Monday, March 27, 2006

Domestic Repression alive and well--and documented

I expect that when Americans read the William Arkin column "Early Warning" in the Washington Post calling out members of the 902nd Military Intelligence Group to stand up and blow the whistle on military efforts to spy on domestic anti-war, anti-military and environmental organizations, the reactions of too many people will be (willful) disbelief fueled by the pervasive American cultural cognitive dissonance.

In response, I would like to point readers towards the revelation from the ACLU earlier this month of the first concrete evidence of FBI spying based solely on groups’ anti-war views: members of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice are being investigated by an FBI counter–terrorism unit for legally and peacefully offering anti-war leaflets to passersby. The ACLU has thoroughly, publically, and transparently documented the Merton Center case.

Background: Thomas Merton was an American contempletive trappist monk and mystic, known for his prolific writings, and his passionate advocacy of non-violent resistance during the 1960's civil rights movement and Vietnam War era. (There are theories, unproven, that he was assassinated in 1968 for his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War.) The Thomas Merton Center was founded as Pittsburg's peace and justice center in 1972. The Thomas Merton Center Anti-War Committee (AWC) was formed in 2003 opposition to the imminent invasion of Iraq. These are folks who hold peaceful, legal rallies and marches.

The ACLU discovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that the Thomas Merton Center Anti War Committee's activities are being targetted by the FBI. The FBI also placed an infiltrator inside the Anti War Committe in 2004 and 2005.

The ACLU made their FOIA request as part of their national campaign to expose domestic spying by the FBI and other government agencies (such as the Pentagon , the National Security Agency, and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force) comprising requests in 20 states on behalf of more than 150 organizations and individuals. The FOIA documents have revealed that the FBI and local law enforcement have targeted, monitored and infiltrated political, environmental, anti-war and faith-based groups.

Nota bene Under the illusion of the American constitution, these are organizations engaged in peaceful, law-abiding activites. Americans are being spyed on, by every level of their government, for expressing political dissent.

At what point do we say dictatorship? At what point do we say banana republic? At what point do we reach the tipping point where Americans will stand up and fight* to get their country back?

For those Americans not yet divorced from reality, the ACLU makes a compelling case that the time is now.

Further Reading

News in the Illegal Domestic Spying Cases

Illegal Pentagon spying on domestic peace groups and anti-war protestors

Illegal, Warrant-less domestic spying by the National Security Agency

FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force investigations of political advocacy groups

*Gentle readers, I am an immigrant with an FBI file of my own. Please allow me to very specifically clarify that when I say "fight," I mean use every legal and non-violent method possible. And keep in mind that by advocation political dissent and non-violence, in this Republican administration's eyes I have just identified myself as a terrorist.

Think about that.


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