Monday, April 8, 2013
2013-04-09 "Daniel McGowan Forbidden From Publishing Articles Without Permission"
by Nick Pinto [http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/04/daniel_mcgowan.php]:
After more than seven years, the stack of dehumanizing and seemingly unconstitutional interactions between Daniel McGowan and the American prison system is now piled so high it is teetering over into a recursive mess of bleak and Kafkaesque absurdity.
Last Monday, McGowan published a piece on the Huffington Post that laid out much of his situation to date [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-mcgowan/communication-management-units_b_2944580.html]. After years in prison for his role in environmentally motivated property destruction that was prosecuted as acts of terrorism, he wrote, he was finishing up the remaining months of his sentence in a halfway house in Brooklyn.
The various perversions of the case that sent McGowan away are well documented in the documentary (streaming on Netflix!) If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front. But, as McGowan wrote, less publicized is what happened to him a year into his prison term: Despite a flawless disciplinary record, McGowan was transferred to an experimental new Communications Management Unit, a supermax-like extreme-isolation facility some have dubbed a "Little Guantanamo."
Why was McGowan transferred to a CMU? He never got a good answer to that question, even after a Freedom of Information Act request, so, along with other CMU inmates, he filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the CMUs and alleging that they are effectively political prisons designed to silence the voices of people whose message the government doesn't like. As it turned out, McGowan was right: Bureau of Prisons memos discovered through the lawsuit appear to link his transfer to the CMU to the fact that he continued to write things the government found politically objectionable.
"While incarcerated and through social correspondence and articles written for radical publications, inmate McGowan has attempted to unite the radical environmental and animal liberation movements," one memo states, before dilating on other political statements McGowan made in interviews and his own writing.
McGowan wrote about all of this in his Huffington Post piece last Monday. Two days later, the staff at the halfway house to which he had been assigned told him that his work permit had been revoked on order of the Bureau of Prisons. The next morning, federal marshals arrived and brought him to the Metropolitan Detention Center. Once there, he was presented with a document explaining that he had violated the terms of his release to the halfway house. Specifically, the incident report stated that McGowan had violated a prison regulation that stated "an inmate currently confined in an institution may not ... act as a reporter or publish under a byline." [http://www.scribd.com/doc/134980518/Daniel-McGowan-Incident-Report]
That's right: McGowan was sent back to jail for writing about how he'd been imprisoned in a CMU for writing things.
There's more: The regulation that the Bureau of Prisons cited to justify returning him to jail had actually been declared unconstitutional by a federal court in 2007, and the Bureau of Prisons had finally taken it off the books in 2010 [http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-04-03/html/2012-7971.htm]. McGowan's lawyers mentioned this to the bureau and to the lawyers representing the government in his lawsuit, and he was re-released to the halfway house on Friday.
But that's not the end of it. Back at the halfway house, staff presented McGowan with a document and directed him to sign it. The document stated that "he is not permitted to have any contact with the media without approval from the BOP's Residential Reentry Manager [http://www.scribd.com/doc/134981086/Daniel-McGowan-Halfway-House-statement]. Accordingly, Resident McGowan was advised that writing articles, appearing in any type of television or media outlets, news reports and or documentaries without prior BOP approval is strictly prohibited."
It's worth noting that McGowan hadn't been asked to sign this document when he first arrived at the halfway house, nor, as far as his lawyers can tell, has anyone there been asked to sign it. In fact, there's nothing in the Bureau of Prison's published media policy that requires pre-approval before publishing anything [http://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/1480_005.pdf].
"There is no national prohibition on publishing," Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons, confirmed this afternoon.
"I thought I had lost my ability to be surprised by what the Bureau of Prisons does years ago," said Rachel Meeropol, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights who's representing McGowan. "But restricting an individual's freedom of speech in this manner is truly surprising. It's beyond ironic that Daniel was retaliated against and returned to prison for publishing a blog about being retaliated against for speaking out in prison."
Here's the incident report explaining McGowan's return to prison:
Daniel McGowan Incident Report [http://www.scribd.com/doc/134980518/Daniel-McGowan-Incident-Report]
And here's the statement McGowan was required to sign upon his return to the halfway house:
Daniel McGowan Halfway House statement [http://www.scribd.com/doc/134981086/Daniel-McGowan-Halfway-House-statement]
2013-04-08 "BOP Invents Special Restriction for Environmental Activist Daniel McGowan: No Publishing Articles; McGowan Released from MDC Prison Friday, Returned to Halfway House"
April 8, 2013, New York – Today, attorneys for activist Daniel McGowan at the Center for Constitutional Rights released the following update on his situation:
Daniel McGowan is back at the halfway house where he has been residing after a week that was by turns difficult, disturbing and ridiculous. To recap: on Monday, April 1, Daniel published an opinion piece on the Huffington Post titled “Court Documents Prove I Was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for My Political Speech.” On Thursday, April 4, Daniel was picked up by U.S. Marshals from the halfway house and taken into custody at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He was issued an “incident report” indicating that his Huffington Post blog post violated a BOP regulation prohibiting inmates from “publishing under a byline.” The BOP regulation in question was declared unconstitutional by a federal court in 2007, and eliminated by the BOP in 2010. On Friday, April 5, after we brought Daniel’s unjust detention to the BOP’s attention, he was released from MDC, and the incident report was expunged.
That same day, Daniel was provided with a list of prohibited activities by halfway house staff, which he was required to sign. The list forbids him any media contact without BOP approval, though BOP regulations only require preapproval of in-facility interviews. It also prohibits him from publishing any writing of his own without prior BOP permission. As far as we know, this is a made-up rule applied only to Daniel, in a further attempt to chill his freedom of speech.
McGowan, who was released from prison in December and is serving out the last six months of his sentence at a halfway house, is a plaintiff in a Center for Constitutional Rights lawsuit, Aref v. Holder, challenging the constitutionality of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) experimental Communications Management Units (CMUs) where he was kept for four years. New documents uncovered in the case indicate he was placed in these highly restrictive experimental units as retaliation for his political writings on current events and issues while he was in prison.
Aref v. Holder challenges the violation of prisoners’ fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to due process. Attorneys say that because transfer to CMUs are not based on facts or discipline for infractions, a pattern of religious and political discrimination and retaliation for prisoners’ lawful advocacy has emerged. Daniel McGowan recently amended the complaint to include claims of retaliation for First Amendment protected speech.
For information about CCR’s federal lawsuit challenging CMUs, visit the Aref, et al. v. Holder, et al case page [http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/aref-et-al-v-holder-et-al] or [www.ccrjustice.org/cmu].
The law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP [http://www.weil.com/] and attorney Kenneth A. Kreuscher are co-counsel in the case.
2013-04-01 "Court Documents Prove I was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for my Political Speech" by Daniel McGowan [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-mcgowan/communication-management-units_b_2944580.html]:
I currently reside at a halfway house in Brooklyn, serving out the last few months of a seven-year sentence for my role in arsons credited to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) at two lumber companies in Oregon in 2001. My case, and the federal government's rush to prosecute environmental activism as a form of terrorism, were recently explored in the Oscar-nominated documentary, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front [http://ifatreefallsfilm.com/].
