16. Law Enforcement Agencies Spy on Innocent Citizens

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Agenda, July–August 2003
Title: “Big Brother Gets Bigger–Domestic Spying & the Global Intelligence Working Group”
Author: Michelle J. Kinnucan

Community Alliance, April 2003
Title: “Police Infiltrate Local Groups”
Author: Mark Schlosberg

CovertAction Quarterly, Fall 2003
Title: “Denver Police Keeping Files On Peace Groups”
Author: Loring Wirbel

SF Indymedia, October 4, 2003
URL: http://sfbay.indymedia.org/news/2003/10/1650550.php (first publish of Rhodes article)
Title: “Local Peace Group Infiltrated by Government Agent”
Author: Mike Rhodes

Reprinted: Community Alliance, November 2003

North Bay Progressive, Volume 2 # 8, October 2003
Title: Fresno Peace group Infiltrated by Government Agent
Author: Mike Rhodes

World Socialist Web Site, http://www.wsws.org, 1/10/04
Title: Bush Administration Expands Police Spying Powers
Author: Kate Randall

Faculty Evaluator: Andrew Botterell
Student Researcher: Joni Wallent

With virtually no media coverage or public scrutiny, a major reorganization of the US domestic law enforcement intelligence apparatus is well underway and, in fact, is partially completed. The effort to create a new national intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing system has frightening implications for privacy and other civil liberties.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) with Department of Justice (DOJ) assistance decided to organize a summit in early 2002; the topic was “Criminal Intelligence Sharing: Overcoming Barriers to Enhance Domestic Security.” At the summit, a select group of 100 “criminal intelligence experts” and VIPs from local, state, and federal agencies-including the military-formulated what came to be known as the “National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan” (NCISP).

The IACP summit report calls for the creation of a “Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council” (CICC). The Global Intelligence Working Group became operational under the umbrella of John Ashcroft’s Department of Justice (DOJ) as the first incarnation of the CICC in the fall of 2002.

While they invoke the terror of 9/11, the NCISP and related documents offer no argument that 9/11 could have been prevented with better intelligence sharing between federal and state/local law enforcement. The IACP summit report simply asserts “While September 11 highlighted urgency in improving the capacity of law enforcement agencies … to share terrorism-relevant intelligence data … the real need is to share all–not just terrorism-related–criminal intelligence.” Information would be shared though out all channels of enforcement agencies. State and local agencies are to act as partners in the participation of collection, analysis, dissemination, and ultimately resulting in police infiltration collecting criminal intelligence.

Several police departments have increased surveillance and intelligence gathering activity against innocent citizens exercising their constitutional rights to participate in religious and social protests. The Denver Police were collecting criminal intelligence data on American citizens participating in “political, religious and social gatherings. The Denver Police Intelligence Bureau has conducted infiltration and observation on groups such as: American Friends Service Committee, Citizens for Peace in Space, and Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission. Records on participants of these events were filed and shared between undercover police groups in Denver and national agencies

American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the city of Denver and the police admitted to maintaining files on 3,200 individuals and 208 organizations.

In Fresno, California a local peace and justice group discovered that they had been infiltrated by an undercover law enforcement officer. Fresno Sheriff Aaron Kilner, known to the Peace Fresno group as Aaron Stokes, attended several peace meetings and anti-war vigils. Peace Fresno found out about the infiltration when a local obituary reported the death of Officer Kilner in a motorcycle accident. Officer Kilner was listed in the obituary as working for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

On the same day that Saddam Hussein was captured, President Bush sign into law the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2004. The act essentially expanded the Patriot Act by allowing government to request personal information on individual citizens from stockbrokers, car dealerships, credit card companies and any other businesses where cash transactions occur. By broadening definitions of financial institutions, the Bush administration expanded the 2001 USA Patriot Act. The FBI does not have to appear before a judge nor demonstrate “probable cause.” Moreover, a national Security Letter comes attached with a gag order thereby preventing businesses from informing their clients that their records have been surrendered to the FBI.
The intentions of current intelligence gathering activities have little use in the prevention of terrorist attacks, and have more to do with the reconstruction of local, state, federal, and private enforcement agencies with unrestricted access to citizen records.

UPDATE: The story of the Global Intelligence Working Group is more important now than when it was first published because its National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (NCISP) has largely been put into service. There was a flurry of mainstream media attention on May 14, 2004, in response to a Department of Justice (DoJ) signing ceremony and press conference. Unfortunately, the coverage had little, if any, analysis and most articles mainly regurgitated a DoJ press release. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Attorney General John Ashcroft today announced the launch of the [NCISP], an initiative designed to link federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies so that they can share intelligence information to prevent terrorism and crime. He was joined in the announcement by Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI; Deborah Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs; General Frank Libutti, Undersecretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security; Chief Joe Polisar, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police; Melvin Carraway, Superintendent of the Indiana State Police and Chairman of the Global Intelligence Working Group; and Carl Peed, Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The NCISP is built around three guiding reforms: prioritization, with the emphasis on prevention, mobilization of resources, and coordination of intelligence gathering and integration.

“The [NCISP] is the first of its kind in the nation, uniting law enforcement agencies of all sizes and geographic locations in a truly national effort to prevent terrorism and criminal activity,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “By raising cooperation and communication among local, state and federal partners to an unprecedented level, this groundbreaking effort will strengthen the abilities of the justice community to detect threats and protect American lives and liberties.”

The implementation announced by Ashcroft in May differs from earlier proposals in several ways but the significant threats to the civil liberties of Americans and resident aliens are undiminished. The protections of a republican form of government and the inadequate safeguards erected during the 1970s and 1980s have been further weakened with little, if any, notice or opposition from politicians or the media. The American Civil Liberties Union sounded the alert last year when the DoJ proposed to change 28 CFR 23, the “Criminal Intelligence Systems Operating Policies.” Beyond that, however, they and other civil liberties organizations seem unaware of the threats to civil liberties posed by the changes in federal, state, and local police spying and information sharing. Activists should contact the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, and other civil liberties groups to alert them.

A slightly more recent version of the original article appears on the Political Research Associates web site athttp://www.publiceye.org/liberty/repression/big-broth-kin.html. The Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Resource Program has posted some of the relevant documents in its news section (http://www.fas.org/irp/news/index.html); their Secrecy News is recommended (go tohttp://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html). The DoJ’s GIWG site (http://it.ojp.gov/topic.jsp?topic_id=56) remains an important source of information although they have apparently removed some files from the site.