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Judge on Suspicionless Laptop Searches & Seizures: Better Off Leaving Devices at Home

7:00 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

A federal judge on Friday heard a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) against the government’s assertion that it has the authority to search, seize and copy laptops, cell phones, cameras and other devices of people at America’s borders even if there is no suspicion of wrongdoing.

Specifically, the hearing was on whether the government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against laptop search policies at the border was legitimate.

District Judge Edward Korman weakly defended a person’s right to not be subjected to unreasonable searches or seizures, suggesting, according to Reuters, “Travelers who want to keep U.S. border agents from seeing sensitive documents on their laptops and cell phones may be better off leaving those devices at home.”

He added, “There are lots of burdens people are subject to in order to protect their security and the security of others.” And, “It may become impossible to conduct such searches if you’re going to set up evidentiary standards.”

Not only does this indicate contempt for the notion of privacy but it also shows an appalling acceptance of warrantless searches of people’s personal property.

The government’s attorney, Marcia Sowles, argued, “Border searches are reasonable by nature, because you’re protecting the borders.” In essence, whatever rights you think you have do not exist at America’s borders.

After maintaining that carrying confidential documents on personal devices was “risky business,” after citing TSA pat-down searches in airports to further justify his deference to power, Judge Korman did not rule on the motion to dismiss.

The case, filed in 2010, deals specifically with an incident that happened on May 1, 2010. Twenty-six year old US-French dual citizen Pascal Abidor, then a graduate student in Islamic Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, boarded an Amtrak train to New York City to visit family. He didn’t realize that he would be refused the right to keep the contents of his electronic devices private and was carrying his laptop, digital camera, two cell phones and an external hard drive.

As the ACLU lawsuit describes, at 11 am, the train reached the inspection point at the border of Quebec and New York. US Customs and Border Protection(CBP) Officer Tulip boarded the train. Abidor gave the officer “his customs declaration and US passport,” explained why he was living in Canada, answered the officer’s question when asked where he had traveled last year (Jordan and Lebanon) and showed his French passport to the officer.

Abidor’s cooperation wasn’t good enough. Officer Tulip directed Abidor to go to “the café car of the train for further inspection.”

In the café car, the officer removed Abidor’s laptop from his bag, turned it on and began to browse the contents. He was asked about personal pictures and images of Hamas and Hezbollah rallies he had for research purposes, as he was writing a paper on the modern history of Shiites in Lebanon for his Ph. D degree.

A few more questions were asked of him before he was patted down by a male officer, who had him put his hands against the wall and then proceeded to apply “a strong amount of pressure to his groin and genitals in various angles.” He was put in handcuffs and carried off the train and put in a detention cell for further questioning.

Abidor was detained for three hours. An FBI agent (also with the CBP) asked him to further explain why he was interested in the modern history of Shiites in Lebanon. Meanwhile, “officers from CBP and/or other government agencies searched through various files on his laptop” and looked at an iMovie Project of his entitled, “My Great Movie” and an Adobe PDF document that contained “citations for his dissertation.”

He was released five hours after being detained at the border. His laptop was not returned. He was not allowed to take his external hard drive with him. The sole copies of his academic work, which he had worked on throughout the past years, were in the possession of government agents. When he told officers he would be traveling to the UK and France to do more research and needed access to the devices, they didn’t care. So, Abidor left, “frightened, disturbed and severely upset” and spent the next ten days struggling to sleep, experiencing panic attacks from the state of anxiety he had plunged into as a result of this incident.

A key reason for opposing any justification for this new claimed government authority to search and seize property without suspicion is that people like Abidor will likely spend the rest of their lives being stopped and harassed at airports. On July 8, 2010, after returning from his research trip in the UK and France, Abidor was pulled aside and asked about what happened last time he was stopped by a CBP officer at the Newark airport. He was asked how he paid for traveling, about his girlfriend, whether he was a Muslim and what languages he spoke, all information that he should not be asked to give unless it can help with a criminal investigation.

This is what has happened with Jacob Appelbaum, who works on the Tor Project and was a volunteer for WikiLeaks. Appelbaum now sends messages on Twitter ahead of his travel to let people know he is looking forward to more harassment.

It’s also what has happened with David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network. In November 2010, Department of Homeland Security agents stopped House at O’Hare International airport as he was returning from Mexico.

The agents asked House about his political activities and beliefs. His laptop computer, camera and a USB drive were all seized. The ACLU came to House’s defense, sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security and managed to get House his seized laptop, camera and USB drive returned to him but not until the government authorities had seven weeks to browse through, copy and share whatever they wanted to from the devices with anyone in any agency in government.

As Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald has said, “Without any form of judicial oversight or search warrant,” authorities literally go through and do this routinely. “It’s a form of pure harassment.”

Attorney for the ACLU, Catherine Crump, represented Abidor in court arguing, “lawyers, journalists and other professionals often carry ‘their whole lives’ on their laptops” and the unreasonable searches and seizures can “violate protected professional information, such as the names of news sources or notes from attorney-client meetings.”

I spoke with Crump at a Netroots Nation 2011 conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota in June and this is what she had to say about the government’s new claimed authority to seize laptops:

Glenn Greenwald: Two Obama Policies That Expand the Assault on Civil Liberties [VIDEO]

4:30 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

Throughout the past couple of days, I have been posting video of  Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald’s speech at the Socialism Conference held in Chicago, IL. last weekend. Instead of posting the speech in full, I have been posting the speech in segments to draw attention and encourage discussion on key aspects of Greenwald’s speech.

My post on Part 1 of the speech is here. My post on Part 2 of the speech is here. And now, here’s part 3.

Greenwald describes two areas where President Obama has embraced two policies that former President George W. Bush never employed. The first is asserting the right to target and assassinate US citizens.

…The Washington Post in January 2010 reported there were four Americans on Obama’s list of individuals, who he has declared without any due process to be terrorists, who the CIA is now not just permitted but instructed to hunt down and murder. One of who is Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born American citizen in Yemen who the US government hates because he speaks effectively to the Muslim world about the violence that the US commits in that part of the world and the responsibility of Muslims and the need of Muslims to stand up to this violence. The US hates him because this message is resonating and so the solution is not to charge him with crimes, because he’s not committing any crimes because you have the First Amendment right to say the things you say. It’s not even to detain him without process. They’re not bothering with that. They’re trying to kill him. They’ve shot cruise missiles and used drones at at least two occasions in the last year to try and kill this US citizen without due process, not on a battlefield but in his home, in his car, with his children, wherever they find him. And, this power is one that the Obama Administration has asserted for itself in a way that George Bush and Dick Cheney never did. [emphasis added]

As Maria Lahood pointed out on Democracy Now! in May, after the Obama Administration attempted to assassinate al-Awlaki but did not succeed, he has not been charged with anything.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU brought a case against the US government charging that al-Awlaki had a right to due process. They weren’t arguing that he could not be killed. They were arguing that if he is guilty of a crime he had the right under international law and the Constitution to be granted due process, a right that most in the American political class appear to have utter contempt for when it is granted to those suspected of engaging or promoting terrorism.

The case, brought on behalf of Al-Awlaki’s father but ultimately thrown out because the court found his father didn’t have the standing to seek relief for his son and the questions raised were “political.” The decision to label him a terrorist and decide to kill him overseas was determined to be not reviewable by a court of law.

The second area Greenwald outlines is the war on whistleblowing, which the Obama Administration is waging, which he argues is important ”because if you combine the extraordinary secrecy powers of the US government…with the unbelievable subservient establishment media that won’t disclose any facts or truths without getting permission from the US government,” you see that “whistleblowing is one of the very few avenues left that we even have to learn about what our government does.” And, according to Greenwald, that is why the US government sees whistleblowing as such a threat.

