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
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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