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NCPCF News Digest - Issue No. 67 -  April 10, 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

PREAL: The “Torture Textbook” That Took CIA Interrogators to the Dark Side

To protect freedom, US jurists must pardon terror suspects caught by entrapment

Protecting Face-to-Face Protest

Strip-Search Case Reflects Death of American Privacy

9/11 Snitch Springs U.S. From Torture Trial Trap

Our Men in Iran?

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News Digest

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

A. BBC (4/5): The battle to prosecute Babar Ahmad

“I have been in prison now for nearly eight years without trial,” he says. “I am facing extradition to the US to spend the rest of my life in solitary confinement. I have never been questioned about the allegations against me. I have never been shown the evidence against me. I do not hold the Americans responsible for anything that has happened to me but I think it is fair to say that I am fighting for my life – and I am running out of time.”

B. CBS (4/6): Man get 25-year sentence for Md. terror plot

Prosecutors … say he … went to a vantage point and used what he thought was a detonator when an undercover agent told him soldiers were in the building.

C. Wired (4/9): 9/11 Snitch Springs U.S. From Torture Trial Trap

Khan was not party to the 9/11 plot. But military commissions allow greater flexibility to introduce hearsay evidence than civilian courts do. Much of the prosecutorial strategy depends on how much leeway the military judge provides Martins to use Khan. Khan is not believed to have first-hand knowledge of the 9/11 plot, and interacted with KSM in 2002 about an alleged follow-on attack.

Profiling

Star-Tribune (4/5): Arab-Americans: End racial profiling

Such practices send a strong signal that singling out people based on race, religion and national origin are OK. hat’s why we must work together to demand accountability and justice not only toward the individuals and criminals whose attitudes translate into violence but also from the institutions and politicians who set the tone for such a mindset. We need to stop racial profiling now.

Prison Conditions and Abuse/CMUs

A. Northwest Herald (4/9)Critics of Tamms’ closure question safety

“Solitary confinement is not only fundamentally inhumane,” David Fahti, director of the ACLU National Prison Project, said in his testimony, “it endangers the safety of our communities and wastes precious taxpayer dollars.”

B. Virginian Pilot (4/9): ACLU of Va. seeks strip-search policies

Kent Willis, executive director of the state ACLU, says the [Supreme Court’s recent] ruling is not a license to expand strip searches in Virginia. He says state law makes it clear that strip searches for minor crimes are prohibited in most circumstances.

Government Policy Under Scrutiny

A. New Yorker (4/6): Our Men in Iran?

[T]he Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. The M.E.K. had its beginnings as a Marxist-Islamist student-led group and, in the nineteen-seventies, it was linked to the assassination of six American citizens.

B. WPLN (4/9): Lawmaker Eyes Surveillance Rules for Police Drone Aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration is preparing rules to let drone aircraft fly in the same air space as manned aircraft. But meantime, drones can still fly at lower elevations. And one state representative wants to make sure police in Tennessee don’t use drones for illegal spying.

Relevant Congressional Hearings

The Hill (4/6): Durbin to probe racial profiling when Senate returns

Witnesses have not yet been announced, but the hearing was likely prompted by the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old from Florida who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watchman.

Editorials/Opinions 

A. Joshua Woods and Jim Nolan in the Christian Science Monitor (4/5): To protect freedom, US jurists must pardon terror suspects caught by entrapment

Since 9/11, the majority of criminal convictions in high-profile terror cases in the US relied on sting operations. In many, the FBI crossed the line into entrapment, luring penniless men and teenagers into sophisticated plots they never could have dreamed of on their own. We want the US government to recognize what social scientists call “the power of the situation” to influence terrorist behavior and to stop contributing to creating it. 

B. Crofton Black in the Huffington Post (4/5): PREAL: The “Torture Textbook” That Took CIA Interrogators to the Dark Side

The CIA worked on their ideas for some months, spurred on by a team of specially contracted psychologists, but they needed a piece of paper: a permit from the Justice Department to put their ideas into practice, and to reassure them that what they were about to do did not constitute a crime. The crime for which they were seeking cover was torture. Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, and his deputy John Yoo, obliged.

C. New York Times Editorial (4/7): The Road We Need Not Have Traveled

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, notes that after years of being subjected to treatment designed to destroy prisoners physically and psychologically, “if someone emerges from this kind of system and then supplies a confession or a guilty plea, how confident can we be that the statement is untainted by torture? Imagine that another country — Iran, say, or North Korea — proposed as much. Would we buy it?” 

D. Ronald J. Krotoszynskki, Jr. in New York Times (4/8):  Protecting Face-to-Face Protest

EVERY four years, we witness the spectacle of the presidential nominating conventions. And every four years, host cities, party leaders and police officials devise ever more creative ways of distancing protesters from the politicians, delegates and journalists attending these stage-managed affairs. The goal is to trivialize and isolate dissenting speech without actually banning protest outright.

E. Noah Feldman in Bloomberg (4/8): Strip-Search Case Reflects Death of American Privacy 

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the strip-searches, however well-intentioned when first instituted, now function to humiliate people being put behind bars, sending the message that they are now essentially nonpersons, under the full control of the state. Yet, it’s worth noting, not even Breyer argued that all strip-searches of people entering jail should be unconstitutional. There is a reason: Privacy, as we know it, is dying.   

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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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