By Matthew Rothschild on October 13, 2006
Peace Activists Beware: Homeland Security May Be Reading Your E-Mail, and Passing it on to the Pentagon
By Matthew Rothschild

October 13, 2006

More information keeps coming out, thanks to the ACLU, about the Bush Administration’s equation of protest with terrorism—and the snooping it then engages in.

Homeland Security is monitoring peace groups and even peering at their e-mails.

“This information is being provided only to alert commanders and staff to potential terrorist activity or apprise them of other force protection issues.”

It then shares that information with Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which include the FBI and state and local law enforcement, as well as with the Pentagon’s notorious Talon (Threat and Local Observation Notice) program.

For instance, an April 12, 2005, Talon document, just released by the ACLU, shows that the Pentagon was concerned about “suspicious activity” at an upcoming event sponsored by the Broward Anti-War Coalition in Florida.

This peace group, according to the document, was planning—hold your breath here—“guerrilla theater and other forms of subversive propaganda” at the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show.

The source of the information was the Miami-Dade Police Department, and members of Army Recruiting and the Miami Joint Terrorism Task Force were briefed on it, the document states.

Another Talon document, dated March 1, 2005, released by the ACLU, reveals that Homeland Security agents are monitoring e-mails of such scary groups as the Quakers.

“The source received an e-mail on 25 Feb 05, subject: upcoming peace/anti-war events. The e-mail was from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Northeast Ohio,” the document states. And that source is identified as “a special agent of the Federal Protective Service, US Department of Homeland Security.” The document adds, “Source is reliable.”

The Joint Terrorism Task Force of Dayton, Ohio, was briefed on this one.

The planned activity of the Quakers that so concerned the Pentagon, Homeland Security, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force was this: “On 19 Mar 05, there will be a ‘Stop the War NOW!’ rally in commemoration of the second anniversary of the U.S. Invasion/Occupation of Iraq. The Akron rally will have a march and reading of names of war dead. . . . The Akron march begins at noon and goes past a local military recruiting station and the FBI office. The march will end at the Federal Building in Akron, for a rally, followed by reading of names of U.S. and Iraqi war dead.”

A third Talon document, dated March 7, 2005, also relies on an e-mail from the Quakers. “Source received an e-mail from the American Friends Service Committee” about “actions at military recruitment offices with the goals to include: raising awareness, education, visibility.” The source is again identified as “a special agent of the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Source is reliable.”

All three Talon documents state at the top: “This information is being provided only to alert commanders and staff to potential terrorist activity or apprise them of other force protection issues.”

“Potential terrorist activity.” Isn’t that delightful?

Word to the wise: If you’re a peace activist, the government may be watching you and reading your e-mails.

Something just to keep in mind.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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