What has received less attention, though, is what happened to me while in federal prison. I was a low security prisoner with a spotless disciplinary record, and my sentencing judge recommended that I be held at a prison close to home. But one year into my sentence, I was abruptly transferred to an experimental segregation unit, opened under the Bush Administration, that is euphemistically called a "Communication Management Unit" (CMU). Since August 2008, when I first arrived at the CMU, I have been trying to get answers as to why I was singled out to be sent there. Only now -- three years after I filed a federal lawsuit to get to the truth -- have I learned why the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) sent me to the CMU: they simply did not like what I had to say in my published writing and personal letters. In short, based on its disagreement with my political views, the government sent me to a prison unit from which it would be harder for me to be heard, serving as a punishment for my beliefs.
The first of the two CMUs was opened quietly, without the public scrutiny required by law, in 2006 in Terre Haute, Indiana; the Marion, Illinois CMU followed in 2008. In fact, at a hearing in my case before I was sentenced, my attorneys argued that giving me the "terrorism enhancement" could result in my designation to a CMU. How right they were! The units are designed to isolate prisoners from the rest of the prisoner population, and more importantly, from the rest of the world. They impose strict limitations on your phone calls home and visits from family and friends -- you have far less access to calls and visits than in general population. The communications restrictions at the CMUs are, in some respects, harsher than those at ADX, the notorious federal "Supermax" prison in Colorado. Also, unlike ADX, they are not based on a prisoners' disciplinary violations. When my wife and loved ones visited me at the CMUs, we were banned from any physical contact whatsoever. All interactions where conducted over a telephone, with Plexiglas and bars between us. Until they were threatened with legal action, CMU prisoners were only allowed one single 15-minute phone call per week.
This is very different from most prisons. I started my sentence at FCI Sandstone -- a low security facility in Minnesota. I never received a single incident report the whole time I was there and stayed in touch with my family by phone and through visits. The importance of maintaining these family connections cannot be overstated. My calls home were, for example, the only way I could build a relationship with my then two-and-a-half year old niece. When my family would visit, it was incredibly important to all of us to be able to hug and hold hands in a brief moment of semi-normalcy and intimacy. It was these visits that allowed us to maintain our close contact with each other through a time of physical disconnection, trauma and distress.
What's also notable about the CMUs is who is sent there. It became quickly obvious to me that many CMU prisoners were there because of their religion or in retaliation for their speech. By my count, around two-thirds of the men are Muslim, many of whom have been caught up in the so-called "war on terror," others who just spoke out for their rights or allegedly took leadership positions in the Muslim community at other facilities. Some, like me, were prisoners who have political views and perspectives that are not shared by the Department of Justice.
While serving my time I was eager to stay involved in the social justice movements I care about, so I continued to write political pieces, some of which were published on this website. No one in the BOP ever told me to stop, or warned me that I was violating any rules. But then, without a word of warning, I was called to the discharge area one afternoon in May 2008 and sent to the CMU at Marion. Ten days after I arrived, still confused about where I was and why, I was given a single sheet of paper called a "Notice of Transfer." [http://www.supportdaniel.org/files/McGowan_CMU_docs_low.pdf] It included a few sentences about my conviction, much of which was incorrect, by way of explanation for my CMU designation. I was provided no other information about why the BOP believed I needed to be sent to this isolation unit. Frustrated, I filed administrative grievances to try to get the information corrected, and find out how this decision had been made. When that did not work, I filed a request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. I got nowhere. The BOP would not fix the information, and wouldn't explain why they thought I belonged in a CMU.
So I decided to contact lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights, having known their history of strong advocacy on these issues. We brought a federal lawsuit on behalf of myself and other CMU prisoners to challenge policies, practices and our designation to the CMUs. The lawsuit, Aref v. Holder, was filed in April 2010, and challenges the constitutionality of various polices and practices at the CMUs, including the lack of meaningful process associated with designation to the units, and the lack of any meaningful way to "step down" from the units. The lawsuit contends that this lack of transparency and process has allowed people to be sent to the CMUs based on, for example, their protected speech. Through discovery in the case, the federal government has finally been forced to hand over previously-unseen memoranda explaining why I was picked out to be sent a CMU. Authored by Leslie Smith, the Chief of the BOP's so-called "Counter Terrorism Unit," and cataloging in detail some of the things I have said in the past years, they make one thing clear: I was sent to the CMU on the basis of speech that the BOP just disagrees with.
The following speech is listed in these memos to justify my designation to these ultra-restrictive units:
[begin speech] My attempts to "unite" environmental and animal liberation movements, and to "educate" new members of the movement about errors of the past; my writings about "whether militancy is truly effective in all situations"; a letter I wrote discussing bringing unity to the environmental movement by focusing on global issues; the fact that I was "publishing [my] points of view on the internet in an attempt to act as a spokesperson for the movement"; and the BOP's belief that, through my writing, I have "continued to demonstrate [my] support for anarchist and radical environmental terrorist groups." [end speech]
The federal government may not agree with or like what I have to say about the environmental movement, or other social justice issues. I do not particularly care as the role of an activist is not to tailor one's views to those in power. But as Aref v. Holder contends, everything I have written is core political speech that is protected by the First Amendment. It may be true that courts have held that a prisoner's freedom of speech is more restricted than that of other members of the public. But no court has ever said that means that a prisoner is not free to express political views and beliefs that pose no danger to prison security and do not involve criminal acts. In fact, decades of First Amendment jurisprudence has refused to tolerate restrictions that are content-based and motivated by the suppression of expression. And courts have recognized that when a prisoner is writing to an audience in the outside world, as I was, it's not just the prisoner's First Amendment rights that are at stake: the entire public's freedom of speech is implicated.
I do not know what is happening with the men I got to know in the CMUs but I know they are still dealing with everything I had to deal with -- isolation from the outside world, strained relationships, always being on eggshells about the constant surveillance and never knowing when they will get out of the CMU.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the BOP is using these units to silence people, and to crack down on unpopular political speech. They have become units where the BOP can dump prisoners they have issues with or whose political beliefs they find anathema. In the months that come, with CCR's help, I hope to prove that in court and show what is happening at the CMUs. This needs to be dragged into the sunlight.
"Exposing “Little Guantanamo”: Inside the CMU"
by Daniel McGowan, Spring 2009
As of May 2009, I have been at USP Marion’s “Communication Management Unit” or CMU, for roughly nine months and now is a good time to address the misconceptions (and the silence) regarding this unit. I want to offer a snapshot of my day-to-day life here as well as some analysis of what the existence of CMUs in the federal prison system implies.1 It is my hope that this article will partially fill the void of information that exists concerning the CMU, will help dispel rumors, and will inspire you to support those of us on the inside fighting the existence of these isolation units— in the courts and in the realm of public opinion.
It is best to start from the beginning— or at least where my story and the CMU meet. My transfer here is no different from that of many of the men here who were living at Federal Correctional Institutions (normal prisons) prior to the genesis of the CMUs. On May 12, 2008, on my way back from a decent lunch, I was told to report to “R&D” (receiving and discharge). I was given two boxes and half an hour to pack up my meager possessions. After complying I was placed in the SHU (secure housing unit or “hole”) and put on a bus the next day. There was no hearing and no information given to me or my attorneys— only after a day was I told I was on my way to Marion, Illinois’ CMU.2
Hearing the term “CMU” made my knees buckle as it drummed up some memory I had of the infamous ‘control units’ at Marion (closed in 1995 and replaced by Florence ADX: the lone Federal “Supermax” prison. Then it hit me. The lawyers, in challenging the application of the terrorist enhancement in my case made the prescient argument that if I receive the enhancement, the Bureau of Prisons (BoP) would use that to place me in the CMU at FCI Terre Haute, Indiana (at the time just 5 months old).3 In fact, on the way to FCI Sandstone in August 2007, I not only saw the CMU but met one of its residents while in transit. Let me back up and offer a brief history of the Communication Management Units.
The CMU I reside in, at USP Marion, received its first prisoner in May 2008 and when I arrived, held about 17 men, the majority of whom were Muslim. Currently, the unit has 25, with a capacity of 52 cells. In April 2009, we received seven new people, all of whom were from the CMU at FCI Terre Haute. The unit is overwhelmingly Muslim with 18 men identifying as such. Most, but not all of the prison,4 have so-called terrorism cases. According to a BoP spokesperson, the unit “will not be limited to inmates convicted of terrorism-related cases through all of the prisoners fit that description.”5 Others have prison disciplinary violation or allegations related to communication and the misuse of telephones etc. Here, almost everyone has a terrorism related case— whether it is like my case (destruction of property characterized as ‘domestic terrorism’) or conspiracy and ‘providing material aid’ cases.
Before the Marion CMU opened, there was the original CMU, opened in December 2006 at the former death row at FCI Terre Haute.6 According to early articles, the unit was intended for “second tier terrorism inmates, most of them Arab Muslims and a less restrictive version of the Supermax in Florence, Colorado.”7
Additionally, BoP Director Harley Lappin, in a July 2008 hearing on the 2009 BoP budget request, said this about the CMUs:
A lot of the more serious offenders, terrorists, were housed at ADX Florence. So, we are ramping up two communications management units that are less restrictive but will ensure that all mail and phone calls of the offenders are monitored on a daily basis.8
Terre Haute’s CMU has 36 men (27 of whom are Muslim) and is roughly comparable to Marion’s CMU.9 The rest of this place focuses on the latter, in which I have resided and of which I have seen firsthand.
You may be curious about just what a CMU actually is. From my correspondence, I can tell that many correspondents do not know much about what goes on here. I hope this can clear up any misperceptions. According to the BoP,
The CMU is [sic] established to house inmates who, due to their current offense of conviction, offense conduct or other verified information, require increased monitoring of communication between inmates and persons in the community in order to protect the safety, security, and orderly operations of Bureau facilities and protect the public...The CMU is a self-contained general population housing unit.10
There are, of course, alternate views to the above definition including the belief that the CMUs are Muslim units, a political prisoner unit (similar to the HSU operated by the BoP in the 80’s,11 and a punishment unit.
The CMUs have an extremely high Muslim population; here at Marion, it is 65-75%. An overrepresentation of any one demographic in a prison raises constitutional issues of equal protection as well as safety issues. Nowhere in the BoP will you find any group represented in such extreme disproportion. To counter these claims, the BoP brought in a small number of non-Muslims to be used as proof that the units are not strictly Muslim (an interesting note is that some of the Muslim men here have cases unrelated to terrorism). Does the inclusion of six people that are non-Muslim really negate the claim of segregation though? What are the criteria for determining who comes to the CMU? The BoP claims there are 211 international terrorists (and 1000 domestic terrorists) in their system.12 Yet, the CMUs have no more than 60 men at the present time. Where are the rest of these people? How does the BOP determine who of those 1200 are sent to a CMU and who to normal prisons? These are questions that need to be asked— in court and in the media.
Many of the men here (both Muslim and non) are considered political prisoners in their respective movements and have been engaged in social justice, religious organizations, charities and humanitarian efforts.13 Another conception of the CMU is that it is a location designed to isolate us from our movements and to act as a deterrent for others from those movements (as in ‘step outside the line and you too will end up there’).14 The intended effect of long-term housing of this kind is a profound sense of dislocation and alienation. With your mail, email, phones, and visits monitored and no human touch allowed at the visits, it is difficult to feel a connection to “the streets.” There is historical evidence of the BoP utilizing political prisons— despite the fact that the Department of Justice refuses to acknowledge the concept of political prisoners in US prisons, choosing to call us “criminal” instead.
The Lexington High Security Unit (HSU) was one such example. Having opened its 16-bed facilities in 1988 and housing a number of female political prisoners,15 the HSU functioned as an isolation unit— underground, bathed in fluorescence, and limited interaction with staff. In the opinion of Dr. Richard Korn, speaking on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, the unit’s goal was:
...to reduce prisoners to a state of submission essential for their ideological conversion. That failing, the next objective is to reduce them as efficient, self-directing antagonists. That failing, the only alternative is to destroy them by making them destroy themselves.16
After an arduous campaign by human rights advocates and supporters, the BoP capitulated, stating it would close its facility (when it did not, it was sued).17 The judge ruled that the plaintiffs were illegally designated based on their past political affiliations, statements and political beliefs.18 The unit was closed and the women were transferred to other prisons.
The correlations between the HSU and CMU are many and seem to have some of the same goals as well as methods used to designate us here. Knowing they are dealing with people committed to ideals and the movements they are a part of, we were placed here in order to weaken those connections and harm our relationships. An example is the horrendous strain that the CMU puts on our familial relations— especially our marriages. It was certainly considered by the architects of the CMU that preventing visits that allow human touch for long-term prisoners would have a disastrous impact on our relationships and would lead to weaker inmates.
Finally, the CMU can be viewed as “the stick”— a punitive unit for those who don’t play ball or who continue to express political beliefs anathema to the BoP or the US government. Although I am not aware of the BoP’s criteria for sending people here (due to their refusal to release specific CMU information), it is curious who is and who is not here. Out of roughly 18 codefendants in my criminal case, I am the only one at a CMU (the remainder of them are at low and medium security prisons). The same goes for a member of the SHAC7 campaign, Andrew Stepanian, one of 6 defendants in his case who was sent here for the last 6 months of his sentence.19 Other men here have codefendants at the Terre Haute CMU while others have codefendants at normal federal prisons. Despite numerous Freedom of Information Requests,20 the BoP refuses to grant the documents that specify the rules governing transfer to the CMU. Remember, hardly any of the men here have received any disciplinary violations and some have been in general population over 15 years! How can someone be OK in general population for that long and then one day be seen as a communication threat?
So, I have hypothesized about the goals of the CMU. Let me discuss the many problems and injustices associated with the existence of the CMUs.
More appropriately, a lack thereof. A term I never thought much about before my imprisonment, due process is:
...the conduct of legal proceedings according to established rules and principles for the protection and enforcement of private rights, including notice and the right to hearing before a tribunal [my emphasis] with the power to decide the case.21
I was moved from FCI Sandstone, against my will and at a moment’s notice, with no hearing and thus no chance to contest the reason for my transfer. A FOIA request recently received states I was redesignated May 6th, my transfer was signed the next day and I was moved on May 13th with the reason given as “program participation”.22 Since I got here, I have not had a hearing to contest the claims made in the “Notice to Inmate of Transfer to CMU, ” 23 some of which were woefully inaccurate. Instead, I was told I can utilize the administrative remedy process (which I have done to no avail) and request a transfer after 18 months of “clean conduct”.24
The irony is that all prisoners who violate prison rules are subject to a series of disciplinary hearings in which they could offer their defense. For legal units such as Florence ADX (Supermax) or the control unit program, there exists a codified set of rules and hearings for transfer to these locations .25 The BoP has deliberately ignored this process and has instead transferred us to this special, brand-new CMU without due process. My notice of transfer was given to me 12 days after I arrived!
Similar to the callous disregard for due process (and the US Constitution), there is no “step down” process for the CMU. Unlike the ones that exist at Florence ADX, control units or even the gang units, the CMU has no stages, no requisite amount of time we are to spend here before being sent back to a normal prison.26
Because these preceding programs are specifically for prison misbehavior, there is a logical and orderly way to finish the program and eventually transfer. For us, the BoP has set up a paradox— if we are here for our offense conduct, which we cannot ever change, how can we reasonably leave the unit? In its “Admissions and Orientation” guide for Marion’s CMU, here is what they say:
Every new commitment to the CMU will be evaluated by his unit team regarding his suitability for incarceration in this institution. If, for some reason, the inmate is deemed not acceptable for confinement in this unit, he will be processed as expeditiously as possible...“27
[I am still roughly 10 months from my 18-month period in which I must wait before requesting a transfer. Considering the fact that all my remedies have been denied, I am not hopeful about this.]
CMU as Secret
In addition to the due process and transfer issues, there is the secretive and illegal manner that the CMU was created (Note: for historical perspectives, it needs to be stated that the CMU was established roughly halfway through the second term of George W. Bush and his Attorney General Alberto Gonzales).
In April 2006, the BoP proposed a “Limited Communication for Terrorist Inmates” policy,28 which suggested new restrictions for “terrorists” and “terrorism related inmates” such as:
1) One 6-page letter per week.
2) One 15-minute phone call a month.
3) One 1-hour visit a month.29
A coalition of civil rights organizations signed a letter of protest criticizing the proposed rules and raising numerous constitutional, practical and ethical objectives.30 The outcry appears to have caused the BoP to reconsider it and just 6 months later, open the CMU at FCI Terre Haute quietly.31 Since the BoP never sought public comment on the new CMU, it certainly appears to be a violation of the Administrative Procedural Act (APA),32 an argument a federal judge in Miami raised in response to a prisoner’s legal challenge to transfer to the CMU.33
The unit is functionally an open secret. While the BoP circumvented the standard public comment (and feedback process), it has sought to get around this by describing the CMU as a “self-contained general population unit,”34 implying that the unit is legally and penally no different than a normal unit at an FCI. There is no mention of the CMU on the BoP’s website (ww.bop.gov) or USP Marion’s subpage on the same site.35 You will not find extensive Congressional hearings on the subject— other than a July 2008 subcommittee hearing in which it appears that the BoP director was not fully forthcoming on the CMU36. Letters here are stamped “USP Marion,” not CMU, and the unit is called “I Unit” by staff. (An interesting anecdote: while on transit in Winter 2009, I met men from the FCI here and asked them what they knew about I Unit. Without hesitation, they said, “That’s where the terrorists are.” They informed me this is what BoP Staff routinely told them).
Media queries are met with silence or vague information. Requests by the media to interview me by coming to Marion have been denied— due to it “being detrimental to the safety, security and good order of the institution.”37 There still is no Program Statement on the CMU— a legal requirement, outlining the specific rules of the CMU and its designation criteria.
Because of this, and the general refusal of the BoP to hand over relevant documents through FOIA, it is impossible to determine the specific reasons why one is sent here— and thus, how to contest this process.38 In effect, the CMU was created on the fly, with no eye toward legality; they are free to operate it in whatever manner they choose.
Communication Management (The promotion of isolation and alienation)
The most painful aspect of this unit, to me, is how the CMU restricts my contact with the world beyond these walls. It is difficult for those who have not known prison to understand what a lifeline contact with our family and friends is to us. It is our link to the world— and our future (for those of us who are fortunate enough to have release dates). Prison authorities and architects are well aware that those with strong family ties and in good communication with their loved ones are well behaved and have significantly lower rates of recidivism. The BoP, in theory, recognizes this by claiming they try to situate us within 500 miles of our homes. Mostly, this is a cruel farce for many prisoners— I have not been within 1000 miles of my family in 2 years.
The most Orwellian aspects of the CMU are in how they manage our communications:
A) Telephones- at my previous prison, I was able to use the phones for 300 minutes a month— days, nights, weekends and holidays— basically at any point I was not in my housing unit (6am-10pm). Here, we receive one 15-minute phone call a week. The call can only take place between 8am and 2:30pm, never on weekends or holidays and must be scheduled one and a half weeks in advance (we can choose a back-up number to call but if neither picks up, we don’t get a call).39 The call is live-monitored and recorded. Not only do we receive one fifth of the minutes granted to other federal prisoners but the call is also very trying for our families— all of whom have day jobs and many of whom have children in school. The CMU requires calls be made in English only— a difficult demand considering over half of the men here speak English as a second language (this restriction is not present at other federal prisons).
B) Visits- At FCI Sandstone, I received up to eight visiting days a month (56 hours)— contact visits in which I could embrace my wife, play cards with my nieces and share vending machine food with my visitors. These visits were my lifeline. I got about twelve of them in eight months and it aided in my adjustment to prison.
The CMU restricts our visits to one four-hour non-contract visit a month. One short visit through two inches of plate glass with cameras hanging overhead and my visitors stuffed in a four-and-a-half by three-and-a-half-foot stuffy booth— a tight squeeze for two.40 The visits can only take place on weekdays from 8am-2pm— no more Christmas or thanksgiving visits— and worse, no physical contact (Consider what it would be like to have no contact with your loved ones. What if you couldn’t hug or kiss your lover, partner, wife, husband? What would that do to you?) I find myself riddled with guilt when I ask friends to spend $500 to fly across the country, drive three hours (and repeat) for a four-hour non-contact visit. I’m lucky though, having people who will do this. Many of the men here can’t afford it or don’t want to subject their children to this reality.
C) Mail- We can only send out mail once a day and we cannot visit the mail room to send out packages. We are one-hundred-percent reliant on the one staff person who deals with our mail to do so and sending a box home is a laborious procedure. We must leave our envelopes unsealed so that staff can read, copy, scan and send to whatever other agency studies our correspondence. A letter to NYC takes roughly seven to nine days (which should take five). Letters sent abroad, especially those not written in English, could take a month or more— a common complaint of some of my fellow prisoners.
Staff here has an interesting reading of the rules governing legal mail leading to the charge that they open our legal mail (this is the subject of an administrative remedy I filed with the BoP Central Office in Washington DC). The rule states that the lawyer’s name must be clearly identified and that the envelope must say “Special Mail- Open only in the presence of inmates”41 and yet staff has opened my legal mail that said “Law Offices of Jane Doe” stating that it should have said, “Jane Doe, Attorney at Law”! The staff looks for any reason to disqualify our legal mail as protected and gather intelligence this way. In doing so, they violate the sanctity of the attorney-client confidentiality principle.
Most of my violations have been petty— a package has more than twenty pieces of paper or a friend kindly enclosed stamps. A few instances though amount to censorship and a limiting of political expression and dialogue. See Appendix B for a detailed discussion of these instances.
D) Media Contact- Although requests have been made to interview people in the CMU, none have been granted to date. This is a violation of the spirit of the BoP’s own media policy.42 There is an imperative on the Bureau’s part to control and ultimately suppress information on the CMU from making it to a mass audience.
Daily life at the CMU
Neither one of the two CMUs were built for long-term habitation. The Marion CMU was the site of the Secure Housing Unit (SHU), the USP that closed here in 2005. Terre Haute’s CMU is in “D-wing”— the site of the former federal death row.
The CMU was seemingly converted to its current use with the addition of televisions, steel tables, and new wiring and yet it is not suitable for long-term use due to its “open cell” design (i.e. with bars). With twenty-five prisoners, our movements are restricted to two housing ranges (hallways about one hundred by twelve feet); a recreation range where we also eat (consisting of seven cells with a computer, typewriter, barber shop, religious library, social library, art room and recreational equipment); and a small rec yard (all concrete, a lap equals one-eighteenth of a mile, four cages with two basketball hoops, one handball court, a weather awning with tables and some sit-up benches). We are lucky to be visited daily by a resident bird population of doves and blackbirds, and overhead, the occasional hawk or falcon (Ironically, as I write this, I overhear warnings from staff that if we continue to feed the birds, we will receive violations). The appearance of the yard with its cages, concrete, and excessive barbed wire has earned it nickname “Little Guantanamo” (of course a punitive unit with seventy-five percent Muslims also contributes to the name as well).
The conditions here are not dire— in fact, the horror stories I have heard over the last two years have convinced me it is far worse at many prisons and yet, I believe it is important to be descriptive and accurate— to dispel fears (about violence, for instance) but also to demonstrate just how different life is for us at the CMU.
There are many things we lack here that other prisons in the federal system have to offer:
1- A residential drug/alcohol program— despite at least one person here having completion of it ordered by the court.
2- Enough jobs for the prisoners here- There is not nearly enough jobs for all the men here and most are extremely low paying.
3- UNICOR- This is Federal Prison Industries which has shops at many federal prisons (including this one outside the CMU). These jobs pay much more, allow men to pay their court fees, restitution and child support and, as the BoP brags, teaches people job skills.
4- Adequate educational opportunities- Until recently, we did not have GED or vocational programs. Due to inmate pressure and persistence, we now have both of those as well as a few prisoner-taught classes but no college courses at all.
5- Access to staff on a daily basis— At other federal prisons, you are able to approach staff members at lunch every day, including the Warden. Here, we get (at most) two quick walk-throughs a week, usually taking place early in the morning. You are often left waiting days to resolve a simple question.
6- Law library access- We have a very small law library here with only twenty-five percent of the books required by law. We can only request books twice weekly and those are only delivered if the other nine hundred prisoners at the adjacent Medium are not using them. We lack Federal Court and Supreme Court reports as well as books on Immigration Law (fifty percent or more of the men here face deportation). This lack of access makes for an arduous and ineffective research path.
7- Computers- We have four computers for our email system (two for reading, one for printing and one that we were told would be for legal but it still isn’t working. Unlike my previous prison, where we had forty computers with a robust computer-class program, or like other prisons that teach a vocational computer course, we have no such thing.
8- Access to general population- Being in an isolation unit makes for a situation in which we cannot have organized sports leagues and tournaments due to not having enough people at all. This may not seem crucial but sports are a very useful diversion from the stress of prison life and separation.
After reading the preceding sections, perhaps like me you are wondering what really is the purpose of the CMU. In short, the CMU is Florence ADX-LITE for those men whose security points are low and present no real problems to staff. From my interactions with the men here, I can say with certainty, that people here are remarkably well-behaved and calm— many without any disciplinary violations. If these men, like myself, don’t get in trouble, and have been in the system for some time, why are we here? Consider my case.
My short time in prison prior to coming to the CMU consisted of two months at MDC Brooklyn and eight months at FCI Sandstone. I had never gotten in trouble and spent my days as a clerk in psychology, working toward a Master’s degree, reading, writing and exercising. My goal was to get closer to home and my loved ones. In April 2008, I filed a “hardship transfer” request due to my mother’s illness and her inability to travel to Minnesota to visit me. I had my team meeting, and my security points were lowered. Weeks later, I was moved to the CMU.
The irony is that I was moved to the CMU to have my communication managed, but what changed in that one year to justify this move? If I was a danger, then why did the BoP house me in a low-security prison? The same applies to many of the men here— some have been in general population for twenty years and then suddenly a need to manage their communication is conjured up. During my pre-CMU time, I had used 3500 phone minutes and sent hundreds of letters. If there was a problem with my communication, shouldn’t the BoP have raised this with me? My notice stating their rationale for placing me here attributed it to me “being a member and leader in the ELF and ALF” and “communicating in code.”43 But if this is true, then shouldn’t I have been sent to the CMU as soon as I self-reported to prison in July 2007?
The CMUs were crafted and opened under the Bush administration as some misguided attempt to be tough on the “war on terror”. This unit contains many prisoners from cases prosecuted during the hyper-paranoid and over-the-top period after 9/11 and the passage of the USA Patriot Act.44 The number of prosecutions categorized as terrorism-related more than doubled to reach 1,200 in 2002.45 It seemed that every other week, there was some plot uncovered by overzealous FBI agents— in Lackawanna, NY, Miami, FL, Portland, OR, and Virginia and elsewhere (never mind the illegal wiretaps and unscrupulous people used in these cases). These cases may not be headlines anymore but these men did not go away— they were sent to prison and, when it was politically advantageous for Bush, transferred to the CMUs. The non-Muslim populations of these units (although definitely picked judiciously) were sent there to dispel charges that the CMUs were exclusively Muslim units.
The codified rationale for all prisoners being transferred here are “contact with persons in community require heightened control and reviews”46 and “your transfer to this facility for greater communication management is necessary to the safe, secure, and orderly function of Bureau institutions…”. Should an increase in monitoring of communication mean a decrease in privileges? If the goal is to manage our contact with the outside world, shouldn’t the BoP hire enough staff so that we can maintain the same rights and privileges as other prisoners (since the party line is that we are not here for punishment)? The reality is the conditions, segregation, lack of due process and such are punishment regardless of whether the BoP admits it or not.
