Saturday, July 31, 2010

G20 activist released on $140,000 bail with extreme conditions

by Justin Saunders Media Co-op July 27, 2010

One of the three G20 arrestees remaining in custody has been released from a courtroom in North Toronto tonight, after more than a month in prison.

Amanda Hiscocks, a community organizer in Guelph, is among 17 people facing conspiracy charges stemming from the police crackdown on G20 dissent. She and several other prominent activists were pre-emptively detained in violent, early morning raids on several Toronto homes prior to the demonstrations on June 26th.

She was released on bail totalling $140,000 and has been placed under house arrest with family in Ottawa until trial.

As part of the conditions of her release, Hiscocks is under strict surveillance by her sureties and police, is not allowed access to a cell phone, pager or any other device with wireless connectivity, cannot organize, plan or attend public demonstrations (a breach of her charter rights), have contact with her co-accused or associate with anyone who is a part of No One Is Illegal (NOII), Anti-War at Laurier (AW@L) or the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance (SOAR).

The details of the proceedings have been placed under a publication ban.

Friday, July 30, 2010

On arrests after direct action in Khimki 28th of July

Алексей ГаскаровМаксим СолоповToday (30th of July) names of two activists, arrested in related to criminal case on “hooliganism” after attack against city administration of city of Khimki in Moscow region 28th of July were published in maintream news – Aleksey Gaskarov and Maksim Solopov.

We will not now remind about details of corruption and violations, connected to construction of new Moscow – St. Petersburg highway through Khimki forest, or the protest campaign against it, as you may read about all of this in our website in respective section. Obviously, these arrests were just yet another confirmation of the pathetic unity, which was recently reached between regional and federal authorities, big business, local police and right-wing football hooligans, which all together protected against eco-camp of those protesting the clearing the forest from the highway.

Алексей ГаскаровAleksey Gaskarov is a libertarian socialist, who during many years was one of the most active people in the movement in Moscow region. Maksim Solopov is a leftist, not an anarchists, but besides disagreements he proved him self to be a trusted comrade in anti-fascist struggle. Aleksey and Maksim are one of the few people in Russia, who publicly, with their own faces, supported most determined means against Nazi mayhem and excesses of the authorities in the country, take for example this program from REN-TV:

Максим Солопов

As a result, Nazis were threatening them plenty of times, and now apperently “Center of Counteraction Against Extremism” of the Moscow Region decided to deliver them a blow.

We demand immediate release of Aleksey Gaskarov and Maksim Solopov, no matter if they participated to action in Khimki 28th of July or not – those fighting corruption and excesses of the authorities are not hooligans, but heroes!

Free Aleksey Gaskarov and Maksim Solopov!

Information service of Autonomous Action

For background, read also the battle with the administration heats up

Moscow / Khimki: The Battle with the Adminstration Heats Up


In recent days, the battle to stop the destruction of the forest in the Moscow suburb of Khimki has heated up. Activists have been protesting the building of an $8 million high speed toll highway between Moscow and Petersburg. This highway would destroy beautiful forestland around Moscow. Environmentalists say the highway can bypass the old oak forest.

The flashpoint has been in Khimki, right outside Moscow. There is a history of violence sponsored by the local authorities in this town. In the most famous case of political terrorism, in November 2008, Mikhail Beketov, outspoken editor-in-chief of the regional Khimskaya Prada newspaper, was savagely beaten in front of his home. The attack was clearly related to his criticism of local authorities. As a result of his injuries one of his legs was amputated, and head traumas he suffered during the attack have left him unable to speak. Current reports on his condition indicate that his second leg may have to be amputated.

Khimki authorities thus have a reputation for dealing brutally with anybody who dares oppose them.

Direct actions started the 14th, when the logging was to begin. Activists set up an action camp in Khimki to take direct action against the deforestation. They have used blockades on the train lines leading to the logging site.

On July 23, at about 5AM, the protestors and two journalists were attacked and beaten on a gang of several dozen thugs with white T-shirts masking their faces. From all indications, this was an organized group of neofascists, wearing such symbols on their shirts. The police arrived and started arresting the activists, not the attackers, which indicated that this was an attack carried out in coordination with the police. Security guards fired by the firm carrying out the destruction also took part.

15 people were arrested at that time. Later in the day, the police arrived again, taking away dozens of people.

When some activists tried to protest in front of the White House in Moscow about the Khimki matter, they were also immediately arrested.

On July 28, a large group, (most say 400-500 people), marched on Khimki. A part of them (70-100 people), attacked the local administration building. This is shown on the video below.

According to local

According to local residents, about 20.00 a group of young people, numbering from 400 to 500 people attacked the administration of Khimki. Young people chanted slogans: "Defend Russian forest", "Strelchenko (Chapter Khimki signed a decree on the construction of logging roads), hands off from the forest", etc. Having a column from the commuter train station and in front of him carrying a huge tranparant "Protecting our forest from the Nazi occupiers!", young people, according to eyewitnesses, the building started throwing stones and smoke bombs.

As a result, the building knocked out most of the glasses, there are other injuries.After the "feast kamnemetaniya" lasted a few minutes of the youth managed to disperse. The police did not detain anyone.

Local residents with not only sought to help the police, but expressed support for such radical action to protect forests Khimki. This is not particularly surprising, since the decision on logging (as well, and the mayor himself Strelchenko) is extremely unpopular among the citizens.

Recall, for more than week standoff lasts local residents and environmentalists on one side and developers and the authorities - the other for the commencement of the felling of forests in place the proposed route in the area of Sheremetyevo airport.26 July it came to melee combat, and today the city administration and the developer for some strange reason, cancel the alleged public hearing, which was supposed to explain to residents the legal foundation and desirability of deforestation.

As you can see, the lack of readiness for dialogue with the authorities and the developer triggers a transition of the defenders of the forest to more radical protests.It should be noted that among the slogans chanted that the attackers were charged Strelchenko in ordering an attack on opposition journalist Michael Beketova in November 2008.

Beketov was seriously injured and are still deprived of the opportunity to speak and move. Version of the involvement of the mayor Khimki to attack Beketova who actively criticized the mayor's office, is quite popular among the townspeople, but was not proved the result.

Also today, at 17.00, nearly 200 advocates gathered at the Khimki woods DK "Homeland", where they invited the local administration to the public hearing, organized by "Heat", cut down the forest.

However, already in place an advertisement to inform people that the public hearing will be canceled. Instead, officials tried to organize a rally in support of the construction of highways and logging.This angered people who felt the administration's actions "provocation" and "blatant fraud".

So after a small gathering, rally defenders Himskinskogo timber headed to the site of harvesting, which now goes to the heart of the forest. They intend to expand the eco-camp there.

Upon arrival, the defenders of the forest met dozens of policemen and security guards. They do not allow the territory of deforestation. As of the ICD Elena, an activist with the Moscow Ecological Movement "Garden city".The situation is very tense. We arrived on the scene helpers Zhirinovsky and amounted to an act of the General Prosecutor's Office that they and other people the police do not miss.

Recall how to find defenders of the forest on July 26, the company "Heat" no approvals for logging. Precisely because of this guard woodcutters hired thugs who attacked the activists. In this regard, the State Duma deputy from the Fair Russia Anton Belyakov sent deputatscue request to the Prosecutor General of Russia.

In addition, activists reported that on Friday 30 July at 11.00, held public hearings on the scandal Khimki felling of forests in the Public Chamber.



Defenders Khimki forests held a press conference and strayed from the bandits

The attack on forest defenders Khimki

Emergency Appeal for Gerardo Hernandez


For Over A Week Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo Has Been Held In The Hole
At Victorville Prison Without Committing Any Infraction

Once Again the US government has imposed another cruel punishment
against Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban 5 imprisoned in the US
for fighting against terrorism.

On July 21st, without committing any infraction, Gerardo was taken to
the hole. The hole is an inhumane windowless space of 7 x 3 feet
reserved for prisoners who the prison authorities, for what ever
reason, want to isolate. Gerardo is sharing this small space with
another prisoner and there is very little ventilation because the air
comes from just a small vent on the top of a wall. Temperatures in
Victorville are running as high as 105 degrees now and in the space
of this tiny cell it is around 95 degrees. He is not allowed to take
a shower and is being taken outside in a cage only one hour every
other day. Gerardo has been seen by his sister Isabel through a glass
with a phone.

