Friday, April 26, 2013

Boston: Questions Grow

Flowers lie at the site of the first explosion on Boylston Street after the street reopened to the public for the first time since the Boston Marathon bombings in Boston, Massachusetts April 24, 2013.
REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi
Flags continue to fly at half mast in Boston, Massachusetts after the mysterious bombing at the Boston Marathon. On Tuesday, April 16, over 1500 neighbors attended a candlelight vigil for the Richard family of Dorchester, who lost 8 year boy Martin, while his sister lost a leg and his mother’s eyes were seriously injured. The clock at Peabody Square has been stopped at 2:50, “the time on Monday when our world stopped,” writes Bill Forry of the Dorchester Reporter. The fence around the clock, draped with black cloth, contains a memorial for little Martin, filled with bouquets of flowers, balloons, teddy bears, and prayers written by children. It is nearly impossible to walk by without becoming choked up by tears. Local elementary schools held a moment of silence at 2:50pm on the first Monday back to school after the worst April vacation ever. The people of Dorchester are definitely taking the attack very personally.
“Martin was only 8 and he still held his mother’s hand last Friday when they walked to the Tedeschi’s for a gallon of milk. Martin wasn’t a saint and he shouldn’t be made a martyr or a symbol. He was a little boy who got killed because someone – some unknown person or group – has perceived grievance against us. Our world has stopped… The day will come when justice is done for Martin. We will wait – all of us together – for that day,” writes Forry.
Boston, Cambridge and Watertown residents were all told by the Massachusetts governor to stay inside their homes on Friday, and not to allow anyone in but police SWAT teams, who scoured the area for a missing suspect, entered homes without warrants and pointed guns at residents’ heads while ordering them out of their homes. After the lockdown order was lifted a Watertown resident wandered into his yard, then the 19 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was located and shot several times by police, then taken into custody with wounds to the throat that will forever prevent him from speaking. His brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was already killed in a previous firefight with police, in which an explosive was detonated, leaving a hole in the street. The facts of the case are extremely confusing, with conflicting eyewitness reports, and huge amounts of photography circulating online.
Curiously, the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston including the local police totally ignored the citywide lockdown. People were warmer than usual, walking around in the sunshine or painting their houses in pleasant non-compliance with the citywide order to stay inside. All businesses except for government buildings were open. It seems that a lot of people have made the intention to connect more deeply with their local community. There is widespread belief that the two suspects, who emigrated to the US about a decade ago, are indeed guilty of the Boston bombings. There is among the local community also almost blind faith in the authorities’ version of events, though the surviving suspect was not provided with a lawyer and all we know is what we have been told on TV, which keeps changing. Meanwhile the world community reacts with massive skepticism.
Probably the most plausible explanation is that the two brothers were set up by the FBI. 17 out of 20 of the last “terror arrests” since 9/11 were actually FBI frame-ups, according to Fox News. The two suspects definitely fit the profile of the emotionally vulnerable pot-smoking, drunken loners who lacked any community support from their local religious community; foreign students with divorced parents who live overseas. No one was able to protect or guide them or notice what they were up to.
Justin Raimondo reports on that the brothers’ mother Zubeidat, speaking from her home in Russia, claimed the FBI had been keeping watch on her eldest boy for up to five years. She said: “They knew what my son was doing. They knew what sites on the internet he was going to. They were telling me that he was really an extremist leader and that they were afraid of him. They told me whatever information he is getting, he gets from these extremist sites. They were controlling him.”
Were the two just terror patsies who received money for agreeing to bomb something? Indeed, the car they drove and the clothes they wore did not seem to correspond with their actual life status as poor students working minimum wage jobs on the side. The police response to their crime was like nothing Boston has ever seen. Even people who believe the suspects to be guilty were shocked by the liquidation of rule of law as well as the police’s brutality, either killing or permanently silencing the suspects, so that we can never hear their side of the story.
One of the most bizarre events of Friday’s lockdown was the police decision to raze the home in which the suspects reportedly lived in Cambridge. Official reports claim that explosives were found in the house, and therefore the entire house needed to be exploded to ensure that no explosives went off unintentionally. Friends in Cambridge reported that all the neighbors came out of their homes to watch the home demolition. With the the suspects’ home exploded, we lose any evidence about their motives. What if there were diaries, books, personal letters, or official documents in there that would give us some information? Everything that the police has done has led to more questions, rather than answers.
What we do know is that neither son was a leader of any religious or political organization. The tweets publicized online seem to imply that he had almost zero personal opinions.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cops Say Marathon Bombers Amateurs

One day after the Boston Marathon was interrupted by two bomb blasts, speculation abounds regarding the perpetrator(s), possible motives, and whether or not the government had foreknowledge. 

