Conyers/Nadler Letter to Ashcroft Questions FBI Memo on Iraq War Protestors

Nov 24, 2003

Washington, DC -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today joined Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), ranking Democrat of the Judiciary Committee, in calling on Attorney General John Ashcroft to release to the members a copy of an FBI memo detailing how to collect information on Iraq war protestors. The text of the Conyers/Nadler letter to Aschcroft is as follows:

November 25, 2003

The Honorable John D. Ashcroft
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We are writing to express our concern over a reported memorandum of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) detailing how to collect information on Iraq war protestors. We would ask that you immediately provide us with a copy of the memorandum; as well as inform us what, if any, terrorism leads the effort has led to; and what safeguards you have put in place to ensure that legitimate First Amendment rights are protected.

Needless to say, we believe these efforts raise significant First Amendment concerns. Persons at such protests are exercising their constitutional right of assembly. We are perplexed as to how the FBI views these acts as either illegal or as indicators of terrorist activity. The September 11th attacks occurred without public warning; instead, it appears that the only potential evidence of those attacks was within FBI offices, not at public demonstrations. Efforts such as this indicate that, instead of reforming itself to prevent terrorist activity and safeguard the rights of law-abiding residents, the FBI may be returning to the days of COINTELPRO that so many of us hoped were behind us.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this request, please feel free to contact us through the House Judiciary Committee staff.


John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary

Jerrold Nadler
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on the Constitution

cc: The Honorable William E. Moschella
Assistant Attorney General
Office of Legislative Affairs

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary

The Honorable Steve Chabot
U.S. House Committee on the Constitution