The local civil liberties activists who have been fighting the Northwest Detention Center (among other things) have unearthed a Homeland Security document that raises a few questions about the extent to which the government has been monitoring local political protests and events. A spokesman with the ACLU in Seattle said this week they’re trying to figure out what approach to take to get at some of the answers.
The document, which they’ve posted here, is a calendar from 2006 of events by “various civil activists and extremists groups” that have been flagged as having possible intelligence significance.
But the Bill of Rights Defense Committee – Tacoma and the ACLU want to know what information, if any, the government is collecting on citizens who are exercising their right to assemble and voice political opinions.
While the list contains events for white supremacy groups, the vast majority of groups the government was flagging as gatherings of note were anti-war demonstrations.
This local one was a real head-scratcher — note the source: ICE FIU stands for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s field intelligence unit:
Here’s a paragraph from the document that suggests what the interest is in the events.
Additionally, follow-up reporting such as; After Action Reports, Spot Reports, Arrests, lessons learned, use of violence and civil disobedience are of significant value in increasing officer safety and awareness of these events. Please forward these reports to Headquarters, FPS Intelligence Branch for analysis and historical review.
Still, the list reminds me of an expose by the Washington Post from October that showed “[t]he Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects.”
Follow up reporting found “The Maryland State Police surveillance of advocacy groups was far more extensive than previously acknowledged, with records showing that troopers monitored — and labeled as terrorists — activists devoted to such wide-ranging causes as promoting human rights and establishing bike lanes.”
Doug Honig, a spokesman for the ACLU in Seattle, said the government shouldn’t be collecting information on people engaged in peaceful protests unless there’s some indication laws are being broken.