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The First Thing to Do Is, Control the Past

According to the LA Times (2001 Nov 18), the Federal government has begun asking libraries (and other repositories of knowledge) to destroy previously-released and still-legal data, reports, government records, etc. In the name of homeland security, those entrusted with our national memory have, in effect, been asked to lobotomize public discourse. The ultimate source? John Ashcroft.

Orwell would be proud.

The American Disappeared
Several hundred people -- perhaps a thousand or more -- have been detained by the Justice Department. That same Justice Department has keep secret the dates, locations, charges and even the names of these people. The nation that so roundly and so rightly condemned the Soviet Union for its secret trials, kangaroo courts, and classified gulags has adopted essentially the same conduct. Some examples:

"According to news reports and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, some detainees have been held for days or weeks without access to counsel, and in certain cases have suffered death or serious injury. Muhammed Butt, a Pakistani national whom the FBI did not even suspect of involvement with terrorism, died Oct. 23 after being held for 33 days. Osama Awadallah, a Jordanian-born permanent resident of the United States, was held in detention for three months until his release on bond. He was kicked and beaten while in detention, according to his lawyer.
At one of the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, we heard testimony from Gerald Goldstein, an attorney for Dr. Al-Badr Al-Hazmi, a Saudi national detained for nearly two weeks. Goldstein told the committee that the department denied Dr. Al-Hazmi access to counsel for seven days. Another witness at our hearing, Ali Maqtari, a Yemeni national, was detained for nearly two months on a technical immigration violation that would normally be resolved with some additional paperwork. He testified that he was allowed only one phone call per week of no more than 15 minutes."

-- From an Op-Ed appearing in the Washington Post, written by Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin).


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