Spying on Dissidents By James Ridgeway Washington, D. C. MENTION the state of Idaho these days and most people think of camouflaged neo Nazi Aryan Nations members shooting it out with federal agents. But in Idaho itself, the police seem less concerned with neo-Nazis and more preoccupied with KGB infiltration of anti-nuclear power groups such as the Snake River Alliance, the sanctuary movement, and evangelical Christians who hold vigils along the route of the so-called “White Train,” which transports nuclear arms across the West. Because of their worry about the Soviet threat, police from around the state met in Boise to ponder ways to protect the participants at the National James Ridgeway’s chronicles of the Age of Reagan are a regular feature of the Observer. Governors Conference this summer from assassination, kidnapping, and other terrorist acts by political fanatics. Sound crazy? Not in Idaho. And there is mounting evidence across the country that both private right-wing organizations and federal law enforcement agencies are enthusiastically snooping into the affairs of people they consider to be left-wing political dissidents. LAST MONTH’S ADMISSION before a House subcommittee by FBI Director William H. Web ster that agents had conducted about 100 interviews with U.S. citizens returning from Nicaragua for the purpose of gathering “foreign counterintelligence” seems to be the tip of an iceberg. Webster insisted that FBI interviews were not intended to “prevent people from going to Nicaragua or make them sorry they went to Nicaragua.” Chris Hagin, former chairman of the r 1 ginn COPYING SERVICE Austin, Lubbock, San Marcos MAY 17, 1985 In a hurry for copies, collating, binding, printing, or word processing? Call Ginny’s. Atlanta Gay Task Force, recently wrote to the embassies of El Salvador and Nicaragua asking for permission to visit both countries to check out reports of atrocities against gays. El Salvador discouraged him from coming, saying they couldn’t guarantee his safety and gays were not welcome. The Nicaraguans said he was free to come and travel where he wanted. Soon thereafter two FBI agents dropped by. They wanted to know why Hagin was opposed to U.S. policies, which are based on the principles of the founding fathers. Hagin told the agent off and began to record the conversation. One FBI agent moved to shut off the recorder, at which point Hagan said he would sue. They remained in his apartment for 15 minutes, called him a “faggot” and refused to leave until he picked up the phone to call the media. Hagin subsequently filed a complaint with the. U.S. Attorney General. About the same time, Gerald Smith, a Maryland furniture salesman who had hoped to sell Nicaraguan wood furniture in the U.S., visited the Washington embassy to discuss details of his plan. On March 12 two Hispanics carrying FBI identification appeared at his house. When Smith opened the door, one of them said, “I guess you know why we’re here.” Smith shook his head no. “Anyone who pays visits to Iron Curtain country embassies gets paid a visit by the FBI,” said the man, who identified himself as agent Roybal. Roybal told him that everyone who visits the Nicaraguan embassy in Washington is routinely photographed when he or she emerges, then trailed, the license plate numbers noted down, and visited. Then Roybal got down to brass tacks: How many guards were there in the embassy? Where were they located? What type of alarms systems were in use? As he left, Roybal gave Smith his card and said, “I’d appreciate it if next time you visit the embassy you’d give us a call before you go.” The sanctuary movement has been repeatedly harassed by FBI and INS agents and informers for well over a year. In Detroit the situation now is especially scary . Offices of the Michigan Interfaith Committee on Central American Rights have been broken into, and books and records stolen. Sara Murray, who coordinates sanctuary activities in Michigan, doesn’t receive first-class mail she knows has been sent. Shortly after she returned to Detroit from a Tucson sanctuary conference in January, Murray made a report to a small CISPES \(Committee in Solidarity
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