boston police department spied on several antiwar groups for years

Through an August 2011 lawsuit against the Boston Police Department (BPD), the National Lawyers Guild and American Civil Liberties Union obtained documents showing that officers conducted surveillance on antiwar groups between 2007 and 2010. Not that protesters named in the reports are surprised. According to today’s news release,

The documents reveal that officers assigned to the BPD’s regional domestic spying center, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), file so-called “intelligence reports” mischaracterizing peaceful groups such as Veterans for Peace, United for Justice with Peace and CodePink as “extremists,” and peaceful protests as domestic “homeland security” threats and civil disturbances.

Congress created fusion centers such as the BRIC after September 11, 2001, to facilitate communication between the FBI, CIA, and other government agencies. Yet earlier this month, a two-year bipartisan investigation by a U.S. Senate subcommittee announced that instead of uncovering terrorist threats, officials recorded constitutionally protected activities. Senator Tom Coburn, the subcommittee’s ranking member who initiated the investigation, said fusion centers “have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties.”