NCPCF News Digest Issue No. 31 —-August 5, 2011

‘Civil Freedoms for All’

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this issue    

Multimedia Debate: The Rule of Law and the War on Terrorism 

Meet the Right-Wing Hatemongers Who Inspired the Norway Killer Homegrown Hurt

 Muslim Americans: In Pursuit Of Justice – Mobile biometrics to hit US streets

Senate panel votes to extend surveillance law – To Fight Radicals U.S. Wants Muslim Allies

Poll of the Week     Voice your Opinion. VOTE!

What role does Islamophobia play in the abuses of the civil rights of American Muslims?


 Website of the Week    Center for Constitutional Rights – CMUs Project



Aspen Security Forum Debate (7/30): The Rule of Law and the War on Terrorism (75 min.)

Moderator: Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.

Panelists: Bill Bratton, former LA Police chief,  David Cole, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center; Alberto Gonzales, former Attorney General of the United States and White House Counsel; Anthony Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union; John Yoo, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice; Professor of Law, University of California at Berkeley.




A. Max Blumenthal in Alternet (8/2): Meet the Right-Wing Hatemongers Who Inspired the Norway Killer


Besides its length, one of the most remarkable aspects of the manifesto is the extent to which its European author quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement. Though he referred heavily to his fellow Norwegian, the blogger Fjordman, it was Robert Spencer, the American Islamophobic pseudo-academic, who received the most references from Breivik — 55 in all. Then there was Daniel Pipes, the Muslim-bashing American neoconservative who earned 18 citations from the terrorist. Other American anti-Muslim characters appear prominently in the manifesto, including the extremist blogger Pam Geller, who operates an Islamophobic organization in partnership with Spencer.

B. Huffington Post (8/2): Muslim Americans: In Pursuit Of Justice


There is still a public perception that Muslim Americans condone violence, which leads to the general perception of a lack of condemnation. Muslim Americans, according to Gallup polling conducted Feb. 10-March 11, 2010, and Oct. 1-21, 2010, are the most likely major faith group in the U.S. to reject violent attacks on civilians by individuals (89 percent vs. 79 percent or less among other major U.S. religious groups) as well as by the military (78 percent vs. 64 percent or less among other major U.S. religious groups). Ninety-two percent of Muslim Americans believe that Muslims living in this country have no sympathy for al Qaeda and 70 percent of Jewish Americans agree with their assessment. Yet there is still a significant portion of the American public that views Muslims through a lens of distrust.

C. New York Times (7/30): The Man Behind the Anti-Sharia Movement


Since last year, more than two dozen states have considered measures to restrict judges from consulting Shariah, or foreign and religious laws more generally. The statutes have been enacted in three states so far. In fact, it is the product of an orchestrated drive that began five years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in the office of a little-known lawyer, David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew with a history of controversial statements about race, immigration and Islam. Despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah.

Government Policies Under Scrutiny

A. Wired (7/28): Bill Would Force Intel Chief to Renounce ‘Secret Patriot Act’


For months, two Senators have screamed bloody murder that the government holds a secret legal interpretation of the Patriot Act so broad that it amounts to a whole different law giving the feds massive domestic surveillance powers. Now, a measure by Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall would force the U.S. intelligence chief, and by extension the entire intelligence community, to admit that they went too far in their Patriot Act interpretations — if they don’t find a way to wiggle out of it.

B. Bloomberg Businessweek (8/3): Senate panel votes to extend surveillance law


The Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to extend a wide-ranging surveillance law targeting foreigners overseas, but Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon says he will block the measure unless the public is told more about the law’s impact on people living in the United States.

In a closed-door session, the committee turned aside an amendment by Wyden and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado that would have directed the Justice Department’s inspector general to estimate how many people inside the U.S. have had their telephone calls and emails monitored by government agents under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008.

C. LA Times (8/2): Senator vows to block surveillance bill over privacy concerns


Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will seek to block passage of an intelligence bill that extends the government’s eavesdropping authorities because the intelligence community won’t say how many Americans are being monitored, he said Tuesday.
At issue is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was passed in 1978 in response to revelations of political wiretapping.

D. Privacy Inc. (7/28): House panel approves broadened ISP snooping bill


Internet providers would be forced to keep logs of their customers’ activities for one year–in case police want to review them in the future–under legislation that a U.S. House of Representatives committee approved today. The 19 to 10 vote represents a victory for conservative Republicans, who made data retention their first major technology initiative after last fall’s elections, and the Justice Department officials who have quietly lobbied for the sweeping new requirements.

E. Politico (8/1): Obama admin asserts state secrets privilege to dismiss Muslims’ suit


The Obama administration is invoking the state secrets privilege to seek dismissal of part of a lawsuit brought by Muslims who claim that the FBI conducted sweeping unconstitutional surveillance of Southern California mosques and those who practice Islam in the region. Attorney General Eric Holder said in papers filed Monday with the U.S. District Court in Orange County that the suit’s broad claims of impermissible religious bias by the FBI must be dismissed because allowing them to be litigated would require the disclosure of sensitive national security information.


CounterPunch (8/4): The New Operation Wetback


With over 392,000 deportations in 2010, more than in any of the Bush years, many activists fear we are in the midst of a repeat of notorious episodes of the past such as the “Repatriation” campaign of the 1930s and the infamous Operation Wetback of 1954, both of which resulted in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Latinos.

But several things are different this time around. A crucial distinction is that we are in the era of mass incarceration. Not only are the undocumented being deported, many are going to prison for years before being delivered across the border.

Terrorism Industry

New York Times (8/3): To Fight Radical Islam, U.S. Wants Muslim Allies


A National Security Council expert on extremism who helped devise the new strategy, Quintan Wiktorowicz, said the administration was aware of “inaccurate training” on Islam for law enforcement officers. He said the administration would compile “gold standard” materials to be posted on the Web for officials to draw upon. A January study by a liberal research group found a pattern of misleading and inflammatory training about Islam across the country, and a 2009 F.B.I. training document obtained recently by the American Civil Liberties Union gave a provocative account of Islam. That F.B.I. PowerPoint presentation was used for classes for law enforcement personnel at the bureau’s academy in Virginia, but it is no longer in use, according to the bureau. The F.B.I. document recommended two books by Robert Spencer, an anti-Muslim blogger and author whose work was repeatedly cited in the online manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian accused of killing at least 76 people last month.

Pre-crime Reports: Thoughtcrime Prosecutions

The Australian National Affairs (8/6): Former terror suspect David Hicks is being denied justice again


After years of incarceration without charges being laid, after torture and limited contact with the outside world, Hicks was given a choice: more indefinite detention or plead guilty as he did and quickly be returned to Australia. What would you do? After that kind of treatment I am surprised he didn’t plead guilty to the JFK assassination.


A. Denver Post Editorial (8/5): Answers needed on spying policy


Democrats Udall and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden have asked the administration to speak to how many Americans have been monitored under FISA. And they want to know whether and how the government is using cellphone location data to track Americans.

In the name of national security, the government has expansive powers to secretly eavesdrop on those they suspect are engaged in wrongdoing. Accountability must be an integral part of the equation when it comes to using these powers. The senators are not asking for information that will compromise security techniques.

B. Charles Kurzman in the Chronicle of Higher Education (7/31): Where are all the Islamic terrorists?           


I felt a creepy sensation that I have experienced often since 9/11. In the fields of Middle East and Islamic studies, bad news is good for business. The more that non-Muslims fear Islam, the more security threats are hyped, the more attention my colleagues and I get.

By contrast, I am in the awkward position of undermining the importance of my own field. My research finds that Islamic terrorism has not posed as large a threat as reporters and the public think—certainly not as large a threat as Al Qaeda and its affiliates intended. They routinely complain about the failure of Muslims to join their movement.

C. Massimo Calabresi in Time (8/2): The U.S. Committed Torture. Was it worth it?


Regardless of how awful the three men who were waterboarded are, and regardless of what information came exclusively from waterboarding as opposed to other techniques, I find it heartbreaking that the U.S. was on the wrong side of that victim-perpetrator equation.

D. Linda Greenhouse in the New York Times (7/37): Homegrown Hurt


What this had to do with Timothy McVeigh or other agents of terror, who would be tried in federal, not state, court, was obscure. But within weeks of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Senate voted 91 to 8 to pass the Comprehensive Terrorism Protection Act of 1995, which cut back sharply on state death-row inmates’ access to federal court. This bill eventually morphed into the broader Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which President Clinton signed shortly after the first anniversary of the bombing.

Civil Freedoms Under Threat

A. New York Post (7/31): Congress out to spy on your computer


If Congress had to name laws honestly, it would be called the “Forcing Your Internet Provider to Spy On You Just In Case You’re a Criminal Act of 2011” — a costly, invasive mandate that even the co-author of the Patriot Act, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), says “runs roughshod over the rights of people who use the Internet.” Traditionally, citizens in a free society are presumed innocent. If the police want to look through your computer files, the Fourth Amendment requires them to show a judge that there’s “probable cause” to suspect wrongdoing. The PCIPA turns that assumption on its head, treating every Internet user as a presumptive criminal and exploiting a serious Fourth Amendment loophole.

B. AOL Travel (8/4): Boston TSA Agents Have Their Eyes on You


Under a new pilot program kicking off in a little more than a week at Boston Logan International Airport, TSA employees will pose a variety of questions to passengers and determine whether or not they pose a threat based on their verbal and physical reactions to the queries. Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques is a method commonly used in Israel, where it has been fairly successful, but some doubt TSA agents, not exactly renowned for their sensitivity, are the keenest observers of subtlety.

See also Detroit Free Press (8/4): Revamped Detroit Metro Airport body scanners do away with explicit body images

C. AlJazeera (8/2): Mobile biometrics to hit US streets


We’re fast approaching a time when law enforcement will no longer need to ask you for your identification – your physical self, and the biometric data therein, are all that will be required to identify you. A gadget attached to a mobile phone can photograph and plot key points and features on your face (breaking the numbers down into biometric data), scan your iris and take your fingerprints on the spot. This gizmo doesn’t exist in a futuristic world – it’s already been prototyped and tested. departments.

D. Truthout (8/5): Despite New Denials by Rumsfeld, Evidence Shows US Military Used Waterboarding-Style Torture


A CCR report on “Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” said that on one occasion prison guards demanded to search Idr’s cell. Idr cooperated, but they came in, sprayed him in the face with a chemical irritant and put him into restraints.

According to the CCR report, “Guards then slammed him head first into the cell floor, lowered him, face-first into the toilet and flushed the toilet – submerging his head. He was then carried outside and thrown onto the crushed stones that surround the cells. While he was down on the ground, his assailants stuffed a hose in his mouth and forced water down his throat.” As a result, Idr’s face was paralyzed for several months.

See also Politico (8/4): Judge OKs suit against Donald Rumsfeld over alleged torture

E. Truthout (7/28): Getting Away With Torture: the Ill Treatment of Detainees


In a new comprehensive 107-page report entitled “Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) concludes that “there is sufficient basis for the U.S. government to order a broad criminal investigation into alleged crimes committed in connection with the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the CIA secret detention program, and the rendition of detainees to torture” focusing on alleged criminal conduct by “former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet.”

See also The Dissenter (7/31): The Forgotten History of David Petraeus

F. Glenn Greenwald in Obama’s whistleblower war suffers two defeats           


The Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers suffered two serious and well-deserved defeats.  The first occurred in the prosecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was accused of multiple acts of espionage, only for the DOJ to drop virtually all of the charges right before the trial was to begin and enter into a plea agreement for one minor misdemeanor. The Washington Post  under the headline “Judge blasts prosecution of alleged NSA leaker” — reports that the federal judge presiding over the case “harshly criticized U.S. prosecutors’ treatment of a former spy agency official accused of leaking classified material.”

G. New Yotk Times (8/3): Security Firm Sees Global Cyberspying


Cybersecurity is now a major international concern, with hackers gaining access to sensitive corporate and military secrets, including intellectual property. The report comes after high-profile computer network attacks aimed at the International Monetary Fund, Sony and the Lockheed Martin Corporation, America’s largest military contractor.



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