Published on September 23, 2011 by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) is asking you to build the movement against political repression on the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 24, 2010 FBI raids on anti-war and international solidarity activists. We need your continued solidarity as we build movements for peace, justice and equality.
The storm of political repression continues to expand and threaten. It is likely to intensify and churn into a destructive force with indictments, trials, and attempts to imprison anti-war activists. The last we knew, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was preparing multiple indictments as he and Attorney General Eric Holder attempt to criminalize the targeted activists and the movements to which we dedicate our lives.
It is one year since the FBI raided two homes in Chicago and five homes plus the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis, eventually handing out 23 subpoenas. The anti-war activists’ homes were turned upside down and notebooks, cell phones, artwork, computers, passports and personal belongings were all carted off by the FBI. Anyone who has ever been robbed knows the feelings – shock and anger.
The man responsible for this assault on activists and their families, on free speech and the right to organize, is U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago. Fitzgerald has an ugly record of getting powerful Republicans like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove off the hook, while mercilessly pursuing an agenda to scare America into silence and submission with the phony ‘war on terror.’ Fitzgerald is attempting to criminalize anti-war activists with accusations of ‘material support for terrorism,’ involving groups in Palestine and Colombia.
First the U.S. government targeted Arabs and Muslims, violating their civil rights and liberties and spying on them. Then they came for the anti-war and international solidarity activists. We refuse to be criminalized. We continue to speak out and organize. We say, “Opposing U.S. war and occupation is not a crime!” We are currently building a united front with groups and movements to defeat Fitzgerald’s reactionary, fear mongering assault on anti-war activism and to restore civil liberties taken away by the undemocratic USA PATRIOT Act.
Many people know the developments in the case, but for those who do not, we invite you to read a timeline at stopfbi.net. We think the repression centers on this: During the lead up to the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a federal law enforcement officer, using the phony name of “Karen Sullivan” got involved and joined the Anti-War Committee and Freedom Road Socialist Organization in Minneapolis. She lied to everyone she met and helped the FBI to disrupt many activities in the anti-war, international solidarity and labor movements in Minnesota – and also other states and even over in Palestine. It is outrageous.
In fact, many of those being investigated travelled to Colombia or Palestine to learn firsthand about U.S. government funding for war and oppression. There was no money given to any groups that the U.S. government lists as terrorist organizations. However, we met people who are a lot like most Americans – students, community organizers, religious leaders, trade unionists, women’s group leaders and activists much like ourselves. Many of the U.S. activists wrote about their trips, did educational events, or helped organized protests against U.S. militarism and war. In a increasingly repressive period, this is enough to make one a suspect in Fitzgerald’s office.
This struggle is far from one-sided however. The response to the FBI raids and the pushback from the movement is tremendous. Minneapolis and Chicago immediately organized a number of press conferences and rallies with hundreds of people. Over the first two weeks after the raids, 60 cities protested outside FBI offices, from New York to Kalamazoo, from traveled to the Bay Area. The National Lawyers Guild convention was in New Orleans the day of the FBI raids and they immediately issued a solidarity statement and got to work on the case. Solidarity poured in from anti-war, civil rights, religious and faith groups, students and unions. Groups and committees began working to obtain letters of support from members of Congress. The solidarity was overwhelming. It was great!
It is possible that U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald thought he was picking on an isolated group of activists. Instead, those raided proved to have many friends and allies from decades of work for social justice and peace. Over the months, all the targeted activists refused to appear at the grand jury dates set by U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald’s office. In November 2010, a large crew of us travelled to New York City to found the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, after the United National Antiwar Committee meeting.
In December 2010, U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald’s office called in three of the Minnesota women and threatened them. We prepared a campaign in case they were jailed for refusing to speak. The FBI also delivered subpoenas to nine more Arab-American and Palestine solidarity activists in December. Their grand jury date was on Jan. 25, 2011, and we organized protests in over 70 American cities, plus a few overseas. The movement was building and expanding, so we organized conferences with over 800 participants in the Midwest, the South, and on the East and West Coasts. While we were organizing a pushback, the FBI was making new plans.
