The FBI came looking for me today at my family’s house
by Scott Williams
I am writing to let everyone know that the FBI visited my father today with the intention of questioning me about my trip to Syria as an international election observer for the 2014 Syrian Presidential Elections.
In June 2014, I visited Syria (link http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/06/05/syrian-people-elect-president-wide-margin-amid-insurgent-attacks/) with the objective of learning the truth about the situation there. This trip was entirely legal and well documented. I visited along with observers representing 32 countries, many of which were members of Parliament and representatives of local governments in countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Uganda, and beyond. Since then, I have reported on my trip in public meetings at the United Nations, as well as in Buffalo, NY, Rochester, NY, Syracuse, NY, Albany, NY, and where I live in Philadelphia, PA. Since 2007, I have been a committed anti-war activist with many organizations, including Students for a Democratic Society, the International Action Center and several others. The FBI mentioned me as an activist with FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together), of which I am one of the national coordinators.
Why is the FBI coming after me? The FBI’s attempt to question me is not only an attack on me, it is an attack on anyone who chooses to travel the world and seek a perspective that is not represented by the corporate media. The US depends on misinformation and huge lies to perpetrate their crimes abroad. Yet the FBI has picked the wrong person, since I have strong friends and allies across the US who will stand with me in the fight against unjust government repression.
This visit is a continuation of the FBI’s attack on anti-war and international solidarity activists. The FBI has been attempting to charge 24 anti-war and international solidarity activists with “material support of terrorism.” These activist are targeted because have been targeted and face potential long term jail sentences. Please take a moment to look at the StopFBI.net (link http://www.stopfbi.net/) site for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the organization that has fought to defend these 24, as well as Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh. This is a strong example of the political fightback that is needed to defend activists from Government repression.
These activists are not alone in their treatment. Since 2001, hundreds of Muslim men in the USA have been victims of entrapment, harassment, and false imprisonment simply for their religion.
I strongly encourage all of my friends, co-workers, and family members take a look at the Center for Constitutional Rights’ booklet, entitled “If an Agent Knocks,” http://www.stopfbi.net/sites/default/files/CCR_If_An_Agent_Knocks-1.pdf for resources on what to do if the FBI comes to your door. Most importantly, you SHOULD NEVER AGREE TO SPEAK TO THE FBI WITHOUT A LAWYER present and really you should never speak with the FBI. You can simply say, “I do not wish to speak with you. I will have my lawyer contact you,’ and then immediately close the door.
Most of us do not have a lawyer, but if you or a family member is contacted by the FBI, you should contact the National Lawyers Guild immediately as well as other activists who have been dealt with this government intimidation before.
As soon as this happened, I called Sara Flounders, the co-director of the International Action Center, to discuss our strategy to stop this FBI intimidation. We decided to make a clear statement as public as possible, we will not be silent as you attempt to attack those who choose to speak out against unjust US foreign policy. In fact, we will use any attack on my freedom to continue to build a movement against government repression. It is in this spirit that I am writing you all today.
As Reverend Martin Luther King Jr said, “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home.” With the US wars escalating in Syria, Iraq and beyond, we see that US war has only caused massive devastation for the people of the world, while bringing in huge profits to few. Meanwhile, billions of dollars are taken away from public education and jobs and the government has trampled our basic civil liberties. As the activists in the Committee to Stop FBI Repression have done, I will continue to fight unjust US wars on people across the world, as well as demanding full funding for human needs and an end to the aggressive destruction of our basic civil liberties.
I am not certain what will happen next. While I do have legal help, I hope you all will also stand with me in case of any further attempt at government repression by the FBI.
Another world is possible,