[Ppnews] Political Prisoner Correspondence and the FBI

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Sep 12 11:29:28 EDT 2010


From:    sacprisonersupport at riseup.net
Date:    Sun, September 12, 2010 4:16 am
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Recently we began receiving documents in response to a FOIA request we
filed with the FBI about Eric McDavid.  The documents have uncovered a few
alarming pieces of information, but one in particular we felt it necessary
to share with the public as soon as possible.  For years people have been
speculating that writing political prisoners would result in a person
being “put on a list.”  Unfortunately, it seems that those speculations
were not unfounded.

We have received perhaps hundreds of pages documenting Eric's
correspondence with other people.  These letters are not just kept on file
­ the Sacramento County Main Jail forwarded all of these letters to the
Sacramento FBI field office, which then forwarded them to local field
offices around the country (and to law enforcement internationally) to
warn the FBI in other cities of a “possible environmental/animal rights
extremist” or “a possible anarchist extremist” in their community.
Originally, the FBI's communications included a statement that “Sacramento
is forwarding this communication for information purposes only.”  But
later, they began including a much longer statement which read, in part:
“this information has been determined to be of such a nature that some
follow-up as to the possibility of criminal activity is warranted...”
These statements were included no matter what was the content of the
letter ­ often the documents include the statement that the letter was
“benign in nature.”

It is unclear whether or not the FBI is still forwarding Eric's
correspondence to local field offices.  We have not received any documents
dated after his move to a federal facility.  It is also unknown whether or
not all correspondence with political prisoners is treated in the same
manner.  What we do know is that if a person sent Eric a letter to the
Sacramento County Main Jail with their full name and address on it, the
local FBI field office more than likely now has that information.

We are not sharing this information to raise alarm or spread fear.  We
have every intention of continuing to write political prisoners, and we
urge others to do the same. That said, we hope to expose the FBI's
politically motivated investigations and, unlike the FBI, we believe
people have a right to know when they have been spied on.  This kind of
government intrusion could cause the “chilling effect” so often thrown
about in conversations about 1st amendment activities. But when we give in
to those fears, political prisoners are the ones who suffer.  And this is
exactly what the government wants.  The state is constantly trying to
expand its reach by gathering information about social movements and those
who participate in them.  Instead of letting this new information scare us
into silence, we should use it to make informed decisions about how we
support and prioritize political prisoners.  This kind of repression has
implications for more than just people involved in “activism.”  Millions
of people are incarcerated in this country.  It is possible that the
government uses similar tactics to investigate other communities that they
actively repress. Writing our friends, family members and comrades should
not be a justified excuse for investigation ­ no matter who our friends
are.

If you would like to view some of these documents, you may do so at:
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/09/12/18658489.php

If you would like to find out if the FBI has been collecting information
on you, here is a website that explains how to request information under
the freedom of information act.
http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/press/information/topic.aspx?topic=how_to_FOIA



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