Saturday, September 25, 2010

Police State in Minnesota

Remember the words "providing material support to terrorists." They explain what took place in Minnesotat yesterday morning. The FBI raided the homes of activists in Minnesota and Chicago.

"The warrant for the raid on Kelly's apartment, in the 1800 block of Riverside Avenue, sought notebooks, address books, photos and maps of Kelly's travels to the Palestinian territories, Colombia and in the United States on behalf of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. It also sought materials on his personal finances and those of the group, on Kelly's 'potential co-conspirators' and recruitment efforts for the group.

The warrant also sought any information about efforts to support FARC, a guerrilla organization in Colombia, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Hezbollah, the political and paramilitary organization based in Lebanon."

The FBI's actions should not be surprising to anyone. Just four days earlier, on September 20, 2010, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on providing "material support" to organizations which the state department has designated as "terrorist," even if that support is conducted through peaceful, legal means.

Mick Kelly and Jessica Sundin say they have done nothing illegal, but they may be wrong about how the law views their actions. The court ruling means that any contact with a group designated as terrorist is in fact against the law and may be punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Not only were homes raided in Minnesota, but a grand jury has been impaneled in Chicago and individuals in North Carolina and Michigan have been subpoenaed to appear.

We have lost what is left of our legal rights. Our nation is a police state and Barack Obama has continued and solidified this process which began under Clinton and continued with Bush. Yes, I said Clinton. The rules against providing support to terrorists went into effect in 1996 when Bill Clinton was still president. The Patriot Act put the icing on the cake and we have been going down hill ever since.

I for one would not have any contact with a group designated as terrorist. We have no way of knowing when the government will decide it is convenient to enforce these laws. The next Gaza flotilla could be called an effort to support Hamas. Helping striking workers in Colombia could be called support for FARC.

We need to fight back but we also need to watch our backs. We must speak out in support of Kelly, Sundin and the others raided or subpoenaed but we must remember that the game has changed permanently. The old notions of thinking that we have first amendment rights must end. Our activism now requires that we think about the implications of what we do and our readiness to be targeted by our government. We have to think two and three steps ahead to prevent our best people from being taken out by the police state.

On the other hand, I could be wrong too. Perhaps expressing support for these brothers and sisters will be labeled as providing material support for terrorists. If that is the case it may well be time to find a nice place to live as an expatriot.