Gary Wright IIGary Wright II - ]  [ Activism ]  [ LGBT Activism ]  → LGBT Surveillance

US Government Puts Activists Under Surveillance


WASHINGTON, DC - In a June 5 letter to counsel for
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the National
Security Agency (NSA) says it will "neither confirm nor deny the
existence or non-existence" of information that may have been
obtained through agency surveillance of the lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender community. SLDN sought information,
through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, after media
reports indicated the agency may have been monitoring groups and
individuals opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel. The June 5 letter
was sent in response to SLDN's appeal of NSA's refusal to
release any information related to that surveillance. The appeal
was filed on SLDN's behalf by the law firm of Proskauer Rose

"2006 is the new 1984," said SLDN executive director C. Dixon
Osburn. "The federal government's Orwellian surveillance
programs of ordinary, law-abiding citizens violates our right to
privacy under current law. The government's refusal to disclose
its surveillance programs erodes the public trust."

The NSA letter, from William B. Black, Jr., notes that "any
substantive response to [the original] request would tend to
confirm or deny specific activities." SLDN has up to five years
to appeal the NSA's response.

In January, the Department of Defense acknowledged that it had
"inappropriately" conducted surveillance on student protestors
at several universities. The Pentagon has also indicated it has
additional surveillance materials, in the form of government
TALON reports, which will be released at a later date. Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said the surveillance program is
"no big deal."