FBI’s Lies about Anti-War Surveillance Also Protected CIFA

Let me spoil the ending of this series on the IG Report on FBI Investigations of First Amendment Activity. I suspect there are ties between the FBI’s investigations of anti-war activists and CIFA, the DOD program that collected information on anti-war activists in the Talon database. I’ll say more about this in a later post or three. But for now, I just wanted to point out the close tie between the FBI reporting on the Pittsburgh anti-war group Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) and an entry in a leaked fragment of the CIFA database.

The following are the anti-war POG activities known to be recorded by the government (note, the names of the alleged POG members are pseudonyms invented by the IG Report):

January 8, 2004: Electronic Communication (EC) opens domestic terrorism preliminary investigation into “Nicholas Herman” for being a leading POG member.

February 4, 2004: EC opens domestic terrorism preliminary investigation into “Arnold Philips” and “Terry Waterman” for “doing business as” POG and planning a March 20, 2004 “Global Day of Action against War and Occupation.”

February 24, 2004: Two FBI agents meet with Pittsburgh law enforcement to plan for security for March 20, 2004 event; the EC from the meeting notes that Thomas Merton Center had obtained parade permit for event.

March 20, 2004: Two FBI agents monitor the protest to “verify the participation” of Herman, Philips, and Waterman. The EC notes that no “actionable criminal activities” except trespass on university property took place.

April 19, 2004: EC notes the arrest for disorderly conduct and failure to disperse of Philips and five others protesting George Bush speech in Pittsburgh.

June 3, 2004: Two FBI agents conduct drive-by surveillance of 11 residences, businesses, and organizations frequented by POG members, including TMC.

July 2004, unknown date: Miami FBI field division informs Pittsburgh (and NY) FBI that at meeting in Pittsburgh, POG members planned protest for during the RNC Convention in August-September of that year.

July 9, 2004: FBI obtains 180-day extension for preliminary inquiry into Herman.

July 30, 2004: FBI obtains 180-day extension for preliminary inquiry into Philips and Waterman.

August-September 2004: FBI notes that Waterman had no criminal history and local law enforcement officials in Pittsburgh had never run into Waterman during their investigations of anarchists, though Chicago’s law enforcement said he had ties to anarchists there.

October 29, 2004: Confidential source report–ostensibly tied to the Herman investigation–on organizing meeting at TMC for later anti-war protest. Describes, “meeting and discussion was primarily anti anything supported by the main stream American.”

Unknown 2004: At least one more confidential source report on POG.

November 2004: FBI notes Pittsburgh police arrest of Philips, on disorderly conduct charges, for trying to prevent an officer from arresting another protester burning an American flag.

January 20, 2005: FBI closes preliminary investigation into Herman.

January 26, 2005: FBI closes preliminary investigation into Philips and Waterman.

January 28, 2005: EC reflecting internet article alleging that two FBI agents entered “two … normally locked doors” at Philips’ apartment (where a TMC intern and staffer lived) to leave a note for Philips to call the FBI; the FBI agent claimed they only entered the unlocked outside door and left a note on the apartment door.

February 15, 2005: Confidential source report on POG that includes TMC.

March 1, 2005: Confidential source report on POG that includes TMC.

March 19, 2005: Confidential source report that must have covered the protest marking the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.

April 27, 2005: Talon database entry (see PDF 7) describing POG anti-recruitment event targeted at Carnegie Mellon.

Unknown date (probably January) 2006: Chief Division Counsel tells agent to close the apparently still active source.

The IG Report makes it clear that for the fifteen months leading up to the event recorded in the Talon database entry, the FBI had been investigating POG and other Pittsburgh anti-war groups based only on the trumped up claim that members of the groups might commit a crime in the future. The FBI used a confidential informant (as I explain here, the informant was the FBI agent’s son’s friend who had gotten into legal trouble himself) to continue reporting on POG and the anti-war community for two months after the FBI had formally ended the investigation that purportedly justified the infiltration. Apparently, that source remained active for over a year after the investigation was closed (ACLU’s FOIA only covered records mentioning TMC before May 18, 2005, and the IG Report makes no claim to describe all the confidential informant reports on POG).

