We already know they will spy on you if you belong to an anti-war group. Now courtesy Raw Story, it seems they’ll spy on you for being gay and speaking up, too:

The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that the Defense Department surveilled groups opposed to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members, RAW STORY has learned. The confirmation came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in January.

The Pentagon’s full release is available here. [Note: link opens as a .pdf file]

The revelation comes amidst a rash of reports that the Defense Department has spied on anti-war groups. It confirms that surveillance of protests at New York University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Santa Cruz was conducted by US agents. […]

“The Department of Defense has now confirmed the existence of a surveillance program monitoring LGBT groups,” said C. Dixon Osburn, SLDN’s executive director. “Pentagon leaders have also acknowledged inappropriately collecting some of the information in the TALON database. That information should be destroyed and no similar surveillance should be authorized in the future. Free expression is not a threat to our national security.”

Yes, free expression is not a threat to national security. But somehow I doubt that’s going to stop the Defense Department and the Bush administration from intimidating and secretly collecting information on people who do not share their political beliefs. All in the name of National Security, of course.

(Continued after the break . . . )

This is not an unusual occurrence in American history. It happened during the First World War under Wilson, and under Presidents’ Johnson and Nixon during the Vietnam war era. And who can forget the various red scares in the 20th century, which led to innumerable secret government files on lawful American citizens, and the ruination of so many lives. Why any sane person would want to resurrect those abuses is beyond me.

But we learned a long time ago that Bush and Co. are not sane individuals. Or maybe I should bite the bullet and just call them evil, because they are more than willing to destroy our civil rights, and particularly our right to free speech and free assembly enunciated in the First Amendment, in order to bully and harass American citizens into silence.

“Fear will keep the local systems in line.” That’s a line from a movie. It’s also the strategy this administration has adopted in response to any sign of dissent or political opposition. It’s a strategy however, whose time is at an end.

The immigrant community’s response has laid to rest the idea that fear should control our response to the Bushites and their many, many scandalous actions. Without fear as his weapon a bully is often exposed as a coward and a weakling. Think of Nixon in his last throes as President, or Joseph McCarthy living out his life in a mental institution after his fall from power. Bush and Cheney will be no different.

Keep the pressure on, ladies and gentlemen. Keep raising your voices in opposition to this rancid regime which has stolen our country and trashed the values on which it was founded. The day is coming when those voices will no longer be suppressed, no longer will be shouted down, no longer will be ignored.

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