To the editor,

            We expect our law enforcement to protect and serve, not eavesdrop and commit acts of voyeurism.  But that is exactly what two Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents recently did in Fairmont , West Virginia .

            The non-profit organization Hospice International, which provides health care to low income elderly in need of medical treatment, hosted an event to provide inexpensive prom dresses to West Virginia teenage girls. 

          Two FBI agents, Gary Sutton Jr., 40, of New Milton, WV and Charles Hommema of Buchannan , WV , moved a surveillance camera above the dressing room.  They zoomed in on the teenage girls while they changed clothes.  Both were charged with criminal invasion of privacy and conspiracy. Their trials were recently postponed.  More than a hundred girls were violated by the FBI agents.

            "I can't even begin to put words around what I consider an unspeakable act: the misuse of surveillance by a branch of our government in a place we felt so secure," said Cynthia Woodyard, organizer of the event. "Never in a million years would we have thought something like this would happen. We're in shock."

            Technology has made video cameras much smaller.  They can be nearly impossible to detect.  Taking from statistics by criminologists, it is likely that hundreds of times more crimes like the one in West Virginia have occurred, but the FBI culprits were not caught.  We need greater oversight of law enforcement, and the creation of a Department of Civil Liberties Protection. 

            Having personally been beaten nearly to death for merely participating peacefully in a demonstration in Washington DC for action on climate change, I know first hand the horrors of a police state without checks and balances.  We need major changes to prevent civil liberties violations from occurring again.  Repealing the Patriot Act, which creates a secret, Gestapo police force, is a critical first step.

            It is the lack of transparency that the so-called Patriot Act creates, that opens the doors for crimes like the horrific violations of teenage girls that recently occurred in West Virginia .  These crimes are now regularly committed by “law” enforcement. 


Chad Kister

Nelsonville , Ohio

Kister is the Author of Arctic Quest: Odyssey Through a Threatened Wilderness; Arctic Melting: How Climate Change is Destroying One of the World’s Largest Wilderness Area and Against All Odds: The Struggle to Save The Ridges.  He is also the producer of the 2006 film, Caribou People.  Kister’s fourth book, Arctic Screaming is coming out soon.; 740-707-4110; 740-753-3888