“The pattern is becoming too, too familiar. So, Boston cops were having a bomb squad drill the same day as the Boston bombing, just like the attacks on Sept. 11 in New York and the 7/7 attack in London,” Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman said.

The Boston Marathon has been held on Patriot's Day, the third Monday of April, since 1897. The state holiday commemorates Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolution. The marathon race from Hopkinton, Massachusetts to Boston's Copley Square attracts about a half-million spectators every year.

The first bomb exploded around 2:50 pm at the Fairmont Hotel along Boylston Street. The second bomb detonated approximately 10 seconds later near to the bleachers close to the finish line.

Tracy Munro of Cambridge, Massachusetts posted on Facebook, “I was a couple doors from the explosion at the finish line. The bomb exploded suddenly while we cheered on runners. Clanking cowbells. Holding up signs of support. Boom. Boom. Everyone started to run for safety. It was hysteria. I stopped myself suddenly and I went back to help and found a young child laying in the street, who was badly injured. Her leg was blown off. I held her head and talked to her until help came while others tied off her leg to stop the bleeding. Her name is Jane. And she held on to me while we carried her to the ambulance. Jane's brother, Martin, did not survive. I'm horrified, but we are safe. It took a long while to track down my family and friends but all are safe and accounted for. I am horrified and in true shock. I appreciate all the love and support. I am not a hero. I am a mother who would hope someone would come to Stella's aid in this situation if I couldn't. She was just a baby, she was so strong and brave. I'm going to try and find the family. Somehow. Life is precious. Stop complaining. I love you all. And. I hope they find who did this and burn them alive.”

A rumor started by the New York Post, that a foreign student from Saudi Arabia who was injured in the bombing was being questioned, has led many to fear an anti-Muslim backlash. The Huffington Post reported, “Security officials at Boston's largest mosque requested police to guard its campus in the wake of Monday's deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon, a sobering reminder that Muslims in the U.S. often face threats after alleged terrorist attacks.”

President Obama intervened on national TV to calm the public saying, “We still don't know who did this or why they did this.” White House officials stated that “a thorough investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group, foreign or domestic.”

The date of the April 15 attack corresponds with Israeli Independence Day, Tax Day, and Patriots Day. Most political analysts suspect right wingers or Muslims. The bombers are believed to be amateurs. 

No one has taken responsibility for the bombing. The Pakistani Taliban and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have denied any role. A home in Revere, Massachusetts was raided by the FBI but no further information has been made available. Police are searching for an unknown person who was filmed standing on a rooftop watching the pandemonium below without emotional reaction. 

What we do know about the explosions that killed three and injured 170, is that they were caused by two small homemade pipe bombs filled with BB pellets or ball bearings and nails, which were hidden inside two trash cans. Surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital removed 20 to 40 pieces of shrapnel from some of the wounded. Terror experts said devices like the ones used in Boston could be made for $100 with instructions found on YouTube. This style of homemade pipe bomb is typical of teenagers who are experimenting with explosives for laughs.

One of the more disturbing aspects about the bombing is that it could have been inspired by a recent episode of Family Guy, which aired on March 17, 2013. In this prime time TV cartoon, the main character Peter is shown driving his car through the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Peter is shown smiling in his blood-drenched car, raising a clenched fist as he crosses the finish line past many dead bodies. Peter then becomes interested in converting to Islam, as a result of a new friend, Mahmoud, who gives him a cell phone. Wearing Islamic clothing, Peter dials the phone and an explosion is heard outside. He dials the phone a second time and another explosion is heard, and people screaming. The first explosion followed by quiet (most people did not know what happened) and the second explosion a few seconds later followed by screaming, as depicted in the cartoon episode, corresponds eerily with the real event.