He talks about WikiLeaks in the context of this war on whistleblowing:

Not only is the Obama Administration trying to criminalize what WikiLeaks is doing; there’s a very aggressive grand jury in northern Virginia to try to turn what they’re doing into a crime, even though all it is is the core of investigative journalism—revealing the secrets of the world’s most powerful corporate and government factions. If that’s turned into a crime, then meaningful transparency and journalism are dead, but they’re also doing a whole other variety of things like trying to invade the social networking communications who anyone who is even suspected of supporting WikiLeaks. And they’ve even gone so far as to execute a policy of detaining anyone they suspect of being associated with WikiLeaks at airports when they try to reenter the country, American citizens. And they’ve not only detained them but they’ve seized their laptops and other electronic devices like thumb drives and the like, memory drives. And then they just seize them and copy their contents, sometimes don’t return them, sometimes return them after a couple months—All without any form of judicial oversight or search warrant. They literally go through and do it routinely. It’s a form of pure harassment. [emphasis added]

David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, and Jacob Appelbaum, a WikiLeaks volunteer, have faced this harassment. Not only have they been harassed at airports, but House has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Virginia and Appelbaum has had his Twitter user data subpoenaed. You can read more about the government’s repression of Appelbaum and House here.

Also, in the case of New York Times reporter James Risen, the government is arguing there is no such thing as “good leaks,” effectively laying the groundwork for criminalizing whistleblowing in most if not all instances.

Greenwald goes on to further contextualize these two policies the Obama Administration has adopted. And, he concludes after demonstrating the Administration’s utter disregard for the Constitution (call it the “audacity of hope”):

You really do wonder, if we allow these sorts of things, these kinds of breaches of basic constitutional freedom without much backlash or objection, what is it that we would object to? Or what would trigger real backlash? That I think is an important question to answer.

There have been small attempts to preserve American civil liberties. A number of people condemned the recent extensions of provisions of the PATRIOT Act. And, after Bush left office, a number of people pushed for accountability for Bush Administration officials, only to abandon their campaigns for justice because they did not think there was any realistic chance of holding officials accountable.

Many have accepted defeat. Some are just realizing that Obama has been continuing Bush policies that continue and expand attacks on civil liberties (see Part 1 of Greenwald’s speech). Either way, it should be considered stunning and abysmal that the public tolerates what the government is doing. But, unfortunately, those who are most capable of fighting tolerate the apathy or melancholiness of the public and do very little to challenge the Obama Administration.

Lt. Dan Choi: Proud to Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with Bradley Manning

9:52 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

While at Netroots Nation 2011, I had the privilege of speaking to Lieutenant Dan Choi, who served in the US Army infantry, went to war in Iraq and graduated from West Point with a degree in Arabic.

Choi was kicked out of the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) about one year ago. At Netroots Nation, Choi celebrated his one year “anniversary or birthday” as a civilian. He also noted that despite DADT being repealed there are still soldiers getting kicked out of the military for being gay.

The US government is putting Lt. Dan Choi on trial August 29 for “demonstrating in front of the White House in November of last year.” Choi refuses to plead guilty or accept any kind of deal.

“I believe this Administration is making a grave mistake in limiting the areas, times and manners that free speech should be allowed,” declares Choi. And adds nobody should be intimidated into not protesting.

I spoke to Choi the day after he had gone with Hamsher to support Bradley Manning Support Network co-founder David House, as he went before a federal grand jury investigating individuals supportive of alleged military whistleblower Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks. Choi says House is an “American hero” and “our situations are exactly the same.”

Whenever a government tries to stifle the truth by censoring the people, we sometimes take a look at the people. And that’s what’s going on with Bradley Manning. People have been trying to scapegoat him as someone who is crazy or someone who should not have gone to war but I think that Bradley Manning is a great soldier who did something as far as morality.

This was supposedly one of the first times Choi had expressed solidarity with Pfc. Manning so openly on camera.

He continues:

What the true mandate of the American servant of society is he embodied through his act. It’s no different from what Daniel Ellsberg did with the Pentagon Papers. And, I wonder what this president is about to do to this new hero of American patriotism. He is not antiwar. I want to make sure that everybody knows that. From the things that I’ve heard this soldier signed up because he believed in this country and when he saw things that were unbelievable and were being perpetrated by this country, he wasn’t attacking this country. He was trying to teach this country what this mandate of service really was. So, I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with anybody who speaks up against injustice, against war crimes, against torture and against the reprobate actions of any kind of reprobate government that tries to tell them that power belongs to the powerful.

Choi recently visited Moscow to participate in the Moscow Pride parade and stand in solidarity with gays in Russia. I ask him the United States has some effect on how countries around the world treat their own people, particularly gay people.

The US is a “horrible role model not only on gay rights but progress,” replies Choi.

