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Ahmed Sharif

DOJ Investigating Anti-Muslim Incidents

TPM Muckraker

Rachel Slajda | September 2, 2010, 1:43PM

The Department of Justice is investigating two recent, high-profile anti-Muslim incidents, TPMmuckraker confirms.

A DOJ spokeswoman says the department has opened investigations into the attack on a Muslim cab driver in New York City and an apparent arson at the site of a future mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

“The Department is investigating these matters with local authorities,” said the spokeswoman, Xochitl Hinojosa.

Although it hasn’t happened yet this time, the Justice Department has in the past created task forces for dealing with apparent hate crime waves. In the 1990s, a spate of church fires in the South lead to the Church Arson Task Force, which found that some of the fires were racially motivated against African-Americans. After Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush DOJ Civil Rights Division began an “Initiative to Combat Post-9/11 Discriminatory Backlash” to make sure potential hate crimes against Muslims were prosecuted.

Department officials reportedly met recently with an interfaith coalition, including Muslim groups, worried about the apparent increase in anti-Muslim sentiment, and more meetings may be in the works.

Additional reporting by Ryan J. Reilly.

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Countdown: Conservatives Outraged With Liz Cheney’s Fear Mongering

Crooks and Liars- By Heather Saturday Mar 06, 2010 8:00am

Lawrence O’Donnell talks to Mother Jones’ David Corn about why some conservatives, including a former member of the Bush administration official are none too happy with Liz Cheney and her group Keep America Safe’s latest bit of fear mongering attacking the Justice Department.

Sam Stein at the HuffPo has more — Conservatives Turn Against Liz Cheney – As Bad As McCarthy:

The backlash is growing against Liz Cheney after she demonized Department of Justice attorneys as terrorist sympathizers for their past legal work defending Gitmo detainees — and now it’s coming from within deeply conservative legal circles.

On Friday, the conservative blog Power Line put up a post titled, “An Attack That Goes Too Far.” Author Paul Mirengoff, called Cheney’s effort to brand DoJ officials the “Al Qaeda 7,” “vicious” and “unfounded” even if it was right to criticize defense lawyers for voluntarily doing work on behalf of Gitmo detainees.

Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, contrasting what Cheney is doing to the anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and, in some respects, finding it worse. Read on…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Conservatives Turn Against Liz Cheney – As Bad As McCarthy

Huff Post- Sam Stein– First Posted: 03- 5-10 11:48 AM   |   Updated: 03- 5-10 04:19 PM

The backlash is growing against Liz Cheney after she demonized Department of Justice attorneys as terrorist sympathizers for their past legal work defending Gitmo detainees — and now it’s coming from within deeply conservative legal circles.

On Friday, the conservative blog Power Line put up a post titled, “An Attack That Goes Too Far.” Author Paul Mirengoff, called Cheney’s effort to brand DoJ officials the “Al Qaeda 7,” “vicious” and “unfounded” even if it was right to criticize defense lawyers for voluntarily doing work on behalf of Gitmo detainees.

Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, contrasting what Cheney is doing to the anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and, in some respects, finding it worse.

“It could be worse than some of the assertions made by McCarthy, depending on some of the validity of those assertions,” Mirengoff said, explaining that at least McCarthy was correct in pinpointing individuals as communist sympathizers. “It is just baseless to suggest that [these DoJ officials] share al Qaeda values… they didn’t actually say it but I think it was a fair implication of what they were saying.”

Mirengoff isn’t alone among conservative legal theorists who think the ad campaign by Cheney’s group, Keep America Safe, is distasteful. In a statement to the American Prospect, John Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, called the effort “unfortunate.”

“It reflects the politicization and the polarization of terrorism issues,” Bellinger said. “Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be attacking officials in each other’s administrations based solely on the clients they have represented in the past.”

The Keep America Safe ad is below:

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DoJ reveals names of lawyers smeared as ‘Al-Qaeda 7′

Raw Story- By Andrew McLemore
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 — 7:13 pm

Yesterday, a conservative group run by Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney released a political ad accusing seven lawyers within the Department of Justice of being un-American because they advocated for detainees held in Guantanamo.

Today, the names of those lawyers were revealed by a spokesman for the Justice Department who said politics had “overtaken reality” in questioning the virtue of military lawyers for defending the rights of prisoners of war.

“Department of Justice attorneys work around the clock to keep this country safe, and it is offensive that their patriotism is being questioned,” said Justice Department Spokesman Matt Miller.

And who is questioning the lawyers’ patriotism? To start with, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has been demanding for months that the names of DoJ lawyers who defended terror suspects be revealed.

“The administration has made many highly questionable decisions when it comes to national security, ” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a recent statement, arguing that the public has “a right to know who advises the Attorney General and the President on these critical matters.”

According to a Fox News report, most of the lawyers had relatively “minor roles” in defending detainees before being appointed to the Department of Justice. Those “minor roles” included filing briefs that advocated for protection of detainees’ rights. Specifically, that they should be allowed a trial at all.

One of the lawyers, Tony West (shown above), represented “American Taliban” Johh Walker Lindh for several years as part of a San Francisco law firm. West is now the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

He and the six other lawyers were dubbed the “Al-Qaeda 7” in a video released this week by Keep America Safe, a conservative organization headed by Dick Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth and pundit Bill Kristol.

The group released the video after the Department of Justice refused to release the names because it “will not participate in an attempt to drag people’s names through the mud for political purposes. “

The ad, shown below, was widely lambasted by many critics and publications as repugnant, indecent and outrageous.

