NCPCF NEWS DIGEST Vol. III – Issue No. 171 Tuesday, April 16, 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
Muslim Groups Condemn Boston Bombings
NCPCF Event: Town Hall Discussion: The ‘War on Crime’ & The ‘War on Terror‘
Take Action: Spread translations of Tarek Mehanna’s Sentencing Statement!
Free Shifa: 7 Years of Unjust Imprisonment
Useful Reports: The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment
Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel: Gitmo Is Killing Me
Video: Victoria Brittain Interview on DN! Discussing Her Book “Shadow Lives…”
Anti-Islamic Hate-crime Rate Differs Greatly Among States
Leading Human Rights Groups Question Legality of Targeted Killing Program
Black Churches Condemn Obama Admin’s Drone Policy as Murder and Evil
People protest US assassinations drones in Washington
Troops forcibly move hunger strikers at Guantánamo into cells
The Enemy-Industrial Complex
The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions
Muslim Groups Condemn Boston Bombings
CAIR MPAC ISNA ICNA Muslim Peace Coalition
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 – 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
NCPCF Event: Scapegoated and Buried Alive – The NCPCF Campaign To Free Political Prisoners
Support our Muslim sisters as they protest how the Justice Department turned their relatives into political prisoners and buried them alive in federal prisons.
When: Friday, May 3 at 3:30PM – 5:30PM
Where: In front of the U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW , Washington, DC
Hear their stories. Demand accountability. Insist that all political prisoners be released.
For more information: Call (202) 246-9608; Email firstname.lastname@example.org; Visit: www.civilfreedoms.org
Poll of the Week
Are you surprised by recent revelations that the Obama administration made false statements about its targeted killing program
ACTION ALERT: Spread Translations of Tarek Mehanna’s Sentencing Statement!
April 12th marked the one year anniversary of Dr. Tarek Mehanna’s sentencing. A year ago, Tarek stood in front of Judge O’Toole, the US Attorneys that had prosecuted him, the media, and a room overflowing with supporters, and spoke eloquently about his beliefs, his sacrifice, and his struggle. He told the world then the real reasons he was being targeted, prosecuted, and jailed. His speech not only inspired people and received a standing ovation, it brought worldwide attention to the injustices of his trial and trials like his in which the government targets and entraps Muslim men to further their “war on terror.” That day, Tarek turned the mirror on the government, and we recognized his act of courage as a victory.
The government was fixated upon Tarek’s translations; they saw his translations as dangerous, as spreading radical ideas from the enemy culture to our “superior” American culture. Let’s show the prosecution that Tarek’s spreading of ideas has just begun! A year later, let’s honor Tarek’s sacrifice and remember his message of a people’s right to self-defense by re-posting translations of his moving speech. This link contains translations of his speech in different languages; repost these on Facebook, tumblr, email them out, print them out and post them around town. Or make a translation of your own and distribute it. Even behind bars, Tarek’s message will not be silenced!
This is a continuous action! If you can’t do it today, do it tomorrow!
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
Tomorrow, April 17th, 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
Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel in The New York Times (4/14): Gitmo Is Killing Me
One man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago. I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity. I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here.
The Constitution Project Report :Task Force on Detainee Treatment [577 pp.]
The report examines the federal government’s policies and actions related to the capture, detention and treatment of suspected terrorists during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations and across multiple theaters.
See also: The Huffington Post (4/16): U.S. Tortured Detainees And Top Officials Are Responsible: Report
– A two-year independent investigation by the Constitution Project released Tuesday said that U.S. forces engaged in torture and senior officials bear responsibility for it. The nonpartisan, 577-page report concluded that the events of the “war on terror” following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were “unprecedented” in American history. While the authors concede that some U.S. forces have committed brutal acts, they wrote that there has been no evidence that a U.S. president and top officials discussed the legality and effectiveness of “inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in custody.” The report is a rebuke to President Barack Obama’s opposition to investigating torture under the Bush administration. As he said in an interview following his election in 2008, Obama has advocated “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward.”
The Constitution Project Press Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (4/16):Release of Task Force Report on Detainee Treatment (Video: 1 hr.)
Democracy Now (4/12): Victoria Brittain: “Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror” (Video: 23 min.)
Our guest, Victoria Brittain, is a leading British journalist who has closely covered Guantánamo for years. She co-wrote a memoir by former Guantánamo prisoner Moazzam Begg called Enemy Combatant. She co-authored the play Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom. Her latest book has just been published; it’s titled Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror. Brittain also worked as associate foreign editor at The Guardian newspaper for 20 years.
Pre-Crime Reports/Pre-emptive Prosecutions/Thought Crimes/Entrapment/Material Support
Reuters (4/11): Guantanamo pretrial hearing delayed as legal files vanish
retrial hearings in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals have been delayed to address the mysterious disappearance of defense legal documents from Pentagon computers, military officials said on Thursday. The defense lawyers said their confidential work documents began vanishing from Pentagon computers in February and that there was evidence their internal emails and internet searches had been monitored by third parties. They want all the hearings in both death penalty cases halted until the issues have been satisfactorily addressed.
Islamophobia and Civil Rights
A. Orlando Sentinel (4/10): Horse-trading or coincidence? Democratic Sen. Thompson gets money for earmark after voting for Republican-backed bill
Forty-eight hours ago, Sen. Geraldine Thompson stunned activists by casting the deciding vote in favor of a hotly contested bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Alan Hays, that would restrict courts from invoking international law in certain legal disputes, such as divorce or child-custody cases. Critics have blasted the legislation (SB 58) as anti-Islamic pandering, and Thompson could have single-handedly killed the bill. Instead, the Orlando Democrat sided with Republicans on the Senate’s Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee and allowed it to squeak by on a 5-4 vote.
B. Associated Press (4/11): Okla. Muslim group urges veto of foreign law ban
A Muslim advocacy group is calling on Gov. Mary Fallin to veto a bill that would ban the application of foreign law in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma House on Thursday gave approved and sent to Fallin the bill that provides any court ruling based on foreign law that violates the Oklahoma or U.S. constitutions is void and unenforceable. The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged Fallin to veto the bill, calling it a “thinly-veiled effort to vilify Islam.”
C. TFN Insider (4/11): Sharia Ban Advances in Texas Senate
In an impromptu meeting called at the close of the Senate’s regular business on Wednesday, the Business and Commerce Committee quietly — and narrowly — voted to pass Senate Bill 1639 by a vote of 5-4. [...] It’s not exactly surprising to see a measure targeting the mythical threat of Sharia law advance in Texas — it’s certainly not the first time. But given the overwhelming chorus of voices that unequivocally demonstrated that there is no problem with Sharia law in Texas courts, it is a little disconcerting.
D. Kansas City infoZine (4/14): Anti-Islamic Hate-crime Rate Differs Greatly Among States
Anti-Islamic hate crimes have increased significantly nationwide since 2009, but the trend is complicated to decipher at the state level. An analysis by the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire found that states with the largest Muslim populations have broad disparities in anti-Islamic, hate-crime incidents. For example, Texas has three times as many Muslims (421,972) as Michigan (120,351), yet Michigan had more than triple the number of anti-Islamic hate crimes (19) as Texas did in 2011 (six), according to the states’ law enforcement agencies and demographic data from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.
Prison Conditions and Abuse/CMUs
A. Reuters (4/11): Red Cross chief presses U.S. on Guantanamo hunger strike
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday expressed opposition to the force-feeding of prisoners staging a mass hunger strike at the Guantanamo prison camp and said he urged President Barack Obama to do more to resolve the “untenable” legal plight of inmates held there.
B. The Miami Herald (4/12): Navy names next prison camps commander
Rear Adm. Richard W. Butler, currently serving as deputy director of the Navy’s Air Warfare Requirements division in Washington, D.C., will take over as the top officer of the prison camps sometime this summer as part of an ordinary one-year rotation, Navy Capt. Robert Durand said by email from Guantánamo. The current commander, Navy Rear Adm. John W. Smith Jr., will become commandant of the Joint Forces Staff College at the National Defense University in Norfolk, Va.
C. The Miami Herald (4/13): Guantánamo hunger strikers: The dilemma of forced feeding
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said this week that the group disagrees with the United States over its practice of force-feeding captives at Guantánamo. As of Sunday, 43 of the 166 war-on-terror captives are on hunger strikes, and 13 of them were receiving tube feedings, spokesman Navy Capt. Robert Durand said. “There is a discrepancy between the position of the United States and the ICRC. That’s very much part of, a point on the agenda,” the Red Cross’ Peter Maurer told reporters a day after meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the ongoing crisis at the prison camps in southeast Cuba. The Red Cross position, as is that of other international medical groups, is that when it comes to eating, prisoners have the right to choose their fate.
D. The New York Times (4/13): Mounting Tensions Escalate Into Violence During Raid at Guantánamo Prison
Weeks of mounting tensions between the military and detainees at the wartime prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, escalated into violence on Saturday during a raid in which guards forced prisoners living in communal housing to move to individual cells. [...] The raid came shortly after a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross completed a three-week visit to examine the prisoners and study the circumstances of a hunger strike that has been roiling the camp for weeks. The Red Cross visit concluded on Friday, and most of the delegation left that same day, though a few flew out Saturday morning, said Simon Schorno, a Red Cross spokesman.
E. The Miami Herald (4/14): Troops forcibly move hunger strikers at Guantánamo into cells
U.S. forces raided Guantanamo’s showcase prison camp early Saturday, at times battling with detainees, to systematically empty communal cellblocks in an effort to end a three-month-old protest that prisoners said was sparked by mistreatment of the Quran, the military said. [...] The pre-dawn operation took place hours after delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross left the remote island prison and during a blackout of news media access to the crisis in the prison camps. The worst injury involved a rubber pellet piercing a captive’s “flank,” said Army Col. Gregory Julian at the U.S. Southern Command, which has oversight of the prison camps operation.
F. RT (4/15): Gitmo prisoner: ‘I will not eat until they restore my dignity’
In 2011, the official magazine for the US Council on Foreign Relations published a profile of the prison in which the author acknowledged, “The only guaranteed route out of Guantánamo these days for a detainee, it seems, is in a body bag.” Practically two years later, Moqbel and his fellow inmates say that the situation remains the same. “I do not want to die here, but until President Obama and Yemen’s president do something, that is what I risk every day,” he says.
Community Action/Building Our Coalition
A. War Is A Crime.org (2/22): Black Churches Condemn Obama Administration’s Drone Policy as Murder and Evil
The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans calls Obama’s policy on the right to kill Americans who are associated with terrorist organizations either at home or abroad murder, which constitutes evil in the Christian tradition. The Holy Scripture says, “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”. The black church is not only appalled that this comes out of the administration of the only black president, but we are frightened by the monstrous tendencies that have emerged from this administration. The unleashing of the mechanical drones kill not only their target but everyone that is near who is morally innocent of any crime. The church’s heart cries out for mercy and sanity for such an ill-conceived policy. President Obama has to be roaringly condemned by the entire Christian church for allowing such a policy to emerge from such a promising administration.
B. Courthouse News Service (4/10): FBI Sued for Info on Supersnooping Program
The FBI refuses to provide information on a massive biometric identification database that can identify noncriminal civilians through iris scans, DNA, and facial and voice recognition, a watchdog claims in court. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, sued the FBI in Federal Court, claiming that the bureau identified more than 7,000 pages of responsive records, but won’t release them. EPIC claims the FBI began posting details on its website about its biometric identification system, known as Next Generation Identification (NGI), in 2009. “When completed, the NGI system will be the largest biometric database in the world,” EPIC says in its complaint. “The vast majority of records contained in the NGI database will be of U.S. citizens.”
C. Foreign Policy Blog (4/11): Coalition forms against CIA officer entangled in torture tape scandal
What started as a murmur is turning into a yell. On Wednesday, a coalition of religious leaders and human rights groups joined to protest the promotion of a CIA officer accused of advocating for torture in the aftermath of 9/11. [...] “We are deeply concerned by reports in reputable news sources that you are considering appointing as the new Director of Clandestine Service of the Central Intelligence Agency an individual who reportedly was closely involved in setting up CIA secret detention facilities (known as ‘black sites’),” reads the letter, obtained by Foreign Policy. “The same person was also allegedly involved in creating and operating the CIA interrogation program, which employed torture, and ordering the destruction of interrogation videotapes that depicted torture.”
D. Center for Constitional Rights (4/12): Leading Human Rights Groups Question Legality of Targeted Killing Program
CCR was among ten prominent human rights and civil liberties organizations that sent a letter to the president yesterday detailing their concerns with the legality of his rapidly expanding targeted killing program. It marks the first time the groups have come together and put forth a shared position on the issue. Read the letter here
See also: The New York Times (4/13): Rights Groups, in Letter to Obama, Question Legality and Secrecy of Drone Killings
While not directly calling the strikes illegal under international law, the letter lists what it calls troubling reports of the criteria used by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command to select targets and assess results. The reported policies raise “serious questions about whether the U.S. is operating in accordance with international law,” the letter says. It is also signed by the Center for Civilians in Conflict and units of the New York University and Columbia Law Schools. The letter comes as American strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and the example the United States has set for the world, are drawing intense scrutiny.
