this post-Sept. 11 era, we have been far too willing to toss our own Constitution
out the window, especially as it applies to our own
citizens and those who for some deluded reason still strive to be one of
George Orwell's bleak "1984", he foretold of a time when the country is
always at war with someone, though the target may shift from day to day;
a time when personal liberties are a distant memory; a time when you are
no longer free to associate with whomever you wish; a time when the right
to speak your mind in opposition to the government is nonexistent.
may have been 18 years late, as the courts system is circumvented, secret
arrests are the order of the day, and a hush of silence falls across the
table of political dialogue in this country under the blanket of "national
here's my Orwell Watch, on the degradation of the Bill of Rights and news
articles highlighting our continuing efforts to help the bad guys win.
They say freedom was attacked on Sept. 11. I say buildings were attacked
on Sept. 11; we have done an excellent job of attacking freedom every day
I do not write about the government, religion, politics, morals, people
in power, official institutions, the opera, the other theaters, or about
anybody attached to anything, I am free to print anything, subject to the
inspection of two or three censors.
-- Pierre Augustin de
Beaumarchais, French playwright, 1772
War on Who?
Detainees' lawyers argue
for right to meet with clients
Lawyers for 15 men accused of being Taliban or al Qaeda terrorists argued
before a U.S. Appeals Court that they should have the right to meet with
their clients, who are being held on the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo
Twelve Kuwaitis, two Britons and an Australian citizen who were arrested
in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been detained in Guantanamo for many months
in what the attorneys argued is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
The lawyers, who were retained by the detainees' families, said the detainees
are not being allowed to see either their families or their lawyers.
Deputy Solicitor General Paul Clement aid that because of last year's terrorist
attacks, it is necessary to detain the men at Guantanamo "for their own
protection and to prevent them from re-enlisting." It also facilitate intelligence
gathering, he said.
One of the attorneys, Joe Marguilies, said that President Bush has not
officially designated the 15 as members of al Qaeda or the Taliban. "These
are citizens of a friendly nation. You can't presume enemy status," he
Sept. 11 detainees still
hidden from public
Somewhere in the United States, as many as three dozen foreigners, most
likely Muslim or Middle Eastern men, sit locked up in immigration jails
after being arrested on suspicion that they have ties to or knowledge of
the Sept. 11 terrorists.
They are the remnants of the largest law enforcement sweep in America in
decades, the relatively few left in custody after authorities arrested
more than 1,200 foreigners on immigration violations as part of the Sept.
11 terrorism probe.
In an open courtroom here far removed from those secret cells, lawyers
for the government and a coalition of advocacy groups will present their
arguments about whether the identities of all the Sept. 11 detainees should
be made public.
No bargaining rights under
homeland security compromise
The Bush administration would have authority to strip collective bargaining
rights from unionized employees in a new Homeland Security Department under
a compromise proposal that has support from key Senate lawmakers.
The compromise, which is strongly opposed by federal employee unions, won
backing late Tuesday from Sens. John Breaux (D-La.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.),
and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who previously had supported a union-backed
version of the homeland security bill.
“They have capitulated, and it is unfortunate,” said Beth Moten, legislative
director for with the American Federation of Government Employees.
Court Backs Open Deportation
Hearings in Terror Cases
The federal appeals court in Cincinnati declared yesterday that the Bush
administration acted unlawfully in holding hundreds of deportation hearings
in secret based only on the government's assertion that the people involved
may have links to terrorism.
The decision, which was laced with stinging language questioning the administration's
commitment to an open democracy, is the first major appellate ruling on
the government's legal tactics concerning Sept. 11.
"Democracies die behind closed doors," wrote Judge Damon J. Keith for the
unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the
Sixth Circuit. The Bush administration has sought, the panel said, to place
its actions "beyond public scrutiny."
"When the government begins closing doors," the panel continued, "it selectively
controls information rightfully belonging to the people. Selective information
Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said the government
had not decided whether to appeal.
The case was brought by four Michigan newspapers and U.S. Rep. John Conyers
Jr. (D-Mich.) They sought to attend deportation hearings concerning Rabih
Haddad, a Muslim clergyman who had overstayed his tourist visa.
Mr. Haddad, a native of Lebanon and a resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., is
the founder of the Global Relief Foundation, a Muslim charity whose assets
were frozen after it came under federal scrutiny.
Judge rules detainee's
names can be withheld
District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled Thursday that the U.S. government can
keep secret, for now, the identities of people being held for possible
roles in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
Kessler had ruled on Aug. 2 that the U.S. Department of Justice must release
the names, saying that their attorneys had not proven that disclosing the
identities would hurt investigation of the attacks. The Justice Department
appealed the ruling on Aug. 8, asking at the same time for a temporary
stay of the order to reveal the names.
More than two dozen civil rights and public interest organizations filed
the lawsuit in Washington, D.C., after their October 2001 FOI Act request
with the Justice Department failed to produce the full list of names. The
plaintiffs included the Center for National Securities Studies and the
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
latest ruling, Kessler said the stay is appropriate because "stays are
routinely granted in FOIA cases; that disclosure of the names of the detainees
and their lawyers would effectively moot any appeal; and that the Government
has promised to seek expedited consideration from the Court of Appeals."
She said the stay would remain in effect until a federal appeals court
has ruled, which could take months.
Committee for Freedom of the Press
of the Free
Irony alert: or is that
The FOI Advocate, a newsletter of the National Freedom of Infformation
Coalition, released a copy of a 1997 op-ed piece in the Washington Times
that reveals a slight change of heard for current Attorney General John
"The Clinton administration's paranoid and prurient interest in (monitoring)
international e-mail is a wholly unhealthy precedent especially given this
administration's track record on FBI files and IRS snooping. Every medium
by which people communicate can be subject to exploitation by those with
illegal or immoral intentions. Nevertheless, this is no reason to hand
Big Brother the keys to unlock our e-mail diaries, open our ATM records
or translate our international communications."
So wrote then-Senator Ashcroft, opposing the Clinton administration's request
for broadened authority to eavesdrop on high-tech communications, in his
Aug. 12, 1997 op-ed piece in the Washington Times, "Welcoming Big Brother."
DOJ given expanded wiretap
A special panel from the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia has overturned a May decision by the ultra-secret Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court, by ruling the DOJ has broad discretion in the use of
wiretaps and other surveillance techniques to track suspected terrorists
The secretive federal court had concluded proposals by Attorney General
John Ashcroft under the new USA Patriot Act were "not reasonably designed"
to safeguard the privacy of Americans. On appeal, the panel said the expanded
wiretap guidelines sought by Ashcroft do not violate the Constitution.
Homeland Security will
include new limitations
Internet providers such as America Online could give the government more
information about subscribers and police would gain new Internet wiretap
powers under legislation creating the new Department of Homeland Security.
Amid the debate in Washington last week, provisions of the bill tucked
into a section about "cyber-security enhancements" received scant attention.
Most of the provisions passed the House as part of separate legislation
in an overwhelming 385-3 vote during the summer, but they were never considered
in the Senate.
The bill also provides greater legal protections for Internet providers,
such as AOL or Microsoft Network, to turn over information about their
subscribers to government officials during computer emergencies. If companies
believe "in good faith" that there is risk of death or injury to any person,
they can turn over details about customers -- even their e-mails -- without
Civil liberties groups, such as the Washington-based Electronic Privacy
Information Center, have complained the bill's language allows Internet
providers to turn over subscriber information to any government officials,
not just investigators. U.S. companies have traditionally refused to act
as agents for prosecutors without court-approved warrants, said Chris Hoofnagle,
EPIC's legislative counsel.
Another part of the Homeland Security bill gives U.S. authorities new power
to trace e-mails and other Internet traffic during cyber-attacks without
first obtaining even perfunctory court approval. That could only happen
during "an immediate threat to national security." Prosecutors would need
to obtain a judge's approval within 48 hours.
Assigned Reading on Koran
in Chapel Hill Raises Hackles
Chapel Hill's 3,500 freshmen gathered today to discuss their summer
reading assignment, which this year was a book about the Koran.
Just hours before the talks were to begin, the United States Court of Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., was still considering an appeal
from a conservative Christian group that had sued to stop them. Then at
10 a.m., the appellate court, upholding a district court finding from last
week, ruled against the group, clearing the way for the discussions.
In the courtroom, lawyers for the university had spent the weekend arguing
that the discussions were not, as the Christian group charged, "forced
Islamic indoctrination." While the court case was pending, a legislative
committee in Raleigh was considering a bill, already passed by the General
Assembly, that would deny financing to the university if it did not give
equal time in the classroom to "all known religions."
Today, as freshmen streamed into classrooms to start their discussions,
demonstrators rallied nearby in support of academic freedom, and a few
protesters argued that students should be required to read the Bible instead.
"Post-Sept. 11, I think the academic police are falling all over themselves
to uphold Islam in favorable light, which is precisely what this program
was attempting to do," said Stephen M. Crampton, the chief counsel for
the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy, which argued
When it was assigned in the early spring, the book, "Approaching the Qur'an:
The Early Revelations," by Michael A. Sells, a professor of religion at
Haverford College, caused little outrage. The book is a translation of
35 early suras, or chapters, of the Koran, accompanied by commentary and
a glossary of Islamic terms.
In one group, students said they were excited to learn about Islam and
surprised to find parallels between it and Christianity. "I thought it
was going to be some off-the-wall religion," said Matt Campbell.
Full Story: New
Reporters must get crime
info from state headquarters
The New Jersey State Police are requiring the news media to contact state
police headquarters in Ewing for all inquiries into crimes instead of getting
reports from troopers in local barracks, according to a published report.
"No information is to be released except through this office under the
auspices of (N.J. State Police Superintendent Joseph Santiago)," state
police spokesman Sgt. Gerald Lewis told The Daily Journal in Vineland.
The newspaper reported Aug. 9 that the restriction had stopped the dissemination
of local crime information, including the release of weekly reports that
documented incidents handled by local barracks. It also said media coordinator
positions at the Bridgeton, Buena Vista Township, Bivalve and Port Norris
barracks were eliminated.
Trooper Steve Jones, a spokesman for the state police, told The Associated
Press that a memo was sent throughout the agency about a month ago requiring
all press calls to be directed through headquarters. But Jones said the
requirement was generally a policy before and the memo simply reaffirmed
it. As for the weekly crime logs and media coordinators, Jones said both
have been eliminated because of a staffing shortage.
Gov. James E. McGreevey signed the Open Public Records Act last month,
but his administration then angered news organizations by making more than
400 categories of government records exempt from the new law.
Full Story: Associated
Press, via Freedom Forum
If large numbers
of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech,
even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient
minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.
-- George Orwell, author, 1945