Today's media bias question: Can you call someone "anti-war" or a "peace protester" if they're suspected of providing material support to violent groups like Hezbollah or the FARC guerrillas in Colombia? Apparently they do at The Washington Post. The top story in Tuesday's Post carries the anodyne headline "Activists cry foul over FBI probe." That should be "Radical-left activists cry foul." The subhead was "Peace protesters, labor organizers are apparent targets." The FBI's anti-terror probes (involving U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Plamegate fame) are apparently infuriating Obama labor-union agitators in the Midwest.
You have to read down to paragraph 23 in Peter Wallsten's article to get the real point:
The probe appears to date from 2008, as a number of activists began planning for massive antiwar demonstrations at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
After the convention, the FBI’s interest continued, apparently focused on the international work pursued by many of the participants. Several activists said they had traveled to Colombia or the Palestinian territories on “fact-finding” trips designed to bolster their case back home against U.S. military support for the Israeli and Colombian governments.
In 2009, a group raised money to travel and deliver about $1,000 to a Palestinian women’s group, but the delegation was turned back by officials at the airport in Israel, organizers said.
Search warrants, subpoenas and documents show that the FBI has been interested in links between the activists and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah.
In the early morning of Sept. 24, 2010, agents raided homes in Chicago and Minneapolis, issued subpoenas to 14 activists, and tried to question others around the country, including prominent antiwar organizers in North Carolina and California.
At 7 a.m., according to documents and interviews, about a dozen armed federal agents used a battering ram to force their way into Mick Kelly’s second-floor apartment, which sits over an all-night coffee shop in a working-class neighborhood of Minneapolis.
Kelly, 53, a cook in a University of Minnesota dormitory and a member of the Teamsters, said he was at work and his nightgown-clad wife, Linden Gawboy, was slow to answer the door.
Apparently by accident, the agents left something behind: a packet of secret documents headlined “Operation Order,” laying out detailed instructions for the FBI SWAT team to find clues of Kelly’s activism, including personal finances or those of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, a far-left group he works with. The documents point to the FBI’s interest in Kelly’s foreign travel. [This was the only use of "left," not to mention "far-left" or "radical left" in the article.]
“We’ve done absolutely nothing wrong,” Kelly said. “We don’t know what this is about, but we know that our rights to organize and speak out are being violated.”
In Chicago, the raid at the home of Weiner, 49, also targeted her husband, Joe Iosbaker, 52, a University of Illinois-Chicago office worker and a union steward for his SEIU local. The couple are among the grassroots activists close to the world once inhabited by Barack Obama who have been caught up in the investigation.
Like others, Weiner and Iosbacker have been fixtures on the local liberal political scene, protesting police actions, attending antiwar rallies, leading pay equity fights and even doing some volunteer work for Obama’s past campaigns.
The Post also mentions union activist Tom Burke, who discussed the murder of Colombian union activists with Obama. They also show a photo of Burke and Obama shaking hands. The headline when the article jumped to A-8 was "Peace activists, labor organizers apparent targets of FBI probe." This is how the Post story began:
FBI agents took box after box of address books, family calendars, artwork and personal letters in their 10-hour raid in September of the century-old house shared by Stephanie Weiner and her husband.
The agents seemed keenly interested in Weiner’s home-based business, the Revolutionary Lemonade Stand, which sells silkscreened infant bodysuits and other clothes with socialist slogans, phrases like “Help Wanted: Revolutionaries.”
The search was part of a mysterious, ongoing nationwide terrorism investigation with an unusual target: prominent peace activists and politically active labor organizers.
The probe — involving subpoenas to 23 people and raids of seven homes last fall — has triggered a high-powered protest against the Department of Justice and, in the process, could create some political discomfort for President Obama with his union supporters as he gears up for his reelection campaign.
This is America, and you certainly can sell Che Guevara-loving baby clothes in a free country. But it shouldn't be surprising that you might attract attention as a possible supporter of violent revolutionaries.