On May 17, 2011, at 5:00 a.m., the Los Angeles, California Sheriff, under the direction of the FBI, busted down the front door of Chicano leader Carlos Montes, storming in with automatic weapons drawn and shouting. The early morning raid was supposedly about weapons and permits, but they seized decades of notes and writings about the Chicano, immigrant rights, education rights and anti-war movements. The FBI attempted to question Carlos Montes while he was handcuffed and in the back of a L.A. sheriff squad car. Montes is going to another preliminary court date on Sept. 29, prepared to face six felony charges, carrying up to three years in prison for each, knowing he is extraordinarily targeted by the FBI. We will walk every step of the way with Carlos Montes, and more. Montes was with us at the Republican National Convention protests; his name was included on the search warrant for the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis, and the FBI attempted to question him about this case. We ask you to support Carlos Montes and to organize speaking events with him and local protests on his important court dates, Sept. 29 being the next one.
The same week the FBI raided Carlos Montes in May 2011, the CSFR came back with a big revelation – we released a set of documents, the FBI game plan, which the FBI mistakenly left behind in a file drawer at one of the homes. The FBI documents are on the CSFR website and are fascinating to read. Fitzgerald and company developed 102 questions that come right from a McCarthy witch-hunt trial of the 1950s. It is like turning back the clock five decades.
The whole intention of the raids is clear: They want to paint activists as ‘terrorists’ and shut down the organizing. They came at a time when the rich and powerful are frightened of not just the masses of people overseas, but of the people in their own country. With a failing U.S. war in Afghanistan, a U.S. occupation of Iraq predicted to last decades, a new war for oil and domination in Libya, a failing immigration policy that breaks up families and produces super-profits for big business, and now a long and deep economic crisis that is pushing large segments of working people into poverty, the highest levels of the U.S. government are turning to political repression.
The only hope for the future is in building stronger, consistent and determined movements. In a principled act of solidarity, the 23 subpoenaed activists refuse to testify before the grand jury. This sets an example for others.
In addition, the outpouring of support and mobilization into the streets from the anti-war, international solidarity, civil rights, labor and immigrant rights movements means that not one of the 24 has spent a single day in jail. That is a victory.
We ask you to stand with us, to stay vigilant and to hold steady as we proceed to organize against wars abroad and injustice at home and as we defend Carlos Montes from the FBI charade in Los Angeles.
Please come to the Committee to Stop FBI Repression one-day Conference in Chicago on November 5, 2011.
Committee to Stop FBI Repression - www.stopfbi.net
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is asking City Leaders to sign a gently-worded statement expressing general concern about broadening surveillance by the U.S. Department of Justice and specific notice of the nine Minneapolis anti-war and labor union activists whose homes were raided and/or who received subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury investigating “material support” to international organizations. To locate your Ward number and Council Member’s name, check this site: http://apps.ci.minneapolis.mn.
Mayor R. T. Rybak 612-673-2100 or via website http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.
On Sunday, August 28th organizers from across the country are meeting in Chicago to plan major protests at the joint G8/NATO summit in May. Fourteen Twin Cities activists from the Anti-War Committee, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition and U of M Students for a Democratic Society will be at the conference to bring experience and lessons from organizing protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Twin Cities activists are also planning to organize hundreds of people from Minnesota to travel to Chicago in May to protest the first joint meeting of the G8 and NATO in Chicago.
Chicago will host the NATO/G8 summit from May 15-22nd. NATO is the US-commanded and financed 28-nation military alliance. There will also be a summit of the G-8 world powers. The meetings are expected to draw heads of state, generals, and countless others. A national coalition is forming to organize protests at the beginning and end of the summit on May 15th and 19th.
Meredith Aby, from the Anti-War Committee, explains, “NATO has been a leading force for war in Afghanistan and Libya. Similarly, the G8’s austerity measures have been a recipe for poverty across the globe and its pain and misery is making the global recession worse. We are seizing the opportunity of this historic meeting of these two organizations to say money for human needs not war.”
“People from Minnesota are overwhelmingly anti-war and are tired of having their tax dollars wasted on killing people on the other side of the world while their families don’t have access to the quality of education, healthcare and other services that they need. People from around the country and the Midwest in particular will travel to Chicago in May to demand an end to NATO warfare and G8 enforced poverty. And we’ll be ready to help them get there!” Aby continued.
Aby and Tracy Molm, whose Minneapolis homes were raided by the FBI last fall as a part of an investigation of the peace movement, will both be speaking at the conference. Aby will be speaking on lessons learned from organizing anti-war protests at the 2008 RNC in St. Paul and Molm will address the importance of defending civil liberties during national security events.
President Obama is coming to Minneapolis to speak to the American Legion Convention and we have the opportunity to take our message to him directly. Lets give him a loud and proud Minnesota protest! Join us in demanding he end political repression on anti-war and international solidarity activists, and that he end the wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya! We have held many call in days to President Obama – but he has done nothing to stop harassment of our activists. Make plans to join us on Tuesday, August 30th!
Initiated by the MN Committee to Stop FBI Repression & endorsed by the Anti-War Committee, Alliant Action, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, MN Peace Action Coalition, MN Military Families Speak Out, MN Immigrant Right Action Committee, MN Iraq Vets Against War, Socialist Action, Socialist Alternative, Tackling Torture at the Top, TC Avengers, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, U of M sds, Veterans for Peace Chapter 27, WAMM, Welfare Rights Committee and the Women’s Student Activist Collective (U of M).
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is pleased to circulate the following letter from Congressman Kucinich, addressed to Attorney General Holder. Rep. Kucinich is the tenth Congressional representative to raise concerns about the FBI’s repression of anti-war and solidarity activists.
As the CSFR’s national campaign to end the repression gains momentum and growing support, the FBI attacks continue as antiwar and immigrants’ rights activist Carlos Montes, who was raided by the FBI in May, faces a court hearing on August 12 for six trumped-up felony charges brought against him. Like the other targets of the FBI raids, Carlos Montes was a leader of the huge protests outside of the 2008 Republican National Convention. As Rep. Kucinich points out in his letter, the FBI repression originates from infiltration and surveillance of permitted, non-violent protests at the 2008 RNC.
As you read Kucinich’s letter, please consider donating to the legal defense fund, getting involved in our grassroots support committees, and signing the Pledge to Resist FBI and Grand Jury Repression.
Finally we thank Rep. Kucinich for asking tough questions of Attorney General Holder. We encourage other Congressional representatives and Senators to follow Rep. Kucinich’s example by standing strong in defense of our civil liberties and speaking out against political repression.
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
July 25, 2011
July 25, 2011
For Immediate Release
The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I am writing to express my concern over reports about the investigation that the Department of Justice has been conducting of anti-war activists in several cities including Minneapolis and Chicago. I do not want to interfere in your investigation in any way, but there are two aspects of it that cause me great concern. I am hoping that your answers to my questions will resolve my concerns.
The first aspect is that the investigation appears to have begun, as early as April of 2008, with the assignment of an undercover agent to infiltrate the meetings of anti-war groups and individuals who were planning protests and demonstrations at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis that summer. The introduction of an undercover agent into meetings of anti-war groups would normally be cause for concern in isolation, but it is especially worrisome in the context of other efforts during the previous administration to stifle legitimate anti-war dissent including, as disclosed last month, that the Bush White House had asked the CIA to investigate Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who was a strong critic of the Iraq War. Why was an undercover agent assigned to infiltrate groups that were planning peaceful protests at the Republican National Convention? And, if the justification for that assignment was to determine whether any violent activities were being planned, why was that undercover operation continued after the Convention was over?
The second aspect is that the focus of the investigation appears to be whether these small, local groups have somehow provided “material support or resources” to foreign terrorist organizations. This suggestion defies credibility. What possible “material support or resources” could these small, local groups provide to foreign terrorist organizations? And, what contacts could they have conducted that would justify an investigation in which seven houses were searched and 23 individuals were subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury?
The statute that prohibits “material support or resources” to foreign terrorist organizations is very broad and unclear. It has been amended several times in response to judicial decisions that have found its provisions to be unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. While the Supreme Court provided some guidance in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, that clarification did not exist until June 21, 2010.
Holder clarified the scope of conduct that could be prosecuted under the statute. However, almost 90% of the time period subject to your investigation occurred prior to that clarification. During those 26 months, the controlling legal authorities included the 2007 and 2009 decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Humanitarian Law Project v. Mukasey, which did not allow prosecution of individuals who provided “training,” or “expert advice or assistance,” or “service” to those organizations. If that is the nature of the conduct that you are investigating, is it fair to bring criminal charges for acts that were viewed by some courts as lawful at the time they were committed?
