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Help Needed on ACLU Dossier Story:
I'm trying to make sense of this New York Times story by Eric Lichtblau on FBI records about the ACLU, but I'm having trouble with it. I was wondering if any VC readers who understand FOIA have any insights.

  The Times story makes it sound like the FBI is keeping dossiers on the ACLU, Greenpeace, and other groups:
  The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration.
  The F.B.I. has in its files 1,173 pages of internal documents on the American Civil Liberties Union, the leading critic of the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies, and 2,383 pages on Greenpeace, an environmental group that has led acts of civil disobedience in protest over the administration's policies, the Justice Department disclosed in a court filing this month in a federal court in Washington.
  The filing came as part of a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act brought by the A.C.L.U. and other groups that maintain that the F.B.I. has engaged in a pattern of political surveillance against critics of the Bush administration. A smaller batch of documents already turned over by the government sheds light on the interest of F.B.I. counterterrorism officials in protests surrounding the Iraq war and last year's Republican National Convention.
  F.B.I. and Justice Department officials declined to say what was in the A.C.L.U. and Greenpeace files, citing the pending lawsuit. But they stressed that as a matter of both policy and practice, they have not sought to monitor the political activities of any activist groups and that any intelligence-gathering activities related to political protests are intended to prevent disruptive and criminal activity at demonstrations, not to quell free speech. They said there might be an innocuous explanation for the large volume of files on the A.C.L.U. and Greenpeace, like preserving requests from or complaints about the groups in agency files.
  I spent some time this afternoon trying to figure out what to make of the claim that the FBI has all of these documents "on" the ACLU and other groups. I was able to figure out that the source of the figures is a paragraph in this 50-page DOJ court filing arguing against the ACLU's motion to expedite its FOIA request. The key paragraph appears on page 37:
  The biggest volume of the pending requests involve plaintiffs ACLU, ACLU Foundation, and Greenpeace, as well as records related to the NJTTF. For records related to the ACLU and ACLU Foundation, the FBI has identified approximately 1173 pages to review – a medium queue case for which the FBI will need eight months, or to March 1, 2006, to complete processing. Hardy Decl. ¶ 36 (Chart). The FBI estimates that it would require until June 1, 2006 to complete processing of records related to plaintiff Greenpeace, which total approximately 2383 pages – another medium queue case. Id.
  Here's my question for any FOIA people out there: Was it fair for the New York Times to present these numbers as the number of pages that the FBI has "on" the ACLU, Greenpeace, and the like? I don't know how the FOIA process works, so I can't tell if the documents that the FBI has to review are fairly presented as documents "on" these groups — or if they merely are documents that mention them, contain the name of the group for other reasons (e.g., case names of ACLU litigation), or merely might do so. If you happen to know, I'd much appreciate it if you could leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The New York Times ACLU Story Begins to Look A Bit Fishy:
  2. Help Needed on ACLU Dossier Story:
erp (mail):
Not being a lawyer, I can freely say, I'm pretty darn glad somebody is keeping taps on these traitors. Let some sun shine on them and those who back them. What they want isn't freedom, what they want is license.

We need all the intel we can get.
7.18.2005 7:34pm
Justice Fuller:
erp,

Is "them" the ACLU or the FBI?
7.18.2005 7:37pm
Patrick Casey (mail):
What exactly is the big story here? Hasn't the FBI been keeping tabs on all sorts of domestic groups since its inception? Maybe I'm just being cynical, but isn't that just fundamentally part of their job?

If the CIA was doing it, I'd be upset because they're not supposed to operate domestically.

If the FBI were actively trying to shut down or disrupt otherwise law abiding groups merely because of their politics, I'd be upset.

As it stands though, it looks like they kept tabs on various protest groups to help ensure that nothing violent happened at the conventions.

What's the complaint about that? Or are people arguing from the position that the FBI ought not to monitor people domestically?
7.18.2005 7:45pm
Fern R (mail):
When you make a FOIA request, you don't usually want to be too specific unless you really only want one particular document and you know what it is titled. The law does not require you to be specific; all you have to do is give enough information for the FOIA clerk to understand what you are looking for. In the past, I've drafted FOIA requests that look something like this, "Any and all documents related to grants received by _____ to be used at least in part to _____." The government has 20 business days to respond. When they respond (if they ever respond!), they will either (1) say they don't have any documents that fit your request, (2) they will list the documents and tell you when you can view them or how much it will cost to copy the documents, or (3) they will deny your request. If the government denies your request they have to list the document(s) they denied and give you a reason why. There are 7 categories of exemptions which the government can use to deny your request.

