Sunday, August 03, 2008

Activist Espionage Harms Anti-Crime Efforts

The NRA, through the reported hiring of at least one spy to infiltrate gun-control groups, has shown an important aspect of who they are as an organization.

Their action is relevant to anti-rape activism because the organizations they oppose want to reduce violent crime. Infiltrating covertly in people's efforts to reduce crime is a conscious decision to sabotage crime reduction efforts.

If the NRA as an organization believes that the efforts of other groups are ineffective or unconstitutional, they need to be ethical in all of their dealings with those organizations. If they are on the right side on the law and the issues, they don't need to resort to espionage.

Once a group participates in espionage, they have lost all right to complain about or seek redress for any covert efforts directed against them. By their participation in espionage, they have given espionage the green light for all.

Groups who are not classified as gun-control groups but who want to change policies and laws related to guns, such as preventing those convicted of sexual or domestic violence from getting gun permits, may also find themselves on the receiving end of this sort of espionage.

According to Mother Jones, [Mary] Sapone, operating under her maiden name "McFate," began appearing at anti-gun protests in the 1990s soon after she had been outed in another case of activist espionage. In 1990 it was revealed that she infiltrated an animal-rights group on behalf of a surgical supply company.

Sapone served on the boards of the Freedom States Alliance and Ceasefire Pennsylvania, and twice ran for a board position at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, ABC News confirmed. The magazine closely connects her to the now-defunct private security firm Beckett Brown International, which earned a reputation for hiring former U.S. intelligence agents and which has been linked to several cases of spying on activist groups, including Greenpeace.

In a 2003 deposition, BBI's former president Tim Ward testified that he hired Sapone to work on behalf of the National Rifle Association, according to Mother Jones.

Besides gathering information, this woman's service on the boards of several organization indicates that she could have sabotaged their efforts. One way a spy could do this is by advocating for gun-control laws purposely drafted in such a way as make them in violation of the constitution or which would allow organizations like the NRA to successfully get an injunction preventing the laws from being enforced.

If a spy's efforts result in legal challenges then the espionage directly costs those infiltrated organizations money. This cost is a deliberate harm which has been caused by the organization who paid for the spy. Therefore, the spying organization should be legally responsibility for these costs and all non-financial harm done to the infiltrated organization by the spy. That responsibility should include punitive damages.

It doesn't matter if the spying organization can't be directly linked to all harmful actions taken by their spy. The nature of this type of espionage is to harm the other organization so any overzealous harm is a predictable result of the espionage mission.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:35 PM   0 comments links to this post


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