Kafkaesque Police State of USA-Patriot By Kurt Nimmo
This afternoon I read a story on the 2600 site about a photographer in
Denver. He made the mistake of taking pictures in his hometown, Denver,
where the usually hidden Dick Cheney was staying at the Adams Mark Hotel.
The photographer, Mike Maginnis, was arrested for the crime of taking
pictures of Cheney's hotel and surrounding area, which was crawling with
storm troopers, otherwise known as the Denver police, Army Rangers, rooftop
snipers, and SS agents.
It's precarious these days if you're a "street" photographer.
I've had police and custom agents grill me over my camera. One customs
agent on the US-Mexico border threatened to steal my camera if I took
a picture of him. He was so stupid he couldn't understand I was rewinding
film at the time he issued the warning. By the time he came over I had
the back of my 35mm camera open and was removing the film canister. "Put
that camera away," he barked, and I did, quickly, because I can't
afford to have my camera confiscated. These guys are supposed to protect
us from terrorists? Who will protect us from them?
Local police here in Las Cruces, New Mexico, have "pulled" me
over for walking around with a camera. One time two police cars surrounded
me. What was I doing? What was I taking pictures of? I told them I take
pictures of old buildings. They looked at me like I was from Mars. Most
people take pictures of their aunt Gertrude or their dog Sparky. It's
highly unusual, and apparently suspicious, to take pictures of old buildings.
I've had storeowners come out and confront me.
Everybody is paranoid these days. Dick Cheney wants to make sure we're
paranoid for the rest of our lives. Some people believe that's how long
the so-called war on terrorism will last. How long was Oceania at war
with Eurasia and Eastasia? If Cheney and Bush didn't have their Emmanuel
Goldstein in Osama bin Laden, they would have to create him. Or maybe
But I digress.
After the photographer Mike Maginnis took his pictures in downtown Denver
near Cheney's hotel, a cop confronted him. He demanded Maginnis hand over
not only his film, but also his camera. When he refused, Maginnis was
thrown down on the pavement and arrested. He was taken to the police station
and locked in an interrogation room for two hours. Finally an SS agent
arrived and told Maginnis that his "suspicious activities" made
him a threat to national security, and that he would be charged as a terrorist
under the USA-Patriot Act. The agent tried to get Maginnis to admit he
was taking photos of Cheney's hotel as part of some nefarious terrorist
plot intended to "cause terror and mayhem." The photographer
refused to admit this. The SS agent responded by calling Maginnis a "raghead
collaborator" and a "dirty pinko faggot." No doubt it would've
been great for the SS agent's career if Maginnis had admitted he did something
Maginnis was eventually allowed to make his phone call. Instead of calling
a lawyer, he called the Denver Post and asked for the news desk. When
the desk sergeant overheard this, he hung up the phone and put the photographer
in a holding cell. He was released after three hours -- minus explanation,
arrest report, or a receipt for his confiscated photo equipment. He was
told he probably wouldn't get his camera back. It was evidence. When Maginnis
had a lawyer call the Denver police, they denied ever having him in custody.
It simply didn't happen. It was like a scene out of a Kafka novel.
This is the America we live in now. You can be arrested for taking pictures,
or for simply being the wrong place at the wrong time. The police can
lie, the Secret Service can call you a faggot or make racist comments
about Arabs, accuse you of being a terrorist or a "pinko" without
any evidence, and there is nothing you can do about it. If Mike Maginnis
had been less cooperative, or had resisted arrest, he might be in the
hospital right now -- or sharing a brig with Jose Padilla who, after all,
did nothing more than engage in a thought crime and type the wrong words
in the search query line at Google or Yahoo.
So-called "no fly" lists are now being used at airports to trample
the civil liberties of antiwar and human rights activists, even innocuous
Green Party members. They are on a "watch list" compiled by
the CIA, FBI, INS and State Department under the Aviation and Transportation
Security Act, passed after 9/11. Federal agents have set-up "surprise"
checkpoints to supposedly ferret out all the "strands of al-Qaida
and Hezbollah and Hamas" in Michigan, according to the FBI. In other
words, anybody who looks vaguely Arab, or has an accent, will be racially
profiled, pulled over and searched, maybe end up in the aforementioned
cell with Jose Padilla or approximately 1,500 other "disappeared"
Arabs in America.
The people appointed by the rigged and corrupt "democratic"
political system to "represent" us have passed laws allowing
the same police who threw the photographer Mike Maginnis down on the pavement
for the crime of operating a camera within a hundred yards of Cheney and
the national security state to enter your house without informing you,
to look through your underwear drawer, copy the contents of your computer
-- or simply take the whole computer with them -- like a common criminal
who sneaks through a window while you're away (Section 213 of the Patriot
Act). They can tap your phone or computer without probable cause (Section
216). They have essentially shredded the probable cause provision of the
4th Amendment. Who's to say, if they consider you a "raghead collaborator,"
they will not plant some drugs or blueprints for a dirty bomb in your
house? Can you trust cops who steal cameras and then lie about it? Can
you trust SS agents who envision al-Qaeda fifth columnists when they look
at amateur photographers? All of this nonsense is encouraged now thanks
to Bush's undebated and expeditiously passed USA-Patriot Act.
Section 802 of the anti-constitutional and fascist Patriot Act creates
the crime of "domestic terrorism." In essence, this section
criminalizes almost all political activity organized against the government
-- with the possible exception of writing letters to your bought and paid
for "representative" or to the editor of the corporate newspaper
syndicate in your town. Section 802 makes activities that "appear
to be intended" to "influence the policy of the government by
intimidation or coercion" or to "intimidate or coerce a civilian
population" illegal and punishable. So much for the tradition of
civil disobedience. If you participate in a sit-down strike or block traffic
-- or take pictures of public buildings -- you're a "domestic terrorist,"
or maybe a "raghead collaborator" or a "dirty pinko faggot."
Seventy-three year old Methodist pastors protesting the School of the
Americas get more time in federal prison than cops guilty of taking kickbacks
from drug dealers. Ken Lay will get less time. If he gets any.
Put Section 411 together with Section 802 of this tyrannical bill and
you get a government able to designate any activist group as a "foreign
terrorist organization." Any group or person who endorses so-called
"terrorist activity," which under 802 may be otherwise lawful
protest activity, can be designated a terrorist organization or person.
That means Earth First! co-founder Mike Roselle, who was arrested for
failing to leave a building in Portland where Senator Mark Hatfield maintains
an office (Roselle has been arrested more than fifty times for such things)
could be designated a "domestic terrorist" and share a cell
with Yasser Esam Hamdi or the Lackawanna Six.
America is swiftly morphing into a fascist nation and too may people are
simply too complacent or frightened -- that is if they even pay attention
-- to do anything about it. If a photographer can be abducted, have his
camera stolen, be accused of political crimes by an SS agent who acts
like a KGB interrogator, well then any of us can suffer the same. Now's
the time for more people -- hundreds of thousands, millions -- to fill
the streets and tell the Bush junta they want their Constitution back.
Nothing less than millions of concerned citizens marching on Washington
demanding the Bushites return the government to the people will suffice.
I might add that the Bushites should be run out of town lashed to poles,
tarred and feathered -- as our forefathers were inclined to do when gang-robbers
attempted to run scams on the people or betrayed their trust in the name
of profit and war.
But then, saying that, there's a good chance I will be designated a "domestic
for Taking Pictures of Vice President[sic]'s Hotel: