Radical media, politics and culture.

Prisons & Prisoners

Rob Eshelman writes:

"American Lawyer Finds New Evidence of Recent Torture in Iraq"
Lisa Ashkenaz Croke, The New Standard

August 30 — While the latest reports investigating the widely condemned events at Abu Ghraib prison attempt to close the book on the Pentagon's culpability with a somber critique, new evidence gathered for a class action lawsuit filed against two US-based private contractors could prove that the scandal at Abu Ghraib was far from an isolated series of incidents perpetrated by a few rowdy "bad apples" working the night shift during Ramadan.

What Happened at the Prison of Clairvaux

The first prison uprising at the high-security prison of Clairvaux took place 8 February 2003. A group of prisoners pillaged and destroyed Building A in order to protest against the sanctions inflicted against two of them. The rioters resisted seven hours of attacks by the CRS (anti-riot police) and mobile police. The building, now unrecognisable was emptied of its tumultuous occupants, who were subsequently transferred to “jails” (prison for serving sentences of less than two years). A number of them were placed in solitary confinement, a form of imprisonment synonymous with psychological torture: being alone in a cell and during walks, the prisoner is deprived of human contact.
Around the same time, Perben, the minister of justice, announced the creation of the ERIS: a team of highly trained prison guards, similar to the GIGN (an elite group of highly-trained police), and experts in beating prisoners. Their task: beatings, humiliations, terror. They barge into cells hooded, which allows them to preserve their precious anonymity…

"Patriot Act Bullying Stirs Stronger Opposition:

Courts, Activists, and Civil Libertarians Weigh In Against Police-State Measures"

Allen Thompson

In early June of this year, Joe Previtera was arrested outside an Armed Forces Recruitment Center in Boston. He had been standing there silently for about an hour, dressed like one of the Iraqi prisoners abused at Abu Ghraib. His costume was realistic; he was hooded and caped and from his hands wires led into the crate he stood on. The police department used these wires as reason for charging him with making a false bomb threat. If convicted, Previtara could face several years in prison, far more punishment than the soldiers who tortured the Iraqi prisoners have received.

This incident is emblematic of how the fear of terrorism is being used to justify repressing dissent and taking away civil liberties in post-9/11 USA. The Bush administration is seeking to expand the Patriot Act and make all of its provisions permanent. Immigrants and social-change activists continue to be prime targets for police-state actions. Fortunately, resistance is very widespread.

NOT BORED! writes:

"On Basque Armed Struggle"

Guy Debord

An open letter from Guy Debord, dated 1 September 1980, concerning the secret detention of Basque separatists in Spanish jails, translated into English for the first time since 1981. (Addressed "To libertarians")

Esteemed comrades,

We regret to have to draw to your attention a serious and urgent question about which you would ordinarily know more than we, who are far away and foreigners.[1] But we are obligated to clarify the diverse circumstances that until now have made it impossible for you to know certain facts or their meaning. We believe it necessary, therefore, to clearly expose you to those facts, as well as to the circumstances that have prevented them from reaching you.

At this moment, more than fifty libertarians are [secretly] being held in the prisons of Spain, and many among them have been held many years without being tried. The whole world, which every day speaks of the intriguing struggles of the Basques,[2] completely ignores this aspect of the reality of today's Spain. Even in Spain, the existence and names of these comrades are sometimes cited by a narrow sector of opinion, but generally there is silence about what they [the imprisoned libertarians] have done and what their motives were; and nothing concrete has been done to rescue them.

Frankie writes

I received a snailmail letter today from my friend Barrilee Bannister dated July 24th. Many of you know Barrilee from her work in Arizona. Barrilee was put into segregation (solitary confinement) last week because of alleged horseplay with a fellow inmate. She could be in "the hole" for as long as 120 days for an incident that, had it occurred in a girl's dormitory, would have been written off as young women roughhousing a little.

She asked me to let you all know that "we both have asked that the whole situation be put under investigation. Raquel [her friend, also accused] and I are both rallying up outside support to call the warden here at Coffee Creek Correctional Institution -- Superintendent Hoefil -- to request that he have someone investigate the incident to the fullest extent.
The phone number is 1-(503) 570-6400.

