> A Guide to Photographers' Rights
Unfortunately, it appears that these old tendencies have once again come to the fore. Law enforcement agencies across America continue to monitor and harass groups and individuals for doing little more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights.
A thorough search and review of news accounts by the ACLU reveals that these law enforcement behaviors have taken place in at least 36 states plus the District of Columbia in recent years. Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed by the police just for deciding to organize, march, protest, espouse unusual viewpoints, and engage in normal, innocuous behaviors such as writing notes or taking photographs in public.
For example, in 2009, at least four troubling Fusion Center reports have come to light:
• The Virginia Fusion Center's Homegrown Terrorism Document:
• The Texas Fusion Center's Prevention Awareness Bulletin:
• The Missouri Fusion Center's Document on the Modern Militia Movement:
• The Massachusetts Fusion Center's “Commonwealth Fusion Center's Standard Operating Procedures”
• DHS Reports Warns of Veterans. DHS's "Right-Wing Extremism" Report warned that right-wing extremists might recruit and radicalize "disgruntled military veterans." (
• DHS Report Warns of Environmental Groups. DHS's Contractor Eco-Terrorism Report described environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, the Humane Society, and the Audubon Society as "mainstream organizations with known or possible links to eco-terrorism." (
• DHS Keeps Calendar of Peaceful Protests. DHS's March 2006 "Protective Intelligence Bulletin" lists several advocacy groups that were targets of the Maryland State Police operations, including CODEPINK, Iraq Pledge of Resistance and DAWN, and contains a "civil activists and extremists action calendar" that details dozens of demonstrations planned around the country, mostly peace rallies. Federal Protective Services apparently gleaned this information from the Internet. There is no indication anywhere in the document to suggest illegal activity might occur at any of these demonstrations. The ACLU filed complaints in response to this improper intelligence gathering, and the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties concluded its review, determining that information like that will no longer be distributed regionally or nationally, and will only be distributed locally to those who have a situational awareness need for the information. (
• FBI Lists Green Party as Target for Eco-Terrorism Investigation. The FBI Field Intelligence Group lists the Green Party as potential future target of eco-terrorism investigation. (
• DHS Reports on Nation of Islam in Violation of its own Protocols. In October 2007, DHS sent a report, "Nation of Islam: Uncertain Leadership Succession Poses Risks," to hundreds of federal officials despite the fact that Department guidelines had called for the files to be destroyed because the assessment of the group had lasted more than 180 days without uncovering evidence of potential terrorism. (
• FBI Spies on Activists Involved in First Amendment Activities and Mischaracterizes Civil Disobedience.The FBI improperly spied on American activists involved in First Amendment-protected activities, mischaracterized nonviolent civil disobedience as terrorism, and improperly placed activists on terrorist watch lists, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG). The IG found the improper investigations were often opened based on “factually weak” or even “speculative” justifications and were sometimes extended in duration without sufficient basis. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/us/politics/21fbi.html, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/20/AR201009..., http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/09/fbi_cover-up_turns_laugh..., http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870398930457550419230689262..., and http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-fbi-activists-20100...).
• Senate Security Will Use Internet Data Mining to Identify Lawmaker Threats. Senate Sgt. at Arms plans to contract with a private company to data mine the internet and social media sites to search keywords such as lawmakers names, and “slash” or “shoot” to identify potential threats. (