Change Agents

The FBI visits a federal inmate for 'a conversation'


| May 27, 2004


The two FBI agents proposed a conversation, 'Since they had information which they felt would help me and Voices [Voices in the Wilderness, a direct action group that provides medical supplies to Iraqi families in deliberate violation of United Nations economic sanctions and U.S. law] teams in Iraq, both now and in the future. Likewise, I could help them, and perhaps improve national security, by answering some of their questions,' Kathy Kelly wrote from her dorm in the Pekin Federal Prison.

Environmental and human rights activist Kelly expected the FBI to talk about her reasons for protesting the U.S. Army's military combat training school in Fort Benning, GA -- the event that landed her in prison. Instead the agents talked to Kelly about her work with Voices in the Wilderness, a group that smuggled medicine and medical supplies into Iraq before the sanctions were lifted. They wanted her to share information about her Iraqi contacts in the name of U.S. security.

Rather than share with the FBI, she writes in her Voices in the Wilderness article, she encouraged the agents to resign. To coax her into talking, the agents reminded her of the pictures of the dying Iraqi children and their morning families that Voices posted on its website. Kelly describes the horrors she saw in Iraq and how the U.S. needs to face the consequences of its own actions.

'Instead of searching for blameworthy bad apples as though we are blind children trying to pin the tail on the donkey, why not carefully acknowledge our collective, passive responsibility for systems predicated on threat, force, and violence? ...we can expect constant warfare abroad and the quadrupling of prisoner populations which occurred in the U.S. over the last 25 years,' she laments.
-- Sara V. Buckwitz



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