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Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen

The war on shapeless terror

There seems to be no rational basis for the arrest of a group of German sociologists, and the case highlights the fragility of our civil liberties.

August 20, 2007 5:45 PM | Printable version

"Terrorism" has two faces. There are real threats and real terrorists, and then again there is a realm of nameless fears, vague forebodings, and irrational responses. The German federal police seem to have succumbed to the latter; on the July 31 2007 they raided the flats and workplaces of Dr Andrej Holm and Dr Matthias B, as well as of two other persons, all engaged in that most suspicious pursuit: committing sociology.

Dr Holm was arrested, flown by helicopter to the German federal court in Karlsruhe and has since been put in (pre-trial) solitary confinement in a Berlin jail. Of course the police may have solid, rational knowledge they are withholding, but their public statements belong more in the realm of farce. Dr Matthias B is alleged to have used, in his academic publications, "phrases and key words" which are also used by a militant group; among these words are "inequality" and "gentrification". The police found it suspicious that meetings took place with German social activists in which our sociologists did not bring their mobile phones; somehow the police deemed this a sign of "conspiratorial behaviour". By an odd twist, though, none of the activists are in jail, only their sociological interviewers.

Germany had, 30 years ago, a terrible time with indisputably violent militant groups and that leaden memory undoubtedly hangs over the police. And it may well be that "gentrification" is a truly terrifying word. But this police action in a liberal democracy seems more likely to fall into Guantánamo mode than genuine counter-espionage. Consider the hapless Dr Matthias B a little further. He's not actually accused of writing anything inflammatory, but seen rather to have the intellectual capability to "author the sophisticated texts" a militant group might require; further, our scholar, "as employee in a research institute has access to libraries which he can use inconspicuously in order to do the research necessary to the drafting of texts" of militant groups, though he hasn't written any. The one solid fact the cops have on Andrej Holm is that he was at the scene of the "resistance mounted by the extreme leftwing scene against the World Economic Summit of 2007 in Heiligendamm," perhaps confused by the fact that he is studying this scene, not stage-managing it.

These are not reasons for Brits, any more than Americans, to cluck in righteous disapproval; in the long, sad history of the IRA in Northern Ireland, reality and fantasy entwined in an ever-tighter cord. But, apart from hoping that our colleague will be freed if only he promises to carry his mobile phone at all times, we are struck by the grey zones of fragile civil liberties and confused state power which this case reveals.

The liberal state is changing. In the 1960s, Germany had the most enlightened rules for refugees and asylum seekers of all European countries, the United States passed the most sensible laws on immigration in its history; France granted automatic citizenship to all those born on its territory - including all Muslims. Today all these countries, in the name of the war on terror, have revised their rules; the state of emergency rules. The laws meant for real threats are invoked to counter shapeless fear; in place of real police work, the authorities want to put a name - any name - to those they should dread. States of emergency are dangerous to the legitimacy of states. In cases conducted like this one, the government stands to lose its authority and so lessens its chances of rooting out and prosecuting actual terrorists.

If our colleagues are indeed dangerous sociologists, they should be prosecuted rationally. But, as in Guantánamo, persecution here seems to have taken the place of prosecution.


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GBR

I too would be suspicious of someone who only had an initial for a surname.

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USA

I have the feeling that there is more to this story than the authors indicate. The only supporting "evidence" they link to is an open letter complaining about the arrests, which they themselves have signed. Additional information is necessary to evaluate their claims.

And the two references to Guantanamo bear no relationship to the events described. They are entirely gratuitous.

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USA

Come now. Until these men come to trial we won't know what evidence the prosecutors have. These fellows have been under surveillance for over a year and the results of that surveillance are certainly not going to be discloed in the indictment. The German government would hardly have proceeded without a convincing case, and I will be completely unsurprised if they possess recordings of the defendants discussing the burning of this or the blowing up of that.

The old radical fringe which produced the RAF and the Baader-Meinhofers is by no means extict in Germany.

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GBR

They're a bit buggered aren't they? Either sociology academics don't do anything much and have sod all effect,and their work no matter how critical or politically motivated, is harmless and without consequences, in which case the four are innocent but worthless, or they are dangerous seditionists...
There's a thesis waiting there for someone in that wee conundrum.

