Large volume of F.B.I. files alarms U.S. activist groups

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration.

“I’m still somewhat shocked by the size of the file on us,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the A.C.L.U. “Why would the F.B.I. collect almost 1,200 pages on a civil rights organization engaged in lawful activity? What justification could there be, other than political surveillance of lawful First Amendment activities?”

Leslie Cagan, the national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of more than 1,000 antiwar groups, said she was particularly concerned that the F.B.I.’s counterterrorism division was discussing the coalition’s operations. “We always assumed the F.B.I. was monitoring us, but to see the counterterrorism people looking at us like this is pretty jarring,” she said.

Antiwar activists in the 60’s who did an FOIA request decades later said they were shocked at how much they were being watched. They figured they were under some surveillance, but they had no idea it was so much or so constant. This happened under Democratic presidents as well as Republican presidents  so let’s not have any illusions that it’s just a right-wing thing.

Now it’s happening again, which should be no big surprise. If they are watching the ACLU, Greenpeace and UFPJ, then it’s a given they are watching the ANSWER Coalition where I am an active volunteer. But I assumed that long ago anyway!