Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Such absurdity indicates that the purpose of the program is multi-dimensional. On one level, as Joe emphasizes, who were the real priority targets of this operation? It's hard to believe that OUTlaw is one of them. Instead, individuals like Cindy Sheehan, Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn, George Galloway, al-Jezeera journalists and servicemembers involved in the conscientous objection and counter-recruitment effort are all plausible possibilities.
According to recent press reports, Pentagon officials have been spying on what they call “suspicious” meetings by civilian groups, including student groups opposed to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The story, first reported by Lisa Myers and NBC News last week, noted that Pentagon investigators had records pertaining to April protests at the State University of New York at Albany and William Patterson College in New Jersey. A February protest at NYU was also listed, along with the law school’s LGBT advocacy group OUTlaw, which was classified as “possibly violent” by the Pentagon. A UC-Santa Cruz “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” protest, which included a gay kiss-in, was labeled as a “credible threat” of terrorism.
Meanwhile, there is also the benefit of unleashing the New Model Army within law enforcement, people with positions as cops, sheriff's deputies, FBI agents, Secret Service agents and MPs, to engage in investigatory masturbation, whereby they can give expression to their social and political biases by surveilling controversial political activism. Certainly, it appears that the police in Denver have joyously seized the opportunity.
While seemingly innocuous, these activities raise the prospect that conservatives may successfully create cells of law enforcement within law enforcement, accountable to others outside of the conventional, civilian chain of command. The intersection between the Pentagon and Protestant fundamentalism, as suggested by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and revealed more explicitly by complaints of harassment and proselytizing by fundamentalists at the Air Force Academy, is most troubling in this regard.
Hat Tip to Sam Smith at the indispensable Progressive Review.