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2001-2011: A decade of civil liberties' erosion in America -- Part Three

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(This is the final part of the three-part series. Click here to read Part One   Part Two]

In the last ten years we have seen a steady erosion of the fundamental rights and civil liberties, all in the name of national security. The FBI is now investigating domestic peace activists and under the cover of studying "violent radicalization," the already-fluid definition of "terrorism" is being broadened to encompass political activity and protest by dissident groups.

Mother Jones reports that after years of emphasizing informant recruiting as a key task for its agents, the FBI now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies -- many of them tasked with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States. Not surprisingly, the Associated Press reveals that the New York City Police Department have carried out covert surveillance on Muslims with the help of the CIA.

FBI now investigating domestic peace activists

In the early morning of Sept. 24, 2010, the FBI agents raided homes of peace activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, issued subpoenas to 14 activists, and tried to question others around the country, including prominent antiwar organizers in North Carolina and California.

The raids were conducted under the pretext of investigating potential "material support" and "terrorism" charges. The targeted individuals included leaders of the Arab American Action Network, the Colombia Action Network, and the Twin-Cities Anti-War Committee. The FBI has said no arrests have been made, and there was there no "imminent danger" to the public. Instead it has claimed it is currently looking for evidence in an ongoing investigation for possible "material support" for terrorism.

Authorities haven't revealed the targets of the investigation or its exact nature, other than to say it involves activities concerning the material support of terrorism. However, The FBI documents were found on April 30 at the Minneapolis home of longtime anti-war activist Mick Kelly whose home was among those raided by the FBI in September. Huffington Post quoted the FBI spokesman Steve Warfield as saying that most of the papers appeared to be legitimate FBI documents and were left behind by mistake.

The documents, which are not labeled as classified, suggest that activists' involvement with people in Colombia sparked the investigation.

"The captioned case was initially predicated on the activities of Meredith Aby and Jessica Rae Sundin in support of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a U.S. State Department designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO), to include their previous travel to FARC-controlled territory," one document says. "Since opening the original investigations, an additional 16 Subjects in six FBI Field Divisions have been identified."

The document goes on to say that people in the Minneapolis, Chicago, Phoenix, Detroit, Los Angeles and Charlotte, N.C., divisions have "provided and/or conspired to provide material support to the FARC and/or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also a U.S. State Department designated FTO."

The documents given to the AP also include a strategic plan for the FBI's raid, a subpoena, and a list of questions that agents would presumably use in an interview.   The subpoena, which was made public previously, orders Kelly to appear before a grand jury and bring information relating to any trips to Colombia, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria or Israel. It also commands him to bring records relating to the Middle East and Colombia.

The documents include a list of over 100 questions.   The top of the list says the questions "pertain to a terrorism investigation." Many deal with activities of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, to which Kelly and Sundin both belong.

Former Reagan official Paul Craig Roberts believes that the US government by raiding the homes of anti-war activists is establishing in the mind of the public that anyone who criticizes the War on Terror is aligned with terrorists. He further argues that under the rubric of terror the government has stripped Americans of their civil liberties.

To borrow Kristen Boyd Johnson, there are two sides of the terror coin, after all: the people who want to kill you and the people who dislike the United States being at war all the time. Keep tabs on them both. Hell, just keep tabs on everyone. Everyone is now a terrorist.

Top Secret America

On July 19, 2010, the Washington Post published the first installment of its Top Secret America project, a two-year investigation into the national security buildup in the United States that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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2001-2011: A decade of civil liberties' erosion in America -- Part One

2001-2011: A decade of civil liberties' erosion in America -- Part Two

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