Documents released by various public agencies reveal a disturbing abuse and misuse of government resources here in Washington state. Below are some of the documents that have been released in response to our records requests.
Federal Way Police Department – Responding to an April 2009 Public Records Request by the ACLU of Washington
April 20, 2006 After-action report regarding a protest by the Seattle Rainforest Action Group (SEARAG) during Weyerhauser’s annual shareholder meeting, stating that there were no arrests or criminal activity and that protestors remained respectful throughout the event.
March 2007 Intelligence files containing photographs, birthdates and other information about SEARAG members, notwithstanding SEARAG’s non-criminal, “respectful” protest from the prior year. Personally identifiable information, as well as photographs, redacted by ACLU-WA to protect the privacy of those monitored.
March 29, 2010 Daily Intelligence Bulletin, showing that local law enforcement shared information on a series of public records request with Ft. Lewis (the military base on which John Towery of Ft. Lewis Force Protection worked during his time infiltrating peace activists). Though the request was made by a local college student performing an independent study, the bulletin attributes the request to an “activist group.” The bulletin then warns law enforcement agencies about the dangers of public disclosure. It is unclear why the local law enforcement agencies initially forwarded information about the request to the military, and why the military then shared this “warning” with the rest of the country.
Tacoma Police Department– Responding to various Public Records Requests (including a 2009 request by Tim Smith of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee – Tacoma and a 2009 request by Glen Milner of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action)
May 25, 2006 Homeland Security Committee meeting in which officers discuss providing “false information to these “protestor-type” websites or blogs.”
November 8, 2007 Homeland Security Committee meeting in which officers discuss a Jobs With Justice protest, focusing on a “known protestor” who videotaped the event. Officers also note the fact that the protest was not “posted on the usual websites,” but rather was coordinated using a “phone tree.”
February 7, 2008 Homeland Security Committee meeting in which officers note the opening of Coffee Strong, a coffee shop formed by a veterans group called GI Voice. TPD noted that this “could serve as the anti-war headquarters.” It is unclear why TPD needed to continually monitor the “anti-war” movement.
August 5, 2008 E-mail containing a quote from an undercover agent within the anti-war movement: “It was very funny to watch them on Friday night, just so you know, they are scared sh*tless of TPD, that’s pretty much all they talked about. Then they try to pscyh each other up enough to take one for the team, the car ride to the tide flats was hilarious… “ It is unclear why TPD needed undercover information about the anti-war movement.
August 8, 2008 Homeland Security Committee meeting in which officers discuss the “Pitch Pipe Info Shop.” The Pitch Pipe was a house at which various activists would meet and hang out. It is unclear how or why the Tacoma Police Department knew so much about the house.
United States Army Criminal Investigations Command – Responding to an October 2009 Freedom of Information Act Request by the ACLU of Washington
The US Army Criminal Investigations Command (USACIC) found 1118 pages worth of documents responsive to our FOIA request. Over nine months after filing the request, we have received fewer than 350 of the 1118 identified pages. Many of those received were heavily redacted. Ninety pages have been withheld outright; the rest were referred to other agencies for subsequent review.
September 27, 2006 Summary of Investigative Activity includes a lengthy blurb about the plans and political views of the Veterans for Peace, a peaceful anti-war group. It is unclear why the military thought it necessary to investigate Veterans for Peace.
February 2007 Summary of Investigative Activity effectively equates community-based efforts for tolerance and acceptance with subversive planning for a “multi-generational war.” Describing the “International Islamic Front’s continued evolution,” the agent states that “[d]isaffiliated, disenfranchised, and unaffiliated Muslims around the world provide a ready pool of recruits for what may be a multi-generational war.” The agent further claims that “Islamists” plan to “tak[e] over neighborhoods, reduc[e] the efficiency and effect of national laws,” and “play the political correctness and victim card at every opportunity to create an atmosphere of appeasement.” This and similar language appears in multiple reports throughout the responsive records.
July 2009 Heavily redacted email thread discussing John Towery incident, in which an employee of Ft. Lewis Force Protection using a false identity infiltrated Puget Sound-area peace groups. We have appealed the redactions as overbroad.
August, 2009 US ACIC Daily Media Report. Article 5 is a New York Times article describing the John Towery incident. All names (including that of the reporter) are redacted. The article had already been published and made available to millions (online version available here). The heavy redactions exemplify the government’s reluctance to fully comply with FOIA.
Department of Justice Law Enforcement Intelligence Guidelines – Chapter 7 DOJ manual describing policies and procedures for intelligence gathering. Of particular note are the introductory page, which contains a bullet point list of rules that law enforcement should follow and a page containing a detailed decision tree for intelligence collection. Both documents urge state and local law enforcement to adopt provisions that require reasonable suspicion of criminal activity prior to gathering political or religious information, and are aimed at preventing agencies from using intelligence operations in ways that disrupt political activism.
