On Monday the New York Times took an interest in a local trial now in the discovery phase at Federal District Court in Tacoma.  --  Antiwar activists in Olympia are suing John J. Towery, a civilian employee of the Army who spied and reported on antiwar activists, Thomas R. Rudd, his former supervisor at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and police officials from Tacoma and Olympia.  --  On Monday, another defendant was added:  Chris Adamson of the Pierce County Sheriff's Dept., director of what has become the Washington State Fusion Center that is supposed to be involved in counterterrorism, not spying on activists.  --  "Mr. Adamson helped coordinate Mr. Towery’s spying efforts and listed at least four protesters in a 'national domestic terrorist database with pictures, and identifying personal information along with false claims alleging a propensity for violence,'" Colin Moynihan reported.[1]  --  On Wednesday, the Olympian reported on this and other developments in the case.[2]  --  Better than either of these articles in explaining the suit was an article on the Firedoglake website.[3]  --  Kevin Gostzola said that "Larry Hildes, one of the lawyers involved in arguing the case, Panagacos v. Towery, told Firedoglake in December the [Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals] ruling was the 'first time any appellate court' had 'ever said that yes you can sue the military for damages for spying on civilian activists.'"  --   On Wednesday a blogger at the website Your Inquirer Profoundly made the connection between the trial proceeding in Tacoma and the larger revelations of Edward Snowden:  "When a government can extract your thoughts and monitor your behavior through surveillance, consolidate that information through databasing to establish a data profile that defines who you are in the eyes of national security, and then disseminate information about you throughout an integrated network of authorities without you knowing, it’s only a matter of time before you think, say, or post the wrong thing warranting closer scrutiny."[4]  --  COMMENT: By promising to shed some light upon the secretive, shadowy operations of fusion centers, the Olympia PMR lawsuit has the potential to break a pattern of silence relating to fusion centers, whose existence has been systematically under-reported by corporate-owned media -- perhaps because the corporations themselves are part of the fusion center networks.  --  Clearly, a congressional investigation similar to the Church Committee of the 1970s is needed, as Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Rush Holt, D-N.J., and others have called for.  --  Secret law, assassination squads, warrantless wiretapping, misleading of Congress, and a general lack of oversight have subverted basic constitutional principles....




By Colin Moynihan

New York Times

June 25, 2013 (posted Jun. 24)


An investigator working with an intelligence-gathering office in Washington State placed the names and photos of antiwar protest organizers into a domestic terrorism file, according to an amended complaint filed on Monday with the Federal District Court in Tacoma.

Those papers added the investigator as a defendant in a lawsuit that began in 2010 after it emerged that John J. Towery, a civilian employee of the Army, had used a fake name to infiltrate and spy on antiwar groups.  Much of the case has been based on a continuing series of public information requests filed by activists, which have yielded hundreds of pages of documents.

The investigator, Chris Adamson, was described by plaintiffs as a member of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and a director of regional intelligence groups with the Washington Joint Analytical Center, which became the Washington State Fusion Center, one of dozens of counterterrorism offices financed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Adamson helped coordinate Mr. Towery’s spying efforts and listed at least four protesters in a “national domestic terrorist database with pictures, and identifying personal information along with false claims alleging a propensity for violence,” the lawsuit said.

Lawrence A. Hildes, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the database was controlled by the Washington State Patrol.

“They have taken upon themselves to say, ‘We don’t like this person, therefore he’s a domestic terrorist,’” Mr. Hildes said.  “It’s not only illegal -- it’s absolutely chilling.”

Mr. Adamson did not return a phone call seeking comment. Bob Calkins, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, who also spoke on behalf of the fusion center, said there was no indication that either group was currently using the domestic terrorism index described in the lawsuit.

“We do our best to separate lawless behavior from lawful protest,” he said, adding: “Today we would be very careful in vetting information — is this someone who is truly a terrorist?”

