Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Secret Evidence and "Muslim Civil Rights" seminar notes|
|01/14/02 at 20:54:59|
|Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,|
Had not planned on taking notes or posting them (otherwise would have socialized less and paid more attention at the seminar! hence the skeletal notes), but here are some notes regarding your civil rights, and what we can do about the current situation we're facing as Muslims in America.
David Rocah, ACLU
Hussein Ibish, American-Arab Anti Discrimination Comm.
Sara Flounders, Co-Director, International Action Center
Sami Al-Arian, Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice & Peace
Randal Hamud, attorney
Sofian Abdel Aziz, American Muslim Assoc. of North America
Robert Levy, Cato Institute, Wash, DC
Professor Levy (CATO)
- There are roughly 18 million non-citizens in the U.S., most legally in the U.S.
- U.S. Constitution refers to “citizens” and other times to “persons” (non-citizens). This implies the founding fathers planned for legal/social rights to anyone, citizen or not, with applicable rights for both.
- Levy argued that if the Bill of rights over-rules International War rules, Bush’s military trials may be unconstitutional. If not, these trials are legal and necessary.
- He also argued that certain people should get more rights than others, etc. (I stopped listening at some point…)
David Rocah (ACLU)
- Argued that the curtailment of certain civil liberties post-9/11 do not necessarily lead to safety, only less rights depending on your religion/ethnicity; i.e., it’s ineffective and counter-productive to implement such measures against the section of the population that can be most helpful to fighting terrorism.
- ACLU has issue with Secret Detention (1200+ detainees, mostly Arab and/or Muslim men), as well as Dragnet questioning based on ethnicity (5000 recent immigrants being questioned, mostly Arab and/or Muslim).
- ACLU provides legal assistance for those who need it.
Sara Flounders (IAC)
-[This particular anti-globalization, anti-racism organization is founded by Ramsey Clark, and goes frequently to Iraq with medications/food. They strongly oppose the sanctions]
- Post 9/11 American “policing” is a new form of empire colonialism.
- Argued for the legitimate cause of Palestinian uprising against the occupation/terrorism imposed on them. (At this point, Levy jumped off the stage and abruptly left the room. He returned later, only to leave abruptly again after stating that Israel is the real victim being terrorized).
Hussein Ibish (ADC)
- Stated most of post-9/11 discrimination is an amplification of discrimination that existed before 9/11. Ex/ secret evidence existed before, now there are more detainees.
- Media’s mistake is treating news stories/cases as though they are isolated events. Suggested “connecting the dots” to reflect a clear pattern of legal measures against Arabs and/or Muslims
- Secret incarcerations of Arabs and/or Muslims
- Investigation of 5,000 young Muslims and/or Arabs for vague reasons
- New Visa profiles must wait extra and answer special questionnaire (primarily just for Arabs and/or Muslims) before approval
- Of the 315,000 deportable non-citizens in the U.S., the government will top off 6,000 (mostly Arabs and/or Muslims) to be entered into a database for profiling and the first round of deportation.
- Argued that the American Muslim community is rich, but there are no political action groups equivalent to AIPAC yet. Some are aspiring to be more influential, but are not well supported by the Muslims.
Sofian Abdel Aziz (AMANA)
- Gave general discourse on how Islam should guide us to help our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed or wrongfully accused.
- Argued that we shouldn’t bow down to oppression, regardless of who it is against or by.
Randal Hamud (CA attorney for three Arab Secret Evidence detainees)
- Described who and how the detainees he represents were detained.
- Called on Muslim community to put their money into freeing innocent detainees, and publicizing their plight. Mentioned one detainee’s bail was set for $250,000 (highest the court can set for the case) after he was found “not guilty” of terrorism. Even his own family members were too scared to pay the 10% needed to free him (which would be refunded) because their names would go down on a list, and possibly be publicized. We should fear Allah more.
