Summary of this page:
Reverend Niemoeller, a German Lutheran pastor, was arrested by the Gestapo
and sent to Dachau in 1938. He was freed by the allied forces in 1945.
[read also: Parallels US and Third Reich and Hitler about the art of lying]
"There is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country where the police were allowed to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country where the government was entitled to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country where people could be held in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they were up to no good, the government would probably discover and arrest more terrorists, or would be terrorists, just as it would find more lawbreakers generally. But that would not be a country in which we would want to live, and it would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that country would not be America.
"I think it is important to remember that the Constitution was written in 1789 by men who had recently won the Revolutionary War. They did not live in comfortable and easy times of hypothetical enemies. They wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to protect individual liberties in times of war as well as in times of peace.
"There have been periods in our nation's history when civil liberties have taken a back seat to what appeared at the time to be the legitimate exigencies of war. Our national consciousness still bears the stain and the scars of those events: The Alien and Sedition Acts, the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the injustices perpetrated against German-Americans and Italian-Americans, the blacklisting of supposed communist sympathizers during the McCarthy era, and the surveillance and harassment of antiwar protesters, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the Vietnam war. We must not allow this piece of our past to become prologue.
"Preserving our freedom is the reason we are now engaged in this new war on terrorism. We will lose that war without a shot being fired if we sacrifice the liberties of the American people in the belief that by doing so we will stop the terrorists.
"That is why this exercise of considering the administration's proposed
legislation and fine tuning it to minimize the infringement of civil
liberties is so necessary and so important. And this is a job that only the
Congress can do. We cannot simply rely on the Supreme Court to protect us
from laws that sacrifice our freedoms. We took an oath to support and
defend the Constitution of the United States. In these difficult times that
oath becomes all the more significant."
[Back to Who's Got the Anthrax in the US?]
Behind an unusually thick curtain of secrecy, US authorities have arrested or detained nearly 1,000 people in a vast dragnet that has, so far, yielded no direct link to the Sept. 11 attacks but has stirred concern about civil liberties abuse.
Authorities will not say who is being held on what charges and will not even clarify the precise number of those under detention.
Attorneys for those being held say they have encountered a variety of obstructions from investigators that heighten their concern that civil liberties are being denied.
The lawyers said they have been denied access to their clients, in some instances not even being told where they are being held. They also say their clients are being physically and verbally abused while in prison and are facing immigration judges less willing to set bail.
''The Sept. 11 attack was extraordinary and it warrants extraordinary measures,'' said David Cole, professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University. ''But I'm deeply concerned that we've rounded up an awful lot of wholly innocent people, and when you do that under a veil of secrecy, you create an enmity within the very communities that we need in order to identify true threats.''
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has declined to clarify the number of those still in detention or how many have been released. Mueller said those details are not being disclosed ''for a variety of reasons.'' He did not elaborate.
Mindy Tucker, a Justice Department spokeswoman, would say only that ''a majority'' of those detained or arrested since Sept. 11 remain in custody.
That official vagueness about who is being held for what reasons is amplifying the concerns voiced by defense attorneys and civil libertarians, who say that even considering the investigation's wartime urgency, there are fundamental rights that must not be surrendered.
''There has to be an aggressive investigation, but it has to be conducted
in a manner that provides the public confidence that rights are being
protected and that innocent people swept up in this have a chance to get
lawyers, get released, and get on with their lives,'' said Lucas Guttentag,
director of immigration rights for the American Civil Liberties Union.
IMAGINE WHAT IT WILL BE WITH THE NEW ANTI-TERROR "PATRIOT BILL" NOW APPROVED...
December '01: Of the 1200 detained in the post-Sept. 11 anti-terror sweep, 548 remain in custody. Only about a dozen of them, it turns out, have any ties to anything that could remotely be characterized as terrorism. From www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=12009
The following statement in defense of academic freedom is being circulated by concerned faculty members. If you would like to endorse the statement, please send your name, academic position and affiliation, and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Non-academic endorsers are also welcome.
We hope to publish the statement as a full page ad in the New York Times and possibly other media outlets with the names of hundreds or thousands of endorsers. The cost will be many thousands of dollars. If you would like to make a contribution towards the cost of publishing the statement, please send a check to:
Center for Economic Research and ! Social Change
P.O. Box 258082
Chicago, IL 60625
Mark your check "Academic Freedom Ad".
Please contact the email address above if you have any questions or comments.
To fellow teachers and staff members:
In the crisis precipitated by the terrible events of September 11, members of academic communities across the U.S. have participated in teach-ins, colloquia, demonstrations, and other events aimed at developing an informed critical understanding of what happened and why. Now that the U.S. is waging war in Afghanistan, such activities are continuing.
Unfortunately, some participants in these events have been threatened and attacked for speaking out. Trustees of the City University of New York are planning formal denunciations of faculty members who criticized U.S. foreign policy at a teach-in during the first week in October. There have been similar efforts to silence criticism and dissent at the University of Texas at Austin, MIT, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and elsewhere. AAUP director of public policy Ruth Flower told the Boston Globe on October 6, "We're watching these developments with a lot of concern."
Attacks on faculty who have questioned or dissented from the Bush administration's current war policy have coincided with other ominous developments. Colleges and universities are being pressured by agencies of the federal government to hand over confidential information from student files. And there are moves in Congress to limit visas for students from abroad.
We call on all members of the academic community to speak out strongly in defense of academic freedom and civil liber! ties, not just as an abstract principle but as a practical necessity. At a moment such as this we must make sure that all informed voices-especially those that are critical and dissenting-are heard.
Armed government agents grabbed Nancy Oden, Green Party USA coordinating committee member, Thursday at Bangor International Airport in Bangor Maine, as she attempted to board an American Airlines flight to Chicago.
"An official told me that my name had been flagged in the computer," a shaken Oden said. "I was targeted because the Green Party USA opposes the bombing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan."
Oden, a long-time organic farmer and peace activist in northern Maine, was ordered away from the plane. Military personnel with automatic weapons surrounded Oden and instructed all airlines to deny her passage on ANY flight. "I was told that the airport was closed to me until further notice and that my ticket would not be refunded," Oden said.
Oden is scheduled to speak in Chicago Friday night on a panel concerning pesticides as weapons of war. She had helped to coordinate the Green Party USA's antiwar efforts these past few months, and was to report on these to The Greens national committee. "Not only did they stop me at the airport butsome mysterious party had called the hotel and cancelled my reservation," Oden said.
The Greens National Committee -- the governing body of the Green Party USA -- is meeting in Chicago Nov. 2-4 to hammer out the details of national campaigns against bio-chemical warfare, the spraying of toxic pesticides, genetic engineering, and the Party's involvement in the burgeoning peace movement.
"I am shocked that US military prevented one of our prominent Green Party members from attending the meeting in Chicago," said Elizabeth Fattah, a GPUSA representative from Pennsylvania who drove to Chicago. "I am outraged at the way the Bill of Rights is being trampled upon."
Chicago Green activist Lionel Trepanier concluded, "The attack on the right of association of an opposition political party is chilling. The harassment of peace activists is reprehensible."
For further information, please call 1-866-GREENS-2 (toll-free)
See also "Nancy Oden on what happened in Bangor airport" at www.wartimeliberty.com/articles/01/11/03/1813233.shtml
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain"
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush signed an anti-terrorism bill Friday that gives police unprecedented ability to search, seize, detain or eavesdrop in their pursuit of possible terrorists. ``This government will enforce this law with all the urgency of a nation at war,'' he said.
Federal officials said they plan to use the new powers right away, prompting civil libertarians to voice anew their concerns that cherished American freedoms will be sacrificed in the interest of safety. The American Civil Liberties Union pledged to monitor police actions closely, and scheduled a meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller.
``This bill goes light years beyond what is necessary to combat terrorism,'' said Laura Murphy, ACLU Washington director. ``While we are ourselves concerned for the country's safety, we are also concerned by the attorney general's apparent gusto to implement certain provisions in the bill that threaten liberty.'' John Ashcroft, who pressed hard for the bill's passage, said Thursday he would use the new powers quickly.
Bush said the legislation ``upholds and respects'' personal freedoms protected by the Constitution. But given the magnitude of the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, the nation had little choice but to update surveillance procedures ``written in the era of rotary telephones'' to better combat today's sophisticated terrorists.
``We may never know what horrors our country was spared by the diligent and determined work of our police forces ... under the most trying conditions,'' Bush said. ``They deserve our full support and every means of help that we can provide.''
Lawmakers, concerned about possible abuse of power, put an expiration date
on part of it. Unless Congress renews the anti-terrorism law before Dec.
31, 2005, the eavesdropping sections expire.
Leahy told reporters afterward that it is up to Congress - specifically their two committees - to make sure through ``constant oversight'' that federal authorities are not too heavy-handed with their new enforcement powers.
Regarding abuse of power concerns, Leahy said, ``We have got to stop thinking about the Dillinger ... days of law enforcement, and start thinking of the realities of 2001. No matter what terror attacks we face today, we're going to face more next year, and the year after. This is something that is going to exist long after all of us are no longer in office, and we've got to make sure we do the things to protect our nation.''
Under the new law, the FBI has expanded wiretapping and electronic surveillance authority. It allows nationwide jurisdiction for search warrants and electronic surveillance devices, including legal expansion of those devices to e-mail and the Internet. Agents can, for example, use roving wiretaps to monitor any telephone used by a terrorism suspect, rather than getting separate authorizations for each phone that person uses.
The law sets strong penalties for those who harbor or finance terrorists, and establishes new punishments for possessing biological weapons. It makes it a federal crime to commit an act of terrorism against a mass transit system. It increases the overall number of crimes considered terrorist acts and toughens the punishment for committing them.
Also, police would have greater ability to secretly search people's homes
and business records, and to listen in on conversations over the telephone
or computers. The House and Senate approved Bush's anti-terrorism package
in less than two months, skipping much of the normal committee process.
Lawmakers say they still came up with a good bill.
The US Congress has approved anti-terrorism legislation that will give law
enforcement agencies sweeping new powers to monitor and detain suspected
The only compliment that Mikal Condon of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre's (Epic) had for the legislation was that it is due to expire at the end of 2005 - unless renewed by Congress.
The legislation still contains measures to allow advanced surveillance techniques, including the FBI's controversial internet surveillance system Carnivore.
The system, which troubles Epic, would allow investigators far greater power to collect e-mail information.
Unlike other parts of the legislation which are triggered when the attorney general certifies an individual as a suspected terrorist, Ms Condon said the new surveillance powers could be used in any case.
She said the legislation did not address the intelligence and investigative shortcomings that led up to the 11 September attacks.
"There is no evidence that they were lacking information on 11 September," she said.
"Everybody's been calling for increased human intelligence, increasing their ability to gather intelligence when what they need is ability to sort through intelligence."
Goes too far
The American Civil Liberties Union said the legislation went far beyond what was necessary to combat terrorism.
ACLU President Nadine Strossen said: "The bottom line is, the provisions we have been opposed to from the beginning have stayed in, such as internet surveillance. The government has enormous increased power to intercept all e-mail and internet surfing communications".
She was also concerned that the roving wiretap ability would include public internet terminals such as in libraries or cyber cafes with no assurance that authorities would stop monitoring the terminal when the suspect was not using it.
The legislation also greatly expands the definition of terrorist activities, covering acts that are now thought of as civil disobedience, she said.
The legislation also increases the government's powers to detain immigrants suspected of terrorism.
Elisa Massimino, director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said this aspect of the legislation changed dramatically from the administration┐s original form.
She said the draft proposal "granted the attorney general great powers to detain any non-citizen on little more than a hunch".
The final legislation still has a broad definition of terrorism, and the attorney general needed nothing more than reasonable grounds to believe that an immigrant was a possible terrorist, she said.
But prosecutors have only seven days to start deportation procedures or charge an immigrant with a crime. Otherwise, the person has to be released
If they can be deported but the attorney general can show that their release would pose a threat to national security, they can be held for up to six months.
The Justice Department must report to Congress every six months on the use of these expanded powers.
Risk of abuse
She added that her organisation would press Congress to exercise careful oversight because the potential for abuse was so high.
"We're already seeing large numbers of people detained without being told what they are being held and without being charged," she said.
ACLU Pledges to Monitor Impact on Civil Liberties, Continue to Work with
The ACLU said that it would soon request meetings with James Ziglar, Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service, Gov. Tom Ridge, the Director of Homeland Security, and other key administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to express its continuing concerns about the sweeping anti-terrorism legislation, the secrecy surrounding the detainees and other government actions.
