For those involved in the peace movement of the 60s and 70s, the term “CIA-sters” (pronounced key-sters) is all too familiar. Under the direction of Richard Nixon, CIA agents would routinely infiltrate campus groups and organize meetings under the cover of national security. The CIA may no longer undertake such actions, but the FBI is picking up the slack. In documents obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act, a Michigan-based peace group and an affirmative action advocacy group have been designated as potentially “involved in terrorist activities.”
The FBI report was titled “Domestic Terrorism Symposium” and describes a meeting that was intended to “keep the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies apprised of the activities of the various groups and individuals within the state of Michigan who are thought to be involved in terrorist activities.” Among the groups mentioned are Direct Action, an anti-war group, and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a national organization dedicated to defending affirmative action, integration, and other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. “This document confirms our fears that federal and state counterterrorism officers have turned their attention to groups and individuals engaged in peaceful protest activities,” said Ben Wizner, an ACLU staff attorney and counsel in a lawsuit seeking the release of additional FBI records. “When the FBI and local law enforcement identify affirmative action advocates as potential terrorists, every American has cause for concern.”
“Labeling political advocacy as ‘terrorist activity’ is a threat to legitimate dissent which has never been considered a crime in this country,” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Spying on people who simply disagree with our government’s policies is a tremendous waste of police resources.” The ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court to request the release of FBI surveillance files on its own organization as well as other national groups including Greenpeace, United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In response to the lawsuit, the FBI has revealed that it has thousands of pages of documents that mention those groups. As we all know, the only groups more dangerous than Al-Qaida are those damn people from Greenpeace and PETA.
Documents previously obtained by the ACLU include an FBI memo on Food Not Bombs, a Colorado group that provides free vegetarian food to hungry people and protests war and poverty, and a report on United for Peace and Justice, a national peace organization that coordinates non-violent protests. This is a disturbing trend. One of my favorite quotes is, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Someone needs to remind the FBI, CIA, and the Bush crime family that the 60s and 70s peace movement was exactly that, peaceful. Remember Kent State? Do you find it that hard to see it happening again?
This country was founded, in part, on dissent. It is an idea that is crucial for a democracy. When a democracy begins to regulate speech, it no longer is a democracy…it is fascism.
That’s my view from the left.