Washingtonsblog.com | Nov. 29, 2011
Being Anti-War Is Labeled Terrorism
I noted last year:
According to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (via AP), the FBI spied on an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh sponsored by a nonviolent anti-war and anti-discrimination group, pretending it was preventing terrorism:
The FBI gave inaccurate information to Congress and the public when it claimed a possible terrorism link to justify surveilling an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh, the Justice Department’s inspector general said Monday in a report on the bureau’s scrutiny of domestic activist groups.
Inspector General Glenn Fine said the FBI had no reason to expect that anyone of interest in a terrorism investigation would be present at the 2002 event sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center, a nonviolent anti-war and anti-discrimination group.
The surveillance was “an ill-conceived project on a slow work day,” the IG stated in a study of several FBI domestic terrorism probes of people affiliated with organizations such as Greenpeace and the Catholic Worker.
Earlier, in statements to Congress and in a press release, the FBI had described the surveillance as related to a terrorism investigation.
The FBI has broad definitions that enable it to classify matters as domestic terrorism that actually are trespassing or vandalism, the inspector general said.
Regarding the Pittsburgh rally, controversy erupted in 2006 over whether the FBI had spied on protesters at the event several years earlier because of their anti-war views.
Promoters of peace in Maryland, Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere were also considered potential terrorists, as was an individual Quaker peace activist.
The Inspector General’s report confirms that – at least in some instances – anti-war views were specifically targeted:
The report concluded that, while the FBI probes were not generally predicated simply on the views of the targets, at least one FBI field office was focused on a group “as a result of its anti-war views.” It also found that “FBI agents and supervisors sometimes provided the [Office of the Inspector General] with speculative, after-the-fact rationalizations for their prior decisions to open investigations that we did not find persuasive.”
In addition, anti-war websites like AntiWar.com are listed on various terrorist watchlists: see number 16 here, and number 37 here.
AntiWar’s sin? It is (according to the watchlists):
An unusual site, essentially an isolationist right-wing/libertarian site consciously designed to appeal to anti-war activists from the left as well.
The irony, of course, is:
Americans want to put a stop to perpetual warfare:
Ron Paul is [partly] gaining popularity because he is against the never-ending War On Terror, and wants to bring the troops home. Americans are sick of the never-ending, ever-creeping war. See this, this and this.
As Talking Points Memo reported earlier this month:
“…Only about a quarter say the wars in Iraq (26%) and Afghanistan (25%) have lessened the chances of terrorist attacks in the United States,” the Pew report reads. “In both cases majorities say the wars either have increased the risk of terrorism in this country or made no difference.”
Top American military leaders agree, saying that the war on terror has weakened our national security [and it was planned before 9/11, and has little to do with terrorism.]
And a CBS News poll from November 11th found:
- Three-quarters of Americans support US withdrawal from Iraq.
- Two-thirds of Americans believe the Iraq War was not worth fighting.
- Half of Americans oppose US involvement in Libya.
- More than half of Americans want to end the war in Afghanistan.
- Seventy per cent of Americans do not support military intervention to change dictatorships into democracies.
- 55% of Americans say Iran can be contained via diplomacy.
- Only 15% of Americans support military intervention in Iran.
And Nobel-prize winning economists say war is destroying our economy.
Top American military and intelligence leaders, economists and the majority of Americans, by this logic, must be terrorists.
Nazi leader Hermann Goering’s famous statement is relevant to this issue:
Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Is Everyone Who Criticizes the Government a Terrorist?
Of course, anti-war protesters shouldn’t take it too personally, since they are in good company:
According to Department of Defense training manuals, protest is considered “low-level terrorism”. And see this, this and this.
The government is also using anti-terrorism laws to keep people from learning what pollutants are in their own community. See this, this, this and this.
Claims of “national security” are also used to keep basic financial information – such as who got bailout money – secret. That might not bode for particularly warm and friendly treatment for someone persistently demanding the release of such information.
The state of Missouri tried to label as terrorists current Congressman Ron Paul and his supporters, former Congressman Bob Barr, libertarians in general, anyone who holds gold, and a host of other people.
And according to a law school professor, pursuant to the Military Commissions Act:
Anyone who … speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.
Government apologists are also eager to label anyone “taking a cynical stance toward politics, mistrusting authority, endorsing democratic practices, … and displaying an inquisitive, imaginative outlook” as worthy of a Stalinist trip to the insane asylum.