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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Amateurs Run Amok OXYMORON OR MERELY MORONIC They were being all they could be, or so two young Army spies thought when they walked on to the UT Law School campus on February 9. Special Agent Jason Treesh and an unidentified agent drove to Austin from the Army intelligence base at Fort Hood to question law students in a troubling sign of our post-PATRIOT Act environment. Deborah Parker, the chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, confirmed that the Army special agents were on an authorized intelligence operation in Texas. She refuses to release more information on the incident because it is “under review!’ Jason Treesh has made news before, less than two years ago talking about, ironically, spycraft. He was working for the operations section of the Army’s 308th Military Intelligence Battalion, based in Fort Meade, Maryland, when a then-25-year-old Treesh attended the grand opening in July 2002 of the International Spy Museum in downtown Washington. The Washington Post Metro section covered the event. A staff writer interviewed audience member Treesh, just then getting started in the field, as confetti exploded and James Bond theme music played. “I think it’s a very misunderstood kind of thing,” Treesh told the Post. “Spying is actually very benign!’ Sahar Aziz thinks not, at least not the way Special Agent Treesh went about it at UT. Special Agent Treesh flashed his Army intelligence identification badge in front of students inside the office of the Texas Journal of Women and the Law. The young Army agent asked Jessica Biddle, a third-year law student from Houston, about fellow students including Sahar Aziz, a third-year law student from Dallas who helped organize a conference, “Islam and the Law: The Question of Sexism” that had been held the week before. The same agents never contacted Aziz. But Special Agent Treesh did leave a business card with his phone number on it. When the Observer called Treesh’s direct line at Fort Hood, the man who answered denied he was Special Agent Treesh, although he agreed to take a message. A man with the same voice called the Observer back a few minutes later, and identified himself as Special Agent Treesh. Other than to say he was on official business while at the UT Law School, he declined to comment further. The conference that sparked so much attention from the U.S. military intelligence command focused exclusively on issues of women’s rights within the tenets of Islamic faith. Neither the panels listed on the law school’s web site nor the attendees reported any discussion of other issues like U.S. foreign policy. It is unusual for Muslim women to publicly discuss any sexual issues. In most Muslim communities male Muslim clerics have long interpreted what Muslim women may or may not do with their own bodies. As anyone who knows anything about Islam understands, this is the kind of reformist discussion that fanatical Muslims like Osama bin Laden have never tolerated. But such nuances were apparently lost on the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command when it got word about the UT Law School conference. Army officials said that two Army personnel went undercover to attend the conference, and reported back that one attendee asked them a hostile question about U.S. policy. Military intelligence commanders decided to send operatives from Fort Hood to investigate. Special Agent Treesh told UT’s Biddle that the government wanted a list of the conference attendees along with a videotape of the event, in addition to asking her about Sahar Aziz. “I was flustered and suffered a lot of anxiety that they would come to my house that night,” said Aziz, who lives with her husband and is in the last month of a pregnancy. “I kept wracking my brain, ‘Did anything happen at the conference?”‘ She said that there was no registration list of the attendees of the conference, since it was open to the public. Aziz says she and other organizers of the event welcome everyone including Army personnel to continued on page 28 The Outsourcerer’s Apprentice 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 2/27/04