Yesterday, the FBI searched through the homes of people associated with a group in Minnesota and Illinois called the Anti-War Committee. Initially, it appears that these searches were on the up and up. Search warrants were used.
There’s a possibility, however, that these searches were not as legitimate as they seemed. If I was a lawyer for the people targeted in searches yesterday, I’d like to know how any information used in yesterday’s search warrants was gathered. Was initial surveillance of the group, as with surveillance of peaceful progressive protesters in Pennsylvania, done without search warrants, with tracking of the Anti-War Committee merely on the basis of the group’s political beliefs?
No one was arrested in conjunction with the searches, but the warrants stated that the homes were searched for information concerning “activities concerning the material support of terrorism”. It sounds absurd, the idea that anti-war activists could provide material support of terrorism.
A closer look at the Anti-War Committee, however, reveals that the organization isn’t necessarily pacifist. The group asserts that “We believe in peace through justice, and we stand in solidarity with oppressed people here and abroad.”
Peace through justice is quite different than peace through peace. It’s an idea that has some merit, given that a peace that refuses to acknowledge underlying tensions cannot last. However, the concept of peace through justice can also be used to justify rather lopsided demands for peaceful behavior. In the past, the concept has led some activists to justify the violence by “the oppressed”. In fact, the Anti-War Committee has expressed its belief in the “right to resist”. Resistance can be nonviolent, but does not include any commitment to nonviolence in its mission statement.
The Anti-War Committee has a history of mixing other religious agendas into its anti-war activism. It takes sides in disputes that include violent conflicts, in Palestine and in Colombia. Has the group’s zeal to defend “the oppressed” led some members to give more-than-verbal support to violent groups in these places? I don’t know, but I could see how the matter might be worth a formal investigation.