DES MOINES, Iowa In what may be the first subpoena of its kind since the Communist-hunting days of the 1950s, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists. In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said. Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas, served by a local sheriff's deputy who works on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyer's Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum. ... Those served subpoenas include the leader of the Catholic Peace Ministry, the former coordinator of the Iowa Peace Network, a member of the Catholic Worker House, and an anti-war activist who visited Iraq in 2002. They say the subpoenas are intended to stifle dissent. "This is exactly what people feared would happen," said Brian Terrell of the peace ministry, one of those subpoenaed. "The civil liberties of everyone in this country are in danger. How we handle that here in Iowa is very important on how things are going to happen in this country from now on." ... Mark Smith, a lobbyist for the Washington-based American Association of University Professors, said he had not heard of any similar case of a U.S. university being subpoenaed for such records. He said the case brings back fears of the "red squads" of the 1950s and campus clampdowns on Vietnam War protesters. According to a copy obtained by The Associated Press, the Drake subpoena asks for records of the request for a meeting room, "all documents indicating the purpose and intended participants in the meeting, and all documents or recordings which would identify persons that actually attended the meeting." It also asks for campus security records "reflecting any observations made of the Nov. 15, 2003, meeting, including any records of persons in charge or control of the meeting, and any records of attendees of the meeting." Several officials of Drake, a private university with about 5,000 students, refused to comment. A source with knowledge of the investigation said a judge had issued a gag order forbidding them from discussing the subpoena.
Monday, February 09, 2004
...a little behind schedule, but my brain might be catching up. This story requires no commentary from me at this point, so I'll just quote a lot of it.