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    ACLU Reports Highlights Government Surveillance of Political Protesters

    The American Civil Liberties Union has relaunched its Spyfiles site (focusing on domestic surveillance) and released a new report (pdf) detailing more than “100 specific incidents of political surveillance and harassment by U.S. law enforcement agencies in 33 states and the District of Columbia since 9/11.”

    I have written before about attempts by the FBI to infiltrate 2004 Republican National Convention protesters in New York and the publicly condemned domestic surveillance program, COINTELPRO, which revealed that the FBI built dossiers on groups (including the NAACP) that were suspected of having a Communist ideology even though they had not engaged in crimes, and that the agency burglarized political groups to gather data on them.

    In a blog post, the ACLU said that “Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity” shows that: “From fusion centers to the infiltration of peace groups, domestic spying by law enforcement has been steadily climbing as the federal government puts pressure on our state and local officials to get heavily involved in counterterrorism efforts.”

    Fusion centers have raised privacy and civil liberties questions, in part because of the lack of information about them — about who is in charge of what and what exactly is happening in these fusion centers. For more on fusion centers, which are state and local programs to gather domestic intelligence, read a previous post.

    Here are a couple incidents from the ACLU’s new report:

    Police Detain Muslim‐American Journalism Student for Taking Photos for a Class Assignment.
    Mariam Jukaku, a 24‐year old Muslim‐American journalism student at Syracuse University, was stopped by Veterans Affairs police in New York for taking photographs of flags in front of a VA building as part of a class assignment. After taking her into an office for interrogation and taking her driver’s license, the police deleted the photographs from her digital camera before releasing her. […]

    DHS Tracks Anti‐War Group.
    DHS tracked the protest plans of the DC Anti‐War Network (DAWN), a peaceful antiwar group, and passed the information to the Maryland State Police, which had previously labeled the activists as terrorists in an intelligence file.

    The ACLU also said in its blog post that Spyfiles “has all of the documents we’ve amassed from state and federal records requests and a wealth of other relevant, useful material.”

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