Although Gerardo is still young, 12 years of living in high security
penitentiaries is taking its toll and recently Gerardo began
experiencing some health issues including high blood pressure. In
April he requested a medical appointment and finally on July 20,
three months later, he was seen by a doctor. Currently there is a
bacterium that is circulating through the prison with some of those
cases being serious. The doctor had prescribed a blood test for
Gerardo but instead of receiving that he was abruptly taken to the
hole the next day.

This new harassment against Gerardo takes place at a critical time
when he is preparing his Habeas Corpus presented to the courts in
June. It is alarming that this is the third time that Gerardo has
found himself in the hole while preparing for an appeal.

The violations against Gerardo are endless and it has to stop
immediately. During 12 years he has been denied the basic right to
receive visits from his wife Adriana. Gerardo like his four brothers
is innocent and the United States knows that his only crime was to
defend his country against terrorist attacks.

Instead of freeing them and sending them back to their homeland and
their families, as has been demanded by the Cuban people, 10 Nobel
Prize and thousands of people from all over the world, the Obama
Administration has picked up where Bush left off by punishing Gerardo
at every turn.

Along with the Cuban people and the international community we hold
the US government responsible for the life and physical integrity of Gerardo.

It is very important for every supporter of the Cuban Five and all
justice loving people who receive this message to call, fax, mail or
e-mail immediately to the numbers and addresses below to demand that
Gerardo be:
Returned immediately to the general population Receive urgent medical
attention Allowed visits by his wife Adriana Perez Given space and
respect as he prepares for his appeal

US State Department
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Phone Number: 1-202-647-4000

Fax Number: 1-202-647-2283

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Director Harley G. Lappin
320 First St., NW,
Washington, DC 20534
Phone Number: 202-307-3198.


President Barack Obama

White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Phone Number: 202-456-1111

Fax Number: 202-456-2461.


US Justice Department
Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Phone Number: 202-514-2000
Comment Line: 202-353-1555

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

Stay tuned to our website with latest development on the case:

Sarkozy threatens immigrants who target police

By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press July 30, 2010

PARIS – President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday that he wants to revoke the
French citizenship of immigrants who put the lives of police officers in
danger as part of a "national war" on delinquency.

In a speech in Grenoble, the site of recent urban unrest, Sarkozy said
that the current list of causes for revoking French nationality would be
reevaluated and "rights and benefits" accorded to illegal immigrants would
be reviewed.

Meanwhile, a video posted on the Internet showing riot police roughly
rousting African immigrant squatters, including one visibly pregnant
woman, from an encampment at a housing project prompted shocked reactions
around the country.

The video shot by a member of a housing-rights organization shows police
wearing leg protection pulling women, some with babies on their backs, and
in one case dragging a woman across the ground with her infant trailing
behind in the dirt.

No one was injured in the July 21 operation in La Courneuve, a suburb
northeast of Paris, local officials said, but human rights advocates
denounced the "brutal evacuation" of some 200 people.

Family Planning, an international women's health group, issued a statement
saying it was "scandalized, shocked, outraged and even sickened by the
conditions" of the mass evacuation of women and children.

MRAP, a leading human rights group, said people in the video had all been
expelled from previous housing and provided with no long-term solutions.

The squatters physically resisted, "attaching themselves to each other,
lying down, sometimes kicking and hitting police," the government of the
Seine-Saint-Denis region around La Corneuve said.

The evacuation was handled "according to legal procedures and rules in
such circumstances," and no one was injured, it said in a statement.

The French president, a former interior minister, has projected a
law-and-order image, and named a former police official as prefect, the
highest state authority, for the region around Grenoble after youths and
police clashed this month at a housing project that is home to many

Two days ago, Sarkozy ordered the expulsion of Gypsies living in France
illegally, saying their camps should be "systematically evacuated." That
order came after police clashed this month with Gypsies, known as Roma, in
the Loire Valley following the shooting death of a youth fleeing police.

The pronouncement caused special outrage because Sarkozy singled out a
particular ethnic group in a country official that's official blind to
ethnic origins.

Sarkozy said he wants immigration laws changed to make it easier to expel
people "for reasons of public order."

Sarkozy traveled to Grenoble Friday for the induction ceremony of a new
prefect, Eric Le Douaron, and used the occasion to announce a new
get-tough approach to delinquency that notably hits hard on immigrants who
disobey the law.

"French nationality should be earned. One must know how to be worthy of
it," the president said. French nationality should be revoked "from any
person of foreign origin who voluntarily threatens the life of a police
officer" or other public authority, he said.

The violence outside Grenoble, in the southeast, was triggered by the
police killing of a resident fleeing after an armed robbery at a casino.
Officials said some youths fired on police in the ensuing unrest.

Tensions have simmered in heavily immigrant projects around France since
nationwide riots in 2005.

Human rights organizations joined political rivals to denounce Sarkozy's
decision to target French of immigrant origin.

"The xenophobia of Nicolas Sarkozy threatens democracy," the League of
Human Rights said. For the conservative leader's main rival, the Socialist
Party, "There are rules that are valid for all French ... You are French
or you are not French."

Many claimed that Sarkozy, plummeting in the polls, was using
law-and-order and immigration issues to gain backing from deeply
conservative swaths of the population and the minority far-right.

Julien Proult in Paris contributed to this report.

Obama Bravely Takes on a Tortured Child Soldier

Torturing the Rule of Law at Obama's Gitmo


President Obama may lack the nerve to stare down Liz Cheney or Bibi Netanyahu, but no one can deny that our commander in chief has the guts to take on a child soldier. Come October, a military commission in Guantánamo will try Omar Khadr, a Canadian national captured outside Kabul in 2002, when he was just 15 years old. This will be only the third Gitmo trial and the Obama administration’s first, and there won’t be anything kinder and gentler about it.

But give our government credit for breaking new ground: no nation has tried a child soldier for war crimes since World War II, and the decision to prosecute Khadr has drawn protests from UNICEF, headed by a former U.S. national security adviser, as well as every major human-rights group. The audacity doesn’t stop there: charges against Khadr include “murder in violation of the rules of war,” a newly minted war crime novel to the history of armed conflict. Battlefield deaths do not usually result in murder trials for prisoners of war. But according to the Department of Defense, Omar Khadr is no POW. He’s a non-uniformed, “unprivileged belligerent.” In the euphemistic lingo of Gitmo, Khadr is not even a prisoner, just a “detainee” who has been awaiting trial for the past eight years.

This kind of court action would have made great copy under Cheney and Bush, noisome proof of their barbarity. Now everyone except the Right’s usual panic-merchants is sick of Guantánamo and wishes it had closed, as Obama promised, by the end of 2009. But that deadline has passed, and Gitmo will surely be open next year too. Several reporters told me they had to beg their editors to be sent down to cover the Khadr story.

Anyone expecting to witness eye-popping tableaux of Rumsfeldian cruelty at Gitmo will be disappointed. It’s a military base like many others, except instead of the nearby base town with obligatory pawn shop, strip club, and Korean restaurant, you find an impermeable barrier sealing base dwellers and visitors inside. Overall, it’s not a bad deployment: soldiers can at least get a beer off duty, the snorkeling’s good, and the roads are free of IEDs. Given the paucity of lurid local color, scribblers who take the military flight—when I flew down, a leased Delta aircraft from Andrews Air Force Base—have been reduced to soliloquizing about Guantánamo’s McDonald’s and the banality of evil amid the French fries.

Gitmo’s population continues to trickle away, to a point. Over 600 prisoners have been let go, most by the Bush administration, and of the 51 habeas petitions for release filed since the Boumediene decision in 2008, 37 have been granted. Were these really “the worst of the worst”? Hardly. Still, the Obama administration has announced that it will continue to hold some 45 detainees indefinitely without charges, one of George W. Bush’s most radical policies, now zealously defended by a smoother, smarter team of Democratic lawyers. This is exactly the kind of lawlessness that Harold Koh, a human-rights icon, used to condemn from his bully pulpit as dean of Yale Law. Now, as legal adviser to the Department of State, he’s tasked with justifying indefinite detention.

Of the 176 remaining prisoners, Omar Khadr is the youngest. The 23-year-old is now in the midst of pretrial suppression hearings to determine whether his confession of throwing a grenade that killed a Special Forces medic is admissible as evidence. Few would deny that Khadr was tortured—one interrogator testified that he first laid eyes on the youth hooded and chained to the walls of his cell, standing with his shackled arms extended at head level. The only questions are how much torture, exactly what kind, for how long, and whether it contaminates the confession that Khadr later retracted. The first round of hearings afforded a clear vantage into the legal black hole that Guantanamo very much remains.

The Obama administration has striven to paper over the abyss with a layer of legality. There are new, improved rules for the military commissions, signed by the secretary of defense the night before the hearings began. Alas, they continue to fall short in core areas of juridical fairness. There is no right to a speedy trial, no pretrial investigation to weed out weak cases, and the defense’s requests for witnesses must go through the prosecution. There is no credit for pretrial detention—now nearly a decade for many prisoners—and no right of equal access to witnesses and evidence. Freshly invented war crimes like “material support for terrorism,” retroactively applied, violate the fundamental juridical principle of nulla poena sine lege, no crime without a prospective law.

The greatest flaw is structural: the interference of the “Convening Authority”—the politically appointed head of the commissions—into the prosecutions has been documented again and again. Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, former legal adviser to the Convening Authority, was so blatant in his attempts to secure convictions that he was banned from any involvement in three separate trials for his “undue command influence.” One former chief prosecutor at Guantánamo has said that Hartmann pushed hard for the Khadr case because he thought it would be “sexy, the kind of case the public’s going to get energized about.” Such micromanaging did not endear Hartmann to his colleagues: former deputy prison camps commander at Guantánamo Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti testified in 2008 that Hartmann’s conduct was “abusive, bullying and unprofessional … pretty much across the board.”

One might expect that a legal system thus rigged would greatly appeal to its prosecutors. Until now, one would be wrong. Half a dozen prosecutors have quit the commissions in disgust, most with blistering criticisms on their way out. Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor of the commissions until October 2007, said that constant political pressure made full, fair, and open trials impossible: “What we are doing at Guantánamo is neither military nor justice.”

No less scathing is Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, formerly lead prosecutor in another commissions case against a child soldier—a case that collapsed midway through, with the government dropping all charges. “It would be foolish to expect anything to come out of Guantánamo except decades of failure. There will be no justice there, and Obama has proved to be an almost unmitigated disaster,” he told me. After resigning from the commissions as a matter of ethical principle, Vandeveld was punished with a mandatory psychiatric evaluation and gratuitous hearings into his fitness for remaining in the Army, even though he now has only two months remaining in his term of service. Vandeveld, who has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, doubts very much that any more prosecutors will resign after his highly visible reprimand.

The new head of the prosecution team, Capt. John Murphy, told me proudly that morale has never been higher on his team. Half of the four lawyers looked young enough to have started law school long after 2001, and it is hard to imagine young attorneys quitting the commissions without established careers to fall back on.

This may spell the end to a golden chapter in JAG history: throughout the sordid drama of Guantanamo, the few glimmers of governmental integrity have come from the JAG corps’ dissent. They even earned that ultimate ethical accolade, the disapproval of John Yoo, who scolded the military lawyers for adhering to the rule of law in defiance of the “unitary executive authority” as embodied by torture buffs such as himself.

For its part, Team Obama’s main innovation has been to ban troublesome journalists from the base, a move Bush never dared. On May 6, toward the end of this round of hearings, the Joint Task Force abruptly barred four of the most knowledgeable reporters from returning to Gitmo, accusing them of violating an order that the identity of Omar Khadr’s primary interrogator be kept secret. It doesn’t matter that “Interrogator Number One,” convicted in a 2005 court martial for prisoner abuse at Bagram prison, had already been interviewed by one of these journalists two years ago and that his identity is available in the public record.

One of the banned journalists, Carol Rosenberg of McClatchy, was hounded last summer by a risible and quickly dismissed sexual harassment complaint made by Navy press officer Jeffrey Gordon. Rosenberg is the acknowledged dean of Gitmo journalists, and getting rid of her would be a singularly effective way for the Department of Defense to regain some control over the sordid War Court narrative. Carol and two other journalists have since been reinstated after reaffirming their allegiance to the DoD’s “ground rules” at Gitmo, but the government’s warning shot has registered.

The uproar over the banned journalists did successfully deflect attention from the prosecution’s cosy arrangements with a convicted detainee abuser. Joshua Claus, or interrogator number one as he was called in the hearings, was court-martialled for detainee abuse in 2005, and pled guilty to maltreatment and assault on a taxi driver known only as Dilawar, who was beaten to death by his Bagram interrogators. (Dilawar’s crime had been to drive his taxi near the detention centre at the wrong time.) Though Claus was not convicted of murder (no one was), he did admit to throttling Dilawar and forcing water down his throat, and he was the last interrogator seen with the prisoner before his death. Claus's pledge to cooperate with the Khadr prosecution team helped earn him a lenient sentence of only five months. Though called as a defense witness in the recent Khadr hearings, Claus had spent far more time conferring with the prosecution, and his well-prepared statements in the hearings evinced much rehearsal and preparation. The prosecution’s chummy working relationship with a court-martialed detainee abuser: this is not the stuff for an Obama-era rehabilitation of Guantánamo’s public image.

And that image remains pretty terrible, even if Camp X-Ray, the open-air cages that held orange jumpsuited detainees for four months in 2002, is now growing weeds. Camp Delta, the detention complex, is rather prosaic. Camp 5, for the least compliant prisoners, is a direct modular copy of a block from the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana; Camps 4 and 6, for the most compliant, of Lawanee Prison in Adrian, Michigan. Some detainees are able to take courses in Arabic, English, and art. And so what?

A prison doesn’t have to be a Gothic nightmare to threaten the rule of law. As the ACLU’s Ben Wizner puts it, “At this point, Guantánamo isn’t a place anymore, it’s a principle.” A normal-looking prison that just happens to hold people indefinitely without charge is a more insidious threat to the integrity of the legal system than Camp X-Ray ever was. For this reason, the ACLU does not see transporting the system to Thomson Correctional Facility in Illinois as any kind of progress.

Guantánamo, wherever it is located, runs the grave risk of normalization, a process already well underway. Over a few nights during the Khadr hearings, I read in my air-conditioned tent a law-review article by Prof. Adrian Vermeule, an up-and-comer at Harvard Law School. He proposes that legal black holes—the term was coined by a British law lord expressly for Guantánamo—are not only tolerable but necessary. Any attempt to fill them in with law would be “hopelessly utopian,” “quixotic” even. “Our Schmittian Administrative Law,” published last year in the Harvard Law Review, draws heavily on the work of Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, lifelong opponent of the rule of law and liberal democracy. A chronic figure of fascination among lefty academics for the cold eye he cast on liberalism’s sacred myths, Schmitt’s ideas had always been held at a prophylactic distance.

No longer. Schmitt’s ready-made conceptual lexicon for political emergencies, non-state combatants, and the need for strident executive authority has proven irresistible to ambitious intellectuals in the revolving door between the federal government and the finer law schools. These tweedy immoralists urge us to relax our square-john commitment to the rule of law and embrace strong executive action. Surely the moralizing banalities of rule-of-law theorists are inadequate for the unique challenges of the post-9/11 global order, they tell us.

But after the events of the past decade, one would be on safer ground drawing the opposite conclusion about the rule of law’s value. Our government responded to 9/11 with extraordinary measures contemptuous of ordinary legality, and every one of them has been catastrophic. From the conquest of Iraq to waterboarding to warrantless wiretapping to the military commissions of Guantánamo, these policies have been exorbitantly costly in blood, money, and national prestige. Nor is setting up a shambolic court to try a child soldier who was tortured in custody likely to solve anything. Has any part of our frenzied rejection of legal restraints improved national security one bit?

