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This Week: Going Undercover
This Week
March 5, 2004

This week on NOW:

There are undercover agents infiltrating peaceful protests in America. Pretending to be political activists, law enforcement officials are monitoring the activities of advocacy and protest groups based on what one judge calls those organizations' "political philosophies and conduct protected under the First Amendment." Operating under the Attorney General's new relaxed guidelines, is law enforcement abusing its power by spying on the lawful activities of ordinary citizens because they disagree with government policy? NOW exposes a disturbing national trend that some say is part of a coordinated effort by the government to criminalize dissent. The report takes viewers inside incidents in Washington, DC, Colorado and Iowa, where government agents went undercover to monitor and sometimes disrupt peaceful acts of civil disobedience.

Bill Moyers sits down with the Reverend William Sloane Coffin for a poignant and revealing interview with one of America's most prominent and controversial ministers about everything from life, love and finding solace in music, to not fearing death and coping with the loss his son, to standing up to injustice. A civil rights Freedom Rider and a vocal opponent of nuclear weapons proliferation, Coffin's belief in faith as a force for resisting evil drives his commitment to global peace and social justice. Even though doctors say he has only a short time to live, the legendary preacher and social activist, Coffin is continuing to speak out on God and religion, on tolerance and faith, and on world events and politics. "People in high places make me really angry," he tells Moyers. "What makes me angry is that they are so callous....When you see uncaring people in high places, everybody should be mad as hell."

On the surface it may seem like an ordinary county fair - food stands, live music and guest speakers - but here people have gathered to ignite voters by putting the party back into politics. Inspired by the19th century Chautauquas - the traveling education, lecture, and arts movement - the Rolling Thunder Down Home Democracy Tour is a series of one-day festivals aimed at bringing together people in a sort of citizenship fair. Many prominent political-minded folks joined their tour, including filmmaker Michael Moore, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and columnist Molly Ivins. "Politics ought to be a part of your life. It's not something that is just in the last 30 days of an election," says tour organizer Jim Hightower, "The whole idea of a Rolling Thunder is to be festive... and to think 'Hey, this isn't bad. I could do this. If this is what politics is, I might participate."

In Depth

COINTELPRO Again? Domestic War on Terror

Protest in America

Civil Liberties and National Security

Campaign 2004

Election 2004: Civil Liberties and National Security

Freedom of Information Map

William Sloane Coffin's CREDO
The Rolling Thunder Down Home Democracy Tour

William Sloane Coffin

William Sloane Coffin's "Eulogy for Alex"


Talk about free and fair trade on the message boards.


Learn more about the issues discussed on NOW.

Read the complete transcript.

Streaming Video

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Going Undercover

Bill Moyers Talks with William Sloane Coffin


Going Undercover
Producer: Brenda Breslauer
Editor: Vin Liota

Rolling Thunder
Producer: Karla Murthy
Editor: Amanda Zinoman

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