Where Do We Come From?
CT antiwar and Muslim civil liberties activists joined together in January 2012 to say no to the legalization of indefinite military detention of US citizens and Muslim-American immigrants without charge or trial. Our first major activity was a state civil liberties conference held in December 2012 held at Central Connecticut State University and that featured Glenn Greenwald, Sahar Aziz, and other prominent speakers.
The conference aimed to link activists fighting indefinite detention, pre-emptive prosecution and entrapment of Muslim Americans, COINTELPRO-type operations against the movements for social change, mass incarceration, and mass deportation. Over 250 Connecticut activists attended. In July of 2014, we sponsored a picket at the Old State House in Hartford protesting NSA spying. We used the occasion to flyer summer festivals and educate about the new revelations in a wide variety of communities.
This spring we decided that our major activity would be an annual conference to build networks of solidarity among the victims of spying, FBI dirty tricks, stop and frisk, Secure Communities, and Islamophobia. Join us on March 29, 2014 for our second annual conference.
What is indefinite detention?
On December 31, 2011 President Obama signed into law provisions 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial. The provisions allow the President to order the military to detain any person indefinitely and without trial who is accused of participating in or supporting an open-ended variety of organizations and activities (for which no evidence is required). American citizens are NOT excluded from this law despite intentionally vague language. These provisions threaten our basic civil liberties, including free speech and association — especially when combined with additional recent law and precedent.
Where did the NDAA come from?
The indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA are only parts of a much broader attack on civil liberties involving increased surveillance, the use of torture, assassinations, pre-emptive prosecutions and the promotion of Islamophobia — all justified by the “War on Terror.”
While the government hides behind references to national security, these measures are used over and over again to arbitrarily terrorize and demonize Muslim communities here and abroad, and increasingly to repress dissent, including anti-war, Occupy and labor movements.
Escalating breech of civil liberties
Since September 24, 2010 the FBI has subpoenaed 23 anti-war, labor, international solidarity, and immigrant rights activists for grand jury hearings where basic legal rights are suspended and the simple failure to provide enough information results in long prison sentences. Although no charges have been filed observers anticipate that these activists could face terrorism charges for association and speech that the government deems terrorism-related.
The AP has revealed a massive regional campaign of NYPD spying and infiltration that began with targeting Muslim communities and has expanded to include activists expressing opposition to US foreign policies, labor laws, immigration policy and racial profiling.
Without any arrest, indictment, or trial President Obama’s government authorized the killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American citizen, in northern Yemen who was once considered a moderate Muslim by the government and invited to a luncheon by the Pentagon to help “ease tensions with Muslim- Americans,”. (http://www.salon.com/2011/07/27/awlaki_5/)
James Yee, a former US Army Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay was subjected to solitary confinement and sensory deprivation for 76 days for speaking out against unjust and cruel treatment of Guantanamo prisoners.
(More at http://www.justiceforyee.com/index.htm)
In April, 2012 Tarek Mehanna was sentenced to 17 years in prison for translating and posting online allegedly pro-Jihadist documents. Just one of many recent cases where people have been tried and convicted based on personal opinion and speech. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/a-dangerous-mind.html)
In the last decade, under the pretext of the “War on Terror,” the U.S. government has preemptively prosecuted hundreds of innocent Muslims without any evidence of wrongdoing, while increased surveillance has created an atmosphere of fear and vulnerability.
(See Project SALAM website for more info: http://www.projectsalam.org/)
What is the relationship between indefinite detention, Islamophobia and war?
The hundreds of highly publicized preemptive prosecution trials of innocent people create the false appearance that there have been hundreds or thousands of attempted bombings which in reality were nothing more than plots cooked up by the FBI itself. Without the appearance of a new imaginary terrorist conspiracy in the news every week much of the remaining support for military aggression would collapse. With the power to imprison people without trial we can expect that the use preemptive prosecutions will grow.
A storm of recent changes to law and legal precedent are quickly classifying opposition to US foreign policy – as well as dissent in general – as terrorist crimes. A serious opposition to wars cannot be mounted without challenging the criminalization of dissent and creating the movement capacity needed to defend each and every target of government repression.
What can be done?
People across the U.S. are organizing a national campaign to repeal the indefinite detention provisions. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is one organization leading the effort (bordc.org). The CT Coalition to Stop Indefinite Detention is a new formation organizing a broad educational campaign based in forums, demonstrations and passing resolutions on the community, city and state level. Get involved locally and join in the fight! An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
Check out the first Meeting in CT at BlipTV: