Military base bosses knew worker spied on anti-war group

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD — Government documents show the bosses of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord worker were aware of his intelligence-gathering activities against an Olympia anti-war group, The Olympian reported in Wednesday’s newspaper.

The documents detailing John Towery’s activities providing police intelligence were released as part of the discovery in the Olympia anti-war group’s federal civil rights lawsuit against the former civilian employee of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and his boss.

Four years ago, during the time that Towery was attending the Olympia anti-war group’s meetings while employed at JBLM, the anti-war group protested at the Port of Olympia, trying to block the Army from transporting military equipment. More than 60 protesters were arrested.

JBLM spokesman Joseph Piek declined to comment on the JBLM documents that were provided to The Olympian on Tuesday. Piek stated in an email: “there is still ongoing litigation in this case; therefore, we are not providing a response to questions that may be a part of the litigation.”

The federal lawsuit was filed by members of the anti-war group, known locally as OlyPMR, against Towery and Thomas Rudd, Towery’s former boss who is still employed at JBLM, as well as local law enforcement agencies.

The lawsuit alleges they disrupted the anti-war group’s right to peaceful protest and deterred their political speech by enabling their arrests without probable cause.

It is scheduled to go to trial in U.S. District Court in Tacoma in June 2014.

Among the documents shared with The Olympian was a certificate commending Towery for making up-to-the-minute reports on the intentions of the protesters.

The certificated stated that “This vital information was relayed to the local law enforcement agencies which assisted them in ensuring that the convoys were conducted safely and without injury to soldiers or damage to military equipment during hostile demonstrations at the Port of Olympia.”

OlyPMR member Drew Hendricks said Tuesday that it’s possible Towery wasn’t adequately supervised. But he believes that Towery’s former superiors at JBLM “had a legal duty to know exactly what Towery was doing.”

“They owe the public an explanation,” Hendricks added.

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Information from: The News Tribune, http://www.thenewstribune.com

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