News Release Archive - 2003

Civil Liberties: A Sense of Crisis

This weekend, hundred of grassroots activists and dozens of organizations are gathering for the “Grassroots America Defends the Bill of Rights” conference near Washington, D.C.

Among the groups participating are the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the National Lawyers Guild and People for the American Way. [Web page for the conference: www.grassroots-america.org]

Interviews are available with legal analysts and grassroots activists at the conference including:

KIT GAGE
Gage is director of the First Amendment Foundation, a key organizer of the conference. She said today: “This event represents an extraordinary collaboration and a turning point for the grassroots movement to defend the Bill of Rights.”
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DAVE MESERVE
Meserve — an Arcata, Calif., city council member who helped pass one of the first ordinances opposing the “USA PATRIOT Act” — will be honored at the conference.

NANCY TALANIAN
In November 2001 a group of citizens in Northampton, Mass., formed the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and launched a national grassroots movement initiating the campaign for localities to declare themselves Civil Liberties Safe Zones. Since then, nearly 190 towns, cities and counties and three states have passed such resolutions. Talanian, director of the Committee, said today: “In six months, the number of resolutions has more than tripled.” Among the group’s specific concerns:
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NANCY TALANIAN
In November 2001 a group of citizens in Northampton, Mass., formed the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and launched a national grassroots movement initiating the campaign for localities to declare themselves Civil Liberties Safe Zones. Since then, nearly 190 towns, cities and counties and three states have passed such resolutions. Talanian, director of the Committee, said today: “In six months, the number of resolutions has more than tripled.” Among the group’s specific concerns:

* The USA PATRIOT Act gives the FBI and the CIA greater rights to wiretap phones, monitor e-mail, survey medical, financial and student records, and break into homes and offices without prior notification. It creates a new crime of domestic terrorism that is so broadly defined that it may be applied to citizens acting legally to express their dissent.

* Under this Act and other legislation, noncitizens are being deported or detained indefinitely without judicial appeal. The dangers of the USA PATRIOT Act are augmented by a Bureau of Prisons order allowing federal agents to abridge the attorney-client privilege by eavesdropping on conversations between lawyers and their clients held in federal custody.

* The Justice Department has dismantled regulations against COINTELPRO operations that were enacted following governmental abuses against the civil rights and peace movements of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

U.S. Occupation of Iraq: * $87 Billion * U.N. Vote

PHYLLIS BENNIS
ennis is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of Before & After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis. She said today: “As the Bush administration vetoes a resolution supported by most of the U.N. Security Council criticizing Israel’s theft of Palestinian land in the guise of construction of the wall cutting through Palestinian territory, it is simultaneously pushing a resolution designed to give the appearance of international legitimacy to its occupation of Iraq…. The U.S. should transfer on-the-ground responsibility to a temporary United Nations authority mandated to oversee a rapid transition to Iraqi sovereignty.”
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JAMES PAUL
Executive director of Global Policy Forum, which monitors the U.N., Paul said today: “Washington appears to have forced, cajoled and bribed its way to the required number of votes for the resolution on Iraq … but it will have little real impact. Few troops and little money will be forthcoming from the international community — and as Kofi Annan has noted, as long as the occupation lasts, the resistance in Iraq is likely to grow.”
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RANIA MASRI
Masri’s articles include “Reconstructing or Deconstructing Iraq?” and “End Both Occupations.” She said today: “According to Rep. Henry Waxman’s recent letter to the Office of Management and Budget, U.S. companies are overcharging taxpayers by a factor of ten. This is the conclusion of numerous members of the Iraqi Governing Council, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and a number of U.S. military commanders in Iraq….” Masri is co-director of the Campaign to Stop the War Profiteers and End the Corporate Invasion of Iraq at the Institute for Southern Studies.
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CHARLIE CRAY
Cray is with the Center for Corporate Policy and recently wrote the article “Iraq and Corporate Patriotism: It’s Time to Stop the War Profiteers.” He said today: “There are good reasons to fear that the contracting bonanza will serve to enrich the Bush administration’s corporate cronies more than it benefits the Iraqi people. Top Republican lobbyists like former FEMA director Joe Allbaugh and former House Appropriations Committee chairman Bob Livingston are lining up clients who stand to benefit. Rep. James Moran has complained that a company from his district was essentially told that ‘if they want the money they really have to go through Halliburton.'”

ANITA DANCS
Dancs is research director with the National Priorities Project. She said today: “The president’s request for $87 billion for war and occupation, if spent on other priorities, could pay for: $15 billion for school construction resulting in 356,000 new jobs, 105,000 new affordable housing units creating 258,000 new jobs, $15 billion for local and state roads and bridges creating 423,131 new jobs, 221,000 school teachers, 84,000 firefighters and health coverage for 5,700,000 people.” The group has also done a state-by-state breakdown of what the $87 billion could be spent for.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

* That’s (Political) Entertainment! * That’s (Dubious) “Iraq Stabilization”

NANCY SNOW
Snow is author of Propaganda, Inc. and assistant professor of communications at California State University at Fullerton. She said today: “What made Arnold the insta-media darling that decided this election? Psychological warfare. His political bombshell on ‘The Tonight Show’ was not unlike the cerebral style Arnold displayed in the 1977 documentary ‘Pumping Iron,’ which made him a household name and launched his movie career. The bodybuilder showed his prowess for brains as much as brawn in psyching out competitors like Lou ‘The Hulk’ Ferrigno in his successful bid for a sixth straight Mr. Olympia title. One reviewer called Arnold’s approach to his competition ‘ruthless and mesmerizing.’ Whoa to those who were fooled then by the bulging muscles and robotic acting style…. The best mass persuasion move for Arnold to make was to withhold details about his plans for actually governing the state.”
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NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, writes in a syndicated column: “After decades as a media creature of entertainment, this fall Arnold Schwarzenegger easily made the transition to being a media creature of politics.” Before the election, Solomon wrote a piece for the San Francisco Chronicle (Sept. 28) that commented: “The recall grew from genuine grass roots but germinated on political Astroturf…. In political arenas, the broadness of populist sentiment is its strength and weakness: The rage is unmistakable, but the proclaimed solutions with the highest media decibels tend to be vague and simplistic…. The fact that anti-elitist rhetoric is often useful to elites for their avaricious schemes is no reason to be cynical about the potential value of idealistic activism at the grass roots….” [Note: Solomon is scheduled to appear on CNN this Saturday (Oct. 11) in a live debate about Iraq for a few minutes starting around 12:30 p.m. Eastern time.] More Information
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DAVID ENDERS
Enders is editor of Baghdad Bulletin and has spent most of the last several months in Iraq. He said today: “The creation of the Iraq Stabilization Group, whether it is intended to circumvent the Pentagon’s role in post-invasion Iraq or simply to give other nations the impression that the Bush administration has things ‘under control,’ really does something else: It decreases Congressional and other oversight in Iraq as the administration closes ranks.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

After the Recall

RUTH WILSON GILMORE
Gilmore is a professor of geography and African American studies at the University of California at Berkeley. She said today: “Some fundamental contradictions deepened on Election Day. More California voters cast ballots against the so-called ‘racial privacy’ act [Proposition 54] than in favor of the successful recall. Here we have an activist electorate persuaded by the health and education-related arguments that sank Prop. 54. The new governor promises to cut ‘fat’ from a budget stretched tightly across these spending areas. Yet, the prison budget has about a billion dollars that can be excised by someone with the political will to stop construction of Delano II [prison] and use alternatives to incarceration.”
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MARK LANCE
Associate professor of philosophy at Georgetown University, Lance said today: “When voting takes place in the context of a centralized press run by corporations, a communication system which precludes any but the wealthy and the well-connected from putting a message out to people, a culture that favors sound bites and slogans over serious debate, it amounts to nothing more than the whim of the mob. Real democracy is a deep institutional arrangement encompassing education, communication, and economics, as well as the formal mechanisms of politics. In all but the latter, the U.S. is woefully lacking in democracy.”

