John Towery's Fort Lewis Spy Tale Can't Yet Be Disclosed, Says Army in Rejecting New Request

The Army continues to hold back its completed report about John Towery, the military spy who infiltrated anti-war protest groups in the South Sound. Barring a sudden change of mind or a WikiLeaks revelation, it could be years before the public learns the full story of how a Fort Lewis operative helped organize peaceful demonstrations by a group he both led and spied upon, allegedly violating the federal Posse Comitatus Act.

The Associated Press this morning reported that Army officials recently refused the news agency's request to release results of the military investigation into Towery's actions as a Joint Base Lewis-McChord civilian intelligence analyst from 2007 to 2009.

The service did release more than 100 pages of records to the AP in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. But the documents merely outline the scope of the investigation. The Army withheld the the results of the probe as well as recommendations made by an investigating officer, citing law enforcement and privacy exemptions, the AP says.

Military officials promised "transparency" when they announced the investigation of Towery more than 15 months ago. They've since claimed the results can't be released until the completion of a federal civil lawsuit against Towery and local and military officials.

A Fort Lewis spokesperson said the service hoped for a quick resolution. But as a News Tribune editorial writer put it in August this year, "Don't count on it. The lawsuit, filed in January by members of the Olympia antiwar group, is still in its infancy. Lawyer Larry Hildes says he is currently amending the claim and won't begin requesting information from the Army for at least another month. The case could drag on for years."

Hildes told Seattle Weekly he believes Towery violated the Posse Comitatus prohibitions against military surveillance of civilians, a claim he plans to prove at trial. The public is likely to eventually learn the inside story of the spy caper either from that hearing or the release of Army documents, whichever comes first.

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