Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
'Extremists' Targeted by Snoop Group
The Justice Department has activated a little-know and highly secretive information-gathering intelligence program aimed at maintaining intimate surveillance of what are described as "extremists" and the groups to which they belong.
In other words,, the Justice Department is now targeting America political dissidents whose views run counter to those of the plutocratic elite.
The Regional Information Sharing System, or RISS, ws set up to snoop on militias and do-called "patriot groups" that the Justice Department may decide need watching. Ostensibly, the program also monitors organized crime.
Critics say the fact that the Justice Department would lump political dissidents alongside criminal elements is interesting indeed. Sources indicate that RISS has direct links to Morris Dees's Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which feed the federal group what it collects on various organizations, their leaders and members.
RISS was officially created under Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton administration, but the new Justice Department under Attorney General John Ashcroft does not seem inclined to disband this spy operation.
Prior to the creation of the new RISS bureaucracy, such surveillance of perceived extremist organizations was left to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was established for these monitoring purposes and to insure internal security. The FBI's most infamous spying operation aimed against political dissident was its COINTELPRO operation of the 1960s. A key ally of the the FBI in its COINTELPRO scheme was, in fact, the ADL, which actually did much of the "on site" work, spying for the FBI domestic spying operation was dubbed (CHAOS).
Many American political groups were infiltrated by COINTELPRO and CHAOS agents, posing as "patriots." Longtime ADL informant Roy Bullock is known to have worked closely with COINTELPRO throughout the 1960s.
After COINTELPRO was officially disbanded following a public outcry when its activities were inadvertently exposed, many of its duties were discreetly left in the hands of the ADL. So for years, the ADL continued to do the "spying" and then turned the data over to the FBI.
But today the FBI seems to be bypassed by RISS, which the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ADL can utilize to "finger" patriotic organizations not "politically correct."
RISS has established information collection centers in Newton, Pa., Franklin, Mass., Springfield, Mo., Sacramento and Phoenix.
According to the Sweetwater, Tenn., Citizens Awareness Committee, a grassroots organization that monitors intrusive government, RISS trades information woth not only law enforcement agencies but with police in Canada, Guam, Australia and Puerto Rico via a network called RISSNET.
"RISSNET," according to the citizens' group, "enables investigators to find links between the movements and look into their finances, telephone calls and membership lists."
Riss is fed much of its information by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Secret service and the Customs Service.
One source told the SPOTLIGHT that RISS has far-reaching international tentacles through connections with Interpol, ant international law enforcement organization.
RISS is supposed to allow local law enforcement the means of keeping the track of organized crime and extremist groups, but checking with police agencies in New York and Virginia. The SPOTLIGHT found none that had any connections with the new super snoop group or even any knowledge of it.