Wednesday, March 15, 2006


New Seeds of Infiltration

Think the FBI is clocking up overtime hunting down Al Qaida? Nah. Catholic peaceniks are a much greater threat, not to mention a lot easier: Newly released files show the FBI has been monitoring and possibly infiltrating a Pittsburgh peace group because of its opposition to the war in Iraq. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union released a series of once secret FBI files that show the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted a secret investigation into the activities of the Thomas Merton Center beginning as early as November 2002, and continuing up until at least last March. According to the ACLU these documents are the first to show conclusively that the rationale for FBI targeting is the group's opposition to the war. One memo describes the Merton Center as a "left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism." It notes that the center hands out leaflets on a daily basis opposing the war in Iraq. The FBI files also notes that one of the peace activists monitored handling out fliers "appeared to be of Middle Easter descent." Another file on the peace center is titled "International Terrorism Matters" and it includes information on a series of anti-war rallies taking place in Pittsburgh and around the country. The documents raise new questions about the extent of the government's domestic surveillance operations. Thomas Merton was, in addition to being an antiwar Catholic monk, the author of New Seeds of Contemplation, not to mention The Seven Storey Mountain.
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