Barrilee adds that "the only time anyone listens to us inmates around here is when outside support calls in and makes inquiries. So, if you have a minute and want to help a really good prison activist get out of 'the hole' so that she can continue reading and writing and furthering her education, please make that call, ok?

Thanks. Frank Kross

Critical Art Ensemble Defense Arraignment Update

Indicted Pittsburgh geneticist Robert Ferrell was unable to attend his arraignment in Buffalo, New York this morning for health reasons. His lawyer, Efrem M. Grail,
appeared in his stead. The Ferrell arraignment will continue until the hospitalized Mr. Farrel can attend an indictment.

Nonetheless, the defense and prosecution for indicted Critical Arts Ensemble member Steve Kurtz are moving ahead with motions. The magistrate issued a scheduling order as follows:

October 15, 2004 — Filing date for all pre-trial motions
(Voluntary discovery will happen during this period, and two search warrants will be unsealed and provided to the defendant)

October 29, 2004 — Deadline for the government to respond to discovery

December 20, 2004 — Oral arguments on pre-trial evidentiary hearing begin at 10 AM

The dates for the Kurtz trial, likely to be sometime in Spring, 2005, will be set on October 18, 2004.

Secret Evidence Does Not Incriminate American Peace Activist, Detained 26 Days, As Aid to Terror

Judge Oded Mudrik Still Questions Right to Protest

18 July 2004
Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Oded Mudrik, in a hearing today regarding American peace activist Ann Petter who has been detained for 26 days in Ben Gurion Airport, said that the secret evidence shown to him behind closed doors by the General Security Service, does not incriminate Petter as an aid to terror or terrorist organizations.

However, Mudrik asserted that protest by foreigners against Israeli military activities such as house demolitions - deemed human rights violations by international law - can justify denial of entry and deportation of foreigners. “Judge Mudrik’s outrageous statement shows the judge’s bias and intolerance of monitoring of human rights abuses and legitimate non-violent protest,” stated defense attorneys Shamai Leibovitz and Yael Berda. Petter was also represented by attorney Leah Tzemel.

Americans Held Over 'Fake Prison'


KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) — Afghan authorities have arrested three American citizens accused of running a fake prison in Kabul, U.S. State Department and Afghan officials say.

Afghan government officials raided a rented house in the capital late Sunday where the three Americans lived. They found a private prison inside the building that contained eight prisoners, a Ministry of Interior official said Friday.

"A Dangerous Mind?"

Dan Oppenheimer, Hartford Advocate

The movie of The United States v. Steven Kurtz would be film noir. It would begin with an aerial shot of Buffalo photographed in the cool, dystopian, postindustrial blues of that city, and descend past the empty streets and abandoned buildings into the heart of downtown, through the windows of a home in the Allentown neighborhood, the Greenwich Village of Buffalo, where artists, professors and graduate students mingle with the poor and indigent. The camera would rest on a couple in their forties, Steve and Hope Kurtz, lying in bed.

Kurtz would awaken to discover that his wife, Hope Kurtz, wasn´t breathing. He would call 9-1-1. The ambulance would rush to the scene but paramedics would be unable to resuscitate her. The camera would track her body to the hospital, where a white-coated doctor, surrounded by pristine nurses and shadowed in the background by men in brown suits, would pronounce her dead, the cause to be determined later. We would follow the men in brown suits -- agents of the FBI´s Joint Terrorism Task Force -- back to the house, where they would consult, out of earshot, with the mustachioed officers of the Buffalo police department.

Saying No to the Prosecutor

Why Steve Kurtz's Colleagues Refused to Testify to the Grand Jury

Bruce Jackson

A death and a taste of blood

Steve Kurtz's wife Hope died of a heart attack May 11. Steve, an associate professor of art at University at Buffalo, called 911. The police who came saw some of the materials for an art exhibit on genetic modification and called the FBI. The FBI came in, cordoned off half the block, confiscated Hope's s body, Steve's computer, his notebooks, his art supplies and their cat. They took him into custody. Two days later they let him and the cat go and whoever had the wife's body released for burial. There was no supposition of foul play in the death. Kurtz is a member of the highly-regarded Critical Arts Ensemble, a group that does confrontation art works designed to make people think about the role corporations play in modern life.


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