CIFA Lives?

Remember CIFA? That’s the military’s domestic spying program that used to spy on Quakers and bloggers like Jesus’ General. In April 2008, the Pentagon announced it was shutting down the program.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sounds like they didn’t shut down the program.

A group of peace activists have confirmed that spies from a defense program have infiltrated their group. (h/t EC)

Peace activists in Washington state have revealed an informant posing as an anarchist has spied on them while working under the US military. The activists are members of the group Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance, which protests military shipments bound for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before his true identity was revealed, the informant was known as “John Jacob,” an active member of antiwar groups in the towns of Olympia and Tacoma. But using documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, the activists learned that “John Jacob” is in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at the nearby Fort Lewis military base.

The activists claim Towery has admitted to them he shared information with an intelligence network that stretches from local and state police to several federal agencies, to the US military. They also say he confirmed the existence of other government spies but wouldn’t reveal their identity.

Read the whole Democracy Now piece–it descrbes that Towery, the spy, got himself appointed a Listserv moderator with access to all the email subscribers of this group.

  1. WilliamOckham says:

    This is “fusion center” operation which has always been just CIFA by another name.

  2. emptywheel says:

    Yup, that’s true. Though this adds to the proof from the RNC convention that they’re using them to target First Amendment activities.

    • klynn says:

      I was not being snarky with my “Quakers” (American Friends Service Committee) comment in the Missing the Deployed Military post.

  3. 1boringoldman says:

    Taking us on a walk down memory lane to the days of Civil Rights Marches, Viet Nam protests, J. Edgar Hoover, and Tricky Dick – Ah, the sweet nostalgia of having your own personalized DFH folder in some Washington file drawer [hard disk].

    • alabama says:

      Here’s a point that puzzles me: given the capacities of the internet, have we reached the point where “lists” are no longer meaningful or useful? It’s as if the police were no longer looking for a needle in a haystack, but a needle in a million haystacks…. If so, then blocking materials may be more practicable than “listing” senders and receivers (the Chinese could help with this one…).

  4. ghostof911 says:

    Marcy, thanks for covering this. Have you discovered any evidence that the military has been conducting illegal surveillance of suspected activists on university campuses using ROTC members as informants? I think you might find something there. The name Lynne Cheney might pop up in your research.

    • ghostof911 says:

      In 2006 an student leader at an east coast state university confided to me that the ROTC was surveilling student communications under a program organized by Lynne Cheney.

    • Kinmo says:

      I know Wikileaks may not be a reliable source, but they had an article titled “Washington joint analytical center Seattle private intelligence outsourcing”, on July 26, that echoes this statement.

    • klynn says:

      Have you talked to the ACLU about this? Will this impact their FOIA’s on behalf of the list of clients (Mostly American Friends Service Committee) and the next steps needed?

  5. Rayne says:

    So basically military personnel have been deployed on American soil in a law enforcement capacity.


    [edit: damn, she beat me by milliseconds on PCA!]

    • JohnnyTable70 says:

      Wait, my head is going to explode. Didn’t the GOP mock the Kerry campaign in 2004 for using Law Enforcement strategies to fight terrorism ?

  6. BoxTurtle says:

    I’m disappointed in ObamaCo, but not really suprised. And the odds that this is the only group being spied upon is basically zero.

    Obama should just fire Holder, slap Gonzo back in at AG and ignore the people who got him elected.

    Boxturtle (Wonder how much money Obama would get if he made a Net appeal now?)

  7. wohjr says:

    I hate to point out the obvious here EW, but does any of this resonate with you personally? At some point being out in front of all these issues is going to get you noticed… if it hasn’t happened already.

    • emptywheel says:

      I have long believed–based on some evidence, not just a hunch–that the Dean campaign was infiltrated. In which case, I’ve been in their database since 2003.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Don’t worry, citizen, the black helicopters are there for YOUR protection!

        Boxturtle (We know who you are and we saw what you did)

      • wohjr says:

        Given everything we’ve learned over the past few years I would be shocked if you weren’t… I’m adding another layer to my tinfoil hat right now

          • BoxTurtle says:

            Also, given what we already know about the taps at the major telecoms, I doubt that anything happening electronically at either campaign was unknown to BushCo. Re-hacking them would be a waste of effort.

            But I doubt we’d share that data with China. They’d have to get it for themselves.

            Boxturtle (Declines comment as to if we’d share that data with Israel)

      • bobschacht says:

        Then I must be in their database, too, as organizer of DFA in Hawaii since 2004…

        BTW, wasn’t it cool to see Dr. Dean in Keith’s chair on Countdown yesterday? He’ll reprise again today.