ROB RICHIE
Executive director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, Richie said today: “The California recall should be a wake-up call to incumbent politicians across the nation. They can try to suppress competition through gerrymandered districts, huge campaign war chests and slashing attacks on opponents, but when given the chance, a growing number of voters are ready to shake the foundation upon which their apparent security rests….” Richie urges “fair redistricting, campaign finance reform, election day registration and full representation rather than traditional winner-take-all election” as well as “instant runoff voting, the value of which was underscored by the recall. Our report on majority rule shows that, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, 25 of our nation’s governors have won at least one election without a majority because we don’t use instant runoff voting. By allowing voters to rank-order candidates, instant runoff voting provides voters with the option to vote their true choices in elections and still provide for a majority winner.” The Center is organizing a major pro-democracy conference in Washington on Nov. 22-23 — see www.democracyusa.org.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Schwarzenegger’s Enron Meeting, Hitler Statement

DOUG HELLER
Consumer advocate with the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Heller said today: “Internal Enron e-mails we have obtained confirm that Schwarzenegger was among a small group of executives who met with then-Enron head Ken Lay at the posh Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel in May of 2001. The meeting with Enron occurred ten days after rolling blackouts darkened California; Schwarzenegger has previously said that he does not remember such a meeting. You don’t meet with America’s most well-known corporate crook in the middle of California’s biggest financial disaster and not remember. Schwarzenegger should come clean about what happened at that meeting and if he shares Lay’s views on energy regulation.”
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GREG PALAST
Palast is coauthor of Regulation and Democracy and author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. He has just written a piece entitled “Arnold Unplugged,” based on the just-revealed Enron documents. He said today: “A $9 billion refund from Enron and other companies is in jeopardy if Schwarzenegger is elected. The secret meeting between Lay and Schwarzenegger on May 17, 2001 was specifically aimed at undercutting legal moves by Gray Davis and Cruz Bustamante from seeking funds from Enron and others for illegal manipulation of the power markets. The meeting took place one month after Bustamante filed a $9 billion claim against the power companies, a case now heading for trial.”
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MARTIN LEE,
Author of The Beast Reawakens: Fascism’s Resurgence from Hitler’s Spymasters to Today’s Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists, Lee has spoken with confidential sources regarding aspects of Schwarzenegger’s comments about Hitler. Lee said today: “In the early 1990s, Schwarzenegger paid more than a million dollars to a documentary film producer to obtain the politically embarrassing outtakes of ‘Pumping Iron,’ a documentary film. The secret pay-off gave Schwarzenegger the rights to the film and the right to destroy the out-takes in which he spoke about Hitler…. While Schwarzenegger now says he repudiates everything Hitler stood for, this was not always the case. His youthful admiration of Hitler, his pro-Hitler comments recorded on film, his heel-clicking and SS-strutting antics as a body-builder, his wedding-day toast to former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim (after Waldheim’s involvement in Nazi war crimes had been publicly disclosed), and Schwarzenegger’s support for Jorg Haider’s neofascist Freedom Party in Austria are part of a disturbing pattern that the actor-cum-office seeker has tried to whitewash and obfuscate…. Today, Schwarzenegger continues to serve on the advisory board of U.S. English, a controversial anti-immigrant group with a history of ties to organized white supremacists and racists. Other key figures in the English-only movement are involved in the group People’s Advocate, which launched the recall effort in the first place.”
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LORRAINE QUIROGA
Quiroga is communications director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. The group has called on Schwarzenegger to resign from the advisory board of U.S. ENGLISH.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Two Years Later in Afghanistan: Enduring Freedom?

SONALI KOLHATKAR
Co-director of Afghan Women’s Mission, Kolhatkar said today: “On the second anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan this October 7, the status of the first target in the ‘War on Terror’ is nothing for Bush and friends to write home about. To date, none of the warlords has ever been held accountable for terrorizing the Afghan population…. The lessons learned have not been how best to stabilize a country to pave the way for democracy, but rather on how best to create havoc through purposeful negligence and criminal government actors — with the prime losers being ordinary war-weary civilians….”
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JIM INGALLS
Ingalls is co-director of Afghan Women’s Mission, and a staff scientist at the California Institute of Technology. He has scrutinized the United States’ $1.2 billion “reconstruction package” for Afghanistan. He said today: “While the Bush administration brags about its liberation of Afghanistan and the financial aid it is sending, the $1.2 billion aid package is more about public relations and impressing the world community … [and] catapulting U.S.-backed interim President Hamid Karzai into the permanent presidency in next year’s election.”
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ANNE BRODSKY
Brodsky is author of With All Our Strength: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan and assistant professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She said today: “Having recently returned from a month in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, where millions of Afghan refugees still fear returning to their homeland, it is clear to me that our program of U.S. foreign policy there is not turning out well…. Crime is on the rise and criminal warlords are terrorizing people countrywide; voices in favor of freedom, democracy and human rights … are being kept underground through threats, arrest, and violence. Harassment, intimidation, kidnaping, and rape make many girls and women fearful to leave their homes….”
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MARC HEROLD
Professor of economics at the University of New Hampshire and author of “Blown Away: The Myth and Reality of Precision Bombing in Afghanistan,” Herold has documented the civilian deaths from U.S. bombs during “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan. His latest article is “Empty Hat: Foreign Investors Shun Karzai’s Afghanistan.” He said today: “No major foreign equity investment … in Afghanistan has been made, notwithstanding Karzai’s frantic travels abroad seeking to woo investors…. In addition, the investments made cater exclusively to the urban upper-middle classes … and do little to garner mass support and political stability.”

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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Interviews Available: Wilson, Kay, Iraq Fines

PHILIP AGEE
A former CIA officer, Agee wrote the book Inside the Company: CIA Diary, which named CIA officers and prompted the government to enact the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Agee now runs a travel services business in Havana. He said today: “The outing of Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife as an undercover CIA officer is the kind of dirty politics we’ve come to expect from this White House. The ambassador poked a hole in the pack of lies Bush used to justify the invasion of Iraq. And so now there appears to be a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act from the White House of the son of the president who worked so hard as CIA director and then as vice president for passage of this law. The motives here are totally different from the motives that others and I had in exposing CIA people in the 1970s. Ours were political in attacking the U.S. policy of using the CIA to establish and support the bloody dictatorships of that time in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and other countries.”
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SCOTT RITTER
Former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, and author of the recently released Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America, Ritter noted that David Kay, who is testifying today before Congress, had indicated in August that he had already found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. [See: http://stacks.msnbc.com/news/946702.asp, and Robert Novak’s column: www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20030809.shtml] Ritter said today: “Myth after myth propagated by the Bush administration about Iraqi WMD has been exposed, from the so-called ‘mobile biological laboratories, ‘to smallpox, nuclear weapons, remotely piloted vehicles equipped to dispense chemical and biological agents, or any aspect whatsoever of the massive stockpile of prohibited weapons the Bush administration … assured America and the world existed in Iraq before the war. To appease his political masters in the White House, David Kay is in the process of creating yet another myth — that the fault for the intelligence failure regarding Iraq’s missing WMD rests not with the Bush administration or its predecessors, but rather with Saddam himself, who misled the world into believing these weapons existed. Such a position embraces Orwellian doublespeak…. For over a decade, Saddam Hussein and the Government of Iraq have been saying the exact opposite, that there are no WMD in Iraq.”

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IMAD KHADDURI
A former nuclear scientist with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, Khadduri wrote the just released book Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage. He has written a series of articles over the last year questioning the Bush administration’s assertions, most recently one entitled “Circle of Lies Coming to a Close,” about Kay’s investigation. He notes that Kay has admitted that weapons inspection has not been a motivation, quoting Kay: “For me, the real change occurred in ’94. By 1994 I was no longer an inspector, but I was testifying and writing on Iraq that ‘There is no ultimate success that involves UNSCOM. It’s got to be a change of regime. It’s got to be a change of Saddam.'”
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KATHY KELLY
Kelly is co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, a humanitarian group that openly violated the economic sanctions on Iraq by delivering medicine. They are now being fined by the U.S. government. This week, the group counter-sued, asking the court to prohibit the government from trying to punish anyone for providing humanitarian aid.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