Without knowing how the ACLU phrased its request, it is impossible to know if the NYT's portrayal of the documents was accurate. The ACLU could have very well asked for "Any and all documents which mention the 'American Civil Liberties Union' or ACLU." In that case, it is likely that the FBI responded with a list of documents that it will allow the ACLU to see and a list they claim are exempted by statute. If the ACLU drafted its FOIA request that broadly, the NYT's portrayal of the documents as those that the FBI has "on" groups like the ACLU would be inaccurate because they likely include documents that have nothing to do with some sinister "attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration" or even less benign surveillance of the ACLU's activites.
7.18.2005 7:55pm
Justin Kee (mail):
Not to open a partisan can of worms, but I cannot help but wonder how this story would play out if the FBI's internal documents concerned the Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute or Focus on the Family.

That said, it looks like we will have to wait until mid-2006 for the answer....
7.18.2005 7:56pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
I seem to recall a few previous FOIA requests from the ACLU. I wonder how many of those 1173 pages are copies of previous FOIA requests and internal directives to implement responses to them.
7.18.2005 8:02pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Or are people arguing from the position that the FBI ought not to monitor people domestically?"

I'll ask this question again, since nobody was able to answer it in the other thread:

Even assuming it's lawful for the FBI to do this, what is the justification for spending limited resources on monitoring the ACLU?

In case you've forgotten, we still haven't caught Osama bin Laden yet; wouldn't we be better off devoting our limited resources to missions such as that one?
7.18.2005 8:04pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"What exactly is the big story here? Hasn't the FBI been keeping tabs on all sorts of domestic groups since its inception? Maybe I'm just being cynical, but isn't that just fundamentally part of their job? "

So the fact that the FBI closely monitored Martin Luther King is just fine and dandy with you?
7.18.2005 8:05pm
Fern R (mail):
Mahan Atma--Assuming for the sake of argument that the FBI does monitor the activities that the ACLU publicizes on its website, I would imagine the justification is that protests are often sources of violent clashes with law enforcement and are also locations where large masses of people congregate. Large masses of people = good spot for terrorist to attack or hide. Just because we haven't caught Osama doesn't mean that the FBI should drop all of its more "ordinary" law enforcement activities in order to have every single federal employee working on catching one person. The FBI has to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time.
7.18.2005 8:10pm
LiquidLatex (mail):
http://www.notbored.org/army.html Go here and scan the gigantic list and read the army-statement. I wonder if the ACLU could log their websites and find similar types of activity.

Personally it would be irresponsible for Homeland Security not to look into an increasingly strangely acting ACLU, whom it would reason there would be some small percentage of people are actively attempting to undermine the courts/Justice system and possibly even the government. Then again the courts have ruled that COINTELPRO was illegal/unethical.

Much like scientific progress no one knows what or where the key to important people will show up. It is not unheard of statistically-speaking that someone in the ACLU has involvement with someone that has or plans on breaking multiple laws. Honestly as long as the FBI/CIA aren't discriminating in who they look at there's a probable cause for it being entirely legal and downright unethical if they didn't do their jobs.
7.18.2005 8:15pm
Patrick Casey (mail):
So the fact that the FBI closely monitored Martin Luther King is just fine and dandy with you?

Pretty much. I'm fairly confident they were monitoring George Wallace at the time as well (although somebody with better knowledge of FBI history may prove me wrong).

Basically I'm not upset in the least by monitoring. Actively trying to disrupt crosses the line, but just keeping tabs strikes me as entirely acceptable.

As others have mentioned there might be a good argument to be made on pragmatic grounds that the ACLU probably doesn't warrant much monitoring (I, like you, find it unlikely that they're secretly planning the violent overthrow of the government). The general-case argument though that monitoring the ACLU (or the CATO institute, or the German National Bund, or the American Communist Party), is prima-facio wrong doesn't fly with me at least.
7.18.2005 8:15pm
LiquidLatex (mail):
Here's a small list of the organizations and people the FBI were looking into. Please make a mental record of all the organizations you can agree with as being something that the FBI should absolutely be looking at. Obviously make a list of organizations we know in hindsight or even during the 60's as outrageous.

"COINTELPRO began in 1956 and was designed to "increase factionalism, cause disruption and win defections" inside the Communist Party U.S.A. The FBI program was later enlarged to include disruption of the Socialist Workers Party (1961), the Ku Klux Klan (1964), Black nationalist groups such as the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam (1967), and the entire New Left, including, antiwar, community, and religious groups (1968).

