Partial victory for victimized antiwar activists

By CHRISTINE MARIE 

On Feb. 26, the U.S. District Attorney in Chicago was forced to unseal the applications and affidavits submitted in advance of raids involving over 70 FBI agents on the homes of nearly two-dozen antiwar and Palestine solidarity activists in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Grand Rapids, Mich.

The documents reveal that the government carried out a McCarthyite operation based on a collection of lies and out-of-context statements collected over a period of years by a government informant sent into the Twin Cities Antiwar Coalition at the time of the Republican National Convention held in that region in 2008.

A number of those targeted were antiwar leaders who also held positions of responsibility in trade unions and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The materials were finally produced by the government as the result of a lawsuit filed by the antiwar activists and by continuing public activity in defense of these activists by civil libertarians, peace activists, trade unionists, and socialists from around the nation.

The activists, whose story is told on the website of their defense group, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression  (http://www.stopfbi.net), are meeting with their attorneys to discuss what the release of the documents might mean to their legal prospects. They remain under threat of long-standing subpoenas to appear before a Grand Jury investigating “domestic terrorism.” Grand Juries have long been used by the political police in the U.S. to intimidate and silence leaders of the movements for social change.

While consulting with their attorneys on a longer-range response, the victims of this probe have called upon the U.S. District Attorney to immediately and publically announce that his investigation of them has ended and that the case is closed. All supporters of the right to free speech and political association should rally behind this demand. National petitions, protests, and news coverage have so far thwarted the government’s effort to demonstrate its power to intimidate and silence antiwar and socialist activists. Now is the time to keep the pressure on.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression has run a model defense campaign, which should be emulated by all victims of government spying and harassment. Its example, along with that of many other successful defense campaigns, including that of Lynne Stewart, will be discussed at the upcoming regional civil liberties event in Connecticut entitled “One Nation – Under Surveillance: A One-Day Conference about Building Networks of Solidarity in Defiance of NSA Spying & the Erosion of Democratic Rights.” To register or find out more about this event: http://ctstopindefinitedetention.com.

 

Photo: Fight Back! News