reprinted from huffingtonpost.com
The war on dissent, rather than terrorism, continued full steam with
FBI SWAT teams breaking down
doors at 7 am Friday (Sept 24) morning and raiding the homes of several
anti-war leaders and activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and possibly a couple
other Midwest cities. Members of the FBI's "Joint Terrorism Task Force" spent a
few hours at each Minneapolis residence, seizing personal photographs and
papers, computers and cell phones as well as serving Federal Grand Jury
subpoenas on the various activists.
Obviously the scathing review of post 9-11 FBI "terrorism investigations"
targeting various peace and social justice groups completed by the Department of
Justice Inspector General (IG) and just issued four days ago gave no pause to
the FBI to reflect before continuing to do more of the same. Nor did
accompanying media revelations about the FBI having improperly conducted
surveillances of an antiwar rally in Pittsburgh; the Catholic Worker peace
magazine; a Quaker activist, the
Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, of members of the environmental group
Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and of a small
student group of
anti-war activists in Iowa City, Iowa who were targeted for 9 months in
National news stories revealed that in one of the investigations, FBI Director
Robert Mueller inadvertently providing a fabricated justification for the
surveillance of an antiwar rally. From The Boston Globe's article "Red-Baiting,
Circa 2002 - 2006":
The Justice Department's
Inspector General report released this week pulled few punches in
admonishing the FBI for targeting anti-war groups and advocacy organizations
with no apparent justification, and for placing non-violent activists in those
groups on terrorist watch lists. The report chastised the bureau for having a
"weak'' rationale for some of its investigations; investigating where there was
"little indication of any possible federal crimes''; and extending "the duration
of investigations involving advocacy groups or their members without adequate
basis.'' The agency was also taken to task for improperly retaining information
about the targeted groups in its files and for classifying investigations of
peace groups "under its 'Acts of Terrorism' classification.''
These are serious abuses. Using anti-terrorism laws to target domestic
protest organizations is redolent of the actions of the Justice Department
against law-abiding protesters during World War I and the Vietnam War -- actions
that are rightly remembered as disgraceful.
FBI Director Robert Mueller was misled by subordinates into telling Congress,
falsely, that surveillance of a peaceful 2002 anti-war rally was "an outgrowth
of an FBI investigation.'' In fact, it was the product of an agent receiving a
"make-work'' assignment on a "slow day.''
But perhaps what is more important here than a "let's make work on a slow day"
is the perverse career incentives that serve to pressure FBI counter-terrorism
agents to produce "stats" (statistics). An agent gains "stats" for serving
subpoenas, national security letters for records, executing search warrants,
contacting confidential sources, etc., whether or not any relevant evidence is
obtained via this "work" and whether or not it leads to prosecution or
preventing a crime. It is a well known fact that nearly 1,000 people were
rounded up and detained (mostly in New York City) immediately after 9-11. None
of those detained were ever identified as "terrorists" but that's when these
career enhancing "stats" began to be awarded for each detention, arrest,
subpoena, search warrant, etc.
The IG, however, has only reviewed FBI "terrorism" investigations thus far
from 2002 to 2006. What happened in Iowa City in 2008 shows the FBI did not
cease its improper investigations after 2006. Documents obtained through FOIA
showed the FBI and its local law enforcement partners targeted students and
anti-war activists in Iowa City, following them to parks, food co-ops,
libraries, bars and restaurants, etc., over a 9 month period with little factual
justification other than the allegation that the group was plotting to protest
the Republican National Convention. The FBI even managed to secretly search the
anti-war members' personal trash.
It would therefore seem that someone should quickly contact the IG and ask for
review of those cases since 2006. Additionally "whistleblower complaints" can be
made concerning fraud, waste, abuse and illegality by citizens to the Office of
Friday's raids in Minneapolis occurred after the prior Attorney General
Guidelines were erased that used to require a level of factual justification
before domestic groups could be spied on.
Additionally, the Patriot Act and an earlier 1996 law broadly prohibiting
"material support to terrorism" were allowed to stand even though these laws
make speech advocating human rights a terrorist crime. The final problem is the
law enforcement mindset first seen back in 2003 from a spokesman for the
California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) who was forced to defend
his agency's unjustified targeting of anti-war protesters without any factual
CATIC Spokesman Van Winkle, apparently without thinking too hard, reasoned
that evidence wasn't needed to issue warnings on war protesters. "You can make
an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where
the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have
terrorism at that (protest)," said Van Winkle, "You can almost argue that a
protest against (the "war on terror") is a terrorist act."