The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] [1] Activist Sacks fined [2] Anti-sanctions speech threatened?

Bert is an email acquaintance, so this hits close to home ...

Bert Sacks, a retired engineer and American anti-sanctions activist, has just
been notified he will be fined $10,000 for participating in the delivery of
medicines to the children of Iraq.

The penalty is ludicrous and will be fought (more below).

The announcement's timing (five years after the trip) is suspicious, especially
in view of recent armed raids on Iraqi expatriates sending aid to relatives
<> and of recent expansions of
police power (see the NYTimes, below, on how speaking against sanctions might
draw the attention of the FBI).

Orchestrated or not, such repressive acts choke discussion and protest.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

=== [1]
Following is VITW's announcement of Sacks' fine, and a proposed response.  See and ...

Dear Friends,

Please help us circulate the following declaration as widely as possible.  It
regards a $10,000 penalty imposed on Bert Sacks and invites your participation
in a creative response.


Voices office, Chicago
1460 West Carmen Ave
Chicago  IL  60640



On May 17th, 2002, the US Treasury office in charge of sanctions sent a letter
to Bert Sacks, a retired engineer from Seattle WA, imposing a $10,000 fine on
him for his admission that he brought medicines to Iraq in 1997 without a US
license.  Working with  Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Western
Washington Fellowship of  Reconciliation, and several local faith based and
community organizations, Bert has organized, led or assisted with successive
delegations to Iraq, and helped Voices in the Wilderness campaign actions
seeking to end economic sanctions against Iraq.

On June 17th, Bert Sacks, accompanied by representatives of Voices in the
Wilderness, the American Friends Service Committee, and other individuals and
groups campaigning to end economic sanctions against Iraq, will hold a Press
Conference in Washington, DC.  Bert will explain why he cannot ask for a
government license  -- why he will not pay the fine -- and why, instead, he and
the Voices in the Wilderness campaign will immediately begin raising a sum of
$10,000 to purchase and deliver desperately needed medicines to pediatric wards
and clinics in Iraq.

We are seeking 1000 people committed to ending economic sanctions against Iraq
and preventing a new war to each contribute $10.00 or more to help raise $10,000
dollars that will be directed toward humanitarian and peacemaking efforts in
Iraq as an alternative to paying penalties to the Office of Foreign Assets

Checks can be made payable to
    Voices in the Wilderness,
    1460 W. Carmen Ave,
    Chicago, IL 60640.

Any amount you send is significant!  Please designate your check for this
purpose by writing "Declaration 2002" in the memo section or by sending an
accompanying note.

Your donation -- unless you ask for it to be anonymous -- will add your name to
the growing list of those who have brought or sent medicines to Iraq without
requesting government approval to do so.

The spirit of nonviolence is the spirit of satyagraha, Gandhi's truth force.  It
is our work to make the truth of US sanctions policy on Iraq clear to Americans.
 Thank you for sharing in this work.  For information about additional actions
you can take, please consult the Voices in the Wilderness website at

June 13, 2002
Echo of F.B.I. Abuses in Queries on New Role

WASHINGTON, June 12  Consider the following set of circumstances: Using the new
guidelines for fighting terrorism, an F.B.I. agent visits a mosque and hears an
imam declare that United States policies are starving children in Iraq or
killing children in Palestine and that people need to "do something" about this

Is this constitutionally protected speech or something that could become part of
a domestic intelligence dossier that remains in the files forever?

Some lawmakers and civil libertarians are voicing concerns that the Bush
administration's new guidelines on investigating terrorism create the potential
for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to repeat some of the abuses of the past.

At the heart of the discussion is the new authority for investigators to monitor
domestic political groups, religious meetings and the World Wide Web, without
any demonstrated suspicion of any criminal activity.

Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican usually
supportive of the administration and law enforcement, said in an interview that
he had grave doubts.

"The question I have is, given the fact that the F.B.I. is stretched to the
limit, why should they be investigating matters when there is no criminal
activity suggested?" asked Mr. Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee. "I don't have an adequate answer to that."

Administration officials like Attorney General John Ashcroft have said that the
new guidelines are a needed response to the efforts of terrorists and also
provide investigators with modern tools like the Internet.

