NCPCF NEWS DIGEST Vol. III – Issue No. 170 Friday, April 12, 2013
‘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 Event: Town Hall Discussion: Between The ‘War on Crime’ & The ‘War on Terror’
Free Shifa: 7 Years of Unjust Imprisonment
How many states, besides Oklahoma, ban Islamic law?
Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Being Force-Fed
ACLU wants contempt for prison that denied Muslim prayer
Standing up to Drone Diego
License plate readers threaten privacy
Obama’s drone war kills ‘others,’ not just al Qaida leaders
An Inconvenient Truth: Finally, proof that the U.S. has lied in the drone wars
New Evidence That Team Obama Misled Us About the Drone War
Three key lessons from the Obama administration’s drone lies
Author Event: “Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror”
British author Victoria Brittain will read from her new book, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror, and speak about the Guantanamo hunger strike and related issues. Moderated by Phyllis Bennis
When: Monday, April 15 at 6:30PM to 8:00PM
Where: Busboys and Poets, 14th & V Streets, Washington DC
Sponsored by: Institute for Policy Studies, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, Teaching for Change, Busboys and Poets
NCPCF Event: Town Hall Discussion: The Intersections Between The ‘War on Crime’ & The ‘War on Terror’
The US’ “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror” have produced a parallel system of state violence and social control, manifested through unjust prosecutions and the mass incarceration of people of color. Join our distinguished speakers for a town hall discussion as we hear first-hand stories from former prisoners, family members, lawyers, intellectuals, historians and activists about excessive sentences, discriminatory policing, suppression of political dissent, and mass incarceration.
When: Thursday, April 18 at 6:30PM to 8:30PM
Where: At The Riverside Church Assembly Hall, 490 Riverside Drive, NY, NY 10027
Sponsored by: CTENJC, The Campaign to End The New Jim Crow
Cosponsored by: NCPCF-National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, CAIR-Council on American Islamic Relations, DRUM, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Justice by the Pen
Muslim Legal Fund of America: Free Legal Clinic at Dearborn Community Center
Free, anonymous, advice-only legal clinic. Get your legal questions answered by volunteer attorneys. One-on-one, private consultations.
When: Saturday, April 20 at 2:00PM – 5:00PM
Where: Dearborn Community Center, 3900 Schaefer Rd., Dearborn MI 48126
Poll of the Week
Are you surprised by recent revelations that the Obama administration made false statements about its targeted killing program?
CCR: Emergency: 2013 Hunger Strike at Guantánamo. Learn About It & Act Now
CAIR: Tell Congress to Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Website of the Week
CAIR: A Brief Overview of the Pervasiveness of Anti-Islam/Islamophobic Legislation
In 2011 and 2012, 78 bills or amendments aimed at interfering with Islamic religious practices or vilifying Islam were considered in 31 states and the U.S. Congress. Sixty-two of these bills contained language that was extracted from Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) model legislation. Yerushalmi is a central player in the Islamophobia industry.
Portraits of Injustice/Voices of Victims of Repression
Free Shifa: 7 Years of Unjust Imprisonment
April 17 will mark the 7 year anniversary of unjust imprisonment of Shifa Sadequee. He is currently serving a 17-year sentence in a CMU in Terre Haute, IN for crimes he did not commit. A US citizen by birth, Shifa was tortured in pre-trial solitary confinement for over 1,300 days and subjected to prison violence in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary.
Take Action: Write to and show your support for Shifa:
FCI Terre Haute, Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 33, Terre Haute, IN 47808
A. NPR Books, Morning Edition (4/9): ‘Way Of The Knife’ Explains CIA Shift From Spying To Killing
(Audio; 8 min.)
When the CIA came into being in 1947, its mandate was to keep tabs on events around the world. Gather intelligence about foreign governments. Spy. But the agency has evolved away from this original mission, as Mark Mazzetti reports in a new book, The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth.
B. CAIRtv (4/11): Islamophobic NC Lawmaker Shuts Office Door on Reporters
(Video: 1 min.)
An American-Islamic group wants national Republican leaders to repudiate comments by a North Carolina legislator who compared Muslim prayer to terrorism.
Pre-Crime Reports/Pre-emptive Prosecutions/Thought Crimes/Entrapment/Material Support
A. The New York Times (4/8): Judge Rules Against Veteran Who Fought Alongside Syrian Rebels
Paul Higginbotham, an F.B.I. agent on the case, admitted that Mr. Harroun had told agents he “hated Al Qaeda” and that they had no evidence that he held “fundamentalist or jihadist views.” Given that fact, Mr. Harroun’s lawyer, Geremy C. Kamens of the federal public defender’s office, called the case “unique in American law.” “Never, to my knowledge, has the U.S. government charged a U.S. citizen for fighting with a group aligned with U.S. interests,” Mr. Kamens said.
