We are deeply concerned that the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program, authorized by President Bush in 2002, is part of a broad pattern of domestic spying and disregard for the rule of law. We already know that Greenpeace has been targeted for surveillance in the past by the NSA. In 1992, British intelligence officials revealed to the London Observer that the NSA had used the word “Greenpeace” as a keyword to intercept communications outside the United States.
Recently released government documents reveal that Greenpeace has been the subject of surveillance by the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Forces. The FBI’s internal documents indicate that the FBI has used confidential informants to obtain information about Greenpeace activities. This is a shocking abuse of power.
In the past several years, Greenpeace has been a staunch critic of the Bush administration’s environmental policies, and has engaged in peaceful protest and civil disobedience to challenge these policies. It is deeply disturbing that our government would misuse taxpayer funds and limited resources to infiltrate and spy on Greenpeace because of our political activism. A government that can’t maintain a distinction between terror and civil dissent is not a healthy or democratic government.
We have joined this landmark lawsuit not only because we believe surveillance of innocent Americans is unconstitutional and undemocratic, we are concerned that Greenpeace’s recent social activism makes us a likely target for government surveillance. In 2003, there were several European protests against the war in Iraq by Greenpeace activists, including one at Rota Naval Air Base in Spain. More recently, a team of international Greenpeace experts exposed the U.S. military’s failure to secure and contain nuclear waste facilities in Iraq. Greenpeace has also actively publicized the Bush administration’s ties to the oil industry, particularly to ExxonMobil. In 2002, Greenpeace protesters chained themselves to gas pumps at ExxonMobil stations in New York and Los Angeles, carrying banners that called on the Bush administration to stop favoring the oil industry over the environment.
Greenpeace’s telephone calls, e-mails and other Internet communications with individuals and organizations abroad are vital to our goal of addressing environmental problems of global magnitude. This mission requires free and open communication with international colleagues, members, experts and leaders of governments and industry. We fear that the NSA’s illegal surveillance program will enable the U.S. government to preemptively block lawful protests and silence the voices of millions of Americans dedicated to environmental protection, human rights and social development.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.