Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Government spying on gay groups

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According to an article published by 365gay.com News, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which represents LGBT military personnel, will request information under the Freedom of Information Act in order to learn if it or any other LGBT group has been the target of government spying related to terrorism. SLDN believes that the Government has been spying on what has been called "suspicious" groups protesting the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the United States Military. According to the article:
Allegations of spying were first reported in the media last week. The reports said that Pentagon investigators labeled a gay kiss-in at the University of California - Santa Cruz as a "credible threat" of terrorism. The demonstration, to protest the ban on gays in the military, was staged in front of Army, Navy and Marine Corps recruiters who were trying to interest students in careers in the military. (story) Media outlets also reported that Pentagon had spied on New York University law school’s LGBT advocacy group OUTlaw, which the military classified as “possibly violent”. The administration is also alleged to have spied on gay groups at the State University of New York at Albany and William Patterson College in New Jersey. "To suggest that a gay kiss-in is a ‘credible threat’ is absurd, homophobic and irrational," said Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director C. Dixon Osburn. “Students have a first amendment right to protest and Americans have a right to expect that their government will respect our constitutional right to privacy. Osburn said that the SLDN will file the Freedom of Information Act request to see how much information the Pentagon is amassing on gays. "The Pentagon is supposed to defend the Constitution, not turn it upside down,” Osburn said.
In January, the Pentagon confirmed reports that the Air Force proposed developing a chemical weapon in 1994 which would turn enemies gay. The proposal was part of a plan from Wright Air Force Base and called to develop "chemicals that effect (sic) human behavior so that discipline and morale in enemy units is adversely effected (sic). One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior." The Pentagon later said that it had never intended on developing the weapon. Anti-gay spying by the Government is nothing new. Gay groups have been spied on by the Government since 1961:
David K. Johnson, a historian at University of South Florida and author of The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, the banner of “national security” has long been used as a pretext to crack down on gay rights and even to spark moral crusades against homosexuality under the guise of national defense. His book explains that “security risk” was used throughout the Cold War to invoke “the specter of homosexuality,” which was cast as a threat to national security, and as something that “needed to be systematically removed” from the government and minimized in the culture at large. Johnson said the Pentagon’s spying is the latest in a long history of targeting gays and lesbians as subversives, despite lacking any evidence for such a charge. “It's no surprise,” he said. “The federal government began spying on those who challenged its discriminatory policies from the very earliest days of such activism.” He said the FBI investigated the first organizational meeting in 1961 of what became the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest gay rights groups. Government agents took photographs in 1965 at the first gay and lesbian public demonstration in front of the White House against the military’s exclusionary policies.
===== This is absolutely sickening, but you know they have been doing it ever since gays first started to organize for our rights. The United States is a great place and our Government is a wonderful one. Our Founding Fathers, I think, would be proud to know that their vision of a nation guided by their Consitution and built upon the concepts of 'for the People, by the People' is still in existence. Heck... we have even managed to spread democracy across the globe. Sometimes, though, the Government goes to far. People aren't perfect though and neither is the Government. The monitoring of peaceful, law-abiding citizens must stop, however. The Government is overstepping its bounds by spying on citizens without reason. A protest against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is not a threat to national security; monitoring such protests is nothing more than another governmentally endorsed prejudice and bias against LGBT Americans. Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

7 Comments:

I'm curious which "media outlets" reported this... it really doesn't sound logical to me, but maybe I'm missing something.

I'd heard of them spying on the Mattachine Society back in the day, but only, as I understood it, because it was something that was far more unacceptable to American society at the time, and such a group had never been openly formed.

I think this whole thing is a little far-fetched... suggesting a kiss-in as a credible threat of terrorism just seems to me like people are trying to use their own issues with the media's bias to to further attack the President. I think our military and intelligence agencies have better things to do.
When this government spying controversy came about, a document was obtained from either the FBI or CIA, I forget which.

The document listed various events which the government was monitoring. One of those was a kiss-in by a student group, the one mentioned in the story.

NBC's Nightly News story on the document highlighted a group of Quakers who gathered to talk about the war. They were also on the list of groups being monitored.
I just saw this story in the NYT, which seems to make it very clear that such groups are being monitored solely because they may have criminal ties... PETA and the ELF, for example. I really don't consider FBI agents reading websites or attending protests to be spying, or in any way illegal.
I wasn't saying it was illegal.

And maybe they aren't "spying" but why is the Government "monitoring" peaceful citizens who are doing nothing more than engaging in the Constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and protest?

A gay kiss-in has nothing to do with national security, the Government should not have been monitoring it. I think any fair-minded person could agree with that statement.
And I'm saying, I seriously doubt there's any truth behind the report that they were actually monitoring that... what reason would they have to do it? What I was trying to say is, monitoring PETA chapters that may have links to the ELF is probably justified, because they are labeled a domestic terrorist group.

Further more, I think the groups that claim they're being monitored may just be stroking their own egos and trying to get on tv (and bash the president, a pleasant side effect).
Here is the truth: The Government did monitor the Santa Cruz on-campus military rectruiters kiss-in, as well as a protest against military recruiters at NYU along with multiple other similar student protests.

Truth: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/
sections/news/DODAntiWar
ProtestDatabaseTracker.pdf


See page 6 for the Santa Cruz protest. The related NBC article is at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10454316/

Another related article is available from the Washington Blade: http://www.washblade.com/thelatest/
thelatest.cfm?
blog_id=4146
That changes everything, Matt... you spun this as the military collecting intelligence on gays protesting recruiters because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, when in fact they're checking in on ALL anti-war protests.

And why shouldn't they? Their recruitment numbers are down, they have a right to know what people's grievances are and attempt to addess them. They're not locking people up for dissent, they're making a list of the frequency of these types of events and noting which ones got violent.... I don't personally see the problem with this, but that may just be my ideology getting the better of me.