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ANIMAL ADVOCATES VS. THE FEDS
FEDS SPY ON ANIMAL ADVOCATES
ACLU Releases Government Photos
GEORGIA--The ACLU of Georgia released copies of government files on Wednesday
that illustrate the extent to which the FBI, the DeKalb County Division
of Homeland Security and other government agencies have gone to compile
information on Georgians suspected of being threats simply for
expressing controversial opinions.
Two documents relating to anti-war and anti-government protests, and a
vegan rally, prove the agencies have been "spying" on Georgia residents
unconstitutionally, the ACLU said.
For example, more than two dozen government surveillance photographs
show 22-year-old Caitlin Childs of Atlanta, a strict vegetarian, and
other vegans picketing against meat eating, in December 2003. They
staged their protest outside a HoneyBaked Ham store on Buford Highway in
An undercover DeKalb County Homeland Security detective was assigned to
conduct surveillance of the protest and the protestors, and take the
photographs. The detective arrested Childs and another protester after
he saw Childs approach him and write down, on a piece of paper, the
license plate number of his unmarked government car.
"They told me if I didn't give over the piece of paper I would go to
jail and I refused and I went to jail, and the piece of paper was taken
away from me at the jail and the officer who transferred me said that
was why I was arrested," Childs said on Wednesday.
The government file lists anti-war protesters in Atlanta as threats, the
ACLU said. The ACLU of Georgia accuses the Bush administration of
labeling those who disagree with its policy as disloyal Americans.
"We believe that spying on American citizens for no good reason is
fundamentally un-American, that it's not the place of the government or
the best use of resources to spy on its own citizens and we want it to
stop. We want the spies in our government to pack their bags, close up
their notebooks, take their cameras home and not engage in the spying
anymore," Gerald Weber of the ACLU of Georgia said during a news
"We have heard of not a single, government surveillance of a pro-war
group," Weber said. "And I doubt we will ever hear of a single
surveillance of a pro-war group."
The ACLU wants Congress and the courts to order government agencies,
including the FBI, to stop unconstitutional surveillance.
Weber said the ACLU of Georgia may sue the government, in order to
define, once and for all, what unconstitutional surveillance is in a
The FBI in Atlanta declined to comment. According to the Associated
Press, FBI spokesman Bill Carter in Washington, D.C. said that all FBI
investigations are conducted in response to information that the people
being investigated were involved in or might have information about
As for Caitlin Childs' protest against meat eating, the files obtained
by the ACLU include the DeKalb County Homeland Security report on the
surveillance of Childs and the others. The detective wrote that he
ordered Childs to give him the piece of paper on which she had written
his license tag number, telling her that he did not want her or anyone
else to have the tag number of his undercover vehicle.
The detective did not comment in his report about why his license tag
number was already visible to the public.
The detective wrote that Childs was "hostile, uncooperative and
boisterous toward the officers."
Childs said today that the agents shouldn't have been there in the first
place, squelching legal dissent.
"We have the right to gather and protest and speak out."