Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another '60s flashback

This is an update to this post about police raids last month on antiwar activists' homes in Minneapolis and Chicago along with demands that a number of them appear before grand juries supposedly investigating vaguely-defined "connections" with "terrorist groups in Colombia and the Middle East," according to the original article.

I sarcastically remarked at the time about having a "'60s flashback" but now there's another one from the other side of the coin:
14 of the antiwar activists who were subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury will refuse to appear, according to their attorneys. The group includes a number of the antiwar activists whose homes were raided on September 24.
Good on them! As I noted earlier, the best weapon in cases like this is continued defiance, a refusal to be intimidated, just keep on doing what you were doing.
At least four of the antiwar activists had been ordered to appear before the grand jury in Chicago today, while others had been called for later dates. The activists could be held in jail for the duration of the grand jury’s procedings for refusing to appear.
Another point here and again related to the experience of the '60s is that if you do go before a grand jury you have no effective ability to refuse to testify even on Fifth Amendment grounds. If you do invoke your rights, the prosecution - with compliant judges on speed dial - will get an order granting you either "use immunity" (where nothing you say can be used against you) or "transactional immunity" (where you can't be prosecuted for anything you talk about - that is, not just your words but the entire subject). After that, refuse to answer and bam! it's contempt of court.

In that case, unless you at some point submit and testify, you can be jailed for the length of the grand jury, which could be as long as 18 months. And even after that, there's nothing to prevent the prosecution from convening a new grand jury and calling you again.

Still, as the article points out,
the open-ended detention of the activists could further fuel opposition to the entire proceding, and strengthen the belief that the operation is designed primarily to intimidate the likely organizers of antiwar protests against President Obama at the 2012 DNC.
Whether or not it is specifically aimed at covering for Obama, since all this apparently grew out of the attempts to repress demonstrations at the Minneapolis GOPper convention in 2008, that this is an attempt to intimidate and suppress dissent seems unquestionable.

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