Anti-War Committee Responds to the Unsealing of Secret FBI Files on their Organizing

On Feb. 26, 2014 we were successful in getting unsealed the application and affidavit used to obtain the search warrants for the 2010 raids on the Anti-War Committee office and on the homes of Mid-west anti-war and international solidarity activists.  A review of these documents shows not only the extent to which law enforcement will twist the truth in pursuit of a target, but also the obsession of the U.S. government with any opposition to the U.S. imperialist agenda and the depths to which they will go to suppress freedom of thought and speech.

These documents contain an approximately 60-page affidavit crafted by an agent based on the creative reports of the spy we knew as Karen Sullivan, as well as unwarranted generalizations based on the writer’s own “knowledge, experience and training” as an FBI agent. The information that appears in the documents produces a picture which simply does not represent fact.  Despite many redactions of names and places, we definitely recognize ourselves in the affidavit based on context.  We know that the quotes attributed to us could never have been given in seriousness.  In some instances, the individual in question can’t imagine ever having said such a thing.  The information supposedly taken from recordings and the presentation of the situations described appear to be a combination of blatant falsehoods, jokes or facetiousness presented as serious statements, snippets of conversation out of context, attempted entrapment, intentional misunderstanding of ideas and actions, and a cynical interpretation of the need for a security culture (which is necessary not because of plans for illegal activity, but because of the current state of authoritarian paranoia, which infringes on legal activities if discovered–current case in point), all firmly based in a lack of empathy for the desire to work towards a just society. 

The affidavit discusses donation amounts of a few thousand dollars over the course of a couple years.  The pittance the government is so worried about, this supposed “material support” that has them so spooked, is not sinister; it is embarrassing!  The amount we have been able to give to people in need in other countries is not even enough to pay for food at the child care center it was sent to or gasoline for driving us, the guests who brought it, around the country, let alone for paying for any sort of weapon or insurgent salary the government might imagine us to be financing.  In addition, this modest amount of money stands in stark contrast to what must be millions of dollars over six years that the Justice Department has sunk into investigating the sums and us, the activists, who fundraised them.  In even starker contrast is the hundreds of millions of dollars the U.S. has sent to Israel and Colombia to fund true terrorism.  We refute the assertion that government economic aid to groups and governments who kill, torture, and kidnap is acceptable foreign policy, while popular financial aid to oppressed peoples working to make their lives better is terrorism. 

This investigation is an attempt to sever ties of understanding and support between the people of the United States and oppressed people globally.  We do work in solidarity with people suffering from the results of U.S. imperialism, and the government is distressed by this collaboration.  People should have the freedom to meet with anyone they wish around the world.  It should not be against the law, indeed, it should be our right, and is our duty, to reach out to other human beings across political borders to extend what we have to offer, be it eyes to witness the truth of their situation and voices to educate others about that truth, hands to work side by side with our brothers and sisters, or money to help communities fund projects which they know best how to manage.  We will not allow the misinformation in the affidavit and the repressive tactics of the U.S. government to dissuade us from going on truth-finding delegations, from sending money to people in need, or to derail our important solidarity work with people around the world struggling to make a better life for themselves.  We will not be moved! 

This investigation is an attempt to intimidate.  It is part of an effort to make people afraid to speak out against government policy.  The initial infiltration began during the planning phase of the 2008 RNC protests.  We were being spied on at a time when our biggest work was being done to hammer out the details of obtaining legal permits and negotiating the so-called “free speech area.”  Despite the insinuations of the affidavit, we were doing legitimate activism and fundraising throughout the time of the infiltration.  In the face of the scare tactics being used by the Justice Department, we will continue to organize and agitate for change that will make our world a better place.  We will not be silent! 

This investigation is an attempt to alienate us from each other.  In the affidavit, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, with whom we share many members, is hounded for their philosophy.  One of the most precious organizing tools that came out of those initial RNC protest meetings was the community-wide dedication to the St. Paul Principles, a set of guidelines for working together toward a common organizing goal regardless of our ideological affiliation.  This diversity of individuals working together has long been a mainstay of the Anti-War Committee. Our core members have included Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and atheists; believers in pacifism, and in just war; communists, greens, anarchists and democrats. We are all these things, but most importantly we are organizers who work to make sure that our tax dollars and our government is not harming others in our name.  We will not be divided by the government’s attempts to demonize one group of us! 

We call on all our supporters to recognize the truth of who the Anti-War Committee has always been, to know that your contributions are being used for legitimate activism, to stand in unity with activists in a common struggle regardless of particular ideology, and to continue the important work of organizing for peace and justice throughout the world.  Hands off the Peace Movement! 

In the coming weeks, we may ask for you to take action to demand a close to this ridiculous and punitive investigation, once and for all. In the meantime, we urge our supporters to stand behind Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian activist in Chicago, who is being threatened with imprisonment and deportation in a case with ties to our own. You can learn more about her at stopfbi.net, or at the International Women’s Day event: Women’s liberation from the U.S. to Palestine, which will focus in part on her story (Saturday, March 8, 2pm at Sibley Park, 40th St & 19th Ave S, Mpls).  

Signed by Current and Former Members of the Anti-War Committee: 

Meredith Aby-Keirstead, Leah Entenman, Sophia Hansen-Day, Rick Jacobs, Liz Mason, JP Mason, Kent Mori, Thistle Parker-Hartog, Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, Katrina Plotz, Misty Rowan, John Straiton, Jess Sundin and Sabry Wazwaz

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