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Is the FBI Out of Control?

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Originally published at TheFightBack.org

LISTEN TO JOE IOSBAKER AND ANH PHAM

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The search warrants for the FBI's coordinated raids of 14 anti-war activists on September 24th in Minneapolis and Chicago cited federal law which prohibits "providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations." Two of the seven homes the FBI targeted on Sept. 24th were Joe Iosbaker's in Chicago and Anh Pham's in Minneaopolis. After a long day of lobbying congress members on the Hill, Joe and Anh sat down for an extended conversation.

Anh said, "Literally, for hours... they searched through everything in my house. They went through my clothing, they went through... just about every sheet of paper, including pages and pages [of] my cookbooks, my knitting patterns, they looked through photographs, they took my computers, my cellphone, my husband's computer and cellphone, which, he was not named in the subpoena, but they took that anyways and he's a graphic designer, that happens to be his livelihood."

Joe said, "It was 7 o'clock in the morning. My wife and I were getting ready for work. I went downstairs. There were half a dozen... men and women standing on our front porch. I opened the door. The first guy showed me the warrant and showed me his FBI badge and said, 'I've got a warrant to search your home.' He handed me the warrant and I scanned through it and I saw... that they were looking for material related to... support for foreign terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Latin America. All we have ever done has been to be involved in the movements against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we've gone further and we've taken a stand against the U.S. government's military aid to the brutal regime in Colombia, and we've taken a stand against our military aid to the government of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian land. And when I saw [the warrant] I turned to [my wife] Stephanie and all I could think of was, 'we're being targeted because of our ideas, because of our refusal to go along with those wars.'"

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Joe said, "The timing of these raids was very interesting. Four days before they raided us, the Justice Dept. has someone they call an Inspector General, and the Inspector General issued a report about the FBI's activities, spying on the peace movement from 2004-2006, which was very critical... The FBI had just been exposed about this and... obviously that behavior hasn't ended. It's gotten worse."

Ahn said, "There haven't been any indictments. They haven't charged any of us with anything yet. And, if they're trying to say that we can't believe that the war is wrong, that we can't speak out against our own government, that we can't [ask] 'is this where our tax dollars should go?'... then yeah, they've accomplished that. If they're saying that any of us - you're talking about clerical workers, you're talking about school teachers, you're talking about a cook, you're not talking about people who are wealthy - if you're saying that we've given material aid [to terrorist organizations], I have a really hard time believing that any of us are capable of that. It's been said before that many of us have problems just paying our rent or our mortgage. But if you're saying that some of us have 'dangerous ideas,' I guess maybe we do.'"

Joe said, "What I'm mostly involved in is my union. I'm a clerical worker at the University of Illinois-Chicago where I've been working there for 20 years. I'm the chief steward and executive board member of the Service Employees International Union, Local 73... I've been involved in the anti-war movement. But, really, the last thing I did was in the Summer of 2008. I helped organize buses from Chicago to go to the protests at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul... Once we were able to piece together who else had been raided, and once... all the subpoenas [had been] delivered, it became clear that the 14 people subpoenaed, the only thing that we all had in common was that we had all been part of the protests at the RNC. The legal, permitted protest at the RNC on Labor Day in St. Paul.

"The charges that they brought against us were 'providing material support for foreign terrorist organizations' ... In the 50s, under McCarthyism... the boogeyman charge was 'communist.' And now they've replaced that with 'terrorist.' And that's what the warrants and subpoenaes said... It's ridiculous. None of us have ever given a dime to any foreign organization of any kind... Just to clarify, there are no charges. No one has been accused of anything. None of the 14. And really that's a starting point to understand the abuse that the FBI is guilty of. Under the Bush administration, under the War on Terror, all the limits that had been placed on the FBI previously have been eliminated. The FBI is now free to infiltrate peace organizations, to spy, and, apparently now, to raid homes."
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thefightback.org

Pete Tucker is an independent DC reporter.


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