When the feds are out to get you, you just might be doing something right. And Antiwar.com has been doing what’s right for decades. Long before the 9/11 attacks and the resulting American wars of revenge and hegemony, Eric Garris, Justin Raimondo, and the site’s columnists had already diagnosed and set out to expose the disease of American militarist imperialism. In the Pax-Clintonia ‘90s this wasn’t a popular thing to do. It took courage, just as it took courage to criticize the early days of U.S. warmaking that came on the heels of the terror attacks in New York and Washington D.C.
Those were heady days, when the FBI, replete with sweeping new powers to violate citizens’ and organizations’ constitutionally protected right to free speech and broader civil liberties, was flailing and seemingly coming unhinged. And it wasn’t just the law enforcement and intelligence agencies out there policing dissent and setting the boundaries of "acceptable discourse." The corporate media and much of a frightened, uniformed citizenry conflated any critique of America’s wars with treason, with abetting the "enemy." These were, after all, the days of Manichean, binary Bushisms like "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." The whole charade harkened back to other periods of alarmist dissent squashing, such as the World War I era Red Scare, Cold War McCarthyism, and, heck, even today’s mainstream "liberal" attacks on Tulsi Gabbard and her supporters as "Russian assets."
It was during that climate of post-9/11 repression that the FBI began investigating and writing surveillance memos on the leaders of Antiwar.com, which implied that they, and the site’s content – Constitutionally protected speech, mind you – was somehow subversive. After an observant reader brought this "secret" investigation to light, Eric and Justin sued the FBI, demanding that it turn over all the memos and records it was keeping on the two men and the website. Now, just a couple of months ago, in a major victory for the site and free speech, a federal appeals court ruled in Antiwar.com’s favor. It’s just a shame that Justin – who died in June from a long bout with cancer – wasn’t around to see it.
Although the government can appeal, the ruling was profound. However, it’s unlikely to measurably alter FBI procedures in this era of mass surveillance and the NSA "hacker state." As Eric Garris – my editor and kindred antiwar spirit – has said, "I would hope this precedent will help prevent the FBI from doing these things again but we know it won’t … it won’t." Worse still, though the FBI was ordered to pay Antiwar.com’s legal fees, the site incurred all kinds of other losses – pecuniary and reputational – when the story broke. Major funders stopped contributing, perhaps out of fear, which was a big blow to a nonprofit website largely reliant on donors and reader contributions to survive and operate.
All of which brings me to my point – please support and contribute to Antiwar.com. Much like a truly grassroots political campaign, this groundbreaking site depends on its readers so it can continue churning out its unique content. And it is unique. In a world where mainstream corporate media offer little more than vacuous entertainment (do you like the blue team or the red team?), is veritably obsessed with Trump, and hardly covers America’s countless wars unless someone in power dares to question them – at which point he or she is labeled a "Russian asset” – Antiwar.com is more vital than ever. Though fiercely libertarian, and quite strategically committed to ending wars by “attacking the right from the right,” this site has no political or ideological litmus test. The mission, our sacred mission, is to preserve the republic by helping to end endless war. Period. Like-minded allies are welcome. That’s why Eric allows a (sort of) lefty like me to publish up a storm on Antiwar.com.
I truly believe there is – just a tad beneath the political surface – a genuine public desire, even, remarkably, among combat veterans, to bring the nation’s wars to a close. Furthermore, call me a John Lennon-esque dreamer, but I think 2020 may just be a pivotal year, a turning point. And I’m not the only one. Whether I’m right or not, count on this: Antiwar.com will be in the vanguard of that movement, speaking inconvenient truths to power. The site and its columnists have been doing that since 1995 – way before it was cool. Authenticity is Antiwar.com’s brand. But it needs your help. Please contribute today!
Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com. His work has appeared in the LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Truthdig, and Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.
Copyright 2019 Danny Sjursen