A potentially serious matter (Domestic politics)

On 4 Feb, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force got a judge to issue a subpoena to Drake University in Iowa for all records associated with an anti-war protest held there on 15 Nov. (story, stora) The subpoena, issued under seal by US District Judge Longstaff, includes specific requests for all records regarding the protest leaders.

According to attornies from the National Lawyer’s Guild and the ACLU, this is the first such subpoena in several decades. (As a side note: These subpoenas were especially common during the 1960s, and were a particular favorite even before then of J. Edgar Hoover. Their primary purpose then was to assemble dossiers against political subversives and enemies of various administrations.)

The seriousness of this matter is, I hope, clear. The issuing of subpoenas of any sort, even for purely “informational purposes,” against demonstrators is designed and intended to have a chilling effect on speech; it is a specific act of the Justice Department to subdue ordinary political dissent. The subpoena has been challenged in court and hopefully will not stand.

In another matter, there was this story about investigations within the DoD. I can’t even begin to explain how furious this makes me. If any of these allegations are substantiated, these are matters for general courts-martial and the penalties which only they can provide; it brings into question the performance of the entire chain of command in any place where it happened, and of who allowed a circumstance to arise in which such a thing could even be conceivable. I only hope that all levels involved in this understand just how serious a matter this is.

Published in: on February 7, 2004 at 13:50  Comments (2)  
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  1. concerning the first story. Unfortunately that article provides next to information regarding the motives of the FBI agency, and I’m prone to agree with your asessment.
    The big question on my mind is what made them target that protest. Of all the hundreds of anti-war protests that are going on, why this one?

  2. My concern is: Perhaps that one isn’t the only one. In fact, given what I’ve been hearing from a broad range of sources in the past few months, I suspect this has become the rule rather than the exception, and the unusual feature of this is that it made it into the news.

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