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MATERIAL WITNESS LAW HAS MANY IN LIMBO

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  • ummyakoub
    MATERIAL WITNESS LAW HAS MANY IN LIMBO Steve Fainaru and Margot Williams, Washington Post, 11/24/02
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2002
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      MATERIAL WITNESS LAW HAS MANY IN LIMBO
      Steve Fainaru and Margot Williams, Washington Post, 11/24/02
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31438-2002Nov23.html

      Authorities have arrested and jailed at least 44 people as potential
      grand jury witnesses in the 14 months of the nationwide terrorism
      investigation, but nearly half have never been called to testify
      before a grand jury, according to defense lawyers and others
      involved in the cases.

      Although they had not been charged with any crimes, these "material
      witnesses" were often held under maximum security conditions, in
      detentions ranging from a few days to several months or longer. At
      least seven of the witnesses were U.S. citizens.

      The accounts offer the clearest indication to date of how the
      government has used an obscure federal statute, the material witness
      law, to detain and investigate a wide range of terrorism suspects
      without having to charge them with a crime…

      ---

      JUSTICE DEPT. ACTS TO USE NEW POWER IN TERROR INQUIRIES
      ERIC LICHTBLAU, New York Times, 11/24/02
      http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/24/politics/24JUST.html

      WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 - The Justice Department, moving quickly to use
      its expanded powers for spying on possible terrorists, plans to
      assign federal lawyers in counterintelligence to terrorism task
      forces in New York and Washington to help secure secret warrants
      against suspects, officials say.

      The deployments, along with other changes under discussion by top
      Justice Department officials, are seen as a crucial first step in
      breaking down the wall between intelligence gathering and law
      enforcement, officials said.

      The moves grow from a decision last week by a special appellate
      panel of the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review in Washington that
      validated the Justice Department's broad surveillance powers under
      an antiterrorism law passed last year. The appeals court found that
      prosecutors were permitted to use wiretaps obtained under the
      Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in prosecuting people accused
      of being terrorists. For more than 20 years restrictions had
      deterred criminal investigators and intelligence agents from sharing
      information.

      Justice Department officials, emboldened by last week's decision,
      say they are moving quickly to allow prosecutors and intelligence
      agents to share information routinely to avoid missteps…

      Some civil libertarians charge that the policy will make it much
      easier for the authorities to justify secret wiretaps and
      surveillance, using lower thresholds of evidence than traditional
      criminal warrants require. Critics worry that it could mean a return
      to the days of J. Edgar Hoover's F.B.I. in the 1960's, when agents
      routinely spied on people and groups for political reasons…

      ---

      REPORT: ANTI-TERROR POWERS CURTAIL RIGHTS
      CHRISTIAN BOURGE, United Press International, 11/23/02

      WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) - Actions taken by the administration of
      President George W. Bush and Congress since Sept. 11 in the effort
      to combat terrorism effectively erode individual freedoms while
      exceeding the historical powers assumed by past presidents in times
      of national emergency, according to a new report from a New York
      think tank.

      Despite their intent, these actions also hold little prospect of
      improving the chance of stopping terrorist threats, Stephen J.
      Schulhofer, professor of law at New York University writes in his
      report, "The Enemy Within: Intelligence Gathering, Law Enforcement,
      and Civil Liberties in the Wake of September 11." The report was
      published by the liberal Century Foundation.

      "The issues (of crisis) that have come around in the past are not
      strictly comparable to the ones we face now, but much of what has
      been attempted by the Bush administration goes far beyond previous
      actions," Schulhofer told United Press International.

      In his report, Schulhofer writes that many of the actions taken by
      the Bush administration -- such as the detention without basic
      constitutional rights of American citizens suspected of cooperating
      with al Qaida -- have given the White House the power to act
      unilaterally without oversight from the judicial and legislative
      branches. He also said that these changes and those enacted by
      Congress have come about with minimal scrutiny from the public,
      press and even Congress, even though some of them could hinder
      homeland security efforts…

      According to Schulhofer, the Homeland Security Agency
      reorganization, provisions of the USA Patriot Act and Bush
      administration movement toward holding suspected terrorist
      indefinitely without charges all threaten individual liberty.

      He said that many of these policies circumvent the constitutional
      rights of individuals and undermine the checks and balances of our
      system of government.

      "The attempt to detain Americans and then treat them as prisoners of
      war, even when they were arrested on U.S. soil, is virtually
      unprecedented," said Schulhofer, noting that this did occur to some
      extent during the civil war, but not since.

