As a number of people have emailed to tell me, the ACLU announced that two peaceful Michigan political groups – BAM-N and Direct Action – were mentioned in an FBI report about domestic terrorism:
The document released today is an FBI report labeled, “Domestic Terrorism Symposium,” and describes a meeting that was intended to “keep the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies apprised of the activities of the various groups and individuals within the state of Michigan who are thought to be involved in terrorist activities.”
Among the groups mentioned are Direct Action, an anti-war group, and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a national organization dedicated to defending affirmative action, integration, and other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The FBI acknowledges in the report that the Michigan State Police has information that BAMN has been peaceful in the past.
“Labeling political advocacy as ‘terrorist activity’ is a threat to legitimate dissent which has never been considered a crime in this country,” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Spying on people who simply disagree with our government’s policies is a tremendous waste of police resources.” …
The ACLU launched its nationwide effort last year in response to widespread complaints from students and political activists who said they were questioned by FBI agents in the months leading up to the 2004 political conventions. The FOIAs seek two kinds of information: 1) the actual FBI files of groups and individuals targeted for speaking out or practicing their faith; and, 2) information about how the practices and funding structure of the task forces, known as JTTFs, may be encouraging rampant and unwarranted spying.
I detest BAM-N because they are militant, sectarian Trotskyites (which strongly resembles a cult) whose politics are detrimental to the goals of pragmatic progressive change I advocate, and I personally dislike many of the individuals in BAM-N who are dogmatic bullies. That said, in the course of my extensive research of BAM-N, which includes detailed interviews with former members and a survey of virtually every news story printed about them, I have never found a shred of evidence they have done anything illegal except perhaps encouraging their younger members to get into fights and throw things at political demonstrations. Unless the FBI knows something I don’t, I fear they are barking up the wrong tree.
> See the complete ACLY press release: “FBI Document Labels Michigan Affirmative Action and Peace Groups as Terrorists”
> What’s the deal with BAM-N? Read my archives here.