9.28.2010

in u.s., raids on peace activists; in canada, raids on... who?

In case you didn't hear elsewhere, the FBI raided and vandalized the home of peace activists in Minnesota, claiming they had links to terrorist organizations. This wouldn't be big news if not for the current so-called anti-terrorism laws - under which these peace activists could be imprisoned indefinitely without charges. Local coverage:
The homes of six Twin Cities activists, including three prominent leaders of the Twin Cities antiwar movement, were raided Friday by the FBI in what an agency spokesman described as an investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism."

An FBI spokesman Steve Warfield confirmed that six Minneapolis homes were raided this morning.

Among the homes raided were the apartments of Jessica Sundin, who was a principal leader of the mass antiwar march of 10,000 on the opening day of the Republican National Convention two years ago, and Mick Kelly, who was prominent in that protest and among those who announced plans to march on the Democratic National Convention in Minneapolis, if the city is selected to host it in 2012. Neither has been arrested.

Kelly said in an interview this morning he had "absolutely not" been involved in illegal activities.

A raid was also in progress at the home of Meredith Aby, another local antiwar leader who was frequently the spokeswoman for the march on the GOP convention. Sundin and another source said that a fourth raid took place at the home of Tracy Molm, a leading activist in Students for a Democratic Society, an organization at the University of Minnesota.

The source said raids occurred at the addresses of two other activists whose names he did not disclose.

Supporters of Sundin, Kelly and Aby had gathered on the sidewalks outside each of the residences.

Ted Dooley, an attorney, said he had reviewed the search warrant issued in the raid on Kelly's apartment. "It's a probe into the political beliefs of American citizens and to any organization anywhere that opposes the American imperial design," he said.

Kelly said he was the subject of a similar early raid.

“They broke down a door, smashed a fish tank, and went through my books and papers,” Kelly said.

Kelly described himself as a 40-year veteran of the peace movement . . .

Lest you think this is only a US issue, and could never happen in Canada, please read this important post by Alison, writing at Dawg's Blawg.
On the same day the nation was preoccupied with the national Lib/Con competition for votes to preserve/kill the long gun registry, the Libs and Cons combined forces to slip the Combating Terrorism Act through second reading in the House - 220 votes to 84 in a classic Lib/Con vs NDP/Bloc split -just ten minutes before the long gun vote.

The Libs and Cons may disagree on whether it is either useful or an egregious invasion of privacy and civil liberties that Canadians should have to spend a few minutes registering a long gun online, but when it comes to locking Canadians up for 12 months without a warrant or compelling them to appear before a court based on some anonymous tip, they're both just fine with that.

The right to remain silent, the right not to be jailed without charge, the right to know what the charges are against you - pfft!

In reintroducing Bill C-17 for the third time on Monday to reinstate provisions from the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson emphasized a fabulous new feature:

"The key here is that the person required to attend an investigative hearing is treated as a witness, not someone who is accused of a crime."

True, as long as your definition of "witness" includes being arrested if you don't comply and being detained for up to 72 hours if you do.

But what if you are also suspected of being likely to commit a terrorist crime some time in the future. Over to you, Mr. Nicholson :

"a judge can order the person's detention for up to 12 months."

Go to the original for more plus full linkage.

As you may recall, I don't care very much about the long-gun registry. I think gun registration is a good idea, but I also know it does very little to reduce crime. I view the whole kerfuffle as a lot of overheated political grandstanding on both sides, and misplaced enthusiasm on the part of many activists. So while many people were behaving as if the gun registry is the ultimate determinant of Canadian civilization, the Liberal-Conservative coalition continued to support the deterioration of your basic human rights and civil liberties.

Progressive bloggers flogged Jack Layton for not toeing their party line on the gun registry, but only the NDP was standing up against "slipperysloping into 12thC pre-Magna Carta sensibilities" (Alison). Why was that?
By Wednesday Libby Davies wondered aloud in the House why there were hundreds of articles in newspapers across the country dealing with the gun registry but no mention of the debate on the Combating Terrorism Act.

Good question, Libby.

Gee, do you think it has anything to do with who is affected by the so-called anti-terrorism laws? Hmmm.

8 comments:

Dr.Dawg said...

Thanks for the link and for a great post. Please note, however, that the piece in question was by my excellent co-blogger Alison!

L-girl said...

Oh my, that's a bad slip. Thanks for the correction, I will fix the post. I love Alison's work.

Mike said...

Who will be affected? Well if you have nothing to hide you don't need to worry, right? I'm sure it will all work out fine. After all we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect us.

johngoldfine said...

For some reason, this sinister linking of antiwar activism to aid to terrorism reminds me of one of the Howard fast books I read when I was 10 or 11--I think the one about John Peter Altgeld and the Haymarket bombers. Fast describes how people were swept up by the new laws against "conspiracy," which turned innocent conversations between political radicals into felonies.

I can still remember my sudden realization of how unfair such a law had to be, how it worked to stifle free speech and a free society--(and how impressed I was with my brash young self for getting it.)

MSEH said...

I'm so glad I can count on you for info I don't see elsewhere. I missed the story on MN. Thanks!

L-girl said...

@MSEH, I thought of you when I saw this! Thanks for the thanks.

@John, you were cool even back then.

After all we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect us.

Sure, except when it's suspended because we say so...

Mike said...

After all we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect us.

Sure, except when it's suspended because we say so...


Yeah I know, but saying that would have ruined the sarcasm. ;-)

L-girl said...

Yeah I know, but saying that would have ruined the sarcasm. ;-)

Of course, that's why I stepped in. :)