Revolution #213, September 27, 2010
FBI RAIDS ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS HOMES IN MIDWEST
At 7 am on Friday, September 24, 2010, scores of FBI agents raided two homes in Chicago and the Anti-War Committee Office and five residences in Minneapolis. Altogether subpoenas to testify before a Federal Grand Jury in Chicago were issued to eleven activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. According to on-line accounts, the FBI also attempted to intimidate activists in California and North Carolina.
The FBI spokesman in Minneapolis was quoted in the Chicago Tribune, "The warrants are seeking evidence in support of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism." This was a charge which activists immediately dismissed as illegitimate and unjustified. No arrests have been made and the FBI admitted that there was no "imminent danger" to the public. The warrants and subpoenas raise travel to a host of countries and unspecified relation to U.S .government's designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO's), specifically the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Twin Cities Indymedia reported activists targeted in the raids are involved with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Anti-War Committee, Palestine Solidarity Group, Colombia Action Network, and new SDS. Some of the individuals were prominent in organizing marches against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
This is a very sinister move by the government, one that should alarm and concern anyone who thinks the government should not be allowed to trample on people's rights, and who thinks it is important that there be opposition, and the freedom to oppose, what the government is doing here and around the world. This is a major escalation against the anti-war movements in particular.
The attacks on the individuals and the organizations targeted so far are very serious and should be vigorously opposed politically and legally. In addition the government is loudly sending a message to intimidate very broadly—don't get involved in support of people from or in other countries; don't give money to any group that the U.S. government doesn't like; don't be active in anything that opposes your government. This message should be uncompromisingly opposed too.
There was an immediate reaction to the raids. In Minneapolis over 150 people gathered for a meeting that same day. Press conferences were held in both Chicago and Minneapolis attended by attorneys and supporters denouncing the witch-hunt.
Paul Craig Roberts, a former assistant editor of the Wall Street Journal and an official in the Reagan administration, who has extensive academic credentials, wrote in a blog piece titled It is Official, the US is A Police State, "Now we know what Homeland Security (sic) secretary Janet Napolitano meant when she said on September 10: 'The old view that "if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won't have to fight them here" is just that—the old view.' The new view, Napolitano said, is 'to counter violent extremism right here at home.'
"'Violent extremism' is one of those undefined police state terms that will mean whatever the government wants it to mean. In this morning's FBI's foray into the homes of American citizens of conscience, it means antiwar activists, whose activities are equated with 'the material support of terrorism,' just as conservatives equated Vietnam era anti-war protesters with giving material support to communism. My conservative friends were disappointed that the National Guard didn't kill more of the Kent State University students."
THE FISHING EXPEDITION
"It appears to be a fishing expedition," said attorney, Ted Dooley who represents an activist whose house was raided. "It seems like they're casting a huge seine or net into the political sea and see what they can drag up on shore and dry out. There's no rhyme or reason to it in a free society." (FBI serves terrorism warrants in Minn., Chicago, September 24, 2010, AP)
The searches of the activists' homes were extensive. Around 20 FBI agents searched one residence for 11 hours. According to the Chicago Tribune, agents took about 30 boxes of papers dating to the 1970s, including a postcard from an old girlfriend. The FBI also took their cell phones. The attorney for the activists told the Tribune reporter, "They (the FBI) said they would determine what was evidence later."
Agents also carted out boxes from the Chicago apartment of the executive director of the Arab American Action Network.
One of the homes raided in Minneapolis was that of Mick Kelly, described as an editor of Fight Back, the publication of FRSO. Kelly's spouse said that when she could not read the warrant fast enough through a peephole, the FBI "kicked down the door." The agents took computers, Kelly's cell phone, passport, CDs, and boxes of papers, including his spouse's personal papers although the warrant was only for Kelly's possessions. (The Uptake.org, Minneapolis)
The warrant for the raid and the subpoena to appear before the federal grand jury issued to Kelly were released to the media by his attorney. Both documents are stunning in the extensive scope of what is being sought by the government, blatantly trampling on basic constitutional rights. For instance, the search warrant weaves Kelly's affiliation to FRSO into the information sought; the warrant gives carte blanche to seize all financial records both personal and of FRSO as an organization, ostensibly to look into sources of funding for all travel to Palestine, Colombia and within the U.S. for the last 10 years! The warrant goes further, alleging that there are open-ended "potential co-conspirators" in order to justify the seizure of all address books and information regarding all contacts of Kelly (including emails, MySpace and Facebook or other social networking sites). In an extraordinary reach, the warrant authorizes seizure of materials regarding recruitment and "indoctrination" of others into FRSO, a political activity which is supposed to be completely lawful in the U.S.
(The FBI's warrant to search Mick Kelly's home is available at tc.indymedia.org/files/kelly-warrant-92210.pdf. The grand jury subpoena is available at tc.indymedia.org/files/kelly-subpoena-chicago-92210.pdf.)
Minnesota attorney Peter Erlinder at a press conference explained that in his view, the ground for this escalation in government repression was cleared by the recent Supreme Court ruling in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project. (TheUptake.org)
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a free-speech challenge to the law from humanitarian aid groups that said some provisions put them at risk of being prosecuted for communicating with organizations designated as "terrorist" by the U.S. State Department about nonviolent and humanitarian activities.
The first appearance before the federal grand jury in Chicago appears to be scheduled for October 5, 2010.
This dramatic escalation in U.S. government's repression carried out by Obama's Justice Department must be vigorously opposed and defeated.
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