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Army Responds to its Own Spy Program–by Investigating Lynndie England

Well, not actually Lynddie England. They’re investigating the allegations that John Towery, a member of their Force Protection unit, infiltrated peace groups (which I discussed here and here). But in all their discussions of the investigation, they mention just Towery, or just one infiltration.

The Army says it has opened an inquiry into a claim that one of its employees spent more than two years infiltrating antiwar groups active near one of the nation’s largest military bases. The groups say the employee infiltrated their activities under an assumed name and gained access to their plans as well as names and e-mail addresses of some members.


Mr. John Towery performs sensitive work within the installation law enforcement community, and it would not be appropriate for him to discuss his duties with the media,” the Army said in written statement. “Fort Lewis is aware of the claim with regard to Mr. Towery. To ensure all regulatory guidelines were followed, the command has decided that an inquiry is prudent, and an officer is being appointed to conduct the inquiry.”


He said Mr. Towery told them that the Army had reassigned him, at least temporarily, and that he was being investigated “for espionage.” [my emphasis]

That’s important because–at least according to what Towery told the group who discovered him–there are other people who have infiltrated their group.

And I called him up; I said, “John, you know, what’s the deal? Is this true?” And he told me; he said, “Yes, it is true, but there’s a lot more to this story than what was publicized.” So he wanted to meet with me and another anarchist in person to further discuss what happened and what his role was.

So, when I met him, he admitted to several things. He admitted that, yes, he did in fact spy on us. He did in fact infiltrate us. He admitted that he did pass on information to an intelligence network, which, as you mentioned earlier, was composed of dozens of law enforcement agencies, ranging from municipal to county to state to regional, and several federal agencies, including Immigration Customs Enforcement, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, Homeland Security, the Army in Fort Lewis.

So he admitted to other things, too. He admitted that the police had placed a camera, surveillance camera, across the street from a community center in Tacoma that anarchists ran called the Pitch Pipe Infoshop. He admitted that there were police that did put a camera up there to spy on anarchists, on activists going there.

He also—one other thing he spoke of—I don’t know if this is true. I mean, honestly, I don’t know what to believe from John, but he said that the police in Tacoma and Olympia had been planning for a while on raiding the anarchist Pitch Pipe Infoshop and also the house I lived in with several other activists in Olympia. And they had approached John several times, saying, you know, “Do they have bombs and explosives and drugs and guns and things like that?” which is just disgusting to even think that they would suggest that. They’re just trying to silence us politically. They’re going after us for our politics and for our work, you know, around Port Militarization Resistance and around antiwar organizing. And, of course, John told them, no, we didn’t have any of those stuff. He told them the truth.

But he also mentioned that there were other informants that are amongst us.


AMY GOODMAN: I also wanted to ask Brendan Dunn about the evidence of other spies in your organization. In fact, didn’t John—“John Jacob,” now known as John Towery, who worked at Fort Lewis—didn’t he tell you about others that he actually wanted out of the organization sometimes and called the military to get them out?

BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, that’s his story, at least. He admitted that there were a few other informants that were sent.

So while I’m absolutely confident that the Army will conduct a thorough investigation into the guy whose cover has been blown, I’m not sure that really gets to the heart of the problem.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.