There are greater threats to national security, Mr. President, than 20,000 hippies giving the forest a collective hug.
From the June 29 edition of the DenverPost.com
""We're not picking on innocent people," said Denise Ottaviano, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman who came to Steamboat Springs from Washington as part of the task force. "Everyone there is part of an illegal gathering."
“Hundreds of those ticketed are set to appear before a federal magistrate in a makeshift courtroom today. The magistrate, manning the bench in a firehouse a few miles from the gathering site, could impose up to a $5,000 fine and six months of jail time on each defendant.”
"Federal officials contend the gathering is being held illegally, and officers last week began issuing citations to dozens of participants."
"The civil case, filed Tuesday by Denver attorney David Lane, argues that closed hearings on those citations being held in a nearby firehouse violate the Sixth Amendment".
US constitution, 1st Amendment
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
US Constitution 6th amendment
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."
Can someone explain to me what constitutes an “illegal gathering” in this country?
From an e-mail circulating on the subject
"The Bush Administration has spent millions of dollars trying to stop the Rainbow Gatherings. They are enforcing a 'Noncommercial Group Use' permit regulation that is impossible for unaffiliated individuals to comply with. 36 CFR 251.54 They require that that someone sign as an agent for a fictional group entity named as permit Holder -- which then must assume full liability from the Government and bind participants vicariously to its terms."
"By the creed of the gatherings, no one can appoint themselves to such a position. More importantly, such an ad hoc gathering has no legal capacity to designate agents or act as a group party in any way."
So there is the “legal” issue. Do I need to re-quote the constitution? I haven’t tracked down the law in question to verify its contents, but it would appear to be a pro-forma permit requirement of little real consequence… until now.
Last tally I heard was that over 500 people had been ticketed and that those ticketed were herded into makeshift detention centers and tried in a local fire station without adequate legal representation.
This sort of unwarranted and unnecessary conflict does nothing to quell the very real fears of American citizens that their president is abusing his power.
What possible threat does a bunch of tree hugging hippies pose to national security? If they pose no threat to national security, why are we spending a bazillion dollars arresting them?
A bunch of hippies is going to look after the forest in the same way that a bunch of devout Catholics will be respectful of St Peter’s Basillica. Of all citizens who gather in the forest in summer, these are the ones who present least threat of all.
This same non-cohesive gathering of The Rainbow Family has been meeting in national forests for 30 years without causing a major fire, or even leaving a major mess. That’s an impressive track record.
From the same e-mail.
"The Forest Service requires that a permit be applied for in advance of the gathering. And they use any excuse possible to deny a permit application when we [Rainbow Gathering] manage to submit one. This year their denial was based on the fact that a logging company had a permit to log in a nearby parcel of the national forest, even though there is no logging activity present whatsoever. The site is far remote from any inhabitants -- but still the Forest Service is all over our case."
"Millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent to block this harmless gathering from taking place."
So, here is the situation that the Federal Government is faced with.
A group has requested permission to gather in a national forest. The group has no designated authority; such authority is antithetical to the group’s nature. It is better described as a gathering than a group. This gathering is perhaps 20,000 people or so, it is a BIG gathering.
These people can’t sign a liability guarantee due to the nature of the gathering.
Looking at the track record of this gathering, they have been meeting for 30 years in National Forests, in summer, without lasting harm to the forest or to the surrounding communities.
A logging company has a permit that includes the parcel of forest near to the gathering, but is not being actively logged during the timeframe of the gathering. Basically, the logging is a non-issue, though the company should be advised of the presence and duration of the gathering.
So, we can let these people gather, as is their constitutional right, and we can waive liability guarantee based on the group’s track record of responsible behaviour, or we can spend a gazillion dollars rounding them up and ticketing them because their paperwork is not in order.
Guess which course of action our federal government has taken. Yep, you guessed it, our tax dollars are being spent rounding up and arresting, detaining, and charging hippies, because they want to gather together and hug some trees.
The fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party should be spitting nails about this. This is a very expensive show of force that serves no useful purpose.
The trillion dollar deficit continues to grow, our liberties continue to be eroded, and the republicans are sitting around their campfire singing “kum-ba-ya… He’s not doing it to us, M’ Lord, so we don’t care”
These are not the actions of an administration that is watching out for its citizens, these are the actions of an administration bullying a marginal group of citizens in an attempt to prove how tough it is.
I thought this country was founded by people who wanted something better than this.
Any administration, Republican or Democrat, that rounds up an orderly gathering of innocent people; which then detains and charges them without adequate legal representation on charges of insufficient paperwork, needs to be watched very carefully indeed, for these are actions befitting a tyrant…
I wonder if the Germans were singing a similar song in the 30’s as their democratically elected government led them down the path of tyranny.?
How does it go now?
“He’s not doing it to us, M’ Lord, so we don’t care”