California National Guard Caught Spying on Women’s Peace Groups

Contact: Medea Benjamin (415) 235-6517
Natalie Wormeli (530) 756-1900
Sam Joi (510) 540-7007

June 29th, 2005

CODEPINK calls on Gov. Schwarzenegger to Bring the Guard Home from Iraq and Stop them from Spying on Peace Groups

San Francisco, CA – According to emails obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, the California National Guard has created a new unit designed to deal with terrorist threats. One of the first projects of the new guard unit was to spy on women's peace groups that held a small Mother's Day rally in Sacramento calling for CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to bring the state's national guard troops home from Iraq.
“We want the national guard troops to come home from Iraq, but not for this,” said Natalie Wormeli of CODEPINK's Davis, California chapter. They should be fighting wildfires and doing the sort of work they were trained for.”
The women's peace groups that were being investigated by the special national guard unit, known as the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion program, include the Raging Grannies of the Peninsula Area, whose median age is 72 years old; Gold Star Families for Peace, a group of parents who lost loves ones in the Iraq war; and CODEPINK, a national women's peace group know for playful and creative political actions.
It was an aide to Gov. Schwarzenegger who alerted the Guard that these peace groups were planning a Mother's Day rally. A National Guard spokesman, Lt. Col. Stan Zezotarski, told the San Jose Mercury News that the Guard's actions were “nothing subversive … Because who knows who could infiltrate that type of group and try to stir something up? After all, we live in the age of terrorism, so who knows?"
“What has this country come to when our national guard is off fighting in Iraq instead of home protecting us from natural disasters, and the few guardsmen and women who are still here are assigned to investigate women who are calling for peace? We want an apology from the guard and action by Governor Schwarzenegger to recall the Guard from Iraq and keep it focused on REAL threats to the state rather than imaginary ones,” said Medea Benjamin, one of CODEPINK's founders and co-editor of the new book Stop the Next War Now.
CODEPINK, Raging Grannies, and Gold Star Families for Peace members are available for interviews at the phone numbers above.
Recent News Stories on CA National Guard Spying on Peace Groups:

Program Raises Spying Concerns, San Jose Mercury News
Guard unit monitored peace rally, Davis Enterprise
Hearings Planned on California National Guard Intelligence Unit, San Francisco Chronicle