SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California National Guard (search), already under investigation for allegedly spying on a Mother's Day peace rally, engaged in other surveillance activities involving citizens, a state senator said Thursday, citing a confidential Army report.
Democratic Sen. Joe Dunn (search) accused the Guard's acting adjutant general of deliberately mischaracterizing the report when the general claimed last week that it cleared a Guard intelligence unit that was accused of spying on U.S. citizens.
Dunn, who reviewed the report last week, said it refers to additional protests and demonstrations, and "labeled as questionable" Guard involvement surrounding them.
Dunn is leading an investigation into whether the nation's largest Guard force resorted to the same type of civilian monitoring that characterized Vietnam War-era protests. During the 1960s and 1970s, the military collected information on more than 100,000 Americans.
The Guard and the state attorney general say the Guard's intelligence unit merely tries to assess threats to bridges, buildings and other structures and does no spying.
A sister unit monitored a Mother's Day anti-war demonstration at the state Capitol, but the Guard said that amounted to reviewing media accounts.
In a letter to the inspector general, Dunn alleged that Brig. Gen. John R. Alexander (search) mischaracterized the report's conclusions because he believed the report would never be made public and his interpretation would not be contradicted.
"Once again, the highest ranks of the Guard have shown that they are incapable of being open and honest with the people of California," Dunn said in his letter. He requested that the report be made public to clear up the conflicting interpretations.
The federal National Guard Bureau, which oversees state guard units, agreed with Alexander's interpretation that the report cleared the Guard of any violations and that no further action was necessary.
An inspector general's spokeswoman said such reports are not usually made public, but may eventually be available through the Freedom of Information Act.
Dunn also took issue with the report's conclusion that the intelligence unit was not secretly created because a funding request was submitted to the Legislature.
Dunn said the request was indeed prepared, but the Guard's former chief, Maj. Gen. Thomas Eres, refused to submit it to lawmakers.
"That unit was created in complete secrecy and deliberately so," Dunn said.
Eres resigned abruptly in June amid questions about whether he falsified a marksmanship test and tried to arrange a military flight for a Republican group. He was replaced temporarily by Alexander.