Documents recently obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights reveal that the FBI spied on AIDS activists and gay rights groups. The cop agency tried to justify itself with the baseless and slanderous claim that it feared demonstrators demanding more government funding for AIDS research might throw infected blood at people.
Protests organized by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP), Gay Men's Health Crisis, and other groups are legal political actions, yet the FBI insists it must keep most of the files secret as part of "ongoing law enforcement activity." The FBI also targeted the Center for Immigrants' Rights and Haiti Progrés, a Brooklyn-based newspaper that for years opposed a string of U.S.-backed military dictatorships in Haiti, among others.
This should come as no surprise. It is simply one more reminder of what the FBI is, and has always been - a spying and disruption apparatus directed against working people and fighters for social change.
Over several decades, FBI targets have included groups supporting independence for Puerto Rico, the Socialist Workers Party, the Black Panther party, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, unions, and many other organizations. Thousands of individuals have been spied on, harassed, and even assassinated by Washington's political police. Prominent figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., antiwar activists, civil rights fighters, striking trade unionists, and supporters of Irish self-determination have all been targets of FBI disruption programs. The list goes on and on and on.
Today the U.S. rulers are probing ways to broaden the powers of the FBI and other government cop agencies to brush aside democratic safeguards working people have won in struggle. The Clinton administration and Congress jumped on the April bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building as a golden opportunity to campaign for a "counterterrorism" package that would include more police powers to tap telephone lines and snoop into credit, hotel, travel, and other records of individuals branded as "suspected terrorists." It would allow permanent detention of immigrants convicted of no crime - something several Irish activists are already suffering in U.S. jails - as well as deportation for exercising basic political rights of free speech and association.
Working people have a big stake in fighting every government probe at curtailing democratic rights. As the capitalist system becomes more crisis ridden and workers, farmers, and others begin to mobilize to defend ourselves, the rulers will turn more to cop agencies like the FBI to infiltrate, disrupt, and intimidate those entering the struggle.
The labor movement and all democratic-minded people
should join in denouncing the latest examples of FBI spying
and help expose Washington's war against political freedom.
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