Solidarity to Political Prisoners and Jury Resistors!
These two political prisoners were sent to the “SHU” (solitary housing unit) for a crime they weren’t even suspects in, they weren’t ever charged with anything and they weren’t serving out a prison sentence either. They were held for contempt, for refusing to testify to a grand jury about some property damage which had taken place on May Day last year in Seattle and you’ll hear one of these people (KteeO) had testified she wasn’t even at the May Day event at all.
[excerpts from the info provided on the video]
The suspects are alleged to be a group of anarchists, as are KteeO and Matt. Matt and KteeO believe they were brought in to testify based solely on their shared political beliefs with the suspects, and that the FBI is on a witch hunt to track down political dissenters.
Using solitary confinement for convicted felons is controversial enough, but in this case the imprisonment was a form of coercion. The judge only released Matt and KteeO after concluding that they would not break their resolve under the harshest of circumstances.
There were several raids in Seattle in the summer of 2011, which were conducted supposedly to investigate the May Day incident and like KteeO and Matt, this political prisoner (Plante), was not at the event, nor was she even in Seattle at the time! Plante also faced a grand jury and resisted, but it’s not yet known whether she will also be detained in the SHU…
The warrants for the related raids used similar language. One warrant for an early morning raid at a Seattle home also listed black clothing, electronics, and “paperwork—anarchists in the Occupy movement.” In effect, witnesses in Portland and Seattle say, federal and local police burst into people’s homes while they were sleeping and held them at gunpoint while rummaging through their bookshelves, looking for evidence of political leanings instead of evidence of a crime. (For the record, I executed a quick search of my home early this morning and found black clothing, cans of paint, sticks, cloth, electronics, and “anarchist literature.”)
Forty-five minutes after Plante pushed through the revolving door at the courthouse, she reemerged. She smiled shyly while the crowd of protesters cheered. Plante told the crowd that she gave the grand jury her name and her date of birth, refused to answer any other questions, and was released.
Statement by Jerry:
My name is Gerald Koch and I have been subpoenaed to a federal grand jury based in the Southern District of New York regarding the 2008 Times Square Military Recruitment Center bombing. This is my second subpoena concerning this matter; I was also subpoenaed in June of 2009. I refused to testify at that time based on the assertion of my First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights, as I will be doing again for the duration of this grand jury. During the first grand jury, the government informed my lawyers that it was believed that I was at a bar in 2008 or 2009 where a patron indicated knowledge of who had committed the bombing. When I was first subpoenaed to the grand jury in 2009 I had no recollection of any such incident— a fact that I expressed publically. Now, almost 4 years later, I still do not recall the alleged situation.
Given that I publically made clear that I had no knowledge of this alleged event in 2009, the fact that I am being subpoenaed once again suggests that the FBI does not actually believe that I possess any information about the 2008 bombing, but rather that they are engaged in a ‘fishing expedition’ to gain information concerning my personal beliefs and political associations.
Over the past few decades, the FBI has demonstrated a consistent pattern of harassment and illegal surveillance of anarchists and other radicals not only here in New York, but also across the country. Throughout this time, federal grand juries (incredibly secretive proceedings that do not permit one’s lawyers to be present) have played a significant role; a federal grand jury is authorized to ask questions about anything and anyone, and often the declared intention is simply a mask to disguise the actual goal of acquiring information for use in other politically motivated cases. It is my belief that these two federal grand juries—despite the pretense of investigation into the 2008 bombing—are actually being used to gain information about my friends, loved ones, and activists for whom I have done legal support. By declining to testify, I refuse to be coerced into participating in a political witch-hunt that eerily recalls those of the McCarthy era Red Scare.
I again assert that I have no knowledge of who is responsible for the 2008 Times Square Military Recruitment Center bombing, and I will once again refuse to testify to the federal grand jury in ethical resistance to participation in a fruitless exercise of fear-mongering and government intimidation. My decision to stay silent in defense of individual agency will most likely result in incarceration for a period up to 18 months. I accept this recompense, understanding that in doing so I will reinforce a tradition of defending individual rights in the face of state repression.
Jerry’s contempt hearing is tomorrow, May 21st at 3:45 PM on the 20th floor of 500 Pearl Street.
