Blue Triangle Fact Sheet

From Travis Morales, Blue Triangle Network:
Friends in the struggle to stop the repression against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants,

In light of the recent INS ordered registration and detention of men from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Sudan and the impending January 10 deadline for men from many other Middle Eastern countries to register (and face detention), I urge everyone, TODAY, to generously donate money to, and/or order, the soon to be published fact sheet by the Blue Triangle Network. (see details for donating and ordering below)  You need to have this fact sheet in your hands for the January 10 rallies and demonstrations to protest the registrations and detentions!!!  The December 18 demonstration by 3,000 mainly Iranian immigrants in Los Angeles was a clarion call to people of conscience to stop the registrations and detentions.  Now more than ever, just such a fact sheet is needed as a powerful tool for opening the eyes of tens of thousands of people! to the horrors of the repression against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants --and what this repression means for everyone. It will be a powerful tool that many different activists and organizations can use to educate and organize people into a more powerful movement of resistance to repression that is needed. Think of the impact of distributing 100,000 copies among the many diverse people who are becoming outraged and disturbed or even just beginning to question the repressive measures being implemented by the government in the name of the "war on terrorism."

Below is the main article for the fact sheet. The fact sheet will include additional articles about: the USA PATRIOT Act; what is the blue triangle; stories about people who have been "disappeared" in the post-9/11 round-ups; the case of attorney Lynne Stewart; the case of Jose Padilla; and the crucial history of the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII.

Heed the words of a recent editorial by Th! e Arab-American News of Dearborn, Michigan writing about the recent mass detentions in California:  

“…We believe it was designed to actually discourage further cooperation from the community with the government, thus ultimately giving the government wider latitude in its ongoing trampling of constitutional and civil rights. Henceforth, when thousands of people don’t cooperate in any given initiative out of well-founded fear and mistrust of the Bush-Ashcroft regime, detention camps can be set up all over the country…

“…But the fact is that the government is only interested in instilling terror in the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims everywhere. Why? The coming firestorm in the Middle East. Conducting the Bush Administration’s brand of foreign policy can be difficult with a nation of immigrants looking on, so shutting those immigrants up is mandatory. If our foreign policy were just, of course, that would not be necessary. Bu! t that is a distant dream right now. This is our worst nightmare.”

The fact sheet will hit hard at the whole spectrum of repression and helps people understand the need to act together now in defense of those who are first being targeted. The government has spoken clearly: the apparatus of a police state is necessary to carry out endless wars and to ensure compliance and intimidation among the populace. This can be derailed; but more and more people throughout society must be brought into motion. Stopping the attacks on those who are now targeted is the key battle right now to fighting the restrictions on and reversals of the rights of everyone in this society. As all freedoms are increasingly diminished, what freedom will remain to advocate and organize for any of the causes for which so many people need to mobilize?

When people find out about the secret and indefinite detentions of over 1,200 Muslims, Arabs and South Asians; about the racial profiling and! secret evidence; about the blanket surveillance of immigrant communities and the cloud of fear it creates; about the denial of legal representation and due process; about the targeting of political activists and attorneys and the persecution of Islamic charities; about the wholesale dismantling of legal rights; the manufactured climate of demonization, suspicion and hatred...all in the name of "national security" – they become angry and concerned–they want to stop it.

But how can we develop the needed defiance, resistance and solidarity? There is a gap: between the full scope and depth of these assaults on the one hand and on the other, the extent of awareness by the broad numbers of people whose action and resistance can stop the repression.

We believe that putting the facts in peoples’ hands about the whole scope of the repressive laws and institutions that have been installed in the name of the war against terrorism will propel people to act.

! • Donate generously to fund printing and distribution expenses [approximately $5500 is needed to print a 12-page, 2-color tabloid size edition in 100,000 copies] and pay for handling and storage costs. Please send donations ASAP. See below for tax-deductible contribution information.

• Pre-order bulk copies for mass distribution to church and other religious groups of conscience, at protests, among activist groups, on campuses, to community organizations, etc.

Bulk rates: $195.00 for 1000 copies, including shipping. Please contact the Blue Triangle Network to discuss this project, to arrange funding for the publication, to help with production and distribution, or to order bulk shipments. Place orders TODAY!

Tax-deductible donations can be made out to: UU Community Place with a notation it is for the Blue Triangle Network and mailed to the Blue triangle Network P.O. Box (see below for address).

For bulk orders, checks and money orders should be made payable to: Blue Triangle Network.

Spread the blue triangle symbol of resistance to repression and solidarity with Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants. [Order blue triangles from La Resistencia by e-mailing to]

En la resistencia,
Travis Morales

BLUE TRIANGLE NETWORK, P.O. BOX 7451, DEARBORN, MI 48121-7451 TEL: 313-942-7187

First they came for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up be! cause I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, but by that time, no one was left to speak up.

--Pastor Martin Niemoeller, Nazi Germany


Mohammed Rafiq Butt was one of over 1,200 Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants rounded up and held without charges in the weeks after September 11.  Mr. Butt had come to New York to work and send money to his back children in Pakistan.  The FBI arrested him when neighbors called in a "tip”.  They turned him over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on September 20.  Never charged with a crime, he was held on a visa violation and ordered deported.  He died in a New Jersey jail on October 24. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/24/01)  Other prisoners told! Butt's relatives that he had complained of chest pains for two days.  Officials refused to take him to the hospital.  INS officials claimed Butt had a heart attack.  The INS refused to release information about his death to Human Rights Watch--immigration officials told the group they must produce a document signed by Butt consenting to release the information!

Butt's cousin, Aziz Butt, told the media an autopsy performed in Pakistan revealed marks on Rafiq Butt's body suggesting he had been subjected to severe torture before his death. The coroner found multiple fractures in his cousin's legs and chest, as well as deep bruises on the body.  According to the Ashville (North Carolina) Global Report (11/15/01), “Aziz Butt said his family had faced serious difficulties in having his cousin’s body returned to Pakistan. He claimed FBI officials deliberately delayed sending the body back and initially insisted on burying the corpse in the United Sta! tes.”

On September 12, 2002, the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center in Atlanta (an “anti-terrorism intelligence center” set up after 9/11 and working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force) issued a "Be On the Lookout" order for three young “Middle Eastern looking” men.  The reason? A woman at a restaurant in Georgia claimed that she overheard three young “Arab-looking” men, one wearing a Muslim Kufi cap, talking about a terrorist plot.  The reality? Ayman Gheith, Kambiz Butt, and Omar Choudhary were talking about bringing a car down from Chicago to Florida. The reality? The three young men were medical students on their way to begin a medical residency program in Florida.  All are citizens or legal residents.

On national live late breaking news about “suspected terrorists,” police shut down a 21-mile stretch of I-75.  As the three were held at gunpoint, the police blew up medical equipment sticking out of one of the me! n’s backpacks in case it contained explosives.   After 17 hours, the FBI released them.  The authorities admitted they had absolutely no evidence of any wrong doing by the three.  However, the three students from Ross Medical School were told by the Larkin Community Hospital in Miami that they could no longer participate in their medical residency program.

On May 8, 2002, government agents seized Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen born in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents, as he departed a plane arriving from Switzerland at Chicago O’Hare Airport.  Jose, a convert to Islam, disappeared without a trace for almost five weeks. On June 10, Attorney General John Ashcroft revealed Padilla’s arrest when Ashcroft bragged that Padilla’s arrest had stopped a plot to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the U.S.  The next day, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy Secretary of Defense, was forced to admit that there was no actual plan to do any bombing:  Other ! authorities admitted Padilla had not chosen a target, made a plan, or possessed materials for a bomb. 

No formal charges against him have been made. He has had no right to plead or to request bail. He is not facing trial. He is being held in an isolation cell with a lamp burning 24 hours a day at the Charleston Naval Weapons Center in South Carolina, without contact with his lawyer. He is prevented from telling anyone on the outside his story, denied any right to face his accusers or present evidence in his own defense.

In Lackawanna, New York, a suburb of Buffalo, on September 13, 2002, whole blocks in the Yemeni community were cordoned off. Reports indicated that police and FBI, well-armed and wearing bullet proof vests, went door to door that Friday evening, harassing and interrogating residents and often barging into their homes, sometimes with guns drawn.

With no warrants, agents swarmed into houses, searching them and taking belong! ings. Residents were forced and frightened into giving “permission.”   A woman was at prayer in one house when agents barged in, put a gun to her head and demanded information.

This purpose of the raid was to arrest six young men of Yemeni descent, all legal residents, accused of traveling to Afghanistan last year, before 9/11, to attend an Al Qaeda training camp.  The accused have said they went to attend an Islamic religious school.  The government has made no claim that the young men were planning any illegal activity or were armed in any kind of way.  But young men of Arab descent merely having gone to Afghanistan was enough to get arrested and held on serious charges and denied bail. 

These are just a few of the thousands of stories since 9/11.  People picked up in the dead of night; grabbed off buses, trains and planes; arrested based on anonymous tips; pulled from their cars at a traffic sto! p; homes raided by gun wielding federal agents; children terrorized.  The government has seized on the tragic events of 9/11 to vilify, persecute and terrorize a whole section of people based on the language that they speak, where they were born, the color of their skin and the religion that they practice.  Raids, roundups, disappearances, indefinite detentions without charges, official racial profiling, the denial of access to family and attorneys, charges based on secret evidence, trials before military tribunals, deportations, threats of the death penalty based on secret evidence and more have become standard operating procedure.  In the fall of 2001, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other mainstream media discussed the need for the government to use torture to extract information from suspects.  The New York Times Magazine (10/27/02) questioned a senior law enforcement official in Washington about one detainee who threatened to ki! ll himself after being held for months in solitary confinement.  The official told them, “If your subject has a complete breakdown the barriers to resistance are lowered.  Once a person is at that point, he has lost the will to deceive, and you can be pretty certain that he’s not lying.”  Attorney General John Ashcroft has justified these roundups saying, "Foreign terrorists who commit war crimes against the United States, in my judgment, are not entitled to and do not deserve the protections of the American Constitution."  And who is a terrorist?  Anyone the government declares is a terrorist.


In this process, the government disrupted and devastated people’s lives.  The government detained and deported fathers and husbands with no concerns for the consequences for their loved ones left behind.  Families are left with no breadwinner, with no way to survive and support themselves.&nb! sp; People who worked hard for years at their jobs or building a business are swept up and disappeared.  Wives such as Afghani-American Shokriea Yaghi learned that their husbands have been deported only after the husband called from Jordan (in Shokriea Yaghi’s case) or Pakistan.  Those who have luckily been released have lost jobs and homes and have been branded as “suspected terrorists.”  AND NOT ONE OF THESE PEOPLE HAS BEEN CHARGED IN ANY WAY WITH THE EVENTS OF 9/11.  But yet federal authorities have not only refused to back off from these assaults but have intensified the repression.  The federal government has implemented a broad and far ranging denial of civil liberties, the overturning of long established legal procedures and precedent.  It has usurped and concentrated power and declared debate about this off limits.

Since September 11th, the U.S government has detained and disappeared thousands of people because they “fit the prof! ile of a threat to national security.”  Their “profile” was in fact that they were Muslims, Arabs and South Asians.  All of these people who have been picked up on the street and grabbed from their homes, at airports, train stations, buses, national monuments, religious institutions and political organizations were victims of racial and religious profiling.  The government held the vast majority on immigration violations - which sometimes were a result of the bungling of the INS (for instance, being accused of not filing a change of address form within ten days, when actually they had done so and it had disappeared for months in the INS bureaucracy).