      "There is a kind of historical amnesia and a politically driven
      effort to legitimize an environment where the president is insulated
      from criticism," he said. "The idea that is it unpatriotic or un-
      American to question what the President does is unfortunate. That is
      not the historical pattern…"

      "As long as you attack people who are marginal, like immigrants,
      Muslims and people with unpopular political views, the government
      has a good chance of getting away with its suppression of liberty no
      matter how draconian," said Higgs. "It is when (government) abuses
      its power and uses it against people who have the ability to fight
      back through official channels and the political process that
      something is likely to happen."

      ---

      FBI FOCUS ON IRAQI PROFESSOR SPARKS A PROTEST AT UMASS
      Eric Goldscheider and Jenna Russell, Boston Globe, 11/24/02
      http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/328/metro/Academic_alarm+.shtml

      AMHERST - When professor M.J. Alhabeeb received a call from police
      in his office at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst last month,
      his first thought was that someone in his family had been in an
      accident.

      A few minutes later, an FBI agent and a campus police officer were
      at his door, acting on a tip that the Iraqi-born professor held anti-
      American views. The joint interview by FBI and UMass officers lasted
      only a few minutes, and was by all accounts polite. But it has
      outraged many professors, who say the university's participation in
      the investigation violated academic freedom and could have
      a ''chilling effect'' on the free exchange of ideas on campus.

      Their outrage - which evoked the specter of campus witch hunts -
      began to draw wider attention as word of UMass's participation in
      the FBI investigation spread after a meeting last week.

      About 75 people, mostly faculty, attended the meeting last Monday to
      plan their response, to include a public forum and a request for a
      meeting with UMass Chancellor John Lombardi. The UMass police
      detective, Barry Flanders, has been working on the FBI's Joint
      Terrorism Task Force for about a month, since receiving security
      clearance, university Police Chief Barbara O'Connor said.

      After learning what had happened, sociology professor Dan Clawson
      dashed off an e-mail to O'Connor demanding that he also be
      investigated, since he disagrees with the Bush administration's
      policies in Iraq.

      "Certainly if the FBI receives a credible report about somebody's
      actions, I would want them to investigate," said Clawson, who
      organized the meeting. "But if they receive a report about someone's
      views, it is inappropriate to investigate, and if the university
      cooperates in that investigation, that's totally inappropriate…"

      ---

      REPORTS OF FEDERAL SPYING SPOOK US ARABS
      Louise Daly, Agence France-Presse, 11/24/02

      CHICAGO, Nov 24 (AFP) - The surveillance, the informants, the
      official visits: Professor Ayad Al-Qazzaz has seen it all before --
      and not in his native Iraq.

      During the 1990/91 Gulf War, Al-Qazzaz got a friendly visit from
      some FBI agents who wanted to make sure he wasn't being harassed,
      recalls the sociology professor at California State University in
      Sacramento.

      "They were very nice, very polite, but the hidden message was: 'We
      are watching you,'" said the 61-year-old energetic anti-war
      activist.

      So the news, reported earlier this month in the New York Times, that
      US authorities are stepping up surveillance of Iraqi- Americans, and
      even looking for informants among their ranks, does not surprise
      him.

      Al-Qazzaz is sceptical of the official line that the snooping is
      aimed at flushing out sympathizers of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
      who might be plotting terrorist attacks.

      He sees its as psychological warfare, a carefully placed leak
      designed to intimidate critics of the war with Iraq into silence…

      Whatever the program's objective, there seems to be little doubt in
      the minds of Arab and Muslim leaders that closer scrutiny of Iraqi-
      Americans, coming on top of a massive post-September 11 security
      clampdown on their communities, has increased the tension on the
      ground.

      When Kareem Irfan, a Muslim leader in the Chicago area, went looking
      for someone to denounce what he sees as the latest infringement of
      Arab civil liberties, he came up empty-handed.

      "I couldn't find anyone willing to talk on the record," said Irfan,
      who heads up the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater
      Chicago.

      "People feel threatened. They're worried that they might already be
      on some kind of blacklist.

      "There's an alarmist tendency in our community right now…"

      With local newspapers reporting undercover agents infiltrating Arab
      and Muslim communities, and street informants feeding information to
      investigators, and tax agents poring over Muslim charity and
      business records, (the Detroit Free Press: November 12), people are
      nervous at any brushes with US authority.

      Reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will soon resume
      its voluntary interviews of young Arab and Muslim American in the
      Detroit area has triggered a flood of anxious phone calls to the
      ADC, according to Hamad.

      FBI officials in the capitol, who began their own series of
      interviews this week, tried to reassure community leaders there,
      saying the exercise was purely an "information-gathering," one in a
      meeting Wednesday.

      But callers in Detroit "want to know what kind of questions they're
      going to be asked. They want to know what their rights are,"
      recounted Hamad. "The interviews are voluntary but most of them
      think that if they decline, they will be subject to retaliation."
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