Archive for June 30th, 2004
A report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tells the story of a Nepalese man who was thrown into prison under the PATRIOT Act for accidentally videotaping the building in NYC where the FBI has its HQ.
NEW YORK — It took no more than a week for James P. Wynne, a veteran FBI investigator, to confirm the harmless truth that only now, more than two years later, he is ready to talk about. The small foreign man he helped arrest for videotaping outside a tall office building in Queens on Oct. 25, 2001, was no terrorist.Yet Purna Raj Bajracharya was swallowed up in the government’s new maximum-security system of secret detention and secret hearings for three months, and his only friend was Wynne, the same FBI agent who had helped decide to put him there.
Bajracharya, 47, was a Buddhist from Nepal planning to return there after five years of odd jobs at places such as a Queens pizzeria and a Manhattan flower shop. He was videotaping New York street scenes to take back to his wife and sons in Katmandu. And he had no clue that the tall building in his viewfinder happened to include an office of the FBI.
When Wynne filed his FBI report a few days later, the Nepalese man, who spoke almost no English, had been placed in solitary confinement at a federal detention center in Brooklyn just for videotaping.
The article gives a pretty good picture of how Ashcroft’s JD is using–or mis-using–its new powers and how ‘byzantine’ the system has become. And what do they use to excuse this malfeasance? You guessed it:
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said that although he was unfamiliar with the case, the system of secrecy that Bajracharya encountered is lawful and necessary. “The idea that someone who has violated our immigration laws may be of interest on a national security level as well is an unfortunate reality, post- 9/11,” he said.
Bajracharya was jailed for three months ‘in a 6-by-9-foot cell kept lighted 24 hours a day.’ Welcome to neo-America, Baj.
The Republican Congress is going to let the ban on assault weapons expire. Mark Morford on getting Bush out from under another promise:
Isn’t that great? To hell with logic and to hell with your kids’ safety and to hell with even trying to prevent moron gangbangers and terrorist wanna-bes and imbecilic white supremacists from easily getting their hands on a nice AK-47 that can mow down a schoolyard full of tots in 10 seconds flat. Instead: Down with liberal scum who would take away our God-given right to bear nasty ultraviolent weaponry that no one anywhere can justify the existence of. Go, NRA!What, too sarcastic? Well, hold onto your sides, because it gets even funnier. Even little gun-lovin’ Bushie himself declared during the 2000 campaign that he actually supported an extension of the ban (pretty hard, even for Shrub, to defend Uzis in the wake of Columbine and 101 California, et al.), a law that outlaws 19 types of insidiously lethal weaponry, the very guns most highly prized by jittery meth-lab owners and killing-spree advocates and homophobic militia members deep in the Montana woods. Oh, and also by upstanding, white-bread NRA members. Oh my yes. They need assault weapons. Must have them. Or so they claim.
But Bush, he is just so happy. He won’t have to see that bill at all. He won’t have to sign a thing before the election and risk annoying the Bible-quotin’ gun lovers of America. The NRA lobby will kill it before he even has to try to pronounce the phrase “high school gun rampage.” Oh man is he ever relieved.
Because to the NRA, the rule is absolute: No gun law is a good gun law, and any ban of any kind is a slippery slope (always, always a slippery slope) until the government stomps in and takes away all your rights to do anything fun at all, and so screw the painfully obvious, skull-crushingly sad fact that allowing assault weapons back into the culture is the equivalent of allowing, say, convicted rapists loose in a sorority house.
How much do terrorists and murderers owe the Pubs? Let us count the ways….
In a snarky NYT piece that avoids sliding into snide mockery by the hair on its chinny-chin-chin, reporter Bill Werde notes that Disney, which refused to distribute F 9/11 for fear Jeb Bush would misuse the power of his office as the Gov of Florida to extract revenge by scotching their plans for Disneyworld, is distributing a documentary after all.
The film is called America’s Heart and Soul and was desxcribed in the NYT (I won’t call it a review because it wasn’t) as ‘an effort to showcase not just the beauty of the land, but the very soul of the United States — its people.’ The writer doesn’t say how well it did with its effort but that may perhaps be judged by the fact that the only way Disney can get people to watch it is to pay them.
In Sacramento the conservative group Move America Forward, whose Web site criticizes “Fahrenheit 9/11,” organized an advance screening of the Disney documentary “America’s Heart and Soul,” due in theaters on July 2. That film, directed by Louis Schwartzberg, celebrates ordinary Americans and, Disney says, their extraordinary stories. “Disney brought the movie, rented the theater and even paid for the popcorn,” Howard Kaloogian, the chairman of Move America Forward, said.
Dennis Rice, Disney Head of PR, told Werde that the company had done likewise ‘close to 100 times’, including screenings for the Sierra Club and the AARP.
Sounds like you got a real winner there, Denny. Send a limo for me and remember–I like lots of butter on my popcorn. Let’s not be frugal. After all, it’s on The Mouse.
Trust the conservatives to answer the specific charges Moore makes with a mindless ‘patriotic’ film that runs up the flag and salutes it while ignoring them. I want to see the head-to-head numbers on this one.