These repressive actions are the domestic component of the U.S. “War on Terrorism,” a war which Vice-President Dick Cheney says, “may last our lifetime.”  The government has declared a perpetual war in which anyone or any country they claim to be a “threat” can be attacked.  Hand in hand with thi! s perpetual war is a constant intensification of police state measures on the “home front”.  President Bush’s threatened everyone when he said, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”  The repression against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants is being used to intimidate the growing and diverse array of people opposing the “war without end” and the domestic repression.  As well, it is establishing the suppressive mechanism to criminalize any dissent and opposition.  As part of this, the authorities want to silence those in this country who can speak truth about the reality of life in the Middle East.  They want to silence the Palestinian who has lived through the Israeli Air Force dropping U.S. supplied cluster bombs on their refugee camp.  They want to silence the Afghan-American woman whose 19 family members in Afghanistan were murdered when the U.S. bombed their wedding party.  They want to silence the Afghan-Americ! an woman whose husband, a Jordanian pizza parlor owner who has been a New Yorker for 15 years, was taken during the mass round-ups after 9/11, held for nine terrifying months without charges, and then suddenly deported without warning--away from his family, his life and livelihood here.

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer warned reporters in a White House press briefing that, "People have to watch what they say and watch what they do."  The government proclaims that all of this is necessary to combat terrorism abroad and at home.  Where will this end?   Is the government constructing a permanent state of war and repression? Federal authorities have named over 60 countries that are potential targets of this war.

We must take Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft at their word.  Vice President Cheney, speaking to Republican governors on October 25, 2001, said "Many of the steps we have now been forced to take will become permanent in American life! ," and "I think of it as the new normalcy." And to drive home the point that everyone needs to shut up and fall into line Attorney General John Ashcroft said to the Senate Judiciary Committee, "[T]o those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists."

All of these government measures have created a poisonous atmosphere where Muslims, Arab and South Asian immigrants are portrayed as potential “terrorists”.  The government has tremendously developed its powerful repressive apparatus and brought it to bear against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants.  They can, and fully intend to use it against immigrants as a whole and the entire population.  A member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission proposed that a mass roundup and detention of Arabs and Muslims might be necessary.  Ashcroft is now proposing detention centers where U.S. citizens can be held indefinitely without charges.

When we look at U.S. society in light of Pastor Martin Niemoeller’s words about his experience in Nazi Germany, we can say that in the New Millennium, first they are coming for the Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants.  It is no exaggeration to say that this whole process underway has all the markings of creating a police state, a nation of informants and spies; surveillance by the state where no phone call, email, credit card or bank account, is private; racial profiling is official policy; where people are taken out in the middle of the night and disappeared. 

C. Clark Kissinger of Refuse& Resist! stated that there are three lessons from the words of Pastor Martin Niemoeller:

1) When it comes, it comes by steps and degrees.  They pick off the opposition one at a time.

2) To prevent a police state you must first come to the defense of its very first victims.

3) In the process of losing our ri! ghts there comes a point of no return.  This is a time that’s going to put us all to the test.  And it’s a time that calls for resistance.

The people must oppose, resist and derail this whole wave of repression, NOW.

Yes!  It is the security of the vast majority of people in this country, citizens and non-citizens, those with and those without papers, that is threatened by these police state measures. Listen to the words of Jonathan Turley, a professor of constitutional law at George Washington University. In the August 14, 2002 Los Angeles Times he wrote,

“Attorney General John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be `enemy combatants' has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace. Ashcroft's plan…would allow him to order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their constitution! al rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants … Whereas Al Qaeda is a threat to the lives of our citizens, Ashcroft has become a clear and present threat to our liberties.”

In August, September and October of 2002, the government carried out a series of highly publicized raids with the arrests of mainly young Islamic men, both U.S. born citizens and immigrants, in Lackawanna, New York; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and Detroit, Michigan.  The government has raised the specter of “Al Qaeda sleeper cells” waiting for orders to attack the U.S. from within.  Yet the government has offered absolutely no evidence that any of those arrested possessed weapons that they planned to use against the U.S., much less that they had any plans to carry out any kinds of attacks.

Not one shred of evidence has been provided to the public that any of these young Muslim men were planning attacks against people in the United States.&nbs! p; But this has not stopped the government from trying to whip up a hysteria based on fear and suspicion that young Islamic men are a threat to “security” and in the process convince many to trade civil liberties for safety. This is a devil's bargain.  Does anyone really think that if we give up our civil liberties and support police state measures that somehow we will all be more safe and secure?  Were the people in Nazi Germany more safe and secure after the mass roundups of Jews, Communists, Socialists, trade unionists, Romas (“gypsies”), and even Catholics?  History has repeatedly proven that the more a people are silenced and denied their rights, the more government officials act with impunity against them. These roundups are not about protecting people in this country.  These attacks against young Muslim men are about getting people to go along with all the repression against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants and not oppose any U.S. foreign wa! rs and domestic repression, or, at a minimum, to be cowed into silence by these attacks.

Racial Profiling

 The U.S. has a long history of “racial profiling” and persecution, from the Jim Crow segregation suffered by Black people in the South to the roundups and deportations of Latino immigrants to the ongoing criminalization and imprisonment of what seems like an entire generation of Latino and Black youth. Over the past two decades, the “war on drugs” and the “war on crime” have been unleashed on the people of the U.S., focusing mainly on Black, Latino and other oppressed nationalities.  As part of fighting this “war on drugs”/ “crime”, law enforcement creates a profile of “suspicious behavior”, which at its core includes race, nationality, age and dress code. In plain English, “suspicious behavior” means driving while Black or Brown. Government authorities, abetted by the mass media, have worked to create a climate of fear throughout society.!   They have used racial profiling, the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people, and highly publicized executions in an attempt to create the image of the Black and Latino men as criminals.

