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Taking Liberties

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo The Nation http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041004&s=cole Taking Liberties
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2004
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      The Nation
      Taking Liberties
      by DAVID COLE
      October 4, 2004

      On September 2 a federal judge in Detroit threw out the only
      jury conviction the Justice Department has obtained on a
      terrorism charge since 9/11. In October 2001, shortly after
      the men were initially arrested, Attorney General John
      Ashcroft heralded the case in a national press conference as
      evidence of the success of his anti-terror campaign. The
      indictment alleged that the defendants were associated with
      Al Qaeda and planning terrorist attacks. But Ashcroft held
      no news conference in September when the case was dismissed,
      nor did he offer any apologies to the defendants who had
      spent nearly three years in jail. That wouldn't be good for
      his boss's campaign, which rests on the "war on terrorism."
      Here, as in Iraq, Bush's war is not going as well as he

      The Detroit case was extremely weak from the outset. The
      government could never specify exactly what terrorist
      activity was allegedly being planned and never offered any
      evidence linking the defendants to Al Qaeda. Its case
      consisted almost entirely of a pair of sketches and a
      videotape, described by an FBI agent as "casing materials"
      for a terrorist plot, and the testimony of a witness of
      highly dubious reliability seeking a generous plea deal. It
      now turns out that the prosecution failed to disclose to the
      defense evidence that other government experts did not
      consider the sketches and videotape to be terrorist casing
      materials at all and that the government's key witness had
      admitted to lying.

      Until that reversal, the Detroit case had marked the only
      terrorist conviction obtained from the Justice Department's
      detention of more than 5,000 foreign nationals in
      antiterrorism sweeps since 9/11. So Ashcroft's record is 0
      for 5,000. When the Attorney General was locking these men
      up in the immediate wake of the attacks, he held almost
      daily press conferences to announce how many "suspected
      terrorists" had been detained. No press conference has been
      forthcoming to announce that exactly none of them have
      turned out to be actual terrorists.

      Meanwhile, despite widespread recognition that Abu Ghraib
      has done untold damage worldwide to the legitimacy of the
      fight against terrorism, the military has still not charged
      any higher-ups in the Pentagon, and the Administration has
      shown no inclination to appoint an independent commission to
      investigate. It prefers to leave the investigation to the
      Justice Department and the Pentagon, the two entities that
      drafted secret legal memos defending torture.

      And in late July, resurrecting the ideological-exclusion
      practices so familiar from the cold war, the Department of
      Homeland Security revoked a work visa for a prominent Swiss
      Islamic scholar who had been hired by Notre Dame for an
      endowed chair in its International Peace Studies Institute.
      DHS invoked a Patriot Act provision that, like the
      McCarran-Walter Act of the cold war, authorizes exclusion
      based purely on speech. If a person uses his position of
      prominence to "endorse" terrorism or terrorist
      organizations, the Patriot Act says, he may not enter the
      United States. The McCarran-Walter Act, on the books until
      its repeal in 1990, was used to exclude such "subversives"
      as Czeslaw Milosz and Graham Greene. This time the man whose
      views are too dangerous for Americans to hear firsthand is
      Tariq Ramadan, a highly respected intellectual and author of
      more than twenty books who was named by Time magazine as one
      of the hundred most likely innovators of the twenty-first

      Notre Dame is not known as a hotbed of Islamic
      extremism--and Ramadan is no extremist. He argues for a
      modernized version of Islam that promotes tolerance and
      women's rights. Two days after 9/11 he called on fellow
      Muslims to condemn the attacks. In short, Ramadan is
      precisely the kind of moderate voice in Islam that the
      United States should be courting if it hopes to isolate Al
      Qaeda. The barring of Ramadan reinforces the sense that the
      Administration cannot or will not distinguish between
      moderates and extremists and is simply anti-Muslim.

      What is most troubling is that none of these
      developments--the revelation of prosecutorial abuse in the
      interest of obtaining a "win" in the war on terrorism; the
      continuing failure to hold accountable those most
      responsible for the torture at Abu Ghraib; and the exclusion
      of a moderate Muslim as too dangerous for Americans to
      hear--is an isolated mistake. Rather, they are symptoms of a
      deeper problem. The President thinks he can win this war by
      "acting tough" and treating the rule of law and
      constitutional freedoms as optional. With enough
      fearmongering, that attitude may win him the election. But
      it will lose the war. Bush is playing right into Al Qaeda's
      hands by further alienating those we most need on our side.

      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord We├┐rdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      "It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
      *anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
      -- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
      _Detective Comics_ #608
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