The California Recall: Interviews Available

GRAY BRECHIN
Brechin is the author of Farewell, Promised Land: Waking From the California Dream. He said today: “As the state’s public services and infrastructure have precipitously deteriorated, an ever-angrier electorate has sought sound-bite answers orchestrated by invisible public relations firms.”
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RUTH WILSON GILMORE
Gilmore is a professor of geography and African American studies at the University of California at Berkeley. She said today: “The recall is smoke-and-mirrors: No matter who emerges victorious, federalism and the Golden State’s incoherent responses to it — term limits, structurally inadequate tax bases, skewed budget priorities — will continue to shape our future. A couple of recent studies show that poverty held steady during the 1990s boom, deepening in the millennial bust. The economic geography of the ‘other California’ is connected by prisons which are monuments to the fatal coupling of failed municipal entrepreneurialism (prisons do not fix depressed rural towns) and the bankrupt rhetoric of danger (prisons do not fix abandoned urban places).”
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DAVID E. KAUN
Kaun, a professor of economics at the University of California at Santa Cruz, said today: “Gray Davis is charged with creating an unmatched economic disaster. According to the performer [Arnold Schwarzenegger], California leads the nation in its tax rates and job losses. These charges are patently false.”
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MARTI McCARTHY
Sister McCarthy is director of education for Jericho, a statewide interfaith public policy organization. She said today: “Jericho is opposed to the recall basically because it ‘offends’ the democratic election process. It is also taking needed revenue and focus away from more important concerns — like health care, affordable housing and children’s services, to name a few.”
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DAVID BACON
Bacon, a longtime labor journalist and photographer, is author of the forthcoming book The Children of NAFTA. He said today: “California unions have become the backbone of the anti-recall campaign, not so much out of love for Gray Davis but from bitter memories of former Gov. Pete Wilson, now co-chairing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign. Davis, in return, has made important moves to solidify a union and civil rights base…”
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ERIC MANN
Mann, a longtime activist for labor and civil rights, is the director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles. He said today: “Gray Davis is a robotic, cynical man, the perpetual candidate-as-fundraising-get-elected machine. More innocent people are in California prisons than at any time in history, more low-income people in prison for offenses that border on trivial. He supports legalized state murder, opposes paroling people who have served more than their time. … I wish he was never elected, but we cannot tolerate another right-wing coup to replace him. This is a fight to protect what is left of constitutional government.”
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NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, wrote in a San Francisco Chronicle article on Sunday that key organizers who have spearheaded the recall “are marketing a type of well-heeled populism with a nativist odor.” His article, “California’s Populist Revival,” is posted at: www.commondreams.org/views03/0928-02.htm
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Civil Liberties in Crisis: Interviews Available

ADELE WELTY, [via David Potorti]
Welty is a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. She lost her son, Timmy, a firefighter who was one of the first to arrive at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. She said today: “I support Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s bill, which would roll back certain sections of the Patriot Act that I believe pose a serious threat to the exercise of our constitutional rights — particularly our right to due process and our right to petition the government in cases where we believe the government’s actions are contrary to the best interests of the American people…. I do not want my son’s death used again for the purpose of concentrating power in the hands of the administration, in ways that will compromise our liberties.” Potorti is a co-founder of the group.
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NAT HENTOFF
A writer for the Village Voice with a focus on civil liberties, and author of the recently released The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance, Hentoff said: “The [Patriot] Act has radically extended government electronic surveillance — on and off the Internet — with often reduced judicial review…. Also, under the Act, with a warrant from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FBI is empowered to go to libraries and bookstores to secure the lists of books borrowed or bought by persons under only tenuous suspicion…. A much lower standard than the Fourth Amendment’s ‘probable cause’ is permitted for these inquiries…. Both the librarian and the bookstore owner are prohibited from informing anyone…. Government agents can now listen in on conversations between lawyers and their clients in federal prisons without a prior court order. And there is the designation of two American citizens … as ‘enemy combatants,’ held in military brigs … without charges and without access to lawyers.” Hentoff is scheduled to appear Friday night on “NOW with Bill Moyers” on PBS.
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L. LING-CHI WANG
Wang is professor of ethnic studies and Asian American studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He led efforts to release Wen Ho Lee. Wang said today: “So much of the James Yee [Guantanamo] case reminds me of the Lee case, with the government selectively leaking information to smear a person’s reputation. Yee is being detained and not charged. Lee was detained and put in solitary confinement without a trial or conviction for nine months and then released without charge. During this time the government leaked out information about his alleged spying activities. The Justice Department produced a report on abuses in the Lee case, but Ashcroft is refusing to make it public.”
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IBRAHIM HOOPER
Communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Hooper said today: “If proven, crimes committed by a citizen of any faith should be punished…. As this investigation goes forward, we urge all that those suspected of wrongdoing be given their constitutionally guaranteed right to due process of law, including the presumption of innocence. We also urge that any court proceedings be open to the public and evidence be placed in the public record. These cases must be judged on the evidence, not on the religion or ethnicity of the defendants. Unfortunately, this troubling episode in our nation’s military history is being cynically exploited by those who have in the past sought to marginalize and disenfranchise the American Muslim community.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Context: Governing Council’s Crackdown on Al-Jazeera

