Political Prisoners? In America?
by Edgar J. Steele
"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
--- Rev. Martin Niemoller (1945)
Knowing that I represented Brian and Ruth Christine in a highly-publicized trial that occupied a week of Court TV's air time, Jack McLamb recently asked me to write an article on American political prisoners for his Aid & Abet newsletter, which goes out to law enforcement officials and prisoners across America. Following is that article, which appeared in the last edition of McLamb's newsletter:
Political Prisoners? In America?
I've known a few.
You might recall the Christines, the young couple who lost their four little girls while on vacation in Oregon and got locked up on a bum rap for robbery and kidnapping. The kids looked skinny to an anonymous busybody, who called in the local child protective services. Yes, they were slim, but it was because their parents were vegetarians and health food conscious, not to mention slight of build, themselves. One of the girls had recently fallen and cut her forehead, too, which was used to buttress the abuse charge.
What really did in the Christines, however, was taking their children back from the state at gunpoint and fleeing to Montana. For that, they now sit in separate Oregon state penitentiaries.
Why did they do it? Because the Oregon caseworker assigned to the kids said she was going to adopt out their children and there was nothing the Christines could do about it. Never mind that she had no real basis for that frightening claim.
Why are the Christines political prisoners? Because they went up against the system and lost. Because they refused to play ball with an out-of-control government agency. Had they jumped through the hoops, they would have gotten their kids back in due time and been on their way. Having done nothing wrong, they refused to do so, thereby marking themselves as "anti-government."
I recall what a big deal was made at trial of their having a copy of the Declaration of Independence taped to the inside wall of their motor home...indicative of their anarchistic leanings. That's all it takes these days, you know. Disagree with a bureaucrat and you are "anti-government." Push the point and you go to jail. Result: political prisoners in America.
Already, their numbers are legion - and growing by leaps and bounds. This is the way it starts. This is the way it always starts in countries where freedom becomes displaced by tyranny. People go to jail for a variety of charges, all excuses, some flimsier than others, with the true reasons to be found in their being out of step. Before the process runs its course, people are "disappeared" in the night for failing to enthusiastically support their government.
I wonder when the Russian public generally became aware that its government locked up dissidents strictly for their political views? I wonder when America's public will reach the same awareness level.
You may think I am exaggerating. I'm not.
Matt Hale sits in a Chicago federal cell right now, his sentencing hearing again delayed. Hale was entrapped by an FBI plant, an agent provocateur, who allegedly suggested killing a Federal judge who had taken away Hale's copyright to his church name and obtained Hale's assent. The wiretap transcript is, at best, equivocal. Bottom line: Hale didn't do it. At trial, Hale's lawyer was so confident that he rested without presenting a defense, thereby demonstrating his contempt for the state's case. Big mistake. Hale was well known to area jurors, who didn't like him. Result: conviction for conspiracy.
An ordinary guy would have walked. Of course, an ordinary guy wouldn't have been targeted and set up. Hale is a political prisoner, one of the many that Michael Chertoff, soon to be head of Homeland Security, railroaded into prison. Hale's sentencing judge deferred sentencing until after the US Supreme Court rules on the Booker case in light of its prior Blakely decision, which said that a judge may not consider aggravating circumstances not presented to a jury when imposing a sentence beyond that recommended by either a jury or prescribed minimums. The deferral in Hale's case is ominous, because it clearly signals the judge's intent to throw the book at him. Because Hale is a political prisoner.
A few years ago, I represented Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations in a trumped-up civil case of assault by proxy (a couple of his adherents, off duty, off the property and against orders, assaulted two people). Though the "victims" had no injuries, Butler was hit with a $6 million judgment in a case that would have been laughed out of court if against a normal person. Because the jury didn't like him. Butler was a political prisoner, too, in a very real sense.
The list goes on: Lane, Zundel, Duke, Metzger, Doles, Wheeler, among the more recognizable names.
I have had several clients with less recognizable names: McGuckin and Rae come to mind. All political prisoners.
How long before your name is added to the list?
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