Some of the largest COINTELPRO campaigns targeted the Socialist Worker's Party, the "New Left" (including several anti-war groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), Black Liberation groups (such as the Black Panthers and the Republic of New Africa), Puerto Rican independence groups, the American Indian Movement and the Weather Underground."
7.18.2005 8:19pm
James Ellis (mail):
I'm also puzzled (and a bit troubled) by the description of these pages as "internal documents." After looking at the DOJ response, it seems like that might be a misleading label.
7.18.2005 8:23pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Mahan Atma--Assuming for the sake of argument that the FBI does monitor the activities that the ACLU publicizes on its website, I would imagine the justification is that protests are often sources of violent clashes with law enforcement and are also locations where large masses of people congregate."

Can you give an example of what you're talking about? Can you point to an ACLU-organized or ACLU-promoted protest with large masses of people that became violent?

I looked around on their website, and the vast majority of stuff they promote or organize has nothing to do with mass public protests, much less violence.
7.18.2005 8:26pm
reader:
As it stands though, it looks like they kept tabs on various protest groups to help ensure that nothing violent happened at the conventions.


The ACLU doesn't participate in protests*, a fact of which the FBI is presumably aware.


* The ACLU does send "monitors" to protests - the people standing with blue and yellow ACLU shirts standing on the edges of crowds of protestors - though they are there for the same reason as the police - to decrease the probability that the protest becomes violent.
7.18.2005 8:30pm
Fern R (mail):
"Can you give an example of what you're talking about? Can you point to an ACLU-organized or ACLU-promoted protest with large masses of people that became violent?"

Oh geez. I don't have the time to do a LEXIS search to see if any ACLU or Greenpeace or some other group's protests have ever involved any friction between the protestors and the police. But if I were a betting woman I'd say the odds were on my side of finding examples of protestors/police violence at a rally attached to one of the groups involved in this suit. But even assuming that you are correct and there has never in the ACLU's 85 year history been a protestor or two that got out of hand, your argument still doesn't adress the increased liklihood of terrorist acts at a protest location or a terrorist using the throngs of people at a protest to hide himself or herself.
7.18.2005 8:35pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Sounds like fund-raising season for the ACLU. After all, those full-page ads in the New York Times cost a lot of money.
7.18.2005 8:37pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Oh geez. I don't have the time to do a LEXIS search to see if any ACLU or Greenpeace or some other group's protests have ever involved any friction between the protestors and the police."

So what you're saying is, "I don't really really have any facts to back up my assumptions."

Of course you assumed the ACLU organizes large public protests. Doesn't seem like it would be all that hard to prove, assuming it was true... which it isn't.

"I'd say the odds were on my side of finding examples of protestors/police violence at a rally attached to one of the groups involved in this suit."

So now the justification for monitoring the ACLU is that there might be protestors "attached to one of the groups involved". That's pretty weak.

"your argument still doesn't adress the increased liklihood of terrorist acts at a protest location or a terrorist using the throngs of people at a protest to hide himself or herself."

First, you assume an "increased liklihood of terrorist acts at a protest location." Quite frankly, if I was a terrorist and I wanted to "blend into" a large public gathering, I sure as heck wouldn't go to a protest.

Again, can you give a single example of a protest that involved a terrorist attack? Everywhere else in the world, terrorists tend to attack other large groups of people, e.g. public transit, large buildings, etc.

Can you back up your argument with a single fact, or am I supposed to just accept everything you say as self-evidently true?
7.18.2005 8:47pm
WB:
So the answer to Prof. Kerr's question is that (1) Fern R thinks that it would be necessary to know the format of the request, and (2) a lot of off-topic crap.

I don't know anything about the FOIA. If anyone's trolling the comments section, please recall at this point that the question is whether the New York Times' statements that the FBI has 1,173 pages of files "on" the ACLU, and 2,283 pages of files "on" Greenpeace are accurate. That is, is it likely that these pages actually directly concern these organizations, is it more likely that this page count represents the volume of documents that merely contains the word "ACLU" or "Greenpeace," or is it something else? Please refer to the original post for more details and skip all of the crap up to this point.
7.18.2005 8:54pm
Fern R (mail):
Mahan Atma--I can't give you an example of a protest organized by the groups involved with this suit because I don't have TIME. You know, some people have better things to do than find citations for a comment on someone else's blog. That said, I was just offering a plausible explanation of why the FBI would take a look at what various groups are PUBLICLY saying on their website. If they didn't and something bad happened, you would probably be the first to jump in the "You were spending so much time trying to find some guy in Afghanistan that you didn't know what was going on in your own backyard" line. Besides, the ACLU cannot claim any infringement of the rights because someone actually read what they published on their website. Give me a break. Maybe your anger would be better directed at the ACLU for wasting tax payer dollars by requesting ridiculous items from the FBI and filing silly lawsuits because someone at the FBI actually bothered to pay attention to them?


Quite frankly, if I was a terrorist and I wanted to "blend into" a large public gathering, I sure as heck wouldn't go to a protest.

Do you have some insider information that I don't know about? Because I was under the assumption that large gatherings of people were prime locations to blow yourself up and take a few innocent people with you. And what better location than somewhere with TV crews already on site?
7.18.2005 8:57pm
washerdreyer (mail) (www):
LiquidLatex-

By the "increasingly strangely acting" ACLU are you referring to the ACLU vociferously opposing (including filing law suits against) policies which it regards as illegal or at least possibly illegal and therefore requiring scrutiny?

Or to an indivdual chapter of the ACLU doing admittedly (by me) stupid things like here?

Or is your complaint about some other possibility which I am missing?

I realize this comment contains part of an anti-ACLU argument, in that one could say that the FBI's monitoring of the ACLU is analogous to the ACLU's monitoring of certain government activites mentioned above. The problem with that counter is that the only reason who has to think that the ACLU is possibly engaged in illegal activities is their political opposition to the Bush administration, while the ACLU has demonstrably better reasons for believing that some activities of the Bush administration are illegal (the most obvious part of this better reason being the ACLU winning some percentage of their cases against the government)
7.18.2005 8:58pm
erp (mail):
Justice, I guess if you have a problem deciding which is "they," you and I will not have a meeting of the mind.

The FBI is tasked with protecting us and needs to keep tabs on any potential problems. That's their job. MLK, Jr. needed to be kept tabs on as did a lot of other lefties. The ACLU was out in front defending the anarchists of the period and now they're defending the terrorists.

People in their irrational hatred of Jews are trying to kill us and our kids. They have no grievances, they have only hate. We no longer have the luxury of debating how many angels fit on the head of a pin. I don't want to be a victim of the pacifists and appeasers.

This isn't an undergraduate beer fest where all the problems of the world are solved. This is deadly serious and the adults are in charge. If that hurts your sense of justice, then so be it.
7.18.2005 9:05pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Mahan Atma--I can't give you an example of a protest organized by the groups involved with this suit because I don't have TIME. "

It might also be the case that the ACLU DOESN'T ORGANIZE LARGE-SCALE PUBLIC PROTESTS.

"You know, some people have better things to do than find citations for a comment on someone else's blog."

Well you chose to spend your time on these comments too, apparently; you just didn't bother to find citations.

"Besides, the ACLU cannot claim any infringement of the rights because someone actually read what they published on their website."

Is it your position that the government should do whatever it wants, as long as it doesn't violates somebody's rights? Has it occurred to you that some things the government does might be really bad policy even if nobody's rights are violated?

The government wastes billions of taxpayers' dollars in various endeavors. Most of the time that doesn't violate anybody's rights. Does that mean it's OK for them to do it?

"Because I was under the assumption that large gatherings of people were prime locations to blow yourself up and take a few innocent people with you. And what better location than somewhere with TV crews already on site?"

Have you ever actually been to a protest? First of all, there aren't very many TV crews around. Not nearly as many TV crews as there are at, say, a sporting event -- you know, like the Olympics, remember that one?

But you ignored my question. Can you cite one single example of a political protest where terrorists decided to blow people up?

I could cite dozens and dozens of examples where terrorists attacked targets like mass transit or large buildings, yet I can't think of a single anti-war protest that was targeted.

What factual evidence do you have to back up your assumption? I ask you again: Do you expect me to simply except everything you say as self-evident, when you can't give a single example to back it up???
7.18.2005 9:12pm
Mike G:
Orin,

The ACLU asked for "records that document any collection of information about, monitoring, surveillance, observation, questioning, interrogation, investigation, and/or infiltration" of the organizations discussed in the article.