April 2, 2010 Police Department e-mail describing officer’s surveillance of the University of Washington Student Worker Coalition (SWC) on April 1, 2010.
April 8, 2010 Police Department e-mail describing officer’s intent to infiltrate the UW SWC at an April 8, 2010 meeting.
May 2, 2010 Police Department e-mail containing detailed information gathered from a UW SWC meeting. The meeting was not open to the public, but information was nonetheless shared with the University and Police.
May 4, 2010 Police Department e-mail describing plainclothes and undercover operations
UW Police Department Policy on intelligence and undercover operations requires that information collected “will be limited to criminal activity” and will “exclude information about political, religious or social views…unless such information directly relates to criminal conduct and there is reasonable suspicion that the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct.”
May 1, 2009 In a positive development, the Washington State Fusion Center refuses to participate in intelligence operations aimed at political activity without suspicion of criminal activity.
March 15, 2007 E-mail in which an Evergreen State College faculty member forwards a student’s message about an anti-war protest to the State Patrol. The message was sent over a school list serve before being passed on to the Washington State Patrol. It is unclear whether students knew that messages would be shared with police, nor is it clear why police needed to store information about this particular event. The student’s name was also shared with police, but was redacted from this version by the ACLU-WA.
July 2009 E-mails describing surveillance of anti-war protestors. One e-mail notes a protestor meeting, as well as the address and phone number of the house. Another mentions Coast Guard intelligence about communications within the protest group.
Washington State Fusion Center /Washington Joint Analytical Center
The Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC) is a federal, state, local and private sector partnership that encourages cross-agency information sharing. WSFC replaces the Washington Joint Analytical Center, or WAJAC, which operated without accountability or oversight.
- Documents regarding the Washington Joint Analytical Center, received in response to a 2008 ACLU-WA public records act request.
- Documents describing federal funding for the WAJAC between 2004 and 2007.
- The Washington Statewide All Hazards Preparedness Plan 2009-2014 describes the role of the WSFC within the Washington Emergency Management Department.
Regional Intelligence Group 5 (Tacoma) Officer relays WAJAC request for “information from any department or agency involved in litigation as a result of officers contacting persons displaying suspicious behavior around sensitive infrastructure that might not otherwise constitute criminal behavior. They want to see if they can discover a pattern in lawsuits of this type.”
- Tacoma Police Department Homeland Security Committee Meeting Minutes (courtesy of the Tacoma Bill of Rights Defense Committee)
- Documents describing the response of law enforcement within Region 5 to anti-war protests in Tacoma. (Set 1/Set2)
Fort Lewis Force Protection Unit states that an anti-war or anti-military event staged to gain media attention (i.e. banner hanging, signage, demonstration)” was the “Most Likely Threat” to a planned military shipment.
The ACLU is addressing a disturbing trend of government surveillance of free speech activity in Washington. This is part of a national trend of political and religious profiling by intelligence agencies. Similar abuses have been seen in other states.
Maryland Targets Death Penalty Opponents Maryland State Police spent hundreds of hours infiltrating, investigating and collecting information about anti-death penalty activists. MSP continued this operation despite admitting that no unlawful behavior was likely to occur.
- According to a report commissioned by the Maryland Governor, the All People’s Congress, American Friends Services Committee, A.N.S.W.E.R, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty are listed in the database as “Security Threat Groups.” Anti-Death Penalty information was also entered into the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Agency (HIDTA) Database, thereby linking advocacy with drug dealing, murder, and gang activity. The ACLU of Maryland worked to secure legislation preventing law enforcement from similar activities in the future.
North Texas Fusion Center Prevention Awareness Bulletin, alleging that “tolerance” of Islam is a “Trojan Horse” to the imposition of Shariah Law in America. According to the report, the following entities are conspirators, and “it is essential for law enforcement officers to report these types of activities.”
- Council on American Islamic Relations
- Department of the Treasury
- Cab Drivers in Minneapolis
- The Indianapolis Airport
- Public Schools
- Act Now Stop War End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.)
- Hip Hop Bands and Boutiques in California, New York, Chicago and Wisconsin
- Online Social Networks, Video Sharing Networks, Chat Forums, Blogs in California, New York Chicago and Wisconsin
Missouri Information Analysis Center Strategic Report, warning of the Modern Militia Movement and listing the following traits as potentially indicative of the Movement:
- Pro-Life Activism
- Anti-Immigration Activism
- Tax Resistance Activism
- Constitutional, Libertarian or Campaign for Liberty Party Supporter
- Ron Paul Supporter
- Bob Barr Supporter
- Chuck Baldwin Supporter
The ACLU has been seeking public documents to learn more about the government’s surveillance activities. Read our public document requests and relevant responses below.