Washington's politicians, especially those who have allowed themselves to become subservient to corporate puppetmasters and their lobbyists, are not prepared to relinquish power to the people by moving towards a more direct democracy, but the people keep organizing in order to achieve that end, in an attempt to increase the power of the popular voice in government.Technological developments such as cell phones and, above all else, the internet have without a doubt become amazing tools in this effort, providing lines of communication for organizing, networking, and access to alternative media outlets outside of corporate control. Washington has counterattacked by introducing radical measures to monitor citizen's activities on the internet and their phone communications. This provides them with a database which can be used to spy on political opponents within the general population, and also has a chilling effect 0n people's readiness to freely express their political views, because they rightly fear that 'Big Brother' is watching.
Those in Washington have recognized the potential for a surge in popular power that these technologies have unleashed, and are attempting to squelch it as they have successfully done in the past with radio and television. We as citizens need to demand continued free and unfettered access to these new media and the type of information they provide without fear of being spied upon, and without them being regulated and restructured in order to strip them of the potential they have for increasing freedom of political expression and grassroots organizing.
The following article illustrates but one example of how the government is attempting to crack down on political expression in this manner. If those in Washington implementing these measures truly believed that our government is 'of the people, by the people, and for the people,' then they would not lessen our motivation to participate for fear of being spied upon or reprimanded, but instead would inspire us to act against the corrupt and oppressive elements within the government that have usurped power from the people, where the nation's constitution states that it is to be vested. - Editor
Maine Peace Groups Under FBI Scrutiny
(Source: http://www.agrnews.org/?section=archives&cat_id=13&article_id=257&rowx=0 )
Feb. 1- The Maine Civil Liberties Union (MCLU) announced on Feb. 1 that it has uncovered evidence of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance of the Maine Coalition for Peace and Justice. The FBI responded to a June records request from the MCLU with revelations that it has intercepted and collected past communications from members of the Maine Coalition for Peace and Justice, a statewide organization of individual citizens and Maine group representatives working collectively and nonviolently for social equality, economic justice, direct democracy and regenerative environmental policies.
"Knowing that the government is spying without probable cause on innocent Mainers sends a chilling message to all of us that our conversations are not our own," said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. "Spying on peace activists exercising their First Amendment rights does nothing to make this country safer, but it does make us less free."
In a related matter, the MCLU filed a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on behalf of local peace activists, protest groups and civil libertarians whose lawful activities may have been monitored by the Pentagon. The move is part of a national ACLU effort to reveal the extent and purpose of Pentagon spying.
The MCLU filed its FOIA request on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee, Maine Program on Youth and Militarism, the Maine Coalition for Peace and Justice and the MCLU itself. The MCLU is seeking the disclosure of all documents maintained by the Department of Defense on the individuals and groups, as well as information on whether the records have been shared with other government agencies.
The national ACLU filed a similar FOIA request on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee, Veterans for Peace, United for Peace and Justice and Greenpeace. ACLU affiliates in Georgia, Rhode Island, Florida, Pennsylvania and California are seeking Pentagon files on local groups.
Activist groups across the country learned through news reports in December that they are listed in the Pentagon's Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database. The TALON program was initiated by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in 2003 to track groups and individuals with possible links to terrorism, but the Pentagon has been collecting information on peaceful activists and monitoring anti-war and anti-military recruiting protests throughout the United States. Following public outcry over the domestic spying program, current Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England issued a memorandum on Jan. 13 directing intelligence personnel to receive "refresher training on the policies for collection, retention, dissemination and use of information related to US
Documents requested by the national ACLU under previous FOIA requests have revealed that the FBI is using its Joint Terrorism Task Forces to gather extensive information about peaceful organizations such as Greenpeace and Food Not Bombs. Earlier this month, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and attorneys against the National Security Agency for illegally intercepting vast quantities of the international telephone and internet communications of US citizens without court approval.
"The Pentagon's monitoring of anti-war protesters is yet another example of a government agency using its powers to spy on law-abiding Americans who criticize US policies," said Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the national ACLU. "How can we believe that the National Security Agency is intercepting only al-Qaida phone calls when we have evidence that the government is keeping tabs on peace activists in Maine?"
DBTP Editor - Also see the following article about a new proposed plan to increase even further the governments cyberspace spying programs: