Commenting on the DHS report about right-wing extremism, Joe Scarborough asked, "what if Dick Cheney had told Tom Ridge, when he was the head of the Department of Homeland Security, to be on the alert for liberal groups."
Scarborough thinks that if the Bush administration had targeted left-wing groups for surveillance, a furor would have arisen at MSNBC, the New York Times, and the rest of what he presumably thinks of as The Liberal Media.
But what Scarborough either forgets or never knew, or simply chooses to ignore, is that the Bush Administration did target left-wing groups with its massive domestic surveillance and security apparatus.
[h/t Glenn Greenwald]
December 20, 2005The Bush administration targeted for surveillance vegans, logging protesters, PETA, and Catholic Workers, all under the pretense of anti-terrorism.
F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 - Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.
F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general, loosened restrictions on the F.B.I.'s investigative powers, giving the bureau greater ability to visit and monitor Web sites, mosques and other public entities in developing terrorism leads. The bureau has used that authority to investigate not only groups with suspected ties to foreign terrorists, but also protest groups suspected of having links to violent or disruptive activities.
But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.
One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The documents, provided to The New York Times over the past week, came as part of a series of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. For more than a year, the A.C.L.U. has been seeking access to information in F.B.I. files on about 150 protest and social groups that it says may have been improperly monitored.
The F.B.I. had previously turned over a small number of documents on antiwar groups, showing the agency's interest in investigating possible anarchist or violent links in connection with antiwar protests and demonstrations in advance of the 2004 political conventions. And earlier this month, the A.C.L.U.'s Colorado chapter released similar documents involving, among other things, people protesting logging practices at a lumber industry gathering in 2002.
The latest batch of documents, parts of which the A.C.L.U. plans to release publicly on Tuesday, totals more than 2,300 pages and centers on references in internal files to a handful of groups, including PETA, the environmental group Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group, which promotes antipoverty efforts and social causes.
Yet, the round-the-clock outrage that Scarborough fantasizes about never materialized.
And now, right wingers are afraid that the surveillance state they cheered on for eight years is being turned against them.
This is why it is a bad idea to surrender your civil liberties to the government when people you like are in power. Eventually, people you don't like will be in power.
But for some reason, people need to keep learning the same lesson over and over and over again.