News Release

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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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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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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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