And surprise, surprise! The very subject of those ongoing investigations–Pittsburgh’s anti-war activism–ends up in DOD’s database.

Note that DOD destroyed this database (though the records were reportedly saved) in June 2006, precisely the month that ACLU sued to get DOD to comply with its FOIA for Talon records including those on POG, so DOD did not turn over those records on POG.

So we don’t know who generated the Talon report on the April 27, 2005 POG effort. But we do know that a number of the Talon reports on anti-war activists came from “Federal law enforcement personnel.” And we know that Talon database entries were routinely shared with local Joint Terrorism Task Forces which, as we’ve seen repeatedly in the IG Report, were the ones investigating Pittsburgh’s anti-war community.

The FBI invented a number of stories to explain away their systematic, long-term investigation of Pittsburgh’s anti-war community, not to mention to explain away the lies FBI told Congress in response to inquiries about that surveillance. But to the extent that surveillance was systematic, those lies served to protect not only FBI, but the CIFA program as well.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. donbacon says:

    The FBI lies? Is that possible?

    “I found that the minions of the law–the special agents of the FBI–to be men who proved themselves not only fully capable, but also utterly willing to manufacture evidence, to conceal crucial evidence and even to change the rules that governed life and death if, in the prosecution of the accused, it seemed expedient to do so.”

    Gerry Spence, the famous trial lawyer, “From Freedom to Slavery,” p. 27
    FBI house raids were conducted this morning in Minneapolis, Michigan, North Carolina and Chicago.

    Well surely the judges are concerned with justice?

    “We are told that our judges, charged with constitutional obligations, insure equal justice for all. That, too, is a myth. The function of the law is not to provide justice or to preserve freedom. The function of the law is to keep those who hold power, in power.”

    Spence, p 109
    The federal warrant for the Minneapolis raids was signed by Judge Susan Nelson at 3:30pm yesterday, September 23.

  2. dancewater says:

    some articles on the FBI raids today:

    http://www.fightbacknews.org/2010/9/24/activists-denounce-fbi-raids-anti-war-and-solidarity-activists-homes

    http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2010/09/fbi_searches_si.php

    I know one of the folks questioned in NC. I don’t know him really well – he moved from the area a couple of years back, but I have never seen or heard an illegal statement from. I heard about his being questioned on Facebook. He has been active in Columbian rights. He was also a part of a local SDS group. They are also active in Columbian issues and go to SOA watch each year. Great group of young adults.

  3. klynn says:

    Great work.

    Not surprised by these findings. They fit the historical practices of the government against pacifist groups.

    Have you thought at all about contacting Christopher Pyle?

    Do you know if any private contractors have been used in this investigation? If so, I would be concerned about the serious conflict of interest.

  4. lakeeffectsnow says:

    thanks for the link to Fight Back News

    had been onto City Pages since the convention

    Steff Yorek, whose house was one of those searched, said she was still half-asleep at 7 a.m. when eight FBI agents came to her South Minneapolis home brandishing battering rams.

    “I opened the door with my six-year-old daughter,” she said. “She’s still very upset.”

    Yorek said the searches constitute harassment of people involved in anti-war and international solidarity work. She and some of the other people whose homes were searched are associated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

    “I think this is about our opposition to US-funded war and death squads in Columbia and our solidarity with Palestine,” she said.

    But Yorek said she hasn’t done anything wrong. “We have done absolutely nothing that could be considered material support of terrorism,” she said. “This is just harassment.”

    pathetic that the usa juggernaut can continue to harass and intimidate its own citizens since at least WWII but still cannot stop 19 hijackers from bringing down tall buildings.

    talk about some misplaced priorities.

    but then again, the priority is on making $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and tons of it.

    such as a $125 Billion Arms & Weapons deal to our good friend and ally Saudi Arabia ( which just happened to supply 15 of those 19 hijackers ) and Qatar and Bahrain and United Arab Emirates all under the guise of Persians coming to get you boogety boogety boogety.

    the money is killing this country and the world.

  5. klynn says:

    It has been extremely bothersome that a friend of a son of an field agent on the investigation, a friend in trouble, served as an informant.

    No other confirmation of the source even attempted.