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GBR

sociology academics , if you got rid of every one of them would anyone notice?

I take it for granted that no one would care.

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GBR

AlidairCameron, you cited work about the classification of Indians in Colonial India where you said the British deliberately used religion as a classification as a way of governing the population = do you have any further suggested reading on this, best wishes, Bils.

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CAN

Sounds very bizarre...as the authors note, we may not know what is really behind this situation, but certainly what we know so far seems slightly unhinged...does anyone know where more info about this can be found?

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GBR

They were sociologists. What else do you need ?

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USA

"The police found it suspicious that meetings took place with German social activists "

whoops! you forgot to mention that the " activists " were charged with burning four military vehicles.


Bradan posted

I too would be suspicious of someone who only had an initial for a surname.

Bradan

This undoubtedly raised the suspicions and jealousy of the Generalbundesanwaltschaft and the Strafverfolgungsbehörde der Bundesrepublik which arrested him.

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GBR

There seem to be two attitudes: 1) authority is to be trusted at all times; 2) authority's actions can be questioned. It's pretty clear where most of the posters here so far stand. And slowly down the pluhole goes the freedom dissidents over the centuries have been able to snatch for us.

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GBR

There seem to be two attitudes: 1) authority is to be trusted at all times; 2) authority's actions can be questioned. It's pretty clear where most of the posters here so far stand. And slowly down the plughole goes the freedom dissidents over the centuries have been able to snatch for us.

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USA

"there is a realm of nameless fears, vague forebodings, and irrational responses"

And this realm of nightmares, as the writers note, has been given concrete legal standing in an array of anti-democratic security measures such as preventive and indefinite detention. Holm and B were arrested under section 219a of the criminal code, a provision that allows authorities to hold individuals not on the basis of any act they've committed but on the suspicion that at some time in the future they might break the law.

Couple this power of the state with other national security mechanisms and citizens now face the prospect that in the event of an 'emergency' or 'disturbance' they will be summarily detained and deprived of their civil liberties.

In the US, all of the necessary tools for a dictatorship are already in place: administrative subpoenas, abrogation of posse comitatus, domestic spying, the criminalization of direct dissent, etc. If or when Americans do stand up in large numbers, the state will have everything it needs to repress them.

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""Terrorism" has two faces. There are real threats and real terrorists, and then again there is a realm of nameless fears, vague forebodings, and irrational responses."
Well, if they're anything like the U.K., they've nothing to worry about.
Number of arrests under the terrorism act 2000: 1166
Number of convictions under same act: 40
I think it's safe to say that there's an element of geniune threat, and a whole heap of bullshit, about the 'dangers' to our society from terrorism. A few arrests now and then can be very helpful in maintaining a climate of fear. Meanwhile, you gradually watch your civil rights go down the pan.

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GBR

Herein lies the danger of so much illiberal legislation that is being churned out of the legislature.

Typically wide ranging powers and reduced burdens of proof are combined to confer draconian powers on police and security forces. When legislation is introduced it is legitmated with reference to extreme figures that have featured in news - known terrorist bombers,high profile cases of violent behavour etc. Everyone routinely agrees, we need to be tough on these people, they don't deserve our sympathy. But the legislation introduced is not limited in application to these figures that legitimate it in the public mind.

But on the back of these hated figures legislation is introduced that is applicable to everyone. Think of the figures that presented in the justification of ASBOs and then look at he range of things that ASBOs have actually been used for, thik of anti-terror laws and of pensioners heckling politicians being detained under said laws.

We have been standing by while the state tools itself up with powers that have enormous potential for repression based on the flimsiest of grounds.

Legislation with vague definitions of supporting terrorism opens the way for such Kafkaesque accusations as "having the intellectual ability", "having access to a library".

Whatever the facts of this particualr case turn out to be the dangers are still there.

One measure of a healthy democracy is the extent to which it tolerates radical criticism - the glimpse of the repression of critical debate that this case gives us is chilling and cause for extreme concern.

@Tadlhe "sociology academics , if you got rid of every one of them would anyone notice?
I take it for granted that no one would care."

And who cares about you?

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GBR

do you notice - sociology is a silly job - like knob polisher

opinion is a funny thing - in as much as it is a major human byproduct - especially the encompassing how to fix everything kind - male mostly - but daddy's girls like to stir it up too

so what is it about sociologists - they don't want Porsches maybe - they see to much maybe - they know too much maybe - that in every stuck lift there is 2.4 suiciders - you see even i do it

what is it about sociologists that make them laughable when a hoytee toytee stockbroker is not - damn i revealed my agenda - poo

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GBR

(Off topic, but Bils, for a start try looking for stuff on the 1909 Govt Of India Act, which actually enshrined communalism in law, http://www.houseofdavid.ca/Ind_uni.htm#gon1909 gives a pretty good bibliography)

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Can we broaden that to include social workers as well?

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USA

"There seem to be two attitudes: 1) authority is to be trusted at all times; 2) authority's actions can be questioned. It's pretty clear where most of the posters here so far stand. And slowly down the pluhole goes the freedom dissidents over the centuries have been able to snatch for us."

Nonsense. It's merely a question of waiting until all the facts are available- as they clearly are not- rather than screaming for these chaps' release without any idea what the case against them might be.

"In the US, all of the necessary tools for a dictatorship are already in place:... abrogation of posse comitatus ....the criminalization of direct dissent"

What paranoid websites do you get this stuff from? Could you please cite a source for either (1) the recent use of the regular military for domestic law-enforcement, or (2) any recently-enacted statute which provides for the criminalization of dissenting opinions? (You have also entirely ignored the federal courts and their repeated smackdowns of the Bushies' extravagant claims of executive power).

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LUX

b Guiteau

Comment No. 768035

... Holm and B were arrested under section 219a of the criminal code, a provision that allows authorities to hold individuals not on the basis of any act they've committed but on the suspicion that at some time in the future they might break the law ...


b Section 219a Advertising for Termination of Pregnancy

http://www.iuscomp.org/gla/statutes/StGB.htm#219a

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LUX

b Guiteau

Comment No. 768035

... Holm and B were arrested under section 219a of the criminal code, a provision that allows authorities to hold individuals not on the basis of any act they've committed but on the suspicion that at some time in the future they might break the law ...


b Section 219a Advertising for Termination of Pregnancy

http://www.iuscomp.org/gla/statutes/StGB.htm#219a

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USA

miwild:
thanks for the link and the corrective. I should have said 129a of the criminal code.

solicitor:
anyone who is deemed to hinder the Iraq occupation will have their property confiscated:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/07/20070717-3.html

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 effectively suspends posse comitatus.
Writes the American Conservative:
"Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 changed the name of the key provision in the statute book from "Insurrection Act" to "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act." The Insurrection Act of 1807 stated that the president could deploy troops within the United States only "to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy." The new law expands the list to include "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition"--and such "condition" is not defined or limited."

From the Washington Post:
"[The solicitor general] declared Tuesday that, in the war on terror, the United States is a battlefield, and therefore President Bush has the authority to detain enemy combatants indefinitely in this country."

Just ask Jose Padilla.

There's a lot more out there, solicitor, but I'm not going to do all the work for you.

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GBR

This may be the same Dr. Holm the article refers to (but it's a very common surname):
Prof. Dr. Holm Sundhaussen
h_sundhausen
Institute for East-European Studies

Project Director

Garystr. 55
14195 Berlin

"The project "Accounting for State-Building, Stability and Violent Conflict" (CSCCA) explores the conditions for successful or failed defusing of conflict potential in the Caucasian and Central Asian societies. The analysis is placed within the context of re-emergence of statehood after the collapse of empire. Point of departure of the analysis is the assumption that states with low institutional capacities and scarce provision of public goods are a breeding ground for violent conflicts. Violent conflict, on the other hand, may be a strategy to establish regime stability and thus often accompanies state building processes.

The Project is funded by the Volkswagen Fundation and implemented by the Institute for East-European Studies and the Institute for Social Anthropology of the FU Berlin."

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GBR

@logos00-"...One measure of a healthy democracy is the extent to which it tolerates radical criticism." Agreed.But I think
the true measure of the health of a Democracy is as follows- In a healthy Democracy,the Government fears the people.
In an ailing Democracy the people fear the Government.

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USA

"anyone who is deemed to hinder the Iraq occupation will have their property confiscated:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/07/20070717-3.html"

Ho-hum. Routine freezing of assets of those persons and groups found to be materially supporting terrorism or giving aid and comfort to the enemy. It requires *action*, not opinion; or are you arguing that 'direct dissent' means sending money to Al-Qaeda?


"The National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 effectively suspends posse comitatus.
Writes the American Conservative:
"Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 changed the name of the key provision in the statute book from "Insurrection Act" to "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act." The Insurrection Act of 1807 stated that the president could deploy troops within the United States only "to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy." The new law expands the list to include "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition"--and such "condition" is not defined or limited."

Yawn. The Constitutional provision still controls. Or do you object to sending in troops when the next Katrina hits?

"rom the Washington Post:
"[The solicitor general] declared Tuesday that, in the war on terror, the United States is a battlefield, and therefore President Bush has the authority to detain enemy combatants indefinitely in this country."

Just ask Jose Padilla."

An old, old clipping. Padilla, you might have noticed, was (thanks to the courts) charged, and convicted by a District Court jury. Bush's asserted claim to detention power over US citizens and resident aliens has been firmly blown away. And your complaint is?

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GBR

@anarchyrises- Ah,that well-known terrorist organization,The
Volkswagen Foundation...no wonder they were arrested.

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GBR


http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/

I take the following excerpt from an academic blog quoting the American Sociology Association and others, for the benefit of our American friends in the thread:


"Holm was arrested because his publications contain keywords and phrases, which are also used in the texts written by the Militante Gruppe (especially the term "gentrification"). The warrant also claims that Holm is intellectually capable of authoring the rather sophisticated texts of the militant groups, since he has a PhD in political science. This person is also said to be suspicious because »he works in a research institution and thus has access to libraries, which he can use inconspicuously for doing the research needed to produce the texts of the militant group«.

"After lots of emails the protest against German authorities has become global. The American Sociology Association demands that the Federal Prosecutor immediately release Andrej Holm and the other imprisoned from jail at once:

" We strongly reject the outrageous accusation that the academic research activities and the political engagement of Andrej Holm are to be viewed as complicity in an alleged "terrorist association". No arrest warrant can be deduced from the academic research and political work of Andrej Holm. The Federal Prosecutor, through applying Article § 129a, is threatening the freedom of research and teaching as well as social-political engagement.«

To @Yesterday:

(poignantly sweet song )

The arrest has been denounced by the American Sociology Association and the City University of New York, among others. A taste of things to come? Was Orwell such a prophetical genius? Who coined the phrase "thought police"? Or was it that moralist American, Ray Bradbury, in Fahrenheit 453? Yes, it was the latter's dystopia, a totalitarian world-order, portraying a police force and state-security teams who performed the functions of firemen "à la inverse", trained to burn books (since they could be used by potential terrorists). These Germans do have a feeling for everything "Gothic", don't they? Creating Expressionism and delicious gothic films. Anyway,
Is it @logos00 delicately moaning about the Kafkaean scenario? Orwellian? Raybradburyan? Huxleyan? Or Ira Levin's?

Let's face it: We're doomed, dooo::oomed. Only poetry can save the world now, until it is also censored in the future West.

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USA

No complaints, solicitor, though some surprise. Given your conservative politics I'd think you'd be quite vigilant concerning civil liberties. But I suppose you embrace a sleeker, lighter set of ideas about the government's role in guaranteeing basic rights-- more of a nineelevenchangedeverything vision of the world where things like habeas corpus are expendable and the Geneva Convention is "quaint."

Are you a fan of the Patriot Act as well?

"Yawn. The Constitutional provision still controls. Or do you object to sending in troops when the next Katrina hits?"

As your complacency seems to have made you tired I'll try to keep this tight. The problem isn't necessarily troops but their privatized counterparts. Blackwater mercenaries deputized by the government, such as those sent to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, would likely be less hesitant to use violence or lethal force.

Here's something interesting as well. It's about "clergy reponse teams".

Nighty night.

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USA

Forgot the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRIDNQNsUss

anarchyrises: you saw the article in Tuesday's Guardian as well?

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LKA

---"Nonsense. It's merely a question of waiting until all the facts are available- as they clearly are not- rather than screaming for these chaps' release without any idea what the case against them might be."----

But in a normal society we would know what the charges and much of the evidence is because it would have to be produced before a court which would decide on committal.

