Tag Archives: political prisoners

It’s Classified: A Tale of Two Scofflaws

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For the crime of telling America and the world about the lawlessness of the American political class — including one Hillary Rodham Clinton — Chelsea Manning is now a political prisoner, serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth’s US Disciplinary Barracks, after a show trial which violated nearly every basic benchmark of American justice.

For her crimes and misdeeds — including, since Manning’s day in kangaroo court, the discovery that she, too, was compromising classified information by running her official email through an illegal, unsecure “private” email server — the same Hillary Rodham Clinton’s punishment has, so far, been limited to a slow, agonizing fall from political grace.

This week, Manning once again finds herself in the news. She faces solitary confinement as punishment for a variety of “offenses” so minor that it’s nearly impossible to call them “offenses” with a straight face. The highlight: She is accused of possessing a tube of toothpaste that’s past its expiration date (I could be wrong here, but isn’t toothpaste in prison dispensed to inmates BY the prison?).

This week, Clinton once again finds herself in the news. She faces further drubbings in the pre-primary polls as punishment for getting caught lying, yet again, about her illegal handling of classified information. In New Hampshire, she now trails avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, who even a year ago would have been considered an interesting gadfly candidate at best, in the race for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

I find it painful to compare Chelsea Manning to Hillary Clinton.

Chelsea Manning is an American heroine who knowingly exposed classified information for the purpose of revealing war crimes in Iraq and other government lawlessness, including Clinton’s orders to her State Department underlings to bug the offices of UN diplomats.

Hillary Clinton is a power-monger who carelessly exposed classified information because she believes she’s above the law. Like the late Richard Nixon, on whose impeachment papers she worked as a young congressional staffer, she believes that if  Hillary Clinton does it, it’s not illegal.

I probably owe Ms. Manning an apology for linking her name with that of a disreputable figure like Clinton. But, dissimilar as they are, it seems to me that the solution to both their problems is the same: They should both get out.

Chelsea Manning should get out of prison.

Hillary Clinton should get out of politics.

How’s that for a win-win solution?

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.




Un-Reasonable: Feds Declare War on Web Commenters

Liberty Leading the People
Liberty Leading the People (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve previously written about Ross Ulbricht, an American political prisoner sentenced to life for the “crime” of running a business without the US government’s permission. Among libertarians, the response to Ulbricht’s abduction and show trial has been, in some cases, less than polite and temperate. Now, the state is moving against its critics.

Last week, as Ken White of Popehat reports, the US Department of Justice served Reason — a popular libertarian magazine and web site — with a grand jury subpoena demanding that it provide “any and all identifying information” it possesses regarding certain commenters on reporter Nick Gillespie’s coverage of Ulbricht’s sentencing.

Some of those commenters, it seems, waxed less than respectful of Katherine Forrest, the thug — er, “judge” — who ratified Ulbricht’s abduction and ordered it extended for life.

One or two of those commenters suggested that she should suffer the torments of hell, either in the afterlife or this one. Others referenced the use of a wood chipper to dispose of a body in the film Fargo as fitting punishment for her actions.

Just to be perfectly clear here, I agree 100% with the tone of those comments. While I have not publicly made such suggestions — I’ve limited myself to suggesting that she be thoroughly ostracized, that all persons of good character shun her — I really can’t think of any penalty that goes too far for what she has done and, presumably, intends to continue doing.

I have every right to such an opinion, and to its expression. So do you. Those rights are even enshrined in “the supreme law of the land” in which Forrest committed her atrocities (it’s in the First Amendment to the US Constitution).

This is, in a word, an outrage. But it gets worse.

The feds wanted Reason to keep the subpoena secret. It’s unclear whether they’ve issued a formal “gag order” in connection with the subpoena, but the document itself says that “[t]he Government hereby requests that you voluntarily refrain from disclosing the existence of the subpoena to any third party.”

So: The US government is trying to track down people who say things it doesn’t like — things which no reasonable person could construe as “true threats” — for possible prosecution (grand juries don’t subpoena people to offer them coffee and donuts). And it doesn’t want you to know it’s doing that.

Let that sink in. If you’ve ever doubted for a minute that America is becoming a police state, this chain of events should settle the question once and for all. The US government has declared war on free speech and the free press. It has declared war on YOU. Will you fight back?

[hat tip — Wendy McElroy]

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.




Ross Ulbricht is a Political Prisoner

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In early February, federal jurors convicted Ross Ulbricht on seven charges relating to the operations of the Silk Road online marketplace. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

As documented in Alex Winter’s film Deep Web, calling the three-week farce preceding these convictions a “show trial” insults both shows and trials. The fix was in from the beginning.

The “judge,” one Katherine Forrest, consistently and flagrantly acted as a dedicated member of the prosecution team. She neither required the government to prove its case nor allowed Ulbricht’s attorneys to actually present a defense.

Forrest denied Ulbricht bail on the prosecution’s charges of conspiracy to commit murder. After those charges were dropped from the indictment — their sole purpose apparently being  to poison the jury well in advance — she allowed them to be used to justify hiding witness identities, and thousands of pages of discovery material, from the defense until a few days before trial.

She excused the prosecution from revealing how it had located and seized Silk Road’s servers, allowing evidence that appears to have been the “poisoned fruit” of illegal warrantless searches. She forbade the defense to present its theory of the alleged “crimes” involving other suspects or to dissect the FBI’s technical claims using expert witnesses.

At every juncture, Forrest acted not with a view toward reaching truth or justice, but with the sole and overriding aim of getting a conviction.

And the actual charges? Boiled down, they consist of this:

Ross Ulbricht was accused and convicted of operating a business, which coordinated the sale and purchase of goods between willing sellers and willing buyers, without the permission of people who think they’re entitled to control everyone else. Full stop. THAT is what Ross Ulbricht stands convicted of.

Ross Ulbricht was convicted of living his life as a free human being instead of as a compliant, obedient slave.

The state can’t tolerate free human beings. They call its own necessity into question and must be made examples of whenever possible.

Tyrants like US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) — who made shutting down Silk Road a government priority — and bureaucratic thugs like US Attorney Preet Bharara and judge Katherine Forrest, who enforced his will, are the sworn and eternal enemies of freedom. Ross Ulbricht is their political prisoner. So long as we permit them to continue in power, so are we.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.