Suppressing the right of American groups to travel is not new to U.S. government policy. In 1992, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) mounted a case on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Geo-Vista Global Experiences and Veterans for Peace asserting regulations on group travel to Vietnam and Cambodia were "making it impossible to organize academic study groups, to travel with study groups, to travel with colleagues to assess humanitarian aid and to engage in group fact-finding trips." Secretary of State James Baker eventually lifted the regulations, making it permissible for groups to travel to the two countries.
Presumably, the restrictions had been in place to prevent Americans from seeing the truth of what happened with U.S. military operations in Vietnam or Cambodia decades ago. If the government was willing to restrict access to history then, it is probably not surprising that they are closely monitoring travel to countries like Israel or Palestine, where the U.S. has been helping Israel preserve a situation where Israel maintains dominance over Palestinians.
Smith discusses the reality that the FBI and the Grand Jury
expecting the subpoenaed activists to go in and testify on everyone
they know who is involved in
nonviolent resistance in Palestine. They want names. The activists
don't know what will happen if they share that information. And, those
who have relationships with activists in Colombia who are being
targeted for their solidarity work don't know what will happen if they
give up the names of individuals there.
most frightening aspect is that the FBI has not been able to build a
case. Months into targeting the activists, there is no evidence that
any of these activists provided "material support for terrorism," as
the subpoenas suggest they are suspected of doing. The FBI is going
after Americans, wrecking people's lives, intimidating those who
believe in their right to dissent and working to further develop
justification for the investigation as it is carried out. And, the FBI
intends to continue the investigation even if there is no evidence.
She thinks that the way the U.S. government uses fear as a way to get things done and get citizens to support wars is part of why her friends and family have been afraid. However, she adds many friends and family have begun to express how ludicrous it is that a Jewish woman and her two Palestinian American friends are being criminalized for taking a trip.
The outpouring of support for the activists from unions, colleges, religious groups, etc has been encouraging to Smith. She thinks the wide range of support has taken shape because this investigation demonstrates "anybody that has dissented" against "US political policies here or internationally" can be targeted. She never thought it imaginable that something like this could happen, but unfortunately, the U.S. government is giving a security apparatus, revitalized after 9/11, carte blanche to keep Americans safe by trampling over civil liberties.
1 | 2