McCarthyism Still Lives for Anthropology Professor

February 2, 1999 12:00 am

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Tuesday, February 2, 1999

ATLANTA — Claiming that an FBI investigation was improper, attorneys for a Georgia anthropology professor today filed suit in federal court here under the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to an FBI “secret” file.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Beatriz Morales Cozier, Ph.D, an anthropology professor who has studied Afro-Cuban institutions. In 1994, Dr. Cozier invited Jose Ponce, a Cuban government official, to speak at a symposium at Georgia State University.

Shortly afterward the invitation was extended?, an FBI official visited Dr. Cozier, with a file labeled “Cozier.” He repeatedly questioned her and her family, friends and co-workers. The FBI Information Technology Center used the Internet and databases to search Cozier’s employment records, tax records, and her real estate records.

“This has made me feel that I am constantly being persecuted,” Dr. Cozier said. “It has made my family and my children afraid to express their views and has affected my research and my ability to publish and get information.”

Dr. Cozier has been trying to obtain access to that complete file for almost five years. After four years, select portions of it were sent to one of Dr. Cozier’s attorneys, Gerald Weber, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties of Georgia. However, over half the file pages were missing and those pages which were produced were heavily blacked out, with entire sections omitted. The explanation – – “national security.”

“If our government freely tosses around the phrase “national security” where it simply should not apply, courts may rightly question whether Big Brother is crying wolf,” Weber said.

“What we are saying in this lawsuit is that a law abiding citizen has the right to know why the FBI is spying on her through her neighbors, friends, and family,” Weber added. “The Freedom of Information Act gives Dr. Cozier that right.”

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