Monday, July 18, 2005

Those Rockin’ ’70’s

Hey, remember disco? Loggins and Messina? “Fine Corinthian Leather”? Love American Style? Skyrocketing gas prices? And on and on — all souvenirs of those golden days of the 1970’s when ties were wide and National Airlines flight attendants said, “Fly me.” It was also the time of a paranoid Republican administration that kept tabs on its opponents and did everything it could — legal or otherwise — to undermine them. That included having the FBI gather information on “subversive” groups like the A.C.L.U. and environmental activists. Well, campers, guess what: retro is in!

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration.

The F.B.I. has in its files 1,173 pages of internal documents on the American Civil Liberties Union, the leading critic of the Bush administration’s antiterrorism policies, and 2,383 pages on Greenpeace, an environmental group that has led acts of civil disobedience in protest over the administration’s policies, the Justice Department disclosed in a court filing this month in a federal court in Washington.

The filing came as part of a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act brought by the A.C.L.U. and other groups that maintain that the F.B.I. has engaged in a pattern of political surveillance against critics of the Bush administration. A smaller batch of documents already turned over by the government sheds light on the interest of F.B.I. counterterrorism officials in protests surrounding the Iraq war and last year’s Republican National Convention.

Gee, it almost makes you nostalgic for those days when Woodward and Bernstein were in the news with stories about “Deep Throat,” there were cool TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, and the White House press secretary would go up on the reef every time a reporter asked him about the doings of certain White House aides. Ah, those were the days.