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SLDN sues
government over surveillance

SLDN sues
government over surveillance

The federal government is in hot water for secretly spying on gay rights groups.

In the wake of revelations that gay rights groups were spied on by the federal government, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network filed a lawsuit on Monday requesting details of the surveillance. SLDN is suing the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and their related agencies to obtain the records. On January 5, SLDN requested surveillance information in 20 days, citing the Freedom of Information Act, and received no substantial information in that time, said SLDN spokesman Steve Ralls. "We requested expedited processing so these documents don't disappear," Ralls told Advocate.com. In written statements replying to the FOIA requests, the National Security Agency (an arm of the Department of Defense) told the SLDN no spying of gay groups took place, and the Department of Justice responded by saying it did not search its archives for surveillance documents regarding gay groups but concluded they do not exist. According to the news reports, the Pentagon spied on numerous LGBT organizations--including New York University law school's LGBT advocacy group OUTlaw and gay groups at the State University of New York at Albany and William Patterson College in New Jersey--as well as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Greenpeace. "The federal government has attempted to stonewall the public's right to know, and SLDN is aggressively challenging its decisions," said C. Dixon Osburn, SLDN's executive director. "The Bush administration consistently tells the public that surveillance is conducted only on terrorists and Americans communicating with terrorists; yet information obtained by credible media sources indicates that it is also spying on groups that support civil rights, animal rights, and the environment. To suggest those groups are terrorist is an act of modern-day McCarthyism." On Monday, U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales went before Congress to defend President Bush's policy of eavesdropping on Americans without obtaining warrants. (Advocate.com)

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