[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
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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