Bush’s Assault on Civil Liberties Intensifies

| March 17, 2003

Former Santa Fe Public Defender Andrew J. O’Connor found himself in handcuffs last month for allegedly making threatening remarks about President Bush in an Internet chat room. Santa Fe Police read O’Connor his rights while he was still seated at a public computer terminal at St. John’s College library, then took him into custody, where he was met by Secret Service agents from Albuquerque. During his five-hour inquisition, O’Connor denied claims that he posted threats against the president in an online discussion. According to articles posted on the Web sites Information Clearing House and Unknown Country, O’Connor recalled having a face-to-face conversation with a woman in the library “who was wearing a ‘No war with Iraq’ button” and admitted telling her that Bush is “out of control.”

Earlier that same day, officials at St. John’s, College of Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Community College warned students and faculty of an FBI alert about the appearance of “‘suspicious’ people on campus” in previous weeks. That warning, along with O’Connor’s suspicion that FBI agents may have been observing him as a result of his previous involvement with a pro-Palestinian group based in Colorado, may have been contributing factors in O’Connor’s arrest. “[The government] is just so paranoid right now about anyone who is anti-war, and they just took this way too far,” he said.