Apparently last week’s unflattering report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s improper surveillance of nonviolent protesters during the past decade fell on deaf ears. On Friday, dozens of FBI agents raided the seven homes and one office of activists in Chicago and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area for materials linked to “foreign terrorist organizations” such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hezbollah and the FARC in Colombia. A dozen activists were also subpoenaed by a federal grand jury based out of Chicago.
Right now, it appears the FBI is looking for evidence that these activists provided “material support” to these organizations, which is controversial to say the least, considering the people targeted by these raids are considered peace activists. Under the FBI’s new domestic investigations and operations guide (aka DIOG), agents have more leeway for undercover operations and information gathering, including conducting “assessments” of any American without any factual predicate or suspicion.
The FBI’s new DIOG policies are also the subject of another critical Inspector General’s report detailing “significant abuses and cheating” by agents in multiple field offices on the qualifying exam for domestic operations training.
It’s also worth noting these raids come at a time when law enforcement is agitating for greater leeway in monitoring internet activity, a move that drastically expand the once-controversial warrantless wiretapping program begun under President George W. Bush and continued by the Obama Administration.
Democracy Now! had an extended segment on the raids this morning that is worth a listen, especially the views of former FBI agent Coleen Rowley on the incident.
[Update: A demonstration protesting the FBI raids is scheduled for 5 PM tomorrow evening in front of the Federal Building at 7th and Mission Streets in San Francisco.