The current attacks on Muslim, Arab, and South Asian immigrants has much in common with previous racial profiling of others in the U.S.  But the present repression being unleashed against Muslim, Arab, and South Asian immigrants is on the whole different than anything in the past 50 years. It resembles the roundup and detention in concentration camps of 110,000 Japanese American citizens and Japanese immigrants by the U.S. government during World II. The U.S. government had no evidence that Japanese Americans posed any threat to national security or were going to aid the Japanese war effort. On November 7, 1941, one month before Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt received a confidential report saying that Japanese in the U.S. did not pose a danger. FBI Director J. Ed! gar Hoover, no friend of civil liberties, concluded that mass evacuations could not be justified for security reasons.  Nonetheless, after Pearl Harbor, the government moved to round up 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans even though not a single Japanese American or Japanese immigrant was ever charged with a criminal act of disloyalty to the United States.  But they too were painted as the “enemy within” as part of creating pro-war hysteria.


All of these repressive measures are being codified in law or declared the new official standard operating procedure from the highest levels of government authority: denial of habeas corpus; military tribunals; death penalty imposed by secret military judges; use of secret or even no evidence to convict or detain indefinitely; government surveillance and infiltration of religious institutions, community groups and political organizations; organized spying of ordinary people on each oth! er; monitoring of e-mail, Internet use and telephone conversations; denial of legal representation; and stripping of all legal and civil rights. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told a law school audience in Manhattan a couple of weeks after September 11 that, “We're likely to experience more restrictions on our personal freedom than has ever been the case in our country…It is possible, if not likely, that we will rely more on international rules of war than on our cherished constitutional standards for criminal prosecutions in responding to threats to our national security.”

Detained Without Charges
First, the Attorney General extended the amount of time in which a non-citizen immigrant could be held without charges. Then, he made an “adjustment” in the rules. On October 31, 2001, the INS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review issued a new rule under which the INS can simply file an appeal and thereby put on hold an immigration judge’s rul! ing that an immigrant be freed for lack of evidence.  The immigrant can then be held indefinitely without charges. This means someone can be held in secret, even deported, without their family knowing where they are.

Held Indefinitely as “Material Witnesses” and “Enemy Combatants”
The U.S. government has refused to provide an official accounting of who is being held, or for what they are being held. We do know, however, from the families of detainees, their lawyers, activists, and journalists that the vast majority of people were charged for minor immigration violations. Several others are being held on ‘material witness’ warrants even though a U.S. judge ordered that people could not be held indefinitely just because they are material witnesses.

Also, the U.S. military is currently detaining indefinitely Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi as “enemy combatants”.  They are both U.S. citizens. No charges have been filed against any of them, a! nd they are being denied access to lawyers, family and friends. The government has even said that they plan to hold these men without trials until the war ends (which Vice President Cheney says will last indefinitely).

Secret Hearings
Many of the immigration hearings of the detainees have been conducted in secret.  On September 21, 2001, Michael J. Creppy, the chief immigration judge in the U.S., gave instructions to the nation’s INS judges on how to handle more than 600 “special immigration” cases.  Creppy’s instructions laid the legal basis for the disappearances.  He instructed:
1) “Each of the cases is to be heard separately from all other cases on the docket.”
2) “The courtroom must be closed for these cases – no visitors, no family, and no press.”
3) “This restriction includes confirming or denying whether such a case is on the docket.

And what makes these “special immigration” cases?&nbs! p;  The word of the Justice Department. They can claim that revealing what is underway in these trials would “jeopardize national security.” This becomes the basis of the government’s need for secrecy.  The government has stated that the courts could not review the designation of “special immigration” case. Executive branch officials argue that the courts have no role in this because immigration hearings are not really trials but are in fact only administrative hearings that can be closed at will. With these regulations, the government can detain an immigrant and everything about the person and the charges can be kept secret. Even whether or not the case is before the immigration court is to be kept secret.  And no one, not even a court, can question this, and much less do anything about it.  No charges, no trial, no evidence and no jury.  Just secret, indefinite jailing without charges just because the government says so. 

On May 29, 20! 02, U.S. District Judge John Bissell ruled that immigration trials could not be conducted in secret unless the government first proved that there is a specific threat to national security. On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court put a stay on this ruling for the duration of the government’s appeal, so these hearings continue in secret. This stay was highly unusual because the case is not yet before the Supreme Court.  This was an extremely strong indication that the court would side with the government when the case finally came before it. The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on October 10, 2002, that the immigration trials could be conducted in secret.  Authorities are establishing Judge Creppy’s instructions as the law of the land.  These have broad and horrific implications.  The mass roundups and disappearances that the government implemented after September 11 are now going to be routine if the people do not stop these measures.  Upholding o! f Creppy’s rulings set the basis for more rounds of the same type of dragnets on an even grander scale.  If the Justice Departments says so, an immigrant just disappears.  Who is next?

Stripped of Due Process Rights
Through executive decree, judicial rulings and legislative acts, the U.S. has eliminated due process rights for all immigrants, including legal permanent residents. Two hundred years of legal tradition are being thrown out the window.  Previously, the courts made no distinction between the constitutional rights of citizens and immigrants.  Some of the rights that immigrants do not have now are:

Innocent until proven guilty...Right to legal representation...Right to lawyer-client privilege...Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures...Right to an open trial...Right to defend yourself….