In the case of the imam's speech about United States policy, the comments could
be the kind of political speech protected by the Constitution from government
interference. But the complaints about American policy are similar to what
terrorists use as a justification, and along with his exhortation to "do
something," could qualify as enough of a lead to warrant further investigation.

Does the agent go back and try to learn more, and keep records of what is heard?
What happens to those records? Do they become part of a dossier on the mosque
and its followers? How does the agent decide when there is no purpose in
continuing to check the mosque?

The guidelines appear to address those questions glancingly, if at all.

The new powers given the bureau recall for many the two previous periods of
abuse by the F.B.I: the collection of domestic political intelligence under J.
Edgar Hoover up until 1974 and the surveillance of a political committee in the
mid-1980's based on the spurious information that its members were involved in
terrorism in Central America.

Viet D. Dinh, the assistant attorney general in charge of drafting the new
guidelines, said they included sufficient protections against abuse.

"We intend for these guidelines to be operational road maps for agents, clear in
authority and clear on the limitations of the activities that are permitted,"
Mr. Dinh said in an interview. "When questions arise, the F.B.I. agents can
consult with their supervisors and field counsel and headquarters counsel as
necessary to adhere to these guidelines."

James X. Dempsey, the deputy director of the Center for Democracy and
Technology, a civil liberties group in Washington, said field agents were likely
to be uncertain about the limits on their authority.

"We've been down this road before," Mr. Dempsey said, recalling the two-year
investigation of the Committee in Solidarity With the People of El Salvador,
known as Cispes. The investigation of Cispes began in 1983 after an informer
said the Dallas chapter of the group was planning violence in El Salvador.
Although the informer turned out to be unreliable, the investigation bloomed
into the collection of information on dozens of groups like Oxfam America and
Amnesty International.

Mr. Dempsey said that records of the investigation released under the Freedom of
Information Act showed that many field agents were greatly confused about what
could be monitored. The San Francisco field office sent a report on a local
ballot initiative supported by Cispes and added that the mayor, the archbishop
and "all local congress people" also voiced support for the initiative.

Other memorandums from agents reported on a Washington demonstration, saying
where the buses would leave from in various cities and who had signed up. The
Cincinnati field office reported on contacts by the local Cispes chapter with
some nuns, and asked for advice.

In 1984, bureau headquarters sent a message to all investigators saying that
several field offices had sent information about protected political activity.
Political activities, the memorandum said, "are not, repeat not, targets of this

Nonetheless, all of the information was retained by headquarters.

After a lawsuit, the bureau agreed to delete the Cispes material from its files
but discovered that much of the information could not be purged because it had
been cross-filed in other dossiers.

Mr. Dinh said that in cases like the visit to a mosque in which no criminal
leads were discovered, no records would be kept. The regulations say, "For the
purpose of detecting or preventing terrorist activities, the F.B.I. is
authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public. .
. . No information obtained from such visits shall be retained unless it relates
to potential criminal or terrorist activity."

Mr. Sensenbrenner said, however, that he thought the regulations were unclear
and left open "the question of what happens when the F.B.I. goes into a mosque
and nothing happens."

"Does the agent write down what was heard, does he come back next week?" the
congressman asked.

Mr. Hoover used domestic intelligence files collected under the Cointelpro
program to discredit political enemies.

Prof. David J. Garrow, the author of "The F.B.I. and Martin Luther King Jr.," a
book about the bureau's covert collection of personal information about Dr.
King, said that one way Mr. Hoover used the information was to intimidate
members of Congress and cement their loyalty to the bureau.

"Typically, he would send someone up to a congressman's office who would say
that, `We are telling you that we came across this information and we want you
to know that we are your friend and we're looking out for your best interest,' "
Professor Garrow said. "It was subtle but unmistakable."

The information could be about some transgression or embarrassing fact about a
family member.

At the beginning of the Reagan administration, Congress debated putting into law
the administrative guidelines developed in 1974 by Attorney General Edward H.
Levi to avoid a repetition of the Cointelpro program. But Mr. Reagan's first
attorney general, William French Smith, said the administration would not
support the law, and the effort died.

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]