Dr. Sami Al-Arian (U of S. Florida professor recently forced to leave his position)
- He and his family have been targets since 1994, when the FBI first formally investigated him at the USF, filed no charged because of lack of evidence against him, and instead praised him.
- As a part of pattern procedures seeming to define civil rights for Arabs and/or Muslims from 1996-present, his brother-in-law (Mazzen An-Najjar) was detained under secret evidence, along with at least 28 other Arabs and/or Muslims, without bail. Reno freed him after 3+ years of being detained, right before she left office.
- Al-Arain’s recent removal from his position was after paid leave, after he showed up on Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor”, voicing his pro-Palestinian views and was called a “terrorist” by O’Reilly. The reason for being fired: that he didn’t make clear he was not representing USF and a sound-bite of his from 13 years back. Al-Arian argued that USF had orchestrated a campaign to fire him, this was the perfect opportunity. Ironically, it was O’Reilly who stood up for him (at least verbally), and criticized USF’s move in firing him.
- [He didn’t talk about this, but I believe Al-Arain’s son is the intern who was pulled out of a recent White House function due to false accusations of ties to “terrorists”, after which, the Muslim delegates/leaders got up to leave in protest. President Bush later apologized.]
- Most of the Secret Evidence detainees were freed by 2001, and Muslim leaders were so close to doing away with it, until 9/11.
- [color=Red]On 9/11/01 at 3pm, several Muslim leaders had a planned meeting with President Bush to talk about the unconstitutional Secret Evidence laws, and possibly do away with them altogether (remember, Bush did talk about this during his election campaign, not that the words of campaigners should really be taken seriously). The meeting, obviously, never took place.[/color]
- On 11/24/01 An-Najjar was attacked by 15 people and detained again. An eye-witness reported he was “treated like a dog.” His charge? Expiration of his Visa. He’s now on 23-hour lock-down, in solitary confinement, where hardened criminals who misbehave are temporarily placed with him. He has lost asylum in the U.S., which doesn’t even recognize the Palestinian gov’t, and ordered his reps to figure out which country he should be deported to.
- Al-Arian argued that although we are in a different world post-9/11, we can still fight back and win in this country, if we are a united front and actually put our money where our mouth is.
- We cannot NOT support political action/human rights organizations and expect to have our voice heard.
- This country’s citizens will not stand for injustice, IF THEY ONLY KNEW. So let it be known, most will not believe you when you say there is such a thing as secret evidence laws if they haven't already heard of it.
Where to send your contributions:
Muslim Community Support Services
11 E. Chase Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Etc etc etc
More info on secret evidence to come, insha'Allah.
|Re: Secret Evidence and "Muslim Civil Rights" seminar notes|
|01/14/02 at 21:20:19|
|Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah, |
The following are informative sites on what Secret Evidence laws are all about, and information on what to do about it...
Interesting site on what looks like a Columbia University Masters project on Secret Evidence. Includes slide presentation and the personal stories of three detainees in particular.
And separately, another good article to forward:
End secret evidence
By J.D. Tuccille
Mazen Al-Najjar, a former university instructor, and Nasser Ahmed, an engineer, each spent years in prison without being formally charged, and without being allowed to see the evidence against them. Hany Kiareldeen was luckier - he only spent 18 months locked away based on vague charges and evidence kept secret from him and his attorney.
That sucks, you say. I'm sorry to hear it. But what else can you expect from the thugs ruling— What country was that?
The country, bub, is the U.S. of A. That's right, it was the United States government that locked those folks up without telling them why.
Due process and all that
In the United States, we tend to think that we enjoy the incomplete but still much-appreciated pleasure of certain guaranteed rights should we tick off some official arm-twister. The Constitution says the government folks have to tell us what we're charged with, who said we did the dastardly deed and what evidence they have. The prosecutor then has to make the case pronto, in a fair trial, without pulling some cute banana-republic-style stunt by letting us rot in prison for a couple of years.