        Bob in HI

  8. wavpeac says:

    I just want to make note (garner sympathy and loud sighs) for the fact that in Omaha NE our cable company (cox cable) does not show current broadcasts of Democracy NOW!. We get them a week late…nice isn’t it?

    Yah…I’ve signed the petition, called and complained and I got the t-shirt, but that’s about it.

    thankfully I just returned from the north shore of lake superior and am refusing to get my panties in a wad. I will write letters and whine a little however.

  9. Loo Hoo. says:

    Oh, Netroots Nation…

    Torture, Accountability, and Prosecutions: Looking Back to Move Forward
    Sat, 08/15/2009 – 1:30pm, 311

    At last year’s Netroots Nation, few of the expert panelists were willing to entertain the notion of prosecuting former Bush officials for torture, illegal wiretapping and other crimes. National polls now show most Americans want to see investigations and a substantial number want to see the criminals prosecuted, but Congress seems stalled on toothless truth commissions at best, and the Obama administration consistently talks about “looking forward, not backward” and not wanting to “criminalize policy differences.” How do we bridge the gap between what the country wants, what the law demands, and how far the politicians seem willing to go? What don’t we know yet and what do we still need to learn about the torture program?
    PANELISTS: Rep. Jerry Nadler, Melissa Goodman, Marcy Wheeler, Vince Warren, Pam Spaulding

    Wonder how many domestic spies will be there?

    • Rayne says:

      I haven’t double-checked the schedule, but I sure hope I’m not presenting in the same timeslot as EW. That’d be too funny, not wanting to be on my own panel.

  10. Frank33 says:

    Oh those Other Intelligence Activities will not go away. Probably they are still being carried out as massive data mining. That is, anything about any dissident politics is collected. The NSA does the electronic spying along with who knows who else. Of course we can depend on Marvin Bush running the privatized “CIA Contractors”.

    But, all this was justified by 9-11. Does the NSA use “FirstFruits” to spy on itself because NSA would have records about what happened that day. Does “FirstFruits” have 1000 operatives to monitor those who do not believe the Official lying narrative of the 9-11 Report. That would be about 990 more than monitor the elusive USAma Bin Laden.

    Chimpie was warned about attacks against airlines and airports in the 8-6-01 PDB. No warnings were given to anyone. FBI agents knew and reported on Al Qaeda flight training and terrorist plotting. But were prevented from taking action. The US Government and presumably Pagtrick Fitzgerald knew ahead of time about the 1993 WTC bombing, and the 1998 Embassy attacks in Africa.

    Patrick Fitzgerald prosecutorial misconduct against journalist Peter Lance is just more cover up of 9-11.

  11. brendanx says:

    From a Northrop Grumman pop-up ad:

    There are people working hard to upset our way of life. We think harder about identifying and tracking them.

  12. pajarito says:

    Are racist groups, anti-immigrant groups, pro-life groups, which are known to contain (or condone) murderers and murder-advocates infiltrated and spied upon to the same extent?

    Or, are they viewed as friendly, or at least not threatening to the operations of our military machine? Consider the DHS report that right-wing groups posed an increasing threat and how quickly it was retracted by DHS?

    For those in power, the enemy seems to be those who would exercise their constitutional rights. Our Nation’s laws ceased to be enforced quite some time ago, for a select few.

    Truly disturbing.

  13. acquarius74 says:

    Since this infiltration and spying operation investigated by the Church Committee was carried out by the military, and in Amy Goodman’s today’s interview with Christopher Pile (Pyle?) he stated that one of the 7 fusion centers is located in Baltimore, MD, I took a shot and guessed at NSA HQ (under DOD). Yep, it’s located on Fort Meade, 15 miles SW of Baltimore.

    …NSA HQ is believed to house the second most powerful supercomputer in the world. The NSA operates other computer labs, offices, and satellite interception posts around the world. [snip] …No formal means of visiting the NSA HQ esists, but a look at the historic side of code breaking is provided at the neighboring National Cryptologic Museum located north of the HQ on Route 22.

    Pictures of the facility are at the link, but article mentions a 20 acre underground facility.

    In my other reading the NSA is called “the sister agency of the CIA”.

    [they probably have all the info on each poster at FDL and a complete log of all our comments….suppose we’ll all meet in some FEMA camp someday?]

    • wohjr says:

      We’ll meet again
      Don’t know where
      Don’t know when
      But I know we’ll meet again
      Some sunny day
      Keep smiling through
      Just like you always do
      ‘Till the blue skies
      Drive the dark clouds far away

      So, will you please say hello
      To the folks that I know
      Tell them I won’t be long
      They’ll be happy to know
      That as you saw me go
      I was singing this song

      • acquarius74 says:

        Three wheels off my wagin,
        But I’m still rollin’ along –
        The Spookerees are after me;
        But I’m sangin’ a hap-pp-ee song.

