On December 2, the ACLU filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests all over the county to expose this nest of vipers. According to an ACLU press release, they filed FOIA requests in 10 states (including Oregon) and the District of Columbia "seeking information about the FBI's use of Joint Terrorism Task Forces and local police to engage in political surveillance." Said the press release:
"The FOIAs seek two kinds of information: 1) the actual FBI files of groups and individuals targeted for speaking out or practicing their faith; 2) information about how the practices and funding structure of the task forces, known as JTTFs, are encouraging rampant and unwarranted spying."
Rampant and unwarranted spying indeed. This is something we know a lot about in Portland. Last month, a Portland activist was tried for various trumped-up charges relating to his participation in a protest against the sale of one of the last patches of old growth forest left in our state. During the course of that trial, we learned that the FBI requested and received video footage of that protest in an effort to identify all of the people who were there. These are not "terrorists," as the FBI implies. They are simply effective activists.
Consider also that agents with Homeland Security requested and received footage of Portland anti-war protests from Moba Media, the agency that collects and licenses corporate media "news" broadcasts. Isn't that interesting. The corporate media and the corporate police state, working hand in glove to collect "intelligence" on non-violent political protesters -- this is a clear violation of constitutional protections under the First Amendment.
Environmental, religious, labor, and political activists all over this city have been targeted. Groups have been infiltrated, homes have been violated, and files have been filled with information about those of us in resistance against the genocidal path upon which our nation has embarked. Has any of this actually made us "safer"? Is there less threat from "terror," now that we and our neighbors are under surveillance? I think not. Despite having an old Portland police file of her very own (though she was incorrectly labeled "linda Katz"), Mayor Vera Katz has repeatedly agreed to allow the FBI to spy on us. I think we've all had enough of this.
At least we are not alone. Again, according to the December 2nd ACLU press release, "Over the past few years, ACLU attorneys around the country have provided direct representation to many individuals and organizations targeted for exercising their First Amendment right to criticize the government, including people who participated in numerous rallies and marches to protest the war in Iraq, who were excluded from meaningful participation at public presidential speeches, and who protested at the 2004 Republican and Democratic National Conventions." From Quakers to NLG lawyers to street medics, if you've ever criticized the government or big business, you've probably been surveilled. Enough.
Although we are clearly in the midst of a fascist power grab that rivals Nazi Germany, it's nevertheless possible that the tide may be turning in regard to how much we, the public, will willingly concede in the name of protection from "terrorism." The cat is out of the bag, as they say. We know what the JTTFs are doing, and why they're doing it. Now, we must stop them. See you all on December 22nd. Maybe this time, we will make ourselves heard.
(For more info on the ACLU FOIA requests, see http://www.saveourcivilliberties.org/en/2004/12/819.shtml.)