Updates on the War Against Terrorism

Archived articles from Sept. 11 to November 25, 2001
Reflecting news, legislation, action alerts, and commentary on the war against terrorism

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News Legislation
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Investigative Reporting Other Resources


11/25/01... Swept Up in a Dragnet, Hundreds Sit in Custody and Ask, 'Why? ...New York Times

Hundreds of little- known foreigners have been swept up in a vast dragnet after the terrorist attacks . Some of them have résumés suspiciously like those of the 19 hijackers, and others have spent days, weeks and now months in prison for immigration violations that before Sept. 11 would probably have been ignored or resolved with paperwork.

11/25/01... Bush's New Rules to Fight Terror Transform the Legal Landscape ...New York Times

The creation of military tribunals are the boldest initiative in a series of laws and rewritten federal regulations that, taken together, have created an alternate system of justice in the aftermath of Sept. 11, giving the government far greater power to detain, investigate and prosecute people suspected of involvement in terrorism.

11/22/01... U.S. Death Penalty Stops Spain Extraditing Suspects ...Reuters

Spain cannot extradite suspected Islamic extremists to the United States while the death penalty is in force there, judicial sources said on Thursday.

11/22/01... DOJ Won't Identify Sept. 11 Detainees ...ABC News

The Justice Department has turned down a congressional request that it identify people detained as a result of the investigation of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

11/22/01... Debate Centers on Which Court Will Decide Fate of Arab Man ...New York Times

Senior Bush administration officials have begun to discuss whether a man in custody in New York should be tried on terrorism charges by a military tribunal rather than a civilian criminal court, senior law enforcement officials said today.

11/21/01... A Police Force Rebuffs F.B.I. on Querying Mideast Men ...New York Times

The Portland, Ore., police will not cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its efforts to interview 5,000 young Middle Eastern men nationwide because such questioning violates state law, the department's acting police chief, Andrew Kirkland, said yesterday.

11/21/01... Dozens of Israeli Jews Are Being Kept in Federal Detention ...New York Times

Among the more than 1,100 people the government has detained since Sept. 11 are dozens of young Israeli Jews who came to the United States in recent months and took jobs selling trinkets at shopping malls throughout the country.

11/20/01... ACLU Challenges Face Scanning at California Airport ...Reuters

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday asked an airport in northern California pioneering the use of facial recognition technology to stop scanning passenger faces in a hunt for possible terrorists.

11/20/01... In War, It's Power to the President ...Washington Post

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, on a wide variety of fronts, the Bush administration has moved to seize power that it has shared with other branches of government.

11/19/01... States Weighing Laws to Fight Bioterrorism ...Washington Post

Spurred by fears of bioterrorism, state legislators across the country are pushing new laws that would permit large-scale quarantine, forcible seizure of hospitals and other businesses, mandatory vaccination or treatment, and destruction of contaminated property without the owners' consent.

11/14/01... US Wants to Talk to 5, 000 Foreigners About Attacks ...Reuters

The U.S. government has compiled a list of more than 5,000 foreign men living in the United States it wants to question about the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said on Tuesday.

11/14/01... Bush to Subject Terrrorism Suspects to Military Trials ...New York Times

President Bush has signed an order allowing special military tribunals to try foreigners charged with terrorism. A senior administration official said that any such trials would "not necessarily" be public, and that the American tribunals might operate in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

11/14/01... Text of Bush Order Subjecting Terrrorism Suspects to Military Trials ...New York Times

Read the full text of the military order signed by President Bush yesterday on the detention, treatment and trial of noncitizens in the war on terrorism.

11/12/01... FBI Rushes To Remake Its Mission ...Washington Post

After decades of pursuing gangsters and drug kingpins to great acclaim, the FBI is rushing to remake itself as the nation's primary line of defense against terrorism, a seismic shift for an agency that historically has not adjusted easily to change.

11/10/01... Sen. Leahy, ABA Protest Ashcroft's Monitoring Order ...Washington Post

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday fired off a furious letter protesting Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's decision to monitor conversations between lawyers and some clients in federal custody when it is deemed necessary to thwart violence or terrorism.

11/9/01... U.S. Will Monitor Calls to Lawyers ...Washington Post

The Justice Department has decided to listen in on the conversations of lawyers with clients in federal custody, including people who have been detained but not charged with any crime, whenever that is deemed necessary to prevent violence or terrorism.

11/9/01... U.S. to Stop Issuing Detention Tallies ...Washington Post

The Justice Department announced yesterday it will no longer issue a runing tally of the number of people detained around the country as law enforcement officials investigate the Sept. 11 hijackings and try to prevent further terrorist attacks.

11/8/01... Ashcroft Orders Justice Dept. Into New Wartime Structure...New York Times

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced today that he has ordered the Justice Department to take a wartime posture and has begun to restructure the agency's priorities under a plan that envisions radical reorganization of the Justice Department and key component agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

11/6/01... Rule Would Bypass Attorney Privilege ...Newsday

Under a new federal rule quietly issued last week, the government can listen in on conversations and read mail between people in federal custody and their lawyers if it suspects the communications will further acts of violence or terrorism.

11/6/01... U.N. Torture Sleuth Concerned About U.S. Detainees...Reuters

The United Nations torture investigator expressed concern on Tuesday about the potential scope for abusing hundreds of people being held in custody in the United States in connection with the suicide attacks on September 11.

