Mike Brickner of ACLU on the InfraGard Organization

                                                                                                      

Hi Jamie,

Thanks for your inquiry. The ACLU is concerned that Infragard may be used by the federal government as a way to spy on average citizens. As you may know, Infragard is a coalition of several private businesses who have agreed to work with the federal government to report any “unusual activity.” While there is certainly an interest in the government working with private businesses on specific cases where there is credible evidence of terrorist activity, Infragard seems to work by having the private companies cast as wide a net as possible.

When businesses are asked to report anything “suspicious,” it often leads to people being reported who may have divergent political views, religious beliefs, or group affiliations. Americans who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights should not be subjected to additional government surveillance.

As far as specific examples of Infragard monitoring people, the answer is that we simply do not know. Like so many other things with national security, the government has cloaked the program in a cloud of secrecy. There is very little transparency or accountability, so the average citizen, government watchdogs, and the media have very little knowledge about the inner workings of Infragard and who has or has not been investigated.

The ACLU believes strongly that government works best when it is open to the people, and that there must be measures put in place to ensure abuses do not occur. Since Infragard is allowed to operate in almost complete secrecy, there is very little people can do to discover abuse or corruption.

Best,

Mike Brickner
Director of Communications & Public Policy
ACLU of Ohio
(216)472-2220
mbrickner@acluohio.org

 

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