Monday, January 02, 2006
KISSING FRIGHTENS PENTAGON
Wondering who and what the Pentagon is concerned about these days?
Osama Bin Laden you answer. Bioweapons attacks, maybe.
Try Kiss Ins.
According to recent press reports, Pentagon officials have been spying on what they call "suspicious" meetings by civilian groups, including student groups opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel.
A February protest at New York University was one of the events under government surveillance according to numerous sources.
NBC reports that the NYU law school’s gay advocacy group, OUTlaw, was classified as “potentially violent” by the Pentagon
“I was shocked to read that OUTLaw was classified as a threat and investigated,” OUTLaw Co-chair Rebecca Fisher said. “Since we still don’t know how the Pentagon went about investigating us, I’m wondering how far they went in invading our personal privacy to make their determination. Did they read our e-mail? Monitor our meetings?”
NBC also reported that a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” protest at University of California Santa Cruz was labeled as a “credible threat” of terrorism by the Pentagon. The protest, conducted near military recruiters, included a gay kiss-in.
“While it is alarming, it is not surprising given the Bush administration’s attitude toward secrecy,” said Deb Abbott, director of the Lionel Cantu Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex Resource Center at UC Santa Cruz. “It is really disturbing that not only our group, but other gay groups appear to be the focus.”
"Every high school civics class is taught that the United States does not spy on its own citizens," said John Marble, spokesman for the National Stonewall Democrats. "The fact that gay student groups are being spied on shows just how loopy the Bush administration is. They are acting like the Nixon administration."
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) condemned the Pentagon surveillance and monitoring. "The Pentagon is supposed to defend the Constitution, not turn it upside down," said SLDN executive director C. Dixon Osburn. "Students have a first amendment right to protest and Americans have a right to expect that their government will respect our constitutional right to privacy. To suggest that a gay kiss-in is a 'credible threat' is absurd, homophobic and irrational. To suggest the Constitution does not apply to groups with views differing with Pentagon policy is chilling."
SLDN announced it plans to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to learn if it or other LGBT organizations have also been monitored by the Pentagon. To date, only a small portion of DoD's total database of information has been made public. Sources: Windy City Times, SLDN, Washington Blade, L News, Americablog, Gay.com