The detention of some 500 people as part of the FBI investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks, and new legislation thatwould give law enforcement expanded powers, have raised serious concerns for civil rights groups. Their concerns havebeen exacerbated by reports of hundreds of alleged hate crimes against Muslims or those of Middle Eastern descent.
Despite calls by Bush and other officials to avoid stereotyping, the Arab and Muslim communities say they continue toface widespread discrimination. The number of hate crimes directed at Arab Americans has almost doubled from a weekago, and the FBI has formally opened about 90 civil rights investigations since the terrorist attacks.
Civil rights and Arab American groups have expressed particular concern about language in Bush’s proposedanti-terrorism bill that would give the government expanded powers to detain non-U.S. citizens, in some cases,indefinitely. The anti-terrorism bill also includes broad powers to wiretap phones, track Internet communications andprosecute anyone who knowingly harbors a suspected terrorist.
Yesterday, civil liberties lawyers held a forum to discuss some of these issues. The speakers were David Cole,co-author of “Terrorism & The Constitution-Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security,” and MichaelRatner, an international human rights lawyer and legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
- David Cole, professor of law at Georgetown University and author of ??Terrorism & The Constitution:Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security.
- Michael Ratner, legal director, Center for Constitutional Rights.