November 28, 2010

Organizations Nationwide and Key Public Figures Tell FBI: Stop Your Witch-hunt!

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald,

As a group of concerned organizations, professors and elected officials, we write to denounce the use of sweeping raids and grand juries in your ongoing investigation of anti-war and international solidarity activists in Chicago and Minnesota.  We are deeply concerned that your efforts to investigate individuals and organizations engaged in protected political activity has caused a chilling effect, not just on the individual targets of the investigation, but on many individuals engaged in constitutionally protected political dissent.

Grand juries have historically been used to disrupt and undermine political dissent.  It is true that “[c]itizens generally are not constitutionally immune from grand jury subpoenas.”  *Branzburg v. Hayes*, 408 U.S. 665, 682 (1972).  Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that “[a]lthough the powers of the grand jury are not unlimited and are subject to the supervision of a judge, the longstanding principle that the public has a right to every man’s
evidence, except for those persons protected by a constitutional, common law, or statutory privilege, is particularly applicable to grand jury proceedings.”  *U.S. v. Dionisio*, 410 U.S. 1, 9 (1973) (internal citations omitted).

But even grand jury proceedings must respect constitutional guarantees.  Justice Powell authored the Supreme Court decision in *U.S. v. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, et al.*, wherein he discussed the use of grand juries and their inevitable implications:

As illustrated by a flood of cases before us this Term, we are currently in the throes of another national seizure of paranoia, resembling the hysteria which surrounded the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Palmer Raids, and the McCarthy era. *Those who register dissent or who petition their governments for redress are subjected to scrutiny by **grand** **juries**, by the FBI, or even by the military.  *Their associates are interrogated.  Their homes are bugged and their telephones are wiretapped. They are befriended by secret
government informers.  Their patriotism and loyalty are questioned.  Senator Sam Ervin, who has chaired hearings on military surveillance of civilian dissidents, warns that ‘it is not an exaggeration to talk in terms of hundreds of thousands of . . . dossiers.’…  More than our privacy is implicated.  Also at stake is the reach of our Government’s power to intimidate its critics.  *When the Executive attempts to excuse these tactics as essential to its defense against internal subversion, we are obliged to remind it, without apology of this Court’s long commitment to the preservation of the Bill of Rights from the corrosive environment of precisely such expedients*.  (emphasis added) 407 U.S. 297, 329-330 (1972).

In his critique of grand juries, Justice Powell also discussed the impact of FBI investigations of individuals engaged in protected First Amendment activity.  Today, the FBI’s use of informants in religious institutions and civic organizations has raised widespread alarm within these communities, inhibiting the expression of constitutionally protected religious activity and political speech.  In conjunction with the current FBI raids, the grand jury
subpoenas, and ongoing investigations of non-profit leaders and anti-war activists, such government activity reflects an aggressive assault on political dissent, one which has quickly led to “another state of [national] paranoia,” as noted above.

As Justice Powell so clearly stated, even national security investigations are subject to constitutional limits.  The aggressive use of grand juries, planting informants in communities and raiding homes reflect precisely the corrosive environment that Justice Powell cautioned against.  The recent Supreme Court decision in *Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project *makes clear that though “the material-support statute is constitutional as applied to the particular activities plaintiffs [in that case] … wish to pursue, [the Court does not] address the resolution of more difficult cases that may
arise under the statute in the future.”  130 S. Ct. 2705, 2712 (2010).  To
be clear, no court has characterized the anti-war and international
solidarity work undertaken by the victims of the recent raids as “material

Thus, we ask that you halt the use of grand jury proceedings in your current
investigations.  Additionally, we ask that you stop investigating the
protected and legitimate political activities of anti-war and international
solidarity activists.  This includes the use of undercover informants, which
should be halted immediately.


*Alliance of South Asians Taking Action*

*American Friends Service Committee, Pacific Mountain Region*

*American MidEast Leadership Network*

*American Muslims for Palestine*

*American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee*

*Anakbayan East Bay*

*Arab American Association of New York*

*Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services (ACCESS)*

*Arab Cultural and Community Center, San Francisco*

*Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East*

*Arab Muslim American Federation*

*Arab Resource and Organizing Center *

*Asian Law Caucus*

*Asian Pacific American Legal Center*

*Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid*

*Birthright Unplugged*

*Black Alliance for Just Immigration*

*CARECEN, Central American Resource Center*

*Catalyst Project*

*Causa Justa::Just Cause*

*Center for Constitutional Rights*

*Center for Political Education*

*Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy*

*Coalition for Asian American Children and Families*

*Community Coalition*

*Community Justice for Youth Institute*

*Community United Against Violence (CUAV)*

*Council on American Islamic Relations – Michigan*

*Council on American Islamic Relations – San Francisco Bay Area Chapter*

*Culture and Conflict Forum*

*Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM)*

*Dignidad Rebelde*

*Eastside Arts Alliance*

*Electronic Frontier Foundation*

*Equal Justice Society*

*Filipino Advocates for Justice*

*Freedom Archives*

*Gabriela USA*

*Global Women’s Strike/SF Bay Area*

*Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine*

*International Socialist Organization*

*Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, International*

*Jewish Voice for Peace*

*La Raza Centro Legal, San Francisco*

*La Raza Centro Legal Day Labor Program*

*Labor/Community Strategy Center*

*LatCrit, Inc.*

*League of Filipino Students, San Francisco State University*

*Middle East Children’s Alliance*

*Middle East Report*

*Movement to End Israeli Apartheid-Georgia*

*National Network for Arab American Communities*

*National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights*

*Nihonmachi Outreach Committee*

*Omid Advocates for Human Rights*

*Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago*

*Philadelphia Arab American Community Development Corporation*

*Pinay sa Seattle*

*Political Research Associates*

*Shura Council of Southern California*

*SOUL-School of Unity and Liberation*

*South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)*

*South Asian Network*

*The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) of the National Lawyers Guild* *

*US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel *

*US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation*

*Vamos Unidos*

*WESPAC Foundation*

* *

**This endorsement is by The United People of Color Caucus, a committee of
the National Lawyers Guild***

*Individuals (organizations and universities listed for identification
purposes only)*

* *

*Rabab Abdulhadi*

San Francisco State University

*Evelyn Alsultany*

University of Michigan

*Supervisor John Avalos*

City of San Francisco

District 11

* *

*Asli Bali*

UCLA School of Law

*Ali Behdad*

University of California, Los Angeles

*Eduardo Bonilla Silva*

Duke University

*Supervisor David Campos*

City of San Francisco

District 9

* *

*Piya Chatterjee*

University of California, Riverside

* *

*Sumi Cho*

Depaul University College of Law

* *

*Kimberle W. Crenshaw*

UCLA School of Law

* *

*Supervisor Chris Daly*

City of San Francisco

District 6

* *

*Leo F. Estrada*

UCLA School of Public Affairs

*Keith Feldman*

University of California, Berkeley

*Neil Gotanda*

Western State University College of Law

*Susan Gzesh*

Human Rights Program

University of Chicago

*Amira Jarmakani*

Georgia State University

*Amy Kaplan*

University of Pennsylvania

*Sunaina Maira*

University of California, Davis

*Supervisor Eric Mar*

City of San Francisco

District 1

*Priscilla Ocen*

UCLA School of Law

*Associate Dean John S.W. Park*

University of California at Santa Barbara

*H.L.T. Quan*

Arizona State University

* *

*Addie Rolnick*

UCLA School of Law

*Bobby Seale*


Black Panther Party

*Chandra Talpade Mohanty*

Syracuse University

*Representative Rashida Tlaib*

Michigan House of Representatives

*Dave Welsh *

Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council