[Ppnews] Standing together against US government witch hunt

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 22 15:14:13 EST 2010

Standing together against US government witch hunt

Editorial, The Electronic Intifada, 22 December 2010

As The Electronic Intifada 
in November, international solidarity and 
anti-war activists are facing a new wave of repression in the United States.

Since 24 September, two dozen activists in 
Minneapolis, Chicago and other cities across the 
country have been handed subpoenas by the FBI to appear before a grand jury.

Yesterday, Maureen Clare Murphy, an organizer 
with the Palestine Solidarity Group in Chicago, 
and managing editor of The Electronic Intifada, 
became one of the latest to be subpoenaed by the federal government.

In a press release issued by the Committee to 
Stop FBI Repression, Murphy stated, "Along with 
several others, I am being summoned to appear 
before the Grand Jury on Tuesday, January 25th, 
in the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. We 
are being targeted for the work we do to end US 
funding of the Israeli occupation, ending the war 
in Afghanistan and ending the occupation of Iraq. 
What is at stake for all of us is our right to 
dissent and organize to change harmful US foreign 
delivers subpoenas to four more anti-war, 
solidarity activists," 21 December 2010).

So far, all those who have previously been 
summoned have refused to appear before the grand 
jury. No one has been arrested or charged with 
any crime, nor has the government specified any 
alleged crimes that it might be investigating.

Although The Electronic Intifada itself has not 
been a target of any of the subpoenas -- contrary 
to some media reports -- we consider the grand 
jury investigation and all of the subpoenas to be 
part of a broad attack on the anti-war and 
Palestine solidarity movements and a threat to 
all of our rights. We offer our full support to 
our colleague Maureen Clare Murphy and all those 
who are being harassed for their lawful advocacy 
of a just and violence-free US foreign policy.

A grand jury, no longer in use anywhere outside 
the US, is an investigative tool that allows the 
government to compel citizens to testify even if 
they are not suspected of any crime. In this 
case, as has happened many times in past decades, 
according to lawyers and experts interviewed by 
The Electronic Intifada in November, the 
government appears to be using the grand jury as 
a form of political inquisition and intelligence 
gathering targeting groups and individuals 
working for ending war, and for a more just US 
foreign policy in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Colombia.

In June, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 
report documented 100 recent reported incidents 
in 33 states where "Americans have been put under 
surveillance or harassed" by federal and local 
law enforcement agencies "just for deciding to 
organize, march, protest, espouse unusual 
viewpoints and engage in normal, innocuous 
behaviors such as writing notes or taking 
photographs in public" 
Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction 
of First Amendment-Protected Activity," 29 June 2010 [PDF]).

The ACLU pointed out that "United States law 
enforcement agencies, from the FBI to local 
police, have a long history of spying on American 
citizens and infiltrating or otherwise 
obstructing political activist groups," and that 
"Unfortunately, it appears that these old 
tendencies have once again come to the fore."

For its part, the FBI unsurprisingly claims that 
all its activities fall under its duty to protect 
the United States from terrorism, but recent 
history demonstrates that a large dose of 
skepticism is in order. Also in September, the 
FBI's own Office of the Inspector General (OIG) 
-- its internal auditor -- issued a report 
severely criticizing the agency for spying on and 
misleading Congress about the reasons it was 
spying on anti-war and environmental activists 
Review of the FBI's Investigations of Certain 
Domestic Advocacy Groups" [PDF]). In one case, 
contrary to claims by the FBI, the OIG uncovered 
documents that the agency targeted the Thomas 
Merton Center -- an anti-war group in Pittsburgh 
-- "as a result of its anti-war views."

In other cases, FBI agents monitored anti-war 
rallies and took note of participants who 
appeared to be "of Middle Eastern descent." An 
agent labeled a group as "communistic" in a 
context "in which that characterization was 
irrelevant to a law enforcement purpose." Most 
disturbingly, the OIG found that the FBI 
baselessly classified investigations into 
activists with Greenpeace USA and The Catholic 
Worker among others as "terrorism" investigations.

The OIG stressed that the findings in its report 
about incidents dating back to 2006 are "relevant 
to current and prospective FBI investigations 
that may implicate First Amendment 
considerations" and called on the FBI to reform its practices.

Nevertheless, a recent Washington Post exposé 
documented disturbing FBI tactics targeting 
Muslim communities in the United States that 
involve paying huge sums of money to convicted 
criminals to go undercover and foment "terrorism" 
plots apparently so that the government could 
later claim success in foiling them 
grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant 
infiltrates mosque," 5 December 2010).

The ongoing government campaign against anti-war 
activists is a stark reminder of the unabated 
deterioration of civil liberties and political 
rights in the United States. These developments 
admonish us to remember that the last protection 
for our ability to work freely for an end to the 
wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or Colombia, for an end 
to US military aid to Israel and for justice and 
peace in Palestine, is the solidarity we offer 
each other by exercising those rights before they are taken away.

We call on all our readers and friends to remain 
informed and to make their voices heard against 
this outrageous witch hunt which threatens not 
merely a few dozen individuals, but the rights 
every one of us has to work for a more peaceful world.

For more information please see: <http://www.stopfbi.net/>www.stopfbi.net

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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