In my last post, I told of what Sarah Smith, one of the Americans target by the Justice Department, had told the audience including me when she appeared in my town last Sunday.
The reason for the subpoena served to her appears to be that she traveled to the occupied territories of Palestine. Her description of the events of the trip were those of a typical tourist to a distant land, nothing more, but that hasn't stopped the fishermen at the Justice Department.
What her lawyer, Michael Deutsch, had to say about the grand jury system was the truly frightening part of the presentation. See if you don't agree that there is reason to fear your government when it has the power I am about to describe based on what Mike said.
Gun control opponents fear the danger to freedom of actions the government MIGHT take on gun ownership. The grand jury process is a power the government has right now and you as an American citizen like Sarah Smith are subject to it.
According to Michael Deutsch, the grand jury idea comes from English common law. It was created to protect the individual from false charges. If a person was accused of something, a panel of his/her fellow citizens would be convened to hear evidence and determine if there were, in fact, good reason to believe the charges. If so, this grand jury would then recommend prosecution and if not, the accused would be free of the taint of illegality.
This sounds like a good idea and it was written into the bill of rights with the protection of the individual in mind. In practice it has never worked as intended, being abused almost from the day it took force.
The government has seized the process, taking control of it for the purpose of forcing free citizens to testify whether they want to or not. This is done so that what we call a "fishing expedition" can be conducted. Without being able to establish a case, but wishing it could do so, the government sends out subpoenas to people that it believes might say something to give leads that will allow criminal prosecutions to take place.
This is done without necessarily any knowledge of criminal activity or any knowledge of any activity. I got the impression that there are no rules restraining the government from calling a grand jury.
Once the members of the grand jury are collected, they are coached by government people on what questions to ask of those who have received subpoenas to appear before them. It isn't a matter of the jury deciding for themselves what to ask, they are only a tool for government fishing.
What's so bad about this? Can't you receive a subpoena and refuse to testify? Yes, you can, and that is what all of those who have been served with subpoenas along with Sarah Smith are doing. But there is a danger in this. You can be imprisoned (and this has happened) for refusing to testify. So much for your freedom when you must speak or go to jail.
Not only must you speak, you must answer every question asked of you in full. If you don't you can be brought up on charges of lying to the grand jury.
What about using the fifth amendment that protects a person from self-incrimination? No, under the grand jury system you cannot "take the fifth" but are compelled to answer everything you are asked. Originally, whatever you said could not be used against you - you were given immunity from any criminal charges related to what you told the grand jury. But even this protection has withered away under relentless government pressure and Supreme Court decisions.
As it stands today, the actual words you speak to the grand jury cannot be used against you but you can be charged with a crime revealed by what you say. You might want to read that again. If you end up in court as the accused, no, the exact words you spoke cannot be quoted, that's all. Some protection, huh?
Say you are called in to testify to a grand jury. Do you want to reveal anything and everything you know about your friends? Do you want to tell the grand jury the names of everyone you met over a certain period, every place you visited, every detail of every discussion you had? You are not permitted to ask why the information is needed - that's none of your business, yet every detail of your private life can be the grand jury's business!
Isn't this incredible in the United States of all places!? The grand jury system has been so abused that every other country that had it has eliminated it, but not the U.S.
A handout at the meeting where Sarah Smith spoke was a copy of a subpoena. It begins with this phrase in capital letters: YOU ARE COMMANDED TO BRING WITH YOU THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENT(S) OR OBJECT(S). Is this acceptable wording from a government to free citizens who are not accused of anything?
So what will happen to Sarah and the others who have been served with a subpoena? They could go to jail or the whole thing could be dropped by the government. What will make a big difference is the attitude of the public. After reading the above, will you sit quietly, say nothing and let the government proceed? Where is your protection against being called to a grand jury?
Don't be silent. Demonstrations are planned. Be sure you turn out for one of them. The date set is January 25th. In Chicago it will take place at the Dirksen Federal Building. You can get full information for this event and others across the country on the same day at StopFBI.net
I will definitely be showing my disapproval on that day. I hope you will too.