September 21, 2010

FBI spied on activist groups; Duluth Catholic Worker mentioned in report

The Justice Department's office of the inspector general issued a report yesterday criticizing FBI surveillance of anti-war, animal rights and environmental groups under the Bush Administration. The report reveals that from 2001 to 2006, the FBI spied on PETA, Greenpeace, the Thomas Merton Center, individual Quakers and members of the Catholic Worker movement; and it accuses FBI director Robert Mueller of lying (ahem, providing inaccurate information) to Congress about the agency's surveillance of a Pittsburgh anti-war rally. The report further decries a Hoover-like politicization of FBI field reports, including irrelevant details of what agents describe as the "communistic" ideology of the Catholic Worker.

Guess who shows up on page 151 of the report? Our own Duluth Catholic Worker, surveilled along with other activists during a protest at Offut Air Force Base in Omaha in 2003.

Remarkably, the IG downplays the FBI's numerous violations of the 1st Amendment as an "ill-conceived project on a slow work day," and suggests that some civil disobedience actions carried out by both Greenpeace and the Catholic Worker do indeed fit the definition of "domestic terrorism."

In other words: Bush may be gone, but the Constitution hasn't made a comeback.

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