In a report entitled, “The State of Civil Liberties: One Year Later, Erosion of Civil Liberties in the Post 9/11 Era”,! the Center for Constitutional Rights warns,

“The Bush Administration's war against terrorism, without boundary or clear end-point, has led to serious abrogation of the rights of the people and the obligations of the federal government. Abuses, of Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights in particular, have been rampant, but more disturbing is the attempt to codify into law practices that erode privacy, free speech, and the separation of powers that is the hallmark of our democracy.
“Particularly dismaying are two trends on display in government actions. In its conduct of the terrorism investigation, the government has disregarded its responsibility to maintaining a democratic society. Encroachments on the separation of powers threaten the return of authoritarian rule, inasmuch as that division of authority was set to make sure that no one in government holds a disproportionate amount of power…

“At the same time, government actions also ! undercut its obligations to maintain the rights that make our society free. New legislation, hard-line regulations in the Justice Department, and the impunity with which the Administration has abused the rights of detainees all pose a threat. The free speech and assembly rights as well as the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment have variously been compromised by government actions, hampering the flow of ideas, and creating possible penalties for their expression. The rights conferred by the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments guarantee against arbitrary and malicious persecution of individuals by the state; by weakening those protections, the government has opened the doors to new encroachments on the liberties that all residents of the United States rightfully enjoy.”

Trial by Military Tribunals
In November 2001, President Bush issued an order allowing any non-U.S. citizen to be tried by military tribunal for allegedly being a terroris! t, aiding or harboring a terrorist. Under a military tribunal, military officers will be the judge and the jury members, and they can even sentence someone to death. These trials can be conducted in secret, and evidence can be withheld from the defendant and the defendant’s lawyer. The defendant will not be able to appeal the decision to any court, neither U.S. state, nor federal, nor any international court.

Mass Interrogations and Racial Profiling
In November 2001, the Department of Justice ordered 5,000 men who had entered the U.S. legally within the past few years to submit to “voluntary” interrogations.  All these men were from Muslim, Arab or South Asian countries. Some of the questions included their reaction to terrorism and sympathy for terrorists. In March 2002 an additional 3,000 men were added to this list.

Just like the immediate period after September 11 when the government carried out the mass roundups of innocent people based sol! ely on their profile, federal authorities are preparing to possibly do so again.

On November 17, 2002, the New York Times reported,

“The Bush administration has begun to monitor Iraqis in the United States in an effort to identify potential domestic terrorist threats posed by sympathizers of the Baghdad regime, senior government officials said.

“The previously undisclosed intelligence program involves tracking thousands of Iraqi citizens and Iraqi-Americans with dual citizenship who are attending American universities or working at private corporations, and who might pose a risk in the event of a United States-led war against Iraq, officials said.

“Some of the targets of the operation are being electronically monitored under the authority of national security warrants. Others are being selected for recruitment as informers, the officials said…

“This is the largest and most aggressive program like this we've ever ! had," said one senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Selective Deportation
The Justice Department has decided to hunt down and selectively enforce deportation orders against people from specific Muslim, Arab and South Asian countries.  Federal officials are going after them first as part of rounding up approximately 314,000 immigrants who overstayed their visas and have outstanding deportation orders. Many of these “overstays” are a result of INS bureaucratic bungling. How many?   Who knows?   For reasons of “national security” we do not.

Hundreds of people have been deported and hundreds more languish in jail, many without access to legal representation, family or friends. As a result many people are accepting voluntary deportation for minor violations that would not ordinarily be deportable offenses. Often as the breadwinners in these families are deported the entire families are uprooted! and displaced, including children who are U.S. citizens who have lived in this country their entire lives.

Domestic Spying
The Justice Department has launched Operation TIPS (short for "Terrorism Information and Prevention System"). Their goal is to develop a national network of police informants--millions of them--to be the eyes and ears of the government all through society. The government is working actively to recruit people whose jobs have them out and around during the day--truckers, train conductors, utility employees, telephone workers, letter carriers, and ship captains. Bush himself said in a Knoxville speech on April 8: "If people see anything suspicious, utility workers, you ought to report it. This is a way to organize that which already happens in our communities on a daily basis and a way to make the homeland more secure and more prepared."
FBI agents now also have the authority to observe private gatherings, without first obtaining a war! rant.

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, or SEVIS, is one new government tool for escalation of surveillance and repression of international students. Under the system, the government forces schools to monitor students from the day they arrive in the United States, tracking any changes to their names, addresses or status in school, and inform the government immediately through the Internet-based system.  This includes information on what classes students take, what grades they get, what jobs they have, what extra-curricular they take up and the constant threat of deportation or detention for things like protesting or even taking less than a full-time credit load. 

On November 18, 2002, in a major ruling, the New York Times (11/19/02) reported,

“A special federal appeals court ruled today that the Justice Department has broad new powers under the antiterrorism bill enacted last year to use wiretaps obta! ined for intelligence operations to prosecute terrorists.

“The immediate effect of the ruling by the three-member panel is that criminal prosecutors may now take an active role in deciding how to use wiretaps authorized by a special intelligence court and should have greater access to information obtained from them. For more than 20 years, prosecutors have been prohibited from making decisions on which intelligence wiretaps to apply for because the standards of proof are widely believed to be lower than for regular criminal wiretaps…

“Today's unanimous ruling was a significant victory for Attorney General John Ashcroft, who announced immediately that he would use it to greatly expand the use of the special intelligence court by prosecutors to obtain wiretaps of people suspected of involvement with terrorists...

“Both the appeals court and the court whose opinion it overturned today were created solely to administer a 1978 law allowing the government to c! onduct intelligence wiretaps inside the United States.”