Vermeule is correct to note that these black holes are likely to dilate rather than contract as an imperialist foreign policy strains our legal system, not only with the panic and fervor of war but with juridical conundrums of extraterritoriality, non-state belligerents, and geographically far-fetched definitions of self-defense. Already a new Guantánamo for indefinite detainees has opened up in Bagram, which will be much less accessible to media, nonprofit observers, and defense counsel.

Meanwhile, the rule of law will continue to suffer rough treatment at the hands of our best and brightest. The concept has been debunked by many postmodern academics as so much high-minded bourgeois blather and, more dangerously, derided by the neoconservative Right as a folktale for chuckleheads. But people in countries where violent lawlessness is rife see the rule of law as something more than rhetorical window dressing. From Colombia to Egypt to Italy to Guantánamo’s neighboring Cuba, citizens who risk their lives against the depredations of organized crime or authoritarian states routinely invoke the rule of law to give meaning to their acts of resistance. Yes, the rule of law may be an ideal—but it is not only an ideal.

Repairing legal black holes in America may start by shutting down Guantánamo, wherever the detention complex ultimately winds up, and radically rethinking our post-9/11 security policies. Indefinite detention in some nondescript prison with a few art classes doesn’t make for splashy headlines, but it marks the beginning of the end of the rule of law.

Chase Madar is a lawyer in New York, and can be reached at

This is an updated version of a piece that originally appeared in the August 2010 edition of The American Conservative, a nonpareil source of anti-imperialist news and opinion.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Age of Conspiracy Charges

Looking back over the past decade, it appears that North American law enforcement agencies are increasingly utilizing conspiracy charges to target anarchists and others involved in radical communities. We’ve composed a review of recent conspiracy cases in hopes of analyzing this.

If conspiracy charges are becoming central to the state's strategy against anarchists, it is imperative that we develop a strategy of our own to respond to this and seize the initiative rather than simply reacting over and over to individual cases. This text is a humble effort in that direction, in hopes of inspiring more thoughtful reflections from our comrades.

Conspiracy charges are convenient for police and federal agents in that they do not require authorities to prove that any actual illegal activity took place, only shared intent. In that regard, they are an ideal weapon to wield against ideologically-based communities; they also lend themselves to government agents’ efforts to entrap naïve activists.

There are also signs that the authorities may be attempting to fabricate evidence for larger conspiracy cases on a national scale. It’s impossible to know whether these will ever pan out, but it’s certainly better to be prepared.

What can we do to respond to this strategy of repression? Here are some basic starting places:

1. Don’t let the state intimidate us out of confrontational public organizing.

The state targets public organizers like the SHAC 7 or the RNC 8 because they are effective. Public organizing groups have been essential in creating the necessary conditions for anarchists to determine the character of recent mobilizations such as those against the 2008 Republican National Convention and the G20 summits of 2009 and 2010. The same goes for local and ongoing campaigns.

Even when it is framed as a strategic choice, retreating from public organizing can only play into the hands of the authorities. Repression is intended to cause militants to back away from engaging with the public, losing connection with a broader social base and deepening the false dichotomy between passive “community organizing” and clandestine direct action. This is not to say everyone must organize publicly—on the contrary, one function of public organizing is to prepare a favorable ground for more generalized and anonymous actions—but that it is a necessary aspect of anarchist struggle.

2. Minimize our vulnerability to conspiracy charges.

There are many ways we can do this. Perhaps the most obvious is to practice appropriate security culture, sharing sensitive information on a need-to-know basis and doing our best to keep informants out of our circles. Security culture is not only for those who may be party to illegal activity; it is important for everyone connected to networks that the state is interested in mapping or disrupting. Some hypothesize that one of the reasons the authorities didn’t bring conspiracy charges against organizers of the Pittsburgh G20 protests was that, in contrast to the RNC Welcoming Committee, individuals suspected of being police agents were not permitted into the coordinating group. The closer informants are to us, the easier it is for them to prepare cases of some kind, however fabricated.

Likewise, it’s important to keep an eye out for federal bounty hunters preying on naïve young activists. Often they prefer to target the least experienced or connected individuals in a social milieu instead of tangling with longtime militants. We can also inoculate ourselves against disruption by sorting out internal conflicts before they offer infiltrators or prosecutors opportunities to divide us against each other.

After so many conspiracy cases have been brought against anarchists, we should no longer be surprised by new ones. We need to be thinking in advance about how to respond to them; that means preparing legal support structures and bail funds even when we don’t have reason to believe we’re about to be targeted. It also means being intentional about how we conduct ourselves so we don’t make it easier for prosecutors to demonize us. In the words of grand jury resister Carrie Feldman,

Does whatever value I gained from wearing an ALF shirt in high school outweigh the fact that it was later used to smear me in court and justify holding me in jail for four months? Mostly I just want to say, yeah, fuck’em. Bring it on. But I think the important thing is to always be weighing that, be aware of it. Be ready to own everything you say and do. Don’t just front or talk a militant line to sound cool. When you’re reading about it in your FBI file you’ll want to have said things worth standing by.

Whenever someone is targeted with a politically motivated conspiracy case, it’s important that we mobilize the very best legal defense we can. This means hiring good lawyers, not just accepting lazy and often outright backstabbing court-appointed defenders. Every conspiracy case against radicals sets a precedent for more of the same; defending one of us is literally defending all of us. Good lawyers serve two functions. First, they intimidate the state, which will be more likely to bargain or drop charges if it knows pressing them will be expensive and risky. Second, they can win cases or get them thrown out, as recently occurred in the case of the AETA 4. Raising the money to defend one person effectively can save a lot more money and heartache in the long run.

Public support campaigns are equally important. On one side, this means going public when you are targeted—both so you can receive support and so that repression will be brought into the spotlight. On the other, it means organizing long-term support for defendants, so they will feel invested in answering to the community and so the authorities will have to factor in public relations challenges when they consider whether to target us. Support campaigns can target the most vulnerable individuals in the power structure; the supporters of the RNC 8 did this by concentrating on county attorney Susan Gaertner, who was eventually forced to drop the terrorism charges against the defendants.

Finally, though this should go without saying, we can protect ourselves from conspiracy charges simply by not cooperating with the authorities. Of the cases detailed below, many of them would never have gotten off the ground if people had not been intimidated into making statements against their former comrades. Nobody talks, everybody walks—that goes for our whole community as well as specific groups of defendants.

Defendants who cooperate with the government never come out ahead. As detailed below and elsewhere, not only do they lose friends and community support, they rarely get significantly shorter sentences—and doing prison time is much harder as an informant.

3. Craft an effective narrative discrediting the state's use of conspiracy charges and circulate it to the general public.

If the authorities come to rely on pressing conspiracy charges against anarchists as a central strategy of repression, we must take advantage of the ways this makes them vulnerable. Many in our society—and not just radicals—are uncomfortable with the idea of people being persecuted for thought crime. We need to find ways to address people outside our social and political circles about the prevalence of conspiracy charges, so as to utilize this opportunity to discredit the state and delegitimize conspiracy-based cases. The broader the range of people who disapprove of this tactic, the more the hands of the authorities will be tied.

Most of this work has yet to be done. If you are concerned about government repression, consider the ways you can approach others outside radical communities about this issue.

When we talk about conspiracy charges and witch hunts, it’s important to emphasize that we’re talking about the state, which exists to carry out violent repression. As long as there are inequalities and injustices, there will be resistance, and those in power will attempt to repress it. If we take ourselves seriously as a revolutionary movement, we need to see ourselves in the larger context and histories of resistance movements and the repression they have faced; we would do well to learn both from the successes and the failures of the past. It’s also important to remember that repression is a daily fact of life for countless people in communities on the wrong end of power and privilege; anarchists are far from exceptional in this regard.

Appendix: An Incomplete Review of Recent Conspiracy Cases

This is hardly a comprehensive survey of conspiracy charges pressed against anarchists and other radicals in recent history. However, it does cover some of the landmark cases that created the current context, as well as ongoing cases that will set important precedents.

