People must understand that the constant “terror” fearmongering by politicians and media has a corrosive effect on the nation’s civil liberties, the true backbone of our freedom.
Jun 15th, 2010 by Will Potter [print_link]
Last week a Philadelphia appellate court announced (after months of silence) that it would not revisit the conviction of animal rights activists on terrorism charges. The SHAC 7 were convicted of conspiring to commit animal enterprise terrorism by running a controversial website that posted news of both legal and illegal actions, along with personal information of people connected to the notorious animal testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences. Their campaign had brought the multinational corporation near bankruptcy.
A three-judge panel of the court had previously upheld the conviction, and the defendants had asked that the full court review it. Now, the only option is to request that the Supreme Court of the United States review the case. There has been no official word about this yet, but multiple defendants have expressed their interest and having this landmark First Amendment case heard by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the lead prosecutor who helped secure this “victory in the War on Terrorism” has– surprise, surprise– been promoted. Charles McKenna is now the head of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
He was quoted a few days ago about his hopes for using new “anti-terrorism technology” in his new job.
“We are particularly interested in computer profiling, which is much more sophisticated, and quicker, than traditional racial profiling,” he said.
The targets of this new profiling technology?
“Jihad, Crips, extreme animal-rights activists, it’s all the same: people trying damage the system,” added McKenna.“ We need every trick in the book to avert disaster.”
As you can see in the photo that accompanies this article, the SHAC 7 are quite gangsta. But no reasonable person could argue that they are the “same” as violent street gangs and Islamic terrorists.
Such absurd scare-mongering rhetoric has become normal for corporations, industry groups, and the politicians who represent them. When it is adopted by government officials who are in charge of keeping us safe, though, it has frightening implications.
There are limited anti-terrorism and law enforcement resources. When people like McKenna let shameless political opportunism shape security priorities (and make no mistake, this is nothing but political opportunism–he has already been rewarded for defending the “system” from activists), it puts everyone at risk.
The election of Chris Christie was a disgrace for New Jersey, yet another victory for the more vicious and corrupt wing of the establishment, so here we reap the fruits of such grotesque stupidity. As might be expected, Republicans are crowing all over the place celebrating Charles McKenna’s appointment:
Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick issued the following statements today regarding Gov.-elect Chris Christie’s selection of Senior Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna as Director of Homeland Security and Preparedness:
“Charles McKenna’s experience and credentials as Senior Assistant U.S. Attorney make him a stellar choice to lead New Jersey’s Homeland Security and Preparedness effort,” said DeCroce, R-Morris and Passaic. “The recent Christmas Day incidents in Detroit and the security breach at our own Newark Airport are reminders that we must always remain vigilant. Gov.-elect Christie’s selection is evidence that he takes very seriously our nation’s on-going war on terror and his commitment to providing the safest possible environment for our state’s residents and visitors.
“Gov.-elect Christie has made another superb choice in selecting Charles McKenna to head the state’s Homeland Security and Preparedness Division,” said Bramnick, R-Union, Morris, Somerset and Essex. “Mr. McKenna’s experience as a federal prosecutor, in particular his interaction with federal counter-terrorism agencies, will serve our state and its citizens well.”
The curious twist is that McKenna (photo, right) apparently did not think highly of Christie at first. As this report filed by Chris Megerian/Statehouse Bureau with NJ.com makes clear, the rapprochement was gradual but, won over by Christie’s effusive sponsorship, McKenna soon saw the light:
“As a prosecutor, McKenna developed the U.S. case against Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, accused of murdering Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Pakistani militants had lured Pearl into a trap with an e-mail routed through a South Brunswick server, giving jurisdiction to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. Sheikh was indicted but not tried — he has been in a Pakistan jail, facing a death sentence.
Around that time, McKenna recalls, he was unhappy that Christie was taking over as U.S. attorney. He worried Christie was “a political hack, that he was nothing more than a fundraiser.”
Soon after Christie moved in, he offered promotions to McKenna and Paula Dow, then a criminal prosecutor. Skeptical, McKenna and Dow discussed it over the weekend.
“I said, if the guy turns out to be a jerk, we can leave. And if he doesn’t turn out to be a jerk, we’ll have great positions,” McKenna said. “He turned out not to be a jerk.”
Christie and McKenna, a drummer with slightly shaggy hair, became close, attending Bruce Springsteen concerts and Mets games together.
Christie said: “He’s loyal, he’s dedicated, he’s funny, he’s charming. People warm up to Charlie very, very quickly.”
When Christie won November’s election, both McKenna and Dow followed him into state government, McKenna as Homeland Security director and Dow as attorney general.
The US political system is a cesspool everywhere, and nowhere more fetid than in New Jersey, which in political choices often ressembles the Deep South.