This decision will greatly expand the government’s ability to obtain authorization for wiretaps and surveillance from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court.  This is a court which meets in secret and whose proceedings are totally unknown to the subjects of its deliberations!  Only the Justice Department can appeal its decisions because it is the only one that knows the decisions made aside from the court.  The FISA Court essentially rubber stamps requests from the Justice Department for “authorization to wiretap an individual who is identified in court papers only as a resident of the United States who is working as an agent of a foreign power.”  This will allow the government to wiretap and spy on anyone the government claims “is working as an agent of a foreign power.”  Because, until now, these wiretaps have been supposedly for counterintelligence purposes, i.e. fo! r spying on people who are allegedly spying on the U.S. and not for gathering evidence for criminal prosecutions, the constitutional standards that apply in criminal courts and which must be met to obtain the wiretaps, did not apply.  This ruling gives the government the green light to bypass the criminal courts in which they would not be able to get these wiretaps and go to the secret FISA Court, obtain the wiretap, and now use any evidence obtained in a criminal prosecution, which was previously not permitted.  This opens up whole new ways for the government to label someone a foreign agent, spy on them, prosecute them, and in the process throw long established legal rights out the window.

We are not paranoid to say, “Big Brother is watching.”  The Homeland Security Act passed on November 18, 2002, established a new "Office of Total Information Awareness" and funded with $200 million.  Retired Admiral John Poindexter will be in charge of it. He w! as a central figure in the 1980s covert war in Central America. As national security adviser to President Reagan, he was the immediate boss of Col. Oliver North -- who undertook a vast secret fundraising campaign to create a private mercenary army of contras to invade Nicaragua without the knowledge or approval of Congress. In 1990, Poindexter was convicted in U.S. federal courts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and destruction of evidence. These convictions were overturned. President Bush (Sr.) then pardoned him.

A November 21, 2002 Fox News story reported,

"A massive database that the government will use to monitor every purchase made by every American citizen is a necessary tool in the war on terror, the Pentagon said Wednesday. Edward Aldridge, undersecretary of Acquisitions and Technology, told reporters that ...the database, which he called another `tool' in the war on terror, would look for telltale signs of suspicious c! onsumer behavior. Examples he cited were: sudden and large cash withdrawals, one-way air or rail travel, rental car transactions and purchases of firearms, chemicals or agents that could be used to produce biological or chemical weapons. It would also combine consumer information with visa records, passports, arrest records or reports of suspicious activity given to law enforcement or intelligence services."

This computer system can centrally gather and analyze every scrap of electronic record keeping in the country.  The new technology would theoretically be able to take all the electronic details of life for every single person in the U.S. and analyze it for patterns of behavior that the government considers suspicious. The goal, reportedly, is to provide federal authorities with "instant analysis" of who fits specific profiles and what they are doing at any moment.  In order to do this, the government will be collecting and analyzing data on every sin! gle person in the country, not just on those it considers “suspects.”  In fact, everyone becomes a “terrorist suspect.”  Every detail of our lives will come under government surveillance and scrutiny.  The government claims this is necessary to fight the terrorist threat.  The reality is that the government will have unprecedented capability to spy on and intimidate anyone who opposes and dissents from government policy. 

Parallel Legal System – Ominous Police State Development

The Washington Post (12/1/02) reported that the Bush administration is establishing a separate legal system for anyone the government declares a terrorism suspect and “enemy combatant.”   Under this system, citizens and non-citizens would be stripped of long established constitutional protections.  This system is utilizing measures that are already being used since 9/11: secret courts in which there is no right to see the evidence or face o! ne’s accusers and from which there is no appeal, indefinite military detention for those designated "enemy combatants," “material witness” warrants to hold people indefinitely without charges, military tribunals for non-citizens, secret deportation hearings, counter-intelligence wiretaps of anyone the government says is an agent of a foreign power, secret searches of anyone’s home or business, and more.  According to the Washington Post,

“The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside and outside the government say…

“For example, under authority it already has or is asserting in court cases, the administration, with approval of the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, could order a clandestine sear! ch of a U.S. citizen's home and, based on the information gathered, secretly declare the citizen an enemy combatant, to be held indefinitely at a U.S. military base. Courts would have very limited authority to second-guess the detention, to the extent that they were aware of it…

“Probably the most hotly disputed element of the administration's approach is its contention that the president alone can designate individuals, including U.S. citizens, as enemy combatants, who can be detained with no access to lawyers or family members unless and until the president determines, in effect, that hostilities between the United States and that individual have ended.”

Based on measures it has already taken, the government is in a position to label anyone who opposes government policy as a “suspected terrorist” or “enemy combatant”, detain them in secret for however long the government wants.  There is no legal challenge to this label and no recourse in the courts.!   This is an extremely dangerous dictatorial power.  Do we have any reason to believe that this will not be used indiscriminately against immigrants after what has happened since 9/11?  Do we have any reason to believe that this will not be used against anyone who opposes U.S. wars overseas, lawyers who defend immigrants detained since 9/11, anyone who demonstrates against war and repression, or anyone who in any way opposes government policy that the government wants out of the way?  To repeat, Bush has clearly told us, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

New Phase of Repression

The likelihood of new rounds of mass roundups is very great given both what the government has established and what government officials have said.  At the same time, the government has now moved from indiscriminate arrests and detentions to a more targeted repression with systematic roundups and prosecutions of mainly young Islamic! men and the prosecution of one of the leading Islamic charities.  The prosecution of this charity follows the freezing of its funds and those of several other Islamic charities in the months immediately after September 11.  The government is targeting anyone who is young, Muslim, travels abroad and expresses sympathy for those Muslims who have suffered at the hands of the U.S. war in south Asia. The government ordered that beginning November 15, 2002, temporary male visitors and students ages 16 to 45 from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Sudan, five countries the United States calls sponsors of terrorism, must start reporting to government offices to be fingerprinted and photographed.  This is known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.

According to the New York Times (10/6/02),

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation is trying to make an open book of the lives of hundreds of mostly young, mostly Muslim me! n in the United States in the belief that Al Qaeda-trained terrorists remain in this country, awaiting instructions to attack.

