Political prisoners have always been an especially vulnerable and abused subset of the American prison population. In the wake of September 11, they have been targeted for new abuse, and those people identifying as the number of people claiming political prisoner or prisoner of war status grows with continuing violations and infringements on individual's right to freedom of speech and protest. As citizens more readily accept infringements on their constitutional rights and civil liberties in the name of security and protection against a nameless faceless terror (Henthoff).
The US government assures the people that that wartime encroachments are only temporary, but as there are no clearly defined definitions, and no concrete enemy, the war can go on indefinitely. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said that the war will not be over until there are no terrorist organizations of potentially global reach left in the world. The US definitions of terrorism and terrorist are even more elusive than these organizations. The only assurance that this gives the American people is that further erosions of privacy, freedoms, and principles will continue (Dreyfuss).
The FBI works in conjunction with state and local police gathering significant amount of information on groups that have no tendencies toward violence. The ACLU has found that the police have been maintaining dossiers on thousands of people in a variety of organizations (Dreyfuss). These individuals are not even suspected of a crime and organizations that don't have a criminal history are labeled as criminal extremists for opposing US policies, and the "War on Terror. "
The FBI has been collecting extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its "Counterterrorism" squads. The FBI. is dangerously targeting Americans who are engaged in nothing more than lawful protest and dissent. Attorney General John Ashcroft has eased the tight restrictions placed upon the FBI's investigations of political activities put in place after the exposure of COINTELPRO.
Ashcroft claims that it is essential that the FBI be able to investigate terrorism aggressively, and the bureau's recent strategy in policing demonstrations is an product of this policy (Lichtblau). A memorandum circulated throughout the FBI on October 15 found that The bureau "possesses no information indicating that violent or terrorist activities are being planned as part of these protests" and that "most protests are peaceful events.
" (Lichtblau) While this is true the FBI continues to monitor and keep dossiers and records on a plethora of people who are practicing their rights as citizens. Increasingly more people are arrested or detained on trumped up charges. Acts and laws that claim to advocate protection and security from the spectral terror are being used as weapons against citizens who dare oppose the almighty State. These claims are completely fabricated.
Prisoners have been transferred to control units for writing too many lawsuits, for protesting the brutality of the prison system, for angering prison officials, and, especially, for their political beliefs and ideologies, those who classify themselves as political prisoners. The Prison Discipline Survey initiated in 1989 by the Prisoner Rights Union of Sacramento, California found that sending prisoners to control units, is based on arbitrary and subjective judgments by guards and other officials, and targets prisoners who are most likely to be challenging the prison system (Whitman).
It is admitted at the highest level that a prisoner's political beliefs are a basis for assigning that prisoner to a control unit. Former director of the BOP, Michael Quinlan, claimed in a letter to the Congressional subcommittee that oversees the BOP: A prisoner's past or present affiliation, association or membership in an organization which has been documented as being involved in acts of violence [or] attempts to disrupt… the government of the United States…
is a factor considered in assessing the security needs of an inmate. It is control of dissent, protest, and liberation movements that these units seek. For those who dissent, protest, and seek to liberate, who are vocal and act on the beliefs that there are certain unalienable human rights, that the US has severely limited these rights, that the US is seeking to kill to murder to maim and hurt all that oppose it and what it believes to be its all mighty power (Isikoff).
Those who dissent are considered the "worst of the worst" because there is the threat that people might listen, people might hear what these political activists have to say and the US fears this because these people are a threat to the patriarchal, racist, class-based policies that hinge on this great democracy. The proliferation of control units in the US is its attempt to suppress the increased likelihood of protests and dissent.