FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PORTLAND, ME -- The Maine Civil Liberties Union today released new documents revealing that the FBI has monitored the activities of peace activists, including Maine Veterans for Peace and Peace Action Maine.
The documents were turned over by the FBI in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the MCLU. The FBI has previously released records detailing its surveillance of another local peace group, the Maine Peace and Justice Center.
"Spying on innocent Americans has a chilling effect on free speech," said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the MCLU. "If the FBI is keeping tabs on peace groups in Maine, activists will be afraid to attend protests or criticize the policies of this country for fear the FBI will target them next."
Today's documents contain redacted copies of e-mails, which the FBI apparently intercepted, that detail the activities of the peace groups. The documents include the names of individuals who are members of Peace Action Maine and Maine Veterans for Peace and list the time and location of planned protest activities.
"Police would do best to protect us from real criminals, not peaceful protestors," said Jack Bussell of Maine Veterans for Peace. Multiple e-mails from Bussell were included in the FBI file in reference to "Real Angels Don't Drop Bombs," a demonstration Bussell helped organize to protest the Navy's Blue Angels air show.
"Time and resources should not be misused to target innocent Americans whose only 'crime' is nothing more than criticizing the government," said Bussell.
Revelations of the surveillance are reminiscent of the FBI's historical spying abuses, said the MCLU. During the 1950s, the FBI supplied Senator Joseph McCarthy with information about people's political associations, which led to many innocent people losing their careers. During the 1960s, the FBI engaged in a campaign to discredit Martin Luther King, Jr. by wiretapping and blackmail.
"Do Americans really want to return to the days when peaceful critics became the targets of government investigations?" asked Bellows.
The documents are available at: www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/27177res20061025.html