OLYMPIA, Washington – Peace activists have revealed that a U.S. military informant had been posing as an anarchist to infiltrate their groups. Members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) discovered from documents received through a public records request that John Towery, who used the name “John Jacob”, was spying on their groups while working for the military. He relayed information to local and state law enforcement officials, as well as numerous federal agencies and the military. Under the Posse Comitatus Act it is illegal for the U.S. military to engage in law enforcement inside the U.S. The infiltrated groups were involved in antiwar activities including blocking military shipments bound for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Public records revealed that John Towery is a member of the Force Protection Service at the nearby Fort Lewis Army base. He was an active member of the antiwar group Port Militarization Resistance and worked closely with Students for a Democratic Society, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and the anarchist community in Tacoma and Olympia. After being questioned about the documents he admitted to being an informant over the past two years and reporting to an intelligence network that included local sheriff and police agencies, WA State Police, the US Army, FBI, Homeland Security, Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement among other agencies.
Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, a member of Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance did antiwar work with Towery, who he knew as “John Jacob”. Dunn filed public records requests on behalf of his labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World, and eventually discovered with the help of others that his friend was a military spy.
“John Jacob was a friend of mine, so this week has been difficult for me. We hung out together. We gave workshops together on grassroots direct democracy and anarchism. Many people liked him. I was shocked to learn that he was a spy,” said Dunn.
The newly released documents revealed that Thomas Glapion from the McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey was also investigating activities of SDS, PMR and “other left wing anti war groups” in Olympia. The Coast Guard (where there is an informant spying on activists according to one record) and US Capitol Police were also gathering information on Olympia SDS and other peace groups, pointing to a vast national intelligence network connecting local law enforcement agencies with the military to spy on domestic peace groups and activists.
The National Lawyers Guild and American Civil Liberties Union are looking into the legality of the intelligence network unveiled. The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the military from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the U.S. Other Constitutional breaches are in question. These revelations may lead to a federal committee to conduct a full-scale investigation of intelligence activities, like the Church Committee in the 1970’s, which lead to a long trail of abuses by domestic intelligence agencies and their subsequent reforms.
“All of our protests are peaceful. We are trying to stop violence, not cause it. We are being treated as threats to homeland security for exercising our constitutional rights to free speech and dissent,” said Dunn.
John Towery also admitted to Dunn and others after being discovered that the Tacoma Police placed a hidden camera on a utility pole across the street from a community center frequented by activists, the Pitchpipe Infoshop, for surveillance purposes. He mentioned that the Olympia and Tacoma police were both planning on raiding the Pitchpipe Infoshop and an activist house in Olympia where Dunn lives. He claimed that they had repeatedly approached him for any information that would give them a green light to raid the spaces. He also claimed to have knowledge of other informants that were sent to spy on Port Militarization Resistance and activists in Olympia, but refused to reveal their identities.
Students for a Democratic Society is a national student organization with over 100 chapters working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, protect the environment, and make education affordable and democratic. SDS encourages confrontational nonviolent direct action tactics when other means are ineffective.
Port Militarization Resistance is an antiwar organization started in Olympia. The group has staged several high profile protests out of the Port of Olympia, Port of Tacoma, and Port of Grays Harbor since 2006 in attempt to halt military shipments coming in and out of the ports.
- Brendan Maslauskas DunnStudents for a Democratic Society (SDS), Port Militarization Resistance
- Larry HildesAttorney with National Lawyers Guild in Bellingham, WA, attorney for many in
SDS and PMR
- Drew HendricksPMR Intelligence Network for Observers