  14. alinaustex says:

    Wasn’t MZM awarded a CIFA /force protection contract that was sole source from the Rummy OSD – that coincided with another data mining contract awarded with the blessing of the Cheney staff ?

  15. alinaustex says:

    This is a truly scary orwellian scenario to be extrapolated here -But could this explain why no one from the ‘ loyal opposition’ have actively stood up to these thugs . Have all our later day “Frank Churchs ” been blackmailed by these uber surveillance programs ?

  16. Garrett says:

    In the Amy Goodman show, Mike German of the ACLU says

    But unfortunately, you know, they just created a new mechanism. This appears to be the fusion centers and these fusion cells that they’re using that, they seem to think, give them a method of circumventing Posse Comitatus and the restrictions on military intelligence gathering in the United States.

    There is an army concept of operations document about “Police Intelligence Operations” posted at scribd. At page 24, it fairly bluntly acknowledges the fusion cell workaround:

    It [a fusion cell] does not have the constraints that are emplaced on MI activities within the US, because it operates under the auspice and oversight of the police discipline and standards.

    The DOD document the gives the Port Militarization Resistance activities as a specific example of the workaround, and calls it a “watershed event”:

    Vignette: A Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) was preparing to move equipment to a port of embarkation (POE) for deployment. The shipment required the movement of 300 vehicles across eight law enforcement jurisdictions. Based on previous threat fusion expertise, the garrison’s force protection (FP) fusion cell was uniquely qualified to be the lead intelligence producer to support the movement. The fusion cell coordinated police information, intelligence and civilian security with over 22 local, federal, and DoD agencies. The fusion cell produced in depth analysis of the threat to the SBCT equipment and advised the SBCT and garrison commanders on protection. The coordinated effort gave law enforcement agencies the knowledge to identify and prevent disruptive actions by violent protestors. The operation was considered by Crops leadership to be a watershed event for in-depth involvement of a garrison-based FP fusion support of unit deployments. Moreover, the Corps headquarters integrated the fusion cell into other operations where the G2 is constrained by intelligence oversight rules, or there is a need for police information / intelligence assessments and operations.

    • acquarius74 says:

      The coordinated effort gave law enforcement agencies the knowledge to identify and prevent disruptive actions by violent protestors

      I feel so much safer being protected from those members of the Unitarian Church; and especially those dangerous, most violent Quakers! (/s)

  17. NCDem says:

    Our total law enforcement in this country has gone haywire. Police in Cambridge. Terrorist here in Raleigh. Except all the neighbors think someone made a mistake. The FBI’s every other word is “violent jihad”.

    The Daniel Boyd family had lost a son in a car wreck less than two years ago. Of course, the FBI knew that. So the FBI pays someone to show up at her door wearing a bloody shirt and tells her that her husband, Daniel, and another son have been in a car accident and they must come with them to Duke Hospital. Duke is 40 miles from their home and all the way across Wake County. Only after this hour trip and no further information is the wife told that it was all a ruse and they were going to detain her for questions.

    I truly hope they are found innocent. The only thing thus far that bothers me is the number of guns in the house but there are probably plenty of former soldiers that have many guns as well. If the case that the FBI thinks they have built fails, I hope the Boyd family sues the FBI big time.

  18. WTFOver says:

    Speaking to MSNBC on Monday night, Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley said he believes former Vice President Dick Cheney’s push to have US troops deployed to Buffalo, New York to arrest six alleged terrorists was just one example out of many in Cheney’s “full court press” against the Constitution.

    “This is sort-of like a dormant virus that lives in our democracy,” said Turley. “There are people who seem to long for authority, control, even domination.”…..or-cheney/

    “What you saw in this period was, across the board […] this was the same period when they were ramping up the torture issue and they were ramping up enemy combatants. It was a full-court press on the Constitution. They were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in which the American people would give them more power.”

  19. Jeff Kaye says:

    Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

    Thank you, EW, for bringing this important story to FDL.

    Many might not know, or forget, but there was a massive domestic spying effort by the U.S. Army in the 1960s. Here’s a bit of testimony from whistleblower Captain Chris Pyle, who taught at the U.S. Army intelligence school at Fort Holabird, Maryland:

    … I went over with another instructor and we were taken into this big black arched roof building they used to use to assemble railroad engines – a big black building, an ominous building – which had been turned into office space for Army intelligence command.

    We got our passes and wound our way down through the maze of rooms inside of it, into a big brightly lit room with a steel cage standing in the middle of it – a mesh cage. Outside the cage, along the wall, were thirteen Teletype machines chattering away reporting on any demonstration of 20 people or more. The reports were written by 15 hundred intelligence agents working out of 300 offices coast to coast. These were the agents who normally did security clearances for the Army, but their secondary duty was to monitor dissent: the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement particularly, but also the black power movement and anything else that moved….

    And I opened volume one and there staring up at me was Ralph David Abernathy, who was Martin Luther King’s assistant in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. And under Ralph’s chin was a police number and beside his face was his police record. And the title of the volume was ‘Persons Active in Civil Disturbances’….

    So I turned to the briefer, and I said, “This is really terrific stuff. You fellows are doing a wonderful job. Do you have anything I can show my students?” And he probably tore off a 5 and half-foot long Teletype print out for the week of March 11 through 18, 1968. And one of the reports on it told of the Army – of Army agents – attending a meeting at a Unitarian Church. So they were monitoring meetings in churches as well.

    Then, there was the CIA’s Operation Chaos. See this from a former CIA operative, writing at Covert Action Information Bulletin, 1990:

    For over fifteen years, the CIA, with assistance from numerous government agencies, conducted a massive illegal domestic covert operation called Operation CHAOS. It was one of the largest and most pervasive domestic surveillance programs in the history of this country. Throughout the duration of CHAOS, the CIA spied on thousands of U.S. citizens. The CIA went to great lengths to conceal this operation from the public while every president from Eisenhower to Nixon exploited CHAOS for his own political ends….

    This activity led the CIA to establish proprietary companies, fronts, and covers for its domestic operations. So widespread did they become that President Johnson allowed the then CIA Director, John McCone, to create in 1964 a new super-secret branch called the Domestic Operations Division (DOD), the very title of which mocked the explicit intent of Congress to prohibit CIA operations inside the U.S….

    During the life of Operation CHAOS, the CIA had compiled personality files on over 13,000 individuals including more than 7,000 U.S. citizens as well as files on over 1,000 domestic groups. (17)

    The CIA had shared information on more than 300,000 persons with different law enforcement agencies including the DIA and FBI. It had spied on, burglarized, intimidated, misinformed, lied to, deceived, and carried out criminal acts against thousands of citizens of the United States.

    Anyone seriously considering the history of U.S. governmental domestic surveillance and disruption activities, should begin with Morton H. Halperin, et al., eds., The Lawless State (New York: Penguin, 1976)

    • acquarius74 says:

      Jeff, your comment deserves to be a diary or full article. In case you missed it, my comment at #18 gives the link to Amy Goodman’s today show on which she interviews Chris Pyle. He has written a book entitled, Getting Away With Torture. I haven’t read it yet.

      I was raising a houseful of short people during this period and find myself continually amazed to learn that things were not anything like what we were led to believe back then.

      I think we need to really shine the spotlight on all this right now while the CIA and the rest of the ‘intelligence community’ is on the griddle about this torture, rendition and utter lawlessness. It is important to make known that this is not just a fluke caused by the Bush/Cheney administration, but an inherent characteristic possibly from their 1947 origin.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        I’d write it, but have a backlog of work after returning from vacation. Writing keeps me sane, and provides me a belief that one can be effective and not impotently watching all these crimes (reading FDL, DN!, etc. helps a lot too).

        I’m working on a story about what the CIA really knew about SERE, so that’s taking up the bulk of writing time, what little I have this week.

  20. fatster says:

    O/T, Talk about a profile in courage! “A Sudanese female journalist facing 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public . . . told a packed Khartoum courtroom Wednesday she is resigning from a U.N. job that grants her immunity so she can challenge the law on women’s public dress code.” More.

  21. WTFOver says:

    In her big speech in New York today, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, praised the so-called “fusion centers” that serve as hubs for intelligence produced by federal agencies to be shared with local and state law enforcement. Fusion centers are a “a critical part of our nation’s homeland security capabilities,” Napolitano said. That’s what worries the American Civil Liberties Union’s Michael German.


    • acquarius74 says:

      I wonder if Napolitano knows the dark side of those fusion centers. Maybe Homeland Security should be renamed, Fadderland Civilian Control Corps. One of their spokesmen admitted that they changed the threat level from yellow to orange just before the 2004 election at the same time Bush was filling his speeches with fearmongering when their was no cause for doing so.

  22. joanneleon says:

    I read the DemocracyNow article. Pretty weird. Yet it all seems so common nowadays. That’s the big problem with just letting things go without investigation and prosecution. We’ll start taking for granted that all communications can easily be monitored and that infiltration into activist groups is to be expected.

    What I couldn’t find out from the article is how they got the information via FOIA. What kind of FOIA would one file to figure this out?