Pre-Crime Reports/Pre-emptive Prosecutions/Thought Crimes/Entrapment/Material Support
A. Daily Beast (4/23): Mohamed Mohamud Trial: Was He Tricked Into Terrorism?
The feds had been investigating Mohamud’s Internet use since he was 17 (he is now 20), his lawyers say, and by the time the boy allegedly began reaching out to terrorist operatives and writing of jihad and martyrdom on the Web, the FBI was determined to snare him. So determined that they guided him to a dastardly plot every step of the way, federal public defender Stephen Sady argued in court this week and in briefs before that. Where Mohamud had a vague idea that he wanted to be a terrorist, Sady said, the FBI gave him an action plan and, eventually, a van stuffed full of fake explosives. When Mohamud wanted out, the government pulled him back in, urging him to help “the brothers.”
B. NPR (4/18): ‘Convention’ Of Convicted Terrorists At N.Y. Trial
The prosecution alleges that Medunjanin and two other men traveled to Pakistan in 2008 in hopes of joining the Taliban. They ran into an al-Qaida recruiter instead who convinced them to go back to the U.S. and launch an attack there. The trio allegedly planned the attacks for September 2009 to coincide with the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. What made this plot so serious, law enforcement officials say, is that it wasn’t just aspirational — it was operational. Medunjanin, former Denver shuttle bus driver Najibullah Zazi, 26, and Zarein Ahmedzay, 27, allegedly had the know-how they needed to build the explosives, put them in backpacks and ignite them on the trains. Zazi and Ahmedzay pleaded guilty to terrorism charges two years ago. Medunjanin’s defense says he split from his friends and backed away from the plot before it was going to occur
Civil Freedoms Under Threat
A. WarIsACrime.com (4/20): FBI Seizes Server from Progressive Internet Service Provider
Anonymous remailers have no logs or traces of who used them, so the FBI will not get any useful information from the stolen machine. Seizing this machine serves no useful purpose in tracking down or stopping the bomb threats, but it has many serious negative implications. Anonymous e-mail is an important part of the Internet. One of the benefits of Internet technology is the ability to communicate world-wide, and this communication is fundamental to the struggles of the world’s people to address many of the world’s ills. In a period in which our society has seen massive losses of privacy in which just about everything we do on-line can be tracked, logged, studied and used for all kinds of purposes, anonymous Internet-based communication tools provide shade from the intrusive searchlights of ubiquitous surveillance. Insiders who reveal government and military malfeasance, corporate whistleblowers, critics within institutions, organizers who fear police repression, and others involved in liberatory struggle can and do use anonymous e-mail. Anonymous e-mail is one of the critical tools of the democracy movement unfolding worldwide, including the Middle East. Without anonymous communications, such movements would have had even greater difficulty organizing and would face greater risks and repression.
B. Slate (4/20): How America Came To Torture Its Prisoners
Our highest government officials, up to and including President Bush, broke international and U.S. laws banning torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Worse, they made their subordinates in the military and civilian intelligence services break those laws for them. When the men and women they asked to break those laws protested, knowing they could be prosecuted for torture, they pretended to rewrite the law. They commissioned legal opinions they said would shield those who carried out the abuses from being hauled into court, as the torture ban requires. “The law has been changed,” detainees around the world were told. “No rules apply.” Then they tortured.
C. Wall Street Journal (4/21): Drone Use Takes Off on the Home Front
The more than 50 institutions that received approvals to operate remotely piloted aircraft are more varied than many outsiders and privacy experts previously knew. They include not only agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security but also smaller ones such as the police departments in North Little Rock, Ark., and Ogden, Utah, as well the University of North Dakota and Nicholls State University in Louisiana. The information, released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, came to light as the Federal Aviation Administration gears up to advance the widespread use of the drones. By the fall of 2015, Congress wants the agency to integrate remotely piloted aircraft throughout U.S. airspace.
Government Policy Under Scrutiny
Washington Post (4/19): Regulating domestic drones on a deadline
Two of the most relevant Supreme Court cases, California v. Ciraolo in 1986 and Florida v. Riley in 1989, addressed law enforcement’s use of manned aircraft to perform surveillance of a suspect’s property. In both cases, the court held that observations made from “public navigable airspace” in the absence of a warrant did not violate the Fourth Amendment. These precedents suggest, in a world in which UAVs will be inexpensive and plentiful, that government operators might have broad legal latitude to use them for surveillance. Nongovernment operators may have even fewer constraints regarding surveillance. And today’s cameras are far more capable than those of the 1980s and can acquire stunning high-resolution imagery from hundreds of feet away — imagery that can be processed using ever more capable computers. Against this backdrop, a coalition of civil liberties groups has petitioned the FAA “to conduct a rulemaking to address the threat to privacy and civil liberties that will result from the deployment of aerial drones within [the] United States.”
A. Steven Rosenfeld in Alternet (4/18): How Obama Became a Civil Libertarian’s Nightmare
While the Supreme Court eventually ruled that detainees have some rights, the precedent that the Constitution does not restrict how a president conducts an endless war against a stateless enemy was firmly planted. In response, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union proposed reforms the newly elected president could make. What few anticipated was how he would embrace, expand and institutionalize many of Bush’s war on terror excesses. President Obama now has power that Bush never had. Foremost is he can (and has) order the killing of U.S. citizens abroad who are deemed terrorists…. Domestic law enforcement has been militarized—as most visibly seen by the tactics used against the Occupy protests and also against suspected illegal immigrants, who are treated with brute force and have limited access to judicial review before being deported.
B. Cecillia Wang (ACLU) in McClatchy (4/18): Commentary: Will Americans tolerate laws that encourage racial profiling?
If the courts allow them to go forward, everyone in these states will always need to carry identity papers to guard against police intrusions. The simple act of running out to the grocery store or picking up a child from school could turn into a roadside detention or even a trip to jail. Jim Shee, an American citizen of Chinese and Spanish descent and a lifelong Arizona resident … was stopped twice by police and asked to show his “papers.” He now carries his passport with him at all times in case he is again pulled over and required to prove his right to be in his own country and city.
C. Engy Abdelkader in Huffington Post (4/20): Does Religion Matter? Time to End Profiling
Following the attacks, for example, thousands of Muslims were detained and interrogated but none were ever criminally charged with any ties to 9/11. More than a decade later, religious profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement persists…. Federal agents ask inappropriate questions like, “What is your religion?” “What mosque do you attend?” “What charities do you contribute to?” To make matters worse, agents have confiscated laptops, cell phones and cameras while forcing others to turn over business cards and credit card numbers without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Most recently, a group of Michigan-based Muslims who filed a lawsuit against the government to stop such religious profiling at the border. The lawsuit claims they have been held at gunpoint, handcuffed and repeatedly harassed about their religion when returning home to the U.S. from Canada.
D. Andrew F. March in the New York Times (4/21): A Dangerous Mind?
As a political scientist specializing in Islamic law and war, I frequently read, store, share and translate texts and videos by jihadi groups. As a political philosopher, I debate the ethics of killing. As a citizen, I express views, thoughts and emotions about killing to other citizens. As a human being, I sometimes feel joy (I am ashamed to admit) at the suffering of some humans and anger at the suffering of others. At Mr. Mehanna’s trial, I saw how those same actions can constitute federal crimes. Because Mr. Mehanna’s conviction was based largely on things he said, wrote and translated. Yet that speech was not prosecuted according to the Brandenburg standard of incitement to “imminent lawless action” but according to the much more troubling standard of having the intent to support a foreign terrorist organization.
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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 Civil Liberties Union (MCLU) – 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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