A federal appeals court has cleared the way for a lawsuit filed by peace activists in Olympia, Washington, over spying by a U.S. military informant who infiltrated their group. Declassified documents obtained by Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance revealed a man everyone knew as "John Jacob" was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. When Democracy Now! broke the story in 2009, one of the activists, Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, said Towery had personally admitted to the spying.
Brendan Maslauskas Dunn: "He admitted that, yes, he did in fact spy on us. He did in fact infiltrate us. He admitted that he did pass on information to an intelligence network, which, as you mentioned earlier, was composed of dozens of law enforcement agencies, ranging from municipal to county to state to regional, and several federal agencies, including Immigration Customs Enforcement, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, Homeland Security, the Army in Fort Lewis."
The exposure of the spying also led to disclosures of intelligence gathering and sharing about the activists by the Air Force, the federal Capitol Police, the Coast Guard and local and state police. In a landmark decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled the activists can sue military officials for violations of the First Amendment and unlawful spying.