LOS ANGELES - Only one day after widespread reports that the FBI is monitoring and infiltrating political organizations, the three California affiliates of the ACLU are seeking information about the intelligence gathering efforts of law enforcement agencies in this state.
The Public Records Act request is being sent to Attorney General Bill Lockyer and focuses on the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) and information that it may have received from the FBI.
"The government should not be wasting resources spying on peaceful critics exercising their First Amendment rights,' said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California. "Reports of the FBI illegally monitoring California organizations concern us greatly and are unacceptable.'
Tuesday, the national ACLU released FBI documents that were obtained after the organization filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to find out whether the FBI's partnerships with local law enforcement in Joint Terrorism Task Forces has resulted in increased surveillance of political and religious activity. The documents released on Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee showed the FBI expanding the definition of "domestic terrorism" to include citizens and groups that participate in lawful protests or civil disobedience.
In the Public Records Act request, the ACLU thanked Attorney General Lockyer for issuing guidelines two years ago protecting privacy rights under the California constitution but cautioned: "with the growing use of state and local law enforcement officials on Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) run by the FBI there still exists the possibility of entanglement of local law enforcement in federal activities that exceed the scope of their authority under California law."
The ACLU is seeking records on the ACLU California affiliates and chapters, Greenpeace, PETA, United for Peace and Justice, Food not Bombs, Code Pink, Peace Fresno, War Resisters League West, College Not Combat, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee among others.
Under the California Public Records Act, the agencies have 10 days to respond.