It is impossible to know what the 1,173 pages the FBI is referring to contain since they obviously haven't released them yet. The two most likely options, in my opinion, are as follows: 1) The FBI has identified 1,173 pages that fall into the categories listed above, but wants until 2006 so that a lawyer can review each document and see if any of them can be excluded from disclosure under an exemption to the FOIA (which include things like national security or confidential information about an FBI employee), or 2) The 1,173 pages represent a young lawyer or staff member's first pass at all of the documents that fall into the categories listed above, and the FBI wants the time to have a supervising attorney go through the stack and see if there is an argument that any of the documents do not fall within the scope of the FOIA request.
7.18.2005 9:12pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"MLK, Jr. needed to be kept tabs on as did a lot of other lefties..."

Why exactly did MLK, Jr "need to be kept tabs on"?
7.18.2005 9:14pm
Steve:
I think Mike G is on point and having worked in government, I think (2) is the more likely option, although I wouldn't swear to it. I don't think it's a fair statement, without knowing more, to say that the FBI has 1173 pages "on" the ACLU.

It is hard to believe that a discussion about FOIA could degenerate into an argument about whether liberals should be sent to internment camps, but such is the state of our national discourse these days.
7.18.2005 9:16pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Probably 90%+ of the documents pertain to Greenpeace, which has been known to be a target for violence by at least one foreign government (the French &Rainbow Warrior), not to mention harassment of American naval vessels by some of its members.

Consider the results of an FOIA request for, instead of documents in Mike G's list pertaining to the "ACLU, ACLU Foundation and Greenpeace in the period 2001-2005", it had been the "ACLU, ACLU Foundation, Al Qaeda, the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers, the Montana Militia, and Lee Harvey Oswald in the period 1955-2005".

With 14,976,353,248,630.666 documents popping up. I can see the headline now:

"FBI Harassing ACLU - Zillions of Documents in FOIA Request!"
7.18.2005 9:34pm
Steve:
No, Tom, the DOJ filing specifically breaks out the number of documents attributable to the ACLU and the number attributable to Greenpeace.
7.18.2005 9:36pm
FBI fanboy:
Patrick Casey suggests the FBI was monitoring both Martin Luther King and George Wallace. This is not accurate, at least according to the FBI's online reading room list of famous monitorees (http://foia.fbi.gov/famous.htm) or their historical persons list (http://foia.fbi.gov/history.htm). (Sorry, the link button doesn't work for me (Safari 1.2))

Its worth remembering that FBI "monitoring" was not simply monitoring. At various times it was agents provocatuers and other active attempts to ruin the lives of people who had either done nothing wrong, or made a point of committing their "crimes" as publicly as possible. Crimes like sitting at the front of the bus, or asking for an education.
7.18.2005 9:36pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Probably 90%+ of the documents pertain to Greenpeace."

Apparently you didn't even bother to read the article, which clearly states that "The F.B.I. has in its files 1,173 pages of internal documents on the American Civil Liberties Union, the leading critic of the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies, and 2,383 pages on Greenpeace"

As for the notion that Greenpeace is somehow on a par with terrorists or presents any kind of threat to national security whatsoever, that's utterly laughable.
7.18.2005 9:41pm
LiquidLatex (mail):
Without going into details, todays ACLU is not your daddies ACLU. They've grown from an organization I respected and actively supported to an organization I would love to see (regressively)reformed back to their roots. Also a major significant push to make it as apolitical as humanly possible, even to the point of staying out of cases which are inherently wrapped up in extra-political nonsense. Oh and reverse the craziness of their position on the Second Amendment.
7.18.2005 9:47pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Mahan Atma,

Why should I have bothered reading the article to know that game playing was involved in writing it? The original post said it was written in the NY Times.

You just showed that you don't even read posts here. I mentioned that Greenpeace had been targeted for violence by the French government, as well as having members who harass American naval vessels. Either alone merits a degree of surveillance - protecting Greenpeace from the French as well as making sure that terrorists pretending to be Greenpeace don't ram naval vessels with explosives-laden Zodiac boats. I know, I know, you think the term "Cole" only refers to Juan Cole.
7.18.2005 10:17pm
washerdreyer (mail) (www):
I agree with you that their position on the 2nd Amendment is incorrect and remain fairly convinced that a significant majority of their other positions are correct.
7.18.2005 10:35pm
Anonymo the Anonymous:
"It is not unheard of statistically-speaking that someone in the ACLU has involvement with someone that has or plans on breaking multiple laws."

