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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


December 24, 2003

ANSWER Coalition Files FOIA Demand for Info on FBI Spying Against Peace Activists

Partnership for Civil Justice & National Lawyers Guild Attorneys File FOIA Request on Behalf of the ANSWER Coalition Demanding FBI Disclosure of Surveillance Activities Against Antiwar Movement (12/16/03 - ANSWER Coalition press release)

On Dec. 15, attorneys with the Partnership for Civil Justice and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee filed a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) with the FBI on behalf of the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition. The FOIA request follows media revelations of FBI domestic spying targeting the antiwar movement, and is part of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition's Campaign to Defend the First Amendment.

The FOIA request demands disclosure of documents related to FBI spying activities. It can be read in full at

On Sunday, Nov. 23, a front-page New York Times story under the headline "F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies" cited an internal FBI memorandum circulated ten days prior to the Oct. 25 demonstrations that drew 100,000 in Washington D.C. and 20,000 in San Francisco initiated by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and co-sponsored by United for Peace and Justice. The memo urged law enforcement agencies to report on protest activities to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces.


The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition immediately initiated a statement to Defend the First Amendment that was signed by over 20,000 people within days, including U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; historian Howard Zinn; National Lawyers Guild Executive Director, Heidi Boghosian; and Ron Kovic, author Born on the Fourth of July. The statement reads in part: "This well placed 'revelation' of FBI targeting of the antiwar movement should be seen as a measure of the desperation of an Administration that is increasingly alarmed that people of this country are rejecting its illegal and immoral policies." If you have not yet signed the statement, you can read the full text and sign at

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice and member of the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee, said "The FBI has a long history of disruption and illegal surveillance of peace and social justice movements in the United States. The FBI is once again using the false pretext of 'national security' to carry out the J. Edgar Hoover model of law enforcement -- using their resources to attempt to stifle and criminalize dissent. This filing reflects the fact that the people of the United States will not be intimidated and will defend their cherished First Amendment and free speech rights."

Richard Becker, a member of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition National Steering Committee, said "The exposure of FBI harassment of the antiwar movement should be viewed in the context of the larger government campaign targeting all who disagree with their policies, and the larger struggle against the Bush administration's policies at home and abroad.

"Since September 11, 2001, the Ashcroft Justice Department has carried out a campaign of interrogation, detainment, arrest and deportation based on race, religion and national origin. Thousands of Arab, Muslim and South Asian people have been targeted. Now, it is being revealed that they are targeting the social justice movement in the U.S. -- but with the same intent of silencing all those who would speak against their campaigns of aggression and intervention, and cuts in social programs and other policies that negatively impact working people at home."


We need your help at this critical time. Please support the Defend the First Amendment Campaign by making an online contribution at


A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

Partnership for Civil Justice, Inc.

[Read the source...]

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