“You know, I just came in from Baghdad, and there are now over 100 newspapers in the free press in Iraq in a free Iraq, where people are able to say whatever they wish. People are debating, people are discussing — something they have not done for decades.”
— Donald Rumsfeld, in response to protesters, Sept. 10.

VICTORIA CUNNINGHAM
Cunningham is national coordinator for Code Pink. She was among a group of protesters who interrupted Donald Rumsfeld at a Sept. 10 speech in Washington. She said today: “Rumsfeld made an attempt to divert attention from the substance of protests calling for his resignation with talk of the establishment of a free press in Iraq. Rumsfeld did not remind the audience of the countless instances of censorship exercised by the U.S. over mostly Arab journalists expressing anti-occupation views (‘Iraq to Bar Key Arabic News Channels,’ www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20030923-111537-1915r, United Press International, 9/23/03); or that Maj. Gen David Petraeus, the Army 101st Airborne Division’s commanding officer, seized ‘editorial control’ of the only TV station in Mosul over its ‘predominantly non-factual/unbalanced news coverage’ (‘Iraqi Democracy Means a Free Press,’ www.commondreams.org/views03/0518-04.htm, Toronto Star, 5/18/03; ‘Iraqi Independent Newspaper Closed for “Inciting People to Murder,”‘ www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2003/07/iraq-030722-voa10.htm, Voice of America, 7/22/03). I also can’t help but think of the Al-Jazeera cameraman killed in U.S. raids and the many other Arabic news stations that were hit by ‘coalition’ bombings (‘Al-Jazeera Cameraman Killed in U.S. Raid,’ http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,7493,932169,00.html, Guardian, 4/8/03).”
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DAVID ENDERS
Enders is editor of Baghdad Bulletin and has spent most of the last several months in Iraq. Enders said today: “The current president of the governing council, Ahmed Chalabi, has been very critical of Al-Jazeera [http://english.aljazeera.net]…. The network has taken serious steps in Baghdad, admitting and apologizing when its reporting has been sloppy, holding its journalism to high standards…. The general impression most people are given of the journalistic atmosphere in Iraq — where, it is often cited, more than 150 newspapers have been allowed to thrive since the deposing of Saddam Hussein’s government — belies instances like these, in which the U.S.-U.K. has used loosely interpreted edicts by Paul Bremer to shut down newspapers. To see the governing council act in the same manner is extremely disheartening.”
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AS’AD ABUKHALIL
Author of the book Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New “War on Terrorism,” AbuKhalil is professor of political science at California State University at Stanislaus. He said today: “Clearly the governing council is a U.S. puppet. So the decision to punish Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyyah (and the latter is notorious for going out of its way to accommodate U.S. perspectives) should be seen within two contexts: First, this is not the first act against the Iraqi press by the U.S. colonial administration. Offices of newspapers have in the last several months been searched and vandalized by U.S. troops, and computers have been confiscated. Journalists were also arrested on charges of inciting violence — a charge that was a favorite for Saddam’s government — and journalists were shot at during the invasion. There are still Iraqi journalists among the 10,000 prisoners in U.S. custody waiting to be charged. The second context is the U.S. war against Al-Jazeera, which had begun in earnest after Sept. 11. One can easily level accusations and criticisms of Al-Jazeera, including their attempt to appease the U.S. government on many occasions, but it certainly has provided a much more balanced picture of events in Iraq than the U.S. media.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167