Congressman David Price writes letter of concern to Attorney General Eric Holder about FBI raids

Durham, NC – Congressman David Price of North Carolina’s 4th district has written a letter of concern about the FBI raids on anti-war activists to Attorney General Eric Holder. It is the third such letter by members of Congress, following letters by Rep. Keith Ellison (Minnesota) and Rep. Danny Davis (Illinois). Rep. Price is the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

Joan Walsh, a Durham resident and member of the Triangle Committee to Stop FBI Repression, commented, “The letter is carefully but strongly worded, and coming from a highly-respected Congressman such as Mr. Price, should contribute to the swift termination of this unwarranted infringement on the rights of peaceful, conscientious activists. We wish to thank the Congressman for sending this letter, and hope to continue working with him and others to end such abuses.”

In the letter, Rep. Price refers to the fact that the subpoenaed activists have not been informed of the potential charges against them or the specific focus of the investigation. The letter highlights the lack of openness by the Department of Justice and the FBI in this investigation, and urges Attorney General Holder to “resolve the matter in a timely and transparent manner.” Rep. Price also noted the Department of Justice Inspector General report from September 2010, which found that FBI offices had conducted surveillance and spying on anti-war activists who had no links to any federal crimes. Rep. Price told Attorney General Holder that his constituents are concerned that the activists are being targeted for their political views. The letter to Attorney General Holder also expresses Price’s constituents’ concern about the chilling effect of the FBI’s actions on the broader movements for social justice in the United States.

“We urge activists to contact their Congressional representatives now about writing similar letters to President Obama and Attorney General Holder,” said Tom Burke, a coordinator of legislative work with the national Committee to Stop FBI Repression. “Congressman David Price’s letter is just the latest example of the growing movement to stop the grand jury and FBI repression of the anti-war and solidarity movements.”

Further information about legislative work around the September 24 FBI raids can be found at StopFBI.net. Activists interested to help obtain similar letters from their Congressional representatives should contact Richard Berg at berg.richard77 [at] rcn.com or Lucia Wilkes at luciaws [at] usiwireless.com.

Full text of the letter, dated April 5:

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

I am writing to convey the concerns of my constituents regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) investigation of several individuals and organizations associated with anti-war activism.

As you are aware, on September 24, 2010, the FBI conducted searches of seven homes and an office building in Minneapolis and Chicago and issued subpoenas to 23 individuals in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. According to firsthand reports, the FBI also visited the homes of individuals in Milwaukee, San Jose, and Durham, North Carolina – which I represent in Congress – to question them in relation to the investigation. Although the FBI has refused to comment publicly about the investigation, media reports have cited documents indicating that the case is focused on potential violations of federal laws prohibiting the provision of material support to terrorist organizations. To my knowledge, however, none of the individuals who received subpoenas or were questioned in the case have been informed of the potential charges against them or the specific focus of the investigation.

Several of my constituents have expressed concerns that the Bureau might be targeting these individuals and organizations because of their political views rather than their direct connection to a federal criminal investigation, citing a Department of Justice Inspector General report which found that FBI field offices have at times conducted law enforcement activities against domestic anti-war activists without evident links to a federal crime. In addition to their concern for the rights of the individuals in this particular case, my constituents are worried about the potential “chilling effect” that such investigations could have on the protected free speech rights of domestic activists.

I am not in a position to judge whether or not these concerns are warranted, and I understand that the Department cannot comment on an ongoing criminal investigation. However, any information you can provide about the status of this investigation or the timeline for its conclusion, consistent with all applicable laws and regulations, would be greatly appreciated. I am sure you will agree that it is in the Department’s interest to resolve this matter in a timely and transparent manner, in order to counter any perception that the FBI has acted inappropriately.

I appreciate your attention to this issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me or Asher Hildebrand of my staff at (202) 225-1784 if you would like to discuss it further.

Sincerely,

David Price
Member of Congress