State and local officials told CNN's John King that there was no known credible threat prior to the explosions, though there are reports of heightened security and bomb squads present even before the race. University of Mobile’s Cross Country Coach, who was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a series of explosions went off, told local news he thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines. Stevenson said he saw law enforcement spotters on the roofs at the start of the race. He's been in plenty of marathons in Chicago, D.C., Chicago, London and other major metropolitan areas but has never seen that level of security before. "They kept making announcements to the participants do not worry, it's just a training exercise," Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15.

David Jesser, a teacher at Joseph Lee School, who ran the marathon to raise money for the local elementary school, said: “Nothing seemed atypical to me in terms of security. There's always a large police presence and there's always some military lining the course as well as some running the race. It seemed pretty normal to me, although I could not see the area of the explosion and don't know if security looked any different in that area. But for 25.8 miles it seemed pretty normal... I guess there were about 4500 runners that didn't finish and we were right up at the front of those runners. I think around 23,000 ran yesterday.”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Update on CMUs: McGowan Revolves Through Custody Aref Given Diesel Therapy
Daniel McGowan (Photo from
Last week, TMO reported that former CMU (Communication Management Unit) prisoner Dan McGowan was released to a halfway house in Brooklyn and had succeeded in obtaining information through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), that explained why he had been moved from the general prison population to the high security prison unit often referred to as “Little Guantanamo.”
McGowan, an environmental activist profiled in the Oscar-nominated documentary “If a Tree Falls,” wrote in his Huffington Post blog on April 1, 2013 that he had been sent to the CMU in retaliation for publishing political commentaries, which included articles exposing CMU prison conditions.Will Potter, author of “Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege,” wrote in 2010 that “the government is arguing two competing claims simultaneously: (1) That Communications Management Units are needed because the inmates are heightened security risks, and (2) That traditional oversight is too cumbersome because these inmates are not dangerous enough. The aim is, admittedly, to place more unchecked power in the hands of lower-ranking government officials… and to keep political prisoners with “inspirational significance” from communicating with the communities and social movements of which they are part.”
Two days after McGowan’s article appeared in the newspaper, he was arrested by federal marshals and re-incarcerated without explanation.
Jenny Synan, McGowan’s wife asked a BOP (Bureau of Prisons) official why her husband had suddenly been re-imprisoned four months after his release. She was told that his article violated a term of his release that restricted him from interacting with the media.
The Center for Constitutional Rights stated on Thursday:
“We have received information that this was triggered by an opinion piece he published on the Huffington Post Monday, ‘Court Documents Prove I Was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for My Political Speech.’ If this is indeed a case of retaliation for writing an article about the BOP retaliating against his free speech while he was in prison, it is more than ironic, it is an outrage.”
“They already have a lawsuit against them for things like this,” McGowan’s wife said. “He just posted his thing a few days ago about all this stuff — about his political beliefs and speech — and they do something to him because of his post about this. It’s crazy.”
BOP national spokesman Chris Burke said that under a general media policy, “inmates cannot do interviews without permission. So if there’s some sort of a phone interview or a sit-in interview, those have to be pre-approved.”
