The state Libertarian Party has issued a statement condemning the Sept. 24, 2010 raids by FBI agents on the homes of 14 anti-war activists in Minneapolis and other cities. They also called the issuance of grand jury subpoenas in the investigations a “fishing expedition” designed to justify prosecution of anti-war activism.
“It is now clear that these raids were simply intended to intimidate those who speak against the foreign wars that our country is currently pursuing, and constitute a ‘fishing expedition’ wherein the Department of Justice is using these grand jury subpoenas in an effort to discover or create actions or statements that will justify continued prosecution of these activists,” said the statement posted on the party’s website.
Matt Drew, chair of the Durham Libertarian Party, drafted the statement because he said he believes “these people are no more terrorists than I am.”
“I got involved when someone I knew of but hadn’t met before, Kosta Harlan, was interviewed by the FBI on the day of the raids. He didn’t say anything, but was later followed, as was a friend of his that he met for coffee that day,” Drew said.
“When I heard that he had been investigated, it really brought home how arbitrary this was — it could have been me, or anyone else,” Drew said. “ Anti-war activists are about to go to jail on contempt charges simply because they won’t answer the FBI’s questions – the FBI is using grand jury subpoenas to try to force them to testify.”
Drew was also irked by the fact that the FBI seized property that still has not been returned. “It’s been months now, and even the people who haven’t been charged with anything or subpoenaed have not
had their possessions returned,” he said.
The LPNC statement called on President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, the FBI and other federal agencies to “cease and desist” from using grand jury subpoenas to intimate people who are merely exercising their First Amendment rights. It also demands that the federal government “immediately return all of the confiscated items seized during these raids and pay for any required home repairs or damage done to confiscated items while in FBI custody.
The raids and subpoenas are part of an investigation into whether members of the peace movement provided “material support” for terrorism. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the broad application of federal law that criminalizes providing “material support” to any group designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the federal government.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups opposed the ruling, which they contend thwarts the efforts of human rights organizations to persuade violent actors to renounce violence or cease their human rights abuses and jeopardizes the provision of aid and disaster relief in conflict zones controlled by designated groups.
Under the law, individuals face up to 15 years in prison for providing “material support” to designated terrorist groups, even if their work is intended to promote peaceful, lawful objectives. “Material support” is defined to include any “service,” “training,” “expert advice or assistance” or “personnel.”