Another day, another House Intelligence Committee session held in secret, under the rather convenient excuse that “classified information” might be revealed.
As was the case last year when members of the committee amended the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) the first time around — the bill, dubbed a “privacy killer” by online activists and privacy groups, will once again be amended in a veil of secrecy.
According to the committee’s spokesperson, Susan Phalen, (via The Hill), these secret hearings are not uncommon and “sometimes they’ll need to bounce into classified information and go closed for a period of time to talk.”
She said that in order to keep the flow of the mark-up — where rewrites to proposed legislation are made — the committee cannot suddenly stop, order every person and member of the media out of the chamber, only to be brought back in later once the discussions are back on unclassified territory.
One of the biggest names on the Internet has rescinded their support of a controversial computer bill. Social media giant Facebook says they are no longer favoring the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA.
From Silicon Valley to Washington, DC, all eyes were on CISPA last year when Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Sen. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Calif.) touted the bill across the United States as a much-needed solution to the sky-rocketing number of cyberattacks waged at American computer networks. CISPA, said its supporters, would prevent those hazardous hacks from ravaging the country’s cybergrid by asking private sector Internet businesses to share threat information with the US government.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a nationwide campaign to assess police militarization in the United States. Starting Wednesday, ACLU affiliates in 23 states are sending open records requests to hundreds of state and local police agencies requesting information about their SWAT teams, such as how often and for what reasons they’re deployed, what types of weapons they use, how often citizens are injured during SWAT raids, and how they’re funded. More affiliates may join the effort in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the affiliates will ask for information about drones, GPS tracking devices, how much military equipment the police agencies have obtained through programs run through the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, and how often and for what purpose state National Guards are participating in enforcement of drug laws.
“We’ve known for a while now that American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel at the ACLU’s Center for Justice, which is coordinating the investigation. “The aim of this investigation is to find out just how pervasive this is, and to what extent federal funding is incentivizing this trend.”
Sen. Rand Paul took to the floor of the U.S. Senate just before noon Wednesday and vowed to stay there “at length” in order to filibuster John O. Brennan, whom President Obama has nominated to be the next CIA director.
The Kentucky Republican said he will hold up the nomination until he gets more information about the U.S. drone execution program, which has become a major sore point for many lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“I will speak today until the president responds and says, ‘No, we won’t kill Americans in cafes. No, we won’t kill you at home at night,’” Mr. Paul said early on in the filibuster, that began at 11:47 and showed no signs of slowing more than four hours later.
Five hours into the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came to the floor to try to end it. He asked if Mr. Paul would agree to limit himself to another half-hour of remarks, and then the chamber would vote on the Brennan nomination — which likely has majority support.
Mr. Paul said he would be glad to end his filibuster immediately, but only if the administration would promise not to make Americans in the U.S. the subject of targeted killings.
Anarchists destroy 17 cameras in reaction to Puget Sound’s “system of surveillance” and the detainment of the Grand Jury Resisters
On Wednesday, a photo and short announcement was posted on the website Puget Sound Anarchists declaring that anarchists had “removed and destroyed” 17 security cameras in the Puget Sound region of Washington state.
The group responsible was described as the “Barefoot Bandit Brigade,” apparently named after the Northwest native Barefoot Bandit, an elusive burglar who remained uncaught until 2010 after a series of robberies that included airplanes, vehicles and bank heists.
Michael Moore, Chris Hedges on Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention and the “Corporate Coup d’État”
The House cybersecurity bill that allows the National Security Agency (NSA) and the military to collect your private internet records is scheduled for an encore appearance on Wednesday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) will reintroduce the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which news reports say will be the same bill that passed the House of Representatives last year.
That’s right, the same bill that allows companies to turn over your sensitive internet records directly to the NSA and the Department of Defense without requiring them to make even a reasonable effort to protect your privacy. The same bill that lets the government use the information it collects for cybersecurity purposes “to protect the national security of the United States”—a concept that is, of course, undefined and incredibly expansive. Here we are, ten months later, with a much-deserved veto threat from the administration, a smarter Senate alternative, and an Executive Order that will address part of the information-sharing issue—yet the House starts with the same old privacy-busting bill as before.