[Authors’ note: This is the second in a series of articles with visual maps that describe the alliances between American leftists and radical Islam, unlikely collaborators who have joined forces to oppose America’s War on Terror and its war of liberation in Iraq. To view the first installment of this series, which was on the “anti-war” movement, click here.]
These are mainly (but not exclusively) de facto alliances, much as Stalin’s pact with Hitler was an alliance of convenience based on a common interest: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Unlike the pact with Hitler, however, many leftists regard the alliances with Islamic jihadists as one welded by common purposes. They see their collaboration as a shared effort to bring down the great imperialist Satan. This commonalty of purpose is candidly expressed in an interview George Galloway, the British Labor MP, friend of Saddam Hussein and hero to many American leftists – including those at The Nation and Counterpunch.org – gave to the Iraq News Network on April 25, 2003:
Mohammad Basirul Haq Sinha: You often call for uniting Muslim and progressive forces globally. How far is it possible under the current situation?
George Galloway: Not only do I think it’s possible, but I think it is vitally necessary and I think it is happening already. It is possible because the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries, mainly Muslim countries. They have the same interest in opposing savage capitalist globalization which is intent upon homogenizing the entire world, turning us basically into factory chickens which can be forced fed the American diet of everything from food to Coca-Cola to movies and TV culture. And whose only role in life is to consume the things produced endlessly by the multinational corporations. And the progressive organizations & movements agree on that with the Muslims.
Like the previous article, this one is accompanied by a “map” that provides a visual display of the relationships between radical Muslim organizations and leftwing groups, in this case civil liberties groups, that have formed a coalition against the Patriot Act, which is America’s first-line of defense against another terrorist attack. This map is one among hundreds of similar maps we have devised for DiscoverTheNetworks.org, our encyclopedic guide to the political left. – DH, JP]
The Road to the Patriot Act
When Americans awakened on the morning of 9/11 to the existence of a worldwide network of Islamic jihadists whose agenda was to murder “infidels” en masse and regardless of race, class, gender or age, the issue of terrorism took center-stage in the national political debate. Within weeks, comprehensive legislation designed to close the well-known loopholes in America’s existing security laws was drafted in the form of a Patriot Act, which passed with a lone dissenting vote in the Senate and a mere 66 (out of 435) dissenting votes in the House. It was signed into law by President Bush on October 26, 2001. The name “Patriot Act” given to this legislation is an acronym for “Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.”
The Patriot Act is not the dramatic departure from existing legislation as its less-than-honest critics have contended, but is more accurately described as an extension of laws and the implementation of reforms long recommended by the security and intelligence communities. In fact, the key provisions of the Patriot Act which have aroused the self-described “legal left” to condemn it as a virtual abrogation of the Bill of Rights are actually incorporated from an “anti-terrorism” measure proposed by the Clinton Administration and adopted by Congress in 1996.
This was the oddly named “Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996,” which was inspired by the worst terrorist atrocity on American soil up to that time – the April 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh, which killed 175 innocent people. The “Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act” was passed by a 91 to 8 margin in the U.S. Senate and was signed into law by President Clinton.
The 1996 Act contained a number of key provisions to combat terrorism, but the ones that immediately inspired the formation of a coalition against the legislation were three in particular: the provision making it criminal to provide “material support” or “expert advice or assistance” to terrorist groups; the provision allowing the use of secret evidence in terrorism cases; and the provision authorizing the U.S. Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Attorney General to jointly designate organizations as terrorist groups based upon available evidence.
The constitutional lawyer who formulated the key arguments against these measures was David Cole, Georgetown Professor of Law and a general counsel for the Center for Constitutional Rights, whose most famous figure, Lynne Stewart – she was a protégé of its founder – is a convicted terrorist. Stewart’s conviction was for abetting her client, the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, in terrorist activities connected with his Islamic Group. Rahman masterminded the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and planned to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the George Washington Bridge during New York’s rush hour, but was thwarted by the FBI.
The activist who spearheaded the formation of a civil liberties coalition against the first anti-terrorist legislation in the Clinton era, and then against the Patriot Act, is Sami al-Arian, an indicted terrorist. Al-Arian is the North American head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In 1997, he founded a group called the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom with the specific purpose of repealing the above provisions of the “Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.”
Al-Arian soon became a ubiquitous figure on college campuses and at conferences on National Security and Civil Liberties, such as the one organized by graduate faculties at Duke University in 2002. He was a working partner with organizations like the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, the core organizations of the “legal left.” Four years later this coalition expanded its agendas to include ferocious opposition to the legislation which expanded the provisions of the 1996 Bill and was called the Patriot Act.
From the very beginning, the arguments these leftwing organizations and individuals advanced against the specific provisions of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act revealed agendas that were critical to the radical movement they represented. David Cole’s argument against the clause criminalizing material support or technical assistance to terrorists was that it threatened free speech and association. It would be used, he alleged, to persecute radical organizations exercising their citizen rights to protest government policies they didn’t like.
But not all radical organizations were groups content to protest perceived injustices within the framework of American laws or to advocate change through America’s democratic processes. Some were self-conceived “revolutionary” organizations who regarded it as a moral imperative to break laws that they regarded as props to “social injustice” and to attack institutions that made the injustice “systemic.”
When Lynne Stewart, for example, was asked about her attitude towards terror by a New York Times reporter, “Ms. Stewart suggested that violence and revolution were sometimes necessary to right the economic and racial wrongs of America’s capitalist system.” Stewart elaborated: “I don’t believe in anarchistic violence, but in directed violence. That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, and sexism, and the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support.” This is a candid expression of the views of many radical activists and organizations who are prepared to act on these commitments and to make solidarity alliances with organizations and regimes that are themselves at war with the United States.
The organizations David Cole worked through and with – the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and even the ACLU – had long histories of defending and sharing members with such radical organizations whose explicit purpose was to destroy the American “system” in the name of “social justice” and to give aid and support to totalitarian groups that were explicitly anti-American. Even the most “liberal” of these groups, the ACLU, welcomed members of the Communist Party to its ranks and recruited a well-known and unrepentant New Left terrorist, Bernardine Dohrn, to its advisory board.
Dohrn was the leader of the Weather Undergound, a terrorist cult of the 1970s which formally declared war on “Amerikkka”, bombed the Pentagon and other government sites, and clearly stated that its goal was to secure a victory for the North Vietnamese Communists with whom America was at war. At one point, Dohrn’s organization staged a riot in Chicago at the request of North Vietnam’s Communist leaders, and its domestic bombing campaign was most certainly inspired by its desire to help the Communist war effort. Dohrn has never repudiated these agendas and in fact has continued to embrace the radical politics and decisions that led to them. She has denounced the Patriot Act as political repression of dissent.
In an article written in the spring of 2003 for the Marxist periodical Monthly Review (“Homeland Imperialism: Fear and Resistance”), Dohrn characterizes the “war at home” by political radicals as a “resistance” to U.S. imperialism, and describes counter-terrorism efforts as a McCarthy witch-hunt and “the USA Patriot Act and now the bill creating the Homeland Security Department as … the actual tools of repression.” According to Dorhn: “Prosecutions are underway that are reminiscent of the indictments of the early-fifties McCarthy period and the conspiracy indictments of the early seventies pre-Watergate Mitchell Department of Justice, the two most recent periods of overtly political repression. For example, [Attorney General] John Ashcroft has orchestrated a series of high-profile indictments against Islamic charities, including the Holy Land Foundation in Texas … ” The Holy Land Foundation was in fact closed down as a terrorist front.
The obvious source of Sami al-Arian’s objections to the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act were not concern for a non-Islamic Constitution or its Bill of Rights. As a result of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act, Palestinian Islamic Jihad was officially declared a terrorist organization. Al-Arian was glad to find an ally in a Georgetown Professor and Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer like David Cole, who would provide the constitutional arguments that defended his Islamic self-interest.
Among the speeches al-Arian made to Islamic audiences who were not assembled as part of his civil liberties agitation were remarks like the following: “Let us damn America. . . . Let us damn [her] allies until death. . . . We assemble today to pay respects to the march of the martyrs and to the river of blood that gushes forth and does not extinguish, from butchery to butchery, and from martyrdom to martyrdom, from jihad to jihad.”
Al-Arian was gifted at creating front groups to advance his terrorist agendas. He created a think tank at the University of South Florida called the World Islam Study Enterprise or WISE, which put on public events such as an “academic” lecture given by Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik client of Lynne Stewart. One of the board members of WISE, also a professor at the university, was Khalil Shikaki, whose brother Fahti Shikaki was the founder of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. When Fahti Shikaki was assassinated, his replacement as military head of the organization was Ramadan Shallalah, another professor at the university and a board member of the al-Arian’s think tank.
A third WISE board member, Tarik Hamdi, was known by U.S. authorities to have personally met with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in May 1998, giving him a satellite telephone and battery pack to facilitate the latter’s orchestration of terrorist activities. Coordinating its attacks on occasion with the Syria-based terror group Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad has struck at U.S. interests in places like Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. Shortly after the Iraq War began in March 2003, Palestinian Islamic Jihad publicly announced its allegiance to Saddam Hussein, who had funded the group heavily for a number of years; Palestinian Islamic Jihad further pledged to send suicide bombers to Iraq to help fight what it called the “American invasion.”
An FBI raid of al-Arian’s “think tank” WISE yielded no fewer than 500 videotapes of al-Arian’s fundraising conferences in mosques across the United States. At these events, al-Arian proudly accepted introductions as “the president of the Islamic Committee for Palestine . . . the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement.” The videos further showed a number of individuals at these rallies praising the killing of Jews and Christians.
In addition, the FBI had compiled eight years of incriminating wiretaps and intercepted faxes to prove its case against al-Arian. The 120-page Justice Department indictment enumerated some 200 specific acts connecting al-Arian to terrorism, including a fax sent “to Saudi Arabia, [that] inquired about obtaining palletized urea fertilizer [a chemical compound used in explosives] in fifty-kilogram bags suitable for ocean transportation,” and telephone calls arranging reward payments to the families of suicide bombers in Israel. The indictment further charged that Al-Arian maintained connections to Omar Abdel Rahman; Hamas official Mohammed Sakr; the high-ranking Sudanese terrorist Hassan Turbai; and Islamic Jihad co-founder Abdel Aziz-Odeh.
It was within the infrastructure of this brutal organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, that the movement to cripple America’s new anti-terrorism measures was born. Al-Arian’s interest in forming the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom – and the alliances with organizations like the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights – was inspired by his desire to protect Palestinian Islamic Jihad, not the American Constitution. He had an immediate personal concern as well. The 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act allowed the admission of secret evidence in terrorist cases, a result of which was that his brother-in-law and fellow terrorist, Mazen al-Najjar, had been arrested was in the process of being deported. The lawyer al-Arian hired to defend al-Najjar was Georgetown law professor David Cole.
In the end, Cole failed to keep al-Najjar in the United States, and Sami al-Arian was sent to jail. Both these developments were made possible by the changed circumstances following the attacks of 9/11 and the changes in American internal security laws that were codified in the Patriot Act. In particular, that part of the Patriot Act that allowed the intelligence and the criminal branches of the FBI to communicate with each other sealed al-Arian’s fate.
After the terrible attacks of 9/11, the Patriot Act became the cornerstone of America’s domestic security program. Most significantly, it removed several Clinton-era restrictions that had erected walls of separation between intelligence officials and law-enforcement officials from sharing information and working together on investigations – even if they were both trailing the same suspect who was plotting a terrorist act. This restriction effectively crippled the government’s ability to fight terrorism, and can arguably be blamed for the government’s failure to avert the 9/11 catastrophe.
On August 29, 2001, for instance, an FBI investigator in New York desperately pleaded for permission to initiate an intensive manhunt for al Qaeda operative Khalid Almihdar, who was known to be planning something big. The Justice Department and the FBI deputy general counsel’s office both denied the request, explaining that because the evidence linking Almihdar to terrorism had been obtained through intelligence channels, it could not legally be used to justify or aid an FBI agent’s criminal investigation; in short, it would constitute a violation of Almihdar’s “civil rights.” “Someday, someone will die,” the agent wrote to his FBI superiors, “and the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain problems.” Thirteen days later, Almihdar took over the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon.
The same wall of separation prevented FBI agents in Minneapolis from searching the computer hard drive of Zacarias Moussaoui – the so-called “20th hijacker” – in August 2001. Had those agents been given access to Moussaoui’s computer, two of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers would have been identified along with the Hamburg-based terrorist cell that planned the attack; it can reasonably be argued that if that had happened, the mass murders of 9/11 could have been averted.
These same restrictions had allowed Sami al-Arian to operate and kill innocents from 1995, when he was first exposed by the Miami Herald, until February 2003, when he was finally arrested for his crimes. When he was, in fact, arrested, al-Arian showed that he had absorbed the strategies of the left for dealing with the circumstances. Casting himself as a victim, al-Arian responded to the charges by claiming that he was being persecuted because “I’m a minority. I’m an Arab. I’m a Palestinian. I’m a Muslim. That’s not a popular thing to be these days.” “Do I have rights, or don’t I have rights?” he asked rhetorically.
