Monday, December 19, 2005
Big whoop: Tuesday's New York Times is reporting that in the wake of 9/11 attacks the government has finally come to its senses and is monitoring groups that publicly advocate violence and terrorism.
Of course, that's not the way the Times characterizes it.
ounterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.
F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general, loosened restrictions on the F.B.I.'s investigative powers, giving the bureau greater ability to visit and monitor Web sites, mosques and other public entities in developing terrorism leads. The bureau has used that authority to investigate not only groups with suspected ties to foreign terrorists, but also protest groups suspected of having links to violent or disruptive activities.
Environmental groups -- you know they're always peaceful...except when they're spiking trees, torching SUVs or firebombing development projects.
Of course, all of the groups named are "appalled."
Jeff Kerr, general counsel for PETA, rejected the suggestion in some F.B.I. files that the animal rights group had financial ties to militant groups, and said he, too, was troubled by his group's inclusion in the files.
"It's shocking and it's outrageous," Mr. Kerr said. "And to me, it's an abuse of power by the F.B.I. when groups like Greenpeace and PETA are basically being punished for their social activism."
No, you're being monitored because you break into laboratories, destroy private property and trespass.
Everybody's a victim nowadays.