Raleigh anti-war activist join nationwide protest

Raleigh antiwar activists will join a nationwide protest Thursday, June 16 in support of Carlos Montes, a longtime Chicano activist, immigration rights advocate and member of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, arrested by the FBI May 17.

The protest will be held outside the Federal Building, 310 New Bern Ave., Raleigh 9 a.m. That same day Montes is scheduled for his first court appearance in Los Angeles. It’s being organized by the Triangle Committee to Stop FBI Represssion.

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Anti-war group plans ‘enlightening’ civil engagement filing FOIA requests

The Triangle Committee to Stop FBI Repression is planning an “enlightening form of civil engagement” for April 27 — filling out Freedom of Information Act requests. They group wants to find out what information the government is collecting about its members. The event will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Durham Solidarity Center, 331 W Main St.

“We encourage activists and organizers to fill out FOIA requests,” said Kosta Harlan, a member of the committee. “We know the FBI has been spying on those of us who peacefully exercise our First Amendment rights to speak out against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What we don’t know is the extent of the surveillance here in our community.”

A federal agent infiltrated the Minnesota Antiwar Committee and for two and a half years. While pretending to be an active member of the committee, the agent raised money, befriended members, and gave public speeches on behalf of the group. He also handed internal reports to the government that described plans to go on an international solidarity trip to Palestine.

“By collectively filing these FOIA requests, we are demonstrating that we are not afraid to defend our rights, and we will not be deterred from working for peace and justice,” Harlan said.

The committee is organizing this event to generate FOIA request to find out what level of scrutiny the movement in our parts is under. This collective action is part of a larger efforts to find out where the FBI has been collecting information.

The committee believes it is critical to let the FBI and the federal government know that people are paying attention. Representatives from the National Lawyers Guild will be on hand to guide people through the process.

For more information, contact the Triangle Committee to Stop FBI Repression at ncstopfbi@gmail.com or go to their website.

Libertarians condemn FBI raids

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.”