FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 12/10
BP Funds Climate Ed
Evening with Evo
Jailed for Activism
Tea Party Threat
Resistance in Oaxaca
Faces of ELAM
Labor's Civil War
Zaps - 11/10
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
FBI Raids on Political Activists
In late September, the FBI raided six homes of peace activists in Minneapolis and Chicago, as well as the Minneapolis office of an anti-war group. Agents kicked down doors with guns drawn, then proceeded to smash furniture and seize computers, documents, phones, and other material without making any arrests.
The raids took place just a few days after a report was released from the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice that examined 8,000 pages of documents from 2001 to 2006 and interviewed dozens of FBI agents. The report blasted the FBI for spying on anti-war activists, animal rights groups, and environmentalists, calling them improper "terror" investigations "unreasonable and inconsistent with FBI policy." Among those targeted were the anti-war Thomas Merton Center, the Quakers, Catholic Worker, Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and an individual Quaker peace activist. According to the Inspector General, there was "little or no basis" for the investigations.
Another report found that the FBI used lies and tricks to illegally obtain thousands of records, then issued after-the-fact approvals in an attempt to cover them up. Released in January of this year, the report was the result of a 2007 Justice Department investigation covering similar matters. The Inspector General focused on the FBI's unlawful misuse of the already unconstitutional informal requests known as "exigent letters" to demand information. The DOJ report described a "complete breakdown" of procedures within the FBI. According to the report, the "FBI broke laws for years in phone record searches." Agents repeatedly and knowingly violated the law by invoking nonexistent "terror emergencies" to get access to information they were not authorized to have.
An additional Inspector General report found that hundreds of FBI employees had cheated on exams related to the 2008 guidelines that FBI employees must follow when conducting domestic investigations surveillance. They had consulted with others while taking the exam, even though that was forbidden. They had used or distributed answer sheets or study guides that provided test answers. Still others exploited a computer flaw that revealed the answers.
These reports don't even cover all the incidences of domestic surveillance of civic activists. Former FBI special agent and whistleblower Coleen Rowley reported that "in 2008, we found out through a Freedom of Information request that there are 300 pages of...agents trailing a group of students in Iowa City to parks, libraries, bars, restaurants." The documents requested by David Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa's Antiwar Committee, under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the investigation into activities of peace groups in Iowa City involved staking out homes, secretly photographing and videotaping members, digging through garbage, and even planting a mole to spy on the activists. Known as the Wild Rose Rebellion, the protesters were described by the FBI as an "anarchist collective." In an interview with the Des Moines Register, the FBI defended its actions by alleging that certain people were possibly going to engage in criminal activities to disrupt the national conventions of one or both major political parties. The group's actual plans were to help organize non-violent civil disobedience, such as street blockades, at the 2008 Republican Convention.
Pennsylvania awarded a $125,000 no-bid contract to an Israeli-American consulting firm called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, which spied on peace groups, citizen activists, civic groups, and critics of Governor Rendell's administration. The project was supposed to protect Pennsylvania citizens by gathering intelligence on potential terrorist threats, but the private contractor, hired by the state's Department of Homeland Security, fed information to state officials about the activities of religious groups, education advocates, BP protesters, anti-tax protesters, and just about anybody who criticized state government.
In Maryland, the Homeland Security and Intelligence Division of the Maryland State Police conducted undercover operations to repeatedly spy on peace activists and anti-death penalty groups. The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged in 2008. In 2009, the state police admitted to far more extensive surveillance with records showing that troopers monitored—and labeled as terrorists—activists protesting weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin. They spied on two pacifist Catholic nuns from Baltimore, CODE PINK, and the DC Anti-War Network, which was inaccurately designated a white supremacist group. The surveillance program became public because of documents released during a trespassing trial for peace activist Max Obuszewski, the nuns, and another activist arrested during an anti-war rally at the National Security Agency.
This type of surveillance by the FBI, NORTHCOM, and state and local police has also been occurring in many other parts of the country, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington.
The FBI has a long history of abusing its authority. This escalation of domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens began under President Bush and has continued under President Obama.
The escalation of wars abroad by the Obama administration is moving forward alongside the escalation of infringement of constitutional rights against anti-war activists (and others) at home, whose only "weapons" are leaflets, newsletters, and nonviolent demonstrations. Ironically, the groups targeted in the most recent raids in Illinois and Minnesota endorsed and supported the election of President Obama. For example, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization's "Political Report" noted, "Obama's election represents a rejection of the Bush administration policies and a desire amongst the people for a progressive agenda from the government."
Now that the Obama administration is moving forward with Bush-era policies that target anti-war political dissent at the same time that more Americans oppose Obama's wars, steps are urgently needed to protect the basic constitutional rights of peace activists and others.
Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters for Peace (www.VotersForPeace.us).
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.