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Thread: FBI monitored antiwar.com in error for six years, documents show

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    FBI monitored antiwar.com in error for six years, documents show

    Monitoring began after antiwar.com editor passed along to the bureau a threat he received against his own website

    The FBI monitored a prominent anti-war website for years, in part because agents mistakenly believed it had threatened to hack the bureau’s own site.

    Internal documents show that the FBI’s monitoring of antiwar.com, a news and commentary website critical of US foreign policy, was sparked in significant measure by a judgment that it had threatened to “hack the FBI website” and involved a formal assessment of the “threat” the site posed to US national security.

    But antiwar.com never threatened to hack the FBI website. Heavily redacted FBI documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and shared with the Guardian, show that Eric Garris, the site’s managing editor, passed along to the bureau a threat he received against his own website.

    Months later, the bureau characterized antiwar.com as a potential perpetrator of a cyberattack against the bureau’s website – a rudimentary error that persisted for years in an FBI file on the website. The mistake appears to have been a pillar of the FBI’s reasoning for monitoring a site that is protected by the first amendment’s free-speech guarantees.

    “The improper investigation led to Garris and Raimondo being flagged in other documents, and is based on inappropriate targeting and sloppy intelligence work the FBI relied on in its initial memo,” said Julia Mass, an attorney with the ACLU of northern California, which filed the Freedom of Information Act request, and shared the documents with the Guardian.

    FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the bureau could not comment, as the ACLU’s litigation of the antiwar.com case is ongoing.

    On 12 September 2001, Garris received an email with the subject line “YOUR SITE IS GOING DOWN.”

    “Be warned assholes, ill be posting your site address to all the hack boards tonight, telling them about the little article at the moscowtimes and all. YOUR SITE IS HISTORY,”
    the unredacted parts of the email read.

    Concerned, Garris forwarded the threatening email to the FBI field office in San Francisco, where he lives.
    (It is contained in the disclosed FBI documents.) “It was a threat and I wanted to report it,” Garris said.

    But by 7 January 2002, someone in the field office characterized the message as “A THREAT BY GARRIS TO HACK FBI WEBSITE.”

    According to unredacted portions of the documents, that apparent mix-up was the first time antiwar.com came onto the FBI’s radar – a purview that would last at least six years.


    Garris said he never heard back from the FBI, and had no reason to believe that the incident had any broader impact, until he saw what was in his FBI file. “It was pretty scary to think that in my FBI file, and perhaps other government agency files, there was a report that I was considered a threat based on that,” Garris said.

    “That may follow me for the rest of my life. Any time I interact with any law enforcement or government agencies, they’re going to be able to see that, and make evaluations of me based on it. It’s very scary.”

    The mix-up did not stay limited to the San Francisco field office. In 2004, FBI officials in Newark, New Jersey, compiled a “threat assessment” of Garris and his colleague Justin Raimondo.

    The 2004 “threat assessment” took note of Raimondo and Garris’ anti-war views, listed articles and media appearances in which they made their arguments, and reported that “peaceful” anti-war protesters in the UK passed out literature referencing antiwar.com that suggested the US government was holding Israeli spies in connection to the September 11 attacks.

    Contained within the file are copies of articles penned by Raimando advancing the conspiracy theory that Israel had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks.

    The FBI created profiles of both Raimondo and Garris using public records, such as those held by the Department of Motor Vehicles, to include their physical descriptions. “The rights of individuals to post information and to express personal views on the Internet should be honored and protected; however, some material that is circulated on the internet can compromise current active FBI investigations,” reads an unsigned “analyst comment” on the 2004 threat assessment.

    The unnamed analyst said there were “several unanswered questions regarding www.antiwar.com,” such as the source of its funding, the presence of material on the site that is “not suitable for public release” and whether Raimondo was using “a pseudonym.”

    The redactions make it difficult to understand the legal predicates the FBI possessed for monitoring a website devoted to news and commentary. The revealed portions list only two potential possibilities. First is an “untitled spreadsheet” that the site posted, which apparently was linked to a “post-9/11 watch list [that] ... may contain the names of individuals of active investigative interest.”
    FBI monitored anti-war website in error for six years, documents show | World news | theguardian.com(more)
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    Re: FBI monitored antiwar.com in error for six years, documents show

    funny how only anti-war sites are "mistakenly targeted". I'm old enough to remember the FBI infiltrating Vietnam anti-war groups.

    I think there was some apology, or denial, or "mistaken" dissembing after the fact.

    What was COINTELPRO?

    In 1971, activists broke into FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania, and discovered files that proved what many had suspected for years-the government was involved in widespread domestic surveillance, infiltration, and violence against radical organizations and individuals.
    The Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), mounted by the FBI to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and otherwise neutralize” the civil rights, Black liberation, Puerto Rican independence, Native-American, antiwar, socialist, and New Left movements of the 1960s and 1970s, is one of the most notorious of the U.S. government's domestic anti-radical programs
    International Socialist Review
    The more things change the more they remain the same in the good ole' war luvin' USA.
    Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ

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    Re: FBI monitored antiwar.com in error for six years, documents show

    The New Left was founded in 1962, and as a social and political protest movement, it captured the attention of
    the nation in the Sixties. By 1968, the New Left was marching in unison with hundreds of political action groups to achieve one goal—the end of the war in Vietnam. Under J. Edgar Hoover's direction, the FBI went from an intelligence collection agency during WWII, to an organization that tried to undermine protest movements like the New Left.

    Hoover viewed the New Left as a threat to the American way of life, so in an enormous effort of questionable legality, the FBI implemented some 285 counter-intelligence (COINTELPRO) actions against the New Left. The purpose of COINTELPRO was to infiltrate, disrupt, and otherwise neutralize the entire movement.
    In truth, the FBI intended to wage war on the antiwar movement.


    In this real-life spy story—J. Edgar Hoover and his G-Men, wiretaps, burglaries, misinformation campaigns, informants, and plants—Davis offers a glimpse into the endlessly fascinating world of the Sixties. Kent State, Columbia University, Vietnam Moratorium Day, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the Cambodian invasion and March Against Death are all examined in this riveting account of the longest youth protest movement in American history.

    This is the only book devoted entirely to the New Left COINTELPRO, and the first one written after the declassification of more than 6,000 counterintelligence documents that reveal the true nature and extent of the FBI's Assault on the Left.
    Assault on the Left: The FBI and the Sixties Antiwar Movement: James K. Davis: 9780275954550: Amazon.com: Books

    same old ****, different century.
    Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ

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