One of the biggest problems with vague criminal statutes is the opportunity they provide for differential enforcement. The Washington Post and other news sources have reported that former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former White House security adviser Frances Townsend, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani have publicly expressed their support for the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been on the foreign terrorist list of the State Department since 1997. They spoke in support of the MEK, in Paris last December, at a rally organized by an international group that lobbies for the MEK. Can their public advocacy truly be “independent,” within the meaning of the Holder decision, if it is solicited by an organization that lobbies for the MEK?
I fully support their constitutional rights to express their opinions on this issue and any others. But, I don’t understand why their support of a foreign terrorist organization goes unchallenged by law enforcement, while anti-war activists are targeted with FBI searches and grand jury subpoenas. Is there any distinction that justifies the different treatment of these two groups other than the fact that one of them is composed of prominent people who support the wars conducted by two successive administrations and the other is composed of ordinary people who do not?
It has been reported recently that “the MEK has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists, PR agents and communications firms to build up pressure on Secretary Hillary Clinton to take the group off of the terrorist list.” In Holder, the Department of Justice, under both your direction and that of Attorney General Mukasey, argued that it was a felony to file an amicus brief on behalf of a foreign terrorist organization, or even to engage in public advocacy on behalf of such an organization, unless that advocacy was totally “independent” of the organization. How do you reconcile those arguments with the total absence of attention paid to lobbying activities in support of the MEK? How do you reconcile that inaction with the apparent overkill that had been directed at the anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago?
A federal prosecutor has tremendous power and resources. Because of that, he has a concomitant obligation to exercise that power with judgment and discretion. Is it good judgment to direct the overwhelming resources of the federal government onto small, local groups and individuals whose primary interest is peace? Is it good judgment to investigate them under a vague and broad statute whose text and interpretations have changed numerous times over the past decade? Is this really the best use of Department of Justice personnel?
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress
Cc Robert S. Mueller, III
Patrick J. Fitzgerald
Published on July 10, 2011 by The Committee to Stop FBI Repression
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression stands in solidarity with the activists of the Gaza flotilla ships and the people of Palestine. As Americans, we denounce the U.S. government’s support for the Israeli blockade on Gaza and demand that Palestinians get access to the food, water, medical supplies and building materials they need for their daily lives. We denounce the U.S., Greek, and Israeli sabotage and blocking of the flotilla taking the much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza.
We are particularly outraged by U.S. State Department statements that regard the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza as some sort of crime — equivalent to “conspiring to deliver material support” to Hamas. The expanding criminalization of humanitarian aid means the U.S. government is threatening arrests, trials, and lengthy prison sentences for Americans on board the solidarity boat named, “The Audacity of Hope”. The Gaza flotilla is an incredibly brave act of international solidarity, not a criminal act punishable by the United States. The real criminals are the elected and government officials working to keep badly needed supplies out of Gaza!
We oppose the U.S. government repression of humanitarian aid. The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Justice cannot be allowed to silence solidarity with Palestine. We know of this repression firsthand. On September 24th last year, FBI agents raided the homes of anti-war and international solidarity activists in Minneapolis and Chicago as well as the Minnesota Anti-War Committee office. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald issued 14 subpoenas in Minneapolis, Illinois, and Michigan. Fitzgerald ordered the 14 activists to appear before a federal grand jury, claiming to investigate material support for terrorism. The number of activists subpoenaed to date has grown to 23, and one of the common threads is the activists’ solidarity work with Palestine.
The repression is intensifying too, as we see with the related case of anti-war and Chicano leader Carlos Montes in Los Angeles. Carlos, raided by the FBI political police on May 17, plead “Not Guilty” to charges this week. Carlos Montes was named in the Anti-War Committee subpoena in Minneapolis because of his role in protesting the 2008 Republican National Convention where Palestine was prominent. On July 6, Carlos Montes said outside court, “This attack on me is a pretext. They are using it to attack me because of my political activity — denouncing U.S. intervention in Colombia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in Palestine.”
