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Seeking Truth From Justice
found to be the wholesale and long-lerm In fact, in the aftermath of the passage of prcvcntive detention of immigrants swept thc USA PATRIOT Act, on May 30, 2002, up in the months following 9/11. According Attorney General John Ashcroft announced to the report issued by the Justice
that he had rewrillen the guidelines that Department's Inspector General, many govern FBI surveillance. The Ashcroft immigrants who had no conncction to the guidelines scvcr thc tic between the start of terrorist attacks of September 11 languished an investigative activities and evidence of a in federal lock-up for months at a time crime. Ashcroft's guidelines give the FBI a under an official "no bond policy” that green light to send undercover agents or effectively prohibited their release. The INS informants to spy on worship services, complained that the FBI had given them no political demonstrations and other public evidence to justify their continued deten- gatherings and in the Internet chat rooms tion, yet somc immigrants still spent up to without cven the slightest evidence that eight months waiting for release.
wrongdoing is afoot. Contrary to what
Devincentis wrote, the FBI is now very Conclusion: A pattern of deceit much empowered to conduct investigative
"fishing cxpcditions” on First Amendment
protected activities even though there is no It is time for the Department of Justice to
indication of criminal activity. stop mislcading the American people. The public cannot makc informed decisions
At this moment, the Justice Department has about the future of the police powers con
clear political incentives to soft-pedal the lained in the PATRIOT ACI whether to let
nature of the PATRIOT Act. But we can them cxpirc, rencw them, or expand them
count on thc fact that government investicvcn more with PATRIOT Act II if the
gators and prosccutors, when they appcar government is not truthful about the extent
before judges, will be making much bolder of its current powers.
claims about what the Act lets them do.
And the falsehoods are not limited to the Somc Americans might have a hard time PATRIOT Act. In a leller lo lhe City Clerk believing that a Justice Department of Ithaca, the FBI's Keith A. Devinccntis, spokesperson could be inaccurate about Special Agent in Chargc of thc Burcau's basic matters of law with such flagrancy. Albany office, missiales the FBI's powers The ACLU has certainly found that from under the Allorney General guidelines on time to time it is possible to make occadomestic surveillance. “Contrary to popular sional errors about matters of law, or to be television and theatrical portrayals, the FBI misunderstood by a reporter when disinitiales cases predicted on facts, not suspi- cussing the law. In this case, however, we cions or guesswork. 'Fishing expeditions' are witnessing a pattern of inaccuracy are clearly proscribed by FBI policy, spread out over a long period of time, over Attorney General Guidelines, and other a wide variety of news outlets, by various Federal statutes and regulations,”
staff members, on a central issue in a Devinccntis wrotc.
prominent national debate.
Seeking Truth From Justice
The Department's inaccuracies have to do not with subtlc, debatablc points of lcgal interpretation, but clcar matters of law that are spelled out in black and while in the text of the PATRIOT Act.
previously been sought by the Justice Department but rcjccted by Congress), and thc Department was instrumental in forcing the bill through Congress with minimal discussion or debate in the panicked weeks after 9/11.
There is no excuse for the Justice Department lo get the PATRIOT Act wrong; the Department was behind the legislation from the beginning. The Justice Department drafted the Act (most of the Act's surveillance provisions were part of a longstanding wish list that had
Considering the exteni lo which the USA PATRIOT Act is the Ashcroft Justice Department's “baby,” one might expect department officials to be proud parents. Instead, they seem intent on denying the truc nature of thcir crcation.
ARTICLE, NEW YORK TIMES, “JUST SHUT IT DOWN,” MAY 27, 2005
Thomas L. Friedman Op-Ed column says Guantanamo Bay prison should be shut down immediately, says he is convinced that more Americans will die if it is kept open than if it is plowed under; says it has become worse than an embarrassment for United States; cites scathing remarks in newspapers of American allies such as Britain, Australia, Canada and Germany, says if there is case to be made against any of 500 inmates still there, it is time they were put on trial; says rest should be allowed to go home; agrees with Michael Posner of Human Rights First on need for US to be law-abiding and uphold values it wants others to embrace (M)
London Shut it down. Just shut it down.
I am talking about the war-on-terrorism P.O.W. camp at Guantanamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under. It has become worse than an embarrassment. I am convinced that more Americans are dying and will die if we keep the Gitmo prison open than if we shut it down. So, please, Mr. President, just shut it down.
If you want to appreciate how corrosive Guantanamo has become for America's standing abroad, don't read the Arab press. Don't read the Pakistani press. Don't read the Afghan press. Hop over here to London or go online and just read the British press! See what our closest allies are saying about Gitmo. And when you get done with that, read the Australian press and the Canadian press and the German press.
It is all a variation on the theme of a May 8 article in The Observer of London that begins, "An American soldier has revealed shocking new details of abuse and sexual torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in the first high-profile whistle blowing account to emerge from inside the topsecret base. Google the words "Guantanamo Bay and Australia" and what comes up is an Australian ABC radio report that begins: "New claims have emerged that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are being tortured by their American captors, and the claims say that Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib are among the victims."
Just another day of the world talking about Guantanamo Bay.
Why care? It's not because I am queasy about the war on terrorism. It is because I want to win the war on terrorism. And it is now obvious from reports in my own paper and others that the abuse at Guantanamo and within the whole U.S. military prison system dealing with terrorism is out of control. Tell me, how is it that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody so far? Heart attacks? This is not just deeply Immoral, it is strategically dangerous.
I can explain it best by analogy. For several years now I have argued that Israel needed to get out of the West Bank and Gaza, and behind a wall, as fast as possible. Not because the Palestinians are night and Israel wrong. It's because Israel today is surrounded by three large trends. The first is a huge population explosion happening all across the Arab world. The second is an explosion of the worst interpersonal violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the history of the conflict, which has only recently been defused by a cease-fire. And the third is an explosion of Arabic language multimedia outlets -- from the Internet to Al Jazeera.
What was happening around Israel at the height of the intifada was that the Arab multimedia
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explosion was taking the images of that intifada explosion and feeding them to the Arab population explosion, melding in the minds of a new generation of Arabs and Muslims that their enemies were J.LA, -- "Jews, Israel and America." That is an enormously toxic trend, and I hope Israel's withdrawal from Gaza will help deprive it of oxygen.
I believe the stories emerging from Guantanamo are having a similar toxic effect on us -- infiaming sentiments against the U.S. all over the world and providing recruitment energy on the Internet for those who would do us ill.
Husain Haqqani, a thoughtful Pakistani scholar now teaching at Boston University, remarked to me: *When people like myself say American values must be emulated and America is a bastion of freedom, we get Guantanamo Bay thrown in our faces. When we talk about the Amer ca of Jefferson and Hamilton, people back home say to us: 'That is not the America we are dealing with. We are dealing with the America of imprisonment without trial.'"
Guantanamo Bay is becoming the anti-Statue of Liberty. If we have a case to be made against any of the 500 or so inmates still in Guantanamo, then it is high time we put them on trial, convict as many possible (which will not be easy because of bungled interrogations) and then simply let the rest go home or to a third country. Sure, a few may come back to haunt us. But at least they won't be able to take advantage of Guantanamo as an engine of recruitment to enlist thousands more. I would rather have a few more bad guys roaming the world than a hole new generation.
"This is not about being for or against the war," said Michael Posner, the executive director of Human Rights First, which is closely following this issue. "It is about doing it right. If we are going to transform the Middle East, we have to be law-abiding and uphold the values we want them to embrace -- otherwise it is not going to work."