A trial is currently scheduled for August 11 in Tacoma, Washington, over domestic United States military spying. Allegedly the United States government has infiltrated local Washington activist groups “in order to facilitate their arrest without probable cause”, according to the lawsuit dubbed Panagacos v. Towery.
John Jacob Towery, formerly worked for the US Army Force Protection Division at Fort Lewis, and was hired to infiltrate an organization named the Port Militarization Resistance (PMR), a anti-war organization who believes in peaceful protests and non-aggression.
Towery admitted he was paid to attend activist meetings at private homes in the state of Washington according to Larry Hildes, one of the National Lawyers Guild attorneys representing activists targeted by the military.
Towery collaborated with a local fusion center intelligence employee, who allegedly coordinated with the military, to jail innocent activists.
Brendan Dunn, exploited Towery’s intentions on “Democracy Now!” in July 2009, after obtaining documents where he uncovered the true identity of Towery who had befriended him and claimed to be an anarchist:
“When I met him, he admitted to several things. He admitted that, yes, he did in fact spy on us. He did in fact infiltrate us. He admitted that he did pass on information to an intelligence network, which, as you mentioned earlier, was composed of dozens of law enforcement agencies, ranging from municipal to county to state to regional, and several federal agencies, including Immigration Customs Enforcement, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, Homeland Security, the Army in Fort Lewis.
So he admitted to other things, too. He admitted that the police had placed a camera, surveillance camera, across the street from a community center in Tacoma that anarchists ran called the Pitch Pipe Infoshop. He admitted that there were police that did put a camera up there to spy on anarchists, on activists going there…”
The lawsuit accuses the cities of Olympia and Tacoma of collaborating with the military to violate the First and Fourth Amendment rights the of activists.
Thomas Rudd, head of Force Protection, is accused of directing Towery to identify activists “in order to facilitate their arrest without probable cause.”
The Lawsuit states “it is clearly established that intentionally enabling arrests without probable cause in order to suppress speech violates the First Amendment.”
Both Towery and Rudd are accused of coordinating with local law enforcement in the state of Washington to “silence” PMR activists.
Towery reportedly confessed to NLG attorneys conducting his deposition that the label “anarchist” was used to refer to everyone as a “term of convenience.” Hildes said it was “more convenient to refer to everyone without bothering with whether everyone is anarchists or not or whether they had any potential for violence or not.”
Chris Adamson, director of a regional intelligence group of the Department of Homeland Security’s Washington Fusion Center and a lieutenant of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, stated in depositions that “civil disobedience is terrorism,” according to Hildes. He claimed to attorneys that, while he admired Martin Luther King Jr., even what the civil rights movement had done had a “criminal nexus” and “he would have expected them to be investigated as terrorists.”
Adamson played a key role in having two of the plaintiffs in the case, Brendan Dunn and Jeffery Berryhill, listed in a database as “domestic terrorists.”
A handler of Towery’s, who is anonymous, said during deposition at least three times, “There are no limits to intelligence sharing to defend the homeland.” Lawyers are dubbing this one of the most “Dr. Strangelovian” statements they have heard so far in the case.
Hildes said that “attorneys now have admissions from depositions that everything they have said was happening was committed” with the “intent of disrupting” demonstrations because of “who our folks were.”
“We want to get that in front of a jury,” Hildes stated.
“There’s clear intent to violate our client’s rights,” he argued. “We’re trying to hold not only Towery and Rudd but the city of Olympia and the city of Tacoma liable because they did most of the arrests and harassment.”
There will be a debate on summary judgment on June 18. Attorneys representing military officers accused of spying in the case hope to convince a judge the officers did not deliberately violate any person’s rights.