FBI macht Jagd auf Terroristen - und bespitzelt die Friedensbewegung
Erinnerungen an die Zeit des Vietnamkriegs werden wach
In Den USA ist bekannt geworden, dass die Bundespolizei FBI ein scharfes Aufe auf die gewachsene Friedensbewegung in den USA geworfen hat. Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir Informationen darüber aus Artikeln der Frankfurter Rundschau und der New York Times (englisch) sowie eine Erklärung der US-Friedensbewegung dazu (ebenfalls englisch).
"Auf der Jagd nach Terroristen knöpft sich das FBI Pazifisten vor", titelte die Frankfurter Rundschau am 25. November 2003 auf Seite 1.
Dietmar Ostermann berichtete darin über ein Memorandum aus der Washingtoner FBI-Zentrale, das am 15. Oktober in rund 15.000 Polizeidienststellen landesweit einging. Es zeuge von viel Fleißarbeit, schreibt er. Detailliert werden darin zehn Tage vor geplanten Großdemonstrationen in Washington und San Francisco die "innovativen Strategien" der Friedensgruppen beschrieben. Diese würden etwa, so das Memorandum, im Internet ihre Aktionen koordinieren, Geld sammeln und Sympathisanten mobilisieren. Auch würden Protestteilnehmer in speziellen "Trainingscamps" geschult. Ebenfalls hingewiesen wird auf den gezielten Einsatz von Videokameras durch Demonstranten zur "Einschüchterung" der Polizei.
Das sehen Bürgerrechtsgruppen eher umgekehrt. Seit die New York Times am Wochenende über das FBI-Memorandum berichtet hat (siehe den Artikel weiter unten), sehen sich die Organisatoren friedlicher Proteste in die Nähe von Terroristen gerückt. Ostermann weiter: "Die Regierung sammele Informationen über Aktionen der Pazifisten, die nichts mit Terrorismus oder kriminellen Aktivitäten zu tun hätten, protestierte die Bürgerrechtsgruppe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) gegen die Überwachung."
Die FR zitiert ACLU-Direktor Anthony Romero, der von einer "klaren Rückkehr zu den Tagen von J. Edgar Hoover" sprach. Unter dem legendären FBI-Direktor Hoover hatte die US-Bundespolizei in den 60er und frühen 70er Jahren im Rahmen des illegalen Geheimprojekts "Cointelpro" die Anti-Vietnamkriegs-Bewegung überwacht, unterwandert und zu diskreditieren versucht. Später waren dem FBI derlei Aktivitäten verboten worden.
Ostermann: "Im Zuge des 'Anti-Terror-Kampfes' hatte Justizminister John Ashcroft vor zwei Jahren dem FBI erstmals wieder erlaubt, politische und religiöse Veranstaltungen zu überwachen. Hinweise, dass die US-Behörden erneut auch auf die Friedensbewegung ein wachsames Auge geworfen hatten, gab es bereits in der Vergangenheit. So befragte die New Yorker Polizei verhaftete Demonstranten nach deren politischen Einstellungen."
"In dem Memorandum forderte das FBI nun alle Polizeidienststellen in den USA zur 'Wachsamkeit' auf. Alle 'potenziell illegalen Aktivitäten' im Zusammenhang mit Friedensdemonstrationen sollten der Einsatzgruppe für Terrorabwehr des FBI gemeldet werden, heißt es laut New York Times in dem Schreiben. Gewarnt werde etwa vor improvisierten Bomben, aber auch vor Menschenketten. Ein FBI-Beamter wurde mit den Worten zitiert, man sei besorgt über die Möglichkeit, dass gegen die Regierung gerichtete Gruppen Demonstrationen nutzen könnten, um eine 'gewalttätige Agenda' voranzutreiben."
Am Ende müsste das FBI in dem Memorandum aber einräumen, dass es keine Informationen darüber besitze, dass bei Demonstrationen "gewalttätige oder terroristische Aktivitäten geplant" würden. Die meisten Proteste seien friedlich.
Nach: Frankfurter Rundschau, 25.11.2003
F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
ASHINGTON, Nov. 22 — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squads, according to interviews and a confidential bureau memorandum.
