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FBI conducts surveillance of Denver bookstore and records license plate numbers of vehicles

As part of a “domestic terrorism” investigation, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted surveillance of a Denver bookstore on February 15, 2003, and monitored 40 persons who gathered there to carpool to an antiwar demonstration in Colorado Springs later that day, according to an FBI report the ACLU of Colorado released today. The document, the latest the ACLU obtained in response to a series of requests under the Freedom of Information Act, indicates that the FBI also recorded the descriptions and license plate numbers of a dozen cars “in the vicinity” of the now-closed radical bookstore, Breakdown Books, located at the time in the 1400 block of Ogden Street.

Last December, the ACLU released a related document indicating that the FBI opened its investigation of the antiwar march four days earlier, on the basis of announcements the FBI encountered on the websites of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and the Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace. According to that document, the FBI noted that a third group calling itself Revolutionary Anti War Response (RAWR), which the FBI characterized as “more radical,” also promoted the antiwar demonstration and announced it would start with the main group and then conduct a “break out” demonstration” at another Colorado Springs location. The FBI report noted that participants were invited to meet on the morning of the protest to carpool. In the report, the FBI said it would “effect surveillance” at the Denver location and relay information to FBI agents who were working with city police in Colorado Springs.

According to the report released today, FBI agents spent two hours watching Breakdown Bookstore, counting about 40 persons who gathered there. The FBI report describes a dozen nearby vehicles and records their license plate numbers.

“This report raises more questions about the degree to which the FBI is unjustifiably regarding demonstrations and public dissent as potential terrorism,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “Why is the FBI conducting surveillance of a bookstore, monitoring the persons who gather there, and keeping files with lists of license plate numbers?”

   The related report released in December, 2005, is available at http://www.aclu-co.org/spyfiles/Documents/fbi_co_campaign_middle_east_2-11-03_report.pdf
   Additional information about the FBI’s collection of information about political activities is available here.



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