E. Press TV (4/14): People protest US assassinations drones in Washington
People have staged a demonstration in Washington to protest against the United Sates’ use of assassination drones. The protesters gathered outside the White House as they were chanting slogans and holding signs against Washington’s use of drones. Saturday’s protest is part of a series of public protests, dubbed April Days of Action, which the organizers say will spread nationwide and target the infrastructure — the military bases, universities and companies — that supports the US government’s overseas drone program. The activists want President Barack Obama to abandon his assassination drone program.
Civil Freedoms Under Threat
A. LA Times (4/12): Cyber security bill pits tech giants against privacy activists
“This is sort of a ‘privacy versus big corporation’ moment,” said Michelle Richardson, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been campaigning against the cyber security bill. This is a striking departure from the much-publicized fight last year over the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, a bill backed by Hollywood and the recording industry. Activists launched a high-profile and sweeping online campaign against the bill. Many hailed it as evidence of the power of Internet activism.
B. Fox News (4/12): NSA data center front and center in debate over liberty, security and privacy
The NSA says the Utah Data Center is a facility for the intelligence community that will have a major focus on cyber security. The agency will neither confirm nor deny specifics. Some published reports suggest it could hold 5 zettabytes of data. (Just one zettabyte is the equivalent of about 62 billion stacked iPhones 5’s– that stretches past the moon. [...] But critics, including former NSA employees, say the data center is front and center in the debate over liberty, security and privacy.
“[It] raises the most serious questions about the vast amount of data that could be kept in one place for many, many different sources,” Thomas Drake told Fox News.
C. Marion Star (4/15): Proposed aerial surveillance concerns Dayton
An aerial surveillance system proposed to help deter crime in a southwest Ohio city is drawing concerns from a civil liberties group and residents who fear it would violate individuals’ privacy rights. Some Dayton residents and officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio are worried about the surveillance video that would be recorded by a camera system on piloted aircraft. “I’m concerned that this system would allow police to collect a huge amount of data that could then be mined for violations, even minor ones people might break unknowingly,” said lawyer and Dayton resident Vernellia Randall, who also worries that innocent people’s movements might be tracked.
D. Times Dispatch (4/15): States compete to be drone test sites
The prospect of drones flying over U.S. cities is generating worries over spies in the skies. Still, groups from California to Florida are fiercely competing to become one of six federally designated sites for testing how the remotely piloted aircraft can safely be incorporated into the nation’s airspace. North Dakota boasts of its “minimal air traffic congestion.” North Carolina, whose license plates read “First in Flight,” cites its aviation history. California pitches its diverse geography: desert, mountains and ocean.
A. The Los Angeles Times Editorial (4/12): A WikiLeaks way out
The government’s case against Pfc. Bradley Manning smacks of overkill. It’s time to make a deal. [...] Prosecutors must prove that Pfc. Bradley Manning “had reason to believe” that the classified material he provided to WikiLeaks would harm the nation, a military judge ruled Wednesday — offering the Pentagon and the Obama administration an opportunity to bring an end to a prosecution that has become an exercise in overkill.
B. The Sacramento Bee Editorial (4/14): Secrecy allows U.S. drone war to spin out of control
It is now alarmingly clear that President Barack Obama and U.S. officials are secretly conducting a drone war that goes far beyond what they have said are its aims. A primary weapon in the war on terror is being used to kill too many people, including civilians, who pose no real threat to Americans. After the 9/11 attacks, it made sense to use the high-tech, unmanned drones to target al-Qaida leaders in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan without unnecessarily putting U.S. forces in harm’s way.
C. Tom Engelhardt in Tom Dispatch.com (4/14): The Enemy-Industrial Complex: How to Turn a World Lacking in Enemies into the Most Threatening Place in the Universe
All these years, we’ve been launching wars and pursuing a “global war on terror.” We’ve poured money into national security as if there were no tomorrow. From our police to our borders, we’ve up-armored everywhere. We constantly hear about “threats” to us and to the “homeland.” And yet, when you knock on the door marked “Enemy,” there’s seldom anyone home.
D. Sahar Aziz in The Huffington Post (4/15): Our Values Must Unite Us After Tragedy in Boston
Like millions of Americans across the nation, my heart dropped at the news of the bombings in Boston. As a mother, I was devastated for those who lost their children. As a spouse, I mourned for those who lost their life partner. And as a Muslim, I admittedly feared for the safety of my children and community from the inevitable backlash that would arise at the mere speculation that the suspect is a Muslim.
E. Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian (4/16): The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions
The widespread compassion for yesterday’s victims and the intense anger over the attacks was obviously authentic and thus good to witness. But it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers. These are exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade, with very little attention paid.
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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