Hello, Senator McCarthy

Feds win right to war protesters' records

DES MOINES, Iowa -- In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists. [...]

In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum. [...]

"The law is clear that the use of the grand jury to investigate protected political activities or to intimidate protesters exceeds its authority," guild President Michael Ayers said in a statement. Representatives of the Lawyer's Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union said they had not heard of such a subpoena being served on any U.S. university in decades. [...]

The forum, titled "Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!" came the day before 12 protesters were arrested at an anti-war rally at Iowa National Guard headquarters in Johnston. Organizers say the forum included nonviolence training for people planning to demonstrate.

Several officials of Drake, a private university with about 5,000 students, refused to comment Friday [...] A source with knowledge of the investigation said a judge had issued a gag order forbidding school officials from discussing the subpoena.

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25 Responses:

  1. lars_larsen says:

    Its scary to think the eschelon is probably flagging people simply because they disagree with the president's politics.

  2. smokedamage says:

    here we go again...

    i can't believe that most of America can sit idly by and let this shit keep happening.

  3. editer says:

    dailyKos had the best comment I've seen so far: "Another reason those 'if not Dean, then Nader' idiots make my blood boil."

    • flipzagging says:

      Is George W. Bush the problem here? This was some judge.

      • editer says:

        It was the Bush administration that tried to get the records in the first place.

        • flipzagging says:

          Federal prosecutors are the Bush administration? Technically yeah, and Ashcroft is definitely setting the wrong tone. But look at what was happening under Clinton. I bet stuff like this would be going on even if a mainstream Democrat was in the White House on 9-11.

          I know people are really focused on beating Bush -- for good reason -- but one shouldn't reduce every problem to the election.

          • wilecoyote says:

            Exactly. Being against Bush is one thing, but those people who are all "oh if we could only have Clinton as president again"... well, those people need to cut down on Michael Moore and go watch a little documentary called "Waco: the rules of engagement", to find out what was really going on with civil rights under their oh-so-beloved Clinton administration.

            • editer says:

              So because of Waco, we need to crack down on antiwar organizers? I'm not following your logic.

              I also don't see how what happens in the Justice Department somehow isn't related to Bush in any way. Seems to me Bush is the boss and it's his show.

              I didn't like Clinton, but Bush is worse.

              • flipzagging says:

                I don't want to get into a who-is-worse situation in jwz's blog and nor am I making the Naderite argument that Democrats are the same as Republicans.

                I was just reacting to the poster's implicit claim that the election would somehow fix this problem. It just seemed to be a narrow view to take, considering that the erosion of civil liberties is a fueled by trends that exist independent of whoever's in the White House.

                Step 1 might be to change presidents, but it's only step 1.

                • editer says:

                  dailyKos doesn't believe that voting Bush out would solve all the problems. He does believe that, to paraphrase your post a bit, it's a necessary step 1, so that's where his energy is going. Kos doesn't take a narrow view; that was just a narrow slice of that blog.

              • wilecoyote says:

                You missed my point. I was merely ranting against those people who hate Bush with a fiery passion, yet miss the Clinton years as if they had been some sort of golden age. Let's see... selling out to corporate interests? Check (DMCA). Erosion of civil liberties? Check. (Waco, the Clipper chip, that anti-terrorist act from 1996 which name I can't remember now, etc.) Bombing foreign countries alleging the WMD threat? Well, remember that sudanese aspirin factory?

                It seems to me that most of the things that people blame Bush for were already happening under Clinton, but since Bill wasn't so in-your-face about it, looked like a nicer guy and provided sexual scandals for the population's entertainment, people were more willing to give him a free pass. Which, frankly, I find nauseating.

                Of course, if you are not a Clinton fanboy, then none of the above applies to you. Hey, at least you're coherent.

                • editer says:

                  Points well taken. I don't miss much about Clinton. But every now and then I thought something good came of his being in the White House. I can't say the same these days.

  4. I suggest flushing every $1 bill you have down the toilet, so your nice wallet wont get ruined by the tears of blood.

  5. ioerror says:

    It's certain that this won't make anyone safer. How can these people even pretend that this a war against actual violent terrorism? Anonymous free speech and freedom of assembly is being trashed by a bunch of god damn mother fuckers on a power trip. Why can't people in this country wake up? Is everyone asleep?

  6. Note good news: the Lawyers Guild is appealing the subpoena.

    Note answer to "how could this happen?" et al:

    • jwz says:

      I miss PLIF!

      • belgand says:

        I think we all do. Then again I've also noticed a disturbing trend to edit stuff in their archives. Not always for the better. I seem to recall liking the original Police from Beyond strip much more.

    • yakko says:

      I'd argue these days that the candy bar had more truth printed on its wrapper than what's printed in most of that newspaper. OK, the information would be more objective, if anything... :o)

  7. zackbishop says:

    Alright: I'm game. What should I be doing?

    I'm not trying to be sarcastic. Every time I read a post about political shit of this variety -- usually here at casa jwz -- it makes my blood boil. I'm doing my best to vote progressively for candidates other than my local incumbents (Arizona is a pretty conservative state). I've written two or three emails to my congresscritters when there's something that's worse than the day-to-day evils and disappointments of the current era.

    I've been told that handwritten letters carry surprising amounts of weight when staffers find them in the mailbags. Beyond this, and voting, I honestly don't know what I should be doing to try and remedy these types of rotten situations.

    I genuinely want to do the Right Thing. If there's any sort of concrete, constructive activity I'm overlooking, please post a reply.

  8. ddragon says:

    Well I think you people are ignoring four very simple, yet very important questions:

    Yeah? And? So? What?

    Oh the government does bad things? Well I never. Shit a brick. So they suppress freedom, you say? What? Noooo! The United States government? Fuck. And they were my favourites to.

    "Wanna go out for a few beers mate?"
    "No can do buddy, I'm busy overthrowing the government!"
    "Oh. Great. How's that workin' out for ya?"
    "Cool! I'm off to get laid."

  9. alekb says:

    New York Times is reporting that the charges were dropped Tuesday. Federal Idiots.