  6. john in sacramento says:

    BTW thanks for digging into this Marcy I’m going to have to make time to read these posts this weekend. We were talking about this general subject at our local board level a few weeks ago in emails about the ACLU national report Establishing a New Normal. Here’s what I wrote in one of my responses …

    I was going to do a blog on this subject a while ago and got distracted by something else. I can’t download the report right now (very slow connection) so I don’t know if they mention SAR (Suspicious Activity Reporting) or FICOR (Foreign Intelligence and Counterintelligence Operation Records) which are new names for TALON (Threat and Local Observation Notice)

    http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_59675.shtml

    After September 11, 2001, Congress ordered the creation of an “information sharing environment” to improve communication between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Instead of better “connecting the dots,” the government and law enforcement executives developed a problematic system to generate more data dots concerning everyday activities. This counterproductive effort threatens to erode community trust and clog intelligence pipelines with junk data derived from racial, ethnic, religious, and ideological bias. While information sharing is a worthy goal, the shift in focus to “non-criminal activity” can only make the task harder; it is problematic for a democratic society from the standpoints of both safety and civil liberties.

    Having recently completed a two-year pilot project in twelve cities nationwide, the Department of Justice and Director of National Intelligence are prepared to link up local “Suspicious Activity Reporting” (SAR) programs into a national network and deploy it to all 72 intelligence fusion centers.

    Platform for Prejudice outlines this push to enlist law enforcement as intelligence officers by encouraging police to report 1st Amendment protective activities like photography, taking notes, making diagrams, and “espousing extremist views.” The report concludes that the Congress should hold hearings to evaluate the lawfulness and effectiveness of suspicious activity reporting and order reforms prior to nationwide implementation.

    http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=13553

    http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0619/pentagon-revives-domestic-spying-unit/

    Talon is something some of the board members should know very well considering the spying the pentagon did during the Veterans Day protest at the MEPS station a few years ago, and the spying on the Quakers

    http://sacramentofordemocracy.org/?q=node/2562

    http://sacramentofordemocracy.org/?q=node/4904

    Thanks again

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s difficult to believe the DoD would actually destroy a database containing records of purported anti-war political activity by the citizens it is constitutionally charged with protecting, at least not until the appropriate records had been copied into another database.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right. As I understand it, it waltzed over to the FBI.

      Here’s the short story of it:

      DOD database instituted in 2001.
      FBI surveillance becomes a known excessive problem w/RNC in 2004, so people FOIA that in mid 2005.
      The DOD database is revealed in late 2005.
      DOJ responds to the DOJ FOIA in early 2006.
      People FOIA the DOD database.
      Having responded to the DOJ FOIA, DOD moves it database to DOJ.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I realize that being anti-war is regarding by Inside-the-Beltwayers as being about as reprehensible as being anti-big business – they’re often the same, according to Smedley Butler, who would have known – but it must come as a shock to those not paying attention. The government doesn’t work at all the way we teach it in schools, does it?

  9. lakeeffectsnow says:

    this is NOT how the mainstream corporate owned media whores are reporting this very serious story today

    Anti-War Activists’ Homes Searched in Terrorism Raid

    but that is how they SHOULD be – everything just plays right into the fbi’s and government’s framing mechanism – and also pushes the sheeples’ panic button.

    fusion centers have a habit of targeting domestic activist groups as terrorist organizations. During the 2008 protests against the RNC in St. Paul, a Minnesota fusion center played a role in coordinating law enforcement’s response to activists, for instance. The FBI is being tight-lipped about why it conducted the raids and what it was looking for, but it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to guess that information gathered in 2008 could have some connection to today’s action.

    http://washingtonindependent.com/98646/anti-war-activists-homes-searched-in-terrorism-raid

  10. MadDog says:

    Only tangentially OT – Last week had news about Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security acquiring mumbo-jumbo terrorism reports from the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, an American-Israeli company.

    Should the residents of this blog wish to read those “mumbo-jumbo terrorism reports”, you can download a zip file containing the 137 bulletins (from October 30, 2009 – September 13, 2010) that were produced below:

    Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security – Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (27.9 MB zip file containing 137 PDFs)

    • MadDog says:

      And fitting right in with EW’s subject of this post, take a gander at the “analysis” provided to the Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security by the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response from page 5 in their report “PAIB 20133 203 20September 202010.pdf” from that zip file:

      …SECTOR-SPECIFIC THREATS, INDICATORS AND/OR WARNINGS

      Commercial Facilities

      Government Facilities

      3. ‘Days of Action to Free the Cuban Five’

      The radical, anti-capitalist ANSWER COALITION is sponsoring a series of protests on behalf of five Cuban agents captured in Florida in 1998 and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2001.2 The five men claimed in their defense that they were monitoring the actions of Miami-based, anti-Cuban, terrorist groups, in order to prevent attacks on their home country.

      From 9-13 September 2010, the ANSWER Coalition, along with the National Committee to Free the Five and other affinity groups, are taking part in what they have called “International Days of Action to Free the Cuban Five.”3 Rallies, leaf-letting and petitioning on behalf of the convicted Cuban agents will take place in Washington, DC; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Boston; Albuquerque; Chicago; Philadelphia and other cities.Other countries with supporters planning activities on behalf of the “Cuban Five” include Argentina, Peru, Namibia, Canada and Italy.

      The Philadelphia event is slated for 13 September 2010 at 15th and Market St., across from City Hall. Activists will be handing out leaflets and collecting signatures on a petition to free the imprisoned Cuban agents. The event is sponsored by the local branch of the ANSWER Coalition.

      ******ANALYSIS ****** T/l/W Rating: LOW

      Analysts note that there have been recent communications among anarchists, anti-capitalists, environmentalist extremists and Black and Hispanic radicals promoting mutual solidarity on behalf of imprisoned suspected terrorists of various ideologies. As with imprisoned domestic terrorists and activists, they are referred to as “political prisoners.”

      At the Cuban Five event in Philadelphia, analysts believe law enforcement personnel will be primarily called upon to carry out duties of crowd control and maintaining unimpeded public access to the nearby SEPTA station. Due to the radical nature of the ANSWER Coalition, however, there remains a small possibility that individuals will attempt more disruptive protest actions. Researchers cannot confirm whether the demonstrators have obtained the necessary police permits for the above events…

      (My Bold)

      • MadDog says:

        And continuing on in honor of the great state of Pennsylvania, take a gander at page 6 of that very same report:

        …Chemical

        Energy

        4. More Upcoming Events Cited by Anti-Natural Gas Drilling Activists

        Anti-natural gas drilling activists have cited several upcoming events in shared communications, presumably for purposes of planning protest actions of some kind. Among the latest events discussed are:

        – A public hearing on gas drilling in Pennsylvania on 8 September 2010 at the Georgetown Centre in Pittsburgh. The event is described among anti-drilling activists as a leg of “Gov. Rendell’s ‘Severance Tax’ tour.” Activists noted that attendance at the hearing required advance registration. As noted in PIB No. 132, certain anti-natural gas drilling activists believe that a new tax on drillers, without a moratorium on new projects, was merely a way for the state to benefit from what they see as highly destructive exploitation.

        – Coincidentally or not, an event that is part of Penn Future’s “Keep the Promise Tour” throughout Pennsylvania is also slated to take place on 8 September 2010 in Pittsburgh’s Georgetown Centre.4 Penn Future is using a series of town hall meetings to call on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to support “a substantial severance tax on deep, natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale Formation.” According to Penn Future, “drilling companies are spending enormous amounts of money to stop the severance tax.”

        – A lobbying and press event at the Main Capitol Building in Harrisburg is being organized by anti-natural gas drilling activists at this time. The target date is 14 September 2010. The activists intend to publicize their opposition to proposed “Forced Pooling and Zoning Exemptions” in the regulations governing the natural gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania. The regulations are expected to go into effect on 1 October 2010.

        – As part of a series of Environmental Protection Agency hearings in various cities regarding coal ash regulations, EPA representatives will be meeting on 21 September 2010 at the Omni Hotel in Pittsburgh. Issues surrounding the regulation of coal ash produced by coal-fired power plants have been equated by environmentalists with the issues surrounding gas drilling.

