<!-- Begin meta tags generated by ORblogs --> </meta name="keywords" content="progressive, liberal, politics, government, edit, language, grammar, accuracy, honesty, clarity, world, news, media" /> </> <!-- End meta tags generated by ORblogs -->> Editor at Large: "Eco-terrorists," or victims of warrantless wiretaps?

Friday, September 08, 2006

"Eco-terrorists," or victims of warrantless wiretaps?

The government may have used warrantless wiretaps to investigate a group of environmentalists charged with committing more than a dozen acts of sabotage in Oregon and the West between 1996 and 2001.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken has asked federal prosecutors to respond to questions about surveillance and, as Lewis & Clark Law School professor John Parry says, "It's going to be embarrassing...for the government if they find out they've used warrantless surveillance."

The government has until Tuesday, September 12, to answer the questions, but they may simply refuse to respond, citing the "state secret privilege" - a tactic Judge Aiken may or may not buy.

If the government does admit that it used warrantless surveillance, the judge can choose to rule on whether the wiretaps, conducted with Bush's approval, violate Fourth Amendment guarantees to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

If the judge rules that federal investigators broke the law, then the resulting evidence could be excluded. Depending on how much evidence was gathered through the use of warrantless wiretaps or other electronic surveillance, prosecutors may have a hard time continuing their case. "The entire case could be thrown out," says Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene, which has assisted in the defense.

The Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program was first revealed by the NY Times in December 2005. The paper reported that shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush gave the go-ahead for federal investigators to eavesdrop, without a warrant from a judge, on Americans' electronic communications with people overseas. The administration is adamant that it has the constitutional authority to snoop on international terrorists - and though the Eugene eco-sabotage case appears to be an entirely domestic matter, investigators have made a point of alleging that the environmental group, ELF, has international connections.

The defendants haven't actually been charged with terrorism, but court documents repeatedly refer to the crimes as acts of terrorism, and federal prosecutors have sought sentence "enhancements" usually reserved for offenses involving terrorism.

So why include eco-saboteurs under the banner of terrorism? For one, it may be easier to bag an "eco-terrorist" than a member of an al Qaeda cell. And as the definition of "terror" grows, the zeal to guard against it may spread to other crimes.

As Parry says, "If you can do [warrantless surveillance] for these guys, who can't you do it for? If this is part of the war on terror, then I think this is a much broader war than anyone ever imagined."

Read more at http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3243/7938

3 Comments:

Blogger exigent said...

The latest definition of 'terrorism' is:

"The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

The government is an organized group.

The government threatens us of imminent terrorist attacks, and bullies us into submission with "foiled terror plots" and raising the threat level to orange.

The government uses these tactics to intimidate us (the society) for political reasons
a. to stay in power
b. to ensure the war continues
c. to keep us under control

So by definition, Bush and his administration are the terrorists.

Where are the charges? Where are the impeachment hearings? We cannot let these terrorists win!

11:39 AM  
Anonymous h said...

here is the brief filed by defendant McGowan's lawyers. its good.
http://portland.indymedia.org/media/media/2006/09/345380.pdf

11:03 PM  
Blogger Editor at Large said...

Exigent: Of course, if you assert that the Bush administration is a terrorist group, you run the risk of being terrorized by them...

9:23 AM  

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