IN the United States it has just been revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has been secretly collecting the internal documents of civil rights and anti-war groups. It has amassed 3,500 pages from these organisations, including 1,173 from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Alongside this, in Britain, the Foreign Office is censoring the book, The Cost of War, by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the former Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) in the period before the war on Iraq and a special envoy in that country after the war.
The ACLU gained information on the FBI’s spying activities from the Justice Department by demanding its rights under the Freedom of Information Act in a Washington court. Other groups have already taken the FBI to court.
The United for Peace and Justice anti-war group has six pages of internal FBI documents which show the extent of its spying on them during the build-up to protests at the 2003 Republican Convention in New York. Counter-terrorism officers at the Los Angeles FBI offices sent information to colleagues in New York, Washington and Boston.
The FBI claims they were merely concerned to prevent disruption and criminal offences, but the documents reveal they were keenly interested in the politics of all the protesters.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said: ‘I’m still shocked by the size of the file on us.’ He asked: ‘Why would the FBI collect almost 1,200 pages on a civil rights organisation engaged in lawful activity?’
Protest groups say that the FBI counter-terrorism officers have used their expanded powers since September 11, 2001 to intimidate organisations engaged in legitimate political protests and that these state forces want to restrict free speech.
It is a similar story in Britain. Jack Straw and the Foreign Office’s censoring of Greenstock’s book is a move to curtail the freedom of the press. Not that Greenstock has revealed any ‘state secrets’.
His ‘crime’ is that he exposes the lies by Bush and Blair at the UN, particularly at a time when most people in Britain are blaming them for making this country a target for terrorist bombings by conducting an all-out war on the Iraqi people.
Leaked parts of the book reveal that Greenstock says that Bush’s decision to go to war was ‘politically illegitimate’ and that negotiations at the UN ‘never rose above the level of awkward diversion for the US administration’.
Greenstock relates conversations between himself and Blair and Straw, which reveal his criticisms of the way the government proceeded at that time. As a witness to the US-UK occupation and their so-called Iraqi Interim Government at close quarters, he stops short of calling it an incompetent fiasco.
What the US FBI spying, and the British Foreign Office censorship, demonstrate is that not only is truth the first casualty of war, but that democratic rights, including the right to free speech, have become targets of the capitalist state’s war on terror.
The same states which dispatched US and British armed forces to carry out ‘Shock and Awe’ tactics against the Iraqi people and genocide in Fallujah, are using fear in attempts to crush democratic rights and intimidate and silence political opponents and critics.
Millions of working-class and middle-class people in the US and Britain are determined to defend their democratic rights. They know that this fight, and to put an end to the terror unleashed on the people of Iraq under US-UK occupation, is one struggle – to bring down Bush and Blair’s regimes.
In this struggle the British trade unions play a central role.
Workers must demand their leaders organise a general strike to kick out the Blair regime and go forward to a workers’ government, which will immediately withdraw troops from Iraq and repeal all the government’s repressive laws against democratic rights, the right to assembly and freedom of speech.