“Senior law enforcement officials say the surveillance campaign is being carried out by every major F.B.I. office in the country and involves 24-hour monitoring of the suspects' telephone calls, e-mail messages and Internet use, as well as scrutiny of their credit-card charges, their travel and their visits to neighborhood gathering places, including mosques.

“The campaign, which has also involved efforts to recruit the suspects' friends and family members as government informers, has raised alarm from civil liberties groups and some Arab-American and Muslim leaders.”

The government raised the specter of “Al Qaeda sleeper cells” waiting for orders to attack the U.S. from within when it carried out a series of highly publicized raids during the summer and fall of 2002.  They arrested mainly young Islamic men in Lackawanna! , New York; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and Detroit, Michigan. (See earlier description)

On October 4, the FBI arrested four U.S. born African American Muslims in Portland and Detroit.  The government charged them with conspiring to provide material support and services to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, conspiring to “levy war against the United States.”  The proof?  Some of them traveled overseas in an attempt, allegedly, to go to Afghanistan to aid the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces in their fight against the U.S.  The government makes no claim that they were ever in Afghanistan.  A lawyer for one of them says they went to Pakistan to help other Muslims.  So what did they actually do?  An FBI official admitted, “They had not gotten to a point where they were identifying targets or anything like that.”  The FBI had launched an investigation and put them under surveillance a year earlier.  Why?  A rural sheriff nea! r Portland saw men with turbans taking target practice at a gravel pit.
The government accused the five U.S. citizens of Yemeni descent that were arrested in Lackawanna (see description of the raids at the beginning of this article) of traveling to Afghanistan before 9/11 to attend an Al Qaeda training camp.  This was the pretext for the raid on the Yemeni community of Lackawanna.  A sixth had been arrested in Bahrain.  The government is charging them with providing material support and resources and terrorists. 

In all of these cases, the government has offered absolutely no evidence that any of those arrested possessed weapons that they planned to use against the U.S., much less that they had any plans to carry out any kinds of attacks.

On October 9, 2002, the U.S. government indicted Enaam Arnaout, a naturalized U.S. citizen, who is the head of the Benevolence International Foundation.  He faces 90 years in prison on c! onspiracy and racketeering charges for supposedly funneling money collected by the Islamic charity to Al Qaeda. Describing the prosecution, a congressional official stated, “This is a sign that we’re now reaching a point where we’ve picked all the low-lying fruit and now we’re getting to the more difficult money funneling systems that are tougher to crack.”  Arnaout has been in jail since April of 2002 on perjury charges.  He had dared to file a lawsuit against the government to get back the charity’s assets that had been seized in the fall of 2001.  In the lawsuit, Arnaout denied ties to Osama bin Laden and the government claimed he was lying.  In September, a judge dismissed the charges and ordered him freed.  The government filed the charges again, refusing to release him.  And now, they have filed these new charges of on conspiracy and racketeering.  Since 9/11 the government has frozen the assets of this and a number of other Islamic c! harities that have been providing food, clothing and medical supplies that make the difference between life and death to people in some of the most war torn areas of the world such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.

In this new phase of repression, the U.S. government is targeting entire communities.  According to the Detroit Free Press (11/12/02),

“Convinced that Al Qaeda terrorists are hiding in southeast Michigan, federal investigators have focused much of the government's secret war on terrorism in metro Detroit neighborhoods.

“The result is a massive, extraordinary network -- with undercover agents infiltrating Arab and Muslim communities, street informants feeding information to investigators, and cooperative, but wary, community leaders acting as cultural guides into the local Arab world.

“The breadth of the probe is astounding. Every aspect of Arab immigrant life is being watched, from IRS scrutiny of! international Muslim charities and businesses, to FBI surveillance of local meeting places, according to court records and interviews with federal officials, Muslim leaders and defense lawyers…

“Detroit's FBI office has more than doubled in size since last year and has purchased new surveillance technology and vehicles. Agents have repeatedly won court approval to tap phones, read e-mail and seize records from individuals or businesses in the metro area when agents could show reason to suspect a terrorist connection…

"We have done things under the Patriot Act that we weren't able to do before," said Mark Kroczynski, special agent in charge of the IRS criminal investigation division in Detroit.”

As part of targeting entire communities, the federal government is instituting in Michigan repressive measures it has developed at the Mexico-U.S. border.  The same issue of the Detroit Free Press reported,

“Federal agen! ts will begin randomly stopping traffic today, looking for illegal immigrants, terrorists and drug or weapon smugglers.

“Cars will be stopped at unannounced, rotating checkpoints within Michigan, including metro Detroit. U.S. Border Patrol agents at the checkpoints will ask passengers their citizenship and will have leeway to ask a host of follow-up questions...

“According to an obscure but long-standing federal law, the government can conduct searches and surveillance within 25 miles of any international border.”

Who will law enforcement officials most likely stop?  Who will most likely be asked their citizenship?  Who will most likely be compelled to answer follow-up questions?  How long before these measures are instituted in many more areas?  Does this not look like a police state?


Thousands have risen to the challenge in various ways to oppose the repression unleashed against Muslim, Arab and S! outh Asian immigrants.  People of diverse backgrounds and beliefs, Christians, Muslims, Jews, citizens, immigrants, and different nationalities, have joined together to act.

Immigrant rights activists organized demonstrations and vigils at the Passaic County Jail in Paterson, New Jersey; the Hudson County Jail in Jersey City, New Jersey; York County Prison in York, Pennsylvania; and the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York City, all where the government jailed hundreds of those detained after September 11. People in 30 cities participated in rallies, demonstrations, vigils, and cultural events as part of the February 20, 2002, National Day of Solidarity with Muslim, Arab and South Asian Immigrants.  For a week in August 2002, 20 young people from throughout the country participated in the National Youth Mobilization Against the Repression of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians in Detroit.  In October 2002, a public outcry in Houston, Texas, stopped t! he deportation of the Palestinian nine member Kesbeh family.   The public outcry forced the government to release Mr. Kesbeh and his son after they had spent six months in detention.