The key provisions in the Constitution are the Fifth and Sixth Amendments:
Fifth Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Sounds pretty clear, right? So what's with the police-state treatment?
Well, you see, all bets are off if you're an immigrant facing an "administrative" procedure before the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Get the INS's dander up, and it's, "hello, Gulag."
In the wake of the bombings of the World Trade Center and the federal building in Oklahoma City, the government decided to get tough on terrorism in a big, if not especially effective, way.
Having watched lots of Chuck Norris movies, the geniuses at the Justice Department knew that terrorism meant one thing: Folks with towels on their heads. That the Oklahoma City bombing had nothing to do with the late twentieth century's designated villainous ethnic group was irrelevant; it was time to kick some Arab ass, and kick it quick.
In this task, the federales lucked out. While those annoying provisions in the Bill of Rights require that the authorities make at least some effort to prove their case before consigning arrestees to the dungeon, an interesting loophole surfaced. It seems that courts have long held that America's much-ballyhooed universal rights of all mankind stop at the border — and at the green card.
Muslims, by and large, are relatively recent immigrants to the United States. Many have yet to secure citizenship and just have residency status. That still gives them the same rights in the criminal courts as any other Americans, but unlike other Americans, they're also subject to the near-absolute power of the immigration cops. It's as if the U.S. ringed itself with a moat made of a little slice of the old Soviet Union.
And that's how Messrs. Al-Najjar, Ahmed and Kiareldeen, among dozens of others, found themselves imprisoned for months and years, based on no formal charges other than vague allegations that they consorted with shadowy terrorist types.
Did they do it? Nobody knows. The feds wouldn't even show defense lawyers the evidence so that it could be rebutted.
You gotta be kidding …
Unlike defense lawyers, a few judges have seen the so-called evidence, and have been universally unimpressed. The federal judge in the Kiareldeen case said:
The quality of the evidence offered by the government as the basis for petitioners' continued detention does not attain that level of reliability sufficient to satisfy the constitutional standard of fundamental fairness. Even the majority opinion of the Board of Immigration Appeals, which overruled the [immigration judge's] decision to release the petitioner on bond, noted: "Like the Immigration Judge and the dissent, we have some concerns about the reliability of some of the classified information." The court finds that to be an understatement.
The immigration judge in the Nasser Ahmed case was equally unkind:
Virtually all of the secret information is hearsay not subject to any exception to the hearsay rule. Most of this information is double or triple hearsay. ...
The government's failure to respond to the credibility questions leaves the court utterly unable to assess the reliability of the government's hearsay evidence. ... the FBI has refused to provide the court with evidence from which the court could make an independent evaluation of the credibility of its sources. In light of that refusal, this court must reject the secret information as being of unproven reliability.
In fact, in all of the cases that have gone before a judge, the government's argument has apparently consisted of: "Trust us, he's a bad guy."
That's not real reassuring coming from a Justice Department that hasn't earned any gold medals in veracity in recent years.
Setting things right
In fact, the Kafka-esque INS crusade against immigrant maybe-terrorists has been so embarrassing to the U.S. that even Congress finally took notice.
Last year, Rep. David Bonior introduced the Secret Evidence Repeal Act of 1999. The measure would, among other things, repeal Title V of the Immigration and Nationality Act - that's the curious bit of U.S. law that allows for all sorts of creative maneuvers on the part of the federal government in railroading accused immigrants.
The bill also amends another part of the Act to allow defendants to actually see the evidence and cross-examine witnesses. Over the past year-plus, Rep. Bonior's bill has meandered its way through the House of Representatives, finally coming to rest in the chambers of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims. Needless to say, congressional big-wigs could use a little goose to get matters on the move.
So here's an idea. In this election year, when your representative is back home pretending to represent your interests in search of votes, how about putting a bug in his ear? Mention that you're real embarrassed that people can be locked up in the U.S. as if the government had somehow misplaced a couple of amendments in the Bill of Rights.