Tracy Rivers, a residential reentry manager for the BOP in New York, said that in general, prisoners can be punished for violating a BOP rule that prohibits giving interviews to the news media without official approval.
But that rule says nothing about prisoners writing blog posts.
On Friday, April 5, McGowan was re-released after his lawyers confirmed that McGowan had been re-imprisoned on the basis of an unconstitutional prison regulation:
“Daniel McGowan has been released from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where he was taken into custody yesterday and is back at the halfway house where he has been residing since his release from prison in December. Yesterday, Daniel was given an ‘incident report’ indicating that his Huffington Post blog post  violated a BOP regulation prohibiting inmates from ‘publishing under a byline.’ The BOP regulation in question was declared unconstitutional by a federal court in 2007, and eliminated by the BOP in 2010. After we brought this to the BOP’s attention, the incident report was expunged.”
The jailing of environmental activist Daniel McGowan is under review, a Federal BOP official said Friday morning.
According to reports, McGowan has adjusted well to life at the halfway house. He has found a job with a New York law firm, and hopes that there will be no more obstacles to reporting to work.
Last week, TMO reported incorrectly that former CMU prisoner and McGowan’s co-plaintiff in lawsuits against Attorney General Holder and the BOP, Imam Yassin Aref was relocated to a high security prison unit under “SIM” classification. Aref is actually residing in a low security prison under the classification “CIM.”
Attorney Kathy Manley clarified by email, quoted with permission, that Aref “is at his second low security prison, FCI Loretto, in PA. Before that, he was at another low security one – FCI Allenwood, also in PA, but closer to his family and us. They told him they moved him because he requires CIM, or Central Inmate Monitoring. That makes no sense, for at least a couple different reasons – for one, they can monitor someone more easily if they stay in the same place. Two, they are basing this on a claim that he ‘threatened government officials,’ which, like their other claim that he communicated with JEM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) is provably false – even based on information from the prosecution. (They’ve been saying this all along and it’s based on the sting operation, where all he did was witness a loan he thought was perfectly legal.) We think they are giving him what the prisoners call ‘diesel therapy,’ where they move someone around a lot if they become very popular, which he has been, everywhere they have sent him.”
Manley clarifies, “He’s been under CIM the whole time – they just hadn’t said it to him before (although it was listed in a printout they gave him years ago). Since they moved him out of the CMU, I think the CIM hasn’t affected him too much – he was transferred to a low security prison, and seems to have been treated pretty much the same as the others there. The only difference I’ve noticed seems to be that they transferred him again, and may keep doing so. (But I don’t think it’s really because of the CIM.)
“In fact, we suspect that they moved him out of the CMU for a couple reasons. One, he was the lead plaintiff in the CCR lawsuit challenging the CMUs (Aref v. Holder) and they were trying to moot the lawsuit (luckily it’s still going forward and he’s still the lead plaintiff. Another plaintiff is Daniel McGowan who is now in a halfway house and just had an article on the CMUs in HuffPo which led to his briefly being locked up again).
“Also, he learned in 2011 via a FOIA request from the FBI that at some point they thought he was someone in Al Qaeda named Mohammed Yassin. And we think that was the main reason they went after him with the sting in the first place. At some later point they must have realized he was not that guy, especially since a man in Al Qaeda named Mohammed Yassin was killed in 2010 in a missile strike in Palestine. And… it was soon after that that they moved him out of the CMU.”