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Contrary to the view of that hyper neocon SOLICITOR, the Washington Post reports on the Padilla conviction, which did not take place in D.C. but in that cauldron of right wingerism called Miami:
"Padilla's lawyers charged that during his confinement, he was deprived of sleep, kept in a 9-foot-by-7-foot cell, chained in painful positions and injected with mind-altering drugs. Those conditions left him unable to participate in his own defense, the lawyers said."
In addition:
"It was a patriotic jury that appeared in court with one row of jurors dressed in red, one in white, and one in blue (Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post, August 17, 2007).
It was a jury primed to be psychologically and emotionally manipulated by federal prosecutors desperate for a conviction for which there was little, if any, supporting evidence. For the jury, patriotism required that they strike a blow for America against terrorism. No member of this jury was going to return home to accusations of letting off a person who has been portrayed as a terrorist in the US media for five years."
Finally we should consider that the Padilla case was the way the Bush Justice Department implemented its strategy for taking away the legal principles that protect American citizens. Padilla is an American citizen. He was denied habeas corpus and his rights to an attorney and due process. He was tortured in an attempt to coerce him into self-incrimination. In treating Padilla in these ways, the US Department of Justice (sic) violated both the US Constitution and federal law. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Justice Department committed far more crimes than did Padilla.

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GBR

Well, there's the lesson for those on the left who have supported restrictions on freedom of speech, such as prosecuting nutcase Holocaust deniers and crminalising "religious offence". Once you start down the slippery slope of banning some sorts of speech/expression, you end up getting bitten on the bum yourself when society suddenly finds YOUR opinions objectionable or threatening. Lesson: freedom of speech is for everyone, not just nice cardy-wearing leftists.

"In the 1960s, Germany had the most enlightened rules for refugees and asylum seekers of all European countries, the United States passed the most sensible laws on immigration in its history; France granted automatic citizenship to all those born on its territory - including all Muslims. Today all these countries, in the name of the war on terror, have revised their rules; the state of emergency rules."

Good for them. Britain should follow suit.

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When I first saw the tag line, I made the mistake of 'seeing' that these guys had been arrested for being SCIENTOLOGISTS! What a chump I felt! Must be a social phemomenon - maybe they can study this while waiting for their trial. Do sociologists live that long I wonder?

The problem with this article, and many of the comments, is that there is too much we DON'T know. The examples/reasons apparently given for the arrests do appear like something out of Monty Python, and as usual, it is doubtful that the real truth will ever emerge.

BUT, what is more troubling, is that it seems that even the Germans have caught the 'terror' bug. Makes this part of the world seem absolutely idealic!

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GBR

There is clearly much beneath the surface of what is reported here.

But I do worry about the shift in academic fashions reflected in the apparent persecution and comments about sociology that follow: if I investigate parasites in horse dung, the history of the saxophone, or the comparative style preferences of blue and brown eyed humans, studying for a PhD and beyond, that's ok, but analysing the nature of society, its groupings and institutions are somehow contemptible. Why?

Since Thatcher and before, sociology as a discipline has been sinking while psychology has been rising meteorically. Departments of sociology and social policy are becoming extinct, while every other social scientist, entranced by the beckoning finger of the Forensic God, wants to look within to see what makes the individual tick. Hence the silly career ladders invented by the British Psychological Society to cope with all the wannabe Crackers. Who might earn £20,000 a year by their forties if they're lucky.

Social groups are decidedly out of fashion. Any explanations? Or am I missing something, and all the sociologists have covertly reinvented themselves as geographers?

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The same time Andrej Holm is in jail,
a Nazi mob was beating and chasing 9 Indians through the
streets of Mügeln(East Germany) yesterday.
None of the Nazi is in jail as of today.


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DEU

We do not have much reason to trust our Geheimdienst. For them, we all are potential terrorists, as long as we do not follow their Manichean mindset about terrorism, and as long as we are fundamentally critical about our society and mainstream politics.

More information about the case here:
http://einstellung.so36.net/en/openletter
Good information in English on many pages.

It IS scary. But certainly not for those worthy everyday Fascists who abhor any radical questioning of our society's fairness. 70 years ago they cheered Hitler.

