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For those of you as curious as I am how exactly the Justice Department has pursued its so-called terrorism cases (the sketchy Liberty City 7 case has been discussed here in the past), there’s now a fascinating look at one of the few “successful” prosecutions thus far: the Justice Department’s prosecution of the Detroit Sleeper Cell case. This American Life devoted an entire episode to Richard G. Convertino’s prosecution of four men of Middle Eastern descent for an alleged plot to attack Disneyland. Leaps of logic and imagining the worst appear to have combined with a zealous effort at prosecution. The case unraveled not due to any search for justice, but, it seems, due to internal Justice Department politics, which raise huge questions about public accountability. Reporter Petra Bartosiewicz’s The Best Terrorists We Could Find should make an interesting read when it comes out next year.
Meanwhile the FBI is proposing to let race and travel schedules tell them who is a terrorist, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights:
The proposed guidelines would give the domestic intelligence agency authority to investigate American citizens and residents without any evidence of criminal acts, relying instead on a “terrorist profile” that would include race, ethnicity and “travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity” to spark an initial “national security investigation.”
These proposed guidelines would also allow, according to the reports, for FBI agents to ask “open-ended questions” about the activities of Muslim or Arab Americans, or investigate them if their jobs and backgrounds match other criteria considered to be “suspect.” Once this initial investigation stage was completed, a full investigation could be opened – allowing for wiretapping of phone calls or deep investigation of personal data – all guided merely by a “terrorist profile” that openly relies on race, ethnicity, religion and community connections.
Do something about it by pressuring Attorney General Mike Mukesey.
Having people visit from out of town is a reminder of what inconveniences & impositions we get used to living in New York. Aside from the random convergence of police cars in downtown & midtown to practice, definitely one of the most unnerving is the randomly asserted right to search your “large backpacks and packages” on the subway. Somehow, the knowledge that this search is not exactly mandatory, courtesy of the Fourth Amendment (that whole “search and seizure” thing), and therefore can be refused, makes me feel better. So as a public service to New Yorkers, here’s what you can do if you’re not interested in your bag being searched:
Thank Flex Your Rights’ Citizen’s Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches for this information, and this handy (if somewhat alarming) flyer.More on how to expand your First Amendment rights in New York City soon…