2003: A year of US and Israeli defiance of International Law (Electronic Intifada)
NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – Anti-war activists held a press conference on December 16, across the street from Madison Square Garden, the site of the 2004 Republican National Convention (RNC) to say that the mobilization to convince President George W. Bush to end the occupation of Iraq continues.
“The seizure and public display of Saddam Hussein may be a propaganda victory for imperialism, but it changes nothing fundamental about the situation in Iraq, particularly the reality that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq constitutes a blatant violation of both international and U.S. law,” the New York-based International Action Center (IAC) said in a press release. The IAC, a member of United for Peace and Justice, which is a national anti-war coalition, announced their plans to confront the RNC the day before the start of the convention.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) announced at the press conference that 57 Freedom of Information Act requests were filed on behalf of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), seeking information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about a recently discovered FBI program to team up with local law enforcement agencies to monitor and investigate anti-war activists. CCR said they sent the request to each of the 56 FBI field offices in the nation, as well as FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The FBI policy was revealed when the New York Times reported a leaked, confidential memo that described the tactics and training attributed to anti-war groups. That memo was then sent to local police agencies prior to large demonstrations organized by UFPJ and IAC in San Francisco and Washington in November, a spokesperson for the Center for Constitutional Rights said.
Although the FBI defended the memo as focused on “anarchists and others [who use] violent tactics,” the memo included analysis of many lawful First Amendment activities, according to Jeff Fogel, legal director of CCR. “Although purportedly about violence,” Mr. Vogel explained, “the memo actually instructs law enforcement agencies to be alert to possible indicators of protest activity, including use of the Internet to recruit members and raise money prior to demonstrations.”
UFPJ national coordinator Leslie Cagan said she was not surprised by the revelations but vowed that the anti-war movement would not be deterred in its work. “Given the ugly history of the FBI’s surveillance and interference in peace and justice movements, this latest effort to squash dissent comes as no surprise. “But we will continue to march, rally and exercise our constitutionally protected rights to free speech and assembly whenever and wherever we need to,” Ms. Cagan said.
According to the IAC, the Bush administration wants to stifle dissent to hide its “greed and corruption.”
“The occupation is taking the lives of Iraqis, U.S. soldiers and other coalition forces every day, while corporations such as Halliburton, Bechtel and other American companies are reaping immense profits,” the IAC said in a press release. According to administration figures, the cost of the Iraq occupation is $210 million a day, the IAC said.
“We will gather here on August 29, 2004 to protest against the policies of the U.S. government and its empire building agenda. We will also go to Boston [Mass.] at the time of the Democratic National Convention,” Ms. Cagan said.