On the other hand, mg is a Communist and violent group which seems to admire (to what extent?) the murderous RAF = Rote Armee Fraktion. They have committed 28 arsen actions since 2001. They do not kill or injure persons, they usually burn parking police and army vehicles. Police calls them "Feierabendterroristen" ("leisure time terrorists").

If you can read German, here is the Wikipedia link about them:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militante_gruppe_(MG)

I wonder whether Andrej Holm really harbours much sympathy for mg - the claim that he "might" be a member of this group is adventurous, provided police has not more than these "allegations" they published in their statement.

Everything wants to grow. So does the Geheimdienst. And so they exaggerate and inflate their cases, extend them, cross the hitherto limits ...

And Politicians crave for more power ... terrorists will continue to play into their hands ...

In the end we will get a new totalitarian regime,
and as it happened before, 1933-45, a broad majority of the people will approve of it.

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GBR

It is all very concerning. And despite all the assurances that terrorism lawas will be used sensibly, there are plenty of signs that there has been a shift in the way of thinking: until not long ago a citizen was presumed not guilty unless there was evidence of wrongdoing. Now agencies act on the assumption that a citizen is guilty unless there is proof of his innocence.

I remember a minor case, but probably very indicative of the current climate of paranoia: 2 years ago a woman in Dundee was stopped and brought to the police station on suspicion of terrorist activity just because she was walking on the Tayside Bridge in an area barred to pedestrians and when asked to stop and go back she carried on walking.

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USA

Way to go CRISTOBAL, lets pretend Dade county is a "conservative" area. Its close to 70% democratic voters and one of the largest areas of welfare dependence in the Southeast. Padilla got a fair trial. Sorry your terrorist icon has to do some time, but he was guilty and a jury of his peers found him guilty.

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The conducts of the authorities is getting increasingly weird. As you can read here,
http://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/frankfurt_aid_119600.html ,

some genuine wannabe terrorists were caught trying to bribe a baggage handler at Frankfurt Airport to put a bomb on a plane 9 months ago.

They were released on the grounds that the baggage handler wasn't happy with the amount of money on offer!!
As a deal was not done, no crime was comitted ?????

It was close to being another Lockerbie atrocity.

Now they are putting sociologists in solitary confinement.

Our Innenminister Wolfgang Schaueble is himself the victim of terrorists, but he is becoming more and more eccentric.


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AUS

freepoland- it's not the field of study itself but those who practice it and their inane, sub-literate output which draws the brickbats. An entirely useless group of human beings. Say to anyone you took Sociology at Uni and see the reaction. What? You didn't get the grades to study a real subject?

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USA

Even IF there were a case to be answered here, to site someone's accademic work as part of the 'evidence' for charges against them should make everyone's blood run cold.
In the current climate everyone should remember Bertol Brecht's poem about silence in the face of the persecution of others or -- perhaps more appropriately given the last prime minister of the UK or the president of the US still whinning with us -- The Risistible Rise of Arturo Ui.
Thank you Sennett and Sassen for drawing attention to this case.

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GBR

I'm sure they got arrested because the german police, like ours, have performance targets to hit.

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USA

Just some background to people who's commented on Padilla's trial.

In the US you get called to jury service because you're a registered voter, and you'll get your notice in the mail. You won't be eligible for service if you're a criminal. So trying to relate the makeup of a jury to the makeup of an area as whole isn't very realistic, especially if the area has a lot of poor, black, people in it.

There is something very fishy about the Padilla trial. He may be indeed some cog in a terror machine but by all accounts he was a very minor cog indeed, nothing like the hyped up mastermind that the government wishes him to be. Added to this his civil rights have been massively violated, he's been denied due process (kangaroo courts aren't due process -- sorry, but the Streicher court (also an anti-terrorist court) looked convincing but obviously wasn't a proper one -- and he's really a good example of how if you give the forces of law and order too much rope they'll hang all of us with it.

There was an amusing segment on the "Colbert Report" last night about a Canadian academic who lives in Seattle. He got nailed at the border after the USCIS agent looked him up on Google and discovered a paper he'd written about LSD some thirty years ago. He's been permanently barred from entering the US as a 'drug user'. There really aren't that many Muslim terrorists around so all this heightened security has to justify itself somehow....

