February 08, 2004

Feds Want List Of War Protest Atendees?

Feds win right to war protesters' records via Metafilter

This is downright scary.

In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.

...Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas.

...The targets of the subpoenas believe investigators are trying to link them to an incident that occurred during the rally. A Grinnell College librarian was charged with misdemeanor assault on a peace officer; she has pleaded innocent, saying she simply went limp and resisted arrest.

At best, this is an overly broad and far-reaching ruling for a minor offense. If it's about resisting arrest, well, let's face it, that's not hard to prosecute without getting a list of anyone who was gathered at earlier meetings. If nothing else, it's not what you'd call a reason for subpoenaing the entire crowd's names.

At worst, this is a slight reason for making a dangerous precedence for the curtailing of meetings. Not exactly what you'd want for a free society (if you can't gather because you'll be labeled, you can't get organized), not to mention against the First Amendment (right of people to peaceably assemble, which has since the founding been extended to more or less peaceably assemble without being watched.)

Posted by Ted Stevko at February 8, 2004 02:29 PM | TrackBack