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The Military Spies on Anarchists in Olympia

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now just broke a story that is a piece of a larger puzzle: and that puzzle is the spying on dissidents right here in the United States.

This time it was done by someone working for the U.S. military, which may be illegal.

It happened out in Olympia, Washington, where a guy who went by the name of John Jacob infiltrated a group of anarchists working with Students for a Democratic Society and the Port Militarization Resistance. This went on for a couple of years.

When the activists found him out just last week, they were shocked.

“John Jacob was actually a close friend of mine,” Brendan Maslauskas Dunn told Amy Goodman. “We hung out. We gave workshops together on grassroots direct democracy and anarchist struggle.”

But John Jacob was not who he purported to be.

His real name is John Towery, and he’s no anarchist. He’s a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis.

This is just the latest case of domestic spying on political groups that may be happening all over.

A few months ago, it came out that an undercover FBI agent had infiltrated some peace groups in Iowa City.

The case in Olympia is even more troubling, as it involves the U.S. military, which is supposed to be banned by the Posse Comitatus Act from engaging in law enforcement.

But this isn’t the first time that the military has been caught with its hand in the spying jar.

Back in 2004 at the University of Texas Law School in Austin, two Army lawyers attended, under cover, a conference entitled "Islam and the Law: A Question of Sexism.”

On Mother’s Day, 2005, the National Guard in California was keeping tabs on the Raging Grannies and Code Pink.

And last year at the Republican Convention in St. Paul, the U.S. Northern Command provided support. (See democracynow.org, and "What Is NorthCom Up To?"; in the February 2009 issue of The Progressive.)

The Pentagon also was involved in spying on activists through its notorious Talon database.

Though the Pentagon shut down Talon, the national security state is still involved in gathering intelligence through so-called fusion centers.

The Olympia activists were surprised at the extent of the spying. It turns out that the head of investigations and intelligence at New Jersey’s McGuire Air Force contacted an Olympia police officer about the anarchists, saying he was looking into “leftwing anti-war groups” himself and would appreciate “any Intel.” And the U.S. Capitol Police Intelligence Investigations Section sought information from the Olympia police about an event at Evergreen State College that was planning protests at the Democratic and Republican conventions last year, according to Democracy Now.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Dunn told Amy Goodman. “I have no clue what’s below the water.”

For more information on hundreds of similar incidents, go to McCarthyism Watch at The Progressive’s website.

 

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