After all, if there's any issue that should cut close to the bone for a politician, it's the promise of fair treatment after arrest.
|Re: Secret Evidence and "Muslim Civil Rights" seminar notes|
|01/14/02 at 20:58:57|
|From the ACLU:|
SECRET EVIDENCE: What the Courts Are Saying...
May 23, 2000
Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter in Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Comm. v. McGrath:
"No better instrument has been devised for arriving at truth than to give a person in jeopardy of serious loss notice of the case against him and opportunity to meet it. Nor has a better way been found for generating the feeling, so important to popular government, that justice has been done." (Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 171-172 (1951) (Frankfurter, J., concurring)).
Supreme Court Justice Jackson in Knauff v. Shaughnessy:
"The plea that evidence of guilt must be secret is abhorrent to free men, because it provides a cloak for the malevolent, the misinformed, the meddlesome, and the corrupt to play the role of informer undetected and uncorrected." (U.S. ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537, 551 (Jackson, J., dissenting)).
Federal Appeals Court for the District of Columbia on Secret Evidence in Rafeedie v. INS:
"... Rafeedie -- like Joseph K. in Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ -- can prevail ... only if he can rebut the undisclosed evidence against him, i.e. prove that he is not a terrorist regardless of what might be implied by the government's confidential information. It is difficult to imagine how even someone innocent of all wrongdoing could meet such a burden… ." (Rafeedie v. INS, 880 F.2d 506, 516, (D.C. Cir. 1989))
Federal Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit, on Secret Evidence in ADC v. Reno:
"One would be hard pressed to design a procedure more likely to result in erroneous deprivations."
"Because of the danger of injustice when decisions lack the procedural safeguards that form the core of constitutional due process, the ... balancing [test adopted by the Supreme Court to determine whether INS conduct violates a non-citizen's due process rights] suggests that use of undisclosed information in adjudications should be presumptively unconstitutional." (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Reno, 70 F.3d 1045, 1069; 1070-71 (9th Cir. 1995)).
Federal District Court in New Jersey in Kiareldeen v. Reno:
"Here, the government’s reliance on secret evidence violates the due process protections that the Constitution directs must be extended to all persons within the United States, citizens and resident aliens alike."
"Despite repeated requests from the Immigration Judge, the government made no recorded efforts to produce witnesses, either in camera or in public, to support its allegations of terrorism. The petitioner was thus denied the opportunity to meaningfully cross-examine even one person during his extended detour through the INS’ administrative procedures. The INS’ actions unconstitutionally damaged Kiareldeen’s due process right to confront his accusers. The quality of the evidence offered by the government as the basis for petitioners’ continued detention does not attain that level of reliability sufficient to satisfy the constitutional standard of fundamental fairness. Even the majority opinion of the Board of Immigration Appeals, which overruled the [immigration judge's] decision to release the petitioner on bond, noted: ‘Like the Immigration Judge and the dissent, we have some concerns about the reliability of some of the classified information.’ The court finds that to be an understatement."
"Here, the court cannot justify the government’s attempt to ‘allow [persons] to be convicted on unsworn testimony of witnesses -- a practice which runs counter to the notions of fairness on which our legal system is founded.’ " [citation omitted] (Kiareldeen v. Reno, 71 F.Supp.2d 402, 414; 418; 419 (D.N.J. 1999)).
Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Haddam v. Reno:
"The use of secret evidence against a party, evidence that is given to, and relied on, by the [immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals] but kept entirely concealed from the party and the party’s counsel, is an obnoxious practice, so unfair that in any ordinary litigation context, its unconstitutionality is manifest." (Haddam v. Reno, 54 F. Supp.2d 588, 598 (E.D. Va. 1999)). (The Haddam court did not address the constitutional issues arising from the use of secret evidence).
