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FBI Informant Spied on Political Activists in Iowa Before Minn. Republican Convention

Law enforcement authorities always argue that they need to get intelligence to make sure groups aren’t up to no good.  Civil liberty groups say activities like this lead to abuses. The debate continues.fbi

By William Petroski
Des Moines Register

An FBI informant and an undercover Minnesota sheriff’s deputy spied on political activists in Iowa City last year before the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Confidential FBI documents obtained by The Des Moines Register show an FBI informant was planted among a group described as an “anarchist collective” that met regularly last year in Iowa City. One of the group’s goals was to organize street blockades to disrupt the Republican convention, held Sept. 1-4, 2008, where U.S. Sen. John McCain was nominated for president.
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The undercover Minnesota deputy who traveled to Iowa City was from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, which infiltrated a group known as the “RNC Welcoming Committee” that was coordinating convention protest activities in St. Paul.

The undercover officer accompanied two activists from the Twin Cities who attended the University of Iowa in April 2008 for a Midwest campus anti-war conference.

The Iowa City Police Department was not aware that an FBI informant was monitoring local anti-war activists last year, Police Chief Samuel Hargadine said. But he confirmed to the Register that he was notified by Ramsey County authorities last year that they were sending an undercover officer to Iowa City.

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