[Marxism] Cointelpro never ended
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jun 20 09:43:28 MDT 2014
NY Times, June 20 2014
Suit by Protest Groups on Spying Is Dismissed
By COLIN MOYNIHAN
A federal judge in Washington State has dismissed a lawsuit that accused
a civilian intelligence analyst working for the military of breaking the
law by using a fake name to infiltrate antiwar groups and trying to
thwart protests by sharing information he collected with the Army, law
enforcement agencies and private security firms.
Plaintiffs in the case, which was filed in 2010, contended that the
actions of the analyst, John J. Towery, had deterred their free speech
and led to their arrests, violating First and Fourth Amendment rights as
well as statutes forbidding military surveillance of civilian groups.
The judge, Ronald B. Leighton of Federal District Court in Tacoma, did
not issue a written opinion to accompany an order issued on Wednesday
that granted summary judgment motions filed on behalf of Mr. Towery, his
former supervisor at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Thomas Rudd, and several
Mr. Towery’s motion did not deny that he had infiltrated groups using
the name John Jacob, but it stated that his actions did not break the
law. The covert scrutiny was warranted, the motion said, because it was
intended to keep track of criminal behavior associated with protests,
which sometimes became confrontational and turbulent, and because Mr.
Towery had not intended to chill free speech. The plaintiffs lacked
evidence that he had been spurred by a desire to curb expressive
activities, the motion added.
“Absolutely this is a vindication that Mr. Towery was acting lawfully,”
one of his lawyers, Thomas M. Brennan, said. “He was acting with a
legitimate interest to preserve the safety of the personnel and
equipment of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that they planned to appeal.
“This ruling did irreparable harm to the Constitution, and we cannot
allow it to stand,” one lawyer, Lawrence A. Hildes, said. “The court
essentially granted the military the right to spy on nonviolent
political activists with impunity.”
The case had attracted significant attention because it had progressed
further than previous lawsuits that included allegations of military
spying. A trial had been scheduled for later this summer.
Mr. Towery began spying in 2007 on a group called Port Militarization
Resistance, which was formed to disrupt military shipments from ports in
Olympia and Tacoma.
Protesters figured out Mr. Towery’s real identity in 2009 after filing a
series of public information requests; additional requests yielded a
trove of documents that provided the basis for the lawsuit.
Mr. Towery attended meetings of Port Militarization Resistance and
Students for a Democratic Society, the lawsuit said, then gave
information about members of the groups to the Army and police agencies.
As a result, the suit said, law enforcement officials compiled lists of
license plates belonging to protesters and placed a surveillance camera
on a pole outside a house where activists lived.
Mr. Rudd composed detailed reports on activist groups that were
circulated to people with military email addresses, police officials and
people identified as contractors, documents showed.
Documents also showed that another defendant, Chris Adamson, a member of
the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, who had directed some of Mr.
Towery’s activities, had identified some protesters as “domestic
terrorists” and included their names, photographs and biographical
information in a database created by a counterterrorism and
intelligence-sharing office in Washington State known as a fusion center.
Mr. Towery’s lawyers had said that their client, who worked with the
base force protection agency, had gathered information about protest
groups not as a military employee, but as a volunteer working for Mr.
Many of the court documents were filed under seal. But plaintiffs
pointed to unsealed sections of a deposition where Mr. Towery said that
he had been paid by the Army for time spent attending certain activist
At one point, plaintiffs said, Mr. Towery’s monitoring went beyond
attending meetings, asserting in their lawsuit that he had gained access
to a shared online database used by lawyers and people facing trial
after being arrested during a protest, unlawfully obtained confidential
material and turned it over to prosecutors, causing a mistrial. The
cases were later dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct, the
Mr. Towery’s lawyers countered that he was allowed access to the
database, which was not protected by a password or restricted to
defendants or their lawyers.
Therefore, they added, he had broken no laws.
“There is no reasonable expectation of privacy when a plaintiff
willingly shares information with third parties,” they wrote. “Even if
the third party is a government informant.”
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