B. LA Times (4/8): California man gets 17-year prison term in Seattle terrorist plot
A California man diagnosed with schizophrenia was sentenced to 17 years in prison Monday for his role in a 2011 plot to attack a Seattle military center for new recruits. […] Mujahidh, who was also diagnosed as bipolar, had drifted in and out of hospitals across the United States for much of his life, and became radicalized after watching Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” in 2007, according to court documents.
C. The New York Times (4/8): Citing Cuts, Lawyers Seek Relief in Terrorism Case
Federal public defenders who are representing a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden on terrorism charges urged a judge on Monday not to hold an early trial because automatic government budget cuts were requiring furloughs of lawyers in their office. In seeking the delay, lawyers for Mr. Abu Ghaith, who was arraigned in March, cited the need for overseas investigation, the translation of voluminous materials and other issues. “We would urge the court to find a later date,” one lawyer, Martin Cohen, said.
D. Associated Press (4/9): Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, bin Laden’s son-in-law, gets trial date
Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law will go on trial in January on charges that he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida’s chief spokesman, a judge said Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan announced the Jan. 7 date for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in a one-sentence order. Kaplan said he had hoped to start the trial as early as this fall until a public defender complained at a hearing Monday that across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, would force some lawyers to be furloughed for more than five weeks, making it impossible to prepare for trial quickly.
E. The New York Times (4/10): Army Judge Raises Burden in Private’s Trial on Leaks
The judge, Col. Denise Lind, ruled at a pretrial hearing that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Private Manning had “reason to believe” that the files could be used to harm the United States or to aid a foreign power. Prosecutors had contended that they should be required to prove only that he willfully disclosed defense-related files to win a conviction under the spying law.
Islamophobia and Civil Rights
A. Associated Press (4/8): Bill against foreign laws in courts clears panel
Legislation aimed at banning Shariah, or Islamic law, and other foreign laws from Florida courts barely survived a key test in a state Senate committee on Monday after opponents berated it as a solution to a “phantom menace.” […] Ronald Bilbao of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said the bill is “a solution in search of a problem.”
B. Orlando Sentinel (4/9): How many states, besides Oklahoma, ban Islamic law?
The Oklahoma legislature passed a bill Monday to prevent the use of religious or foreign law in state courts. Between 2010 and 2012, lawmakers in 32 states introduced similar bills, and six states – Oklahoma, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota and Tennessee – enacted such bills into law.
See also: Examiner (4/10): Oklahoma Senate Passes Legislation to Forbid Use of Foreign or Religious Law
On Monday, the Oklahoma State Senate passed legislation that would prevent the use of religious or foreign laws in American courts. Considered by some to be the “anti-Sharia” bill, House Bill 1060 passed the Oklahoma Senate on a vote of 40-3. An amendment to the bill was added. That amendment must be approved by the bill’s author before going to the desk of the Oklahoma governor.
Prison Conditions and Abuse/CMUs
A. The Huffington Post (4/8): Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Being Force-Fed
The U.S. government has begun notifying lawyers of Guantanamo Bay prisoners if the men they represent are being force-fed to prevent them from starving to death in a hunger strike that has dragged on for more than two months, though its extent remains in dispute. Cori Crider, a lawyer for Yemeni prisoner Samir Mukbel, said she received notification from the Department of Justice late last week that her client was being force-fed and was permitted to speak with him by phone Monday to confirm the report.
See also: Salon (4/9): Government notifies lawyers of force-fed Gitmo hunger strikers
While U.S. military officials continue to downplay the extent of the Guantánamo Bay hunger strike – claimed by attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights to now involve over 100 inmates — the government has started notifying lawyers about which detainees are being force-fed in order to keep them alive. The current hunger strike, which began in early February, was reportedly orchestrated in response to what detainees call undue intrusions and handling by guards of personal affects, including Qurans. The hunger strikers are also protesting “the virtual halt in releases under President Barack Obama,” the AP reported.
B. Associated Press (4/10): Lawyers for American Taliban fighter Lindh want prison agency in contempt over prayers
The prison has “knowingly and intentionally established a procedure and schedule for prayers that prevents John Lindh and other Muslim prisoners within the CMU from engaging in congregate prayer during all times that they are released from their cells,” the motion said. Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, said it was “immensely disappointing that the federal government feels it can avoid complying with the judge’s order.”
See also: USA Today (4/10): ACLU wants contempt for prison that denied Muslim prayer
The ACLU of Indiana argues that isn’t what Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson’s Jan. 11 ruling required. Magnus-Stinson said Lindh, 32, sincerely believes Islam mandates Muslims pray together five times a day and federal law requires the prison to accommodate his beliefs. The motion also said prayer times set by the prison during some times of year make only two daily prayers possible or make prayers impossible to perform during the proper times.
