Sunday, October 11, 2009

511

(Photo-Dr. Steven Kurtz at a 2003 exhibit. Note the petri dishes.) Everyone of course knows what 911 has come to mean. Fewer know about the events of 511, which refers to 5/11/2004 when Carnegie Mellon University art professor Steve Kurtz reported the death of his wife, Hope, who had died in her sleep of heart failure.

Ever met an art professor? Kurtz was the founder of the award winning Critical Art Ensemble. One of the concepts they explored was the relationship between art, critical theory, technology, and politics. When his wife died, he was working on a project associated with bioengineering and genetically altered food. University of Pittsburgh genetics professor, Dr. Robert Farrell, provided Kurtz with various biological agents for his research and art, including bacteria. All of the materials, equipment, and agents were completely legal.

When authorities came to his house to process his wife's body, they saw the art, the petri dishes, the books on biology, and went nuts. The FBI was called, and mayhem ensued. The autopsies (three of them) confirmed heart failure. Kurtz's history and background were easily confirmed. The history of the art group and its exhibits were clear to see. Still, the Orwellian Bush Administration's DOJ went all out to convict Kurtz as a terrorist. I exaggerate not.

Academics, artists, and the ACLU organized to assist with the legal defense of Kurtz. Despite the Bush DOJ's spending millions, the ludicrous bio-terrorism charge failed to stick, and as the FBI learned more about the art group, agents realized they were dealing with an art professor's research. There was no crime here, but unwilling to walk away, the DOJ shifted to an effort to slam Farrell and Kurtz with mail fraud and wire fraud over a $256 error regarding bacteria Farrell supplied to Kurtz. When presiding Judge Richard Arcara finally heard the case, he dismissed it as "insufficient on its face" meaning that even if the allegations were true as asserted by the prosecution, no crime had been committed.

In January 2007, Lynne Hershman Leeson's documentary Strange Culture portraying the unconscionable prosecution of Kurtz premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Isn't it remarkable that, after years of solid evidence of legal atrocities, the prosecution of individuals known to be innocent, the suspension of habeas corpus, torture in secret prisons, we have people who adored the Bush administration now asserting that Obama behaves like a dictator?

2 Comments:

Blogger The Navigator said...

The innocent Dr. Farrell had health issues, and the stress of the trial and possible incarceration caused a stroke and other health issues. It ruined his life, and it caused untold grief for Kurtz, a man who had just lost his wife of 25+ years.

What boils my blood about this is not the initial concern and suspicion upon finding all sorts of biotechnology in a home. What is utterly unforgivable is that the Bush administration CONTINUED to try to convict Kurtz as a terrorist after it was OBVIOUS he was not. They knew he was innocent. It was fear tactic against all intellectuals and artists.

The innocent governor Rove got convicted and imprisoned comes to mind. The administration wanted to make it known that they could do anything to anyone.

The Bush presidency is guilty of treason and crimes against humanity. The current wailing about Obama is simultaneously laughable and pathetic in light of the last eight years.

10/11/2009 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really do hope that history fully uncovers the holocaust that was GW Bush. They are guilty of treason and war crimes. They deserve to tried, found guilty, and held to account.

The wailing about Obama is truly ironic in light of the last eight years.

10/12/2009 5:11 PM  

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