Other defendants in the case include Mr. Towery, formerly a criminal intelligence analyst at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma; his former supervisor at the base, Thomas R. Rudd; and several police officials from Tacoma and Olympia, who are said in the lawsuit to have impeded protests against the war in Iraq. Law enforcement officials have said that some of those protests became unruly and dangerous.

Over the past four years, public information requests have elicited a trove of documents, including handwritten notes from Mr. Towery, e-mails between law enforcement officers and detailed analyses of protesters.

In 2009, an activist, Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, received documents from the City of Olympia showing that Mr. Towery had spied on organizations like Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance, which aimed to disrupt military shipments. Further information about the surveillance came after Tim Smith, then the chairman of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee of Tacoma, received records from that city.

More recently, an activist named Drew Hendricks and others obtained documents that provided information about the domestic terrorism index.

Those materials included a letter to law enforcement officials from a captain in the Washington State Patrol about a domestic terrorism workshop scheduled for 2007. The captain wrote that his agency would distribute an “intelligence document” containing information about “extremist activities” provided by attendees and added that “a blank index entry form is enclosed for submission of information on activists that you will be sharing.”

Other material included two documents with the heading “2007 Domestic Terrorism Conference Index Entry Form” that named Mr. Dunn and a fellow protester, Jeffrey A. Berryhill. Mr. Adamson was listed as a “submitting officer” on the forms, which showed photographs of Mr. Dunn and Mr. Berryhill, identified them as members of Students for a Democratic Society, and included their addresses, employers and Social Security numbers.

The forms described Mr. Dunn and Mr. Berryhill, who are among the plaintiffs suing Mr. Towery and others, as “aggressive during protests and demonstrations” and listed “assault, criminal trespass” under the heading “criminal activity.”

Both men said that they had not assaulted anyone and had no connection to terrorism. Mr. Dunn said he was concerned about the implications of being labeled a domestic terrorist. “Will I not get certain jobs or be allowed to travel to certain places or be detained arbitrarily?” he wondered, adding: “It’s frightening that I’m on a list like that.”



By Jeremy Pawloski

Olympian (Olypmia, WA)
June 26, 2013


A former Joint Base Lewis-McChord employee accused of infiltrating an Olympia anti-war group has admitted he accessed an email listserv maintained by the group in 2007 for attorney-client communications, then forwarded the information to police, according to documents filed in federal court in Tacoma.

Attorneys state in a recent court filing that John Towery accessed the activists’ listserv because he was concerned about its “dissemination of private, personal juror information” in a then-pending criminal trial involving 15 members of the anti-war group Olympia Port Militarization Resistance.  The defendants were charged with second-degree criminal trespass after a May 2006 protest over a military shipment at the Port of Olympia.

During the March 2007 trial, then-Thurston County District Court Judge Susan Dubuisson learned from the prosecutor that the listserv contained a spreadsheet with the names of more than 60 prospective jurors and their responses to a jury questionnaire.  The prosecutor expressed concern during the trial that individuals other than the defendants and their attorneys had access to otherwise private juror information.

Dubuisson then declared it a mistrial.  Dubuisson, now retired, said in 2007 that she did so because she was concerned that the breach of juror information could taint their ability to reach a fair verdict.

At the time, members of the anti-war group had declared the listserv was secure and that access was granted only through an approval process.  One defendant said it was set up so defendants in the case could be kept current with court dates, read trial briefs, and access other attorney-client work products.

When the prosecutor showed Dubuisson a copy of an email from the listserv, he declined to tell her in court how he obtained it.

According to court documents, Towery’s attorneys have now admitted he accessed the listserv and shared its contents with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Towery’s disclosure is included in part of his answer to a federal civil lawsuit that was filed by OlyPMR.  Its members allege that Towery violated their constitutional rights by spying on them under an assumed name.

