Former Marine outlines secret dossiers on Muslims and Arabs in Southern California

Posted on November 17, 2008

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By Rick Rogers
STAFF WRITER, San Diego Union-Tribune

November 17, 2008

OCEANSIDE – Two years after his arrest, a former Marine gunnery sergeant is talking about the FBI, CIA and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement files he stole from Camp Pendleton for a civilian agency.

Gary Maziarz, a former Marine intelligence specialist, gave secret government files to an anti-terrorism watch group.

In interviews with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Gary Maziarz, 39, said “dozens of files” he gave the Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning Group while serving as an intelligence specialist at the base were dossiers on Muslims and Arabs living in Southern California.

This marks the first time Maziarz has spoken to the media about the files since pleading guilty in July 2007 to mishandling classified material and stealing government property.

He agreed to the interviews despite signing a plea agreement with the government limiting his comments on the security breach, which might involve a decade’s worth of intelligence culled from domestic and foreign sources. The deal also requires him to testify if called on.

Most of the (monitored) people were from Los Angeles. The ties they had to San Diego were, like, maybe they had a house down here or a relative or came down to visit or went on vacation here,” said Maziarz, who splits his time between North County and Arizona as he looks for work and tries to move on with his life.

Many of the stolen files centered on the meeting spots of “people of interest,” including places of worship, businesses and travel plans, he said.

Maziarz’s case could have repercussions well beyond Camp Pendleton.

The existence of CIA, FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents profiling specific minority and religious groups in the United States could undermine contentions by the FBI, the primary federal agency for domestic security, that no programs target upstanding Muslims and Arabs.

“The FBI does not monitor the lawful activities of individuals in the United States, nor does the FBI have a surveillance program to monitor constitutionally protected activities of houses of worship,” FBI spokesman Darrell Foxworth said in an e-mail.

Maziarz’s arrest in October 2006 sparked multiple investigations, including those by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Federal agents testifying at his trial said the files found in his possession could not be shared legally with civilian law enforcement.

Essentially, Maziarz said, he used computer networks at Camp Pendleton to tap into classified information that he then passed along to a higher-ranking Marine or one of that person’s subordinates. Maziarz and federal investigative documents have identified that individual as reserve Col. Larry Richards, the base’s former intelligence chief and co-founder of the Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning Group.

Maziarz said he and others broke national-security protocols out of concern that FBI officials were not sharing anti-terrorism intelligence with local law enforcement or were doing it slowly because of bureaucracy. There was a feeling that lack of cooperation prevented aggressive efforts to prevent future terrorist attacks.

The Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning Group is composed of two dozen local, state and federal agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Secret Service and the FBI. […]

He was more tight-lipped about classified files known as TIGER documents.

TIGER, or the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing system, is a database developed at the U.S. Census Bureau. It can be customized to identify special demographic centers, such as areas where certain ethnic groups live. […]

Maziarz’s claims about profiling have raised concerns among some Islamic, Arab-American and civil-liberty groups. The organizations’ leaders said his statements underscore their longtime contention that government agencies are violating Americans’ privacy rights with little to no congressional oversight.

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