He doesn’t fault the government entirely for failing to be a good role model and concludes, “I blame our courage inadequacy. The only ingredient that is missing nowadays [among activists] is the willingness to stick to your guns ’til the very day that you achieve what you set out to accomplish in the first place.”

Obama DOJ’s War on Free Speech and Activism

7:12 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

A few days ago, rallies were held in cities all over the United States in support of veteran Chicano activist Carlos Montes, who had his home raided by the FBI on May 17. The rallies coincided with Montes’ arraignment hearing for felony charges, which were filed against him by the LA County Sheriffs and FBI after the raid.

The target of an ever-expanding government investigation into antiwar and international solidarity activists, Montes demanded that his charges be dropped. The District Attorney denied his request. Montes asked to see the search warrant and police report on the raid of his home. The District Attorney initially refused the request but then agreed to release heavily edited versions of the documents. Montes was also told he would not be allowed to show the documents to the press.

Tom Burke, a spokesperson for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and a subpoenaed activist, explains that Montes allegedly was found to be in possession of a weapon that was not properly registered. Burke believes that if Montes hadn’t been a political activist or organizer he would have been contacted about a problem on the gun permit. But, the LA sheriffs chose to make an example of Montes.

Burke also notes, like twenty-three other activists subpoenaed thus far, Montes has a link to the organizing of marches at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The FBI raided the Antiwar Committee office in the Twin Cities in Minnesota in September 2010. On the warrant for the raid there were seventeen names. Burke says Carlos Montes’ name appears on the warrant.

When Montes’ home was raided by the FBI & SWAT team, they smashed Montes’ front door, rushed in with automatic weapons while Montes was sleeping and proceeded to ransack his home, “taking his computer, cell phones and hundreds of documents, photos, diskettes and mementos of his current political activities in the pro-immigrant rights and Chicano civil rights movement.” They did this at 5 am in the morning.

“For people who have had their homes raided, it’s worse than being robbed because it’s the government coming in and taking the things that are nearest and dearest to you – your own writing, your own diary,” says Burke.

Rallies in eighteen cities were held in support of Montes and against ongoing FBI repression of activists. And because the judge did not drop the felony charges against Montes, another round of rallies will be held July 7 to again call for the charges to be dropped.

Recent articles in news publications like the Washington Post has given the repression against activists greater attention. At the Netroots Nation 2011 conference, a member of the audience asked at a panel session titled, “What the Government Wants to Know About You,” if he could get more information on what he read on the recently published Post article.

Marcy Wheeler of Firedoglake, one of the speakers on the panel, described to the audience how the activists are alleged to be “material supporters of terrorism.” She outlined how the grand jury investigation has been opened and recounted how an informant infiltrated the Antiwar Committee. She noted the activists are alleged to have connections to groups in Palestine and Colombia that perhaps have engaged in terrorist activities but concluded, “Chiquita has far closer ties to terrorism than any peace activists but nobody from Chiquita has gone to jail.”

Essentially, the FBI now has all this data and is able to use it to start investigations. The FBI can turn over any rock that they want to turn over and they can seek out whatever they want to find and piece together a case.

With the FBI moving to expand surveillance powers, it is cases like this investigation into activists that the new powers will effectively make legitimate.

Burke reacts to the news that the FBI is claiming new powers, “The FBI has been violating their own guidelines and their own standard operating procedures and instead of saying we violated what we set out ourselves, they decided to expand what they were allowed to do.

Why does the government want these new powers? Why does the Justice Department under Obama support a growing investigation into activists?

Burke suggests with the economy getting worse the American people are getting more frustrated, with the Congress’ approval rating getting lower and lower, the war in Afghanistan failing, stability in Iraq not being maintained and troops not being sent home, the Colombia war stagnating with no defeat of the insurgency—This “cumulation” is leading to more state repression against those fighting for change in the system.

The war on free speech and activism is apparent here at Netroots Nation as people like Lt. Dan Choi and Tim DeChristopher speak on panels and as individuals like David House are discussed during panel sessions.