Towery’s attorneys state in his June 14 response to the lawsuit that he accessed the listserv by providing his email address on an anti-war activist website.  “There was no mechanism blocking the public’s access to the . . . listserv,” Towery’s attorneys state in court documents.

The former prosecutor in the case, Steve Straume, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

At the time, one OlyPMR member said they suspected a “dirty trick” -- that some unknown actor had purposely compromised the listserv.

An Olympian reporter located the listserv following the announcement of the mistrial, and was able to subscribe to it in “minutes” without prior authorization, according to a March 2007 news story in the *Olympian*.

Ultimately, the gross misdemenaor charges against the 15 defendants in the case were dismissed and never refiled.

The disclosure that Towery accessed the OlyPMR listserv lends credence to anti-war activists’ allegations that Towery joined their group to disrupt and monitor its activities, OlyPMR member Drew Hendricks said.

In general, no one besides members of OlyPMR and their attorneys were even aware of the listserv, he said.

Said Hendricks:  “It’s my belief that John Towery’s intention when he joined the listservs was to neutralize our protests.”

Towery’s attorneys at McKay Chadwell in Seattle could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled OlyPMR’s lawsuit against Towery and one of his colleagues, Thomas Rudd, can go forward with certain First and Fourth Amendment claims.  The Court of Appeals opinion read in part, “As a result of defendants’ information sharing and coordination with local law enforcement, plaintiffs were allegedly arrested without probable cause.  These arrests allegedly disrupted plaintiffs’ peaceful protests and deterred their political speech.”

Towery is a former civilian employee with JBLM’s Force Protection Division.  According to the lawsuit, he infiltrated the group under an assumed name and reported on members’ activities to his superiors at JBLM and local law enforcement.  Rudd was Towery’s former superior at JBLM Force Protection.

Other defendants named in the suit include various local law enforcement agencies and individuals employed there, including the Olympia Police Department and the Tacoma Police Department.

The trial is expected to begin in 2014.  A flurry of recent federal court filings connected to the case have come up in recent weeks.

The plaintiffs also filed an amended complaint Monday, adding Chris Adamson, former director of the Regional Intelligence Group 5 for the Washington State Fusion Center, as a defendant.

Fusion centers are information sharing bodies that were established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security so that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies can share information on a wide range of intelligence, including in domestic terrorism investigations.

The fourth amended complaint alleges that Adamson, currently of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, worked in conjunction with Towery, and placed several plaintiffs in a national database designating them as “terrorists.”  Hendricks, who shared redacted copies of the indexes of two plaintiffs who were placed in the database, said he received the information after a public records request to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said Tuesday that his office is aware of Adamson’s recent inclusion in the lawsuit.

“We are reviewing it,” he said.

The database includes several OlyPMR members in an index titled “Domestic Terrorism Conference Index Entry Form.”  It includes their names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other personal information, though this information was redacted from the copies shared with The Olympian.

Brendan Dunn, a plaintiff whose photo and personal information are included on the “domestic terrorism conference index entry form,” said he was shocked when he learned of his inclusion there.  Dunn said the terrorism index lists him as having participated in criminal activities such as assault and criminal trespass, though he was never convicted of those crimes.

“This index makes me look like a violent individual, and I’m not,” Dunn said.

Dunn said his inclusion on the list explains in part his trouble with border patrol agents during several visits to Canada in recent years.  He said he was detained by Canadian border control during one of these visits, and told that he had an “FBI number.”  Dunn said he believes he is being punished for no reason other than his political views.

Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins returned a phone call placed to the fusion center on Tuesday.  He said that the regional intelligence center that Adamson worked for was not part of the fusion center itself, but worked closely with it.  He added that today there are now more privacy safeguards, such as training for fusion center members, so that they know what information is appropriate and not appropriate to compile.  When informed of the 2007 “index entry form” which Dunn was included on, Calkins said, “the current staff of our fusion center was not even aware that that document existed.”

Calkins added the fusion center monitors illegal activity and does not target people for their political beliefs.


The Dissenter


By Kevin Gosztola

June 25, 2013


Activists who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild have learned that they were listed in a national domestic terrorist database after being targeted and spied upon by the United States Army and Coast Guard, a Washington Fusion Center, and police departments in the state of Washington.

Brendan Dunn and Jeffery Berryhill, who both helped organize actions, including nonviolent civil disobedience, as part of Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) from 2006 to 2009 in Olympia and Tacoma, Washington, were listed in the domestic terrorist database.

According to a filed amended complaint, Chris Adamson, who served as “Director of Regional Intelligence Group 5 of the Washington Fusion Center, the South Sound Regional Intelligence Group of the Washington Fusion Center,” and also as “a lieutenant of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office” (PCSO), played a role in having them not only targeted but also listed in the database.

Dunn and Berryhill and two other activists were listed with “their photographs, contact information, identifying personal information, and false information claiming a propensity for violence and property destruction.”

The complaint argues, “This resulted in a great deal of harm to Plaintiffs including harassment and arrests.”

The lawsuit is currently in the discovery phase, where evidence is being put together for a civil trial, but it is a remarkable case because it is proceeding forward because the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last December the military could be sued for damages for spying on activists.

NLG member attorney Larry Hildes, one of the lawyers involved in arguing the case, Panagacos v. Towery, told Firedoglake in December the ruling was the “first time any appellate court” had “ever said that yes you can sue the military for damages for spying on civilian activists.  As far as we know there has never been another case that said this.”  He added, “By saying we have legitimate causes of action against the army personnel for spying on our clients, getting our clients arrested, etc.,” it means we have grounds to sue and that these causes of action, if proven, may entitle plaintiffs to damages.

The allegations being made in this lawsuit are vast in scope and suggest that branches of the military, U.S. Homeland Security, and police departments were conspiring together to “spy, falsely arrest, harass, intimidate, disseminate illegally obtained and false information to other agencies,” chill and disrupt dissent and even infiltrate groups to, as Hildes said, halt demonstrations against the “use of civilian ports in Puget Sound for striker vehicles and other military cargo being shipped over to Iraq and then shipped to Pakistan or Afghanistan.”

In March 2007, Thomas Rudd, head of the Force Protection Division of I Corps of the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, sent in John Jacob Towery, a civilian employee of Force Protection, to infiltrate groups, build friendships, provide reports on what was happening and being planned, etc.  He “approached individuals associated with PMR, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and other groups in Olympia and Tacoma and lied about who he was and why he was there.”  He also “befriended” Brendan Dunn, along with others, and lied to them.

Towery, along with Rudd, according to the complaint, “influenced and directed tactics that were employed by the Tacoma Police Department and other agencies to disrupt the protests without cause or justification.  This included covertly breaking the security of and joining a confidential, privileged attorney-client listserve for the Defense team of a related criminal case dating from June of 2006.”

Jeff Herbig, who was a detective of the Olympia Police Department “acted to illegally and covertly join the same listserve.”  Both of the defendants, Herbig and Towery, along with Gary Smith, a lieutenant of the Tacoma Police Department (TPD) and others of TPD, did so “for purposes of gaining unfair advantage in a criminal matter then going to trial.”

The trial involved a “criminal case stemming from a Port of Olympia demonstration in May of 2006.”  Towery and Herbig, along with Smith and another police lieutenant named Mark Federson, “illegally obtained a confidential jury spreadsheet from the criminal defense team and gave it to the prosecutors from the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office in the middle of the trial in that matter.”

As the complaint indicates, “A mistrial ensued.  That case was later dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct.  This dragged out a prosecution for several months that would have been dismissed, thereby preventing a likely acquittal and causing harm to individuals who will be named in an amended complaint to be filed later this year.”

