The FBI’s effort to silence political dissent in America

In These Times reports:

September 24 began like any other Friday for Joe Iosbaker and Stephanie Weiner. Then, at 7 a.m., FBI agents knocked on the door of the Chicago couple’s house in the city’s North Side.

Armed with a search warrant, more than 20 agents examined the couple’s home, photographing every room and combing through notebooks, family videos and books, even their children’s drawings. Some items were connected to their decades of anti-war and international solidarity activism, but others were not. “Folders were opened, letters were pulled out of envelopes,” says Weiner, an adult education professor at Wilbur Wright College. “They had rubber gloves and they went through every aspect of our home.”

Ten hours after their arrival, as television news crews filmed and activist supporters stood on the sidewalk, the agents drove away with nearly 30 boxes of material, including t-shirts and a photograph of Malcolm X. By that time, Iosbaker and Weiner had been served subpoenas to appear before a grand jury investigating “material support” for “foreign terrorist organizations.” And they knew theirs wasn’t the only home invaded that day. More than 70 FBI agents had raided seven residences in Chicago and Minneapolis and questioned activists in Michigan, California and North Carolina, serving subpoenas to 11 people. A few days later, the Justice Department subpoenaed members of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee (AWC), whose office was also raided on September 24, raising the number to 14. (Editor’s note: five additional Chicago-area activists were subpoenaed in early December; see update below.)

The grand jury and FBI are looking for evidence that connects the 14 activists and their “potential co-conspirators” to two organizations: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which are both on the State Department’s “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” list. None of the 14 has been charged with a crime, and all deny providing “material support,” including money, to any foreign organization.

Citing the Fifth Amendment, all 14 are refusing to testify before the grand jury, which they say is a secretive arm of a government intent on silencing critics.

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2 thoughts on “The FBI’s effort to silence political dissent in America

  1. Vince J.

    the North American people are exepriencing now what the US gave to south America during the ‘Condor Operation’ years…
    Fascism is ugly ins’t it.
    Meanwhile E. Holder is making sure the US’s war criminals don’t face accountability and he is spending money and resources to prossecute Assange. The US is in a decadence spiral…

  2. seamus o'bannion

    Fascist governments apologize to no one, and their own people are often the last to wake up. How many white South Africans will swear they never understood the cruelties of apartheid? How many Americans believe that police brutality and murder of African Americans is an occasional occurrence, the act of “a few bad apples”? How many can accept that the bulwark of fascism in this hemisphere and around the world has been Washington, under both parties?
    This happened in September – where are the follow-up stories? Where is this situation now?


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