FBI anti-terrorism agents spied on a peace group simply because it opposed the Iraq war, part of an ''unprecedented campaign'' to spy on innocent citizens, the American Civil Liberties Union said on Tuesday.What were members of the Merton Center doing? Passing out anti-war leaflets. And why was the FBI spying on members of the Merton Center?
FBI documents acquired under the Freedom of Information Act and provided to reporters show the FBI conducted surveillance of the Pittsburgh-based Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice at anti-war demonstrations and leaflet distributions in 2002 and 2003.
One of the FBI documents, unveiled at a news conference by the two groups, carried the headline ``International Terrorism Matters'' and referred to the FBI's work with an anti-terrorism task force that includes several agencies.
Another FBI document said the Pittsburgh Joint Terrorism Task Force had learned that ``The Thomas Merton Center ... has been determined to be an organization which is opposed to the United States' war with Iraq.''
A separate document noted, ``One female leaflet distributor who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, inquired if (confidential source's name withheld) was an FBI agent. No other TMC participants appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent.''But this war is not a racist war. We just have to protect our good white selves from the devious brown people.
Oh, and it's not because the center is "anti-war." It's because they advocate "pacifism." There is a difference; apparently the latter is "political," which makes the investigation legitimate.
An FBI memo dated November 2002 said the Merton Center ''holds daily leaflet distribution activities in downtown Pittsburgh and is currently focused on its opposition to the potential war in Iraq.'' The war began in March 2003.Good thing we stopped COINTELPRO, isn't it?
The memo called the Merton Center ``a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism.''
The FBI acknowledged the report sounded as if it were reporting on the activities of an anti-war group, but said ''such a characterization would be factually misleading.''
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