FBI Raids in Midwest: New Tactics in Response to “Domestic Terrorism” Scrutiny

by Will Potter on September 28, 2010

in Terrorism Court Cases

protest fbi raids in minneapolis chicagoThe recent raids of the homes and office of peace activists in Chicago and Minneapolis reflect a new front in the expanding war on dissent in this country. Readers of this site know that FBI raids and harassment of animal rights activists and environmental activists are systemic problems. What’s significant about the latest raids in the Midwest is that the government is blurring the lines between its domestic and international War(s) on Terrorism, conflating peace activists with foreign “terrorist organizations.”

In prior cases, particularly regarding “eco-terrorism” and “animal enterprise terrorism,” the FBI has frequently justified using terrorism resources to target political activists because they allegedly have some connection to property crimes. Recently in Pennsylvania, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security used this mantra to justify the monitoring of film screenings and protests.

With the peace groups in question in Minneapolis and Chicago, there is no alleged link to any underground activity. There is no spraypainting, no broken windows. These are above-ground activists, many of whom have been involved in social struggles for decades. The flimsy pretext that has been a fallback excuse for much of the FBI’s “terrorism” crackdowns are simply not relevant. Instead, the FBI is alleging that these groups may have ties to foreign terrorist organizations.

Photo from The Uptake.

Some of the groups listed in the search warrants include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The subpoena also requested “items relating to trips to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian territories of Israel.”

These raids come on the heels of a report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The Inspector General’s report criticized the FBI’s spying on animal rights and environmental activists, including PETA and Greenpeace. The report said there was “little or no basis” for the terrorism investigations, and that they were “unreasonable and inconsistent with FBI policy.” And at about this time, the DHS intelligence bulletin from Pennsylvania showed the utter absurdity of these terrorism priorities.

Pressure is mounting on the FBI, DHS and other government agencies to justify their use of federal terrorism resources on domestic groups.

What we’re seeing in the Midwest must be put in this context. The “number one domestic terrorism threat” is slowly being exposed as a fraud, a waste of resources and a threat to basic First Amendment rights. Now, the FBI is attempting to connect domestic groups to international threats in order to justify the campaigns of harassment and intimidation.

It is imperative for activists of all movements to recognize that these tactics are expanding. They are spreading. For years I have heard replies from liberals justifying attacks on activists as “terrorists.” “Oh, those activists supported the Earth Liberation Front,” some say, or “Well, they did release mink from fur farms.” The government is abandoning those feeble excuses. And all social justice movements must do the same.

Sparrow Media has a list of cities holding protests against the raids. Please get involved.

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