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AIM Joins Nationwide ACLU Effort To Expose FBI Spy Files

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  • AIM Joins Nationwide ACLU Effort To Expose FBI Spy Files

    ************************************************** *************
    This message is reprinted under the Fair Use
    Doctrine of International Copyright Law:
    http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html
    ************************************************** *************


    FROM: INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY NEWSPAPER

    http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096410098

    AIM Joins Nationwide ACLU Effort To Expose FBI Spy Files

    Posted: January 04, 2005

    by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today


    DENVER - Under the guise of protecting the nation from terrorism, the
    American Civil Liberties Union said the FBI has entered a new era of McCarthyism -
    with a throwback to ''black bag'' jobs of warrantless, clandestine searches of
    homes and offices - and spying on American Indians, Muslims, Arabs and peace
    activists.

    In Denver and Chicago, the American Indian Movement joined a national effort
    by the ACLU to hold the United States government accountable for recent
    surveillance of religious and political groups in America. The national ACLU and at
    least a half-dozen additional state ACLU affiliates filed Freedom of
    Information Act requests for FBI documents on Dec. 2.

    ''We don't want to go back to the era of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, when
    Americans feared that speaking out would result in an FBI dossier,'' said Mark
    Silverstein, director of Colorado ACLU.

    The ACLU's evidence of FBI political spying was presented in Denver, while
    FOIA requests were filed on behalf of 16 organizations and 10 individuals. The
    ACLU presented documentary evidence that the Denver-based FBI and the
    Denver-based Joint Terrorism Task Force engages in unlawful spying.

    Silverstein said, ''The FBI is collecting information about non-violent
    protesters and law-abiding organizations whose issues are as varied as animal
    rights, protection of the environment, labor rights, United States military
    policies, social and economic justice in Latin America and the treatment of Native
    Americans.

    ''Their advocacy and expressive activities have nothing to do with
    terrorism.''

    The ACLU's evidence included a FBI ''Intelligence Bulletin'', dated Oct.
    2003. The Bulletin requested law enforcement to report protest activity to the FBI
    Joint Terrorism Task Force.

    Other evidence shows the Intelligence Unit of the Denver Police Department
    spied on the ACLU's clients in 2002. The earlier ACLU lawsuit showed Denver
    Police maintained spy files for 30 years on AIM leaders, tribal leaders and their
    attorneys, including Glenn Morris, Russell Means, Wilma Mankiller, Wallace
    Coffey and the Native American Rights Fund.

    Joint Terrorism Task Force agent Tom Fisher monitored peaceful demonstrations
    in Denver, including a rally protesting the bombing of Serbia. Meanwhile, the
    intelligence unit of the Colorado Springs police provided Fisher with the
    license plate numbers and names of peaceful protesters at a lumber industry
    convention.

    Now, intelligence officers from at least two-dozen Colorado law enforcement
    agencies trade political intelligence information about peaceful protestors at
    bimonthly meetings of the Multi-Agency Group Intelligence Conference.

    Non-violent peace activists are often listed by agents as terrorists. Bill
    Sulzman, a former Catholic priest active with Citizens for Peace in Space in
    Colorado Springs, is falsely listed in an FBI database as a ''member of a
    terrorist organization.

    ''This evidence of political surveillance raises questions whether the FBI's
    anti-terrorism unit unjustifiably regards dissent or criticism of government
    policies as potential terrorist activity,'' Silverstein said. ''That poses a
    tremendous risk of chilling individuals and organizations from taking part in
    the free exchange of viewpoints that is the basis for our democracy.''



    AIM: Spiritual movement of warriors



    In Southern California, Marty Fire Rider, AIM member and radio host, said the
    surveillance of AIM by agents is nationwide.

    ''Sadly, the U.S. government chooses to continue surveillance of the American
    Indian Movement. Here in southern California AIM members phones are tapped,''
    Fire Rider told Indian Country Today.

    Fire Rider, Anishinabe, and Joseph Red Bear, Hunkpapa Souix and president of
    AIM chapters in San Diego and Riverside County, host the national radio
    program ''American Indian Movement Today.''

    ''AIM, as well as any American, does not support terrorism or the violence it
    inflicts,'' Fire Rider said.

    ''We are a spiritual movement of warriors who will sacrifice for our people
    and our culture. However, violence is never the answer. Sadly, many in the
    media, the government, including some in our own culture have perpetuated a
    negative image of AIM. Many in Indian country know that AIM is a unifying force
    while performing positive community works.''

    Surveillance, he said, adds to the division that prevents healing.

    ''Government surveillance and harassment only continues to divide Indian
    country. As long as Indian country stays divided, not united, we will never begin
    the healing of our people and America as a whole.''



    McCarthyism and black bag jobs



    In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, outgoing Attorney General
    John Ashcroft relaxed long-standing guidelines that prohibited the FBI from
    spying on political or religious organizations without an adequate reason for
    such an investigation, the ACLU said.

    These guidelines were developed as a result of a troubling history of spying
    abuse by the agency. During the 1950s, for example, the FBI supplied Senator
    Joseph McCarthy with information about individuals - some of which was used to
    ruin the careers of innocent persons, the ACLU said. The Justice Department
    developed and implemented guidelines designed to curb such abuses in the future,
    but Ashcroft relaxed these standards, the ACLU said.

    Unlawful surveillance by the FBI and Chicago police was rampant in Chicago
    for decades. In the mid-1970s, federal lawsuits resulted in court supervision
    over intelligence-gathering activities.

    The FBI admitted in a federal court settlement that it had conducted more
    than 500 ''black bag'' jobs - warrantless, clandestine searches of homes and
    offices - in Chicago as part of this political spying, the ACLU said.

    Concerns about FBI surveillance, based upon religious and political
    expression, were heightened in November 2003 when The New York Times disclosed a
    classified FBI memo directing state and local police officials on methods of
    targeting and monitoring the activities of anti-war protestors during the run up to
    the conflict in Iraq.

    In Chicago, the groups filing FOIA requests include: The American Civil
    Liberties Union of Illinois; the American Friends Service Committee Great Lakes
    Region; the Community Renewal Society; the Council on American Islamic Relations
    Chicago Chapter; the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago; the
    Fellowship of Reconciliation Chicago Area Chapter; the Muslim Bar Association;
    the Muslim Civil Rights Center and the Oak Park Coalition for Peace and
    Justice.
    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

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