State Senator Joe Dunn's (D-Garden Grove) investigation into the California National Guard's spying on political activists was featured on the KGO evening news yesterday. Whether the story on San Francisco's ABC affiliate will help raise the profile of the investigation remains to be seen, but this does answer the question of how long it takes news from Orange County to reach the world of San Francisco television– seven months– because Nick Schou wrote about this investigation in the July 21, 2005 issue of the Weekly. (How long it will take to reach LA TV news is hard to say. Those champions of the First Amendment are busy with other things.)
As Schou explained, when the CA National Guard's Domestic Watch Center was caught spying on such menaces to our national security as the Ragin' Grannies and Gold Star Families for Peace, Dunn launched an investigation to determine the scope and nature of the Guard's covert program. And the Guard was doing its best to stonewall Dunn. According to KGO, the stonewalling continues. The Guard still can't even be bothered to explain how or why the computer hard drive of the general in charge of the spy program was erased. The general suddenly retired on the same day that Senator Dunn sent a letter to the Guard demanding records from the program.
The KGO story did contain one new piece of information: “Senator Dunn says one file shows at least ten other states engage in domestic spying.” While new, it's not surprising. Writing about “secret organizations of the U.S. military” on the Washington Post's website, defense analyst William Arkin notes,
There has been an explosion of clandestine and secret organizations since 9/11. Many of the organizations are involved in activity — special operations, domestic counter-terrorism, deception, computer network attack, surveillance — that is inherently controversial and even questionable.
…[W]e've entered an era where entire operations and units of the American military are made secret in the form of special access programs existing outside of normal channels. This tendency impedes oversight, complicates integration with other capabilities, and results in uncoordinated proliferation of overlapping activity.
So it wouldn't be surprising that while so many members of the National Guard are in Iraq fighting an insurgency, whose growing strength the Bush administration ignored because the intelligence reports about it “didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios”, some of the Guard's rear echelon motherfuckers back home have transformed themselves into little Big Brothers to protect the country from grannies and experience the sort of non-garter belt-related thrill that J. Edgar Hoover knew so well.