This morning, environmental activist Daniel McGowan was taken back to jail despite his exemplary parole record, presumably in retaliation for his recent article on the secretive Communications Management Units the US prison system uses to silence political prisoners.
Daniel’s article cites court documents confirming that, during his incarceration for environmentally motivated direct action, Daniel was moved to a CMU to punish him for expressing his political views. Despite first facing the threat of a life sentence, and then serving years in the CMU with very little contact with the outside world, Daniel has never cooperated with efforts to incriminate other activists, nor ceased to speak his mind. The US government is determined to make an example of Daniel for this. We too might hold him up as an example, showing that no amount of threats and coercion can break the spirit of a person determined to stand up to oppression.
There are two and a half million people in prison in the US, more than there were in the gulags at the height of Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union. As in the Soviet Union, the authorities do everything they can to keep this population invisible: to prevent them from communicating with the rest of society so most people never learn how much violence and coercion are necessary to maintain this social order.
We should respond to attempts to silence Daniel and others like him by listening to what they have to say about what is going on in America’s prisons–and by doing our part to make it impossible for the authorities to silence anyone.
Daniel’s original article from within the CMU, “Tales from Inside the US Gitmo”
Our overview of Operation Backfire, in which Daniel was arrested, “Green Scared?”
Daniel’s attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights just released this statement:
Daniel McGowan has been released from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where he was taken into custody yesterday and is back at the halfway house where he has been residing since his release from prison in December. Yesterday, Daniel was given an “incident report” indicating that his Huffington Post blog post, “Court Documents Prove I Was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for My Political Speech,” 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. After we brought this to the BOP’s attention, the incident report was expunged.