We ask our supporters to salute the Gaza flotilla participants from 22 countries, including the 37 American passengers, and to support the next steps being organized by theUSTOGAZA. We ask our supporters to join with voices across the country to demand that humanitarian aid to Palestine not to be considered “material support for terrorism” and to continue to support efforts like the Gaza flotilla so that we can continue to express solidarity with the people of Palestine.
International solidarity is NOT a Crime!
Please take the following steps to the support Carlos and others facing FBI repression for their activism:
You are invited to a fundraiser for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. Members of the CSFR will cook dinner for you and serve you food and drinks in the backyard of one of our members. Come enjoy a relaxing and delicious evening of Italian food. The profits will go towards our legal expenses. There will be a 5:30 and a 7pm seating. There will be meat as well as vegetarian options for all courses.
We will be asking for $30 per person for our 4 course meal which includes wine.
Fight Back! interviewed Jess Sundin, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, on the latest developments in the case of the anti-war and international solidarity activists who were raided by the FBI and who received subpoenas to appear in front of the Chicago grand jury headed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Sundin is among those whose home was raided Sept. 24, 2010. The editors of Fight Back! urge our readers to forward this important interview as broadly as possible.
Fight Back!: How has the campaign against FBI repression been going? What has been accomplished to date?
Jess Sundin: We have been very successful building a broad base of support around the anti-war and international solidarity activists who are being targeted by the FBI and U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. We have received almost 300 statements of support from faith, student, immigrant rights and other community organizations, including 32 labor unions. These statements have been backed up with actions – hundreds have come out to protests across the country to demand an end to the government abuses and thousands of signed petitions and made calls demanding the same. This work has resulted in letters of concern from a dozen U.S. Congress people, addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama.
There is no doubt that all of this pressure has kept those resisting the grand jury out of jail. It is still possible that prosecutors could impose immunity and jail some of us for not testifying, but with all of the public support we have, that won’t be easy for them. Around the country, people have signed the pledge to resist this repression, and to join in locally-organized emergency protests to respond if and when there are any indictments or arrests in our case.
Fight Back!: What are the main things that need to be done now in order to push back against the repression?
Sundin: This case took a surprising turn in May, when the Los Angeles home of veteran Chicano activist, Carlos Montes, was raided. Carlos has helped to lead the Committee to Stop FBI Repression in LA since last September, when the search warrant at the Anti-War Committee office listed him as a person of interest in this investigation. It came as a shock when interest turned into action. The FBI initiated a raid on his home, and Carlos is now facing 18 years for trumped up charges. He is the first person in this case to face charges, and the most important thing for us to do is to rally around him and call for the government to drop the charges. Around the country, people came out to protest on his first day in court, and called on the Department of Justice to call off the investigation of all of us. We need to help Carlos beat the charges – we’ve got to contribute to his legal defense and unite the immigrant rights and anti-war movements in rallying around him.
Fight Back!: What do you think is likely to happen in the months ahead?
Sundin: We understand that grand juries serve as indictment machines – that something like 98% give the prosecutors the indictments they ask for. Based on the limited communications we’ve had from the U.S. attorney, there is every indication that they are still pursuing multiple indictments. We will continue our work to bring the grand jury to an end with no indictments, while still preparing for the possibility of indictments. While we have no information on how many indictments are being pursued, or when they might come, we know that in some cases like ours, indictments have a come a year after FBI raids. We need our supporters to stay on alert.
Fight Back!: The government returned your passport for a limited time, what is the significance of that?
Sundin: Most of the property that was seized has still not been returned, and anything that has been returned was certainly copied first. Our attorneys asked for the return of my passport a few months ago, but that request was refused. In May, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and she lives in Australia. We decided to make a second appeal for return of my passport, along with a letter from my mom’s doctor describing how my presence could aid in her treatment and recovery. The U.S. attorney agreed to let me have my passport in order to make a single trip to visit my mother, contingent on my agreeing to give it back to the FBI when I return home. In the conversations to negotiate this, the prosecutor made it clear that indictments are still being pursued, though they won’t likely come out in July, the month when I will travel to support my mom. The ridiculous conditions placed on the temporary return of my passport make it clear that I am still a target of this investigation, and this is not over. We’ve got to stay strong and be ready for whatever the government throws at us next.