"This is what FBI harassment looks like" (first person account)

This is what FBI harassment looks like

Submitted by intexile on Sun, 01/29/2006 - 3:46am.
By Tabitha Chase - Industrial Worker, February 2006
When I awoke on March 17, 2005, I checked my phone and found that I had five calls from three different phone numbers that I did not recognize. All of them were from special agent Dante Jackson of the FBI stating that I “had to call him back.” I immediately called my friend and attorney Ken Driggs, gave him the name of the agent and numbers, and asked him to find out what these calls were about. He called back later that day saying that they “were demanding a compulsory interview, and that should I refuse to schedule one or fail to show up, they would come and pick me up.” We scheduled the appointment for the following day.
On March 18, 2005, he picked me up and we headed to the interview. He asked what this was all about and I answered, “Frankly I have no idea, I’ve never even been arrested.” We went to the Atlanta FBI office; I walked in with nothing but the clothes on my back and my I.D. Three agents led us into a room with seven chairs and a table; two of them left, the one who remained identified himself as Special Agent J. Omar Molina with the FBI domestic terrorism task force, the other two returned. One identified himself as special agent Dante Jackson, also with the domestic terrorism task force; I never caught the name of the third and he refused to give me his card. They asked for my I.D. which I gave them. I confirmed the information on it and they asked for my Social security number, which I also gave them. Then they asked who I was dating, to which I responded, “That is none of your business”; so they asked again, and then I asked them what this was about. They refused to answer. Ken and I both started asking this question over and over until one of them asked me, “Do you have plans to go to Iraq to medic for the insurgency?” Dumbfounded by this question, I asked to speak to my attorney alone; they refused. An argument ensued until they relented and left Ken and I to speak alone.
In the summer of 2004 I had made the decision to go to Iraq with Circus2Iraq.org, an NGO that does circus performances for children in many areas inside Iraq. I planned to go in the late spring of 2005. I received notice that September that all trips had been permanently suspended, people who the group had worked with in Iraq had been kidnapped thus creating an atmosphere where the performers might cause a danger to the people who they where staying with and doing the acts for. I’m also a street medic with Action Medical, and travel a great deal inside the United States to medic at protests and actions. I intended to travel to the G8 in Scotland to medic after my trip to Iraq, but as I couldn’t go to Iraq I had failed to solidify my plans for going to G8. In fact at the time the interview was happening I hadn’t even applied for a passport. It was as though these accusations were being made by someone who had access to some personal information about me and interpreted it with wild abandon.
When the agents returned, their posture had changed they seemed intent on drilling me on things that had nothing to do with the previous question. They asked why I don’t have a credit card, bank account, or car. They asked if I was an anarchist at least 20 times, they asked if I was a U.S. citizen, they asked if I was against Bush, the war, capitalism, government, commerce, etc. What especially makes this line of questioning hilarious to me is that they could have easily and readily found out this information by reading my Live Journal, but I certainly wasn’t going on record with them about any of that. They also asked me who pays my cell phone bill, how I was planning on paying for my trip to Iraq, and other details about my finances.
Every so often one of them would interject, “This is the United States of America. You have the right to believe whatever you want to believe, but we need to know what that is so we can clear this up; this isn’t a joke, we are the domestic anti-terrorism task force.” After two hours, having refused to answer most their questions, I finally started laughing at them and they ended the interview, but made sure to get in the last jab by saying, “This investigation is not over and you are likely to hear from us again.” One even joked that I must “want them to be hiding behind the bushes and jumping out at me.”
Santiago Velasquez, who has my cell phone attached to his bank account, was questioned at home by the FBI after my interrogation. He reports: “A few days prior to the visit, agent Jackson showed up and found me to be gone, so he knocked on my neighbor’s door, showed her a photo of Tabby and asked if said neighbor had sighted her, saying that Tabby was ‘a known associate of mine and a suspected terrorist’ and that if they had any information regarding her they should contact the Atlanta office of the FBI. ... From that point on my neighbor’s usual friendly demeanor towards me was replaced by one of disgust and distrust.” When they found him at home three agents asked “about Tabby’s job, whereabouts, dating habits, her relationship to her parents, her current boyfriend, and online habits. ... The FBI even went on to inquire about my cat and his slightly distended belly, as if to almost imply that something was hidden in there. One inquired, ‘Do you expect us to believe that you would risk your credit for this lady and not have any idea of her political beliefs?’”
Ken and I went to the ACLU later that week, and they filed a FOIA for us. I received a heavily redacted response in December 2005 that listed my personal information, the fact that I am involved in Action Medical, Circus2Iraq.org, am a member of the IWW, that I work as a stripper at the Clermont lounge and have a permit to do so, that I have done porn, and that I was the head Domina at the Chamber. Only one and a half pages out of six were sent, and no reason for the interview to have taken place is listed. None of us have heard from the FBI since, and I can only speculate as to whether or not my case is still open. The FBI has also refused to comment on my investigation to the media. At the time, all this put a great deal of stress on me, and that was the last thing I needed. Now, though, I can appreciate some of the humor involved, and I am glad to be able to share this story with others. Please remember if this happens to you: never go to an “interview” without legal representation.