The memorandum, which the bureau sent to local law enforcement agencies last month in advance of antiwar demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco, detailed how protesters have sometimes used "training camps" to rehearse for demonstrations, the Internet to raise money and gas masks to defend against tear gas. The memorandum analyzed lawful activities like recruiting demonstrators, as well as illegal activities like using fake documentation to get into a secured site.
F.B.I. officials said in interviews that the intelligence-gathering effort was aimed at identifying anarchists and "extremist elements" plotting violence, not at monitoring the political speech of law-abiding protesters.
The initiative has won the support of some local police, who view it as a critical way to maintain order at large-scale demonstrations. Indeed, some law enforcement officials said they believed the F.B.I.'s approach had helped to ensure that nationwide antiwar demonstrations in recent months, drawing hundreds of thousands of protesters, remained largely free of violence and disruption.
But some civil rights advocates and legal scholars said the monitoring program could signal a return to the abuses of the 1960's and 1970's, when J. Edgar Hoover was the F.B.I. director and agents routinely spied on political protesters like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"The F.B.I. is dangerously targeting Americans who are engaged in nothing more than lawful protest and dissent," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The line between terrorism and legitimate civil disobedience is blurred, and I have a serious concern about whether we're going back to the days of Hoover."
Herman Schwartz, a constitutional law professor at American University who has written about F.B.I. history, said collecting intelligence at demonstrations is probably legal.
But he added: "As a matter of principle, it has a very serious chilling effect on peaceful demonstration. If you go around telling people, `We're going to ferret out information on demonstrations,' that deters people. People don't want their names and pictures in F.B.I. files."
The abuses of the Hoover era, which included efforts by the F.B.I. to harass and discredit Hoover's political enemies under a program known as Cointelpro, led to tight restrictions on F.B.I. investigations of political activities.
Those restrictions were relaxed significantly last year, when Attorney General John Ashcroft issued guidelines giving agents authority to attend political rallies, mosques and any event "open to the public."
Mr. Ashcroft said the Sept. 11 attacks made it essential that the F.B.I. be allowed to investigate terrorism more aggressively. The bureau's recent strategy in policing demonstrations is an outgrowth of that policy, officials said.
"We're not concerned with individuals who are exercising their constitutional rights," one F.B.I. official said. "But it's obvious that there are individuals capable of violence at these events. We know that there are anarchists that are actively involved in trying to sabotage and commit acts of violence at these different events, and we also know that these large gatherings would be a prime target for terrorist groups."
Civil rights advocates, relying largely on anecdotal evidence, have complained for months that federal officials have surreptitiously sought to suppress the First Amendment rights of antiwar demonstrators.
Critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, for instance, have sued the government to learn how their names ended up on a "no fly" list used to stop suspected terrorists from boarding planes. Civil rights advocates have accused federal and local authorities in Denver and Fresno, Calif., of spying on antiwar demonstrators or infiltrating planning meetings. And the New York Police Department this year questioned many of those arrested at demonstrations about their political affiliations, before halting the practice and expunging the data in the face of public criticism.
The F.B.I. memorandum, however, appears to offer the first corroboration of a coordinated, nationwide effort to collect intelligence regarding demonstrations.
The memorandum, circulated on Oct. 15 — just 10 days before many thousands gathered in Washington and San Francisco to protest the American occupation of Iraq — noted that the bureau "possesses no information indicating that violent or terrorist activities are being planned as part of these protests" and that "most protests are peaceful events."
But it pointed to violence at protests against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as evidence of potential disruption. Law enforcement officials said in interviews that they had become particularly concerned about the ability of antigovernment groups to exploit demonstrations and promote a violent agenda.
"What a great opportunity for an act of terrorism, when all your resources are dedicated to some big event and you let your guard down," a law enforcement official involved in securing recent demonstrations said. "What would the public say if we didn't look for criminal activity and intelligence at these events?"
The memorandum urged local law enforcement officials "to be alert to these possible indicators of protest activity and report any potentially illegal acts" to counterterrorism task forces run by the F.B.I. It warned about an array of threats, including homemade bombs and the formation of human chains.
The memorandum discussed demonstrators' "innovative strategies," like the videotaping of arrests as a means of "intimidation" against the police. And it noted that protesters "often use the Internet to recruit, raise funds and coordinate their activities prior to demonstrations."
"Activists may also make use of training camps to rehearse tactics and counter-strategies for dealing with the police and to resolve any logistical issues," the memorandum continued. It also noted that protesters may raise money to help pay for lawyers for those arrested.