It is not unheard of statistically-speaking (sic) that someone in the Allman Brothers, NFL, Bush administration, state of Rhode Island, Catholic Church, Washington Post, Coca-Cola company, any apartment complex or the infield at Talladega Superspeedway has involvement with someone that has or plans on breaking multiple laws. Get the point?
7.18.2005 10:38pm
42USC1983 (mail):
Mahan, you are correct that if the FBI were only monitoring the ACLU, we should be concerned. You are correct that if the FBI were monitoring the ACLU with an intent to harass, then we should be concerned. But there's no evidence to indicate this. Perhaps the FBI only has one or two agents on the case - one or two of 100 agents that monitor online activity. I wouldn't see such an allocation as necessarily inefficient. Nor would I see reading websites as cause for concern.

What you're doing is drawing broad conclusions based on slivers of evidence - filled in with your biases. We each have our biases about the government, and I suspect that I'm more suspicious of the government than you are. But until we know more facts, there's no point in debating, as there is nothing to debate.

Unless, of course, you think that it's per se stupid/inefficient for FBI agents to read publicly available information. If that's your argument, then I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.
7.18.2005 10:45pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail):
I am not up on FOIA practice, so my remarks are somewhat offtopic. If I recall correctly, FOIA was passed in the first Johnson adminstration, which was mostly enacting into law Kennedy-era proposals. FOIA grew out of tension between AG Bobby Kennedy and J Edgar Hoover over secret files on people like Dr. King.
Today the ACLU is a very mainstream, if liberal, group, acting like an extra branch of government to enforce the constitution because the FBI and other agencies don't do it themselves. But many of the founders were either card-carrying communists or fellow travelers. Hoover's FBI was obsessed with the communist party, an attitude we currently label McCarthyism. A big part of the party's budget at the time was dues from FBI infiltrators.
So there's some history to the issue of FBI secret files on the ACLU.
I'm currently reading "Act of Treason" by Mark North, 1991, as part of research for a book on LBJ I'll probably never get around to writing. The book claims Hoover was aware of mafia plans to kill the Kennedys, and withheld that info from the secret service. I express no opinion as to the truth of that, but it's entertaining.
We've recently learned that Deep Throat was an FBI honcho.
In the early eighties I was involved with a campus group, the Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, which disbanded amid concerns we were being watched by feds. I've been able to confirm that the FBI was watching CISPES, which had an office two doors down, but still don't know if the FBI was watching our group - if anyone has info on this I'd welcome such.
My FBI file strongly suggests that I'm a convicted felon, which I'm not. When that part of the file was leaked by opposing counsel to the media, I got hit with a 60 minutes style ambush-by-television which has been devastating to me personally and professionally. So I can understand why folks would want to see copies of thousands of pages of FBI files on them. Maybe someone has a link to the text of the ACLU's FOIA request? That might show if the request was narrow ("what's in our file") or broad - anything containing text string "ACLU".
7.18.2005 11:12pm
Joe Zwers (mail):
It is not at all surprising that the FBI has files on the ACLU. The two are frequently working on different sides of the same topic. If you go to the ACLU's main site and do a search for FBI, you get 2830 hits covering the PATRIOT Act, reorganization of intelligence agencies, even the firing of a physician in San Francisco how was HIV positive. If you were to search all their internal documents and emails, I'm sure you would get a lot more. What is surprising is not that the FBI has over a thousand pages of files, but that it only has that many.
7.18.2005 11:23pm
erp (mail):
Justice, I didn't say MLK, Jr. did anything. I said the FBI was keeping tabs on him, and if you are assigning any kind of racism to this remark, don't even bother going there.

ArbitraryA - If the FBI wasn't infiltrating the Communist led anti-war groups, they wouldn't have been doing their jobs. I'm truly sorry that your youthful activities have caused you so much distress. I hope you can work it all out and not have to spend the rest of your life with these burdens.

The posters who are discussing the ACLU of old are right. The organization used to be even-handed and were worthy of respect. That changed during the upheaval of the 60's when the radical left took over and they became wildly partisan. I'm surprised that any other VC readers are old enough to remember that.
7.18.2005 11:38pm
djd (mail):
The ACLU is rich in hypocrisy on this subject. See this comment on the topic.
7.19.2005 5:07pm
SL (mail):
As a federal employee that has spent time responding to FOIA requests, I'm not impressed with the 1,173 page count the ACLU trumpets. In one case I was involved with, the FOIA request was so broad, that after consulting with our attorney, I emptied my file drawers of everything that was even remotely related to the request. I think I had about a Xerox box full of stuff, and that was just from one person. The requesters are probably still looking through it after three years.
7.19.2005 7:19pm