From the June 2003 Idaho Observer:

Seattle hosts week-long LEIU/police state conference

Protests, violence indicate self-fulfilling police state prophecy

SEATTLE -- Seattle police attacked protesters with tasers, rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray June 3. The people were protesting a five-day Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) seminar titled “Criminal Intelligence and the War on Terrorism.”

A Seattle-Post Intelligencer photographer was hit by a rubber bullet and an Associated Press photographer was doused with pepper spray. Twelve people were arrested.

The LEIU is a group of intelligence agents from police departments around the country. This year, for the first time, federal intelligence personnel are participating. Homeland Security head Tom Ridge is scheduled to address the conference.

Though the conference was closed to the press and the general public, police and federal intelligence personnel reportedly met with representatives of large private corporations such as Boeing and Microsoft.

The conference signaled the beginning of a new era in public safety policies -- an era in which the public is not allowed to comment on police procedures nor has any say on how their tax dollars are spent with regard to public safety.

The Seattle Police Department defends its use of non-lethal (but serious injury-causing) weapons to control the crowd with claims items were being thrown at officers. Upon being questioned, however, there was no evidence to justify this level of force.

Call it self-fulfilling prophecy: It requires police-state tactics to protect the privacy of elite police and intelligence personnel from Americans who want to know why elite police and intelligence officers are discussing police state tactics in secrecy.


What's so bad about a private police intelligence company?

The Seattle scene


Protests against the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit expanded this week to include criticism of aggressive police tactics which broke up a protest rally on Tuesday evening, including the use of bicycles as weapons, batons, pepper spray, concussion grenades, electric tasers and guns loaded with plastic, rubber and wooden projectiles. While these weapons are called “nonlethal,” but have been linked to serious injuries.

Apparently embarrassed by media attention to the incident, in which legal observers and both mainstream and independent journalists were injured by police attacks, SPD officers claimed that protesters were hurling glass jars, ball bearings and other objects at them. However, SPD refused to back up this claim when questioned by a Post-Intelligencer reporter.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that several protesters detained Tuesday by Seattle police were held because their names were part of a list of names “flagged for possible links to terrorist organizations.” Nothing more is known, and the original posting has been removed by request of the author.

The coalition opposing the LEIU includes police accountability activists, civil liberties organizations and anti-war groups. The week of demonstrations has succeeded in organizers' primary intention of “outing” the private intelligence network and its corporate sponsors, forcing LEIU officials to issue carefully worded statements acknowledging the organization's past abuses of information networks while denying present wrongdoing, claiming that the LEIU now only keeps tabs on “criminals.” Right now over 2,000,000 (1 in 145) Americans are behind bars. Many institutions holding inmates are owned by for-profit corporations that use prison labor to manufacture products for sale to private sector consumers. The number of for-profit prisons that employ prison labor is growing apace with the nation's prison population. And now we have a for-profit private police intelligence corporation sharing their knowledge about “terrorists” with our city, county and state police? You be the judge: Does privatization of law enforcement make citizens safer from terrorists or does it increase the likelihood they will become the object of for-profit police state abuse?

Introduction to LEIU

In the United States, every American cherishes their freedom -- it's what this country was built upon. So it's no surprise that we are in fear of some of our government enforcement agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency or the Federal Bureau of Investigation -- agencies that some feel may threaten this freedom. These agencies often seem to operate beyond the boundaries of what our Constitution permits or, at the very least, they seem to often “toe the line.” But, were you aware of the agency, operating as a private institution, that is protected from the constitutional boundaries that other agencies must adhere to?

The Organization

There exists an agency called the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU), a highly secretive intelligence network that links the intelligence squads of almost every major public law enforcement agency in the United States and Canada. It's a private club and, hence, not held accountable to any government official or the American voters. Members hold highly confidential allegiances to this club -- allegiances that cannot be forcibly broken by any government agency -- not even the federal government.

LEIU formed during the Cold War in 1956 California “to promote the gathering, recording, and exchange of confidential information not available through normal police channels, concerning organized crime.”

The group expanded considerably under the administration of then Governor Ronald Reagan and his executive assistant attorney Edwin Meese.

An article in the Seattle Weekly explained, “It [LEIU] received some attention in the 1970s in conjunction with General Accounting Office and congressional investigations, including that of the federal COINTELPRO program that sought to “neutralize” black, anti-war, and other radical political movements hated by J. Edgar. Various local scandals around the country linked LEIU efforts with police departments spying on dissidents. LEIU's prime purpose, critics charged, was to enable cops to not only swap information but to get around local laws against such practices.”

How it works

Being a privately held agency, it is not held accountable to the Freedom of Information Act. This allows the agency to act as a protected “vault” of information. Files held by the LEIU are closely guarded and no one, not the FBI, the CIA, or any other Federal authority, can gain access to these files. In this respect, the information held by the LEIU is more secret than even the CIA's “classified” documents.

In this capacity, the LEIU can assist local authorities in the “storage” of information -- special information that must be highly protected and not divulged to the public. This allows the local agencies to evade the restrictions placed upon them by the Constitution of the United States.

The LEIU can also assist the local authorities in other ways too. Ex-members of the LEIU have indicated that they may have participated in illegal wiretapping, spying, and even breaking and entering. All of these luxuries afforded to the LEIU due to it's operation as a private entity versus a governmental-type authority that must follow the will of the voters.


Of course all this “freedom” that government authorities gain via the LEIU comes with a special price. Strict adherence to their allegiance to the LEIU is an absolute requirement for membership. Any deviation from this allegiance results in the stiffest of penalties -- banishment from the organization. It is generally believed that the Las Vegas Police Department and the Houston Police department are two such agencies that have been banned due to security breaches.

To date the LEIU is still active, and keeps an extremely low profile.

Seattle Weekly reported, “Because LEIU was, and is, a private organization -- even though publicly funded law enforcement agencies funded it -- LEIU didn't need to tell anyone what it was doing.”

Internet searches were not very revealing, though one can find information about general club membership and some stories from 30 years ago. There is very little information about what LEIU has been up to lately. “Newspaper databases are similarly barren,” wrote Seattle Weekly. “Add in the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act, proposed Patriot II, new domestic roles for the Pentagon and CIA, and new Ashcroft regulations encouraging federal, state, and local agencies to investigate political and religious groups with or without reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, and LEIU's annual training -- with or without invited keynoter Tom Ridge -- is attracting, perhaps for the first time, efforts to organize major protests,” the Seattle Weekly observed.

A lesson in federal civics

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is visiting an elementary school. After the typical civics presentation to the class, he announces, “All right, boys and girls, you can all ask me questions now.”

A young boy named Bobby raises his hand and says, “I have three questions:

1. Why are you using the USA Patriot Act to limit Americans' civil liberties?

2. Why hasn't the U.S. caught Osama bin Laden yet?”

3. Why haven't we found the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Just then the bell sounds and all the kids run out to the playground.

Fifteen minutes later, the kids come back in class and again. Ashcroft says, “I'm sorry we were interrupted by the bell. Now, you can all ask me questions.”

A young girl named Charlene raises her hand and says, “I have five questions:

1. Why are you using the USA Patriot Act to limit Americans' civil liberties?

2. Why hasn't the U.S. caught Osama bin Laden yet?

3. Why haven't we found the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

4. Why did the bell go off 20 minutes early?

5. Where's Bobby?”

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