Tuesday, September 21, 2004


CLAMPING DOWN ON PROTESTS: If citizens thought they had the ability to
freely protest these and other election controversies, they should
think again. The New York Times reports that the FBI "contacted" and
detained a number of people who have organized political demonstrations,
forcing some to appear before a grand jury
(http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/9430236.htm?1c) to
disclose what they know of protest plans. As former National Security
Council staffer Mark Brzezinski wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed, protestors
"were asked whether they planned any acts of violence, whether they
knew of anyone who had, and whether they realized it was a crime to
withhold such information. This action smacks of political harassment and
of legitimate antiwar protesters." Meanwhile, the Washington Post
reported that the Secret Service, led by the president's top personal aide,
accosted peaceful AIDS demonstrators
during a Bush speech last month. Demonstrators were "shoved and pulled
from the room -- some by their hair, one by her bra straps -- and then
arrested for disorderly conduct and detained." Reporters who tried to
cover the scene were told by the White House they would be punished if
they covered it. One Secret Service agent said there was a "different
set of rules" for reporters who did not seek out the activists.