This morning, I took a jog through a maze of links related to the exposure of a police spy sending information about anti-war activists in Olympia to the military. I stopped my run when I ran into a site called SnitchWire, which is dedicated to exposing snitches – police informants.
I have a lot of sympathy with some aspects of the site. Activist organizations have been suffering under spying by police and military infiltrators for many years now, and it doesn’t look as if the practice is ending under President Obama. In many ways, not just through infiltrators, the federal government has become a routine peeper, spying on political groups and private individuals without any suspicion of a crime. Local law enforcement agencies have been encouraged to follow the example of their federal Big Brother.
Very few people in the government seem interested or able to hold the new system of excessive, warrantless surveillance to account. So, if our government is going to be watching our private lives, it makes sense for private individuals to take it upon themselves to watch the watchers.
Up to that point, I’m with the people at SnitchWire. SnitchWire goes further than that, however.
First of all, SnitchWire seems to be opposed to citizens going to law enforcement officials with information about real, violent criminal conspiracies. SnitchWire’s hatred of the FBI, for example, that it criticizes an effort to inform the FBI about a plan to assassinate President Obama. I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that efforts to assassinate people should be investigated, through constitutional procedures.
Then there’s SnitchWire’s wink-and-nod encouragement of violence against government informants. The subtitle of the site is so you get what’s coming to you – with an obvious double meaning.
The site also advises, “Individuals pursuing a ‘snitches get stitches’ policy do so on their own accord and are in no way affiliated directly with this publication.” That’s not a discouragement of violent retribution against government spies. It’s just a legal disclaimer.
If we want the government to follow the Constitution and stop spying against us, then we need to follow the Constitution as well – and the laws established under it. Nobody should be above the law – including activists who criticize illegal government activities.