisions.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break, then come back to this conversation. We are doing a national exposé today on a person who worked in the military spying on peace groups in Washington state. His name-well, they thought his name was John Jacob. His name is John Towery. We asked that he come-we wanted him to come on the broadcast, but he didn’t respond to our request. We also asked the military to join us; we read the statement earlier, yes, admitting that John Towery worked with them. We’ll continue this conversation in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We bring you this exclusive on peace activists in Washington state revealing an informant posing as an anarchist has spied on them while working under the US military-the activists, members of the group Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance, which protests military shipments bound for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yes, this is Democracy Now!, and we urge you to go to our website at democracynow.org, where we’re video and audio podcasting, where you can see the documents that they got under Freedom of Information Act.
ANJALI KAMAT: The government documents also show that intelligence officers from other government and military agencies inquired Olympia police about the Washington state peace activists. In an email to an Olympia police officer from February 2008, Thomas Glapion, Chief Investigations/Intel of New Jersey’s McGuire Air Force, writes, quote, “Good Morning, first let me thank you for the effort. To the contrary you were quite the help to me. You are now part of my Intel network. I’m still looking at possible protests by the PMR SDS MDS and other left wing anti war groups so any Intel you have would be appreciated…In return if you need anything from the Armed Forces I will try to help you as well,” end-quote.
Now, we contacted the McGuire Air Base, and they also denied our interview request. They released a short statement saying only, quote, “Our force protection specialists routinely research local and national groups in response to potential risks and threats to Air Force installations and to ensure the safety of our personnel,” end-quote.
Another declassified email from February 2008 comes from Andrew Pecher of the US Capitol Police Intelligence Investigations Section in Washington, DC. The email is also addressed to an Olympia police contact. It says, quote, “I am just droppjng [sic] in to see if you had a problems with the below action that we had talked about a few weeks ago. Any information that you have would be helpful. Thank you!!” end-quote. The “action” Pecher refers to is the “Northwest DNC/RNC Resistance Conference,” an event that was held at Evergreen State College to prepare for protests at last summer’s Democratic and Republican conventions.
I want to go to Brendan Maslauskas Dunn. Brendan, how did you find this information? When you first saw this information, can you talk about your reaction?
BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: Well, when it all surfaced through the public records requests, I wasn’t surprised. I guess I had been expecting this, especially with the level of activity that activists have been involved with in Olympia, in the last few years, especially. But, I mean, it still was a shock. I didn’t know it was that extensive. I guess that’s why it was a shock to me.
I didn’t know that the Air Force from New Jersey was interested in activities that activists in Olympia were involved with. And I didn’t know that the Capitol police in Washington, DC was trying to extract information from people in Olympia, as well.
So I always suspected that there was surveillance going on. It was obvious it was going on locally from local agencies and local police agencies. I had no idea how widespread it is. And I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have no clue what’s below the water.
AMY GOODMAN: Eileen Clancy, I’d like to bring you into this conversation. You have long been documenting police and federal authorities’ activities in antiwar and peace protests at the conventions in 2004 and then 2008. You, yourselves, at I-Witness were targeted. You were detained by police. The places that you were setting up video to video police actions on the streets were raided by the police in St. Paul. Your reaction to what you’re listening to and watching today?
EILEEN CLANCY: Well, I have to say, I think this is one of the most important revelations of spying on the American people that we’ve seen since the beginning of the Bush era. It’s very clear that there’s no such thing as one spy, especially not in the Army. So-and it’s very clear that this problem is national in scope, in that sort of casual manner that these folks are interacting with each other.
It’s really like in January 1970. Christopher Pyle, who was a former US Army intelligence officer, revealed in Washington Monthly that there was an extraordinary program of spying by the Army on political protest groups. And he said that-well, what was written in the New York Times was that the Army detectives would attend some of these events, but the majority of material that they gathered was from police departments, local governments and the FBI. And at that time, they had a special teletype, pre-internet, that connected the Army nationwide and where the police could load up their information on this stuff. They also published a small book that was a blacklist, which is similar now to the terrorist watch list, where the police share information about activists with maybe no criminal basis whatsoever. And at the time, in January 1970, Pyle said that there was a hope to link the teletype systems to computerized databanks in Baltimore, Maryland, which, of course, is the general area of the National Security Agency, which does most of the spying for-it’s supposed to be foreign, but apparently they do domestic spying, as well.
So this now, what we have here-and after these revelations, there was a Church Committee. There was a great deal of investigating that went on. And while a lot of it was covered up, the military was pushed back for a while on this front. But because now we have the capability of gathering an extraordinary amount of information and holding onto it and sharing it, through the internet and through other means, we really have this 1970s problem amped up on steroids, twenty-first-century-style. And this had been going on for a while.
Something terrible has been going on in the Pacific Northwest in terms of police spying. There are other documents that had been revealed-the Tacoma police, Homeland Security, meetings, minutes. And you can see that one of the essential problems with this kind of model and the fusion center model is that in the same meeting, they’re talking about a Grannies Against the War group handing out fliers at the local mall, and they’re talking about new information about what al-Qaeda is going to do. It’s a model that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, and it’s a model that’s based really on hysteria.
