Friday, September 24, 2010

Federal Fascism in Minnesota

Glenda McGee just sent me a link to Twin's Mara Gottfried's coverage of FBI raids of political activists' homes in Minneapolis.  According to the article, the FBI forcibly searched the home of left wing activists Mike Kelly, Jessica Sundin and Meredith Aby, all of whom have organized a past anti-war protest and are planning a new one.  The three have traveled to the Middle East. The FBI confiscated Kelly's cell phone. No charges have been brought against them.  According to an FBI spokesman, Steve Warfield, the FBI was executing warrants that a federal judge had reviewed under a 1996 anti-terrorism law.  According to the article Warfield offered no public explanation of what the FBI was seeking.  According to Gottfried:

>Kelly, Sundin and Aby were organizers of a mass march on the first day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul two years ago. They recently appeared at a news conference to announce plans for another protest if Minneapolis is selected to hold the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Conservatives ought to be as concerned about this as libertarians are. The FBI is as likely to use overly aggressive laws against Tea Party protestors as against left-wing anti-war protestors. 

The action prior to the DNC makes one wonder whether the Obama administration had input to it. Republican Theodore Roosevelt founded the FBI under the name "Bureau of Investigation"  during the Progressive era a century ago to regulate interstate commerce under the Interstate Commerce Act.  Thus, the FBI is a classic illustration of Milton Friedman's thesis in Capitalism and Freedom that economic regulation leads to incursions on civil liberties.  Although the Bureau has performed stellar service in many areas, it abused Martin Luther King and other Americans involved in peaceful protest. As early as 1919, J. Edgar Hoover lead the then-called Bureau of Investigation in the Palmer Raids, targeting the Union of Russian Workers and labor activists in 1919 and 1920, eventually deporting a small percentage of the individuals investigated.  The methods used then involved a shotgun approach with little regard for ethics or constitutionality.  As well, Palmer and Hoover advocated a new Alien and Sedition Act.

America has gone through these suppressive outbursts during big government administrations. The first was the Federalists' passage of the Alien and Sedition Act.  The Republican administration of Lincoln also passed various suppressive laws such as the legal tender law and the draft.  Then, the Progressives engaged in the Red Scare.  Since then there have been intermittant applications of Federalist/Whig/Progressive suppression of individual liberty, including McCarthyism and Michael Bloomberg's recent claim that the Tea Party was responsible for a car bomb left in New York City.

No comments: