Skip to comments.Hearings planned on California National Guard's intelligence unit
Posted on 06/28/2005 8:51:00 PM PDT by calcowgirl
MATHER, Calif. - A California congresswoman and a state senator said Tuesday they plan separate hearings into whether a California National Guard unit was established as a spy agency.
Guard spokesmen denied that was the unit's intent but declined to make the unit's commander available for an interview to fully explain its function.
State Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove, whose budget subcommittee oversees funding for the California National Guard, ordered the Guard to turn over all documents about the unit, formally called the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion program. That would include any information collected about citizens.
That last request will be easy, because no such information has been collected, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Douglas Hart said.
He said the new unit includes nine soldiers and airmen, two of whom monitor the military's classified e-mail system and seven who work with the State Terrorism Threat Assessment Center. That center is the successor to a terrorism-information unit created after the 2001 attacks and operated by the state Department of Justice.
The seven help gauge terrorist threats to bridges, buildings and other structures, said Tom Dresslar, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
"They don't monitor the activities of groups that are engaged in anti-war protests or the like," Dresslar said.
The National Guard intelligence unit came to public attention after a story published Sunday in the San Jose Mercury News. The story referred to the unit's monitoring of a Mother's Day anti-war demonstration at the state Capitol that was organized by several peace groups - the Gold Star Families for Peace, Raging Grannies and CodePink.
An e-mail chain that began in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's press office culminated in an advisory a few days before the protest from Col. Jeff Davis, who oversees the National Guard unit: "our Intell. folks... continue to monitor" the event.
Hart said the monitoring amounted to recording television coverage and reading newspaper articles about the protest. He said the unit did not infiltrate the groups or observe the rally.
"That's all there was to it. That was the extent of our 'surveillance'," Hart said.
Margita Thompson, spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said, "The administration is concerned, and we are looking into it."
U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, plans to question California National Guard officials at a House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee hearing.
Peninsula Raging Grannies co-chair Ruth Robertson said she suspects the government has a greater interest, perhaps because of her group's efforts to dissuade people from enlisting in the military.
"Our median age is 72 - we are not threatening," Robertson said. "We are all about peace."
Gold Star Families member Cindy Sheehan said she's not bothered: "If they're monitoring what we're doing, we must be scaring them, and I think that's great." The group is composed of people whose sons or daughters have died in military conflicts.
Dunn said he was not reassured by the unit's denials.
"History has not been kind to such assertions by government and military officials," Dunn said.
He referred to the Vietnam War era, when the military collected information on more than 100,000 Americans during the 1960s and 1970s.
Questions about the state's anti-terrorism center also arose two years ago, when Lockyer's Criminal Intelligence Bureau warned Oakland police about "potential violence" during a protest there.
Police, firing wooden dowels and beanbag projectiles, ultimately injured at least two dozen protesters. Lockyer subsequently disavowed the tracking of groups or individuals that avoid violence or other illegal acts, even if they engage in otherwise harmless civil disobedience.
In a statement this week about the National Guard unit, Lockyer said, "You have to wonder how monitoring the activities of soldiers' widows and orphans advances the anti-terrorism effort."
Dunn said that even if the National Guard unit formed last year isn't spying, the Guard should have cleared the unit with legislators because "perception could put a cloud over these activities," Dunn said. "Spying on United States citizens is a radioactive topic."
The Guard on Tuesday abruptly canceled an interview The Associated Press had scheduled with Col. Robert J. O'Neill, director of the new program, citing Dunn's planned hearings.
"I would respectfully suggest the Guard is taking absolutely the wrong approach to shut down information to the public or media about this unit," Dunn said. "It only raises the suspicions of the public and the media when the Guard retreats into a bunker mentality."
Sounds like Dunn probably is scared he got caught working underground with some local anti-war group.
Dunn is the same idiot carrying a California's bill to mark ammunition, as well as one leading to reparations for people deported to Mexico from 1929 to 1944. He's a charmer, for sure.
"Dunn is the same idiot carrying a California's bill to mark ammunition, as well as one leading to reparations for people deported to Mexico from 1929 to 1944. He's a charmer, for sure."
Since you are a decent lady I will say it for you........
He is a real as*hol*. Take care.
He is also termed out of the state Senate this term, and is running for AG. This is why he's been allowed to move so many high profile bills and is getting so much ink in the MSM.
Gosh. And I thought Lockyer was bad.
I just read that the other day, with glee.
...and is running for AG.
Ohhhhhhh, NOOOOOO! I didn't know that part! :-(
"Gosh. And I thought Lockyer was bad."
I admit I do not follow Cali politics much. I am sure there are enough loneys in this one state alone to disgrace what our fore fathers had in mind. Funny how the most wealthy states on both sides of our great land contain some of the worst excuses for politicians one could dream up. hang in there.
That's what I was thinking too.
"That's what I was thinking too."
And with that CyberAnt, I wish you a good one. I gotta shut down before I can't see where the hell I'm walking to find the bed.
have a good one.
Looks like he's got the support of most of the 'Rat establishment --"dirty" Don Perata and Lockyer and their flunkies. He was a trial lawyer (tobacco) before running for office, so he probably has that sewn up as well.
Dunno about the unions and the Assembly 'Rats (I was wondering if Dario Frommer was going to look at the AG race, since he's termed out, too.)
It would be nice if there was a nasty fight among them during the primary, but it's not shaping up that way.
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