We are activists, scholars, musicians, journalists, artists, actors, lawyers, and politicians who are writing to ask you to help in a modern-day David and Goliath story that implicates the very types of military and law enforcement abuses of surveillance and power that Edward Snowden and others have warned us about. This story involves a lawsuit, Panagacos v. Towery, a landmark civil rights case in which a group of citizens sued the US Army for infiltrating, spying, and disrupting their peaceful activities and for violating their constitutional rights.
Right now, a group of attorneys, activists, legal workers, and law students are working around the clock to prepare for trial in June. Leveraging the talents of several resourceful young peace activists who uncovered proof of US Army spying on their political organizing and groups, along with a team of volunteer legal interns and the testimony of nationally-renowned experts, they are mounting a lawsuit with little funding but with a strong will to expose illegal activity and call for accountability. Their opponents are formidable; the US government is claiming that spying is necessary to protect national security and is represented by a well-resourced, aggressive and prominent law firm.
With your help we can prevail.
This case, Panagacos v. Towery, is being closely watched in the media and by civil experts. Over a two-year period beginning in 2006, Army intelligence analyst John J. Towery (under the alias “John Jacob”) infiltrated and spied on the Olympia antiwar group Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) and several other organizations, including Students for a Democratic Society and Iraq Veterans Against the War as well as other activists in Olympia and Tacoma. Towery’s “intelligence” was passed on to the Washington State Fusion Center, a shadowy post 9/11 communications nexus of local, state and federal law enforcement as well as the military. This information was used by local police to target activists for repeated harassment, preemptive and false arrest, excessive use of force, and malicious prosecution. The pinnacle of this harassment was discovered in which revealed that the fusion center disseminated “domestic terrorist” dossiers on some of the plaintiffs before a 2007 Domestic Terrorism Conference in Spokane.
These activists are no more domestic terrorists than you or I. Like so many others, they’re committed to social justice, non-violence, raising awareness of unjust government policies, and ultimately creating a more egalitarian world free of war and violence. To know that the US government would label peaceful activists as domestic terrorists should concern us all.
This shows the hollowness of the so-called War on Terror.
Larry Hildes, a National Lawyers Guild attorney who filed the lawsuit in 2009, cautions that “Profiling nonviolent antiwar activists as domestic terrorists and breaching confidential attorney-client communication should be alarming to most Americans.” We hope you agree.
Although this surveillance program started under the Bush administration, it was the Obama administration tried to dismiss this lawsuit, but in late 2012, the Ninth Circuit rejected the government’s arguments, finding plausible allegations of First and Fourth Amendment violations and ordering the case to proceed to trial. In addition to Towery, the lawsuit named defendants including the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, and certain officials within the military, the City of Olympia and its police department, the City of Tacoma and its police department, Pierce County, and various personnel from those jurisdictions. The number of agencies involved with the spying however is vast.
No wonder the government wants to dismiss this case! It threatens to expose their multi-level, covert surveillance apparatus on lawful U.S. residents.
With just a few months remaining before trial, the legal team needs funding to finish pouring through thousands of pages of legal documents from the Army, for travel, and for other related legal costs. Several National Lawyers Guild attorneys are consulting on the case, and the Guild’s national office is also providing technical assistance. This is truly a team effort that has elicited great generosity among some of the nation’s most prominent experts in military and government spying.
Please join our team! We are making personal donations to this case, and ask you to do the same. Make your tax-deductible gift payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation, noting “Towery” in the memo line, and mail to:
National Lawyers Guild
Attn: PMR Fund
132 Nassau Street #922
New York, NY 10038
You’ll be standing up for justice, helping this case move forward and showing that might doesn’t always make right. Since 9/11/01 there have been hundreds of court challenges to unlawful measures taken in the name of protecting national security. Many have failed. But more and more, the public refuses to accept living in a state of perpetual war in which our civil liberties are increasingly imperiled.
Please give generously today. Please make a stand with us for justice, for dignity, and for freedom.