        ****** ANALYSIS ****** T/l/W Rating: LOW

        Analysts note that the specific targeting of Governor Rendell among anti-natural gas drilling activists, as noted in PIB No. 132, indicates an increased risk of protest activities at the public hearing at the Georgetown Centre on 8 September. In addition, the “coincidental” gathering by supporters of Governor Rendell’s declared policy of taxation may result in minor confrontation with the more absolutist anti-drilling activists.

        More generally, analysts reiterate the observation that there has been a clear escalation in rhetoric among anti-natural gas drilling activists. Recent communications have included a discussion of the advisability of “civil disobedience” and similar direct action to stop the drilling companies, as well as the request for information useful for “the activists.” (See PIB Nos. 125, 126 & 127 for more on this issue.)

        Other upcoming events in Pennsylvania previously singled out by anti-natural gas drilling activists include:

        – 7 September – “Councilman Shields invites Pittsburghers to stand with him at the Pittsburgh City Council chambers to introduce legislation that would ban gas-drilling in Pittsburgh.”

        – 10-11 September – a Pennsylvania Forestry Association meeting to discuss drilling operations within the Marcellus Shale Formation. The meeting is part of the annual Association meeting, set to take place at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport (Lycoming County).

        – 13 September – a hearing on Marcellus Shale Formation drilling, Pittsburgh City Council chambers 20 September – a hearing on a proposed amendment to zoning regulations regarding natural gas drilling, Damascus Twp (Wayne County)

        – 28-30 September – the Upstream Shale Gas and Environmental Summit is to take place at the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel5

        – 4 October – a hearing on a proposed amendment to the township zoning ordinance to regulate oil and gas drilling operations in Upper St. Clair Township (Allegheny County)

        – 10-12 October – the 2010 Marcellus Summit is slated to take place in State College (Centre County).6 Anti-natural gas drilling activists are planning to protest at the event…

        Shorter Institute of Terrorism Research and Response: “Anti-natural gas drilling activists are terrorists. Watch out!”

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, it was posting on those ITRR reports that got me primed for these. I’m thinking I’ll take the ITRR reports with me when I go to Scotland next week. Though I do wonder what the TSA would think of an entire database of CT reports if and when they scan my computer…

      I remember doing an around-the-world trip in 2005 (the trip coincided w/Katrina). I had three books that were related to spying in one sense or another (oddly, I was reading a book on Iran Contra as I was sitting next to someone in first class who, I’m fairly certain, was all spooked up in the airplane selling industry). I was pretty worried that my reading material would spark some concern (the itinerary was supposed to be MI-Amsterdam-South Africa, South Africa to India, India to Thailand, Thailand to US via Japan). But I’m as worried now.

      • MadDog says:

        Leave it to me to “forget” that you already had these reports. Oh well. *g*

        In any event, I’m just fookin’ blown away by the depravity of their “terrorism” assumptions regarding everyday normal American citizens.

        As to your Scotland trip, you might be finding yourself placed on the No Fly list with those files. Might be better to not have them on your computer and instead, upload them to a file hosting service (Mediafire.com comes to mind) so that you can grab them only as you need them in Scotland.

        • MadDog says:

          I think they’re doing that (the TSA) as last resort these days or as part of a charging process.

          I’ve read recently that folks traveling over the US/Canada border have had their computers “imaged” where the TSA uses software like Norton’s Ghost to make a copy of a computer’s entire hard drive.

          I’ve used Ghost myself for over 10 years to do that very same thing. It’s quick and easy to use, so even TSA folks could do it.

      • MadDog says:

        Oh, and btw, you might want to check out the Public Intelligence website.

        From my initial browsing, it’s just jam-packed with tons of documents from the ruling government and private security state apparat including those Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security reports.

        We probably don’t fit their political profile, but what the heck, when they make this stuff public, they can’t be picky about who visits. *g*

        • MadDog says:

          After reading Public Intelligence’s About page, I retract my statement about not fitting their political profile.

          I “assumed” (and made at least an ass out of me *g*) that PI was some type of private pay-for security corporation, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

          I’d hazard a better guess now that we here would fit their political profile quite nicely indeed.

  11. lmka says:

    We need to recognize that the police state is worse under Obama. This isn’t about Party. It’s about the People vs the corporatist/fascist Pols.