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WESTERN GOALS:

A GARAGE FULL OF POLICE FILES, AND A MYSTERIOUS PC

THE REAGAN RESPONSE TO "WATERGATE" REFORMS

APPROACHING THE ORWELLIAN NIGHTMARE

There is increasing use of computers by local police departments in each state with direct access to telecommunications systems.

This could easily become a nationwide computerized network used to collect and compare information in both the FBI and other computerized law enforcement files," says Sheila O'Donnell, co-founder of the Public Eye magazine. "Agencies at all levels of government can now be tied into a nationwide intelligence network of dossiers on political dissidents and, in fact, on every American citizen."

What may develop, then, are two parallel computerized political intelligence networks - one public, one private - that share information about political activists and have direct access to modern data banks as well as to the files compiled during the McCarthy period.

"We fear there will soon be a complete integration of the public and private political intelligence apparatus," says attorney Matthew J. Piers, the former chairman of the National Lawyers Guild Civil Liberties Committee. "This network will then be unleashed first against persons accused of having ties to unpopular foreign governments or affiliated with alleged terrorist groups," says Piers, "but inevitably the public-private network will move on to investigate and disrupt the activities of a wide range of community, labor and political activists.

WESTERN GOALS:

A GARAGE FULL OF POLICE FILES, AND A MYSTERIOUS PC

In Los Angeles, the "Police Department's recently disbanded Public Intelligence Division spent some 12 years spying on city council members, judges, local Police Commission members and community groups," writes David Kaplan.

The files collected by the police were supposed to have been destroyed. Apparently, they were not. A Los Angeles ACLU lawsuit continues to uncover an elaborately-concealed relationship between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and a private right-wing think tank, the Western Goals Foundation, based in Virginia.

Suspended Los Angeles Police Detective Jay Paul is accused of storing a mountain of LAPD spy files at his home and leaking the contents of the sensitive material to the Western Goals Foundation through a computer financed by the Foundation and located at the office of Paul's wife, Ann Love. Love had a $2,500 per month contract with Western Goals for unspecified computer services. Paul denied that any LAPD spy files were laundered into the Western Goals computer database, but the Los Angeles ACLU has filed a lawsuit based on that very supposition.

The ACLU has sought the deposition of a former Western Goals staffer John Rees, who recently left the Foundation following a policy dispute. Rees sought to block the deposition but has been ordered to answer questions in the ACLU case.

As the case progresses, further revelations about the relationship between private spy groups, public police agencies and computers are expected.

THE REAGAN RESPONSE TO "WATERGATE" REFORMS

Dick Criley is just one of many civil libertarians who fears the Reagan Administration is not sensitive to privacy issues:

"In the 1980s...the trend toward greater freedom is being reversed once again. In December 1981, President Reagan authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to engage in domestic spying again, (Executive Order 12333) despite Congress's original intent to limit the CIA to intelligence collection abroad."

"In April 1981, the President established new rules for classification of documents, severely limiting the right of public access, emphasizing 'security' interests in more secrecy, making declassification more difficult, and permitting reclassification of documents that had previously been released to the public. Since classified documents are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, President Reagan's order has greatly reduced the amount of information previously available to citizens."

The Reagan administration is being pushed to eliminate more restrictions on governmental investigative agencies that were the post-Watergate answer to protecting Constitutional rights.

Recently Congress exempted all CIA operation files from the Federal Freedom of Information Act. Ironically, the exemption bill language was formulated with the assistance of several high officials of the American Civil Liberties Union who thought they were mitigating even worse language. The controversy that arose when Angus McKenzie of the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed the negotiations forced the national ACLU Board to vote to oppose the final bill, but not in time to rally civil liberties forces - the bill was passed and signed into law earlier this year.

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