Local governments in Alachua County, Florida; Amherst, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Berkeley, California; Boulder, Colorado; Burlington, Vermont; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Carrboro, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Detroit, Michigan; Eugene, Oregon; Flagstaff, Arizona; Leverett, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; New Haven, Connecticut; Northampton, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; Santa Cruz, California; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Sebastopol, California; Takoma Park, Maryland passed resolutions in support of protecting civil liberties.

In Lewiston, Maine in October 2002, 300 people marched to welcome Somali immigrants to the town after the mayor wrote a letter to Somali community leaders asking them to stop more Somalis from moving to the city. On October 15, 200! 2, chants of "Justice! Justice!" rang out at LAX (the Los Angeles airport).  Over 300 protesters, mostly Latino, demonstrated against Operation Tarmac in which the government has arrested over 1,000 immigrant airport workers nationwide.  Since September 11, thousands have worn the blue triangle with the names of those who have been detained and disappeared in a show of solidarity with them and to say this must stop. 

Members of the Japanese American community were among the first and most consistent voices in opposition to the targeting of Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities.  In the months since 9/11 Japanese Americans have organized solidarity events, publicly denounced the racial profiling and round up of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians, hosted Muslims and Arabs at public events and religious gatherings, and pointed out the parallels between the hellish injustices they suffered during World War II and the current dangers.

The Cente! r for Constitutional Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and other civil rights, civil liberties and human rights organizations filed a joint Freedom of Information Act request against the Department of Justice. The request seeks basic information about the detainees-who was being held, where, and when.  The ACLU and others filed a lawsuit challenging the right of the government to hold secret immigration hearings. Attorney Randall Hamud successfully challenged the right of the government to indefinitely detain a Jordanian student living in San Diego as a “material witness” and he was released.

All of this is a good beginning but much more is necessary to stop this wave of repression against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants.   Think of the effect if students built a movement and forced the colleges and universities to stop spying on foreign students for the government; if churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques declared themsel! ves sanctuaries for the persecuted; if houses of worship all over the country organized a week of religious services dedicated to stopping this wave of repression; if millions wore the blue triangle with the names of the disappeared and detained; if thousands demonstrated and sat in at the detention centers demanding the release of the persecuted; if utility employees, UPS workers, truckers, train conductors, telephone workers, letter carriers, and others publicly pledged to not be snitches for Operation TIPS; if people immediately demonstrated every time someone new was detained and put themselves between immigration officials and those they seek to deport.  This is the atmosphere of defiance, resistance and solidarity that the people need if they are to be able to stop the repression against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants.  Heed the words and actions of high level government officials who have told us that this repression “is the new normalcy.”  Lea! rn from the words of Pastor Martin Niemoeller.  What would you have done then?  What will you do now?

Mission Statement of the Blue Triangle Network

First they came for the Communists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, but by that time, no one was left to speak up.

Pastor Martin Niemoeller, Nazi Germany

Since September 11, 2001, in the name of the war against terrorism, vicious attacks have been launched against the basic human rights of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians in the United States from the highest levels of government. Insisting that national security is at risk, the government has launched a wide scale assault on constitutional rights and civil liberties. In order to defend these violated human and constitutional rights, this network dedicates itself to mobilizi! ng the broadest number of people to challenge and oppose this repression. We do not accept the racial profiling, erosion of civil liberties, roundups, indefinite detentions, secret charges, secret evidence, secret military tribunals and demonizing of Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and others based upon where they were born, the language that they speak, the color of their skin or the religion that they practice. This time they are coming for the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian immigrants who are the first targets in this wave of repression. This network has been organized by a broad cross section of organizations, communities and individuals, both people who have stepped forward to stand with those targeted by this repression and people from the targeted communities themselves. We have a diversity of political perspectives, religious beliefs, and ethnic and racial backgrounds, but we are united in our determination. We are standing up and taking action.

What You Can D! o – Create an atmosphere of opposition, defiance and resistance that goes up against this whole repressive onslaught with the determination to stop it.

- Produce, distribute, wear, and popularize the blue triangle with the names of Muslim, Arab and South Asians who have disappeared at the hands of the government.  The blue triangle can become a powerful symbol of solidarity with the detainees and opposition to the wave of repression.
- Organize teach-ins on university and high school campuses.
- Take up the case of Rabih Haddad and the cases of other detainees.
- Organize to stop your college and university from cooperating in any way with Federal agencies seeking to locate, identify and harass foreign students studying in the U.S.
- Write “letters to the editor” of your local newspaper.
- Organize public meetings and educational events for people to hear Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants speak who have been the targets of this repressio! n.
- Churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques, provide sanctuary for the persecuted.  Hold ecumenical services and seminars.
- Organize rallies and demonstrations to demand that all detainees be freed.
- Write letters and make phone calls to local, regional and national government officials demanding that they stop these attacks.  Call 1-800 839-5276 to contact the White House and Members of Congress. The operator will connect you.
- Poets, writers, musicians and artists use your skills to promote unity with immigrants and oppose the attacks.  Organize concerts, poetry readings and art shows.
- Hold town meetings.
- Initiate and support lawsuits challenging the USAPATRIOT Act, defending victims of repression, and beating back repressive laws.
-  Distribute this fact sheet. This is a basic tool with which to educate and organize people into this movement.

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"We believe that as people living
in the United States it is our
responsibility to resist the injustices
done by our government,
in our names
.....another world is possible
and we pledge to make it real!"
from the NION Pledge of Resistance