By May of 2007, the attorneys representing the targeted activists claim the Coast Guard was “infiltrating and illegally spying on PMR and other groups.”  Cliff Colvin, an employee or agent of the Coast Guard’s Investigative Service lied about his affiliation and purpose and falsely identified himself so he could spy on PMR “meeting and activities,” disrupt those activities, and also identify individuals and groups for arrests.

The complaint lists the following as agencies that “spied on, infiltrated, or otherwise monitored” activities of PMR and associated activists:  Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Tacoma Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Ft. Lewis Police Department, 504th Military Police Division, Aberdeen Police Department, the Evergreen State College Police Department, the Lacey Police Department, the Tumwater Police Department, the Seattle Police Department, the King County Sheriff’s Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Protective Service, other Divisions of the Department of Homeland Security, Naval Investigative Service, Air Force Intelligence (which created a special PMR SDS taskforce at McGwire Air Force Base in New Jersey), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Seattle Joint Terrorism Task Force (as well as civilian employees of the City of Olympia).

Finally, the lawsuit alleges that the activists’ First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to “equal protection under the law as well as loss of liberty, pain and suffering and injury in an amount that will be established at trial.”

Their “free speech rights and right to privacy” were suppressed and resulted in “physical, emotional and Constitutional harms.”  They suffered “physical and psychological harm” and are “entitled to compensation for the Constitutional and personal harms” that were “inflicted on them.”

Prior to this, there was the case of Laird v. Tatum.  It was a class action suit that went before the Supreme Court in 1972 and alleged unlawful “surveillance of lawful citizen political activity” that was violating activist groups’ First Amendment rights.  The Supreme Court found the claim that this would pose some threat to the people in these groups to be “speculative” and dismissed the lawsuit.

This case involves clear evidence that there were violations of Posse Comitatus Law, which is supposed to prohibit the military from engaging in civilian law enforcement.

“The job of the military, to put it bluntly, is to identify the enemy, seek them out and destroy them,” Hildes remarked in December.  “When they decide that the enemy is the people who are dissenting from the wars they’re engaging in, we are in enormous trouble. If the enemy is us, the American people, when we dissent, when we speak out, when we organize demonstrations, then the Constitution has no effect.”

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is currently somewhere in a Moscow airport, disclosed much information on the surveillance apparatus that the NSA has to spy on not just foreigners but also U.S. citizens.

It is cases like these that should lead one to consider that just because an agency may be thought to have legal surveillance powers does not mean they have not or will not abuse and use the apparatus repressively against innocent citizens exercising their rights.  The PRISM program is such a program that could easily be used to suppress dissent in the same disruptive manner employed by the military, police, Homeland Security, and city of Olympia.



Your Inquirer Profoundly
June 26, 2013


As revelations about the NSA’s spying programs continue to surface America’s surveillance state continues to grow from local and state nodes.  While a series of leaks by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden exposed secret NSA programs that intercepted phone records, emails, voice over IP, and other forms of electronic communications used by Americans, the NSA is just one of dozens of intelligence and counterterrorism agencies.  The surveillance state has an uncanny way of diffusing itself through non-federal channels.

After revelations by the 9/11 Commission that intelligence agencies at different levels were not “connecting the dots by sharing terrorism clues they had in their possession,” the Department of Homeland Security devised a new system to share intelligence between agencies.  Fusion Centers were created to allow for the proper transmission of relevant terrorist and criminal information between all levels of intelligence and law enforcement.  In effect, intelligence gathered on terrorists and criminals would be shared at the local, state, and federal level.  What feeds the Fusion Centers is a continual flow of raw information provided by local police departments, state police departments, private security firms, and private sector business partners.  Raw information includes everything from suspects license plate numbers, cell phone numbers, email addresses, social security numbers, and video surveillance footage.  The intelligence provided by all entities -- local, state, federal and private -- is then amalgamated and integrated into a vast database for analysis.  According to a report by the U.S. subcommittee last October titled “Federal Support for and Involvement in State and Local Fusion Centers,” 77 fusion centers were said to have been built between 2003 and 2007.  That same report excoriated fusion centers citing financial waste, production of “irrelevant, useless, or inappropriate intelligence,” and severe lack of oversight that compromised constitutionally protected rights of American citizens.