Members of the American left sprang to al-Arian’s defense. Their efforts included articles in The Nation and Salon.com, whose reporter Eric Boehlert called it, “The Prime Time Smearing of Sami al-Arian” and explained, “By pandering to anti-Arab hysteria, NBC, Fox News, Media General and Clear Channel radio disgraced themselves—and ruined an innocent professor’s life.” Others who joined the al-Arian defense chorus included the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the University of South Florida faculty union, and the American Association of University Professors. The leftist head of Georgetown’s Middle East studies program, John Esposito, expressed concern that al-Arian not be made a “victim of … anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry,” and Ellen Schrecker, the foremost academic expert on the McCarthy era (who regards American Communists as well-meaning social reformers and innocent victims of government persecution) called al-Arian’s suspension “political repression.”
In sum, the most influential civil liberties voices and groups in the nation lamented that the rights of all Americans were under assault by a government that was seeking not only empire abroad, but totalitarian control at home.
The Patriot Act
The Patriot Act was designed to avoid future recurrences of 9/11 by removing the procedural shackles that had previously prevented authorities entrusted with protecting American lives from doing their job effectively. Staying well within the parameters of established law, the Patriot Act’s terms were not nearly as harsh as certain security measures that had been imposed during previous times of national crisis – measures such as President Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War and President Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The Patriot Act’s enforcement provisions were made subject to judicial review and required judicial writs and warrants to authorize them. Nevertheless, the radical left, in conjunction with radical Islamic organizations posing as defenders of civil liberties, joined forces to publicly depict the Patriot Act as an Orwellian-style power-grab by a government intent on squashing freedoms of speech, association, and thought. They lobbied legislators in local and state governments to obstruct the Patriot Act’s enforcement. As of this writing, 7 states and 379 cities and counties have adopted formal resolutions condemning the Patriot Act and, in many cases, refusing to comply with Homeland Security officials seeking to enforce the Act; these locales have sardonically declared themselves “Civil Liberties Safe Zones.”
In addition to removing the wall of separation that existed between intelligence and law enforcement authorities investigating leads on terrorist groups, the Patriot Act also gave the Treasury Department more leverage with which to disrupt terrorist financing networks and thereby stem the flow of terrorism’s lifeblood. Moreover, it gave the Attorney General slightly more authority to detain and deport suspected terrorist aliens.
Leftwing critics of the Patriot Act have directed their denunciations most pointedly at a few particular provisions of the Act. Most notably, they have portrayed Section 215 as an egregious invasion of personal privacy in the tradition of what would be expected from a totalitarian state. The critics have most commonly described a scenario where librarians could be forced to make available, upon the government’s demand, information about the books borrowed or the websites visited by particular library patrons; where all patrons would run the risk of secret governmental surveillance, wiretapping, and even incarceration on the basis of the books they chose to read or the websites they visited on library-based computers. As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) put it, because of Section 215 “the FBI could spy on a person because they don’t like the books she reads, or because they don’t like the websites she visits. They could spy on her because she wrote a letter to the editor that criticized government policy.” Such allegations dovetailed neatly with the radical left’s claim that George W. Bush was no better than Saddam Hussein, depicting the former as nothing more than a power-hungry aspiring dictator. In a similar vein, in July 2003 Wisconsin’s Democratic Senator Russell Feingold alleged that as a consequence of Section 215, Americans had become “afraid to read books, terrified into silence.”
But in point of fact, Section 215 says nothing at all about libraries. As Heather MacDonald points out, “grand juries investigating crimes have always been able to subpoena the very items covered by 215 – including library records and Internet logs – without seeking a warrant or indeed any judicial approval at all. Section 215 merely gives anti-terror investigators the same access to such records as criminal grand juries, with the added protection of judicial oversight.” As MacDonald explained during her April 19, 2005 testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Section 215 covers not only library borrowing or Internet use records, but “could also include the enrollment application of a Saudi national in an American flight school, say—while investigating terrorism. The section broadens the categories of institutions whose records the government may seek, on the post-9/11 recognition that lawmakers cannot anticipate what sorts of organizations terrorists may exploit. In the past, to trace the steps of a Soviet spy, it may have been enough to get hotel bills or storage-locker contracts . . . ; today, however, gumshoes may find they need receipts from scuba-diving schools or farm-supply stores to piece together a plot to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge. Section 215 removed the previous requirement . . . that the records concern an ‘agent of a foreign power,’ since the scope of an anti-terror investigation is hard to predict in advance.”
