From Travis Morales, Blue Triangle Network:
Friends in the struggle to stop the repression against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants,
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."
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:
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.”
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 email@example.com]
En la resistencia,
BLUE TRIANGLE NETWORK, P.O. BOX 7451, DEARBORN, MI 48121-7451 TEL: 313-942-7187 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bluetriangle.org
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
MAIN ARTICLE OF FACT SHEET
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
IMPLICATIONS AND IMPACT OF THESE ATTACKS
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.
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).
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
IS THERE A THREAT TO SECURITY?
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.”
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
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.
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.
WAR ON TERRORISM
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
Detained Without Charges
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”
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
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).
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.”
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
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
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:
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,
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.
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
“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
Trial by Military Tribunals
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
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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,
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.
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
“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...
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.”
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.
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,
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
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
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,
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…
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
this new phase of repression, the U.S. government is targeting entire communities.
According to the Detroit Free Press (11/12/02),
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
“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.
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
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
"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,
ts will begin randomly stopping traffic today, looking for illegal immigrants, terrorists and drug or weapon smugglers.
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...
to an obscure but long-standing federal law, the government can conduct searches
and surveillance within 25 miles of any international border.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
- 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
- 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.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"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