Altogether, this review encompasses charges pressed against nearly a hundred individuals. The cases themselves vary from fairly conventional uses of conspiracy charges to outright entrapment and examples that stretch the legal definition of conspiracy even by prosecutors’ standards.


The SHAC 7

In the early days of the 21st century, although several hearings before Congress had brought governmental pressure to bear against the animal liberation movement, efforts to quash direct action organizing by capturing and prosecuting participants proved fruitless. Finally, a New Jersey federal grand jury indicted seven individuals and the organization Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA on charges of animal enterprise terrorism under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act on May 26, 2004. Charges of interstate stalking and conspiracy to use a telecommunications device to harass others were also included in the indictment. It has been said that the defendants were essentially targeted for running a website advocating direct action.

The SHAC 7

The SHAC 7 were convicted on March 2, 2006 under the AETA. Their conviction probably emboldened law enforcement agencies to utilize conspiracy charges to target radicals nationwide, especially in cases in which simple criminal charges could not be pressed convincingly or did not appear to offer enough of a deterrent.

Rod Coronado

On December 2, 2004, federal prosecutors indicted Rod Coronado on conspiracy charges related to a local environmental group interfering with mountain lion hunting in Sabino Canyon in March 2003. The indictment came just seven days before Coronado was to stand trial for three lesser misdemeanor charges filed after his arrest in Sabino Canyon on March 26. The new charge carried a maximum penalty of six years in prison.

Coronado faced this among many other charges in a concerted campaign of harassment across several years. On December 13, 2005, he and codefendant Matthew Crozier were found guilty of felony conspiracy to interfere with or injure a government official, misdemeanor interference with or injury to a forest officer, and misdemeanor depredation of government property. Coronado was sentenced on August 6, 2006 to eight months in prison, three years supervised probation, and fined $100. Crozier was sentenced to 100 hours community service, three years probation, and a $1000 fine.


Operation Backfire

In December 2005 and January 2006, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the FBI indicted six women and seven men on a total of 65 charges, including arson, conspiracy, use of destructive devices, and destruction of an energy facility. The defendants were named as Joseph Dibee (still at large), Chelsea Dawn Gerlach, Sarah Kendall Harvey (née Kendall Tankersley), Daniel McGowan, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Josephine Overaker (still at large), Jonathan Paul, Rebecca Rubin (still at large), Suzanne Savoie, Justin Solondz (currently in custody in China), Darren Thurston, Kevin Tubbs, and Briana Waters (not charged with conspiracy). A number of other unindicted co-conspirators were also named, including Jacob Ferguson, Jen Kolar, and Lacey Philabaum, all of whom joined Meyerhoff, Gerlach, Harvey, Savoie, Tubbs, and Thurston in accepting plea deals in return for informing to the government. Another alleged co-conspirator, William Rodgers, committed suicide while in police custody. Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher were added in a superseding indictment in June 2006.


Eric McDavid

In January 2006, as a result of a separate investigation but widely reported as an extension of Operation Backfire, three more individuals—Eric McDavid, Zachary Jenson, and Lauren Weiner—were arrested in Auburn, California for conspiring to damage facilities “by explosive or fire.” Jenson and Weiner took cooperating plea bargains, selling out McDavid, who was convicted on all counts September 27, 2007 and was sentenced in May 2008 to nearly 20 years in prison.

Eric McDavid

The McDavid case is notable because of the role of a paid informant, “Anna,” who essentially entrapped the defendants by utilizing money and flirtation to lure them into discussions about illegal activity. It subsequently received coverage in Elle magazine among other venues.

Sadie and Exile

Nathan Fraser Block, aka “Exile,” and Joyanna Lynn Zacher, aka “Sadie,” were arrested in February 2006 in Olympia, Washington in connection to the Jefferson Poplar Farm fire which occurred in 2001 in Clatskanie, Oregon.

In November 2006, Joyanna Zacher and Nathan Block each pled to one count of conspiracy, attempted arson, plus multiple arson charges from actions at the Joe Romania Chevrolet car dealership in Eugene and the Jefferson Poplar tree farm, as part of a global resolution agreement with prosecutors in the Operation Backfire case. Daniel McGowan and Jonathan Paul entered plea deals in the same hearing, resolving all the outstanding Operation Backfire cases. All four defendants refused to assist in government investigations of other activists. It is worth noting that, compared to the cooperating defendants in the Backfire case (see chart, as a GIF or PDF), the non-cooperating defendants received proportionately shorter sentences.


The San Francisco 8

Eight Black community activists, including former Black Panthers, were arrested January 23, 2007 on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Similar charges were thrown out after it was revealed that police had used torture to extract confessions when some of the same men were arrested in New Orleans in 1973.

Richard Brown, Richard O'Neal, Ray Boudreaux, and Hank Jones were arrested in California. Francisco Torres was arrested in Queens, New York. Harold Taylor was arrested in Florida. Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim—had already been held as political prisoners for over 30 years in New York State prisons. The men were charged with the murder of Sgt. John Young and conspiracy encompassing numerous acts between 1968 and 1973. Bail amounts were originally set between three and five million dollars each.

San Francisco 8 members Francisco Torres, Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Harold Taylor, and Hank Jones with supporters

Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim were sentenced to probation and time served, after Bell agreed to plead to voluntary manslaughter and Muntaqim to conspiracy to voluntary manslaughter. All charges were then dropped against Brown, Jones, Taylor, and Boudreaux, with the prosecution admitting it had “insufficient evidence” against them. Charges had already been dropped against O'Neal in 2008.

Francisco Torres is the last one still facing charges; he maintains his innocence and will appear in court on August 10.


Marie Mason

In March 2008, Marie Mason, Frank Ambrose, Aren Burthwick, and Stephanie Lynne Fultz were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit arson; Mason and Ambrose faced additional charges related to acts of property destruction that occurred in 1999 and 2000. It came out that Ambrose, Mason’s ex-husband, had been assisting the FBI extensively in investigating environmental organizing since 2007; despite this, his plea bargain resulted in a nine year sentence, two years more than the prosecutor had requested. Burthwick and Fultz also negotiated cooperating deals with the Justice Department, agreeing to help in the investigation of Mason. Mason was threatened with a life sentence before accepting a plea bargain in September 2008, in which she also admitted involvement in 12 other acts totaling more than $2.5 million of property damage.

Marie Mason

Mason was sentenced on February 5, 2009 in federal court in Lansing, Michigan. She received almost 22 years, the longest sentence of any Green Scare prisoner. The sentence is currently being appealed.


Bryan Rivera, aka Bryan Lefey, was arrested July 2008 on charges relating to a July 2000 Earth Liberation Front action at the U.S. Forest Service Facility in Rhinelander, WI, where genetic research was being conducted on trees.

Katherine Christianson was originally named as a co-conspirator. Government informant Ian Wallace, who was cooperating in investigations into other ELF actions, got involved and named Aaron Ellringer and Daniel McGowan as additional co-conspirators. Christianson and Ellringer eventually became government informants. All were convicted; Ellringer received four days, Christianson 2 years, Lefey 3 years, Wallace 3 years for this and related actions.

Green Scare prisoner Daniel McGowan, already serving a 7 year sentence, had also been involved in the Rhinelander action, but was not prosecuted federally for it as stipulated in his 2006 non-cooperating plea agreement. McGowan steadfastly refused to cooperate in the Rhinelander investigation, and in summer 2008 his federal sentence was suspended for a brief time while he was held in civil contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury about the action.

The RNC 8

In what was the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County prosecutors charged eight alleged organizers of protests against the 2008 Republican National Convention with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. The 8 faced up to seven and a half years in prison under the terrorism enhancement associated with the charge, which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty. They later received more charges—conspiracy to commit property damage, conspiracy to commit property damage in furtherance of terrorism, conspiracy to riot, and the original charge.

The RNC 8

In early April 2009, county attorney Susan Gaertner dropped the charges of Conspiracy to Commit Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism and Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Damage to Property in Furtherance of Terrorism. This occurred shortly after one of the defendants appeared on MSNBC and petitions to drop all the charges were delivered to Gaertner’s office, including a resolution from the 17,000-member Duluth Central Labor Body in support of the RNC 8.

