Essay:The Watchdogs and Law Enforcement

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Extracted from Laird Wilcox, The Watchdogs: A Close Look at Anti-Racist "Watchdog" Groups, Editorial Research Service, 1999, p. 18-19. (PDF) ISBN 0-993592-96-5 [1]

The most troubling aspect of watchdog opportunism is their infiltration of law enforcement. Watchdog organizations feed law enforcement agencies information in order to prompt them to go after their enemies, real and imagined. By alleging “dangerousness” on the basis of mere assumed values, opinions and beliefs, they put entirely innocent citizens at risk from law enforcement error and misconduct.

For example, following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 the Southern Poverty Law Center gave the FBI a list of several thousand alleged members of militias and “hate groups” culled from its files. None of them had anything to do with the bombing. These names came from letters to newspapers expressing right-wing political views, lists of “members” supplied by informants, names from license plate numbers collected outside public meetings, pilfered mailing lists, and so on.

The possibility of a mere curiosity seeker or an individual with no criminal intent whatsoever being suggested to the FBI or BATF as “dangerous” seems inevitable. Along these lines, watchdog influence on law enforcement policies in tragedies from Ruby Ridge to Waco needs to be examined in detail.

In the case of Waco, the ADL “interfaced” closely with both BATF and the FBI. Writing in the 17 May 1993 edition of Heritage, a weekly serving the Jewish community in the Los Angeles area, editor Herb Brin commented on the ADL’s role:

U. S. and Texas authorities have precise documentation [from ADL of course] on the Branch Davidian cult in Waco and how it operated in the past.48

Watchdog groups can have a profound influence on law enforcement tactics in a number of ways. Both the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center publish newsletters and other material directed at law enforcement, often giving these agencies names from their files accompanied by suggestions of dangerousness.

Like all witch hunting operations, they occasionally find a real witch - which enhances their credibility, especially in high-profile media cases. But mixed with those few witches are thousands upon thousands of people whose politics may be extreme, but with no illegal intent whatsoever.

No reliable statistical comparisons are available, but one wag observed that it was rough equivalent to surveilling all Black males on the grounds that a certain percentage may commit violent crimes. In the sense that targeting minorities for special surveillance is called “racial profiling,” the watchdogs engage in “political profiling.” Major watchdog groups, particularly the ADL, hold law enforcement conferences, seminars and training sessions on this “profiling” behavior.

The issue of serious watchdog impropriety arises in the context of any alliance with the police agencies of government, especially when dealing with unpopular political minorities, by agenda-driven private interest groups - which is what all watchdog organizations are regardless of whether their particular agendas are popular and their opponents are unpopular. This is no less true today as it was when right-wing super-patriotic watchdog organizations were advising our leaders on potential subversives and communists.


47 Jane Hunter, More Zionist Agents, Middle East International (5 February 1993). 48 Herb Brin, Heritage (16 April 1993).


  1. Laird Wilcox, The Watchdogs: A Close Look at Anti-Racist "Watchdog" Groups, Editorial Research Service, 1999, p. 18-19. (PDF) ISBN 0-993592-96-5