Sailor, peace activists outraged by Pentagon spying

Navy sailor Pablo Paredes and San Diego peace activists said they were outraged to learn of the domestic spying by the Department of Defense. NBC News revealed the Pentagon spying last week. A rally in support of Paredes, who was denied Concientious Objector status, court martialed and later received a general discharge, for his opposition to the Iraq war, was one of the events targeted for spying by the Pentagon.

In its Dec. 13 report, NBC reported that it had obtained a 400-page database collected by the military that focused on anti-war protests and demonstrations aimed at countering military recruiting. NBC made available an 8-page excerpt of the database that included one entry from San Diego: a report about a planned support demonstration for war resister Pablo Paredes during his Court Martial at 32nd Street Naval Station here last May.

“The idea that support for a person who objects to war as a matter of conscience is considered by the military to be a ‘threat’ is really an admission that there is no ‘noble cause’ to support the war. I think the military is afraid, not because my supporters are a threat in a military sense, but because they know that the justifications they use to motivate people for war do not stand up to scrutiny,” Paredes said in a press statement, Dec. 20.

Local activists and organizations involved in supporting Pablo Paredes and in ‘counter-recruitment’ work at schools issued a joint statement that characterized the database as “…one more thread in a fabric that includes planted ‘news’ leaks, ‘news’ articles written, paid for and planted in newspapers, intentional misinformation, and other ‘psy-ops’ techniques that have been used to shore up war policies that cannot stand on their merits.”

Speaking on behalf of the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, Carol Jahnkow said, “This intelligence effort by the Pentagon is aimed at people who are engaged in political speech—exactly the kind of activities that are protected by the Constitution. The reason for that protection is to make sure that the power of government isn’t used to intimidate free expression of opposing points of view. But we will not be intimidated. We worked to support Pablo, and we are working to make sure that school-age kids know that they have the right to keep their schools from giving personal information about them to the military, and that they have access to facts that will allow them to assess the moral issues involved in war in general and in the Iraq war in particular. We will continue to call for an end to this illegal and immoral war until all of our troops are home.”

Kate Yavenditti, of the National Lawyers Guild said, “This shows the danger to civil rights posed by legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act that is rife for misuse. Have local authorities been asked to aid or participate in this kind of surveillance? Would they if asked? [San Diego] Mayor Sanders and Chief Lansdowne should speak up and assure our community that they will defend and protect our rights, and will not participate in spying on political activists.”

For more information: http://www.defendpablo.org/