The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security have been spying on Planned Parenthood, as well as anti-abortion groups and other domestic groups.

On February 2, 2002, a Joint Forces Command “update” to the FBI’s Olympic Intelligence Center provided information on “US Persons” and organizations, including Planned Parenthood and a white supremacist group, and their “involvement in protests and literature distribution,” according to a May 1, 2002, memorandum from a Pentagon deputy inspector general. The memo was part of a trove of documents that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) recently pried loose in a lawsuit. The information about Planned Parenthood was “clearly outside the purview of military intelligence,” the deputy inspector general said.

This wasn’t the only—or the most recent—time the government has peered into the workings of Planned Parenthood.

The Department of Homeland Security “conducted a threat assessment of local pro- and anti-abortion activists,” reported the Wisconsin State Journal on February 8, relying also on a document made public by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The report was shared “with police in Middleton and with the director of the Wisconsin Statewide Information Center,” the State Journal noted. It “was compiled prior to a February 2009 meeting in Middleton by the University of Wisconsin Hospital board to decide whether to open a clinic that would offer late-term abortions.”

The Wisconsin ACLU condemns this spying.

“Without probable cause that a crime is being committed or is about to be committed, police or the federal government don't have the right to snoop on activists,” says Stacy Harbaugh, the community advocate of the Madison-area office of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Having the feds investigate organizations on both sides of the abortion debate doesn't make us all safer: it simply victimizes more individuals' freedom and privacy rights.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against the Defense Department has uncovered “hundreds of reports of possibly illegal intelligence activities,” the group says.

One example involves Alaskans for Peace and Justice. NORAD/NORTHCOM “specifically indentified a United States Person (USP) group (Alaskans for Peace & Justice), which was planning a peaceful demonstration” on September 24, 2005. It then “retained the information” in its files, and it may have included that information “in a command briefing.”

Another example involves a staff officer at the U.S. Army Reserve Command at Fort McPherson, Georgia, who “routinely collected and retained information from open sources concerning domestic U.S.-person protest groups exercising their freedom of speech/assembly,” said a 2007 Pentagon document. “There was no indication that the information contained a foreign nexus or otherwise represented a legitimate force protection threat to the U.S. Army.”

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Carolina Panthers

If the black citizens of Charlotte and white supporters of justice block the entrance to the stadium on Sunday, I...

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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