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NCPCF News Digest - Issue No. 66 -  April 6, 2012

‘Civil Freedoms for All’   

“It is my conviction that if we are neutral in situations of injustice, we have chosen the side of the oppressor.”  Archbishop Desmond Tutu


In this issue

NCPCF ANNUAL BANQUET: April 15, 2012

USA vs. Al-Arian: Political Persecution, American Style

CIA Committed ‘War Crimes,’ Bush Official Says

Board approves limits for terror surveillance

The Obama DOJ and strip searches

Mike Bloomberg’s New York: Cops in Your Hallways

ACLU: Local police departments tracking cellphones without warrants

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News Digest

Pre-Crime Reports/Pre-emptive Prosecutions/Entrapment/Material Support/Thought Crimes 

A. Chicago Sun-Times (4/4): USA vs Al-Arian: Political Persecution, American Style

[A] filmmaker from Norway, chose to make the outstanding documentary “USA vs. Al-Arian,” (2007) chronicling a short period in the life of a family that has been suffering what is nothing less than American political persecution right in our suburbs for over a decade.

B. Winnipeg Free Press (4/5): NYC bomb-plot trial begins: Ex-Winnipegger still on the run is crucial link to terror case

Jury selection began this week for the case against Adis Medunjanin, 27, a would-be suicide bomber from New York who allegedly received detailed instructions and weaponry from Imam — also known as Yousef — while the two were in Afghanistan.

C. The Guardian (4/3): Man in London charged with terrorism offences over al-Qaida document

A man has been charged with terrorism offences over the alleged possession of a document by Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaida preacher who was killed last year by a US drone strike in Yemen. Mohammed Shabir Ali, 24, of east London, is accused of possessing 44 Ways to Support Jihad between 20 August 2008 and 21 June 2011. The Metropolitan police said that the document was “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

Prison Conditions and Abuse/CMUs

New York Times (3/30): Fighting a Drawn-Out Battle Against Solitary Confinement

 Mr. Lira has trouble talking about his years in solitary confinement. “You take a person and you just peel back the skin and make him just some raw flesh in a tomb and all he has is his mind,” he said. “Your feelings, your anxieties, your doubts, your health, your happiness, your spirit, who you are, who you think of — that’s the only thing that keeps you going in there.”

Civil Freedoms Under Threat

A. Truthout (4/5): Drones Flying Under the Radar

For the most part, however, drones fly outside the radar of public scrutiny, Congressional oversight or international control. In the seven years that the CIA and US military have deployed killer drones, the US Congress has never once debated the new commitment to drone operations. Although the CIA and the US military now routinely direct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations that enter foreign airspace, these interventions haven’t been subject to serious Congressional review.

B. ACLU (4/2): The Results From Our Nationwide Cell Phone Tracking Records Requests

C. Washington Post (4/2): ACLU: Local police departments tracking cellphones without warrants

The ACLU surveyed about 200 state and local law enforcement agencies across the country and found that only a handful of them said they obtained “warrants based on probable cause” before tracking cellphones. Most other agencies had laxer standards for tracking cellphones.

Government Policy Under Scrutiny

A. Daily News and Analysis (4/5): CIA spooked by British courts

The CIA warned MI6 that al-Qaeda was planning an attack 18 months ago, but withheld detailed information because of concerns it would be released by British courts. British intelligence agencies were subsequently forced to carry out their own investigations, according to Whitehall sources.

B. Wired (4/4): CIA Committed ‘War Crimes,’ Bush Official Says 

A top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned the Bush administration that its use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were “a felony war crime.” What’s more, newly obtained documents reveal that State Department counselor Philip Zelikow told the Bush team in 2006 that using the controversial interrogation techniques were “prohibited” under U.S. law — “even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them.” 

C. San Francisco Examiner (4/3): Board approves limits for terror surveillance

Protection against FBI surveillance for people not suspected of criminal activity in San Francisco was approved Tuesday, but the years-in-the-making effort could be shot down by a mayoral veto…. Supervisor Jane Kim’s legislation, approved Tuesday in a 6-5 vote, would ensure the contract is open for public review and task force activity is reported annually. It also would require police to adhere to local and state privacy laws when assisting with federal counterterrorism investigations. 

D. Rolling Stone (4/3): Mike Bloomberg’s New York: Cops in Your Hallways

Bloomberg … [has been] targeted for criticism by civil rights activists because of stop-and-frisk, a program that led to a record 684,330 street searches just last year. Now he’s under fire for a program he inherited, which goes by the darkly Bushian name of the “Clean Halls program.” In effect since 1991, it allows police to execute so-called “vertical patrols” by going up into private buildings and conducting stop-and-frisk searches in hallways – with the landlord’s permission.

Editorials/Opinions 

A. Glenn Greenwald in Salon (4/3): The Obama DOJ and strip searches

Numerous progressive commentators are lambasting the Supreme Court for its 5-4 ruling yesterday in Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders, and rightfully so. The 5-judge conservative faction held that prison officials may strip-search anyone arrested even for the most minor offenses before admitting them to the general population of a jail or prison, even in the absence of a shred of suspicion that they are carrying weapons or contraband. The plaintiff in this case had been erroneously arrested for outstanding bench warrants for an unpaid fine that he had actually paid, and was twice subjected to forced strip searches….

B.  Tom Engelhardt in Common Dreams (4/6): Yottabytes, You, and the Infinitely Expansive National Security State: How the Intelligence Community Is Creating a New American World

On March 22nd, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism — about you and me, that is — for up to five years.

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NCPCF Mission 

Established in October 2010, the NCPCF is a coalition of national and local organizations as well as prominent individuals, whose mission is: To educate the public about the erosion of civil and political freedoms in the society, and the abuses of prisoners within the U.S. criminal justice system especially after 9/11, and to advocate for the preservation of those freedoms and to defend those rights according to the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its related UN Conventions, and the Geneva Conventions.

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Member Organizations

American Muslim Alliance (AMA) – Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) – Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) – Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) – Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) – Defending Dissent Foundation (DDF) – Desis, Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) – Friends of Human Rights (FHR) – International Action Center (IAC) – Islamic Circle of North America Council for Social Justice (ICNA-CSJ) – Muslim American Society Freedom (MAS-F) -Muslim Justice Initiative (MJI) – Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) – National Lawyers Guild (NLG) – National Liberty Fund (NLF) – Peace Thru Justice Foundation (PTJF) – Project Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims (Project SALAM) – Universal Justice Foundation (UJF)

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