[Politech] Peggy Miller on "convicted Internet radical" Sherman Austin

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Thu Oct 02 2003 - 09:47:37 PDT

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    Date: Thu, 02 Oct 2003 12:37:55 -0400
    Subject: please consider running this column
    From: Peggy Miller <pmiller@private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    By Peggy Miller
    Cabinet news reporter
    If anyone can get this to run in other papers .. please do so. I really
    believe that Austin is being persecuted because of his politics. (Not
    exactly a novel thought .. but it still continues to amaze me.) Thanks.
    Peggy Miller
    Sherman Austin, 20, is a protestor. It is those protests that may have
    landed him in prison.
    The public reason for his imprisonment on Sept. 3, 2003, without access to
    anyone but lawyers and family, in seclusion under lockdown, is because he
    was operating a free hosting Web site that had a link to someone elseıs Web
    site, which had its own link to information on bomb making.
    It is actually possible that Sherman Austin is in prison because he is
    currently publicly denouncing specific illegal U.S. activities that
    supported a military takeover in Chile in September, 1973, on his web site,
    Raisethefist.com. Others who have been so vocal on this specific military
    event say they have been persecuted by U.S. investigatory authorities in the
    past. Austin may be another victim of overzealous authorities wanting to
    quash public outcry on this and other atrocities they have been involved
    with in the past.
    Otherwise, this legal action makes no sense.
    The law stated that such bombmaking material cannot be distributed for
    violent purposes. Those fighting for Austinıs freedom, leading educators,
    lawyers, and writers around the country, point out that there are books on
    the web, including Amazon.com, that can be purchased on bomb making, and
    countless links to bomb making information by those clearly intent on
    violence, who are not being persecuted. Whereas it is unclear is Austin even
    knew that the bomb making link was even connected to his host website.
    Austinıs supporters say that Austin is the chosen target of the Justice
    Department because he is an African American with no financial resources.
    They say a psychologist, hired by the U.S. Justice system to evaluate him,
    said he is a gentle individual who poses no threat to anyone. His supporters
    believe that one reason the actual author of the Web link to bomb making
    information is not being prosecuted is because that person comes from a
    conservative, white family of means.
    Possibly, but it does not seem plausible that Austinıs indirect link to bomb
    making information was even the real reason for his imprisonment.
    That military takeover in Chile led to the death of thousands and thousands
    of innocent people. Other U.S. citizens who have researched and written
    about such events in the past have been persecuted and physically harmed by
    U.S. justice authorities and had to flea the country they have said. Why not
    Sherman Austin?
    Austin bluntly states on his website that he believes it is those
    activities, and other wartime activities that he feels were needless, and
    their resulting deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, including
    thousands of children according to Austin, that may have brought about the
    Sept. 11, 2001 bombing of the New York City Twin Towers. He believes there
    is a link between the Sept. 11, 1973, U.S. supported takeover in Santiago,
    Chile, that included the use of airplane bombers, and the Sept. 11, 2001
    bombing of the twin towers.
    It is possible that Austin is right.
    Whether it was directly the cause or not, the U.S. was covertly involved in
    that hostile take over of the Chilean government, and those who attempted to
    investigate it at the time, were physically harassed by FBI agents and they
    did flea to Mexico.
    U.S. companies and the CIA were concerned that Salvador Allende, the
    President of Chile at the time, who was using eminent domain authority to
    jerk land back from U.S. companies, including Anaconda copper and J.P.
    Getty, would result in large economic losses. The AFL-CIO was concerned that
    Allende was eliminating capitalism and shifting the country to socialism.
    They were opposed to that.
    Allende said he was hoping to give the land back to the Chilean farmers,
    believing in the need to try and reinstate small business capitalism for his
    Whether he handled this maneuvering properly is another issue, but a number
    of U.S. company heads met with U.S. officials to discuss and coordinate
    activities that would result in the takeover of the government. The
    resulting deaths in Chile were not a stated goal, but they were a result.
    That and other such international activities must have engendered hatred and
    the desire for retaliation among the friends and families of the victims.
    Just as it did with this country when our Twin Towers were bombed.
    Austin has been willing to speak up against such activities and it is
    possible that his very honesty is what has landed him in prison.
    Even U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, author of the law that requires the Justice
    Department to aggressively pursue those who write and publish bomb making
    information, is wondering why the Justice Department is not going after
    those who are intent on violent use of home made bombs in this country.
    Unrestricted bomb making is not an activity that should be allowed, for any
    purposes. But it is possible that the tendency for human beings to mimic
    behaviors seen on the part of their own leadership could be involved here.
    When the Chilean coup led to the rule by the then military commander
    Pinochet, causing mass torture and killings of Chilean and American citizens
    who happened to be in the country at the time, the United States formally
    chose to do nothing to help those people who were being slaughtered. Other
    countries did help, including Britain, Sweden, Norway, and France, working
    endless, long hours to get as many out of a stadium in Santiago where close
    to 100,000 had been enclosed and were being mass executed, and out of Chile
    as quickly as possible.
    A few U.S. Congressmen at the time, including George E. Brown, Jr. of
    California, did work to get people out of Chile who were facing death, but
    otherwise the U.S. was formally silent.
    This country, like others, has done things that are wrong, sometimes very
    wrong. We are not alone. Powerful governments throughout history have abused
    that power. But we wonder why so many our own citizens are actively speaking
    out against the decision of this countryıs leaders, when we as a government
    cannot own up to our own atrocities committed in many parts of the world,
    nor question our own polices more stringently.
    Many are calling Austin an anarchist. But when has the willingness to call
    into question very questionable behaviors of our own government been a sign
    of anarchy?
    Often such willingness to stand up and question acts of atrocity or of our
    own administrationıs avoidance of the laws of this country is one of the
    more courageous demonstrations that a citizen of this country can offer.
    History has shown that usually such citizens believe most deeply in the
    rights of this country and the values of a democracy that allows a
    government to be run by its citizenry. And it is that very belief that
    engenders the desire to speak out when wrongs have occurred.
    The right to criticize, the right to speak out and say that something is
    wrong, continues to be the main tool by which we all can defend this
    countryıs system of democracy and our basic rights.
    I have to wonder if it is not that very heroism on Sherman Austinıs part,
    his willingness to speak out boldly, and somewhat rashly -- but what 20 year
    old is not rash? -- on U.S. behaviors he finds wrong, is not the real reason
    that Sherman Austin is in prison today.
    We need to stop unrestricted citizen bomb making and others acts of
    terrorism. But it is possible that a more useful method of ending such acts
    is to change our governmentıs intense misuse of military power for economic
    How else can we ask our own citizens to curb their tendencies for violence?
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