- Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton and other big
city cops are calling for a new system of "citizen watch" programs,
allegedly to help them spot hidden terrorists. I view this new call for
a nation of private spies with a deep suspicion born of experience with
the LAPD and its historic penchant for spying on law-abiding residents
of that city.
- Back in the late 1970s, together with a band of other
doughty journalists, including Tommy Thompson, Ron Ridenour, Ben Pleasants,
I co-founded and ran a spunky little news weekly called the LA Vanguard.
In the course of just one year, we broke stories about secret "security
offices" run by local phone companies (Pacific Telephone and GTE)
which provided unlisted numbers and credit information to police and other
government agencies without requiring a warrant, about the killing of unarmed
citizens by police, about the LAPD's "shoot to kill" gun use
policy, about judges in landlord-tenant cases who were slumlords themselves,
and many other stories that were being ignored by the LA Times and the
rest of the local establishment media.
- For our efforts, we found out years later, we were targeted
by the LAPD's "red squad," known at the time as the Public Disorder
Intelligence Division (PDID), for an intensive program of spying that including
planting a young cop, Connie Milazzo, as a member of our editorial collective.
We only learned of Milazzo's real identity years later when she admitted
disclosed it herself to a judge in a public hearing (she wanted to avoid
being sent to the county lockup along with a group of activists she had
"joined" undercover who had all been arrested during a protest
and who were refusing to provide their identities to the court).
- A subsequent lawsuit filed with the help of the ACLU
of Southern California, eventually settled for a payment of $1.8 million
by the City of Los Angeles, disclosed that the PDID had for years been
using as many as 20 undercover cops to infiltrate and spy on over 200 legal
political and activist organizations in the Los Angeles area, gathering
rooms full of files on everyone from members of the National Organization
for Women to the staffs of certain members of the city council.
- We also learned that the LAPD was providing those files
to a shadowy private outfit in San Francisco called Western Goals, which
had links to the ultra-right John Birch Society. Western Goals was apparently
seeking to serve as a private repository of dossiers on leftists and political
activists collected by local police all around the country in a kind of
end run around the restrictions on domestic spying by the FBI that had
been imposed after the post-Watergate revelations about the abuses of the
- This is why Bratton's idea stinks...
- For the rest of this article, please go to: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net