Thursday, March 27, 2008

The implications of the Homeland Security and Terrorism industry, or did the FBI frame Briana Waters?

You have to look no further than the local "security" presence at any nearby corporation to understand that what began as a friendly guard at the reception desk ten years ago has grown to include scanners, id checks, electronic gates, holding pens and security armies. And that's just at the corporate level.

The attacks of 9/11 and the ensuing hysteria have created a homeland securities industry which has grown in much the same way as the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned about after World War II. In the "give them an inch and they'll take a mile" mode, security firms (you know some by name, like Blackwater) have seen opportunities to blossom and grow into dark armies of the night.

In the federal bureaucracy, the growth has been abetted by congressional acts which have redefined terrorism, and given intelligence organizations frightening new tools.

In a recent trial in Washington State, Briana Waters was convicted of eco-terrorism and faces up to 30 years in prison. However, she maintains her innocence in the face of evidence that the FBI coerced testimony and withheld evidence that may have proven her innocence to the jury (the FBI has demonstrated a considerable lack of restraint in using the new anti-terror tools provided to them - here in Connecticut they went after librarians). Waters, a mother, and a talented fiddler, has had her life torn apart as a result of associations with eco-protest groups in her college years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is horrible. I knew Briana when she was much younger and lived outside of Philadelphia. She was my car-pooling and sparring partner in karate. I am very sad to have come across this news. While I have not seen all the evidence the government presented in court, I find it hard to believe she would have knowingly played any serious role in this sort of thing. The prosecution's case looks (from what I could read in the news)quite tenuous and sensationalist (resorting to branding her a "terrorist"), rather than grounded in fact. We have to base serious incarcerations on stronger grounds than this.

Equally shocking, though, is the sentence, even if she were guilty on the conspiracy charges that ultimately sent her to jail. She is accused of being a mere lookout, yet her sentence is among the most severe to be handed down in these cases.

I am an attorney and understand the legal concept of conspiracy and the sentencing practices in conspiracy cases (generally you can be treated as being guilty of the underlying crime). But mandatory minimums seem to have produced a wildly unfair and disproportionate sentence for Briana, when compared with those of her alleged co-conspirators, especially given the seemingly weak nature of the evidence against her. I pray that Briana somehow gets released early, because I strongly suspect that she is still a good person who has been dealt a really bad hand here.