Friday, April 05, 2013

CMU Prisoners Seek Answers

Daniel McGowan, one of the only white men to serve time in a CMU (Communications Management Unit) prison, has been released to a halfway house in Brooklyn, NY. McGowan was incarcerated for acts of arson credited to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in protest against the Oregon logging industry.
Of the CMU inmates who are there because of a link to terrorism, Rachel Meeropol of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) says, “The vast majority of these folks are there due to entrapment or material support convictions. In other words, terrorism-related convictions that do not involve any violence or injury.”
Alia Malek writes in The Nation, “CCR attorneys also noticed the presence of CMU inmates who had neither links to terrorism nor communications infractions. They fell into three general groups, with occasional overlaps. The first had made complaints against the BOP either through internal procedures or formal litigation, and their placement appeared retaliatory. The second held unpopular political views, both left- and right-leaning, from animal rights and environmental activists to neo-Nazis and extreme antiabortion activists. The third seemed to be Muslims, including African-American Muslims, whose convictions had nothing to do with terrorism and ranged from robbery to credit card fraud.”
With the help of attorneys from CCR, McGowan along with co-plaintiffs Yassin Aref, Royal Jones, and Kifah Jayyousi filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Attorney General Eric Holder and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, questioning why they were transferred from the general prison population to CMUs in Marion, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana.
The lawsuit states, “Like all prisoners designated to the CMU, Plaintiffs received no procedural protections related to their designation, and were not allowed to examine or refute the allegations that led to their transfer.”
Earlier this year, Yassin Aref was able to overturn his “terrorism” conviction and was moved to a low security prison closer to his family. However, TMO has learned through personal emails from Aref that he has suddenly without any warning been moved to some other kind of high security prison and put under a new classification called “SIM.”
Aref was told the reason for his transfer is that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) claims he has been convicted for threatening the government, though he was never charged with threatening the government. His attempts to correct the information and to find out why he was moved back into a high security prison have been ignored.
On April 1, 2013 McGowan published a very important article, “Court Documents Prove I was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for my Political Speech” in the Huffington Post, which describes an ordeal very similar to Aref’s:
“I was a low security prisoner with a spotless disciplinary record, and my sentencing judge recommended that I be held at a prison close to home. But one year into my sentence, I was abruptly transferred to an experimental segregation unit, opened under the Bush Administration, that is euphemistically called a “Communications Management Unit” (CMU).”
While serving his time, McGowan continued to write and publish political commentaries.
“No one in the BOP ever told me to stop, or warned me that I was violating any rules. But then, without a word of warning, I was called to the discharge area one afternoon in May 2008 and sent to the CMU at Marion. Ten days after I arrived, still confused about where I was and why, I was given a single sheet of paper called a “Notice of Transfer.” It included a few sentences about my conviction, much of which was incorrect, by way of explanation for my CMU designation… Frustrated, I filed administrative grievances to try to get the information corrected, and find out how this decision had been made. When that did not work, I filed a request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. I got nowhere. The BOP would not fix the information, and wouldn’t explain why they thought I belonged in a CMU.”
“Only now — three years after I filed a federal lawsuit to get to the truth — have I learned why the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) sent me to the CMU: they simply did not like what I had to say in my published writing and personal letters,” McGowan explains.
Authored by Leslie Smith, the Chief of the BOP’s so-called “Counter Terrorism Unit,” memos catalog in detail things McGowan had said in past years in order to justify his designation to the ultra-restrictive units:
“My attempts to ‘unite’ environmental and animal liberation movements, and to ‘educate’ new members of the movement about errors of the past; my writings about ‘whether militancy is truly effective in all situations’; a letter I wrote discussing bringing unity to the environmental movement by focusing on global issues; the fact that I was ‘publishing [my] points of view on the internet in an attempt to act as a spokesperson for the movement’; and the BOP’s belief that, through my writing, I have ‘continued to demonstrate [my] support for anarchist and radical environmental terrorist groups.’”
Another ELF activist, Marie Mason, who is serving a 22 year sentence on “enhanced terrorism” charges due to property damage including shooting a bottle rocket into a Monsanto office building after hours in protest against GMOs (no one was hurt), was also moved without explanation to a CMU-like prison this year. Mason is an artist, musician, and writer who has a wide following of supporters. She had been housed in a normal women’s prison where she worked in the kitchen with other inmates and was even allowed to teach guitar lessons. Despite good behavior, she now has to spend most of her day in lockdown and has very limited personal contact.
Earth First! Newswire reported on legal challenges filed by Mason related to her sudden and unexplained relocation to a “control-management”-type women’s prison in Carswell, Texas. Ryan Abbot writes that the “FBI denied her FOIA request, to cover up the government’s ‘Green Scare’ program, meant to chill the speech rights of environmental activists.”
A large percentage of these prisoners being isolated under intense scrutiny are passionate idealists, above average intelligence, highly educated, and many of them are eloquent and prolific writers. McGowan was writing for the Huffington Post even while in prison; Aref is a poet with a list of email subscribers; Mason has her own blog where she gives and receives community support. For example, Marie Mason addressed a group of labor organizers with “Words of Encouragement and Respect” on the need to coordinate actions with environmentalists and peace activists.
This is precisely the type of speech that McGowan discovered that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) believes is adequate cause to isolate a prisoner: speech intended to unite political activists of various ideologies. It is genuinely ironic that CMUs are being used to isolate and closely monitor prisoners, while at the same time allowing them email access in order for them to voice their political opinions and even advise people on the outside. It seems to be some kind of social experiment, about which much more needs to be learned.
a poem by Yassin Aref
If the worst trial is,
the one that makes you laugh
then the best joke should be
the one that makes you cry.
My indictment and accusation
my trial and conviction
were the drama and fiction
still I got 15 years in prison
First the placed me in PC
in the name of my protection
then they sent me to CMU
“to manage my communication”
I was cut off from my family
with no any physical contact
even with my baby and children
Now BOP keeping SIM on me
stating I “had been convicted
for threatening the US government”
and I am danger to the community
but why? and how? they always,
refuse to answer my questions
That’s why
I am puzzled
not sure what should I do
call this the worst trial
and laugh on it
or name it the best joke
and cry?