Khalifah al-Akili, a 34-year-old Muslim American from the Pittsburgh area, was to publicly claim that he was the target of an FBI sting operation at a press conference last month. Had he not been arrested at his home one day before the press conference was to take place, al-Akili would have described how he was harassed and stalked by undercover FBI operatives, one of whose identity was exposed after a Google search of his phone number returned results linking him to another undercover entrapment case in New York state…. The timing of his arrest before the press conference hosted by the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms has caused some, including his lawyer, to suspect that his arrest was timed to prevent him from getting his story out.
B. Washington Post (4/13): Documents provide rare insight into FBI’s terrorism stings
Law enforcement officials say stings are a vital tactic for heading off terrorism. But civil rights activists and others say the FBI has been identifying individuals with radical views who, despite brash talk, might have little ability to launch attacks without the government’s help. “It almost seems like the government is creating a theatrical event that produces more fear in the community,” said Michael German, a senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union and a former FBI agent who worked undercover. Yet in these terrorism stings, every attempted defense that has alleged entrapment by the government has failed….
C. New York Times (4/15): Homegrown Bomb Plot Is Rarity for Open Court
A federal judge ruled that the government could admit statements that Mr. Medunjanin made after his arrest, over objections from his lawyer, Robert C. Gottlieb, who argued that Mr. Medunjanin had waived his Miranda rights only because the government had denied him access to a lawyer. In the statements, Mr. Medunjanin told members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force that he saw himself as a prisoner of war who had been caught on the battlefield. He asked if he could be exchanged for a United States soldier captured by the Taliban, law enforcement officials said in the hearing.
D. Associated Press (4/16): US govt: Other targets eyed before NYC subway plot
Defense attorney Robert Gottlieb countered by accusing the government of using “inflammatory rhetoric” about al-Qaida and terrorism to prevent jurors “from seeing the truth about this case.” The lawyer conceded his client had sought to support the Taliban’s struggle against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but denied he ever agreed to kill American civilians for al-Qaida. “The truth is that Adis Medunjanin is not a terrorist,” he said. “Mr. Medunjanin never planned to bomb the New York City subways.”
E. New York Times (4/12): In Brooklyn, a Guilty Plea to Aiding Terror
During the hearing on Thursday, Mr. Hasbajrami, wearing a brown prison jumpsuit, spoke in halting English, occasionally with the help of an interpreter. He hesitated at first when Judge Gleeson asked him to admit to his crimes. Then he read from a prepared statement: “I tried to help a group of people who I believed were engaged in fighting in Pakistan. I agreed with the group and attempted to help the group by providing money and myself, in support of their efforts.”
Civil Freedoms Under Threat
A. Cnet (4/11): This Internet provider pledges to put your privacy first. Always.
Nicholas Merrill is … raising funds to launch a national “non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption” that will sell mobile phone service and, for as little as $20 a month, Internet connectivity. The ISP would not merely employ every technological means at its disposal, including encryption and limited logging, to protect its customers. It would also — and in practice this is likely more important — challenge government surveillance demands of dubious legality or constitutionality.
B. Wired (4/16): New U.S. Interrogation Tool: Science
Earlier this month, the secretive unit, known as the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, put out a call for “behavioral science research to advance the science and practice of intelligence interviewing and interrogation.” Behind that dry and bureaucratic language is a major success for opponents of torture…. Years later, after all this came to light, a group of actual behavioral scientists, military interrogators and terrorism experts came to believe that the torture of al-Qaida detainees was worse than a crime; it was a mistake. They set to work creating a blueprint to rectify that mistake — with science.
Government Policy Under Scrutiny
A. San Francisco Bay Guardian (4/11): Lee veto protects the SFPD’s ability to spy on you
Mayor Ed Lee yesterday vetoed legislation that would have banned San Francisco Police Department officers working with the FBI from conducting covert surveillance on law-abiding citizens. Not terrorists, not criminals, not foreign spies, but people like you (well, people like you who are Muslim, protesters, visitors to certain websites, or people who otherwise have caught the attention of the FBI) who are not even suspected of criminal activity.
B. Antiwar.com (4/12): Judge Allows CIA, FBI Secrecy on Rendition
The judge’s decision comes amid fresh reports of US-UK cooperation on the extraordinary rendition – the process whereby the government sends terror suspects off to the custody of authoritarian states to be tortured – with the former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. Tony Lloyd, vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Group, said the decision was “disappointing” and was intended to avoid embarrassment, instead of for national security reasons.
C. Lawfareblog.com (4/15): Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Rewrites the Anti-NDAA Bill
The governor’s version narrows the bill a bit, but leaves its structure intact.
D. Washington Post (4/16): Convicted defendants left uninformed of forensic flaws found by Justice Dept.
Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.
E. Talking Points Memo (4/16): What Cybersecurity Bill CISPA Really Says
“It’s a sophisticated scheme of removing legal barriers,” said Lee Tien, the senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation…. [H]is chief objections are the fact that the bill contains these provisions, coupled with a few more that allow companies to essentially ignore current laws, including federal wiretapping laws. Specifically, Tien pointed to a part of CISPA that reads that “notwithstanding any other provision of law, a cybersecurity provider…may” obtain and share “cyber threat information…. That’s essentially immunity or exemption from liability…. It nullifies or negates laws that otherwise might restrict them [the government and companies]. Right now, companies can share information, but if they don’t do it the right way, the legal way, you can sue them.”
A. Azeem Ibrahim in Huffington Post (4/12): Who Is Watching Who and Why?
The history of infiltration by the FBI of US political and cultural movements shows that this is not a new phenomenon. Organizations for women’s rights, civil rights, anti-war and peace movements, and the New Left have all been infiltrated over the years by informants for purposes of disruption and political repression, in spite of the US insistence on “freedom of speech.” The ACLU reports that “Today the government is spying on Americans in ways the founders of our country could never have imagined.” In the post 9/11 world, with record intelligence budgets and a massive new homeland security bureaucracy, it is hardly surprising that spying has become more intensive. Infiltration to gather intelligence and intentionally disrupt and break up social movements cab be seen in the latest attempts to control and discredit the Occupy movement. And now the next outrage is the use of drones to “keep us safe.”
B. Chris Hedges in Truthdig (4/16): First They Come for the Muslims
These trials, where secrecy rules permit federal lawyers to prosecute people on “evidence” the defendants are not allowed to examine, are the harbinger of a corporate totalitarian state in which any form of dissent can be declared illegal. What the government did to Mehanna, and what it has done to hundreds of other innocent Muslims in this country over the last decade, it will eventually do to the rest of us.
C. Ross Caputi in Common Dreams (4/16): If Tarek Mehanna is Guilty So Am I
I found Tarek Mehanna’s sentencing statement eloquent and truthful. I agree with him that much of what the US military has done in Iraq and Afghanistan can be characterized as terrorism, and I support Afghans and Iraqis who fight back against us. What I helped do to the city of Fallujah was terrorism.
D. Glenn Greenwald in Salon (4/16): Personalizing civil liberties abuses
Al-Arian is in a frozen zone: denied his most basic liberties but without any ability to contest the charges against him. He’s now been imprisoned in one form or another since 2003, all stemming from extremely dubious charges that the U.S. Government, less than two years after the 9/11 attack, could not even get a Central Florida jury — with a very hostile judge — to convict him on. In reality, al-Arian has been persecuted for one reason only: because he’s a Palestinian activist highly critical of the four-decade brutal Israeli occupation.
I spoke in Washington at the annual event for the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, a group formed in late 2010 to work against these Terrorism-justified travesties that are now embedded in the American judicial system…..
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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.
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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