In short, the left’s description of a scenario where an FBI agent can simply storm into a library and demand records is a caricature of the most ludicrous kind. Before it can even make a request for such information, the FBI must first go through several levels of bureaucratic review. It must convince the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, court (which oversees anti-terror investigations) that an individual is knowingly engaged in terrorism or espionage, and that the documents it seeks are relevant to the fight “against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”
Another common criticism is that Section 215 violates the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. But as Heather MacDonald explains, there is no such right to privacy as regards book borrowing and Internet use. Whenever a library patron borrows a book, he knowingly reveals his borrowing choices to the library staff; similarly, he reveals his Web-surfing preferences to Internet service providers. This is by no means secret information. The same principle applies to credit card purchases. If an individual buys a book, a toaster, or a fishing pole with his credit card, he willingly makes his purchase and credit card information known not only to the credit card company, but to the seller as well; there is no “privacy” inherent to the transaction. Consequently, the government may examine his credit card receipts without having to demonstrate, in a court hearing, “probable cause” that a criminal or terrorist act has been or will be committed. Instead, terror investigators must merely convince the FISA court that the receipts are “relevant.”
Another provision of the Patriot Act that has drawn the ire of the left is Section 216, which updates already-existing law to cover the use of modern technology such as email correspondences. The government has always had authority to view the numbers dialed from a particular phone if it could show a court that the information was “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation”; the same applied to the originating numbers of incoming calls to a suspect’s phone. The phone user, by making or receiving calls to or from any particular number, has technically made that information known to a third party – the telephone company – and thus there is no “privacy” in the true sense of the word. Section 216 merely applies this same standard to outgoing and incoming emails – permitting the government to view the email addresses (though not the content of the messages) of senders and recipients upon demonstrating to a court that the information is “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” Like Section 215, Section 216 does not constitute a vast increase in latitude for government spying, but merely the logical extension of laws that were already in place.
Section 213 of the Patriot Act has also come under fire from critics. It permits the FBI (with court approval) to delay notifying an individual that his property has been or will be searched, if such notification might reasonably be predicted to cause the suspect to flee, destroy evidence, or intimidate witnesses before government investigators can acquire enough evidence to justify his arrest. This has been a longstanding practice in criminal investigations; the Patriot Act does nothing more than apply the same standards to terror probes.
The Anti-Patriot Act Coalition
Center for Constitutional Rights
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was co-founded in November 1966 by the radical attorneys Morton Stavis, Ben Smith, Arthur Kinoy, and William Kunstler, longtime members of the Communist and radical left. Prior to forming the Center, Kinoy and Kuntsler circulated a lengthy memo calling for the creation of a “new Communist Party,” which never materialized. CCR has a long history of obstructing American efforts against Communism in the Cold War with Russia, the Vietnam War, and other fields of conflict. Current CCR president Michael Ratner, who was formerly the president of the National Lawyers Guild, was a co-founder of the Lawyers Committee Against U.S. Intervention in Central America in the 1980s.
In the post-9/11 era, CCR has focused heavily on efforts to repeal the Patriot Act, which CCR depicts as having “seriously undermined civil liberties, the checks and balances that are essential to the structure of our democratic government, and indeed, democracy itself.” “Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the government’s actions,” explains CCR, “has been its attack on the Bill of Rights, the very cornerstone of our American democracy. The War on Terror has seriously compromised the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights of citizens and non-citizens alike. From the USA Patriot Act’s over-broad definition of domestic terrorism, to the FBI’s new powers of search and surveillance, to the indefinite detention of both citizens and non-citizens without formal charges, the principles of free speech, due process, and equal protection under the law have been seriously undermined.”
Specifically, CCR has condemned the Bush administration for expanding the authority of security agencies not only to conduct wiretaps and surveillance on suspected terrorists, but also to detain suspected terrorists for longer time periods than ordinary criminals. These measures, says CCR, unjustifiably “sacrific[e] our political freedoms in the name of national security.” When law-enforcement agencies attempted, in the wake of 9/11, to conduct voluntary interviews with several thousand Middle Eastern men who were in the United States on temporary visas, CCR denounced such “racial profiling”; it made this same charge in response to the government’s detention of hundreds of non-citizens from the Middle East for possible terrorist connections. When then-Attorney General Ashcroft warned that visa violators would henceforth be arrested, CCR characterized his comments as “chilling.” When new Patriot Act regulations permitted the FBI, CIA, and INS to share information about possible terrorist plots with one another, CCR lamented such assaults on “our privacy.”
In an article titled “What’s So Patriotic About Trampling on the Bill of Rights?”, CCR senior litigation attorney Nancy Chang claims that the Patriot Act “sacrifices our political freedoms in the name of national security and upsets the democratic values that define our nation by consolidating vast new powers in the executive branch of government”; “portends a wholesale suspension of civil liberties that will reach far beyond those who are involved in terrorist activities”; “places our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and political association in jeopardy by creating a broad new crime of ‘domestic terrorism,’ and by denying entry to non-citizens on the basis of ideology”; “grants the executive branch unprecedented, and largely unchecked, surveillance powers, including the enhanced ability to track email and Internet usage, conduct sneak-and-peek searches, obtain sensitive personal records, monitor financial transactions, and conduct nationwide roving wiretaps”; “permits law enforcement agencies to circumvent the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of probable cause when conducting wiretaps and searches that have, as ‘a significant purpose,’ the gathering of foreign intelligence”; and “allows for the sharing of information between criminal and intelligence operations and thereby opens the door to a resurgence of domestic spying by the Central Intelligence.”
At the root of CCR’s opposition to anti-terror measures is its three-pronged belief that the U.S. has literally brought terrorism upon itself; that terrorism would stop if only the U.S. would improve its behavior; and that the perpetrators of Islamist terrorism are rational individuals trying to air legitimate grievances, rather than aspiring mass murderers filled with contempt for all non-Muslims. In March 2002, CCR president Michael Ratner explained his views on the origins of anti-American terrorism. “If the U.S. government truly wants its people to be safer and wants terrorist threats to diminish,” he said, “it must make fundamental changes in its foreign policies . . . particularly its unqualified support for Israel, and its embargo of Iraq, its bombing of Afghanistan, and its actions in Saudi Arabia. [These] continue to anger people throughout the region, and to fertilize the ground where terrorists of the future will take root.”
At its 2004 annual convention, CCR honored attorney Lynne Stewart, an open supporter of terrorism who was indicted by the Justice Department for abetting the terrorist activities of her client, the “blind sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman. CCR called Stewart’s indictment “an attack on attorneys who defend controversial figures, and an attempt to deprive these clients of the zealous representation that may be required.” In February 2005 Stewart was convicted on charges that she had illegally “facilitated and concealed communications” between the incarcerated sheik and members of his Egyptian terrorist organization, the Islamic Group, which has ties to al Qaeda.
CCR was a signatory to a March 17, 2003 letter exhorting members of the U.S. Congress “to oppose the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA), also known as ‘Patriot [Act] II,’” which was then under consideration. These signatories stated that the new legislation “fail[ed] to respect our time-honored liberties,” and “contain[ed] a multitude of new and sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers . . . that would severely dilute, if not undermine, many basic constitutional rights.”
In addition, CCR endorsed the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign, a project of the California-based Coalition for Civil Liberties (CCL). CLL tries to influence city councils to pass resolutions creating “Civil Liberties Safe Zones”; that is, to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Patriot Act.
CCR also endorsed the Civil Liberties Restoration Act (CLRA) of 2004, which was introduced by Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Russell Feingold, Richard Durbin, and Jon Corzine, and Democratic Representatives Howard Berman and William Delahunt. CLRA was designed to roll back, in the name of defending civil liberties, vital national-security policies that had been adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) characterizes itself as America’s “guardian of liberty,” ostensibly working to “defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The ACLU has worked closely with terrorists like Sami al-Arian to undermine the security protections put in place by both the Clinton and Bush Administrations in the wake of terrorist attacks. Since 9/11, the ACLU has led a coalition of civil liberties groups to promote non-cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security in implementing the provisions of the Patriot Act.
In July 2003, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The complaint read, “By compromising the rights to privacy, free speech, and due process, Section 215 violates the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs respectfully seek a declaration that Section 215 is facially unconstitutional, and a permanent injunction against its enforcement.” ACLU attorney Ann Beeson said, “Ordinary Americans should not have to worry that the FBI is rifling through their medical records, seizing their personal papers, or forcing charities and advocacy groups to divulge membership lists.”
