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Covert spying on Americans becomes overt intimidation

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(from a larger article The Latest on the Police State Front at Sibel Edmond’s Blog )

FBI Files on Investigations of Iowa City Peace Activists Made Public

David Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa’s Antiwar Committee, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for files associated with an FBI surveillance of groups in Iowa City prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. What he discovered was the investigation was far more extensive than previously known. Now, Goodner has turned over the files he received from the FBI exclusively to The Iowa Independent for publication.

As the documents show, the investigation into activities of peace groups in Iowa City involved staking out homes, secretly photographing and video taping members, digging through garbage and even planting a mole to spy on the peace activists up close.  Known as the Wild Rose Rebellion, the protesters were described by the FBI as an “anarchist collective.” In an interview with The Des Moines Register, the FBI defended its actions.

Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha field office, which oversees Iowa and Nebraska, said in a statement that every investigative technique that was employed was authorized under guidelines established by the U.S. attorney general “and was deemed necessary to resolve the allegations.” …

Dun said the Iowa City investigation was warranted because of allegations that certain people were possibly going to engage in criminal activities to disrupt the national conventions of one or both major political parties.

The group’s plans were to help organize nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, such as street blockades, at the 2008 RNC convention. In an interview Monday with progressive radio host Ed Fallon, Goodner said the FBI investigation didn’t make sense.

****

And here is the second related article:

Midlands FBI spying under scrutiny

In August 2003, two FBI agents watched over an Omaha rally organized by peace activist Frank Cordaro, a former Catholic priest.The agents observed no criminal activity at the rally but still sent notes on those in attendance to local military and law enforcement officials so they could plan security measures for a conference on U.S. nuclear policy at Offutt Air Force Base, according to a Justice Department report.

Also, FBI files reveal that agents, working under the direction of the bureau’s Omaha field office, secretly monitored the activities of Iowa City protest groups before the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

“I learned early in my peace and justice career to assume the government knows what’s going on,” said Cordaro, who has spent a total of about five years in jail for trespassing on Offutt property. When the FBI was monitoring him, Cordaro was planning a protest against nuclear weapons at the Offutt conference.

Now the FBI, including its Omaha office, is under intense scrutiny for investigations that revive memories of the bureau’s Vietnam-era intrigue.

Unsealed agency documents and a report from the Justice Department detail the FBI’s broad investigations of protest groups in Nebraska, Iowa and other parts of the country based on its authority to look into allegations and threats of domestic and international terrorism.

“In several cases there was little indication of any possible federal crimes,” Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in his report, which detailed similar investigations the agency conducted around the country. “In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘Acts of Terrorism’ classification.”

A domestic terrorism designation can have a large impact, the inspector general said, because people who are subjects of such probes are normally placed on watch lists and their travels and interactions with law enforcement may be tracked.

The FBI investigated whether the Iowa activists were part of a national network of radicals who wanted to disrupt the GOP convention in Minnesota and the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. The records show that the investigation lasted from roughly March to December in 2008.

During that time, authorities went through activists’ garbage and their cell phone and motor vehicle records.

Okay, you can read the rest here.

And finally, here is a hard-hitting recent news article for those who don’t consider the two above alarm-worthy:

FBI Raids: An End to ‘Covert’ Spying on Antiwar Groups?

Earlier this week the Justice Department revealed that the FBI had been using false claims of “counter-terror” operations to justify covert spying operations against antiwar groups in Pittsburgh and elsewhere across the country. As officials downplayed the report the matter seemed to be just another in a growing list of Bush era abuses of power, about which little is ever said.

Then this morning FBI agents and SWAT teams started kicking doors in across Minneapolis, across Chicago, across the rest of America. The target: antiwar activists of various stripes, but particularly those likely to be involved in antiwar protests at the next Democratic National Convention.

It seems the era of “covert” FBI spying has come to an end, and not in the good way like you’d hope. Rather it seems to have moved with surprising alacrity from behind the shadows and become an overt program of intimidation and surveillance of what is left of America’s antiwar movement. Read more ?

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