Where to from here, then? Does the new President and his Attorney General take issue with segregation? Will Obama view the CMU, as he did with Guantanamo Bay, as a horrible legacy of his predecessor and close it? Many people are hopeful for an outcome like that. On April 7th, 2009, Mr. Obama, while in Turkey, said, “The United States will not make war on Islam,” and that he wanted to “extend the hand of friendship to the Muslim world.”47 While that sounds wonderful, what does that look like in concrete terms? Will he actualize that opinion by closing the CMU? Or will he marry the policy of Bush and condone a secret illegal set of political units for Muslims and activists? What of the men here? Will he transfer us back to normal prisons and review the outrageous prosecutions of many of the CMU detainees? If it can be done with (former) Senator Ted Steven’s case, it can be done here.
While lawsuits have been filed in both Illinois and Indiana federal courts, what is needed urgently is for these units to be dragged out into the open. I am asking for your help and advocacy in dealing with this injustice and the mindset that allows a CMU to exist. Please pursue the resource section at the end of this article and consider doing something. I apologize for the length of this piece— it was suggested to me (by people way smarter than myself) that it would be best to start from the beginning and offer as many details as possible. I hope I gave you a clearer idea of what’s going on here. Thank you for all your support and love— your letters are a bright candle in a sea of darkness.
In struggle, with love, Daniel McGowan
PO Box 1000
Marion, IL 62959
I read two passages below while writing this article. They fit well here:
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest...But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” — Nelson Mandela
*I read once, perhaps in 9th grade English, that “no man [sic] is an island”. If anything I have learned that over the last four years! Eternal gratitude and love to my wife, partner and best friend Jenny, for everything. My family, friends and community have been there for me unfailingly— especially the NYC crew. Special thanks to Josh Raisler Cohn, Matt Strugar, Lauren Reagan and Rachel Meeropol for their endless legal advocacy, analysis of the CMU and friendship. Of course, thank you to all the CMU prisoners for feedback and the laughs.
Appendix A: Marion CMU Demographic
Number of prisoners = 26
Organized by race/national origin
Appendix B: Mail Violation Examples
In October 2008, I received a mail violation for the Jericho Movement’s Freedom Times – a newspaper by and about the political prisoner support organization. At various levels, I was informed it was rejected either due to its ‘divisive’ nature or because it contained articles about other inmates. The BoP’s faulty logic was that reading these articles would contribute to the “detriment of security, safety & good order of the institution.” (original mail violation, October 2008.)
The divisiveness argument is an interesting one given that I receive (and the unit receives) what may easily be defined as 'divisive' articles in the op-ed/editorial pages of the NY Times, USA Today and Chicago Tribune. There are point-counter-point lambasting of Congress and the President and extreme conservative/religious perspectives represented in these screeds.(e.g. against abortion, casting queer people as sinners etc). But for some reason, the BoP allows these publications in and deems them relevant to a safe and acceptable dialogue.
My assumption about the articles in the Freedom Times (I still haven’t yet seen it) is that Jericho is critical of the BoP and the prison industrial complex that exists in this country (Currently housing 2.3 million people in prisons/jails and 5 million on probation/parole, leading to the sick statistic that 1 in 31 US adults are under criminal supervision. See the Pew Center's website & reports for more info. Also, the Jericho Movement argues forcefully yet legally that there are political prisoners in US prisons and demands their amnesty (I was granted PP status by Jericho in 2007). In denying me this newspaper, they are actually cutting me off from a base of support. In the past 8 months, I have received other articles and newspapers that contain articles by/about other prisoners but they take place in the context of safe/acceptable mainstream publications, not newspapers that criticize the BoP, prisons and that argue for the release of political prisoners.
Another example. On 4/15/09, I received a mail violation for the publication Rolling Thunder by the Crimethinc Ex-Worker's Collective. It was denied based on "violence” depicted on roughly 11 pages. It’s ironic that I can receive any number of corporate newspapers detailing the riots at the April 2009 NATO protests in Strasborg, France, the G20 protest in London and police overreactions and violence at last summer's DNC and RNC mobilizations. The reason is the mainstream publications are “objective,” while Crimethinc's publication "encourages or promotes violence". Crimethinc is being held to an extreme level of scrutiny based on their obvious radical beliefs and unflinching support of myself and other ecological and animal rights prisoners.
The overall effect of these mail violations is a furthering of the alienation processes that the CMU engenders. On some level, I am quite clueless about what is happening in our movement(s) and on the streets, and have to rely way too much on mainstream and shallow sources of news (a point made by Rob Thaxton, ironically, in a past copy of Rolling Thunder).
Resources *YOU can educate yourself on the CMU!*
Articles / Media
1. “Little Guantanamo – Secret 'CMU' prisons designed to restrict communication of jailed Muslims and activists with outside world.” Democracy Now, 4/17/09.
2. “Secretive US Prison Units to house Muslim, Animal Rights & Environmental Activists” by Will Potter. greenisthenewred.com, 4/14/09.
3. “Daniel McGowan – Another victim in ‘War on Terror’” by Stephen Lendman. sjlendman.blogspot.com, April 2009.
4. “Guantanamo at Home – terrorist suspects are held in US prisons on dubious evidence under inhumane conditions” by Jeanne Theoharis. The Nation, 4/20/09.
5. “The View from Here” column by Carl Strock. Schenectady Daily Gazette. www.dailygazette.com
6. “Terrorist Prison – Eco-activist sent to secretive new prison” by Camilla Mortenson, Eugene Weekly, 12/04/08.
7. “Dr. Rafil A Dhafir at Terre Haute prison’s new communication management unit” by Katherine Hughes. Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, 6/18/07.
8. “Facility holding terrorism inmates limits communication” by Dan Eggen, Washington Post, 2/25/07.
9. “Documents show secretive US prison program isolating Muslim, Middle Eastern prisoners” by Jennifer Van Bergen. the raw story (online blog), 2/16/07.
Weblinks - Prisoners at the CMU
www.supportdaniel.org, www.supportdaniel.org/cmu (specific CMU info)
www.dhafirtrial.net (has CMU info)
Civil Liberties Defense Center – www.cldc.org
Center for Constitutional Rights – www.ccrjustice.org
National Lawyers Guild – www.nlg.org
Nuclear Resister – www.nuclearresister.org
ACLU National Prisoner Project – www.aclu.org/prisons
*You can contact your elected officials and demand they shut the CMU down*
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Attorney General Eric Holder
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530
Also, www.senate.gov and www.house.gov (type in your address to get your rep's contact}
Ask other Organizations for their support!
*You can contact human rights groups and urge hem to address the CMU and join legal efforts to close it. Please be polite.*
1. Human Rights Watch - www.hrw.org
2. Amnesty International - www.amnestyusa.org
3. Stop MAX coalition - www.afsc.org/stopmax
*The following organizations signed a letter opposing the "limited communication for terrorist inmates' policy the BoP tried to pass a few years back. Contact them and let them know that plan was indeed put forth in the form of the CMU and urge them to address it.
