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FBI Expands Probe into Antiwar Activists

Democracy Now! speaks with two of the antiwar activists being targeted and two former FBI agents.

The FBI’s probe into antiwar activists is growing. In September, FBI agents raided the homes and offices of activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. Subpoenas that were withdrawn have been reactivated, and a new subpoena was served to a Palestinian solidarity activist in Chicago. We speak with two of the people targeted and two former FBI agents.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to the latest developments in the FBI’s widening targeting of antiwar and Palestinian solidarity activists. In late September, FBI agents raided the homes of activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. They seized phones, computers, documents and other personal belongings. Subpoenas to appear before a grand jury were served on 13 people but later withdrawn when the activists asserted their right to remain silent.

But earlier this month, subpoenas were reissued against three of those targeted in the raids. And just this week, a new subpoena was delivered to a Chicago-based activist and journalist involved in Palestinian solidarity work—at least the 23rd person subpoenaed since September.

AMY GOODMAN: All those subpoenaed have been involved with antiwar activism that’s critical of U.S. foreign policy. Details on the grand jury case remain scarce, but the subpoenas cited federal law prohibiting, quote, "providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations." In June, the Supreme Court rejected a free speech challenge to the material support law from humanitarian aid groups that said some of its provisions put them at risk of being prosecuted for talking to terrorist groups about nonviolent activities.

Maureen Clare Murphy is the Chicago journalist and Palestinian solidarity activist who was issued a subpoena this week. Maureen is also an editor at the website Electronic Intifada, though the site is not being targeted in the FBI probe. In a statement, the Electronic Intifada said, quote, "Although The Electronic Intifada itself has not been a target of any of the subpoenas, 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’re also joined from Minneapolis by Tracy Molm. Her home was among those raided by FBI agents in September. Some of her belongings were seized. She’s one of three activists whose subpoenas were reactivated earlier this month.

And we’ll be speaking with two former FBI agents. Joining us from Washington, D.C., Mike German, National Security Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, an FBI agent specializing in domestic counterterrorism from 1988 to 2004. And on the line from Iowa City, Coleen Rowley. She worked as an FBI special agent for almost 24 years. In 2002, she was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year after she blew the whistle on pre-9/11 intelligence failures.

Let’s go first, though, to Chicago, to Maureen Clare Murphy, who has just been issued this subpoena. Maureen, tell us what you know and what happened. How were you issued the subpoena?

MAUREEN CLARE MURPHY: So, I was in my home office on Tuesday morning when I got the knock on the door that more than 20 activists around the country have now gotten from the FBI. And so, they rang my buzzer, and when I answered, they identified themselves as the FBI, and they asked me if I would come and speak with them. And when I declined, they said they had a subpoena for me to appear before a grand jury here in Chicago on January 25th.

AMY GOODMAN: And what else does the subpoena say?

MAUREEN CLARE MURPHY: And as you mentioned, my subpoena is—I’m one of 23 who have now been subpoenaed, and the FBI also served subpoenas to three other activists in Chicago on Tuesday throughout the city.

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