Not to trouble you or anything, but the next time you’re going to a protest,
the eyes of the government may be upon you.
And I’m not just talking about local police filming your activity.
I’m not talking about the FBI under cover in your midst.
I’m talking about the Pentagon, too, getting into the act.
According to an MSNBC story on December 13, Rumsfeld’s Pentagon is tracking
some of the most innocuous and lawful protests.
For instance, the Pentagon has a file on an anti-war group that was gathering
at the Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Florida, to plan a counter-recruiting
effort at local high schools.
That group of Quakers constitutes a “threat,” according to a 400-page
Pentagon document that MSNBC got hold of.
It was “one of more than 1,500 ‘suspicious incidents’ across
the country over a recent 10-month period” that caught the attention of
the Pentagon snoops, MSNBC said. Of these, “nearly four dozen” were
anti-war meetings or protests.
The Pengaton’s partial file on the spying is available at
It lists 43 events in a six-month period alone, dating from November
11, 2004, to May 7, 2005. Pentagon political spying took place in the following
states and the District of Columbia: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado,
Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska,
New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas,
Vermont, and Wisconsin.
One took place in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 26, 2005, according to the Madison
It was sponsored by the Student Labor Action Coalition and the Stop the War,
the Capital Times reported. “Participants in the rally numbered only about
20,” the paper said, and it was designed to protest recruitment in Madison.
“A planned Air Force recruiting drive was abandoned as a result.”
The Pentagon’s database “listed the type of threat posed by the
event as ‘anti-DOD vandalism’ and marked the source as ‘not
credible.’ The case, however, was left on a status of ‘open/unresolved,’
” the Capital Times reported.
The Pentagons snooped on another counter-recruitment protest, this one in Santa
Cruz on April 5. It labeled the protest a credible “threat.”
“Over 300 students marched into a campus job fair, occupying the building
and holding a teach-in until all military recruiters left,” according
Santa Cruz Indymedia. It quoted third-year student Jen Low saying: “The
notion of the Pentagon spying on peaceful protesters is a major threat to the
freedoms that they claim to protect.”
The Pentagon also surveilled Code Pink and the Raging Grannies in Northern
California, starting a file on a November 10, 2004, protest at the Sacramento
Military Entrance Processing Station (“Disposition: Open/Unresolved,”
the document states) and a May 7, 2005, counter-recruiting protest at the San
Francisco Recruiting Station (“probably peaceful,” it notes).
“It’s just a big waste of time and money,” says Natalie Wormeli,
who is on the board of directors of the Northern California ACLU and is co-founder
of the Davis chapter of Code Pink. “I think taxpayers should be outraged
at that.” She adds, “We are not the enemy of the state. And I do
worry it could have a chilling effect on newcomers to the cause. I get concerned
we’re headed to a new COINTELPRO. The U.S. can do better this. We should
not be living in a surveillance society.”
Ruth Robertson of the Raging Grannies, who provided songs for the San Francisco
rally, says, “I guess they still don’t get it that grannies in flowery
hats are peaceable.”
Gail Sredanovic of the Raging Grannies makes an additional point: “Aside
from the disturbing civil liberties aspects of the Pentagon spying on local
peace groups, it makes me scared to think that the folks in charge of protecting
us from possible terrorist attacks can't tell the difference between a terrorist
threat and a peaceful citizen gathering. Are they really that stupid?”