May 20, 2005 – Human and animal rights organizations have joined with religious and civil liberties groups to file a class action suit Wednesday against the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice, asserting that federal and local law enforcement in ten states have overstepped their bounds by targeting and spying on law-abiding groups and citizens.
United for Peace and Justice, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, American Civil Liberties Union, Greenpeace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee filed the suit in an effort to force the federal government to immediately release documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In December, the ACLU requested documents on behalf of more than 100 groups and individuals who complained that FBI agents questioned and monitored them prior to last summer's national political conventions. So far, the organization has received less than 20 pages in response to the FOIA requests.
One of the released documents revealed that the FBI in Colorado investigated Food Not Bombs, an anti-war group that provides free vegetarian food to homeless people and activists, and conducted "pretext interviews," which the ACLU alleges were intended to intimidate members.
The ACLU claimed that the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) may have engaged in "increased surveillance and infiltration of political, religious, and community organizations," infringing on "the publicâ€™s free speech, free association and privacy rights, which are guaranteed by the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments..."