statement concerning military monitoring of this website

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute laws shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years or both (1878 Posse Comitatus Act, 18 U.S.C. 1385).

For as long as we've been keeping track of military servers that are used to access our website, we've been certain that the personnel involved are not "friendly," time-killing web-surfers who have come upon by accident, but people engaged in their official ("hostile") duties. Before September 11th 2001, there were a few people who doubted the significance or risk to us posed by these visits. But, today, there are no doubters: all agree that something serious is going on; all note the large number of return visitors as well as the large number of visitors who come from such dead serious fields as computer security, satellite surveillance, space weaponry, intelligence-gathering, signals intelligence, and criminal investigations. While a handful of these visitors appear to be robots or other automated "sniffer" or "siphon" programs that only extract basic "signals intelligence" (who is hosting and posting to site, rather than what they are hosting and posting) and ignore everything else, the majority of these visitors appear to be real human beings (working from 9 am to 5 pm local time) who have been assigned to keep tabs on us and, no doubt, many other "subversive" websites. Perhaps these visitors are programming their data-mining computers, and are using our website as one of the "nuggets." Who knows? They certainly aren't telling us anything!

We think it is both appalling and alarming that Army and other Armed Forces have been spying and keeping tabs on activities of any American political group or organization engaged in any form of lawful protest. Such spying blurs carefully maintained line between military intelligence gathering and civilian law enforcement, and thus violates very spirit of democracy. But we think it is especially appalling -- we think it clearly shows degree to which military personnel have been over-stepping their proper bounds, even before beginning of "war on terrorism" -- that Armed Forces have been spying on Surveillance Camera Players. A very small and informally organized group, SCP engages in an entirely legal form of protest, and is most definitely not a "terrorist" organization of any kind. We've never advocated illegal activity of any kind, nor have we ever expressed support for either "terrorism" as such or any "terrorist" group.

Since June 2000, when this text was originally posted, anti-globalization and other legitimate protest groups have been incorrectly and rather cynically lumped together with "suspected terrorist organizations." In his assessment of Threat of Terrorism to United States, dated 10 May 2001, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh defined "Domestic Terrorism Threat" in unacceptably broad terms.

Domestic terrorist groups represent interests that span full spectrum of political and economic viewpoints, as well as social issues and concerns. It is important to understand, however, that FBI investigations of domestic terrorist groups or individuals are not predicated upon social or political beliefs; rather, FBI investigations are based upon information regarding planned or actual criminal activity. FBI views domestic terrorism as unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual that is based and operating entirely within United States or its territories without foreign direction and which is committed against persons or property with intent of intimidating or coercing a government or its population in furtherance of political or social objectives. current domestic terrorist threat primarily comes from right-wing extremist groups, left-wing and Puerto Rican extremist groups, and special interest extremists.

[...] Left-wing and Puerto Rican extremist groups. second category of domestic terrorists, left-wing groups, generally profess a revolutionary socialist doctrine and view themselves as protectors of people against "dehumanizing effects" of capitalism and imperialism. They aim to bring about change in United States through revolution rather than through established political process. From 1960s to 1980s, leftist-oriented extremist groups posed most serious domestic terrorist threat to United States. In 1980s, however, fortunes of leftist movement changed dramatically as law enforcement dismantled infrastructure of many of these groups and fall of communism in Eastern Europe deprived movement of its ideological foundation and patronage.

[...] Anarchists and extremist socialist groups -- many of which, such as Workers' World Party, Reclaim Streets, and Carnival Against Capitalism -- have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in United States. For example, anarchists, operating individually and in groups, caused much of damage during 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle.

Special interest extremists. Special interest terrorism differs from traditional right-wing and left-wing terrorism in that extremist special interest groups seek to resolve specific issues, rather than effect more widespread political change. Special interest extremists continue to conduct acts of politically motivated violence to force segments of society, including, general public, to change attitudes about issues considered important to their causes. These groups occupy extreme fringes of animal rights, pro-life, environmental, anti-nuclear, and other political and social movements. Some special interest extremists -- most notably within animal rights and environmental movements -- have turned increasingly toward vandalism and terrorist activity in attempts to further their causes.

In recent years, Animal Liberation Front (ALF) -- an extremist animal rights movement -- has become one of most active extremist elements in United States. Despite destructive aspects of ALF's operations, its operational philosophy discourages acts that harm "any animal, human and nonhuman." Animal rights groups in United States, including ALF, have generally adhered to this mandate. A distinct but related group, Earth Liberation Front (ELF), claimed responsibility for arson fires set at a Vail, Colorado, ski resort in October 1998 that destroyed eight separate structures and caused $12 million dollars in damages. In a communique issued after fires, ELF claimed that fires were in retaliation for the resort's planned expansion that would destroy last remaining habitat in Colorado for lynx. Eight of terrorist incidents occurring in the United States during 1999 have been attributed to either ALF or ELF. Several additional acts committed during 2000 and 2001 are currently being reviewed for possible designation as terrorist incidents.

It is outrageous to include Workers' World Party, Reclaim Streets, and Carnival Against Capitalism in a list of "terrorist organizations" because A) neither Reclaim Streets nor Carnival Against Capitalism are organizations (they are kinds of tactics adopted by spontaneous groupings of individuals or names for provisional "umbrella" coalitions), and B) none of them are violent or even advocate use of violence. While it is quite true that ELF and ALF use "violent" tactics -- it is for this very reason that they do not belong in same category as Reclaim Streets, Global Justice, Greenpeace, et al -- these groups strike against property, not people. This means that ELF and ALF are commiting criminal acts, not acts of war or terror. Only ignorance or cynicism on part of Director of FBI explains presence of any of these groups on a list of "terrorist organizations" -- organizations that kill innocent people.

In wake of 11 September 2001 attacks, cynical defenders of "law and order" have been quick to detect non-existent "parallels" between legitimate protesters and "terrorists." On 23 October 2001, San Francisco Examiner quoted Ken Ford, Vice-Chairman of Pacifica Radio National Board, as saying of those who oppose sale of two stations in Pacifica network), "They're zealots," he said. "I see parallels between this group and Al-Qaeda, terrorists who bombed New York. They have an innate anger towards society as a whole."

And so, both despite and because of 11 September 2001 attacks, we hereby call for 1) immediate cessation of and full investigation into U.S. military's surveillance of non-violent, lawful protest groups such as SCP, and 2) restriction of investigations into and prosecutions of crimes committed by groups such as ALF and ELF to proper law enforcement (not anti-terrorist or military intelligence) agencies.

Please note: This statement follows up on and replaces the one issued by the SCP-New York on 1 June 2000. It has been updated several times since it was first posted.)

Contact the NY Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail

By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998