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Tag: John Towery


Did Army employee spy on protesters on his own time?

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Much is in dispute in the John Towery affair, the case of the Army employee who spied on local antiwar protesters under a false name.

Here’s a fact that is not in dispute, according to recently released records: The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department used a confidential informant to penetrate the ranks of South Sound antiwar protesters and provide detailed information about them – including their Social Security numbers, in some cases. That information was shared with other local law enforcement agencies, including the Tacoma Police Department.

Then things get a little fuzzy.

The informant was Towery, then an employee of Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Force Protection Division, which provides support for local law enforcement and security operations. Towery’s Army supervisor was aware that he was spying on the protesters and had approved the informant relationship with Pierce County. Read more »


A year later, Army still owes answers in spy case

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

John J. Towery remains as much a mystery today as he was in July 2009 when a South Sound antiwar group accused him of being a government spy.

That’s unacceptable. The Army, which employed Towery at Fort Lewis, has held off providing the public answers for far too long.

Towery made international headlines last summer after Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, a group that has tried to block military shipments at the ports of Olympia and Tacoma, outed him.

Group members allege that Towery, masquerading as “John Jacob,” infiltrated their group in 2007 and insinuated himself into the organization in a way that would have helped the military monitor – and perhaps foil – the group’s activities.

The group learned his true identity last year after acquiring public records that listed Towery as a member of Fort Lewis Force Protection and ferreting out that Towery and Jacob were the same guy.

The Army has said precious little about the allegations to date, other than to confirm that Towery was a criminal intelligence analyst for Fort Lewis and to promise disclosure at some future date.

In a September e-mail to The News Tribune’s sister paper, The Olympian, a Fort Lewis spokesman said: “When the investigation is complete, we will provide as much information about the finding as possible. Our goal is transparency.”

Well, the investigation is complete – has been for weeks – but the Army’s not planning to hand it over anytime soon. Another spokesman, Joseph Piek, told The News Tribune last month that the Army won’t release the report because of a pending federal civil lawsuit against Towery and others.

Read more »