If nothing else, the ad achieved its intended effect of galvanizing many Americans to fear lawyers trying to defend human rights. After it was aired, the Department of Justice was flooded with calls complaining about their political appointments.

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Rove op-ed reveals he had inside information about probe

Raw Story- By Larisa Alexandrovna

Published: August 20, 2009
Updated 2 hours ago

Lawyer declines to say how he found out accuser didn’t talk to Justice Department

Karl Rove’s latest attempt to proclaim his innocence and demand apologies from those who have accused him of being behind the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman may backfire if it turns out that Rove was improperly receiving inside information after leaving his position as Deputy White House Chief of Staff.

“For more than two years,” Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal, “House Judiciary Committee Democrats and the New York Times editorial board have argued that I personally arranged for Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to be prosecuted in 2004 for corruption and ordered the removal of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006 for failing to investigate Democrats. The Washington Post editorial board also echoed this last charge. The Times and the Post have published a combined 18 editorials on these issues, which were also catnip to House Judiciary Committee Democrats.”

Rove then goes on to attack Dana Jill Simpson, an Alabama Republican lawyer turned whistleblower who has linked him to the Siegelman prosecution. In doing so, however, he raises serious questions of impropriety by revealing that he has received confidential information from both the House Judiciary Committee and the Department of Justice.

“Committee staff confided to me that they considered her an unreliable witness,” Rove says of Simpson. “I also understand that Mr. Siegelman and Ms. Simpson refused to cooperate with the Justice Department’s review of his claim of political persecution, while I willingly gave sworn testimony.”

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Explosive Allegations: Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. Posted August 4, 2009.

Sworn statements filed in Federal Court also allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a “crusade” to eliminate Muslims and Islam.

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-U.S. Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the U.S. State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater’s motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the U.S. State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as “John Doe #2,” is a former member of Blackwater’s management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, “it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.” John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he “fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration.” He also alleges, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.”

In a separate sworn statement, the former U.S. marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has “learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances.” Identified as “John Doe #1,” he says he “joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel.” It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is “scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq.” Like Doe #2, he states that he fears “violence” against him for “submitting this Declaration.” No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

“Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds,” states Doe #2. “On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed.”

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

“It’s a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters,” John Roth, the spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. “It would be a crime if we did that.” Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: “We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual.”

Erik Prince fancies himself as a Christian crusader ridding the world of its Muslim population.
Apparently, Blackwater has been killing former employees who have shared information about this criminal enterprise.

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Obama’s Immunity For CIA Agents Still Leaves Prosecutions Of Senior Bushies On The Table

Think Progress- By Ali Frick at 1:42 pm

Yesterday, as he released four Bush-era legal memos authorizing the torture of terrorist suspects, President Obama made it clear he would not support any prosecutions of low-level interrogators who actually carried out Bush’s policies. “[I]t is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”

Obama also added, “This is a time for reflection, not retribution,” and said “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” Some progressive commentators were outraged; Keith Olbermann pleaded, “Prosecute, Mr. President.” CBS’s Andrew Cohen interpreted this to mean Obama would not support any prosecutions for torture:

One by one, the hammer blows fell upon civil libertarians and millions of other Americans who believe that the people who legally sanctioned and then implemented torturous “enhanced interrogation tactics” should have had to defend their conduct in our courts of law. One by one, those enthusiastic supporters of the Obama administration’s legal values and policies realized that they had just lost a battle (been wiped out, in fact) that they had every reason to believe they would win. There will be no torture trials. Period.

However, Obama’s statement was carefully worded to include only “those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice” — not the Bush officials who actually gave out that advice. ACLU lead counsel Jameel Jaffer told Glenn Greenwald that Obama did not shut the door to all prosecutions:

I think it’s a mistake to read the grant of immunity too broadly. I don’t think that President Obama’s statement should be taken as a sign that there’s no chance that the architects of torture program will be prosecuted. And even with respect to the interrogators, it’s only the interrogators who relied “in good faith” on legal advice who are protected.

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‘These People Fear Prosecution’: Why Bush’s CIA Team Should Worry About Its Dark Embrace of Torture

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted April 11, 2009.

The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer discusses the fallout from the Red Cross’ shocking report on CIA torture and its serious legal implications.

On the night of April 6, a long-secret document was published — in its entirety for the first time — that provided a clear, stark look at the CIA torture program carried out by the Bush administration.

Dated Feb. 14, 2007, the 41-page report describes in harrowing detail the “ill treatment” of 14 “high-value” detainees in U.S. custody, as recounted by the prisoners in interviews with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Besides listing the various kinds of harsh interrogation tactics undertaken by the CIA — among them “suffocation by water,” “prolonged stress standing,” “beatings by use of a collar,” “confinement in a box,” “prolonged nudity,” “threats,” “forced shaving” and other methods — the report reveals the disturbing role of medical professionals in the torture of suspects, which included using doctors’ equipment to monitor their health, even as torture was carried out.

Just as Americans have known about Bush-era torture for years, lawyers and human rights activists have long known about the ICRC report and its contents. Both are due in large part to the work of journalists and the sources who have brought to light the many post-9/11 abuses committed in the name of counterterrorism.

In February 2005, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker magazine published a story called “Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America’s ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ Program,” which reported in intricate detail the sordid mechanisms of the Bush administration’s kidnap-and-torture program — a practice so violent and dramatic that it inspired a major Hollywood film a few years later.

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