I was at the federal courthouse last week with Lt. Dan Choi as he stood trial for chaining himself to the White House fence along with 12 others in protest of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell last November.
Dan delivered the signatures of over 9,000 Firedoglake activists into the court record in his defense during a tense trial in which Assistant US Attorney Angela George tried to bar Dan from arguing that the government selectively and vindictively punished him based on the content of his speech.
The court transcripts document some incredible findings that deserve further investigation. Some of the testimony of Park Police witnesses raised eyebrows with the revelation that the Secret Service had contacted the department the day before the protest to warn that Dan and others would be chaining themselves to the White House fence. Later, the Department of Interior issued a preemptive request that the DADT protesters receive federal charges for their actions just three hours before the demonstration began.
But how did the Secret Service and Department of Interior know about the protest ahead of time? Dan and the other members of the White House 13 did not disclose publicly that they would be taking part in this action.
Dan and his lawyers tried to compel the government to produce the Secret Service’s emails and other documents that would indicate the government was singling out Choi for punishment, but AUSA George maintained that it was not relevant to the case of whether or not Dan broke the law by chaining himself to the White House fence. Judge Facciola ruled in Dan’s favor and demanded the government turn over the documents, prompting George to seek a delay while she prepares a writ of mandamus. Dan will return to court in a few weeks after a decision has been made on the writ.
All three days of the trial so far have been explosive. Dan has showed considerable courage by putting himself on the line for his and everyone’s right to free speech and has footed the bill for his entire trial so far.
We want to help Dan out by purchasing all of the court documents and transcripts and publishing them in an archive here at Firedoglake. This archive will be a tremendous resource for others to keep up with the trial when it commences again in the coming days, and document the government’s strong-arm tactics to suppress the first amendment rights of its critics.