BURNET, Texas (Oct. 7) – Despite all their patriotic proclamations of “support the troops,” the current crop of Republicans seeking their party’s presidential nomination really don’t support all of our troops, especially if the soldier doesn’t fit their moral configuration. During their last debate, a U.S. soldier serving in Iraq was booed, and not one of those on stage objected. Not one. They allowed the boos to go unanswered. Amazingly, not one even thanked the soldier for his service, a standard ploy for any politician at a public event.
“Every word of a constitution is the difference between power and freedom.” – James Madison
BURNET, Texas (Aug. 29) – Taking a break from the campaign, let me offer an idea for consideration by local Libertarian Party affiliates. I offer this not as a Wrights 2012 campaign initiative, but simply as something that has been successfully used by Libertarian Party groups for promoting libertarian ideals. Not all Libertarian Party activism needs to be political actions or campaign activities. Often we can more easily and more effectively promote the libertarian message of individual liberty and personal responsibility by simply being good citizens and participating in civic action.
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.
BURNET, Texas (March 6) – Most decisions in life are matters of individual choice. When faced with a decision you may ask a trusted friend or beloved family member for their advice or guidance, but most people have no need or desire to have someone else make the decision for them. They certainly don’t want someone from the government to make the decision for them. In fact, I agree completely with Thomas Sowell who wrote, “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
Yet everyday pandering politicians and Big Brother bureaucrats conjure up new ways to insert their collective noses into every individual, personal decision Americans make. Government rules and regulations dictate what color you can paint your house, what substances you can ingest into your body and how you run your business or how much you get paid for your work. Policymakers forget their pledge of “public service” as soon as they are elected and become bureaucratic busybodies determine to insure we live sober and moral lives… each and every one of us.
Government intrudes into even the most intimate and personal decisions a person can make – who they can love and who they must hate. Government tells us who we must hate when it sends our young men and women to war. Government even assumes they have the right to decide for us who we can love by making criminal certain types of sexual relations and tell us who we can marry by mandating that we purchase a permission slip.
by Brian Irving
The parliamentary palaver in the U.S. House of Representatives over the extension of provisions of the questionably named PATRIOT Act should put to rest any illusion that the new Republican majority, even with its Tea Party flavor, is really committed to limited government and protecting Constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Even though the measure was technically defeated, it was only because the Republican leadership attempted to have the bill quickly and quietly approved in a so-called “expedited procedure,” which incidentally didn’t allow amendments and limited debate to 40 minutes. But the plan backfired, because the process required a two-thirds majority.
The vote was 277-148; the 210 Republicans who yes included several supported by the Tea Party movement. The vote gave new meaning to the cliché “politics make strange bedfellows.” Democrats Heath Shuler, Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre and Brad Miller voted in favor, along with Howard Coble, Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx, Patrick McHenry, and Sue Myrick.
Both Coble and Myrick are listed as Tea Party Caucus members on Rep. Michelle Bachman’s website. Ellmers, who upset long-time incumbent Bob Etheridge, was elected with Tea Party support.
Opposing the bill were Republican Walter Jones and Democrats David Price and Mel Watt.
Triangle area peace activist will be taking part in a national day of action against FBI repression Jan. 25 with a rally and march in downtown Raleigh beginning at 9 a.m. in front of the Federal Building, 310 New Bern Ave .
The event is being held in support of fourteen Midwest peace activist who have refused to comply with subpoenas issued by a Federal District Attorney in Chicago. On September 24, FBI agents conducted coordinated raids on the homes of anti-war, labor, and international solidarity activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Fourteen activists were served with subpoenas that demanded they appear before a grand jury in Chicago and all fourteen refused.
In December 2010, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the FBI delivered nine new subpoenas in Chicago to anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists, ordering them to appear before a grand jury January 25.
During the raids, FBI agents seized computer hard drives, cell phones, documents, newspapers and children’s artwork. They took 28 boxes out of one Chicago home, including a framed photo of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shaking hands with Malcolm X. None of the items have been returned and no one has been charged with any crime.
The event is being organized by the Triangle Committee to Stop FBI Repression.
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.”