When you see those pictures that were just shown on the screen, pictures of people with no weapons standing in the middle of a road with giant Army vehicles in front of them, you know, it’s clear that the protest is of a symbolic nature. There’s no violence involved on the part of the activists. It’s a traditional sit-in type of protest. The idea that the Army, the Navy and the Marines would become hysterical at this threat, I mean, it is the Army, it’s the Navy, it’s the Marines. And when-that’s the reason the Army shouldn’t be involved in this, because the job of an army-and they’ll tell you this-is to kill people and break things. The motto of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team that’s housed at Fort Lewis, that this force protection cell was trying to protect, their motto is “strike and destroy.” They’re really built for one thing, and it’s certainly not policing. It’s certainly not dealing with community activist groups, Grannies Against the War, or local activists in Olympia.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask about Rush Holt, the New Jersey congressman-we’re talking about McGuire Air Base, actually, in New Jersey-who has just in the last weeks been calling for a Church-like, Pike-like investigation of the intelligence community, starts by talking about the CIA. He’s raised this with the Washington Independent, with the Newark Star-Ledger, even raised it on Lou Dobbs a few days ago. And the significance of something at this level of the Church Committee hearings that investigated spying-Sy Hersh exposed it decades ago in a major article in the New York Times. Mike German, at this point, the significance of something like this? And do you think we would see this under President Obama?
MIKE GERMAN: I would hope so. You know, when we first came out with our report on fusion centers and warned about the military presence, you know, people told us that that wasn’t something we needed to be concerned about. And, you know, so this is a very important revelation, that there is actual evidence of abuse, that hopefully will open the eyes of the people who are responsible for overseeing these types of activities. And I believe something like a select investigative committee to investigate such activities is certainly called for. And, in fact, Representative Barbara Lee had introduced back in April a bill that would allow a select committee to investigate national security policy and practices. So, we’re hoping that this will bring support to that effort.
AMY GOODMAN: I also wanted to ask Brendan Dunn about the evidence of other spies in your organization. In fact, didn’t John-”John Jacob,” now known as John Towery, who worked at Fort Lewis-didn’t he tell you about others that he actually wanted out of the organization sometimes and called the military to get them out?
BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, that’s his story, at least. He admitted that there were a few other informants that were sent.
He had a weird story, which, you know, we know isn’t true, based on the public records and the documents that we have in our hands, that he was, you know, forced into this position to spy on us, that he didn’t do it for pay, that he only reported to the Tacoma police and wasn’t connected to the military whatsoever. I mean, it’s a good cover story to, you know, let the military free and blame it on a bunch of Keystone cops in Tacoma, but there was actually another email I got through the records request that was sent between a couple Olympia police officers, and they had mentioned something about their Army guy that was working for them and something else about someone in the Coast Guard that was also perhaps, still perhaps, currently acting as an informant.
AMY GOODMAN: We also, in doing research on John Towery, have information, addresses that he had at both Fort Drum, Upstate New York, and also in Brussels, which we associate with NATO. Is there any understanding or knowledge you have of this, either Brendan or Drew? Did he talk about this in his past?
BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: This is actually the first I’ve heard of it. I’m actually surprised, because I used to live near Fort Drum. I used to go to school near Fort Drum before I moved out to Olympia. So this is news to me. I’ve never heard anything.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, in figuring out how you go forward, I wanted to bring Larry Hildes back into this conversation. Information about one activist actually having a locator put in his car to figure out where he was going from one protest to another, can you tell us about Phil Chin, Larry?
LARRY HILDES: Yes, I can. And we’re actually suing about this in conjunction with the Seattle ACLU now. Mr. Chin was on his way to a demonstration at the Port of Aberdeen. It was going to be a peaceful march, not even any civil disobedience. His license plate was called in, and Washington state patrol sent an attempt-to-locate code-we didn’t know what an attempt-to-locate code was until this-saying, “There are three known anarchists in this car, in this green Ford Taurus. Apprehend them, and then let the Aberdeen police know.”
So he gets pulled over for supposedly going five miles an hour under the speed limit in heavy traffic and charged with DUI, despite the fact he hasn’t had anything to drink, hasn’t done any drugs, total-every single test comes up absolutely negative, except for the fact that he had trouble standing on one foot because he had an inner ear infection. The lab tests come up negative. And they still go forward with this, until we move to dismiss and ask what this attempt-to-locate code is. And we find out that it’s-we’ve got the tape, the dispatch tapes of them calling in this car with the three known anarchists-by the way, none of whom was Phil. But on the dashboard of the car that takes him away is a picture of Phil’s other car.
ANJALI KAMAT: Eileen Clancy, we just have a minute left. What does this, all of this information that’s come out, what does this do for activists? Does it create a climate of fear? What you, who have been spied on, who have had so much experience with this-what are your final words?
EILEEN CLANCY: I think people should try not to be afraid. They should consider what these fine activists have done here, which is done an extraordinary public service by putting this information out. This could be one of the key revelations of this era, if this is followed up on. It’s very important that people be aggressive about this. And thank goodness they did it.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you all for being with us, Eileen Clancy of I-Witness Video; Mike German of the American Civil Liberties Union; Larry Hildes, National Lawyers Guild, based in Bellingham; and the two activists who have exposed this story through their Freedom of Information Act request, Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, Olympia-based activist, and Drew Hendricks, as well. Thank you both very much for being with us.