ACLU: FBI eyed various rights groups

Dec. 20, 2005 at 7:58 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show the FBI has conducted surveillance on animal rights and poverty relief groups.

One FBI document obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, restrictions on the FBI were loosened, giving the bureau greater ability to visit and monitor Web sites, mosques and other public entities in developing terrorism leads.

However, FBI officials told The New York Times many of the references may be much more benign than they seem to civil rights advocates, and that the documents offer an incomplete and sometimes misleading snapshot of the bureau's activities.

"Just being referenced in an FBI file is not tantamount to being the subject of an investigation," said John Miller, a spokesman for the bureau.

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