They have the big guns and tanks (and presumably know how to use them). They are surrounded by barbed wire fences, armed guards and who knows what else. They are trained to kill. So why does the military have such an irrational fear of protesters, especially, it seems, pacifists?
From the Air Force Colonel who has demanded (and gotten) Orders of Protection against over 80 pacifists who have sat in the street in front of his base, to the officials at the Oak Ridge Nuclear Weapons factory who claimed three pacifists who strolled un-impeded into the facility were a threat to national security, to the folks at Vandenberg Air Base who can’t stand to have a protester in the protest zone across the highway outside the base.
Now add to that list, the folks at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Olympia, Washington. They were so worried about the dangers posed by peace activists, they sent an Army intelligence officer to infiltrate a local anti-war group. When the activists discovered the infiltration, they sued. On Wednesday, June 18, a federal judge dismissed the case against John Towery, the Army intelligence officer who infiltrated peace groups in Olympia, WA, shared information about them with local, state and federal law enforcement, and seemed intent on luring them into some kind of plot involving weapons.
Towery justified the years-long spy operation on the grounds that the Army had to protect itself from the unarmed peace protesters. “Frankly, he was not a spy,” Towery’s lawyer told the Olympian. “He was concerned with making sure his office was aware of possible disruptive activity related to the Army. He was doing his job.”
The argument put forward by the Army, and accepted by the judge is a dangerous one for all dissenters: if you engage in civil disobedience, or associate with people who engage in civil disobedience, you are a potential threat and the Army is justified in spying on you. In fact, even if you are wrongly arrested at a protest, you are still fair game (see deposition, page 246-249).
Evidence in the case demonstrates that the Army not only spied on activists, but shared information and coordinated spying efforts with state and local law enforcement (see “Army Orchestrates Multi-Agency Spy Ring”) which led to the harassment and false arrest of some protesters. But the judge in the case did not bother to read the mountain of evidence against the Army (he admitted so). We wish he had. We are curious about an apparent contradiction in Mr. Towery’s actions. He claimed the activists were potentially dangerous, but he took them to a gun show and taught them how to “clear a building with a firearm”.
The judge also declined to issue a written opinion, so we are left to wonder why he ruled the way he did. Either way, the plaintiffs will appeal. A team of lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild, headed up by Larry Hildes believe in this case, and are deeply worried about the repercussions of a bad ruling. Hildes told Kevin Gosztola at FiredogLake.com, “I’m really concerned about where this leaves the Constitution. This ruling potentially does so much utter damage to what’s left of the First and Fourth Amendments and what’s left on the restrictions of what the military can do that we don’t have a choice but to appeal.”
For more information about the case please visit PeopleVTowery.org
Read more here: http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2014/06/19/judge-dismisses-major-lawsuit-against-alleged-domestic-military-spying-on-antiwar-activists/ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/us/suit-by-protest-groups-on-spying-is-dismissed.html?_r=0 http://www.theolympian.com/2014/06/18/3188484/federal-judge-dismisses-lawsuit.html#storylink=cpy