War on Dissent: FBI Agents Raiding Peaceful Anti-War Activists
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The war on dissent, rather than terrorism, continued full steam with FBI SWAT teams breaking down doors at 7 a.m. Friday 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 – issued just days earlier by the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) – 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; members of the environmental group Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; and a small student group of anti-war activists in Iowa City, Iowa, who were targeted for nine months in 2008.
National news stories revealed that in one of the investigations, FBI Director Robert Mueller inadvertently provided a fabricated justification for the surveillance of an antiwar rally.
A Boston Globe article, " Red-Baiting, Circa 2002 - 2006," reported last Wednesday:
“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 nine-month period with little factual justification other than the allegation that the group was plotting to protest the Republican National Convention.