Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

More than 200 attend CT conference to defend civil liberties

By staff

Shahid Buttar of Bill of Rights Defense Committee speaks at Connecticut Civil Li

New Britain, CT – 200-plus anti-war activists, lawyers, religious leaders, labor unionists, journalists and family members of the wrongfully prosecuted and imprisoned met at a civil liberties conference at Central Connecticut State University, Dec. 8. The conference theme was “An injury to one is an injury to all!” Civil rights legal scholar Sahar F. Aziz introduced the keynote speaker, journalist Glenn Greenwald. Tracy Molm of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression also spoke.

Aziz zeroed in on the aggressive FBI sting operations targeting mainly Arab-American and Muslim men, especially operations that use informants or agents to create phony ‘terrorism plots’ and then arrest, prosecute and imprison the men. There is no actual crime committed in these cases; the FBI creates a scenario and pressures the men into it over time. They imprison them for long prison terms upwards of 15 years with “intent to commit a criminal act.” Oftentimes, the men are lonely, isolated or vulnerable. Aziz also spoke on the inability of lawyers to challenge secret evidence and torture in the U.S. court system due to ‘national security’ claims.

Glen Greenwald argues the erosion of civil liberties by the Bush administration is not just continuing, but accelerating under President Obama. Political repression is broadening and deepening, and is being cemented in legal decisions. The Guardian journalist is troubled that the broad array of voices opposing repression under Bush is now quiet with Obama in office. Greenwald expressed grave concern for the use of charges like “material support for terrorism” to prosecute American Muslims who are “targeted and prosecuted not based on acts they have undertaken, but on beliefs they have expressed.” He opposed U.S. government use of indefinite detention in Guantanamo and targeted executions without any charges or judicial process.

Tracy Molm of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression spoke on the “Creating New Ties of Solidarity” panel. Molm livened up the room, speaking about the fightback organized in response to the raids on the 23 anti-war, Palestine and Colombia solidarity activists in the Midwest. She explained that the Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas, who prosecuted the Holy Land Five and put them in prison, is refusing to return the belongings of one of the 23, Hatem Abudayyeh of Chicago, and is pursuing an ongoing investigation in the case. She asked people to remain vigilant and continue building solidarity. The room applauded the victory in the Carlos Montes case, which was won after an intense national campaign.

Molm ended her talk on a positive note, “I took a trip to Palestine in 2004. I wanted to give people back home a first-hand account of Israeli occupation and U.S. funding for it. I am proud of the work that myself and the other 22 activists do in solidarity with the peoples of Palestine and Colombia. We continue to organize and speak out against U.S. imperialism. We call on everyone of conscience to join us and join the fight to drop the federal investigation of the Anti-War 23.”

Tom Burke, another of the Anti-War 23, spoke at a workshop with United National Antiwar Coalition leaders. The UNAC speakers all agree that to justify wars abroad, the U.S. government needs to create fear at home. The U.S. government is expanding and deepening state repression against Arab-Americans, Muslims, immigrants, African-American, Chicano and Latino youth and anti-war and Occupy Wall Street activists. Burke finished his talk saying, “With the economy so unstable, the rulers on Wall Street are growing more afraid of the people, so they are using political repression more and more. In response, we are building a stronger movement with leaders who trust each other more and more, while working to end U.S. wars.”

#NewBritainCT #civilLiberties #HolyLandFive #AntiWar23 #FBIRepression