Tuesday, October 05, 2010





Educated face higher unemployment

CBS 21 - ‎3 hours ago‎
A new report on the state's unemployment is showing those without a job aren't the people you'd expect. The report includes details on demographics, ...




Turning to the US, Friday, September 24th FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Along with being a National Lawyer Guild member (she's actually Executive Director of the national office), Heidi co-hosts WBAI's Law and Disorder Radio (9:00 a.m. EST Mondays -- also plays on other stations around the country throughout the week) with fellow attorneys Michael Ratner and Michael Smith and today the program explores the raids with guest Jim Fennerty. And that's 9:00 a.m. I wrongly said 10:00 a.m. EST. WBAI is no longer airing Democracy Now! twice a day and Law and Disorder has moved up an hour. My apologies to anyone who missed today's broadcast because of my error. You can stream the broadcast at Law and Disorder Radio online and, for the next 89 days only, at the WBAI archives. Today, we're going to excerpt the conversation that took place at the top of the show. We'll note the interview with Jim Fennerty later in the week. Excerpt:
Michael S. Smith: Heidi Boghosian, you're the Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild and you've been following this story very closely. As you know, at around 7:00 a.m. Friday, September 24th, agents of the Joint-Terrorism Task Force of the FBI barged into eight homes in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois breaking down doors and in coordinated raids against leftist activists. Agents seized papers, computers, cell phones and personal items of Hatem Abudayyeh, Joseph Iosbaker and Stephanie Weiner in Chicago and served Thomas Burke of Chicago with a subpoena ordering him to appear before a grand jury investigating "material support to terrorism." In Minneapolis - St. Paul, agents raided the homes of Meredith Aby, Mick Kelly, Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, Jess Sundin and the offices of Twin City's Antiwar Committee. FBI spokesmen said that, "interviews" were being conducted across the country. No arrests have been made or charges reported, yet about a dozen activists have been supoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury whose proceedings are secret. Heidi, put this in context for our listeners please.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, these raids are actually not surprising. Over the last decade, the National Lawyers Guild has witnessed a pattern of government intimidation of activists ranging from infliltrating, spying on peace, antiwar and other political organizations, targeting individuals whom they perceive as lead organizers so that before national special security events -- for example, the 2004, 2008 Republican National Conventions -- we saw FBI agents and members of Joint-Terrorism Task Force going around the country, visiting activists at their homes, going to their families, their place of work, asking them questions about their political views, whether they plan to attend the conventions, sending what we call a chilling effect on free speech. Other tactics we've seen take place at these mass assemblies such as the RNC and the DNC where police engage in a wide range of really fearful activities -- not only the use of less lethal weapons against crowds but using horses, bicycles, motorcycles to push crowds to then trap detain and then mass arrest without probably cause. Meaning that they're taken off the streets, out of the site of the media, out of the sight of the delegates, detained for often days with no charges and then released. Many individuals are charged with anti-terrorism laws and that's the trend that we're seeing that these trends are apart of, vilifying domestic activists. And the Supreme Court has a body of case law that supports vigorous language such as "Shut down the convention." We've been seeing that for decades. All of the sudden, such words and even ordinary household objects that are picked up in these raids become "Oh, the makings of a molotov cocktail!" Police and law enforcement are ascribing evil intent to political literature, political jargon and household objects. In these recent raids, I think we have to look at the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. And that means that any politically active entity or individual who provides what they call material support -- and it can be in the form of legal advice, the writing of an amicus [friend of court -- supporting] brief, humanitarian aid, any kind of dialogue even if it's aimed at coming up with peaceful resolutions or ways to work together , that becomes a terrorist activity.
Michael Smith: Remember that Lynne Stewart issuing a press release was 'material support to terrorism.' Heidi, what's your take on the level of government where these recent September 24th raids originated. My thinking is that they happened in Illinois, they happened in Minnesota. This wasn't a local decision. It must have been a decision that went up at least as high as [Eric] Holder, the Attorney General, and maybe in consultation with advisers in the White House -- perhaps even former Constitutional Law professor President Obama. Have you thought about that?
Heidi Boghosian: There's no doubt that this originates from the top. This comes from the Oval Office. This now is a hallmark of the Obama administration. One of the interesting developments is that at the same time as the same time these raids took place, the Obama administration announced it was supporting new regulations to compell popular internet messaging services like Facebook, Blackberry, to open up their systems to FBI surveilance. So it was reported right after the raids and one may wonder if the raids are also a distraction from pushing through this kind of legislation that more deeply erodes our fundmental rights to privacy.
Michael S. Smith: I think it's ominous. There was discussion last month about their ability to turn off the internet so that those of us that had hopes about the internet being this marvelous way to organize, you know, unless you have meetings where you actually, physically rub shoulders with people, we could be in a lot of trouble because they'll turn off our lights.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, I think it's worth noting also that we see greater repression on the part of the government at times when the popular movement begins to have measures of success. So, for example, we've seen the creations of domestic anti-terrorism laws aimed at shutting down the very successful animal rights welfare movement in this country, the environmental movement -- laws that were particularly designed to penalize actions that are related to those two groups. Why? I think because they've had success.
Michael S. Smith: I think that you're absolutely correct. Look at the three sorts of groups that were targeted in the September 24th raids. One of the people, Abudayyeh, a Palestinian living in Chicago was the head of the solidarity movement in Chicago of the Palestinian people. And this is coming just a time when more and more Americans and particularly more and more Jewish Americans and younger Jewish Americans are disgusted with Israel's policy towards Palestinians and want to change. Or, a second example, the Twin Cities' Antiwar Movement against the escalating war in Afghanistan and the fake pull-out from Iraq and the drone bombings in Pakistan, this excellent group of antiwar activists in Minneapolis gets targeted.
Heidi Boghosian: Now we saw that under the [Richard Tricky Dick] Nixon administration, we had the same kind of crackdown on domestic dissent . We had the use of grand juries as fishing expeditions to gather personal information rather than to seek an indictment. We had raids, we had the villification of activists as subversive entities. We've seen the use of informants. And I'm going to mention the case of the RNC 8 which happened during the 2008 RNC in the Twin Cities. Individuals were arrested, their homes raided, materials confiscated on the basis of search warrants that had been based on informants false information. What happens? Then these individuals are caught up in the legal system for two or more years. That, in and of itself, is a disruption of one's life, costly even if they get lawyers who donate some of their services, it still brings an enormous cost to their lives and their immediate community. Now, in a postivie development, but I think it's telling about where these indictments come from, recently charges were dropped against three of the RNC 8. There are four remaining who will stand trial on October 25th of this year. But I think the fact that the charges were dropped is an indication that there really was nothing other than rhetorical speech -- "Shut down the convention" -- and good organizing on the part of these individuals. And I should remind you that these individuals did nothing other than organize and the police are saying that one or two acts of vandalism or property damage that happened at the RNC are the direct result of that and they tie them in under state terrorism laws to riot. But we see this, what I think is pre-emptive punishment that sends a chilling message of 'If you are an organizer, if you have literature that calls for people to take action, you risk arrest under severe anti-terrorism statutes. And you risk not only having your life ruined but the specter of decades in prison.
Michael S. Smith: And the movement that you're part of being sidetracked and depleted in its effort to defend you. And you risk having your computer taken and downloaded. Your Blackberry, same thing. The list of how your organization raises money and who gives it, same thing. This is what they ripped off when they went into these various homes and offices on September 24th.
Heidi Boghosian: Well they're building enormous data banks and what they call terrorists watch lists. And the government itself has admitted that a lot of the information on these lists is inaccurate but there's no way to get your name off it once you're there. And as you know, it's shared widely with law enforcement all around the country.
Michael S. Smith: Believe me, I know. Every time I try to get on the airplane. Heidi, when the FBI knocks, what do you do?
Heidi Boghosian: It is crucial that if anyone listening to this show is contacted by the FBI or if your friends or family members are, that you do not talk to them. You just say, "I would like to consult with my lawyer. May I have your business card? My lawyer will get back to you." Never say anything because anything you say, no matter how seemingly mundane -- answering a question: Do you live here?, Is your name such and such? -- can be used against you in further grand jury proceedings.
Michael S. Smith: Well they can go after you saying that you lied to them. Don't talk to them. Call your lawyer. Call our hotline. Get out a pencil. Heidi, give them the hotline.
Heidi Boghosian: If you're visited by the FBI, you can call the NLG's Hotline. It's 888-NLG-ECOL. Or 888-654-3265.
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, please repeat the hotline.
Heidi Boghosian: The hotline is 888-NLG-ECOL. And how you can remember that is that originally we started this as a hotline for environmental and animal rights activists so it was for ecology. It was Eco Law but we shortened it.
Michael S. Smith: It may be that the government bit off more than it could chew here, that democratic rights are cherished by a lot of people in this country. In the wake of their September 24th raids, demonstrations were called to happen simultaneously in 27 cities across the country. So we can fight back on this one, we can win on this one. We can shame them and hold them off.
Heidi Boghosian: I think the response has been great and it must continue to have a groundswell of support from everyone who cares about protecting their Constitutional rights.

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