"We cannot as a nation allow very legitimate public anxiety to immunize the Administration and Congress from their obligation to protect the Bill of Rights and the fundamental values that document embodies," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU's Washington National Office.
Congress adopted the bill signed into law today in near record time with only one public hearing and little debate. In fact, under intense pressure from Attorney General John Ashcroft, Republican leaders in the House torpedoed compromise legislation adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee in a late-night deal with the Justice Department.
"These new and unchecked powers," said Gregory T. Nojeim, Associate Director of the ACLU's Washington Office, "could be used against American citizens who are not under criminal investigation, immigrants who are here within our borders legally and also against those whose First Amendment activities are deemed to be threats to national security by the Attorney General."
How the Anti-Terrorism Bill Affects Civil Liberties: 9 Updated Fact Sheets www.aclu.org/congress/archives.html
How the anti-terrorism bill puts the CIA back in the business of spying on Americans /www.aclu.org/congress/l102301j.htm
(...) It permits a vast array of information gathering on U.S. citizens from school records, financial transactions*, Internet activity, telephone conversations, information gleaned from grand jury proceedings and criminal investigations to be shared with the CIA (and other non-law enforcement officials) even if it pertains to Americans. The information would be shared without a court order. CLIP
Facts on Secret Evidence FROM SECRET EVIDENCE TO NO EVIDENCE: Why is the
Attorney General Asking Congress for the Power to Jail and Deport
Immigrants Without a Trial or Any Other Way to Establish Their Innocence?
(...) Civil libertarians say the measure was passed in haste following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They are particularly concerned that the surveillance powers give law enforcement too much leeway to collect private information on people on the periphery of investigations. CLIP
"The trouble with the bill is that it's very sweeping and it can apply not just to suspected terrorists but people and organizations that may be engaged in lawful actions," Berman said. CLIP
In addition, Internet service providers must make their services more wiretap friendly, giving law enforcement the ability to capture pen register information or allowing the installation of Carnivore technology.
Critics say there is not enough clarity about what information is collected through surveillance technology. Lawmakers maintain that Carnivore doesn't include information from the subject line of an e-mail, but it may collect data such as names and Web surfing habits. Another major concern is that such investigations are kept secret. CLIP
While some provisions in the bill will expire in 2006, powers governing
Internet surveillance are not included in the "sunset clause."
Time's Ripe for National ID Cards (Oct 23, 2001) www.nydailynews.com/2001-10-23/News_and_Views/Opinion/a-129448.asp
The ID Idea - Goodbye to privacy. www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-levy102401.shtm
(...) In the wake of the calamitous events of September 11, Rep. Nancy L.
Johnson (R., Conn.) suggested a national ID using fingerprints or retinal
The predictable failure of a voluntary system will lead to compulsory IDs.
FBI and Justice Department investigators have held and interrogated four men since they were rounded up in the days immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States with no success so far in squeezing out information about their suspected association with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. Frustratingly, all their offers for reduced sentences and witness protection thus far have been refused.
"We are known for humanitarian treatment, so basically we are stuck," said one FBI agent involved in the investigation. "Usually, there is some incentive, some angle to play, what you can do for them. But it could get to that spot where we could go to pressure ... where we won't have a choice, and we are probably getting there."
This sounds distressingly like the FBI flirting with the use of torture on
suspects in its custody. This is a trial balloon that the America public
should burst without flinching.
Besides, if high-running emotions over the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon cause the United States to compromise its principals on human rights for suspected terrorists today, tomorrow it will be easier to justify torture to extract evidence from any suspected criminal. That is a slippery slope down which this country should best not begin.
FBI considers torture as suspects stay silent www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,2001350021-2001364909,00.html
Suspects may be given truth serum http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=100990
NO LONGER INDIVIDUALS: Americans finally re-examine commitments to greater
FULL COVERAGE OF THE NEW U.S. ANTI-TERROR BILL http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/US/Terrorism/
FULL COVERAGE ON THE CIVIL LIBERTIES IN THE US http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/US/Civil_Liberties/
U.S. MILITARY CREATING POLICE STATE? The line between armed forces and law enforcement blurs as US local police are trained and supplemented by military units. /www.nando.com/politics/story/139878p-1400877c.html
; More critical thoughts about US Inner Politics after 11 September
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