Donn Livingston, Immigration Judge, In In Re Nasser Ahmed:
"The INS seems to be asking the court to abdicate its statutory and regulatory duty to decide the respondent’s asylum claim based on the evidence presented at the hearing. The court will respect the expertise of law enforcement personnel and their dedication to protecting our country. But the court will not defer to their credibility findings, their weighing of the evidence or their interpretations of law. ... [T]hese issues are to be resolved by the [immigration] court which will make its own findings and conclusions based on the evidence presented."
"It appears that some of the classified information could be gathered from non-confidential sources. If the information could be presented in open court as coming from an unclassified source, the respondent would be able to confront the evidence against him. This is certainly a desirable feature of any court proceeding. Indeed, the court is concerned about the possibility for abuse in this area. Imagine, for example, an agency which has two sources of evidence of a particular fact. One source is classified and the other source is public. If the agency chooses to present the information through the public source, the respondent will have an opportunity to confront the evidence. However, if the agency chooses to present the evidence through a classified source, the evidence could remain unassailable. Imagine further the situation where an agency has classified information of a certain fact, but does not yet have a public source for that fact. If the agency knows it can present the classified information in camera, what is the incentive to expend investigatory resources on developing a public source for that evidence?"
"Virtually all of the secret information is hearsay not subject to any exception to the hearsay rule. Most of this information is double or triple hearsay. Of course, hearsay evidence may be admissible in deportation proceedings [citation omitted]. However, hearsay may be relied upon only if it is probative and its use would not be fundamentally unfair [citations omitted]."
"The government’s failure to respond to the credibility questions leaves the court utterly unable to assess the reliability of the government’s hearsay evidence. The FBI urges the court to defer to its assessment of credibility. ...However, the FBI has refused to provide the court with evidence from which the court could make an independent evaluation of the credibility of its sources. In light of that refusal, this court must reject the secret information as being of unproven reliability."
(In Re Nasser Ahmed, No. A90 674 238 (7/30/99).
|Re: Secret Evidence and "Muslim Civil Rights" seminar notes|
|01/14/02 at 21:00:43|
7 things you can do to fight secret evidence
by the volunteer staff of Justice for All
Don't be fooled by the legal speak on secret evidence. This is an issue which anyone who has a telephone, pen, paper and access to the postal service, and/or fax and e-mail access can do something about.
All of these are lobbying tools to fight secret evidence. Here are some practical ways you can use them.
1. Find out what exactly is Secret Evidence
Make sure you know the basics of Secret Evidence. What it entails, who if affects, when it came into effect, etc.
Also, read up on how Secret Evidence has affected Muslims and Arabs, who have been most of the victims of this law. You can find stories, for instance, in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine.
2. Learn about H.R. 2121
What is this? It's the Secret Evidence Repeal Act. It would no longer allow the US government to keep away evidence against a suspect on the basis that to reveal it would be a threat to national security.
Confused? Inform yourself about H.R. 2121.
3. Inform your family and friends about it
At your next family meeting or discussion, talk about secret evidence and the effect is has on Muslims living in the US Then discuss H.R. 2121 and how it can put an end to this law.
Be creative and make it as simple to understand as possible. Tell the stories of real people: Nasser Ahmed and Mazen Al-Najjar, for instance. Show their photographs. Use the articles from the Washington Report on Middle East on these two cases and how they have not only affected the lives of these Muslims, but the lives of their wives and children as well.
For your friends, bring up the issue for discussion at the next dinner party. Bring a one-page fact sheet on secret evidence for everyone. Also hand out a copy of how secret evidence has affected the life of one person (i.e. Mazen Al-Najjar) to put a human face to the legislation.
Who to call? See the list below of government representatives who can be persuaded to support H.R. 2121. If these key Judiciary Committee members cosponsor H.R. 2121 , it can pass through the committee without changes.
Call them first. Be calm, polite and straightforward. Write down your points on note cards before calling if you feel really nervous.
And remember, every call makes a difference. Those who support the Secret Evidence Act (mostly pro-Israel, anti-Muslim forces) have done their lobbying work by effectively trying to persuade. Now you've got to do your part, even if it is just one call.
The list of representatives can be found here.
5. Write up the letter and fax it
Nothing fancy. Some points from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) :
a. secret evidence is unconstitutional
b. it is being used specifically against members of the Muslim and Arab-American communities. Almost all of the individuals held based on secret evidence are Muslims and Arabs.
c. Federal courts in the US have rejected the credibility of secret evidence on many occasions. In cases where secret evidence was revealed, it often turned out to be nothing more than rumors, press clippings, and other forms of evidence that would not stand up in a court of law.
d. The basic guarantee to "due process of law" contained in the Fifth Amendment of the American constitution should not be denied to anyone, citizen or non-citizen. To deprive any individual in the US of freedom without the opportunity to confront the evidence used against him is a denial of justice. It flies in the face of American values.
6. E-mail and forward
E-mail and forward to Muslims information about secret evidence from organizations like CAIR.
Also use your e-mail to write to any representative from your area about secret evidence. by going to http://www.house.gov/writerep/. Type in your zip code to find out who represents your district.
7. Make Dua (supplication)
All power is only with Allah. Make sure to make Dua after your efforts, that Allah make them fruitful, and that those who are suffering under the secret evidence law are freed from this injustice.
© 2001 Justice for All. All rights reserved.
730 W. Lake St. #156, Chicago, IL. 60661, USA
|Re: Secret Evidence and "Muslim Civil Rights" seminar notes|
|01/15/02 at 00:37:04|
|Assalaamu alaykum |
I didnt get to go but my dad taped it for me. I really want to meet that brother from Miami...he made some really good points. My sister said that it wasnt a whole lot of people there until after Maghrib.
|Re: Secret Evidence and "Muslim Civil Rights" seminar notes|
|01/15/02 at 10:44:01|
|AN OPEN LETTER TO 'LADY LIBERTY' |
By Rabih Haddad, Than Ann Arbor News, 1/13/2002
My Dear Sweet Lady:
You don't know me, yet I am one of your forsaken sons. In my dreams you come to me with promises of freedom and great aspirations, in a land far away. "One nation, indivisible, under God," you said. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were guaranteed to all," you said. "A land where justice is blind," you said. Your words swept me up in a tornado of hope, dreams, and inspiration. I answered your call and came to you with open arms, and oh, what a sight you were! Standing tall over the world, holding your torch like a beacon, calling stray ships on a turbulent ocean to safe harbor.
It was then that I pledged to you that I will uphold and practice the values that you stand for. Little did I know that I will be persecuted in your name, and little did you know what your children were doing behind your back, some wittingly, but most unwittingly. They are afraid, my dear Lady, and fear almost always begets hate. I have done my best to preach and explain. I made every effort to promote and expedite healing among all of your children who are still anguishing and agonizing over the national tragedy of Sept. 11. I condemned and denounced those barbaric acts of horrific terrorism. I called upon your children to come together and embrace one another. I implored them to triumph over adversity and flock to your side in a show of unity and defiance to those who would rob us of the values that define our way of life.
Someone once said, "There is nothing as strong as real gentleness, nothing as gentle as real strength." When I think of this, I think if you! Take a look over your shoulder and whisper gently to your children not to be afraid. From my jail cell, and because of my faith and trust in Almighty God, I tell you that my spirit is free! Free as the meadowlarks of Nebraska, proud as the bold eagles of Alaska. You do not have to worry about me; just keep your torch burning high, and remain in the dreams of the oppressed and persecuted around the world. Continue to be the beacon of hope and oasis of prosperity for so many.
Come what may, I will hold true to the pledge I made to you, "truth" and "justice" will ultimately prevail!
With love and hope,
Your forsaken son,
Monroe County Jail
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