Lt. Dan Choi, a soldier and gay rights advocate who engaged in an act of civil disobedience at the White House fence last year to push the Obama Administration to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” is facing federal charges for exercising his right to demonstrate. While most people receive misdemeanors for protesting, for the first time since 1917, the Department of Justice under Obama is taking him to trial this August for speaking out.

Tim DeChristopher, a climate activist who placed fake bids in a public land auction to disrupt drilling by energy companies, has been convicted of a crime. Although the land auction was ultimately declared illegal, the Obama Administration has gone ahead and pursued a case against DeChristopher. The prosecution pushed the jury in his trial to not consider his conscience but rather that he broke a law. They nudged the jury to obfuscate facts and, in fact, many key details on the auction were kept from the jury. And so, DeChristopher now faces up to ten years in prison.

And, David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, has been embroiled in a grand jury investigation that seeks to embroil him in espionage charges for being linked to WikiLeaks. House has been targeted consistently by the government for the past months. His lawful association with the Bradley Manning Support Network, which was created to raise funds for the legal defense of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower to WikiLeaks now being held at Ft. Leavenworth, has led the Department of Homeland Security stop him at airports and seize his laptop, camera and USB drive.

What is at stake with the targeting of activists is an American’s right to protest against the government and sometimes take bold action that could be regarded as adversarial. Those who believe in free speech and support a person’s right to protest must not ignore the cases the Department of Justice is pursuing against individuals in this country, who are being made examples to send a message to others that if they draw inspiration and display courage in the face of power they too might face the same punishment or harassment as these people.

*For video of Montes speaking at the rally on June 16, go here.

Grand Jury Meets to Question WikiLeaks Supporters: ‘Do You or Have You Ever Worked for WikiLeaks?’

7:13 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

(update below)

A federal grand jury empaneled to investigate WikiLeaks meets again in Alexandria, Virginia today. David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, is expected to appear before the grand jury. He and others in the Greater Boston area have been subjected to this process, which seeks to embroil them in espionage charges for being linked to WikiLeaks.

It is a tired cliché, perhaps, but, with each new development in the investigation of WikiLeaks—in a process that might be considered a part of a larger war on WikiLeaks—more and more individuals are being made to answer the question, “Do you or have you ever worked for WikiLeaks?” (Soon they will be asked, “Are you or have you ever been supportive or sympathetic toward WikiLeaks?”)

House has been targeted consistently by the government for the past months. His lawful association with the Bradley Manning Support Network, which was created to raise funds for the legal defense of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower to WikiLeaks now being held at Ft. Leavenworth, has transformed him into a marked man. In November 2010, Department of Homeland Security agents stopped House at O’Hare International airport as he was returning from Mexico.

The agents asked House about his political activities and beliefs. His laptop computer, camera, and a USB drive were all seized. The questioning and seizure of personal property does not appear to have been carried out because House posed a threat to border security. But, House was made to face intrusive and intimidating tactics because he joined a lawful group.

“The search and seizure of my laptop has had a chilling effect on the activities of the Bradley Manning Support Network, by silencing once-outspoken supporters and causing donors to retreat. Our government should not be treating lawful activists like suspects,” explains House.

The ACLU has come to his defense and filed a lawsuit against the DHS. The ACLU has called for the “return or destruction of any of House’s personal data still in the custody of the government and disclosure of whether and to whom the data has been disseminated.” And, if not for the ACLU sending a letter to DHS, House would likely have not been able to get his seized laptop, camera and USB drive back after seven weeks.
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Time for Those Subpoenaed in WikiLeaks Grand Jury Investigation to Setup Support Committee?

7:56 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

The grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks has widened. A subpoena has been issued to David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network. Manning’s ex-boyfriend, Tyler Watkins, who recently appeared in PBS Frontline’s “WikiSecrets” documentary, and Nadia Heninger, who has done work with WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum (someone whose Twitter user data has been subpoenaed by the government), have each been served with a subpoena.

The new subpoenas come just over a month after the grand jury began meeting in Alexandria, Virginia on May 11 this year. Then, it was known at least one individual from Cambridge was issued a subpoena seeking to compel him to testify before a Grand Jury. And, Carrie Johnson of NPR, in one of the few articles published on the investigation by a US media organization, suggested “national security experts” could not “remember a time when the Justice Department has pursued so many criminal cases based on leaks of government secrets.”