F.B.I. counterterrorism officials developed the intelligence cited in the memorandum through firsthand observation, informants, public sources like the Internet and other methods, officials said.
Officials said the F.B.I. treats demonstrations no differently than other large-scale and vulnerable gatherings. The aim, they said, was not to monitor protesters but to gather intelligence.
Critics said they remained worried. "What the F.B.I. regards as potential terrorism," Mr. Romero of the A.C.L.U. said, "strikes me as civil disobedience."
New York Times, November 23, 2003
A.N.S.W.E.R. responds to FBI attacks
For Immediate Release: November 23, 2003
Faced with growing opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq, the Bush Administration has unleashed the FBI against its political opponents. Ten days before the October 25 demonstration that drew 100,000 people in Washington DC marching under the slogan, "Bring the Troops Home Now!" the FBI circulated an internal bureau memorandum documenting a far reaching campaign against anti-war organizations and leaders who have been involved in mobilizing large and legal mass actions.
"Under Bush and Ashcroft the exercise of First Amendment rights has become synonymous with terrorism. Today's front page report in the New York Times revealing that the FBI was targeting the recent national anti-war demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco must be understood as the tip of the iceberg," said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard attorney with the Partnership for Civil Justice and the National Lawyers Guild. The Partnership for Civil Justice and the NLG are litigating First Amendment cases against the FBI, Secret Service and Washington DC police as well as other law enforcement authorities for their unconstitutional disruption actions against political demonstrators.
"Under the banner of the war on terrorism, Bush and Ashcroft are resorting to J. Edgar Hoover's COINTELPRO tactics of the 1950's and 1960's against the rising anti-war movement of today," stated Brian Becker of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, the initiator and co-sponsor of the October 25 demonstration. "This is the domestic parallel of Bush's doctrine of endless war. Internationally, the administration has carried out war, invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. On the homefront the government has cynically manipulated its so-called war on terrorism to illegally use the FBI as a tool aimed at stifling dissent. The movement will defend its rights, and will never be intimidated by the FBI's illegal targeting campaigns. Confronted with a rising tide of opposition, the Bush Administration is using its secret police against the people of the United States," Becker continued
"The FBI's so-called anti-terrorism efforts have intensely focused on political dissent since the resurgence of the U.S. social justice and peace movement. The big lie being foisted on the public is that these are post-September 11 counter-measures, when in fact we have uncovered in litigation that the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as the District of Columbia police department have been conducting illegal domestic spying operations against political groups and activists since well before September 11, 2001," stated Verheyden-Hilliard. "This has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with using the repressive apparatus of the state as a political tool," she said.
SIGN ON TO DEFEND THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND STOP THE FBI'S TARGETING OF THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT
(Initiated by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition)
We the undersigned stand in defense of the First Amendment and in opposition to the Bush Administration's expanding effort to stifle dissent. Confronted with a rising tide of political opposition from the people of the United States, who are outraged at the lies used to justify a war and occupation of Iraq, Bush and Ashcroft are resorting to crass intimidation tactics against the anti-war movement.
The current campaign of FBI intimidation was revealed in the front-page NY Times story of Sunday, November 23 under the headline: "F.B.I. SCRUTINIZES ANTIWAR RALLIES - Officials Say Effort Aims at 'Extremist Elements.'" Citing an internal FBI memorandum circulated ten days prior to the October 25 demonstrations that drew 100,000 in Washington D.C. and 20,000 in San Francisco, this well placed "revelation" of FBI targeting of the antiwar movement should be seen as a measure of the desperation of an Administration that is increasingly alarmed that people of this country are rejecting its illegal and immoral policies.
As they become isolated on Iraq, Bush and Ashcroft are borrowing a page from the Nixon and Mitchell tenure during Vietnam: use the secret police and FBI to disrupt and intimidate their opponents. Like Nixon they will fail because the people of the United States will stand together to reject FBI intimidation. Bush and Ashcroft seek to stifle dissent by making the exercise of First Amendment rights synonymous with terrorism but the people will defend these cherished rights today as they have been forced to in the past. We will never be silenced!
We publicly affirm the right to express dissent and to engage in protest free from FBI and government harassment and we vow to support the growing efforts of the antiwar movement to end the illegal and ongoing war and occupation of Iraq.
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