1. Center for National Security Studies - www.cnss.org
2. Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico - presospoliticospuertorriquenos.org
3. DC Prisoners' Legal Services Project -www.washlaw.org/projects/dcprisoners_rights/default.htm
4. FLA Institutional Legal Services - (352) 375-2494
5. Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project - (847) 328 1543
6. Legal Aid Society - www.legal-aid.org
7. Office of Public Defender-Maryland - www.opd.state.md.us
8. The Multiracial Activist - www.multiracial.com
9. National Boricua HR Network - boricuahumanrights.org
10. NW Constitutional Rights - (503) 295-6400
11. Penal Reform International - www.penalreform.org
12. People’s Law Office - www.peopleslawoffice.com
13. Prison Legal News - www.prisonlegalnews.org
14. Sylvia Rivera Law Project - www.srlp.org
15. Prisoners' Legal Services of New York - www.plsny.org
16. Uptown People’s Law Center - (773) 769-1411
*You can contact the media and request they investigate and expose the CMUs. Letters to the Editors and op-eds are good ways of doing this.* Some outlets:
The New York Times – www.nytimes.com
LA Times - www.latimes.com
The Washington Post - www.washingtonpost.com
Seattle Times - seattletimes.nwsource.com
San Francisco Chronicle - www.sfgate.com
The Oregonian - www.oregonlive.com/oregonian
Indianapolis Star - www.indystar.com
The New Yorker - www.newyorker.com
Newsweek - www.newsweek.com
CNN – www.cnn.com
BBC - www.bbc.co.uk
MSNBC - www.msnbc.msn.com
Chicago Tribune - www.chicagotribune.com
USA Today - www.usatoday.com
Houston Chronicle – www.chron.com
Boston Globe - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/
Village Voice - www.villagevoice.com
Hartford Courant - www.courant.com
Pacifica Radio - www.pacifica.org
National Public Radio – www.npr.org
Counterpunch - www.counterpunch.org
Prison Legal News - www.prisonlegalnews.org
Mother Jones - www.motherjones.com
Utne Reader - www.utne.com
Z Magazine - www.zmag.org/zmag
Upping the Anti - uppingtheanti.org
The Indypendent - www.indypendent.org
Your local pirate radio station - (US list)
1 As an introduction, for those unfamiliar with my case. I am serving an 84-month sentence in federal prison for arson & conspiracy for my role in 2 arsons claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in 2001. I left the group in 2001, was indicted 12/7/05, pleaded to a non-cooperative plea agreement in 2006 & reported to prison in 7/07. I received a 'federal crime of terrorism' enhancement, 3 years of probation and 1.9 million USD in restitution. I am set for release on 6/2013.
2 0n the way to the CMU, I received a grand jury subpoena from Wisconsin. I refused to answer questions at the grand jury, was held in civil contempt for 8 days and, before my appeal made it to court, was released due to an indictment having been issued. That case has since been resolved with 3 plea agreements. More info can be found at http://www.cldc.org
3 Memorandum in Opposition to the Application of Terrorism Enhancement. US vs. McGowan, CR 06-60124-AA. Filed May 4, 2007.
4 "Facility holding terrorism inmates limits communication" Dan Eggen, Washington Post, 2/25/07.
5 We are 'prisoners.’ 'Inmate' is the authorities’ word for us.
6 Eggen article.
7 Much of the early information on the CMUs was due to the writings of Dr. Rafil Dhafir and the two articles cited in the 'Resources' section by Eggen/Van Bergen.
8 Testimony of Harley G. Lappin before House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce Justice, Science and Related Agencies. 110th Congress. July 2008.
9 Based on observations of men who were at FCI Terre Haute.
10 Institutional Supplement # MAR-5321.07A, November 13, 2008. CMU.
11 Unpublished paper written by Josh Raisler Cohn. 2008.
12 Lappin testimony before Congressional Subcommittee.
13 These movements include environmental, animal rights, tax resistors, white separatists, Muslim charities etc.
14 In my case, I ask 'deter from what'? At the time of my arrest, I was in acupuncture school, long divorced from ELF and focused on prisoner support, environmental justice and combating domestic violence.
15 Unpublished paper by Josh Raisler Cohn, pp8.
16 Dr. Richard Korn, 'Report on the Effects of Confinement in the Lexington High Security Unit.’ August 25, 1987, pp19-20.
17 Unpublished paper by Josh Raisler Cohn.
19 See http://www.shac7.com for background on that case
20 December 18, 2008 & March 10, 2009 letters from attorneys Matthew Strugar and Lauren Regan to FOIA/Privacy Act Section of BoP Office of General Counsel.
21 Blacks' Law Dictionary, Third pocket edition. Bryan A. Garner (ed).2006. p228.
22 BoP Transfer Order for D McGowan, April 2008.
23 'Notice to 1nmate of Transfer to Communication Management Unit' dated 9/3/08 signed by Lisa J. W. Hollingsworth and J.S. Wilson.
24 The '18 months of clear conduct’ is standard at all federal prisons yet no one here expects to receive a transfer on that date for reasons I will explore.
25 Code of Federal Regulation, 2 CFR 541 and Subpart D-Control Units
27 Admissions & Orientation Handbook, USP Marion CMU, Revised June 2008.
28 BoP Docket No. 1135-P RIN 1120-AB35, 71 Fed. Reg. 16520-16525 (April 3, 2006).
30 Coalition Letter to Bureau of Prisons re: Suppression of Prisoner Contacts, June 2006.
31 Van Bergen article.
32 -Title 5 USCC 551.
33 Jayyousi v. Mukasey, Lappin. Case 08-21310-civ-Cooke. Southern District of Florida-Miami.
34 Institutional Supplement USP Marion CMU.
35 Although it is called 'USP Marion', the USP closed in 2005 and the prison consists of a camp and a medium (the CMU being inside the medium).
36 Lappin testimony to Congressional Subcommittee.
37 Letter to Dean Kuipers, October 2008. Signed by Warden Hollingsworth.
38 This occurred despite President Obama's decision to release documents through FOIA at a higher pace than his predecessor.
39 'Reexamine Prison Unit for Muslims" by Carl Strock, Daily Gazette. 3/15/09.
40 The two I refer to are not out of the 'average' in size either-one 5 ft 11, the other 5 ft 6 and both slim.
41 28 CFR 540.18 Special Mail
42 Program Statement #1480.05,9/21,2000, News Media Contacts.
43 from ‘Notice to Inmate of Transfer to CMU'
44 personal observation
45 Josh Raisler Cohn unpublished article. Cited from "How many Terrorists are There. The Escalation in So-Called Terrorism Prosecution." 16 Fed.Sent.R.38., pp.7 WL23269270 October 1, 2003.
46 from ‘Notice to Inmate of Transfer to CMU'
47 “US 'is not and will never be at war with Islam,’ Obama says” by Richard Wolf, USA Today, 4/7/09.
2012-12-23 "(Washignton DC)--Benefit for Daniel McGowan--January 20, 6pm" update from Family & Friends of Daniel McG [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Friends, If you live in DC, have friends or family there, please come out to this show. Catharsis is one of Daniel's favorite all time bands and while he cannot attend the show, you can!