If you flip to the back of yesterday’s Times, on page A-15 you will find an article discussing a lawsuit being brought against John J. Towery, a criminal intelligence analyst who worked with the Washington State Fusion Center to amass dossiers on anti-war protesters before funneling them into a domestic terrorism watchlist.  Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, one of the plaintiffs in the case described to the *Times* in a previous piece how Towery worked undercover to infiltrate activist groups:  “John Towery had an intimate knowledge of our personal lives, our relationships, our political beliefs, even actions we were planning . . . People were followed.  They were routinely harassed, detained, and arrested.”

Another suit brought against the Boston Police Department and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) which serves as Massachusetts fusion center by the ACLU reveals that surveillance and intelligence officers have been gathering extensive information on peaceful protesters and political activists in the Boston area.  Electronic records known as “intelligence reports” have been on file at BRIC since 2007.  Despite department guidelines that require all intelligence that does not pertain to criminal activity to be destroyed in 90 days, BRIC maintained its files on non-criminals for as long as five years.  Information on protesters and their activities is being collected by a consortium of local, state, and federal officers.  While no connection between the protest groups activities and criminal or terrorist conduct has been demonstrated, intelligence amasses on dissenters.  According to the ACLU report Policing Dissent:  “the BRIC files list the non-violent actions of peace groups and activists under the heading 'Criminal Act,' with labels such as 'Extremists,' 'Civil Disturbance,' and 'Home-Sec Domestic' in reports that track groups and people not engaged in crime but merely exercising their constitutional right to peaceful dissent.”

The problem with fusion centers and the NSA spying programs brought to light over the past several weeks is not that they try to intercept terrorist plots but that the sweeping authority they have been given at the local, state, and federal level to carry out blanket surveillance they ensnare citizens who have not been suspected of any wrongdoing.  Without vigilant oversight these centers are operating more and more as domestic surveillance entities with vast powers to track political dissidence.  Although the NSA spying programs and Fusion Centers have been defended by surveillance state apologists as important tools in preventing terrorist attacks evidence abounds that these tools are being used against the people they are purportedly supposed to protect.  Lynn Plante, Brendan Dunn, and Jeffrey Berryhill can all attest to this.

Criminalizing assembly, labeling protesters as “domestic terrorists,” recording Americans phone calls and reading their emails, compiling data silos to detect aberrant behavior, and implementing programs that require employees to monitor one another, silencing whistle blowers and prosecuting them under the Espionage Act are all part and parcel of a wayward surveillance system that knows no boundaries.  The leaks revealing the extent to which the NSA monitors our activities cannot be viewed in isolation.  As the NSA intercepts and aggregates staggering amounts of personal information, local authorities, state police, security firms, and private sector partners work independently towards the same end.  Secret surveillance programs are designed to assure that information flows in one direction only, away from those subjected to monitoring and towards the intelligence agencies, shady entities that are at once governmental and private.  Ruling classes have understood the power of knowledge at least since Francis Bacon.  With an endless array of surveillance technologies and spy programs at its disposal the surveillance state, the political and corporate class it protects will wield tremendous powers over individuals it has come to know everything about.  When a government can extract your thoughts and monitor your behavior through surveillance, consolidate that information through databasing to establish a data profile that defines who you are in the eyes of national security, and then disseminate information about you throughout an integrated network of authorities without you knowing, it’s only a matter of time before you think, say, or post the wrong thing warranting closer scrutiny.  And by then it’s too late, because the algorithms have already passed their verdict.  The file is opened and the investigation begins with your June 26, 2013 Google search for “Terrorism”.