Bush Spying On Political Opponents

Ken AshfordWiretapping & SurveillanceLeave a Comment

MyDD gathers the evidence

Bush Administration uses U.S. Army to spy on war critics.  The Bush Administration used top-secret U.S. Army spying capabilities to spy on domestic war critics such as Quakers, Students Against the War, People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Greenpeace. An internal review forced the Pentagon to admit it had "improperly stored" information on potentially thousands of people because there was no "reasonable belief" they had any link to terrorism. (Newsweek, 1/30/06)

Bush Administration uses FBI to spy on war critics.  The Bush administration is using the FBI to "collect extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators," causing the California Attorney General to declare that Bush Administration policy violates the state constitution prohibition on spying on political and religious groups without evidence of criminal activity. (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/23/03)

Bush Administration forced to turn over records revealing FBI is spying on Bush critics.  A Freedom of Information Act request revealed the FBI "collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups" that are leading Bush critics "in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration." (New York Times, 7/18/05)

Bush Administration uses Pentagon to spy on Bush critics. NBC obtained a 400-page Pentagon document outlining the Bush administration’s surveillance of war critics.1,500 different events (aka. anti-war protests) in just a 10-month period.  "I think Americans should be concerned that the military, in fact, has reached too far," says NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin. "It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests.On the domestic level, this is unprecedented." (NBC News, 12/14/05)

The Bush Administration may have wiretapped a CNN reporter. In January, NBC published a transcript in which James Risen, the New York Times reporter who broke the NSA wiretap story, was asked if CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour’s phone was wiretapped.  After a surge of interest, NBC deleted that line – saying the transcript was "released prematurely." Amanpour is married to James Rubin, a top Clinton Administration foreign policy strategist and an advisor to John Kerry’s presidential campaign. (CNN, 1/6/06)

Gen. Michael Hayden refused to answer question about spying on political enemies at National Press Club.  At a public appearance, Bush’s pointman in the Office of National Intelligence was asked if the NSA was wiretapping Bush’s political enemies.  When Hayden dodged the question, the questioner repeated, "No, I asked, are you targeting us and people who politically oppose the Bush government, the Bush administration? Not a fishing net, but are you targeting specifically political opponents of the Bush administration?"  Hayden looked at the questioner, and after a silence called on a different questioner. (Hayden National Press Club remarks, 1/23/06) (video) (audio)

Although these are disturbing incidents, I think the cumulative evidence does not yet point to widespread surveillance of political opponents.  It does, however, raise many questions.