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Saturday, July 31, 2004

The FBI defends against a non-existent threat

This past week, we've shared various articles that reported on FBI "visits" to Denver and Kansas activists. They also subpoenaed activists, from Missouri, to appear before a grand jury during the Democratic National Convention so as to keep them from travelling to Boston to protest.

Three young activists in Missouri testified under subpoena before a federal grand jury Thursday, instead of protesting at the Democratic National Convention in Boston as they had planned.

The three men, all in their early 20s, earlier were questioned by members of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, just as some young activists in Colorado have been, according to Denise Lieberman, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri.

"They are quite terrified by the experience of being targeted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force because of their protest activities," Lieberman said.

The FBI has acknowledged that its agents and members of its Joint Terrorism Task Forces, who include local police officers and deputies, have been questioning people in several states this political season.

..."The use of the JTTF to go after protesters, dissidents - even if they harbor fairly radical views - is inappropriate and, in this case, an inappropriate show of force," Lieberman said full article

There were a total of 5 arrests made in Boston that were classified as "convention related." It could be argued that this was due to the "vigilance" of the FBI. However, what is more likely is that the FBI overstated the "terror threat" in Boston in order to investigate, spy on and utlimately confront activist who had committed no crimes, save for a couple of traffic tickets. This Village Voice article states that the FBI most likely fabricated, that is it made up and lied about, the whole "terror threat" to begin with.
It looks like the FBI's Boston field office faked a threat of domestic terrorism just before the start of the Democratic National Convention by leaking "unconfirmed" reports of white supremacist groups readying an attack against media vehicles in Boston. Fox News, for one, reportedly was wildly trying to disguise its trucks by covering up its logos.

The effect of this probably was to make the press even more suspicious of anti-war demonstrators than it already is—to even view them as possible terrorists, and if not actual terrorists, then a crowd within which terrorists could operate.

All of this is taking place in an atmosphere of fear and tension whipped up by the Bush administration, with its reports of Al Qaeda "sleeping cells" preparing to strike against America in the midst of the presidential campaign. (See my July 16 article on a chilling Election Day scenario.) full article

As the village voice article notes, the threat supposedly emanated from a RIGHT WING organization. If that were the case, then why were activists from the Progressive community targetted by the FBI? This ineptitude, harassment or both may not seem so egregious on the face of it. However, consider this. If another attack, as leading intelligent officials claim, is likely, then why is the FBI wasting time, effort and resources in harassing anarchists when they should be conducting legitimate investigations into legitimate "terrorist threats."

Whether another attack will occur we do not know. If it does, and people want to know what the FBI was doing prior to the attack, the FBI can explain that they were chasing anarchists around Colorado, Kansas and Missouri.

Check out today's column from Kevin Johnson.

Johnson: Scary new era in U.S. history

July 31, 2004

Freedom. How many times in recent years, months and days have we heard this word spoken, mantralike, by our leaders, as if saying it over and over is the great answer to our worst threats and our worst fears?

The president pretty much invokes the word every day. John Kerry sprinkled it through every other acceptance-speech sentence. Or so it seems.

Yet if you read the papers closely enough these days, "freedom" seems to have lost its meaning.

Indeed, I can remember a time not long ago in this country when government agents going to young people's homes to intimidate them out of their First Amendment right of free speech would have sent scores of people into the streets in protest.

These days, stories of such government shenanigans get shuffled to the inside pages of papers and barely mentioned on TV.

You may have heard or read of - maybe not - the three young people in Missouri who were yanked before a federal grand jury. Their suspected crime: Planning to demonstrate at this week's Democratic convention in Boston and, perhaps, doing the same come August when the Republicans convene in New York.

They were only the latest in a long string of young and older Americans, including six in Colorado recently, who have been placed under surveillance by the FBI and members of its Joint Terrorism Task Force. full article


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