Monday, June 15, 2009
Current Department of Defense anti-terrorism training course material states that the exercise of First Amendment rights in the U.S. constitutes terrorist activity.
The ACLU has written to the DoD regarding its Antiterrorism and Force Protection Annual Refresher Training Course, which advises personnel that political protest amounts to “low-level terrorism”.
“It has come to our attention that the Department of Defense’s Annual Level I Antiterrorism (AT) Training for 2009 misinforms Department of Defense (DoD) personnel that certain First Amendment-protected activity may amount to “low level terrorism” The ACLU writes.
“We are writing to ask that you take immediate steps to remedy this situation.” the letter to acting Under-Secretary Gail McGinn states.
A PDF of the ACLU’s letter also contains print outs of the relevant sections of the course material.
The training introduction reads:
“Anti-terrorism (AT) and Force Protection (FP) are two facets of the Department of Defense (DoD) Mission Assurance Program. It is DoD policy, as found in DoD I 2000.16, that the DoD Components and the DoD elements and personnel shall be protected from terrorist acts through a high priority, comprehensive, AT program. The DoD’s AT program shall be all encompassing using an integrated systems approach.”
The first question of the Terrorism Threat Factors, “Knowledge Check 1″ section reads:
Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorism activity?
Select the correct answer and then click Check Your Answer.
- Attacking the Pentagon
- Hate crimes against racial groups
In order to proceed, users must give the “correct” answer as “Protests”.
According to the document, all DoD personnel are required to complete the course on a yearly basis.
The ACLU points out that although in and of itself the classification of protest as terrorism is deeply disturbing, it is even more alarming when viewed in the context of the Pentagon’s long term efforts to crack down on organized dissent.
The surveillance and pre-emptive arrest of protesters, on charges of “domestic terrorism”, at last year’s RNC by the FBI is also cited by the ACLU.
Other precedents that the ACLU neglected to mention in it’s letter include, most recently, the fact that the FBI were spying on “Tea Party” protesters nationwide.
One week prior to those revelations, we also reported that the Maryland National Guard was put on alert in anticipation of the nationwide protests, while a Homeland Security spokesman refused to deny that protesters would be under surveillance from the DHS.
The Maryland National Guard issued a Force Protection Advisory on April 11 which warned the National Guard to be on alert during the Tea Party protests because Guardsmen and Guard facilities might become “targets of opportunity.” The contact point for the document was listed as the Antiterrorism Program Coordinator.
The advisory was almost exactly the same as a United States Army Reserve Command Force Protection Advisory that was issued last November before the nationwide End the Fed protests, warning that protesters were congregating across the country to demonstrate against the private Federal Reserve.
Over the last few years we have seen countless examples of security assessment reports from the likes of the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, as well as police training manuals, which state that anti-war protesters, gun owners, veterans, Ron Paul supporters and those who merely cite the Constitution should be equated with extremists.
The continued surveillance of protesters, in addition to the ongoing agenda to equate dissent with terrorism, highlights the fact that the architecture of the police state, which was massively expanded under George W. Bush, has not been dismantled or relaxed by an Obama administration that promised “change,”. If anything, it has only grown bigger.
The Obama administration’s announcement that the illegal warrantless surveillance of American citizens, a program initiated under Bush, will continue and in fact intensify under Obama, is another shining example of the fact that – no matter who is in power and no matter the political persuasion of those being watched – all Americans who have the temerity to exercise constitutional rights are considered dangerous and worthy of being targeted by the federal government with surveillance tools supposedly introduced to fight terrorists.