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"We're Fighting Terror, but Killing Freedom"

Randall Hamud--Newsweek 1 Sept 2003--is in a unique position to see both sides of the Patriot Act. Excerpts, paraphrases, and observations follow:

Hamud is an Arabic "secularized Muslim," a native-born American of Lebanese parentage. He is also a lawyer who trained in the US and now lives in San Diego. He received death threats when he became associated with three young men who had been arrested as material witnesses because they were acquainted with two of the terrorists who crashed into the Pentagon. In a short time Hamud was retained by Moussaoui's mother to persuade him to cooperate with his defense lawyers. "...more death threats rained down on me." He was viewed as a traitor by his fellow Muslims.

The law covering material witnesses is clear. A material witness can only be arrested if s/he will not cooperate with the government. His clients were cooperating with the government, still they were arrested. FBI investigators claimed they were not cooperating in order to arrest them and take them to New York. Hamud was able to get them a hearing before the New York federal district court. In one case, the material witness was released by Judge Shira Scheindlin who declared the testimony offered by the FBI agents was not credible or misleading. All three were lucky; most such detainees never have their day in court.

Hamud only attends Mosque on special days, much as many American Christians do. He believes in the rule of law. Practicing law, he has every opportunity to see all sides of issues and people. He works for his clients. Still Hamud was distrusted by the imams who "...wear tunics and conduct services in Arabic. Men and women are completely segregated, and the women are strongly encouraged to wear higab (head scarves) or burqas." The imams of his childhood in Los Angeles were "Westernized", didn't wear beards, conducted services in English, and only segregated the genders during prayers.

Hamud has a serious message for us all:

"The Bush administration is playing fast and loose with our rights. We are only beginning to understand the full impact of the Patriot Act...on our civil liberties. Federal agents can now search your home and office without your knowledge, and force your bank, your doctor, and even your library to turn over their records about you.

"Are Americans willing to sacrifice their freedoms in order to combat terrorism? I hope not. As Ben Franklin said, those who would would trade liberty for security deserve neither. I'm not fighting for Arabs and Muslims; I am fighting for all of us."

The Week Reports [2/6/2004]

Dateline Los Angeles

Patriot Act under fire:

A federal judge in California this week struck down part of the USA Patriot Act, marking the first time a section of the law had been ruled unconstitutional. District Judge Audrey Collins said that a rule against giving expert advice or assistance to terrorist groups was so vague that it could violate the First Amendment right to free speech. The lawsuit was filed by human-rights activists trying to provide aid to Kurdish refugees in Turkey and to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka; they said they feared being prosecuted as terrorists. A Justice Department spokesman said the controversial law, which gives the government expanded snooping powers, would remain an essential tool in the war on terror.

Links to organizations critical of the Act [20 Nov 2007]

According to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee:

Nationwide figures as of November 20, 2007:

  • 412 local, county, and state resolutions passed
  • 277 efforts underway

Update on: Resolutions Passed

Links for reference:
Critical links for reference in historical order:

Declaration of Independence
Federalist papers
Bill of Rights:


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