secret prison in US holds activists, obama "stonewalling" gay marriage

Democracy Now! had a very good and frighting piece Thursday about Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist, who was held in a secretive prison known as Communication Management Units (CMU), also called "Little Guantanamo." Most inmates are of the Muslim faith.

In 2006, Andrew Stepanian was sentenced to three years in prison for violating a controversial law known as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. Stepanian and six others were jailed for their role in a campaign to stop animal testing by the British scientific firm Huntingdon Life Science. They were convicted of using a website to “incite attacks” on those who did business with Huntingdon Life Science. Together, the group became known as the SHAC 7.

Andrew spent his last five-and-a-half months at a CMU in Marion, Illinois with highly restricted visitation and phone rights. He was charged with conspiracy to commit a violation of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act for setting up a website, meaning he didn't actually take any action. In Andrew's case, we was charged for being involved with others by association and none of the others comited any criminal acts either.

The greater implications of this are downright scary, where a dissident is unable to criticize or plan to act against the government or corporations in non-criminal ways. These laws, along with the patriot act, are slowly turning our country into a police state where someone who speaks out and starts gaining traction can be arrested under this horrendous laws.

[O]ne thing that came upon over and over again was listing how these individuals have support websites, how they have individuals supporting them and donating money, donating books, organizing benefit shows, doing media, going on Democracy Now!. That actually came up in Daniel McGowan’s sentencing. So it’s clear that these people are being targeted because they have a strong network of support that can get information out. And putting them in these facilities is an attempt to neutralize that.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened (protesters being arrested at the Republican National Convention under the Patriot Act comes to mind) and it certainly won't be the last. I just hope the people will be able to fight and defeat these laws before we are all arrested for trying to speak against them.

Gay Pride is in San Francisco this weekend (as well as other parts of the world) and the parade is kicking off with a political contingent. The other day's Colbert Report had a good segment on how Obama is "Stonewalling" any advancements on gay rights. In his usual manor, Colbert explains how Obama has not kept his promises to the LGBT community. On his "The Word" segment as Colbert says "you see, the president is too busy with the economy, and healthcare, and the wars to issue an executive order ending don't ask don't tell," while text on the screen reads "Would require stroke of the pen." He goes on mentioning that even though Obama extended benefits to same sex partners, those did not include health or retirement benefits.

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