Testimony

SupportPalestinianPeople_MDZ_PPPAThey walked around the house looking at papers and asking questions. They saw some pro-Palestine posters which I have and they told me that they would have to take me with them. I asked for permission to call a lawyer but they told me I must wait until I got to the Immigration Office in Los Angeles.”

David Aldamani, from interview, 1973 (Source: Stork and Theberge, “Any Arab or Others of a Suspicious Nature…” MERIP Report 14, 2/1/73)
 

jabara2The Operation Boulder was announced by the Nixon Administration. Allegedly in response to the Munich massacre in Germany, But what did that have to do with the Arab-American community here? I read subsequent to that in the Newsweek Magazine that there were 27 wire taps had been authorized on activist Arabs around the country…. So I filed a lawsuit in 1972 against the FBI, claiming that my lawful political activity had been subject to illegal surveillance. And we began a 13-year long legal battle, much of it that was involving our efforts to get information about the extent and the nature of the surveillance that the FBI had conducted on my activity. We found out, however, that there were other agencies that were involved. That they had obtained information concerning certain communications that I had made overseas that they then turned over to the FBI. I also found out that the local Detroit Police and the Michigan State Police also were maintaining political files that included my political activity. There was no activity going on that was a legitimate law enforcement surveillance issue. That was pure intimidation.

Abdeen Jabara, from interview. Tracked in America, ACLU, 2012.

My own experience with Operation Boulder arrived one early morning in 1972 when two FBI agents rang the door bell at my Dartmouth home, ostensibly to arrange an appointment for a later interview. The news about the unexpected guests arrived through my children who answered the door as I was preparing myself to proceed to the University. I went to the door with my face half-shaven to inquire about the nature of their mission. “We don’t want to talk to you now as you prepare yourself for school, but we would like to make an appointment,” said one of the two agents in a seemingly assertive yet awkward manner. I responded by saying that I have no interest in talking “now or later,” unless I was summoned to a court session, in which case I would certainly comply. I never heard from these people again, but I did obtain my file from the FBI office later on under a Freedom of Information request.

Naseer Aruri, from “AAUG: A Memoir,” published in Arab Studies Quarterly, 29:3/4, 2007

From FOIA releases and discoveries from law suits, we have learned of the extent of government harassment of Arab Americans and Arab student activists—from Operation Boulder in the Nixon era, and the broad surveillance program against Palestinian student organizations in the 70’s and 80’s, to the extensive intelligence files on Arab American activists maintained by the FBI sometimes in collaboration with outside groups, that were then used to harass and blacklist members of my community.

James Zogby, Testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (October 9, 2012).