The terrorism charges were dropped as a direct result of a political pressure campaign against Gaertner, who had pressed the charges and was running for governor at the time. After protests at all of her campaign events and various other disruptions, Gaertner’s name became synonymous with the RNC 8 to such an extent that eventually she had to adopt “The courage to do the right thing even when it is politically unpopular” as a campaign slogan. When Gaertner dropped the terrorism charges, she explained to a local paper that the terrorism charges would be “distracting” and “a disaster at trial.” This was not enough to save her campaign; she later dropped out of the governor’s race entirely.

Significantly, no conspiracy charges were filed against organizers of protests against the 2009 G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This seems to indicate that the support campaign for the RNC 8 was successful enough to discourage the state from attempting the same strategy, although it was surely caused by factors in Pittsburgh as well. The latter may include the willingness of the organizing group to exclude suspicious individuals and hesitance on the part of local officials to go after well-connected activists.

The other two conspiracy charges remain pending against the RNC 8. The trial will begin on October 25, 2010.



On February 19 and 20, 2009, the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI arrested Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope, and Adriana Stump; they were charged with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for protest activity relating to home demonstrations in which they wrote on a sidewalk with chalk, among other things.

A judge dismissed the case “without prejudice” in July 2010 on the grounds that the government didn’t give enough specifics on the alleged criminal activity:

In order for an indictment to fulfill its constitutional purposes, it must allege facts that sufficiently inform each defendant of what it is that he or she is alleged to have done that constitutes a crime. This is particularly important where the species of behavior in question spans a wide spectrum from criminal conduct to constitutionally protected political protest. While ‘true threats’ enjoy no First Amendment protection, picketing and political protest are at the very core of what is protected by the First Amendment.

Because the case was dismissed without prejudice, the government can re-indict the defendants; it is unclear whether this will occur.

The AETA 4

Hugh and Tiga

Gina “Tiga” Wertz and Hugh Farrell were arrested on April 24, 2009 by Indiana state authorities and charged with multiple counts of intimidation, conversion, and corrupt business influence, a felony racketeering charge, for their involvement in protests against I-69. The felony racketeering charge was later dismissed. Both pled July 2010 to misdemeanor charges and received 15 months probation.

Kevin Olliff

Kevin Olliff was arrested in April 2009 on state charges for protest-related activity against UCLA vivisectors three years earlier; he faced 10 felony charges including multiple counts of stalking, conspiracy, conspiracy to stalk, and threatening of a public servant. Olliff did not make bail and stayed in jail for almost a year before he pled to six of the ten felony counts against him in March 2010 in a non-cooperating plea agreement.

Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth

Carrie Feldman was subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Davenport, Iowa in October 2009. She read a statement of non-cooperation and pled the 5th Amendment, and was re-subpoenaed for November. Scott DeMuth was subpoenaed to appear with her, and the two were both jailed for civil contempt on account of refusing to answer questions.

Scott DeMuth was indicted for conspiracy to violate the AETA days later, and was released pending trial; Feldman was jailed for four months, during which time her case received public attention. She was eventually released because “her testimony is no longer needed.” DeMuth’s trial is scheduled to begin September 13, 2010.


The Asheville 11

Eleven people were arrested on May 1, 2010 in Asheville, NC, accused of doing $20,000 worth of damage to downtown businesses. Each was charged with 3 felonies (felony riot, felony conspiracy to riot, felony damage to property) and 10 misdemeanors (one was charged with 11). Initially set at $10,000, bail was ratcheted up to $65,000 apiece as the authorities implemented anti-anarchist scare tactics in the media and court system. Their trial dates have yet to be set.

Toronto G20

Sixteen people were arrested and charged with conspiracy on account of the protests against the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada. Although this is occurring in Canada, the Canadian government is clearly hoping to utilize the conspiracy model pioneered in the SHAC 7 and RNC 8 cases to terrorize dissidents involved in laying the framework for the most intense protests Ontario has seen thus far this century. As of now, little information is available about the Toronto G20 charges; the government is not releasing any information, and lawyers appear to be advising the defendants to proceed extremely carefully.

If you’re going to fuck security culture, please use protection

U.S. Government continues its Nazi treatment of Gerardo Hernández

July 28, 2010 ·

In the United States, unlike Cuba, we almost never free political prisoners and we certainly don’t give them medical care. We send them to the hole, we punish them while they’re in the hole, and we deny them access to their attorneys. And our State Department ignores any questions on the subject. Like with Gerardo Hernández. Gerardo says that this picture (of a Nazi torture cell) is a dead ringer for the hole where he is being held. Except that I’ll bet this one is bigger.

Arturo Valenzuela is the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department. Switchboard: 202-647-4000

Alarcón: The United States is Responsible for Gerardo Hernández’s Healthespañol

Translation: Machetera

Prensa Latina – Today Ricardo Alarcón, the President of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, said the U.S. government was responsible for the health of the anti-terrorist fighter, Gerardo Hernández, a prisoner in the United States who is suffering from health problems.

“Gerardo’s health is in danger and the U.S. government is entirely responsible for this,” warned Alarcón at the convention center in Havana, where the permanent parliamentary committees are working in advance of the fifth set of meetings for the Assembly’s seventh legislature.

Alarcón further emphasized that justice was being obstructed in Gerardo’s case since he is being confined to the “hole” in the prison at Victorville, California, without having committed any infractions.

The head of the Cuban parliament says it is a very serious situation, because Gerardo is not only in the hole, but in punishing conditions, in an extremely small cell without ventilation, with only a tiny opening high in the wall of the cell that he shares with another captive.

“The U.S. government knows that Gerardo has certain physical ailments, for which he has been asking to be seen by doctors since last April,” said Alarcón, who added that Gerardo was only allowed a medical consult on July 20th. The following day, however, he was taken to the hole, a cell two meters long by one wide, where the temperatures are more than 95 degrees, despite the fact that he was diagnosed with several problems and still lacking treatment.

Alarcon said that apparently Gerardo is suffering from a bacteria that according to the doctor who attended him, was circulating among the prison population, with some very serious cases – although it’s not yet known for certain if Gerardo has it too, because no analysis was done. It also appears that Gerardo is suffering from newly increased blood pressure. He is a young man, barely 45 years old, but has experienced more than 12 extremely difficult episodes, recalled Alarcón.

Alarcón expressed his concern for the health of the Cuban anti-terrorist, despite his strong will, above all, because he is not receiving medical attention. “We have continually complained to the State Department and have not received a response. It is not just that he is in the hole, but in punishment conditions within the hole,” he said.

He pointed out that Gerardo is unable to communicate with his attorneys exactly at the time when they are working on his appeal, a situation that has happened again and again throughout the entire process. “Gerardo ought to be working with his attorneys on the grounds for his habeas corpus appeal. The U.S. government knows this and right now they have him incommunicado; he cannot communicate with his attorneys, cannot receive correspondence, he is completely isolated and on top of it all, he is ill, with risks to his physical integrity,” he emphasized.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grand Jury Resister Jordan Halliday Accepts Plea

Jordan Halliday Update

For Immediate Release:

Civil Liberties Defense Center
259 East Fifth Avenue, Suite 300A
Eugene, OR 97401

Jordan Halliday Pleaded Guilty to Contempt

Utah animal rights activist Jordan Halliday pleaded guilty today July
27, 2010 to criminal contempt of court for refusing to testify before
a federal grand jury investigating a series of mink releases in Salt
Lake and Davis Counties.

In court Tuesday, before the US District Judge Ted Stewart, Halliday
admitted that he willfully & knowingly violated an order by US
District Judge Tena Campbell. The order demanded that he answer
questions put to him by a federal prosecutor within the confines of a
federal grand jury inquisition.

The Prosecution asserted that Halliday refused to take oath and
responded with "no comment" to essentially every question asked, even
to innocuous questions such as where he lived.

Outside the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City,
approximately one dozen protesters expressed their support for Jordan
as well as their disagreement with the grand jury process. Protesters
displayed signs stating "Resist Grand Juries" and "Support Jordan Halliday."

