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November 23, 2003

J Edgar's Ghost Still Walks the Earth

I don't wanna throw the word Cointelpro around too loosely, but here is something to keep an eye on:

FBI scrutinizing anti-war protesters

The FBI has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squads, according to interviews and a confidential bureau memorandum.

The memorandum, which the bureau sent to local law enforcement agencies last month in advance of antiwar demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco, detailed how protesters have sometimes used "training camps" to rehearse for demonstrations, the Internet to raise money, and gas masks to defend against tear gas. The memorandum analyzed lawful activities such as recruiting demonstrators, as well as illegal activities such as using fake documentation to get into a secured site.

FBI officials said in interviews that the intelligence-gathering effort was aimed at identifying anarchists and "extremist elements" plotting violence, not at monitoring the political speech of law-abiding protesters...

...Civil rights advocates have complained for months that federal officials have surreptitiously sought to suppress the First Amendment rights of antiwar demonstrators.

Critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, for instance, have sued the government to learn how their names ended up on a "no fly" list used to stop suspected terrorists from boarding planes. And the New York Police Department this year questioned many of those arrested at demonstrations about their political affiliations, before halting the practice and expunging the data in the face of public criticism.

The FBI memorandum, however, appears to offer the first corroboration of a coordinated nationwide effort to collect intelligence regarding demonstrations...

...The memorandum also discussed "innovative strategies" used by demonstrators, like the videotaping of arrests as a means of "intimidation" against the police. And it noted that protesters "often use the Internet to recruit, raise funds and coordinate their activities prior to demonstrations..."

Umm, videotaping as a means of "intimidation"? That's quite a spin.

Posted by jsmooth995 at November 23, 2003 8:35 PM

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