The ACLU was a signatory, along with CCR, to the aforementioned March 17, 2003 letter urging members of Congress to oppose the Domestic Security Enhancement Act. The ACLU also joined CCR in endorsing the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign and the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004. All of these measures are unambiguously hostile to the Patriot Act.
The ACLU’s assault on national security efforts – including those other than the Patriot Act – has been relentless. When the INS and Justice Department instituted a program requiring males visiting the U.S. from Arab and Muslim nations to register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the ACLU organized protests against what it called this “discriminatory” policy. It similarly protested an FBI anti-terrorism initiative to count and document every mosque in America. On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, when FBI and Homeland Security agents were tracking down illegal Iraqi immigrants considered to be dangerous, the ACLU set up a telephone hotline and conducted “Know Your Rights” training sessions giving illegals free advice on how to avoid deportation. And, in a 2002 federal lawsuit naming Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta as a defendant, the ACLU challenged a new Aviation Transportation Security Act policy prohibiting non-citizens from working as airport security screeners.
In conjunction with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – a Hamas spinoff, several of whose leaders have been indicted for, and convicted of, terrorist activities – the ACLU has lobbied hard against the heightened scrutiny of individuals from terrorism-sponsoring countries at airports and border checkpoints. The ACLU also opposes the Computer-Assisted Passenger Profiling System (CAPPS) used by airlines to check for various passenger characteristics that have historically been correlated with terrorist motives. In late 1997, when the CAPPS system was first set to be put in place, the ACLU set up a special online complaint form to collect information on incidents of alleged discrimination and mistreatment by airport security personnel. As Gregory Nojeim explained, his organization was “concerned that the CAPPS system will have an unequal impact on some passengers, resulting in their being selected for treatment as potential terrorists based on their race, religion or national origin.”
On many occasions, the ACLU has publicly and proactively defended individuals accused of serious terrorism-related offenses. In 2003, for example, it held rallies on behalf of an Intel software engineer in Oregon named Maher Mofeid Hawash, whom U.S. officials were keeping in custody on suspicion that he had given material support to Taliban and al Qaeda forces fighting American troops in Afghanistan. In February 2004, Hawash was convicted of the aforementioned crimes and was sentenced to seven years in prison. The ACLU also came to the defense of Sami al-Arian. In an effort to thwart the government’s investigation of al-Arian’s role in funding PIJ suicide bombings in Israel, the ACLU said that the search warrants authorizing an FBI raid of his home and offices were overly broad, and that the items seized as evidence should therefore be returned to him.
Consistent with its belief that the U.S. is a nation infested with racism and injustice – particularly in the criminal-justice system – the ACLU of Southern California endorsed an October 22, 2002 National Day of Protest exhorting Americans to rise up and “Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.” The document publicizing this event stated: “Since September 11, 2001, the authorities have rapidly imposed a resoundingly repressive atmosphere. Law enforcement on both the local and national level has been given broad new powers. . . . Hard-won civil liberties and protections have been stripped away as part of the government’s ‘war on terrorism.’ The USA-PATRIOT Act brings in a new set of repressive laws and restrictions on people and grants even greater power to law enforcement agents of all kinds.” Moreover, this document explicitly defended terrorists such as Lynne Stewart and Jose Padilla, and murderers like Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Leonard Peltier – depicting them as persecuted political prisoners of a repressive American government.
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) is a Northampton, Massachusetts-based group whose raison d’etre is to work for the repeal of the Patriot Act – on the grounds that it allegedly violates the civil liberties of Americans. Like the ACLU and CCR, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee works to persuade the political leadership in American cities to pledge noncompliance with the Patriot Act, and is intimately involved in the campaign to add ever-greater numbers of groups to the list of localities declaring themselves “Civil Liberties Safe Zones.” Toward this end, BORDC provides a detailed, step-by-step blueprint for activists interested in getting their local towns, cities, and even college campuses to join the list. For example, BORDC urges activists to: “talk with your friends and neighbors about organizing a Bill of Rights Defense Committee in your city or town”; spread the anti-Patriot Act message via fliers, postcards, booklets, and press releases – all available from BORDC, some for free and some at a cost; distribute these materials at local events, or even to give them out to drivers stuck in traffic; “download, print, and distribute anti-Patriot Act bookmarks with the Bill of Rights printed on them [available in both English and Spanish] to your local schools and libraries”; “call or write your senators and representatives in Washington”; call the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for help and support; compile an endorser list to add perceived credibility to the cause; and sponsor local panel discussions.