Halliday was subpoenaed twice in March 2009 to testify before a
federal grand jury investigating the activity of the animal rights
community of Utah. After resisting on March 11, 2009, Jordan was held
in civil contempt of court and jailed for four months. While in jail,
Jordan was re-subpoenaed to the same grand jury. When he was released
from jail, he was indicted with criminal contempt of court for the
same act of recalcitrance. He is one of the first activists in
decades to face criminal contempt for merely asserting his
constitutional rights to not answer questions put to him by a
secretive grand jury witch hunt.

Criminal contempt of court is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor but
rather considered sui generis by the court. Literally meaning in
latin: "of it's own kind". This being the case it carries no maximum
punishment and it is entirely up to the Judge to decide the sentence.
Jordan faces possibly one year in federal prison for this charge.

Jordan is currently out on the same pretrial requirements while he
awaits sentencing on October 19, 2010. Jordan cannot leave the State
of Utah and cannot have contact with known ALF members or members of
the Vegan-Straightedge animal group.
Speech made in Portland, OR in May, 2010

My name is Nadia Winstead. It's good to be here with all of you and
everyone on this panel. I think it is very important that we are
having this conversation and dialog. These issues are very close to
my heart and I am happy to share my story with you tonight.

I've been involved and a supporter of the animal liberation movement
for many years. I took part in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty
campaign (AKA: SHAC). During that time I helped organize and
participated in many pubic demonstrations. As people in my movement
started dealing with process servers, law suits, restraining orders,
and ending up in jail or prison for their activity, I began to focus
on prisoner support. I learned how important it is to show strong
solidarity with our comrades who are imprisoned. This gave me the
opportunity to make connections with other political prisoners and
their movements. Everything really came to a head for me when I was
subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in May 2005. I resisted it fully
and with a lot of luck and an amazing legal team didn't go to jail
after a year and a half of continuous court appearances and
harassment. So this is why I have been asked to speak here
tonight. I want talk about what happened to my community, how we got
through it, and the bridges that were built in the face of oppression.

On May 24th 2005 myself and 9 other individuals were served subpoenas
to appear before a federal grand jury in San Francisco. For a few of
us, these subpoenas followed the raids of our homes, which happened a
month earlier.

As soon as we got our subpoenas, we started organizing our legal
team. The subpoenaed made it very clear to each other and to our
lawyers that we would be resisting completely and that probably meant
going to jail. We took the time to develop the frame work of our
support. We knew we weren't going to go down quietly so we got a
media point person, a few folks to work on the press release, had a
friend create a support website & list-serve, came up with slogans
for signs, and got ready to put out a call for a mass resistance
demonstration. This kind of solidarity, knowing my community,
friends, and family were there every step of the way made it possible
to face the potential and likelihood of going to jail.

I would like to talk about how it was very natural for me to
resist. I hope I can inspire some of you here this evening to stand
in solidarity with all grand jury resisters and if the authorities

ever harass and question you, that you will not talk to them, at
all. This means not answering any questions asked by the
authorities- no matter how harmless the question may seem- because
they can twist your words to use them against you and the people you
care about.

Grand juries have been used against radical movements in this country
since the abolitionist period. Anti-slavery activists were called
before grand juries in efforts to intimidate and destroy their
movement. Through out the decades, individuals from just about every
movement fighting for social change have been called on by the State
to give information about their communities. Grand juries have been
used as a tool to silence and intimidate the following struggles;
Women's Liberation, the Puerto Rican Independence movement, Black
Panthers & Black Liberation, anti-imperialist and anti-war activists,
and (AIM) The American Indian Movement. More recently individuals
from indy-media, the radical environmental movement, Anarchists,
Animal Liberationists and again Black Panthers have been called to testify.

Three things shaped my understanding of grand jury resistance:

One: Learning the history of State oppression against all
liberation movements

Two: Knowing that there is a legacy of resistance to grand juries &

Three: Knowing that every person subpoenaed to a grand jury has a
chance to be part of that legacy of active resistance against the
State to protect their movement.

This was not my first experience with the State harassing and
imprisoning my community. Grand juries, home raids, surveillance,
infiltration, and intimidation are not new to animal liberation
supporters. We have been dealing with these forms of harassment for
years. But as our movement continues to grow and persist, the
frequency and severity of these incidents has escalated. (case in
point: The AETA4) It is ingrained in most of us to never compromise
our beliefs and our struggle, especially in court. Having this ethic
as a constant in my political life, made me realize that I had no
other option. I knew that I had to risk my freedom to resist the
grand jury to stay true to my core values and ethics.

I saw our subpoenas as a plot by the government to continue the
intimidation of our movement and not something that was happening to
us as individuals. I understood that we weren't exceptional, that
there was a backdrop to the oppression that was coming down on us. It
helped to know that we were feeling this new pressure because our
movement was becoming more effective and a potential threat (not to
life and limb, but to industry & above all- profit). In a way, I
took it as an affirmation and decided that the best thing to do was
to connect with other radical people who had similar experiences and
try to do some effective community building in the face of harassment
by the State.

Right around the same time we got our subpoenas, 5 former Black
Panthers in their 50s & 60s were subpoenaed to a CA State grand
jury. Without talking to each other before hand, each of them chose
not to cooperate with the grand jury and each of them was jailed. To
this day, it was one of the most important and beautiful things I had
witnessed politically. The fact that each of these men resisted
hands down after the State basically pulled them out of retirement,
to harass and intimidate them about something that happened in the
1970s, - the fact that they still held true to their politics after
more than 30 years- was truly beautiful. It was very clear to me.
They have always been under attack- for being who they are and for
fighting for self-determination. These men & their community will
never cooperate or do business with the State -who has for decades
upon decades done it's best to delegitimize, intimidate, oppress,
torture, and assassinate them. I got to witness their spirit 'Once a
Panther, always a Panther' and I knew that if they could resist at
this stage of their lives, that I as a younger healthy person could
handle the simple task at hand. My friends and I took this as an
opportunity to humbly show our support to these extraordinary people
who came before us in struggle and who inspired us to fight in the first place.

After I was found in civil contempt for not answering questions, the
judge let me stay out of jail pending appeal. On December 22, 2006
we got our response from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They
agreed with our appeal that the government had not met their burden
of proof to whether they had used illegal electronic surveillance
against me. They overturned my contempt order and remanded the case
for further proceedings on our motion. We didn't hear back from the
US attorney's office and the harassment pretty much stopped. No
indictments came from this grand jury and as far as we know it died
at the end of it's second session.

I would like to touch on the AETA4 before I close- These individuals
are facing terrorism charges for allegedly using tactics that used to
be protected under the 1st and 9th amendments. These same tactics
were very popular and effective during the SHAC campaign, now they
are considered acts of terrorism. My community went through the
SHAC7 indictments and trail with our friends who were convicted of
Inter-State stalking by way of a website. Since their conviction, we
have supported them through prison. When the AETA4 were arrested on
these bogus charges we offered our experience and support. Their
struggle has not been easy and they have a long road ahead of them
and the burden of fighting this for all of us.

They will continue to need our support. It is important that the
government is fought every step of the way as they try to set this
unconstitutional precedent which would make certain forms of public
activism acts of terrorism.

Should the State come knocking for you, know that you are not
alone. There are resources and very experienced people to support
you and offer solidarity. We need to set consistent examples of
non-cooperation. We must stand in solidarity with all the resisters
who came before us and use everything in our power to oppose the
State's unjust system. We can send a message that they can try to
lock us up but we will not talk, we will not contribute to their
on-going oppression. Please stay strong and stay safe.

Thank you for having me here this evening and thank you for your
future resistance.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Carlos Alberto Torres - Free, After a Fashion, at Last

Tuesday 27 July 2010

by: David Gespass, t r u t h o u t

History is generally written by the victors. Thus, the American Revolution is recorded as a just struggle for liberation by colonies formerly subject to the whim of the despotic King George III. The "Tories" who supported the king and opposed independence, even though they made up as large a percentage of the population as the revolutionaries who called for independence, are reviled in our text books for choosing the wrong side.

