Tuesday, January 6, 2009

U.S. judge revives lawsuit over Bush wiretaps/240,000 dollars awarded to man forced to cover Arab T-shirt

U.S. judge revives lawsuit over Bush wiretaps

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

(01-05) 17:29 PST SAN FRANCISCO --

A defunct Islamic charity in Oregon that says it was illegally wiretapped by federal authorities can pursue its lawsuit challenging President Bush's clandestine eavesdropping program, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Monday.

In reviving a suit filed by Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the group had enough publicly available evidence to show that it could reasonably believe it had been wiretapped.

The ruling is "a big win for us," said Jon Eisenberg, an Oakland attorney for the plaintiffs.

Walker had dismissed the suit in July, saying the group could not use a classified document that the government had accidentally turned over to the foundation.

But later that month, the group produced nonsecret information - an October 2007 speech in which a deputy FBI director said that the agency "used ... surveillance" in an investigation into whether the organization was linked to terrorism. The speech was given at a conference of the American Bankers Association and American Bar Association on money laundering.

Now that the group has found that nonclassified evidence, Walker said he will examine the classified evidence and decide whether the group could proceed with its claims that Bush's program of conducting surveillance without a court warrant violated federal law or the U.S. Constitution.

Walker ordered the government to give top-secret security clearances to Eisenberg and one or two colleagues. In addition, the judge asked the government to consider declassifying the secret evidence.

"The court's next steps will prioritize two interests: protecting classified evidence from disclosure and enabling plaintiffs to prosecute their action," Walker wrote.

Al-Haramain, classified by the government as a terrorist organization in September 2004, and two of its attorneys said the records they were inadvertently given by the government that year showed that the group's phones had been tapped.

The organization, which has denied any connection to terrorism, returned the documents when federal officials learned of the error. The group claimed that the wiretapping violated the 1978 U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at hlee@sfchronicle.com.


This article appeared on page A - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.


Mon Jan 5, 7:22 pm ET


240,000 dollars awarded to man forced to cover Arab T-shirt


NEW YORK (AFP) – An airline passenger forced to cover his T-shirt because it displayed Arabic script has been awarded 240,000 dollars in compensation, campaigners said Monday.


Raed Jarrar received the pay out on Friday from two US Transportation Security Authority officials and from JetBlue Airways following the August 2006 incident at New York's JFK Airport, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced.


"The outcome of this case is a victory for free speech and a blow to the discriminatory practice of racial profiling," said Aden Fine, a lawyer with ACLU.


Jarrar, a US resident, was apprehended as he waited to board a JetBlue flight from New York to Oakland, California, and told to remove his shirt, which had written on it in Arabic: "We will not be silent."


He was told other passengers felt uncomfortable because an Arabic-inscribed T-shirt in an airport was like "wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, I am a robber,'" the ACLU said.


Jarrar eventually agreed to cover his shirt with another provided by JetBlue. He was allowed aboard but his seat was changed from the front to the back of the aircraft.


Last week, nine Muslims, including three children, were ordered off a domestic US flight after passengers heard what they believed were suspicious remarks about security.


Although the passengers, eight of them US citizens, were cleared by the FBI, they were reportedly still barred from the AirTran flight.


Security has been at a high level in US airports since the September 11, 2001 hijacked airliner attacks against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.


However, rights groups and representatives of the Muslim community say the security measures have led to frequent discrimination and harassment.


Copyright © 2009 Agence France Presse.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


No comments: