WASHINGTON – In a letter dated, March 1, 2017, to FBI Director James Comey, U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota), a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, is requesting an explanation why at least three citizens opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline are being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
“I am concerned that the reported questioning of political activists by one of the FBI’s terrorism task forces threatens to chill constitutionally protected conduct and speech,” Senator Franken writes in the letter.
Franken cites reports that JTTF agents have attempted to question at least three individuals who opposed the Dakota Access pipeline at camps at Standing Rock.
“By assigning JTTF agents and officers to investigate Standing Rock protesters, i am concerned the FBI has opted to view civil rights activism through a national security lens. Embracing such tactics risks chilling the existence of constitutional rights and further undermining trust between federal law enforcement and our tribal nations,” the senator continues in the letter.
Franken requests detailed information about the scope of the investigation by April 20, 2017.
Levi Rickert, a tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, is the publisher and editor of Native News Online. Previously, he served as editor of the Native News Network. He is a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan.