Larry Lustberg responded to my questions with this statement:
I have had no contact with Paul since he left Arizona and, even though I am his attorney, and his appeals are still going on -- we are about to go to the Supreme Court -- he has been made inaccessible to us. It really is outrageous. We will challenge this designation.
A Paul Bergrin supporter and blog reader reached out to me with the results of her research on what the BOP has done with Paul Bergrin. She pointed me to the Federal Register for additional reading on the CMU and it has been enlightening to say the least. There are only two CMUs in the country and one is in Terre Haute FCI. The other is in Marion USP. BOP opened these facilities in secret during the Bush administration.
The Bureau of Prisons has so many different acronyms in use that CMU completely escaped me when Paul made a statement about it in a letter. He referred to it as the "terrorist unit" and was really angry just thinking that BOP designated him there - and at that point he just believed that's what BOP was doing because of the specific location he was going to. Apparently he knew what any designation to that location actually meant.
Paul was told where he was going (Terre Haute), but his communications have been so limited in the last six months in Tucson USP SHU (isolation) that no one interpreted his statements as what they actually mean. I responded via his girlfriend that the great majority of defendants and inmates labeled "terrorists" by our government are not even remotely involved in anything terror-related. I basically told him not to be concerned.
No one understood what he was saying, so I don't feel too stupid. Poor Paul. He's tried to warn all of us about what the BOP was doing to him and I took it as just another unwarranted move to a different facility that happens to have lots of Muslim inmates labeled as terrorists. Good grief - this was a completely underwhelming assessment of the situation.
Am I surprised?
Well, aside from the fact that nothing should surprise me in this case, I should not have been. I was concerned the government would place him in a Supermax or even a Guantanamo camp after the trial. They were all so over-the-top, like with Judge Cavanaugh's excessive and bizarre sentence of hundreds of years, that a Supermax sounded like more than a mere possibility.
And then there was the journalist with a German magazine that I put in contact with Paul some time ago. I can guarantee that the US government, the boys in Newark and the BOP did not want Paul in-contact with a journalist from a major publication in Germany. One day that journalist contacted me to say that he received an email notification - yes, the same one that I received days ago - stating that Paul Bergrin no longer wanted to be in contact with him. I asked Paul numerous times in email why he would do that so I could offer this journalist some sort of explanation. Paul never answered me. At the time, it did not occur to me that he never read my question. Yes, I can be naive. More likely than not, Paul wondered why the journalist never followed-up or responded to him.
The CMU is worse than a Supermax
By now you have either searched Google to find more information on a CMU designation by BOP or you're waiting for my explanation. Well, it's not referred to as "Guantanamo North" without reason. At this point, I'll say that when the Paul Bergrin supporter and blog reader called FCI Terre Haute, the government minion that answered the phone almost made the CMU sound pleasant. While such a hellhole designation may indeed seem pleasant to this minion, you'll soon understand that she was full of crap, but then aren't they all? They're bought and paid for by that system, so the answer is yes, of course.
According to the Federal Register BOP statement, an inmate may be designated to a CMU if:
The inmate's current offense(s) of conviction, or offense conduct, included association, communication, or involvement, related to international or domestic terrorism;
The inmate's current offense(s) of conviction, offense conduct, or activity while incarcerated, indicates a substantial likelihood to encourage, coordinate, facilitate, or otherwise act in furtherance of, illegal activity through communication with persons in the community;
The inmate has attempted, or indicates a substantial likelihood, to contact victims of the inmate's current offense(s) of conviction;
The inmate committed a prohibited activity related to misuse/abuse of approved communication methods while incarcerated; or
There is any other evidence of a potential threat to the safe, secure, and orderly operation of prison facilities, or protection of the public, as a result of the inmate's communication with persons in the community.
Since we already know that BOP defends these two "little Guantanamos" and those in-charge have made locking people up their life work, I'll go elsewhere for my explanations of what really happens to inmates in a CMU. While we're at it, I'll look at the true explanation of how an inmate ends-up designated to a CMU by BOP, but the Federal Register has plenty of real information in the comments responding to BOP's "new rule" on CMUs, so definitely read it.
According to Daniel McGowan, former CMU inmate and activist, writing for Huffington Post: Court Documents Prove I was Sent to Communications Management Units (CMU) for my Political Speech
What's also notable about the CMUs is who is sent there. It became quickly obvious to me that many CMU prisoners were there because of their religion or in retaliation for their speech. By my count, around two-thirds of the men are Muslim, many of whom have been caught up in the so-called "war on terror" others who just spoke out for their rights or allegedly took leadership positions in the Muslim community at other facilities. Some, like me, were prisoners who have political views and perspectives that are not shared by the Department of Justice.
It should be clear to anyone reading this blog that Paul's views are not shared by the DOJ. He knows what the government did and has more information about torture under the Bush administration than any man alive.
So what next?
I do intend to explore the topic of what actually happens in the CMU in-depth as well as what has been done to Paul, but for now I will leave you with this to think about: Paul Bergrin's daughter also received one of those email notifications that he no longer wanted to be in contact with her. As if! Yes, I'm indignant and angry. BOP is a criminal organization.
I can hear the US Attorney's Office in Newark and the many government minions that work there calling a checkmate now, but don't count out Paul Bergrin yet.