Antiwar.com wins legal case against FBI
Antiwar.com accomplishes a lot here, and the article includes evidence of a contrived reason for surveillance that could have been an actual mistake or a pretended mistake, which is something we might want to watch for in the FBI/CIA cover stories for illegal surveillance of Trump's campaign.
Court: FBI Must Destroy Memos Calling Antiwar.com a Threat
Ruling comes after a eight-year battle over secret surveillance of the popular website after 9/11.
By KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS • September 12, 2019
In a major victory for Antiwar.com, free speech and journalism, a federal appeals court has ruled that the FBI must expunge surveillance memos that agents had drafted about the website’s co-founders Eric Garris and Justin Raimondo in the early years following the 9/11 attacks.
“It’s been a long fight and I’m glad we had an outcome that could might affect future FBI behavior,” said Garris, who runs Antiwar.com, based in the San Francisco Bay area. “I just wish Justin was still here to know that this has happened.”
Raimondo, 67, passed away in June from a long bout with cancer. He and Garris had sued the FBI in 2013 demanding it turn over all the memos and records it was keeping on the two men and the website, which has been promoting anti-interventionist news and views from a libertarian-conservative perspective since 1995…
They won their case, and in 2017 the FBI agreed to turn over all the memos and settle their legal fees, $299,000, but the final expungement of two key memos involving intelligence gathered on the men and Antiwar.com, had yet to be expunged from the agency’s record...
It all began when an observant reader brought a heavily redacted 2004 memo to Antiwar.com’s attention in 2011. It was part of a batch of documents the reader had obtained through FOIA requests. It was clear from the documents’ contents that the FBI had been collecting information and records on Raimondo and Garris for some time. At one point the FBI agent writing the April 30, 2004 memo on Antiwar.com recommended further monitoring of the website in the form of opening a “preliminary investigation …to determine if [redaction] are engaging in, or have engaged in, activities which constitute a threat to national security.”
Why? Because the website was questioning U.S. war policy ...
Agents noted that Antiwar.com had, or linked to, published counter-terrorism watch lists (already in the public domain). The FBI noted at least two of Raimondo’s columns and wondered openly, “who are (Antiwar.com’s) contributors and what are the funds utilized for?” This, after acknowledging there was no evidence of any crime being plotted or committed.
Other things noted in the documents::
— Garris had passed along a threat he received on Sept. 12, 2001 from a Antiwar.com reader obviously disgruntled with the website’s coverage of 9/11. The subject line read, “YOUR SITE IS GOING DOWN,” and proceeded with this missive: “Be warned assholes, ill be posting your site address to all the hack boards tonight … your site is history.”
Concerned, Garris forwarded the email to the FBI field office in San Francisco. Garris heard nothing, but by January 2002, it turned up again, completely twisted around, in a secret FBI memo entitled, “A THREAT BY GARRIS TO HACK FBI WEBSITE.”
It turns out this “threat” went on to justify, at least in part, the FBI’s ongoing interest in monitoring the website.
— The FBI took interest in Raimondo’s writing about a 2001 FBI investigation of five Israeli nationals who were witnessed smiling and celebrating and taking pictures of the burning Twin Towers from a rooftop perch across the river from Manhattan in Union City, New Jersey, on 9/11. After witnesses called the police, the individuals, who all worked for a local moving company, were taken into custody and grilled by FBI and CIA for two months after it was deemed their work visas had expired. They were eventually deported without charge.
Raimondo, in writing about the case in 2002, linked to an American-generated terror watchlist (which had been published elsewhere on the Internet) that went out to Italian financial institutions and included the name of the man who owned the New Jersey moving company in question.
— The FBI noted Antiwar.com was cited in an article, the name of the author redacted, about U.S aid to Israel.
— They also noted that Raimondo had appeared on MSNBC to talk about his opposition to the Iraq War.
— It also cited an article that listed Antiwar.com as a reference was handed out in 2002 at a “peaceful protest” at a British air base in the U.K.
— The FBI was watching a member of a domestic neo-Nazi group who had “discussed a website, Antiwar.com” while encouraging fellow members at a conference to “educate themselves” about the Middle East conflict.
— The agency said a special agent’s review of hard drives seized during an investigation of an unnamed subject, revealed that the subject had visited Antiwar.com between July 25, 2002 and June 15, 2003, “among many other websites.”
The FBI acknowledged it searched the Web, as well as Lexis-Nexis, the Universal Index (FBI central records), the agency’s Electronic Case File, Department of Motor Vehicles and Dunn & Bradsheet (credit reports) for information on Antiwar.com and for “one or more individuals” working for the website.
Looking back, it’s hard to fathom how such tiny (Constitutionally protected) crumbs led the FBI to the conclusion that Garris and Raimondo, two dedicated activists (Raimondo was also a prolific author) with decades of time in California’s political trenches, might be a “threat to national security,” but there you are...
The case decided on Wednesday revolved around two remaining memos that the FBI had so far refused to expunge. One involved the call Garris made to the FBI in 2002. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Northern California found that the government did not have a compelling law enforcement reason to keep them.
“Maintenance of a record that describes only First Amendment activity and does not implicate national security is not pertinent to the FBI’s authorized activities,” the court concluded...
Garris said he was relieved and elated that the court was able to end this ugly chapter for the website...