Yesterday, viewers of the “mainstream” media received a rare treat; after all, it isn’t everyday two non-stories compete for the front page. Sensing the country may be growing tired during its the sixth straight day of coverage on Karl Rove’s “non-crime in the non-outing of non-secret CIA analyst Valerie Plame,” the media also reproduced the ACLU’s press release littered with non-proof of the FBI’s non-spying on domestic non-peace and non-civil rights organizations that advocate violence or have ties to terror.
The ACLU breathlessly announced the FBI had accumulated 1,173 pages of documents related to its own activity and more than 3,000 pages on Greenpeace, which came to light after the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request. Other far-Left groups the FBI allegedly monitored include United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and perhaps 100 additional left-wing and Islamist organizations. Immediately, the ACLU accused the feds of spying on “peaceful” organizations “exercising their First Amendment rights.”
The revelation led to mock outrage and charges of Big Brother surveillance. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero asked, “Why would the F.B.I. collect almost 1,200 pages on a civil rights organization engaged in lawful activity? What justification could there be, other than political surveillance of lawful First Amendment activities?” Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU, protested, “There is no need to open a counterterrorism file when people are simply exercising their First Amendment rights.” Longtime Communist Party USA member and United for Peace and Justice founder Leslie Cagan also echoed, “It's one thing to monitor protests and protest organizers, but quite another thing to refer them to your counterterrorism unit.” The ACLU has sued to expedite the FBI’s turning over of these documents, a process that could divert the Bureau from far more pressing activities.
The U.S. government refutes the charge of “spying” in its response to the expedition request, which the ACLU posts on its website: these FBI files developed, not from an investigation of these organizations proper, but from the government’s attempts to prevent terrorist attacks last summer. The investigation took place on two fronts: a possible Muslim terror attack on U.S. soil, and radical leftists’ threats to wreak havoc at the Democratic and Republican national conventions in Boston and New York, respectively. These files may not demonstrate a “pattern” of watching left-wingers; however, these groups’ advocacy of violence, connections to terrorists, or actual involvement in eco-terrorism more than warrants any scrutiny the government may have paid them.
Averting Another 9/11
Last summer, the Department of Homeland Security briefly raised the alert level due to the credible threat of another terrorist attack. Al-Qaeda had just altered the course of the Spanish elections by bombing trains in Madrid, and they would have pulled off similar attacks in America, if it could have. At the same time, left-wing radicals such as those associated with United for Peace and Justice threatened to physically disrupt the Republican National Convention in New York City. Doing its job, the FBI began questioning prominent Islamists and watching the Left’s plans for “direct action” (like violence, property damage, and the possible assault of law enforcement officers) at the RNC.
The fact that files, even large ones, exist does not mean the government is peeking into the peaceful operations of private groups. As former FBI agent Mark Copus mentioned on last night’s “O’Reilly Factor,” anytime an interviewee mentions any organization by name during an interrogation, his testimony is placed in that organization’s FBI file. This can create apparently hefty dossiers by default rather than design. Indeed, some of these organizations may have swollen their own files. According to the government’s court document, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) repeatedly protested their efforts to foil another 9/11 domestic attack, berating the investigation in several newspaper articles. As a public item related to their investigation, CAIR’s statements likely made their way into their FBI file, which CAIR then points to as “proof” of domestic spying (as it doubtlessly will in upcoming fundraising letters).
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Muslim Public Affairs Council likely came up in the context of these anti-Islamist investigations. MPAC is responsible for many controversial actions that should have made their way into the FBI’s files. Following 9/11, MPAC led the charge against the government closure of Islamic “charities” that funded terrorism. In 2002, MPAC National Director Ahmed Younis issued an apparent fatwa against the Attorney General of the United States, telling an audience, “I am a person who believes that if Thomas Jefferson or [James] Madison or the like were alive today, they would go to John Ashcroft's house and just shoot him.” MPAC should not protest if the FBI feared someone would take its official at his word.
The ACLU has also shown itself a willing tool of the terrorists, waging a massive anti-anti-terrorism legal campaign. This pillar of the legal Left denounced the government’s requirement that men aged 16-25 holding “temporary visas” from nations with known ties to terrorism register with the INS; represented Sami al-Arian, the North American fundraiser and co-founder of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (filing a brief upholding his inalienable right to fresh briefs!); rallied on behalf of convicted al-Qaeda benefactor Maher Mofeid Hawash; urged local communities not to cooperate with federal anti-terror investigations; and opposed the FBI’s monitoring Islamist mosques. As David Horowitz notes in his book Unholy Alliance, radical Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer Ron Kuby notes the “passionate…identification” most lawyers feel with their clients, such as that of convicted terror-enabler Lynne Stewart for World Trade Center bomber Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Given her aid for international Islamic terrorism, the government is right to keep a watchful eye on those who perpetually side with the enemy.
“Bring Najaf to New York”
The threat of violence surrounding the GOP convention was likewise palpable. An article that received wide circulation on the Left instructed protestors to “Bring Najaf to New York.” Sixties revolutionary Tom Hayden exhorted them to imitate the violent 1968 Democratic Party protests in Chicago. The Pittsburgh-based Thomas Merton Center, whose parent financier is funded by Teresa Heinz-Kerry, wrote their stated goal was “to physically disrupt to the maximum extent possible the functioning of the RNC.” At the convention, anarchists tried to interfere with bomb-sniffing dogs for “maximum disruption” in Madison Square Garden. The destructive Ruckus Society also took the the streets at the RNC. The one FBI file made public by the ACLU indicates the feds were investigating one antiwar organizer, not because of her views, but because of potential ties to the disruptive Anarchist Black Cross.
Here, too, the ACLU similarly played a role in defending an apparent call to violence. The ACLU defended far-Left internet forum Indymedia after the Secret Service investigated it for posting the names, addresses, and hotel accommodations of several delegates to the 2004 Republican National Convention. The poster noted, “The delegates should know not only what people think of the platform they will ratify, but that they are not welcome in New York City.”
These were only the most recent actions of sabotage undertaken by the ACLU’s “peaceful” dissidents. During a time of war, the Hate America Left tried to block the Oakland seaport taking supplies to the troops in Iraq, staked out military bases, stormed military recruiting centers, and blocked traffic in several major metropolitan areas. Even if the “antiwar” Left had not committed the violence it openly lusted after, raucous protests could have sufficiently diverted police attention to allow an Islamic terrorist to do so.
The FBI may have also been alarmed that the protests enjoyed the professional organizing skills of Leslie Cagan and Medea Benjamin, who boasts of her role in the violent and costly anti-World Trade Organization riots. Benjamin’s organization Code Pink donated $600,000 in money and supplies to “the other side” in the terrorist stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq. Benjamin and Cagan founded Occupation Watch in an effort to get American servicemen to declare themselves conscientious objectors and get sent home from Iraq. Benjamin advocated deepening ties to violent anti-American groups in an article entitled “Toward a Global Movement” published in The Nation. In it, she tells fellow leftist activists, “Let's send grassroots teams to the world's hot spots – North and South Korea, Iran, Syria – to link up with appropriate local and regional groups.” What might these “appropriate local and regional groups” in Iran, Syria, and North Korea be? Hamas and Hezbollah? Benjamin also encouraged her fellow radicals to “channel the bursting anti-American sentiment overseas.” That “anti-American sentiment” has largely expressed itself through the car bombings literally “bursting” throughout Iraq on a daily basis. Medea's partner-in-crime, Leslie Cagan, also has ties to unsavory individuals. A longtime Communist, Cagan went to Castro’s Cuba as part of the Venceremos Brigades, which has included “contingents” from the Weathermen. Brigade participants often get to “meet revolutionaries from other countries – Korea, Vietnam, Africa, Central America.” If the FBI is not watching this pair, who together have organized the most successful and destructive protests in recent memory, they would be shirking their duties to the United States.
Animal Rights and Deadly Wrongs
Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans has ties to other sector the FBI allegedly spied on: eco-terrorists and “animal rights” groups. Evans is a director of the Rainforest Action Network, whose co-founder, Michael Roselle, is also a founder of the Earth Liberation Front. ELF is an eco-terrorist organization responsible for a string of arsons and other forms of domestic terrorism.
Organizations have offered Congressional testimony verifying PETA’s support for ELF and Animal Liberation Front eco-terrorists (as well as their repeatdly having been charged with multiple felony counts of cruelty to animals).
However, it is veteran Green organization Greenpeace that has garnered some 3,000 pages of FBI files – and with good reason. Greenpeace is a well-known perpetrator of anti-business eco-terrorism. Attorney Marc Levin has noted:
Greenpeace, Inc. and other non-exempt Greenpeace entities benefiting from these transfers have committed numerous acts of eco-terrorism. They have blockaded a U.S. naval base, broken into the central control building of a nuclear power station in England, overrun the Exxon Mobil corporate headquarters in Texas, and rammed a ship into the French sailboat competing in the 2003 America's Cup, permanently damaging the vessel.
Greenpeace founder Paul Watson said, after 9/11, “There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win.” He likewise classified his fellow humans the “AIDS of the earth.” Watson regularly sinks whaling vessels, waves around his AK-47, and heads a group called Coeur du Bois (“Heart of the Wood”) that spikes trees, injuring loggers. Wason has served on the board of the Sierra Club for the last two years.
Columbus Day and the Ward Churchill Connection
The FBI files the ACLU has pried free from the FBI also indicate they investigated charges of possible violence at local antiwar and far-Left riots…which had previously been the site of left-wing violence. Specifically, agents interviewed Sarah Bardwell, 21, who once worked for American Friends Service Committee and got the permit for an antiwar rally in Denver on March 20, 2004. At the rally, three people were arrested for vandalism (including putting a bumper sticker reading, “"Axis of Greed, Cheney, Bush, Ashcroft” on a police car). She had likewise been associated with a group that planned the 2002 Columbus Day demonstrations.
Denver radicals, including Ward Churchill, had held raging and destructive protests against the Columbus Day parades. Thanks to the violence these radicals caused, the parade closed for nine years (1991-2000). Thus, the chance of renewed violence in a major American city seemed an appropriate FBI concern, particularly following 9/11. Although 147 people had been arrested in 2000, police cuffed only seven people as a result of the FBI’s thorough investigation. It is this investigation the ACLU now wishes to shut down.
These examples do not show any indication of federal wrongdoing. In fact, the FBI is perfectly executing the function the government has entrusted to it: keeping Americans safe. That leftists and Islamists have converged to oppose the Bureau shows their contempt for the well-being of Americans and the true source of their solidarity: violence.