FBI Spies on Antiwar Editors, ACLU Says
(CN) - The FBI spied on an online antiwar magazine and its editors, the ACLU of claims in Federal Court.
The American Civil Liberties Union asked a judge to order the FBI to turn over documents it compiled on Antiwar.com and editors, plaintiffs Dennis Justin Raimondo and Eric Anthony Garris.
The ACLU claims the FBI has not responded to its FOIA request for more than a year.
"Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy, whether it's the Associated Press or Antiwar.com," ACLU Julia Mass said in a statement. "Government surveillance of news organizations interferes with journalists' ability to do their jobs."
The FBI declined to comment.
According to the lawsuit, the FBI conducted a "threat assessment" of the "anti-interventionist website that publishes news and opinion articles about U.S. foreign and military policy."
Editors Garris and Raimondo, described as "longtime peace activists and proponents of noninterventionism," sought the records kept on them, but say the FBI failed to deny the request or to provide any "responsive records."
Garris founded the online magazine in 1995 and is its managing editor; Raimondo is the editorial director.
The ACLU claim the men became aware that they were the subject of FBI scrutiny when their names popped up in another FOIA request that was posted on Scribd.com, in August 2011. The ACLU says the men found 94 pages of redacted documents by the author of the blog "Zionism Stinks."
In one memo, it appears that the FBI searched a universal index, electronic case file, Dun & Bradstreet, the DMV and Lexis Nexis for references to Antiwar.com.
An FBI analyst who wrote the memo recommended continued monitoring of the website to determine if the editors "are engaging in, or have engaged in, activities which constitute a threat to National Security on behalf of a foreign power," the lawsuit states.
The two plaintiffs filed their own FOIA requests a month later to find out what's being gathered about them, but haven't heard back in more than a year, the ACLU says.
The editors say they've lost $75,000 a year since 2011 because financial backers withdrew out of fear they'd be monitored by the FBI as well.
The two men are active in politics, the lawsuit states, and once ran a bookstore in San Francisco called Libertarian Books and Periodicals that the ACLU says was raided in 1981 by the San Francisco Police Department. The two were arrested and later won a civil lawsuit stemming from the raid.
Citing FIOA violations and violation of privacy, the ACLU wants the FBI to turn over documents related to the two editors.
The lawsuit was filed by Julia Harumi Mass with the ACLU Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California.