Brief update: Daniel is doing really since he came home on Decembe 11th. He is working full time as a receptionist/paralegal for a progressive law firm, catching up with family and friends
and coming home on weekend visits.
Please forward this email if you can to dc friends and lists.
Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan
"Nevermind the Inauguration: A Punk-Rock Counter Inaugural Ball & Festival of Resistance"
Sunday - January 20th
Workshops & Films 12pm-4pm (Free Entry)
Show doors 6pm
Catharsis (One of three reunion shows of the influential 90's hardcore punk band.)
Magrudergrind (D.C. Grindcore, 10 Year Anniversary Show!)
2 More TBA
The Warehouse [645 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001]
$15 -- to Benefit Political Prisoners and Fund Grassroots Defense of Civil Liberties:
* Rosenberg Fund for Children - The Rosenberg Fund for Children was started by Robert Meeropol, who was orphaned at age six when his parents, Ethel & Julius Rosenberg, were executed at the height of the McCarthy Era. The Rosenberg Fund for Children has awarded millions of dollars to benefit hundreds of children in the U.S. whose parents have been targeted because of their involvement in progressive movements including the struggles to preserve civil liberties, wage peace, safeguard the environment, combat racism and homophobia , and organize on behalf of workers, prisoners, immigrants and others whose human rights are under threat. For more information: http://www.rfc.org/
* Welcome Home Fund for Daniel McGowan. Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice activist who was indicted in federal court on15 counts of arson and conspiracy, relating to the arson of Superior Lumber company in Glendale, Oregon on January 2, 2001, and Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Oregon on May 21, 2001, claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). McGowan was facing a minimum of life in prison if convicted when he accepted a non-cooperation plea agreement, pleading guilty on November 9, 2006. His arrest is part of what the US government has dubbed Operation Backfire and what activists have labeled the Green Scare. He was released from prison on December 11, 2012 to live in a half-way house in NYC to begin his transition out of the penal system. We are raising funds to help in making Daniel's transition a smooth one. He will need to purchase everything from groceries to a new computer to clothes that fit him (he's lost about 30 pounds!). For more information: [http://www.supportdaniel.org]
2011-10-26 "Daniel on Huffington Post, CMU" update from Family & Friends of Daniel McG [email@example.com]:
Daniel shares his thoughts on "If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" for Huffington Post in
"Live from Little Guantanamo / A Conversation with Daniel McGowan Inspired by the film, If A Tree Falls". Read the interview here: [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-mcgowan/live-from-little-guantana_b_1023094.html].
The award-winning documentary, If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front [http://www.ifatreefallsfilm.com/], premiered at Sundance last spring and continues to screen in theaters across the globe. The film, which aired on PBS earlier this fall and is now available on DVD, details the events that led to the imprisonment of environmental activist Daniel McGowan and raises critical questions about ecological crisis, terrorism, and government repression of political activists.
Those who see If A Tree Falls are likely to be left with a number of lingering questions. How is Daniel doing now? When will he be released from prison? What does he think of the movie? Daniel, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence in the Communications Management Unit at FCI Terre Haute in Indiana, answered some of these questions and others in the following interview about the film, prison life, and his thoughts about the future.
This month, Members of Congress wrote to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) with questions and concerns about the policies and practices at the Communications Management Units (CMUs), and the circumstances under which they were established. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released the following statement in response [http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/members-of-congress-send-letter-of-inquiry-bureau-of-prisons-over-cmu-experimental-prison-units]:
“We are pleased that Representative Scott and Members of the House of Representatives have issued this Letter of Inquiry to the Bureau of Prisons outlining their concerns regarding the extraordinary communications restrictions, the lack of due process, and the disproportionate number of Muslims in the CMUs.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and CAIR met with members of Congress to brief them on the issue, and we commend them for standing up for justice.
We look forward to seeing the BOP’s response to this inquiry, and we will continue to hold the BOP accountable as long as they isolate prisoners in experimental units.”
For a copy of the letter, go here [http://ccrjustice.org/congressional-letter-bop-regarding-cmus]. Then tell the Department of Justice to uphold due process and fair treatment at www.ccrjustice.org/cmu-action.
"The OMFG Daniel McGowan is Coming Home Benefit Booksale!!!" update from Family & Friends of Daniel McG [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
WHAT: 7th (and LAST!!!) Annual Benefit Book Sale for Daniel McGowan
WHEN: 11am to 7pm, Saturday, September 29th, 2012 [rain date: Sunday, September 30]
WHERE: Bedford Ave & N 6th St (NE corner), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211
COST: There will be books priced for any budget
Friends and supporters,
We are writing to announce our FINAL Benefit Book Sale for Daniel McGowan!!!
Daniel is going to halfway house in December which is wonderful news. However, he is not out of the woods yet. This booksale is your chance to help with prison expenses such as overpriced phone calls, legal debt, and prison necessities as well as the expenses of transitioning back to life on the outside-- the car ride back to New York, rent, clothes that might fit him now, and all the other little things that he'll need to live halfway in, halfway out of the criminal injustice system. Prisoner support does not end with release but this will most likely be the last booksale to happen in support of Daniel while he's in prison. We've had great success and good times with these book sales in the past and with your help, this last one will be EPIC.
On Saturday, September 29th, Book Thug Nation and Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan will be having an all-day book sale to raise money for Daniel's legal defense, commissary, and coming home fund. The sale will be held at the Book Thug Nation book tables on Bedford Avenue and North 6th Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Along with great books at inexpensive prices, there will be music, a table with Daniel t-shirts, merchandise and literature and maybe even some free food! If you can’t make it to the book sale, please consider donating to Daniel today (http://tiny.cc/danieldonation).
To make the sale happen we NEED your book donations-- preferably ahead of time. Please see the list of guidelines below for what to donate. The best way to donate is to bring your books to the Book Thug Nation storefront at 100 North 3rd Street (between Berry and Wythe Streets) from 12-9pm any day before the sale. Please be sure to tell whoever is working that the books are specifically for the Daniel McGowan Benefit Sale. You can also bring books to North 6th Street and Bedford Avenue the morning of September29th or contact email@example.com to make specific arrangements for donating.
BOOKS WE WANT:
Contemporary and Classic Literary Fiction (e.g. Murakami, Nabokov, Plath, Safran Foer, Hemingway, Didion, Poe, Bolano, et cetera)
Non Fiction on topics such as:
* Women's Studies
* African American
* Eastern Religion
* Alternative Health/Nutrition
* Dictionaries and Thesauruses (these books will be donated directly to NYC Books Through Bars)
Books we DON'T want:
* Pulp fiction (a.k.a drug store paperbacks, best-sellers, e.g. Danielle Steele, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, Tom Clancy, et cetera)
* Cook Books
* Self Help
Books that aren't sold on the day of the sale will be held for future benefits or donated to NYC Books Through Bars.
Brought to you by Book Thug Nation, bookthugnation.com
THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE to donate books before Daniel come home, so DO IT!
Thanks for your continued support of Daniel!
Posted by Northbay Uprising Radio at 11:49 PM