Monday, October 13, 2008

Strange Culture

After the sudden death of his wife, Steve Kurtz suddenly came under fire when officials got suspicious of scientific equipment in his house. The FBI became immediately involved in what became a whirlwind investigation into Kurtz’s private life. Kurtz was a professor at SUNY Buffalo and was doing research as an amateur scientist into the dangers of the bio tech industry and food. He had been doing research for years and now the FBI was pulling at anything to link Kurtz to a case of bio terrorism. They arrested him on a mailing fraud, claiming he and his partner, Ferrell, did not produce the proper paperwork for the bacteria they had ordered. They also became suspicious at the minimal Arabic writing found on an invitation to an art show.

Under the Patriot Act, the FBI was able to use any trace of evidence in an attempt to convict Kurtz of being an agent of terror. The charges were eventually dropped, however it is arguable that if Kurtz was not a professor and a public figure in the Buffalo community, he would not have had the resources to overturn the charges. The FBI was manipulating their evidence and punishing Kurtz and Ferrell for nothing more than collaborating, sharing materials, information, and trust. This is a huge violation of the justice process and an abuse of power by the FBI. Kurtz’s influence in the community made it possible for him to raise awareness and support. However, an everyday citizen may not have the same power to voice his thoughts if he came under the same investigation.

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