BORDC opposes the Patriot Act’s designation of “material support for terror” as a crime, regarding this measure as a threat to free speech. BORDC further opposes the Act’s authorization of the use of modern technologies to collect intelligence on potential or suspected terrorists, and claims that Section 215 gives the government unrestricted access to private, personal information about Americans.
In an April 2004 article, BORDC director Nancy Talanian wrote, “Here in the United States, the more the public learns about U.S. government antiterrorism policies and practices such as the USA PATRIOT Act, the more it fears a loss of privacy, a chilling of dissent and other First Amendment rights, and the targeting and mistreatment of people on the basis of their race, religion, or ethnic background.”
BORDC joined CCR and the ACLU in signing the March 17, 2003 letter calling on members of Congress to vote down the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, or “Patriot II”; and in endorsing the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004.
National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom
The National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF) was founded in 1997 by Sami al-Arian as a means of combating the provisions of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act; it continues its mission today as a staunch opponent of the Patriot Act.
NCPPF has built a resistance movement composed of hard-left activists and Islamist terror advocates. Though the professed ideals of these unlikely bedfellows bear little resemblance to one another, the factor that unifies them is their hatred of America. Thus they willingly work together to undermine American national security by opposing counter-terrorism measures and providing legal counsel to terror suspects and convicts. Consider the activities of the following NCPPF member groups:
(a) The Ad Hoc Committee for Imad Hamad works to derail INS efforts to deport the man bearing that name, widely suspected of being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian terrorist group.
(b) The Committee for Justice for Nasser Ahmed has lobbied on behalf of the Egyptian-born man bearing that name. Ahmed was arrested on a 1995 visa violation after refusing to help U.S. authorities convict Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, whom he served as a paralegal and confidante. He was released on $15,000 bond but was rearrested in April 1996, this time on charges that he posed a “threat to national security.” When he was eventually set free in November 1999, Ahmed lavished praise upon the NCPPF attorneys who he said had “worked very hard for my release.”
(c) The American Muslim Council (AMC), which describes itself as an “active member” of the NCPPF, has had ties to diverse terror groups ranging from the Puerto Rican FALN and Macheteros, to the Black Liberation Movement and Weather Underground, to terrorist operatives in Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan and Sudan. AMC founder Abdurahman Alamoudi proudly declared at an October 2000 anti-Israel rally in Washington, DC: “I have been labeled . . . as being a supporter of Hamas. Anybody supporters of Hamas here? . . . We are all supporters of Hamas. . . . I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah.” Alamoudi was arrested in 2003 for his ties to Islamic terrorism.
(d) The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), another NCPPF member group, established itself as a prominent backer of terrorism in the1980s, when it supported Soviet-sponsored guerrilla campaigns in Latin America, Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
(e) The Irish Northern Aid Committee was established for the express purpose of funding the terrorist tactics of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
(f) The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), the self-anointed “legal arm of the movement for black liberation,” has lent its support to such “political prisoners” and “committed freedom fighters” as Assata Shakur, a Black Panther who murdered a police officer in 1973, then escaped from prison and fled to Cuba in 1986; Mumia Abu Jamal, currently on death row for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer; Black Liberation Army terrorist Mutulu Shakur, currently serving a 60-year prison sentence for masterminding the deadly 1981 Brinks robbery; and Geronimo Pratt, an ex-Black Panther who served 27 years in prison for the 1970 murder of a Los Angeles schoolteacher. The NCBL has also expressed its support for Palestinian terrorists and communist revolutionaries in Cuba, Nicaragua, Guyana, and Grenada.
(g) The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) was originally an organ of the Communist Party. Its close affiliation with NCPPF is indicated by the fact that former NLG executive vice president Kit Gage is the current NCPPF president, having replaced al-Arian in that position after his February 2003 arrest on terrorism charges. Gage has been a leftist activist for more than a quarter-century, during which time she has tried to impede U.S. government efforts to strengthen counter-terrorism measures; opposed prosecutors’ attempts to broaden the scope of terrorist crimes punishable by deportation; and echoed NCPPF’s lamentations about “prosecutions based on the imposition of guilt because of their association with individuals and groups associated with terrorism.” In October 2003, Gage denounced what she termed the Patriot Act’s “rollback of civil liberties.”
NCPPF joined the CCR, ACLU, and BORDC in signing the aforementioned March 17, 2003 letter exhorting Congressional Representatives to oppose the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, or “Patriot II”; and in endorsing the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign for the creation of new “Civil Liberties Safe Zones.”
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