Turning the US Army Against Americans An antiwar activist has been accused of spying for the US army, raising legal questions the Obama administration must answer

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It
was an odd
little story
, tucked well inside the front section of this past
Sunday’s New York Times.

An antiwar
activist in the state of Washington had been exposed as an undercover
informant for the US army, stationed at massive Fort Lewis, south
of Tacoma. And in one of those Kafkaesque twists for which our government
is renowned, the army is now investigating itself to determine how
such an arrangement came to pass.

Although the
Times gave no credit, the story had been broken
on 28 July by Democracy Now!
, a leftwing television programme
co-anchored by Amy Goodman, a longtime progressive journalist. For
nearly an hour, two former associates of John Towery — a civilian
employee of the army — explained how they learned their fellow activist
was in fact a military spy.

“We hung out,”
said Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, who filed the public-records request
that inadvertently outed Towery, who had been going by the name
John Jacob. “We gave workshops together on grassroots direct democracy
and anarchist struggle. I mean, he was a friend.”

Fellow activist
Drew Hendricks offered a weird twist, telling Goodman that, as far
back as 2007, Towery identified himself as an army employee and
offered to provide Hendricks with “observations and inside knowledge
of operations on Fort Lewis.”

The picture
that emerges is worthy of a cheap spy novel. If Maslauskas Dunn
and Hendricks are correct, then Towery truthfully told antiwar activists
that he worked for the army, but lied about his name and real purpose:
gathering intelligence on his new associates and what threat they
might have posed. (According to the Times, antiwar groups
in Washington have attempted to “disrupt military shipments.”)

Moreover, Towery’s
alleged activities would almost certainly have been illegal. According
to two lawyers whom Goodman interviewed, Larry Hildes of the National
Lawyers Guild and Mike German of the American Civil
Liberties
Union, such spying would violate the Posse Comitatus
Act, which prohibits the use of American military forces for domestic
law-enforcement operations. The law was weakened
during the Bush years
, though Hildes and German told Goodman
that operations such as that attributed to Towery remain illegal.

Towery’s alleged
spying is yet another sign that Barack
Obama
‘s reluctance to come to terms with the legacy of George
Bush
and Dick
Cheney
‘s legacy is simply not tenable. By attempting to move
on without accountability, Obama is becoming complicit in the very
activities against which he ran.

Read
the rest of the article

August
10, 2009

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