Puerto Rico is today and has been since the Spanish-American War in 1898 a colony of the United States. It took half a century, until 1948, before its people were allowed to elect their governor. In 1952, the US Congress declared it no longer a protectorate, but a "commonwealth." But while the euphemisms changed, Puerto Rico's colonial status did not. One might think that a country like the United States, incubated and born in the armed struggle against colonial authority, would show some empathy to those who chose the path of revolution against an occupier. One would be wrong.

I met Carlos Alberto Torres in 1985 after a National Lawyers Guild colleague from Chicago stayed at our home in Birmingham when she visited him in federal prison in Alabama. By then, he had served five years of his 78-year sentence for "seditious conspiracy," the official charge for engaging, as a member of the Puerto Rican independence group, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), the Armed Forces for National Liberation, in revolutionary struggle for the liberation of the colony from the United States. Not entirely parenthetically, Judge Learned Hand referred to the charge of conspiracy as "that darling of the modern federal prosecutor's nursery," since it requires so little in the way of proof. Indeed, whatever Carlos was convicted and sentenced for, it was not for causing physical harm to a single person.

After that visit and over the next several years until he was moved to a more remote federal prison, I was fortunate to see him periodically though, in retrospect, not often enough. Carlos never imposed on me and always assured me that knowing I was available if he needed help was enough for him. But he was far from friends and family and I was his one personal contact with the free world. His father was able to visit him once that I recall while he was in Alabama.

During the years he was in Alabama, his interest was rarely over his own fate. More often, he would want to talk to me about the needs of fellow inmates or matters of concern to the population as a whole. Still, I had the opportunity to discuss with him how he should reconcile his desire to get out of prison with his political principles. He had, at his trial, refused to recognize the jurisdiction of a colonial court to try him, insisting he be treated as a national of a free and independent country seized as a prisoner of war.

The man I remember was soft-spoken, reflective, serious and caring. He was certainly committed to the cause of his homeland's independence and the betterment of the Puerto Rican people. One can debate his tactical choices and whether independence is the best course for Puerto Rico, though it seems odd that being a colony would ever be a preferable option to the colonized. What no one who has sat down and talked to Carlos can doubt is his fundamental decency and his sincerity. That is something President Clinton had not done before he offered clemency in 1999 to 12 other Puerto Rican political prisoners, but refused to include Carlos.

Despite his more than 30 years in custody, Carlos contributed much. He invested in his fellow prisoners, teaching them literacy in both English and Spanish, earned a college degree and mastered the skills of painting and pottery making, exhibiting his work throughout the US, Puerto Rico and Mexico. But he could have contributed so much more had he been freed sooner. Finally, he is about to be released on parole. Celebrations took place July 26 in Chicago and are planned for July 27 in Puerto Rico, to honor him on his release. It is indeed cause for celebration, but thoughts of what might and should have been in a world and a country that looked at the real individual and not the image portrayed by prosecutors and the media, lend a sobriety and somberness to the joy of the occasion.

Not quite a year ago, I became the president of the National Lawyers Guild. As such, I have the good fortune to boast of the remarkable work done by our members, which is to say to brag about what other people do. So, I take pride in the report that our International Committee presented to the UN Decolonization Hearings on June 21 of this year, even though I did not contribute a comma to it. The report exposed the ways in which the United States maintains colonial control over Puerto Rico and discussed the resistance to that control and the human rights violations that accompany it.

It then went on to discuss the (to coin a phrase) cruel and unusual sentences imposed on Puerto Rican independentistas. It mentioned two in particular who had spent decades in custody, Carlos and Oscar López Rivera, as well as Avelino González Claudio. The Guild, along with many other organizations, had previously passed resolutions calling for their release and, following the presentation, so, too, did the Decolonization Committee. Thus, our happiness over Carlos' release is further tempered by the continuing incarceration of the other two prisoners. The campaign for their release continues. We will do our part, but we recognize that it will be - as it always has been - a larger movement than just the National Lawyers Guild that wins justice for the oppressed.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Puerto Rican nationalist in bombings paroled

A well-known figure in Chicago's Puerto Rican community was released from federal prison today, more than three decades after taking part in a nationalist movement that terrorized the city with bombings and other violent acts.

Carlos Alberto Torres, 57, paroled after serving 30-years for seditious conspiracy related to his role in the FALN movement, was en route this afternoon to Chicago from the federal prison in downstate Marion.
Torres was not charged with any specific bombings, and his supporters called him a "political prisoner" who had served enough time and deserved to be paroled.

"I consider this a day of victory for all the people who have dedicated years of struggle for the liberty of all the political prisoners," Torres said by cell phone.

A rally was planned for 4 p.m. today on West Division Street in the heart of the Puerto Rican community.

Through the early 1980s, the FALN used homemade bombs to make a political statement, robbing banks to finance their activities. They were active primarily in Chicago and New York. Six people were killed in New York as a result of FALN violence.

Despite criticism from Mayor Richard Daley, President Clinton in 1999 offered clemency to 11 FALN prisoners, a group that did not include Torres. Family members of victims were critical of Clinton's move, saying the prisoners should be considered terrorists.

The son of a man killed by an FALN blast called the releases "a disrespectful affront to all Americans" in a newspaper op-ed last year.

Torres said he understood why some would still harbor ill feelings toward the FALN activists.

"That is the past and the past cannot change. We can only impact the moment of the present and the future," he said. "The people have a right to their opinions and it is not my place to try to convince them one way or the other."

Alejandro Molina of the Boricua Human Rights Network said supporters would be raising funds to ease Torres' transition into society. Torres is scheduled to return to his native Puerto Rico on Tuesday morning.

After 30 Years in Prison, the Puerto Rican Political Prison Will Be Freed

The Incarceration of Carlos Alberto Torres


Today, Puerto Rican political prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres will walk out of prison after 30 years behind bars. He was convicted of seditious conspiracy - conspiring to use force against the lawful authority of the United States over Puerto Rico. Torres was punished for being a member of an armed clandestine organization called the FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation), which had taken responsibility for bombings that resulted in no deaths or injuries. He was not accused of taking part in these bombings, only of being a member of the FALN.

In 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States by Spain as war bounty in the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War. Nevertheless, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico and has occupied it ever since. Puerto Ricans have always resisted foreign occupation of their land and called for independence.

The Puerto Rican independence movement enjoys wide support internationally. Every year for 29 years the United Nations Decolonization Committee has passed a resolution calling for independence. There have been similar declarations of the Non-Aligned Movement, and recent submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review.

All of these expressions call on the U.S. government to release Puerto Rican political prisoners who have served 30 and 29 years of their disproportionately long 70 year sentences in U.S. prisons for cases related to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. They include Torres (who was sentenced to 30 years) and Oscar López Rivera (sentenced to 29 years), as well as Avelino González Claudio, who was recently sentenced to seven years. None of these men was convicted for harming anyone or taking a life.

Torres’ attorney, National Lawyers Guild member Jan Susler of Chicago, notes, “Carlos is being released from prison due to the unflagging support of the Puerto Rican independence movement and others who work for human rights. The more than 10,000 letters of support from the U.S., Puerto Rico, Mexico and other countries sent a strong message to the Parole Commission.”

Supporters from all over the United States will flock to the welcoming celebration in Chicago, which will take place in the heart of the Puerto Rican community. Tomorrow, Torres, his family and attorney will fly to Puerto Rico, where thousands will greet him with a concert of the nation’s finest musicians and artists.

Yet there is a damper on the celebration, as Torres leaves behind his compatriot Oscar López, a 67 year old decorated Viet Nam veteran. López did not accept the terms of President Clinton’s 1999 clemency offer, which would have required him to serve an additional 10 years in prison with good conduct. Though he declined the offer, López has now served the additional 10 years in prison with good conduct. Had he accepted the deal, he would have been released last September. Those who did accept are living successful lives, fully integrated into civil society. There is no reason to treat him differently.

While we celebrate this remarkable day in the life of Torres and the movement for Puerto Rican independence, let us commit ourselves to continue to struggle until Oscar López Rivera and Avelino González Claudio, as well as all political prisoners in U.S. prisons, also walk free.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the U.S. representative to the executive council of the American Association of Jurists.