Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • The everyday terror of Islamophobia in America

    Source: Fusion. Islamophobia, in some ways, has become the status quo in America—an anti-Muslim white noise. In December, 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein was killed after being hit by an SUV outside a Kansas City mosque. In February, an envelope with three hate messages—“we will burn all of you,” “leave our country,” “we hate you”—was left at the Darul Arqum Islamic Center in Ames, Iowa. And in May, dozens of armed bikers held an anti-Muslim rally outside a mosque in Phoenix. Since the 9/11 attacks, yearly Islamophobic hate crimes have been consistently five times higher than the pre-terror average. The Justice Department estimates that two out of three potential hate crimes aren’t even reported because because victims fear police won’t help.

  • Florida Imam who claimed to be covert government operative is accused of terrorism

    Source: The Intercept. On August 23, 2011, 46-year-old Marcus Dwayne Robertson, the imam of an Orlando, Florida mosque, was arrested, imprisoned and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty. Almost four years after his initial arrest, Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” is still behind bars awaiting sentencing for that crime, as well as for a separate count of conspiracy to file a fraudulent tax refund claim. He could be released on time served based on those charges, but the U.S. government is now seeking a “terrorism enhancement” that could result in him serving an additional 20 years in prison. Part of what makes the case unusual is that Robertson has never actually been charged with planning or committing any terrorist acts. Instead, prosecutors are trying to use his possession of Islamic literature as proof of his terrorist intent. In a 2012 lawsuit Robertson filed from jail — ultimately dismissed on grounds of being improperly filed — Robertson claimed to have been targeted by the government for malicious prosecution after refusing to conduct an overseas operation requested by the CIA. the conditions under which Robertson has been held in jail have also been a source of controversy. According to his attorney, for roughly two years between 2012 until 2014, Robertson was held in solitary confinement. During this time, he was shackled at all times whether inside or outside his cell, to the point where the skin around his ankles had rubbed off.

  • A Message from Dr. Sami Al-Arian on the eve of the Blessed Month

    A Message from Dr. Sami Al-Arian on the eve of the Blessed Month Dear Friends: Assalamu Alaikum -Peace be with you This Ramadan in Istanbul is very special to me, a blessing that I have not felt for a over dozen years, to be able to live, think, and worship […]

  • Ramadan Letter Writing Campaign Guide

    Ramadan Letter Writing Campaign Guide Hundreds of people across the country and from abroad have committed to writing again and bring smiles to prisoners this Ramadan —from Atlanta and Athens, GA; East Lansing, MI; Dallas, TX; Albany, NY; Decorah, IA; Birmingham, AL; Chicago, IL; Minneapolis, MN; New York City; Union […]

  • According to the government, clearing your browser history is a felony

    Source: Techdirt. One of the stipulations of Sarbanes-Oxley is the preservation of evidence. Failing to do so, or purposefully destroying records, can result in felony criminal charges. This, unfortunately, doesn’t even have to be willful destruction. The law forbids the destruction of evidence, regardless of personal knowledge of ongoing investigations, or even if no investigation has even commenced. Under this law — and given the prevailing law enforcement/prosecutorial mindset — US citizens are almost expected to hold onto everything, just in case. The government feels it has the right to dig into your hard drive, browser history, etc. at whatever point it opens an investigation. And if you’ve “destroyed” any data prior to the examination of your electronic devices, you could face felony charges for performing simple computer maintenance.

  • Underage ‘enemies’ of the US: Omar Khadr and the juveniles of Guantánamo

    Source: AlJazeera America. Although Omar Khadr is the only person in modern history to have been charged with a war crime for an act he is said to have committed as a juvenile, he was hardly the only child in Guantánamo. An Al Jazeera examination of the dates of birth and dates of detention of prisoners at the facility found that at least 23 were under the age of 18 when first detained. But the number could be as high as 33, because in some cases those dates are not known.

  • Charging prisoners perpetuates mass incarceration

    Source: Truthout, At least a few localities in nearly every state in the country authorize “pay-to-stay” fees on prisoners for everything from medical costs, to food, to clothes. These fees are difficult for the often indigent prisoners and their families to pay, and can make successful reentry into society near impossible for some.

  • FBI behind mysterious surveillance aircraft over US cities

    Associated Press. The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned. The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don’t know they’re being watched by the FBI. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

  • Zombie Patriot Act will keep U.S. spying—even if the original dies

    Source: The Daily Beast. President Obama and his top national-security officials spent the past few days warning that once intelligence-gathering authorities in the Patriot Act expired just after midnight Sunday, the United States would face a greater risk of a terrorist attack. That argument is highly debatable—at least, in the short term. Not only does the U.S. government have all sorts of other ways to collect the same kind of intelligence outlined in the Patriot Act, but there’s also a little-noticed back door in the act that allows U.S. spy agencies to gather information in pretty much the same ways they did before.

  • Watchdog finds huge failure In surveillance oversight ahead of Patriot Act deadline

    Source: Huffington Post. In a declassified and heavily redacted report on a controversial Patriot Act provision, the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the government had failed to implement guidelines limiting the amount of data collected on Americans for seven years. Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is set to expire June 1 unless Congress reauthorizes it, has been the legal basis for the intelligence community’s bulk metadata collection. As a condition for reauthorization back in 2005, the Justice Department was required to minimize the amount of nonpublic information that the program gathered on U.S. persons. According to the inspector general, the department did not adopt sufficient guidelines until 2013. It was not until August of that year — two months after the bombshell National Security Agency disclosures by Edward Snowden — that Justice began applying those guidelines in applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, the secretive body that approves government surveillance requests.