Community Action/Building Our Coalition
A. Salon (4/8): EFF and ACLU team up against CISPA
As noted here previously, a revamped version of CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), which is just as bad in terms of privacy protections as its first failed iteration, is in the “mark up” stage in the House. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU are working together to rally opposition to the bill, which would entail companies potentially handing over users’ private information and browsing histories to the government. Representatives from the two groups took to Reddit Monday to answer questions about CISPA and their campaign to stop the bill’s progression into law. EFF’s Mark Jaycox explained the current state of CISPA bill H.R. 624.
B. Wired (4/9): Secrets of FBI Smartphone Surveillance Tool Revealed in Court Fight
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, who have filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden’s motion, maintain that the order does not qualify as a warrant and that the government withheld crucial information from the magistrate — such as identifying that the tracking device they planned to use was a stingray and that its use involved intrusive measures — thus preventing the court from properly fulfilling its oversight function. “It shows you just how crazy the technology is, and [supports] all the more the need to explain to the court what they are doing,” says EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury. “This is more than just [saying to Verizon] give us some records that you have sitting on your server. This is reconfiguring and changing the characteristics of the [suspect’s] property, without informing the judge what’s going on.”
C. Michigan Live (4/9): Indefinite detention: Michigan House panel approves ‘push back’ against federal government
“We’re standing up for the rights of people in Michigan,” said Republican Rep. Tom McMillin of Rochester Hills, who introduced the House bill and chairs the oversight committee. “Due process should be a no-brainer.” The legislation, supported by a diverse coalition including the ACLU of Michigan and various Tea Party groups, is a response to the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision allowing the military to indefinitely detain any individual believed to have supported al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
D. The Hartford Guardian (4/9): Hartford Group to Protest Guantanamo
The Hartford Catholic Worker on April 11 will join the Amistad Catholic Worker in New Haven and other local and national groups ”in an emergency national day of action to demand the closure of Guantanamo and an end to indefinite detention.”
The simultaneous demonstrations in Hartford and New Haven was coordinated by national groups such as Witness Against Torture and the Center for Constitutional Rights, organizers said.
E. Tenth Amendment Center (4/10): California NDAA Nullification Bill Passes Assembly Committee Unanimously
Today, the California Public Safety Committee voted unanimously in favor of Assembly Bill 351 (AB351), the California Liberty Preservation Act. Introduced by Republican Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, AB351 is a strong stand against “indefinite detention” as supposedly authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. It declares such federal power to be unconstitutional and also requires the entire state to refuse to enforce or assist its implementation. A broad coalition officially supported the legislation and moved the normally partisan, and strongly democratic committee to support the republican-introduced legislation.
F. Socialist Worker (4/11): Standing up to Drone Diego
San Diego, the city with the dubious distinction as the drone production capital of the world, was home to Drone Diego, four days of protest actions and meetings from April 4-7. Drone Diego was part of the National Days of Action Against Drones, a coordinated series of anti-drone events being held during April across the U.S., from Hawaii to Maine and Washington state to Washington, D.C.
Civil Freedoms Under Threat
A. Boston Globe (4/9): License plate readers threaten privacy
Absent commonsense privacy protections enshrined in law, license plate readers enable the government to retroactively track the movements of every single motorist in the state and nation — all without suspicion of wrongdoing or warrants. According to the Globe, “seven Boston-area police departments will add a combined 21 new license readers during the next month alone.” And that’s just the Boston metropolitan region. License plate readers are likewise spreading like wildfire state- and nationwide. Alarmingly, a police officer interviewed for today’s Globe story told the newspaper that we don’t need a law to protect the public from license plate reader-enabled, unwarranted government spying.
B. LA Times (4/10): CISPA passes House committee, angering privacy activists
The U.S. House Intelligence Committee overwhelmingly passed a cyber-security bill on Wednesday, angering privacy advocates who believe the bill fails to protect critical personal information. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013, or CISPA, passed by a vote of 18 to 2, with only two Democrats voting against it. It now will move to the full U.S. House of Representatives for a vote that could be held as early as next week.
Government Policies Under Scrutiny
A. China Daily (4/8): Drones take toll on mental health
After nine friends and relatives were killed in a US drone strike four years ago, Mohammed Fahim took tranquilizers to blot out the nightmares. The 19 year-old is one of a growing number of Pakistanis living in the tribal areas on the Afghan border who has suffered from conditions related to depression, anxiety and other mental health problems because of war. […] He insists that no one in his family was associated with Islamist militancy. US officials say the covert drone war in Pakistan involves surgical, pinpointed strikes against known killers that cause few if any civilian casualties.
B. McClatchy (4/9): Obama’s drone war kills ‘others,’ not just al Qaida leaders
Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.
C. Wired (4/9): Blood Money, Kill Lists, Favors for Favors: Deep Inside the CIA’s Targeted Killings
Targeted killing — particularly the sort carried out by the U.S. fleet of deadly flying robots — is a transactional business. That’s a major point of The Way of The Knife, the informative new book by Mark Mazzetti, a national-security correspondent for the New York Times. The U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan kicked off with the 2004 killing of Nek Mohammed, an extremist in the tribal areas who was not a senior al-Qaida figure. Mohammed was someone the Pakistanis wanted dead. The U.S. wanted access to Pakistan’s airspace and, it was once hoped, western tribal territory, where al-Qaida operated. Over the years, the U.S. got the former and (rarely) the latter, giving birth to a quid pro quo that spread to Yemen and beyond.
D. The Hill (4/9): Senate Judiciary panel to see legal justification for killing US citizens
The Obama administration on Wednesday is expected to grant members of the Senate Judiciary Committee access to its legal justification for killing suspected terrorists who are U.S. citizens. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told The Hill that he and other members of the panel will be given access to the detailed Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos, which lay out the administration’s legal support for targeting U.S. citizens who are suspected of being terrorists, pose an “imminent threat” to U.S. national security and for whom capture is not an option.
E. Wired (4/10): Obama’s Defense Budget Shows the Drone Spending Boom Is Over
As Danger Room first reported last week, the era of tighter defense budgets does not spare the remotely piloted planes, something that’s been a long time in coming. While the Navy is enthusiastic about its forthcoming drone fleet, the Air Force — which has long had mixed feelings about drones — now talks about “realign[ing] funds to right-size” its robotic planes. That means buying fewer of them.
A. Ken Hanly in Digital Journal (4/8): Op-Ed: UN High Commisionner claims Guantanamo violates international law
[Navi] Pillay, [the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said:“I am deeply disappointed that the US Government has not been able to close Guantanamo Bay, despite repeatedly committing itself to do so. Allegedly, around half of the 166 detainees still being held in detention have been cleared for transfer to either home countries or third countries for resettlement. Yet they remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay. Others reportedly have been designated for further indefinite detention. Some of them have been festering in this detention centre for more than a decade. This raises serious concerns under international law. It severely undermines the United States’ stance that it is an upholder of human rights, and weakens its position when addressing human rights violations elsewhere.”
B. Micah Zenko in Foreign Policy (4/10): An Inconvenient Truth: Finally, proof that the United States has lied in the drone wars
It turns out that the Obama administration has not been honest about who the CIA has been targeting with drones in Pakistan. Jonathan Landay, national security reporter at McClatchy Newspapers, has provided the first analysis of drone-strike victims that is based upon internal, top-secret U.S. intelligence reports. It is the most important reporting on U.S. drone strikes to date because Landay, using U.S. government assessments, plainly demonstrates that the claim repeatedly made by President Obama and his senior aides — that targeted killings are limited only to officials, members, and affiliates of al Qaeda who pose an imminent threat of attack on the U.S. homeland — is false.
C. Conor Friedersdorf in The Altantic (4/10): New Evidence That Team Obama Misled Us About the Drone War
There has long been evidence indicating the Obama Administration was misleading the country about the nature of its drone war in Pakistan. This latest report only confirms the suspicions that critics of the program have articulated. And there is reason to believe that even it understates the magnitude of executive branch deception. Says Marcy Wheeler, “This report is perhaps most interesting for the fact that CIA, in its own documents, claims that none of the 40-some people killed at Datta Khel on May 17, 2011 were civilians. In other words, the CIA is lying — even internally — about drone strikes as blatantly as it did about torture.”
D. Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian (4/11): Three key lessons from the Obama administration’s drone lies
(1) The Obama administration often has no idea who they are killing. This has long been the most amazing aspect of the drone debate to me. Not even the CIA, let alone ordinary citizens, has any idea of the identity of many of the people they are targeting for death. Despite this central ignorance, huge numbers of people walk around in some sort of zombie-like state repeatedly spouting the mantra that “Drones are Good because We are Killing the Terrorists” – even though the CIA itself, let alone citizens defending its killings, have no clue who is even being targeted.
Please help NCPCF fulfill its 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.
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 Civil Liberties Union (MCLU) – Muslim Justice Initiative (MJI) – Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) – National Lawyers Guild (NLG) – National Liberty Fund (NLF) – The Peace Thru Justice Foundation (PTJF) – Project Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims (Project SALAM) – United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) – Universal Justice Foundation (UJF).
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