NCPCF News Digest — Issue No. 30 —-July 29, 2011
‘Civil Freedoms for All’
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In this issue
Multimedia: NCPCF Detroit Program Videos
Terrorism and the Oslo Attacks- Dr. Fai gets bail
Rep. Kucinich writes AG regarding FBI repression - New FBI Tools
New System tracking your face - Threat of right wing groups in U.S.
The Muslim Solidarity Committee: Supporting all Victims of Preemptive Prosecution
Seventh Anniversary Commemoration of the Arrests of Yassin Aref & Mohammad Hossain
Date: August 5, 2011
Time: 5:30 – 10 pm
Place: Masjid As-Salam Mosque, 278 Central Avenue, Albany (Iftar meal)
March 6:15pm to Grand Street Community Arts - 68 Grand Street
Performance: 7-10 PM at GSCA featuring art, poetry, music, and songs
For more information: Kathy Manley, firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-596-3851
Multimedia (NCPCF Videos)
NCPCF Detroit Program (7/16): The presentations were part of the program on “Resisting Profiling, Preemptive Prosecution and Prisoner Abuse, A citizens hearing to confront repression of human rights and civil liberties by the criminal justice system.” The event was July 16, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan (USA).
A. U.S. Federal Government’s Numerous, Ongoing Preemptive Prosecutions of Innocent People (19 min.)
American attorney Steve Downs discusses the many existing cases of the U.S. federal government’s policy of preemptive prosecutions of innocent people.
B. Prescription for Activists to Challenge Repressive Policies of the FBI, U.S. Federal Government (19 min.)
Shahid Buttar, Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, discusses various community action options to challenge the repressive policies of the FBI and the U.S. federal government.
C. Pre-emptive Prosecutions: Thought Crime and Other Manufactured Charges (7 min.)
Dr. Mel Underbakke of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms summarizes various cases of FBI pre-emptive prosecutions.
D. U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke Addresses Detroit Civil Liberties Audience on Federal Polices (7 min.)
U.S. Representative Hansen Clarke of Detroit addresses federal polices in a talk before a Detroit audience advocating for civil liberties and an end to FBI repression.
E. U.S. Government Tactics and Policies that Target Muslims in America (17 min.)
Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) discusses FBI and other U.S. government policies and tactics that target Muslim communities in America.
F. Holding the U.S. Accountable to Human Right Principles (10 min.)
Efia Nwangaza of the U.S. Human Rights Network talks about holding the U.S. accountable to human rights principles.
A. Fight Back! News (7/19):Detroit Forum Exposes FBI Repression
ExcerptsThe National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) organized the event titled, “Resisting Profiling, Preemptive Prosecution, and Prisoners Abuse – a hearing to confront repression of human rights and civil liberties by the criminal justice system.”
B. Workers World (7/22): National meeting targets government repression
An important national meeting on stopping repression, human rights abuses and the curtailing of civil freedoms in the U.S. took place July 16 at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center and Bookstore in Detroit. The well-attended event featured an overview of specific cases along with panels on how the federal government is carrying out “preemptive prosecution and prosecutorial persecution.”
The Oslo Attacks/Opinions
A. Glenn Greenwald in Salon (7/23): The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of “Terrorism”
Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target. Indeed, in many (though not all) media circles, discussion of the Oslo attack quickly morphed from this is Terrorism (when it was believed Muslims did it) to no, this isn’t Terrorism, just extremism (once it became likely that Muslims didn’t). If it turns out that Breivik was “inspired” by the extremist hatemongering rantings of Geller, Pipes and friends, will their groups be deemed Terrorist organizations such that any involvement with them could constitute the criminal offense of material support to Terrorism?
B. Mark Juergensmeyer in RD Magazine (7/24): Is Norway’s Suspected Murderer Anders Breivik a Christian Terrorist?
Behind the earthly conflict was a cosmic war, a battle for Christendom. As the title of Breivik’s manifesto indicates, he thought he was re-creating that historical moment in which Christianity was defended against the hordes, and Islam was purged from what he imagined to be the purity of European society.
C. Yousef Munayyer in Al-Jazeera (7/26): Lessons drawn from the blonde bomber
The lives of the victims of the tragedy in Norway are lost forever, but we mustn’t let their blood be spilt in vain. Instead, we must adjust our assumptions and policies about terrorism and Islamophobia at this critical moment. Breivik wanted to send a “wake-up” call. Let’s make sure we’re never asleep when Islamophobia or right-wing terrorism tries to shake our societies again.
D. Glenn Greenwald in Salon (7/28): An un-American response to the Oslo attack
Over the last decade, virtually every Terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. — whether successful or failed — has provoked greater security and surveillance measures. Within a matter of mere weeks, the 9/11 attacks infamously spawned a vast new surveillance statute (the Patriot Act), a secretly implemented warrantless eavesdropping program in violation of the law, an explosion of domestic surveillance contracts, a vastly fortified secrecy regime, and endless wars in multiple countries.
Pre-crime Reports: Thoughtcrime Prosecutions
Reuters (7/26): U.S. citizen in Pakistani lobbying case out on bond
A naturalized U.S. citizen, accused of illegally lobbying the U.S. government for Pakistan and its spy agency over the disputed territory of Kashmir, can be released from jail while awaiting trial. The judge ruled that Fai must post $100,000 in bond and he required detention at Fai’s home in Virginia, along with electronic monitoring. The courtroom was packed was Fai’s supporters.
See also: AP (7/26): Man charged with working under supervision of Pakistan’s spy agency released on bond
Washington Post (7/24): The FBI’s new tools
Such forays raise concerns about infringement of group members’ First Amendment rights. Oversight and transparency are key to ensuring that law enforcement and antiterrorism goals are met without trampling on civil liberties. The bureau should make the new rules public to the extent permitted by law enforcement prerogatives and national security concerns. Congress should keep close tabs on how the new rules are applied. President Obama should expeditiously nominate a new chief for the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General. Strong leadership there is critical to preventing FBI excesses.