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DEU

If you know the political situation in Germany you have to srongly belive that the law enforcement agencies have evidences for left-wing terroist activities of the sociologists. Why? Politics and media are leftist and symphatize with leftist extremists. So as long as there's not terrorist violent involved, they will do nothing against left-wing extremists.

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AUS

The contribution from

friendsreunited, Comment No. 769612, August 21 14:36, AUS

"freepoland- it's not the field of study itself but those who practice it and their inane, sub-literate output which draws the brickbats. An entirely useless group of human beings. ..."

Is highly offensive, and somebody should bother reporting it.

Further to that, the foremost issue I see here, ist that I follow the German online press on a daily basis, and nobody bothers reporting. Why does it take Cif of a newspaper in Manchester of all places for me to find out???

What is Germany's press with this liberal postwar tradition still good for? I can tell you: sweet nothing!

Be it "Spiegel", which saw itself as a safeguard of democratic postwar Germany, or former human rights powerhouse "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" - they all have fallen into the fold of the modern kind of "Gleichschaltung", the sameness of opinion that takes care that America is not overly criticised, God has its place, and pure Capitalism is acknowledged as the solely possible form of existence of any living matter.

As long this is all assured, nothing else matters anymore: neither corruption, nor the arrest of a few more ore less people who have not commited any real crime.

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USA

@Guiteau:

You're missing the essential point: that the Padilla case was a resounding defeat for the White House and its attempt to ignore Habeas Corpus. The courts spoke clearly: charge him or release him. The independent judiciary remains a bulwark against this sort of administrative overreaching- and that includes even supposedly 'right-wing judges in the mold of Justice Scalia, his conservatism being of the old-school limited-government sort.

"Blackwater mercenaries deputized by the government, such as those sent to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, would likely be less hesitant to use violence or lethal force."

You have been misinformed. Private companies hired Blackwater as security- they were not sent by, employed by, nor 'deputised' by the government.

@Cristobal:

If you paid much attention to my postings, or, in particular, had any clue what 'neoconservatism' means, you would be aware that I am an old-fashioned true conservative and despise the Neocon wankers, who are just liberal-hawk retreads, the lineal heirs of McNamara with the same hubristic fantasies.

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GBR

loewe: Unfortunately I think you're right. There's a death wish from the right that is taking over society and won't be satisfied until the barbed wire is round us all.

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USA

solicitor:
Glad to hear you haven't gone over to the dark side. Still, you seem a bit optimistic about the ability of the courts to resist what would amount to a coup by executive order, something Sandra Day O'Connor isn't so sure about if her remarks at Georgetown are any indication. Granted she ruled with Hamdi, but her defense of due process was provisional. My point, which of course I view as essential, is that under the spell of war-footing hysteria very significant changes are being made to the legal landscape of the US. The use of conspiracy charges in order to justify preventive detention, a dangerously vague understanding of what warrants federalization, and a national history replete with bizarre hiccups in the democratic process (the Palmer Raids, Japanese American internment, Rex 84, etc.) raise cause for concern.

The Aug. 18 analysis of the Padilla case in the NYT doesn't seem at all blithe about the ramifications of that decision either:
"If Thursday's verdict is upheld, the administration may thus have achieved the last in a series of practical victories. It held and interrogated Mr. Padilla without interference from the courts, and now it has convicted him of a crime that could put him away for life."


On Blackwater in New Orleans:

"But in an hour-long conversation with several Blackwater mercenaries, we heard a different story. The men we spoke with said they are indeed on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and the Louisiana governor's office and that some of them are sleeping in camps organized by Homeland Security in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. One of them wore a gold Louisiana state law enforcement badge and said he had been "deputized" by the governor. They told us they not only had authority to make arrests but also to use lethal force. "
http://www.democracynow.org/static/Overkill.shtml

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GBR

Hi,

Thanks for the link to the youtube clip, is that New Orleans?

We will all be regarded as potential terrorists. That IS scary, (even more so because it has already been written or imagined, but let's not forget the teachings of fiction).

after reading @OliverPe
"And despite all the assurances that terrorism laws will be used sensibly, there are plenty of signs that there has been a shift in the way of thinking: until not long ago a citizen was presumed not guilty unless there was evidence of wrongdoing. Now agencies act on the assumption that a citizen is guilty unless there is proof of his innocence."

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