Monday, January 30, 2006

And We Thought the NSA was Bad

In its lead editorial The Washington Post reminds us that the civil liberties violations by the Pentagon's CIFA are as bad, if not worse than those committed by the NSA.

A database managed by a secretive Pentagon intelligence agency called Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, was found last month to contain reports on at least four dozen antiwar meetings or protests, many of them on college campuses. Ten peace activists who handed out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches outside Halliburton's headquarters in Houston in June 2004 were reported as a national security threat. So were people who assembled at a Quaker meeting house in Lake Worth, Fla., or protested military recruiters at sites such as New York University, the State University of New York and campuses of the University of California at Berkeley and at Santa Cruz.

The difference here is that many of those under surveillance found out because they were cited or written up. There were many more who were secretly monitored though who deserve to know that their civil liberties have once again been violated by the Bush administration with its "post 9/11, live-in-fear" mind set.

For those of you who aren't familiar with CIFA it is short for Counterintelligence Field Activity and it secretly monitored war protestors, a group of Quakers and basically others who simply disagreed with the Bush administration. The Post calls them peaceful political dissenters. That could include anyone who has written or spoken out against the Bush administration.

Walter Pincus of The Washington Post first wrote about this in December. You can find his articles here, here and here.

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2 Comments:

Blogger eric said...

Lovely piece of propaganda here.
(Easy, tiger, I am not a raving Republican lunatic nor am i an enraged psycho-socialistic Democrat either.)
Um, so tell me what Pentagon intelligence agency is NOT secretive? Isn't that inherently what intelligence agencies are? Oh, or are you saying that this one is REALLY super-secret like the tree house club I had when I was five? (We had secret handshakes and EVERYTHING - it was sooo cool!)
Look, ALL protests and protest-related activity is monitored by somebody within the government. If there is reason to believe there is a larger, public security-threatening body behind it, then the bigger guns are called in to watch too, whether it is gangs, the mob, drug traffickers, political parties, or, yes, terrorist cells. Do you think that Elliot Ness's success against mob activities were a matter of happenstance and pure luck?
I am not trying to equate Quakers or college students with criminals, but they are not the ones being monitored directly. The organized group is being monitored as a whole for background security issues.
Not convinced?
Try this analogy:
Ever walk into a bank to access your personal finances? Have you ever felt threatened by the security guard who watches every law-abiding citizen who walks through the door - including you? Or maybe you did not see the security guard - but they are there - watching your every move on cameras all over the room (many you are not even aware of). That's pretty sneaky of them, right? But not once have I felt threatened.
One more:
Late at night at a city festival it is not uncommon to see police walking a beat close by and watching people as they move through parking lots or generally walk the grounds. Most law-abiding citizens know they are being watched, albeit randomly, and this actually makes most people feel more protected. However, when someone is seen ducking in the shadows or lingering among the parked cars, the police take notice and investigate further. This is a far cry from Gestapo-like random interrogations and is much like the monitoring of the protests you write about. If the people at the protests were cited, then they did something illegal, even if it is trivial.
And, I would recommend you review just what your civil liberties are and under what circumstances you voluntarily, or legally, give up these privileges and rights under our laws. You may be very surprised with what you find out.
Thanks for listening...
-e

3:06 AM EST  
Blogger B. Muse said...

Eric - I have read my Constitution. I keep a copy of it on the wall above my desk, along with a copy of The Declaration of Independence and Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech. I know what the civil liberties are that are guaranteed by my Constitution and its subsequent articles and amendments. I also know that Big Brother is watching. The problem is that the paranoia of President Bush and his administration has stretched this "spying" to the limits.

Maybe you never felt threatened because you simply don't care. Some people don't care if their medical, internet, phone, mail, library, work and tax records open for review by the government. (Well, tax records are anyway...and work records for SS purposes.) I mean reviewed outside the normal circumstances. Most of us do care.

Your apathy and sarcasm are noted. You aren't a Republican or a Democrat. You think you're a swing voter. You are fooling yourself. Anyone who can't look at the facts of what is happening in our society and feel outraged at the unprecedented loss of our freedoms is either a fascist or a citizen of another country.

11:51 AM EST  

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