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Department of Defense admits to wider surveillance of Don't Ask, Don't Tell groups

by Michael Rogers

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Department of Defense has released documents that show wider surveillance of student organizations than previously reported, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has reported.

On April 11th PageOneQ reported that the Pentagon had admitted to conducting surveillance of groups protesting the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy for gays and lesbians in the armed forces.

The new FOIA request yielded information about an undercover investigation by the Pentagon on acitivities into student groups protesting the war at State University of New York at Albany (SUNY Albany), William Paterson University in New Jersey, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of California at Berkeley, reports SLDN.

The documents released by the Pentagon on the SUNY Albany protests gave a description of planned activities. "Source received an email from [redacted by DoD] stating a protest was planned against military recruiters at SUNY Albany on 21 April 05. The text of the email is as follows:," said a report filed with the Department of Defense. Here is the image of the email from the report:

The documents released today indicate that e-mails sent by various student groups were intercepted and monitored by the government and that the government collected reports from seemingly undercover agents who attended at least one student protest at Southern Connecticut State University. None of the reports in the documentation, however, indicated any terrorist activity by the students who were monitored.

In another released document under te Department's TALON monitoring program is a paraphrasing of an email regarding a planned protest, also at SUNY Albany:

Also included in the report was monitoring of activities at William Patterson College of New Jersey. The report indicated that a protest would take place at the school on April 1, 2005:

“Federal government agencies have no business peeping through the keyholes of Americans who choose to exercise their first amendment rights,” said Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director C. Dixon Osburn, in the SLDN Statement. “Americans are guaranteed a fundamental right to free speech and free expression, and our country’s leaders should never be allowed to undermine those freedoms. Surveillance of private citizens must stop," he added.

The Documents included monitoring of emails from other schools as well. Here is report by the TALON service of a planned protest for April 21, 2005 at the University of California at Berkeley. UC Berkeley is regarded as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, led by Mario Savio.


Originally published on Monday June 26, 2006.

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