Government Policies Under Scrutiny
A. Wired (7/27): In Secret, Senate Panel May Re-Up Vast Surveillance Dragnet
A group of Senators meeting behind closed doors may consider renewing a controversial law permitting widespread government surveillance of Americans’ communications. That law would be the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which gave the cover of law to President George W. Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. Beloved by the Obama administration, the law is set to expire — not this year, but in 2012. Kate Martin, a surveillance expert with the Center for National Security Studies, says the public has no visibility into how U.S. intelligence agencies apply the law. “What we haven’t gotten is an explanation from either Congress or the Justice Department about what the law authorizes in terms of massive surveillance of Americans’ communications,” Martin says.
B. Huffington Post (7/28): Threat Of Right-Wing Extremism In U.S. Debated By Feds, Analysts
The bombing and shooting spree in Norway on Friday has raised questions about whether federal law enforcement agencies in the United States are devoting enough resources and attention to the threat posed by right-wing extremists here. On the alert for such threats posed by white supremacists and members of a sovereign citizen movement that rejects government authority and militias, law enforcement officials around the country have reportedly asked for budget increases to handle the task.
Tucson Citizen(7/20): Fight about reforms to Secure Communities program heats up
Rights Working Group Joins Over 200 groups To Decry the Department of Homeland Security’s So-called “Reforms” of the Secure Communities Program.
Civil Freedoms Under Threat
A. Congressman Denis Kucinich (7/25): Writes letter to Attorney General Holder regarding FBI repression of anti-war and solidarity activists
A federal prosecutor has tremendous power and resources. Because of that, he has a concomitant obligation to exercise that power with judgment and discretion. Is it good judgment to direct the overwhelming resources of the federal government onto small, local groups and individuals whose primary interest is peace? Is it good judgment to investigate them under a vague and broad statute whose text and interpretations have changed numerous times over the past decade? Is this really the best use of Department of Justice personnel?
B. New York Times (7/15): Republicans Hold Up Vote on Extension of F.B.I. Term
A group of lawmakers led by Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, objected on constitutional grounds to passing legislation that would have simply extended Mr. Mueller’s term. They said Mr. Obama should nominate him to a special new term, subject to Senate confirmation. While the White House believed that was unnecessary, it quietly agreed last week to use that approach, officials said.
C. New York Times (7/13): To Track Militants, U.S. Has System That Never Forgets a Face
With little notice and only occasional complaints, the American military and local authorities have been engaged in an ambitious effort to record biometric identifying information on a remarkable number of people in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly men of fighting age.
Information about more than 1.5 million Afghans has been put in databases operated by American, NATO and local forces. While that is one of every 20 Afghan residents, it is the equivalent of roughly one of every six males of fighting age, ages 15 to 64. In Iraq, an even larger number of people, and a larger percentage of the population, have been registered. Data have been gathered on roughly 2.2 million Iraqis, or one in every 14 citizens — and the equivalent of one in four males of fighting age.
D. Boston Globe (7/18): New tool for police is good with faces
Sheriff’s departments across Massachusetts are using facial recognition technology to build a database of every suspect they book, an electronic lineup that local police could soon tap remotely with a handheld device attached to a smartphone. That futuristic capability is enticing law enforcement authorities but worrying privacy rights lawyers who say that technology is outpacing policy that would protect privacy. A number of questions are unresolved, such as how long the images of suspects will be stored, whether they will be shared with the FBI, and what happens to the images of people who are cleared of charges.
E. International Business Times (7/15): iPhone News: Are You Being Tracked By the Governement?
“GPS technology is unquestionably a great tool, not just for Americans on the go and cellular companies offering services, but for law enforcement professionals looking to track suspects and catch criminals,” Sen. Wyden stated in June. ”But all tools and tactics require rules and right now, when it comes to geolocation information, the rules aren’t clear.”
F. Boston Herald (7/21): Lawyer: Cop scanner ‘crosses line’
Civil libertarians are raising the alarm over the state’s plans to create a Big Brother database that could map drivers’ whereabouts with police cruiser-mounted scanners that capture thousands of license plates per hour — storing that information indefinitely where local cops, staties, feds and prosecutors could access it as they choose.
G. Washington Post (7/26): Nominee for counterterrorism chief is grilled on Guantanamo Bay detainee plans
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Olsen, who is general counsel at the National Security Agency, a series of oblique questions about possible legal authorities derived from the USA Patriot Act, which governs various surveillance activities. Olsen said the questions could be answered fully only in a classified setting. Wyden asked whether there are “significant secret interpretations” of the Patriot Act and amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that remain secret. Olsen said only that relevant opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court remain classified.
H. National Journal (7/26): Olsen: Patriot Act May Allow Cell Phone Tracking
The Patriot Act may have given the federal government powers to use cell phone data to track Americans inside the United States, the general counsel for the National Security Agency said. The Wall Street Journal quotes Matthew Olsen, who has been nominated to lead the National Counterterrorism Center, as saying it is possible. “There are certain circumstances where that authority may exist,” Olsen told the Senate Intelligence Committee at his confirmation hearing.
I. AP (7/22): Appeals court won’t let former Guantanamo Bay detainees sue over ‘enemy combatant’ designation
A federal appeal court won’t force the U.S. government to reconsider the enemy combatant designation of two former Guantanamo Bay detainees. The U.S Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a decision throwing out the lawsuit of Nazul Gul and Adel Hamad. They were held for several years at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay before being released to Afghanistan and Sudan in 2007.