by Chip Berlet

     The belated production of a set of correspondence files from 
the Chicago Police Department Intelligence Unit (CPD/ID) has 
confirmed suspicions that an informal nationwide network for 
sharing political dossiers among police and private intelligence 
agencies existed for several decades prior to 1975.

     The documents were assumed to have been destroyed as part of 
an attempt by the Chicago Police Department to sanitize their 
intelligence files after a police informant warned superiors 
in 1974 that a lawsuit against political spying was planned by a 
Chicago coalition group called the Alliance to End Repression and 
other activist groups.

     "All of the agencies received from, or sent to, the Chicago
Police Department Intelligence Division information regarding the 
lawful political activity of citizens," said plaintiff's attorney 
Richard Gutman.

     The existence of the "Transmittal Files" was inadvertantly 
discovered in September of 1984 - seven years after a Federal 
Judge had ordered their production in pre-trial discovery 
proceedings.  The files show that 159 agencies in 33 states
throughout the nation received political spying files from, or 
sent such files to, the Chicago Police Department Intelligence 

     The agencies include 100 municipal police departments, 26 
state law enforcement agencies, 16 county sheriffs offices, and 
17 other public and private agencies.

     "While many concerned civil libertarians have been convinced 
of the existence of politically-motivated activity by their local 
police, they have frequently been frustrated by the need for 
concrete proof." said Frank Donner.  Donner, author of The Age of 
Surveillance (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1980), the definitive work on 
political surveillance in the United States, called for a 
"remedial campaign to abolish such abuses."

     Gutman, has been providing the police reports to lawyers 
pursuing litigation against local police agencies for illegal 
political surveillance.  He says he is willing to discuss the 
terms of a court protective order covering the material with 
legitimate legal representatives of individuals or groups 
contemplating such litigation.  So far eleven attorneys or 
representatives of legal groups have contacted Gutman for copies 
of relevant documents.  Numerous named individuals have asked for 
and received copies of their files as well.

     According to Gutman, the following examples are typical of 
the material discussed in the Transmittal Files:

     *The Texas Department of Public Safety ("Texas Rangers") 
sought "any pertinent information related to subversive 
activities or affiliations" regarding Chicago attorney Terry Yale 
Feiertag. The Chicago police responded that attorney Feiertag was 
employed by an organization whic provided legal aid to low income 
groups and in civil rights cases;

     *The Indianapolis Police Department sought "any data" 
regarding Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam. The Chicago 
police in response sent information about the group's lawful 
anti-war activities;

     *The Detroit Police Department sought information regarding 
Lucy Montgomery. in response the Chicago police sent Detroit a 
four-page report detailing Mrs. Montgomery's lawful political 

     Although the federal district court on May 4, 1977, ordered 
the Chicago Police Department to produce all such transmittal 
files, the files were not produced for inspection until September 
25, 1984, seven years after the order. The plaintiffs in the 
lawsuit filed a motion to have the Chicago Police Department held 
in contempt for failing to obey the court order.  Federal Judge 
Susan Getzendanner denied the motion.  

     It is almost certain the files originally were intentionally 
withheld to prevent discovery by the plaintiffs.  However it is 
unclear at what point in the lengthy litigation, which saw 
defendants take several different legal postures regarding what 
documents were covered by the discovery order, that the fact of
the files existence became lost in the mountains of paperwork.  

     The Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago sought to 
block Gutman from providing the documents to plaintiffs 
litigators in other cities.  This is ironic because the current 
Mayor, Harold Washington, was for many years an outspoken critic 
of the CPD Intelligence Unit and its civil liberties violations.  
While still a Congressional Representative and while running for 
the Mayoral post, he described himself publicly as a victim of 
illegal police spying.  

     Now, in a recent court proceeding, attorneys representing 
the City of Chicago tried unsuccessfully to block paralegals 
working on an ACLU spying case in California from having access 
to CPD/ID materials already provided to the ACLU attorneys in 
that case. 

      The City of Chicago attorneys successfully blocked release 
of files relating to Michigan to Michigan state representative 
Perry Bullard.  Bullard, Chairperson of the Michigan House 
Judiciary Committee, had requested access to the files to 
evaluate "the necessity for new state legislation regulating 
surveillance by Michigan state and local law enforcement 
agencies."  Judge Getzendanner, who has expressed thinly-veiled 
displeasure from the bench that the case remains on the docket, 
ruled that a subpoena from the Michigan legislative body would be 

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