Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Stomping the Peace Movement -- More on the Drake University Subpoenas

The attempted intimidation of anti-Iraq war activists in Iowa continues. Brian Terrell, Executive Director of the Catholic Peace Ministry at Drake University, posted a message on Daily Kos that he and other peace activists had been served with a subpoena by the FBI and the "Joint Terrorism Task Force" to appear before a grand jury Feb. 10th (today).

"Terrorism"??? According to today's New York Times, Brian Terrell said he had helped conduct "nonviolence training" at the Nov. 15 forum on the Drake campus, which was titled "Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!" and attended by 21 people.

From the Times: "The day after the forum, some in the group traveled to an Iowa National Guard base in Johnston, north of Des Moines, where they staged a demonstration, which Mr. Terrell described as routine. A dozen people were arrested there, mainly on state charges of trespass. At least one woman was also charged with assault. Mr. Terrell said he did not know of anyone trying to scale the fence at the base, but the federal authorities say someone did."

More than that, the federal "Terrorism Task Force" asked in its subpoena directed at Drake University for "all requests for use of a room, all documents indicating the purpose and intended participants in the meeting, and all documents or recordings which would identify persons that actually attended the meeting."

If a wild-eyed peace activist actually assaulted a law enforcement officer, then prosecute her! If an unwashed peacenik tried to climb a restricted fence, then prosecute him! The protestors peacefully trespassed, knowing they would be arrested. They expected to be arrested. It's what you do in a peace protest. It's part of the protest. But this business of our federal government coming in with secret grand juries and broad subpoenas -- asking Drake University for any recordings (video or otherwise, we assume) that would "identify persons" attending a meeting -- what is that intended to do other than intimidate people and quash dissent?

Parlous times for free speech and for disagreeing with this president. And how quickly we've gotten to this point since 9/11!

No comments: