Sunday, September 18, 2005

Outrageous!

I never cease to be amazed at the lengths, or (in this case) the depths that this maladministration will go to intimidate the citizens of this country. I first noticed it the day, shortly after 9/ll, that Ari Fleischer (then Press Secretary) told us that we needed to be careful about what we say. Over the past four years, it has gotten much worse.

The latest example is the case of the "Saint Patrick's Four." A brief summary of their story can be found here.

On March 17, 2003, two days before the US invasion of Iraq commenced, four protesters--now known as the "Saint Patrick's Four"--entered a military recruiting center near Ithaca, New York, and poured small amounts of their own blood around the building's vestibule in a symbolic protest against the coming invasion. By their own account, they were alone in the vestibule and no one was prevented from entering or leaving the center.

For this act of non-violence civil disobedience, the longtime Catholic peace activists--sisters Clare and Teresa Grady, Daniel Burns, and Peter DeMott--are now charged with conspiracy to impede "by force, intimidation and threat" an officer of the United States along with three lesser offenses. If convicted of federal conspiracy in a trial starting this Monday, September 19, they face up to six years in prison, a period of probation and $275,000 in fines.

The trial is the first time the Federal government has pressed conspiracy charges against civilian Iraq war protesters and comes after a previous trial last year in county court on charges of criminal mischief and trespassing which resulted in a hung jury, with nine of twelve members favoring acquittal. As public interest lawyer and law professor Bill Quigley who is acting as legal advisor to the defendants, says, "Federal intervention in this case represents a blatant act of government intimidation and will have a chilling effect on expression of the first amendment rights of any citizen to protest or speak out against their government." Which is, of course, the idea.
[Emphasis added]

That American citizens would be tried at all for exercising their First Amendment rights to speak and assemble freely is ho>rrendous. That they would be tried twice is an unspeakable crime in and of itself.

The government failed to prove to a jury that these people committed a crime in the underlying case. As any first-year law student can tell you, proving a criminal trespass is one of the easiest cases a prosecutor has. Obviously at least nine Americans on that jury understood the First Amendment.

Having lost that round, the government moved on to file a 'conspiracy' case, which means that the defendants cannot argue their beliefs that the war was wrong. This punishing of Americans for exercising their rights leads me to believe that the rest of us need to ask a couple of crucial questions.

Why does this Administration hate the Constitution?

Why does this Administration hate America?

Outrageous, indeed.

5 Comments:

Blogger earnest said...

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5:07 AM  
Blogger Eli said...

Word verification. I'm serious. It's in the Settings section, under Comments.

2:41 PM  
Blogger cabearie said...

eli,

thanks for the tip. I hope this stops some of the spammers without stopping the few people who do take the time to leave a comment.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Elmo said...

They hate because it is who they are...who they became...ignorance via greed!

6:23 PM  

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