Glenn Greenwald, who has been following the Grand Jury investigation since its inception, calls attention to the potential for witnesses to refuse to cooperate in this “pernicious investigation.”

One witness who has appeared before the Grand Jury has already refused to answer any questions beyond the most basic biographical ones (name and address), invoking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to do so, and other witnesses are highly likely to follow suit.

Greenwald illuminates what could happen in the event that a witness refuse to answer questions and suggests that if this happens the federal prosecutor could offer immunity. The offer would then mean anything said could not be used against the witness. But, then the witness would still be compelled to answer questions and, if the witness refused to answer questions, the witness could be found in contempt of court.

An attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, Jim Fennerty, who is representing anti-war and international solidarity activists subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury empanelled in Chicago, described this on the “This Week in WikiLeaks” podcast weeks ago.

…If you’re called for a grand jury, you’re usually given a subpoena to be there. My advice is if you get a subpoena you should call a lawyer immediately and get some legal advice. But, if you go to the grand jury, you then are called into the grand jury to answer questions. You cannot take a lawyer in there to answer questions with you. Your lawyer waits out in the hallway or adjacent room. What you can do then is, before you answer questions, you can say I am going to go back and consult with my attorney before answering…

You can refuse to answer the questions and invoke the Fifth Amendment. But then a witness called to appear must understand:

…If you go to a grand jury and they do say they are going to offer immunity but it’s not total immunity, it’s called use immunity, which means that if you say something they can’t use that against you to prosecute you if they uncover other evidence around the situation. They [can’t] use that evidence to come back and use it to prosecute you or indict you.

If you’re offered immunity, you have to decide if you will speak to the grand jury or not.

If you are given immunity and refuse to speak, then you will be taken before a judge at some time, that day or maybe couple weeks later, and you’ll be presented these questions again by a judge and the judge will order you to answer those questions. If you then refuse to answer those questions, you can then be held in civil contempt of the grand jury. And you can then be incarcerated for the life of the grand jury. People have spent months and months in jail just on civil contempt.

Greenwald notes that one witness is considering going to jail as an act of “civil disobedience” because the witness views “the attempt to criminalize WikiLeaks as such a profound assault on basic freedoms, including press freedoms.

During the podcast interview, Fennerty says the grand jury typically “rubberstamps what the government wants.” The prosecutor is part of the grand jury, the grand jurors get to hear one side of the story and they don’t get information from the other side.

If one considers the government’s war on those linked to WikiLeaks as part of the larger war on whistleblowing, which the Obama Administration is waging, then the use of the grand jury should be especially disturbing because grand juries have a history of being used as a tool of political repression. That this new McCarthyism could strike a blow to freedom of the press in America is even more troubling.

In the event that witnesses refuse to testify and participate in what some characterize as a fishing expedition, federal prosecutors involved in grand juries will typically try to peel off one individual by exploiting their fears or weaknesses. So, for example, someone like Manning’s ex-boyfriend could be considered a “weak link” and be exploited by the grand jury to crack and provide information to the grand jury.

In the case of the twenty-three activists Fennerty is representing, the activists have bound together in solidarity. They have held press conferences, rallies and participated in public speaking events describing the work they do to make the case in the court of public opinion that they are being persecuted for their work.

Fennerty finds this to be the right thing to do because those ensnared in grand juries cannot win in the courts. Those subpoenaed have to work to keep their side of the story in the news so the official story the grand jury tries to craft might be considered suspicious or disingenuous by the public.

Therefore, those subpoenaed might want to start a political support committee and take cues from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, which is a group that has formed to support the activists Fennerty is representing.

It will be up to those subpoenaed to decide how public they want to be about the investigation. The attorneys they have represent them will suggest they keep certain details secret but much of the government’s claims about them should be shared because the less mystery, the better chance the activists have of discrediting the government’s decision to issue subpoenas and launch an investigation into their activities in the first place.

Moreover, a support committee could truly open up a conversation about whether it is a crime to be connected to an organization like WikiLeaks and whether American citizens want to live in a society that criminalizes people who organize or work with this pro-transparency organization that, if one examines the evidence in media coverage and statements from US government officials, is not proven to have committed one single crime.