A New Low: FBI Spying on ‘Pacifists’ in Pittsburgh

Apparently, peaceful opposition to the Iraq war poses such a threat to United States security that resources are being diverted from fighting terrorism in order to track pacifist groups.

The ACLU released new evidence today that the FBI is conducting investigations into peace groups based solely on their political views. We’ve seen tracking of groups before, of course, but these documents are the first to show conclusively that the rationale for FBI targeting was the group’s oppostition to the war.

And where is this hotbed of ‘pacifism?’

Steelers’ Country, USA. Yup, none other than Pittsburgh, PA.

And who are they targeting?

The Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice, of all places. Check out their website…take a look around. You might agree with them, or you might roll your eyes at them. But do you REALLY think that they should be investigated under the rubric of ‘Anti-Terrorism Matters?’

Sitting in the press conference this morning about these findings, which were in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, I felt myself getting a little emotional.

Maybe it’s becuase I used to volunteer at the Merton Center in my student activist days. Something about seeing the people I knew and cared about under investigation for “advocation, among many political causes, pacifism” really threw me through a loop. Despite working for the ACLU (or maybe because of it), I cringe at a lot of civil liberties hysteria. For the first time, though, I can honestly say that I’m really starting to get creeped out.

Does the FBI really have nothing better to do than track Edith Bell, an 82 year-old Holocaust and concentration camp survivor?

We’ll post more on this story tomorrow. I haven’t even gotten into the evidence that the FBI was keeping track of how many Muslims were at Thomas Merton Center events.

In the meantime, check out some of these news links from Reuters and the AP.

Lisa in Pittsburgh