Sunday, November 26, 2006
Secret Pentagon Documents Classify Veterans for Peace as a Threat
Secret Pentagon Documents Classify Central Coast Group as a "Threat"
Santa Barbara Chapter of Veterans for Peace
revealed to be a Pentagon surveillance target
By: Matt Cota
Friday, November 24, 2006
New details tonight about a secret Pentagon database used to monitor anti-war protests and activists. Recently-disclosed documents reveal that some of the surveillance targets include an organization with ties to the Central Coast.
Secret Pentagon documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union provide details of how the organization called "Veterans for Peace" was considered a threat.
Every Sunday for the past three years, members of the Santa Barbara Chapter of Veterans for Peace place a cross in the sand near Stearns Wharf for every American soldier killed in Iraq.
First started in Santa Barbara, the "Arlington West" display has been copied by other chapters of Veterans for Peace in communities all across the country. It's intended to honor and acknowledge those who have lost their lives and to reflect upon the costs of war.
The actions of this veterans organization have not gone unnoticed at the Pentagon. A previously secret intelligence report calls the group a "threat to military installations." The report lists the group's upcoming events and warns that while it's a "peaceful organization," "there is potential that future protests could become violent."
"As to attacking any base or anything else, that is ridiculous," says Veterans for Peace group member Ron Dexter. "We support the troops one hundred percent."
Ron Dexter isn't surprised by the revelations that the Department of Homeland Security is checking up on his organization.
"If we aren't investigated by the government, we probably aren't doing our job," says Dexter. "That is pretty radical, but anybody who has been a real threat to what government wants to do, they are going to check on them and try to stop them."
The documents also suggest for the first time that agents of the Department of Homeland Security played a role in monitoring anti-war activities.
The Pentagon admits it made a mistake in collecting information on anti-war protests, but claims the problem has been fixed.
At least one Senate Democrat wants to investigate not just what data was collected by the Pentagon, but why and how it was used.