Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Sunday, April 06, 2003  

Ashcroft, the US Constitution, and Mike Hawash

On tonight's 60 Minutes, the US was introduced to a kind of tough-love justice in the post-9/11 era. It detailed the story of Muslims rounded up (in Ashcroft's America, they're the usual suspects) without being charged or receiving legal representation. All perfectly legal, thanks to a change in the law that allows people to be held as "visa violators"--again, indefinitely, without being charged, and without legal counsel. (In fact, it seems an obvious violation of the law, but until these kinds of medieval jailings get a legal hearing, the FBI will be beating down doors and chaining up Arabs indescriminately.)

But what's the government's excuse in Mike Hawash's case?

PORTLAND, Ore., April 3 — For the last two weeks, Maher Hawash, a 38-year-old software engineer and American citizen who was from the West Bank and grew up in Kuwait, has been held in a federal prison here, though he has not been charged with a crime or brought before a judge.

Relatives and friends of Mr. Hawash, who works for the Intel Corporation and is married to a native Oregonian, say he has no idea why he was arrested by a federal terrorism task force when he arrived for work at the Intel parking lot in Hillsboro, a Portland suburb. The family home was raided at dawn on the same day by nearly a dozen armed police officers, who woke Mrs. Hawash and the family's three children, friends said.

Mr. Hawash, who is known as Mike, has yet to be interrogated and is being kept in solitary confinement, his supporters say.

Federal officials will not comment on Mr. Hawash, though they have been pressed by Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and by a group of supporters led by a former Intel vice president, for basic information about why he is being detained.

The excuse in his case is another loophole in the law that allows indefinite detainment without charge (although in this case he's been provided counsel): the "material witness" clause. (More info on his case here.)

Again, let's just review the facts: Mike Hawash is a US citizen. He's been denied his constitutional rights under the fifth and sixth amendments. And why? Because, in this third year of the new millennium the US has suspended the rights of a US citizen solely on the basis of his race.

Tomorrow at 8:30 am, we're going to rally at the Portland courthouse where he's supposed to receive a hearing tomorrow. If he does, let's hope the judge in the case not only frees Mike, but condemns this grotesque perversion of the rule of law.

(I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.)

posted by Jeff | 10:11 PM |
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