A press conference at the offices of the Anti-War Committee office last week revealed an interesting remnant of the FBI raids on peace activists in Minneapolis and Chicago on September 24, 2010. They left a copy of the FBI SWAT team operational plan and the set of questions that was to be asked of the targets if any had agreed to talk to the FBI agents.
“Armed and Dangerous”
These documents were discovered on April 30 in the home of LindonGawboy and Mick Kelly when they were searching through the file cabinets that had been ransacked by the FBI. The plans reveal that the agents were to assume Kelly and Gawboy armed and dangerous so the entered the home with machine guns and assault rifles. They battered down the door and then removed about 11 boxes of personal material, files, computers, cell phone and Kelly’s passport. The cell phone has been returned but no other property, including his passport. The “arsenal of weapons” the agents were told to expect was one rifle and one licensed hand gun.
The targets of the raids were ordered to appear before the Federal Grand Jury in Chicago. All have declined to appear.
Complete copies of the document are available at the Anti-War Committee web site.
There were questions listed for each of the nine targets of the September 24, 2010 raids. Attorney Bruce Nestor said that these were the kind of questions that would be asked by a grand jury. None of those targeted by the raids agreed to answer any questions. Question sequences include: Do you have a “red” name? What is it? What’s the purposed of having a red name? Do you have a red name email account? What is it? What’s the purpose of having a red name email account? What did you do with the proceeds from the Revolutionary Lemonade Stand? What is your husband’s immigration status? Who is El Gordo? Did you ever meet with him in the United States?
The teams were authorized to use deadly force if needed and there were two North Memorial Medics to deal with injured personnel.
There has been no communication with the Chicago U.S. District Attorney since January. It is not known if the grand jury is still in existence. However the subpoenas remain in effect until rescinded by the U.S. Attorney. Φ
Secret FBI Documents Reveal Attack on
Democratic Rights of Anti-war and
International Solidarity Activists
FBI agents, who raided the home of Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy, took with them thousands of pages of documents and books, along with computers, cell phones and a passport. By mistake, they also left something behind; the operation plans for the raid, “Interview questions” for anti-war and international solidarity activists, duplicate evidence collection forms, etc. The file of secret FBI documents was accidently mixed in with Gawboy’s files, and was found in a filing cabinet on April 30. We are now releasing them to the public.
The raid at the Kelly/Gawboy home was one of the many coordinated raids at Minneapolis homes and the offices of the Anti-War Committee on September 24, 2010. Two additional homes were raided in Chicago. To date, 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists have received subpoenas to appear in front of a Chicago Grand Jury headed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Taken as a whole, the secret FBI file shows the willful disregard for the rights of anti-war and international solidarity activists – particularly the first amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. The documents make it clear that legal activity in solidarity with the peoples of Colombia and Palestine is being targeted. The documents use McCarthy-era language, which gives one the feel that the 1950s red scare has returned. And finally, the documents show the chilling plans for the armed raid that took place at the home of Kelly and Gawboy on September 24, 2010.
The documents show that public advocacy for the people of Colombia was the genesis of the FBI investigation. The ‘Operations Order’ for the FBI SWAT Team states “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, a U.S. State Department designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO), to include their travel to FARC controlled territory.”
While we have no way of knowing if it was speaking tours or educational events on Colombia that got them so riled up, there is something we can state with certainty: There is nothing illegal about traveling to Colombia, or visiting the areas where the FARC is in charge. This is something that journalists, including U.S. journalists, do, and we have yet to hear of their doors being broken down. Upon returning from Colombia, Aby and Sundin spoke at many public events about their experiences.
The FBI interview questions for Meredith Aby ask “1) Have you ever met Lilia [sic] Obando? 2) Where? 3) When? 4) Why?” LilianaObando is a well-known Colombian trade unionist who spoke in the Twin Cities at an event organized by the Anti-War Committee. She received a visa to travel in the U.S. from the U.S. government.
She spoke about the sickening human rights violations that were being carried out by the Colombian government and its paramilitary allies. While we understand that the Colombian government is the third largest recipient of U.S military aid, and that government officials would prefer that that people here in the U.S. don’t get a chance to hear about human rights abuses committed with their tax dollars, the fact remains: there is nothing criminal in trying to learn the truth. The FBI is attacking the right of anti-war activists to speak out against U.S. foreign policy.
Likewise, the “interview questions” make a big deal about delegations that visited Palestine. The Israeli authorities try to disrupt these trips because people return from them and expose the gross human rights violations that are carried out in the context of the military occupation. But once again – this is a legal activity that activists have every right to engage in.
The documents show how the FBI investigation expanded outwards, starting with Colombia and soon focusing on Palestine. How did the FBI get involved? The most likely explanation is that an undercover police officer going by the name “Karen Sullivan” infiltrated the Anti-War Committee shortly before the 2008 Republican National Convention. Among the first people she met were Meredith Aby and Jess Sundin, who often spoke at public events about what they saw in Colombia.
Karen Sullivan – the professional liar – then gave her reports to the FBI, paving the road to the September 24 raids.
The New McCarthyism
When Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy went on a red-baiting witch hunt in the 1950s, communists, socialists and progressives of all stripes were hounded out of jobs, housing, the entertainment industry and institutions of higher education. More than a few people were jailed for their ideas. The secret FBI documents indicate an investigation is underway that takes its cues from this shameful past.
The FBI documents include 57 interview questions about Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the organization that some of those who were raided or subpoenaed to the Grand Jury are members of. The questions include; “Are you a member?” “How many members are there?’’ “Who are the leaders?” And on and on and on. It is like pages of the calendar have been turned back 60 years.
In the United States there is a constitutional right to association. Like-minded people are allowed to form groups and political parties that promote their views. FRSO members, along with others, were very active in organizing the massive anti-war protests at the Republican National Convention. They participate in the labor movement, community organizing, and the anti-war movement too. And they advocate that capitalism should be abolished and replaced with socialism. Given the bank bailout, continuous wars and the economic crisis it is not unreasonable to see these activities and views as a breath of fresh air.
In the documents, the “Operations order” for FBI SWAT for “Operation Principal Parts” the raid on the Kelly/Gawboy home has the word “DANGEROUS” in underlined bold type at the top of the page. FBI agents were told to bring assault rifles, machine guns and two extra clips of ammunition for