11/6/01... Confusion Over Number Of Detainees Released ...Washington Post

While the White House claims that most of the hundreds of people arrested on criminal charges as part of the investigation into the Sept. 11 terror attacks have been released from jail,the Justice Department said the majority of those detained for all reasons, including immigration violations as well as criminal charges, remain in custody.

11/5/01... Ill-Fated Path to America, Jail and Death...New York Times

Muhammad Rafiq Butt, a native of Pakistan, was arrested for being in the country illegally, one of hundreds who had been picked up on the basis of tips from an anxious public in the days after the Sept. 11 attack on the trade center. He was found dead him around 10:30 on the morning of Oct. 23, lying face up on his cot, inside a first-floor cell in the Hudson County Correctional Center in New Jersey.

11/4/01... A Deliberate Strategy of Disruption...Washington Post

A seven-page document, which has not been previously disclosed, is being used repeatedly by prosecutors in detention hearings across the country.

11/4/01... An Intelligence Giant in the Making...Washington Post

Molded by wartime politics and passed a week and a half ago in furious haste, the new anti-terrorism bill lays the foundation for a domestic intelligence-gathering system of unprecedented scale and technological prowess, according to both supporters and critics of the legislation.

11/3/01... Justice Dept. Alters Stand on 3 Detained ...New York Times

Backing away from remarks by Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department suggested today that it did not know whether three Arab men now in custody in Michigan had advance knowledge of the terror attacks of Sept. 11.

11/2/01... Terror Inquiry Is Using Law on Sedition ...New York Times

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said yesterday in a newly filed court document that among the offenses being investigated by the grand jury looking into the Sept. 11 terror attacks was whether there was a "seditious conspiracy to levy war against the United States."

11/1/01...Federal Courts Fortify Sentences for Bioterror...San Francisco Chronicle

Under the revised Federal Sentencing Guidelines which went into effect today, terrorists convicted of actually sending anthrax or any biological or chemical agent through the mail could face 30 years to life in prison, compared with a maximum of 17 1/2 years under the old rules.

11/1/01..Justice Dept. Announces Tougher Immigration Rules...Washington Post

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday announced new measures designed to keep terrorists out of the United States, including an expansion of the list of foreign groups whose members will be automatically barred from entering the country.

11/1/01..U.S. Says 3 Detainees May Be Tied to Hijackings...New York Times

Attorney General John Ashcroft disclosed for the first time today that the government had apprehended suspects who were believed to have had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11 hijackings.

October, 2001 Terrorism Updates

September, 2001 Terrorism Updates


11/9/01...Secret Evidence Measure Resoundingly Defeated...ACLU Press Release

Calling it a victory for basic due process rights, the American Civil Liberties Union applauded the overwhelming defeat in the Senate today of a measure that would have further stripped away the safeguards that exist to prevent the incarceration and deportation of legal residents on the basis of secret evidence.

Uniting and Strengthening America: H.R. 3162

Text of the Anti-Terrorism Bill signed into law by George W. Bush on October 26, 2001.

New Proposed Legislation

Congressional site with all legislation introduced following September 11, 2001 attacks

TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime

TalkLeft.Com -- the internet's premier resource dedicated to liberal coverage of crime-related political news, TalkLeft intelligently and thoroughly examines issues, candidates and legislative initiatives as they affect constitutional rights, particularly those of persons accused of crime.

Action Alerts

FOIA Request Pertaining to Detainees

The multi-organizationally supported request for disclosure of information concerning the individuals "arrested or detained" in the wake of the September 11 attack.


11/21/01...Mr. Ashcroft, Let's Not Repeat Past Mistakes... by Molly Ivins, Boston Globe

WHOA! The problem is the premise. We are having one of those circular arguments about how many civil liberties we can trade away in order to make ourselves safe from terrorism, without even looking at the assumption - can we can make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free? There is no inverse relationship between freedom and security.

11/21/01...An Invitation to John Ashcroft... New York Times Editorial

Apart from questions about military tribunals, Mr. Leahy and his colleagues should use the opportunity to require the elusive Mr. Ashcroft to account for some of the Justice Department's other dubious \ departures from American principles, such as the new policy of wiretapping conversations between some prisoners and their lawyers.

November, 2001...Assault on Liberty: Abandoning the Constitution to Military Tribunals... by Nat Hentoff, Village Voice

As president, Bush, terrorized by the terrorists, is abandoning more and more of the fundamental rights and liberties that he—and his unquestioning subordinates—assured us they were fighting to preserve.

November, 2001...Rule of Liberty or Rule of Ashcroft... by Robyn Blumner, Minneapolis Star Tribune

It is actually hard to keep up with the almost daily constitutional transgressions that are passing as policy in the Justice Department. The rule of law has become the rule of Ashcroft. And the Justice Department is a misnomer once again.

November, 2001...Secret Trial by Military Commission Is Not Justice ... by Anne-Marie Slaughter, International Herald Tribune

Trial by military commission is not justice - at least not justice as the United States understands it and preaches it to the world.

November, 2001...Terrorizing the Bill of Rights ... by Nat Hentoff, Village Voice

That many details of the new anti-terrorism law are in contempt of the Bill of Rights is unknown to most Americans because, with few exceptions, the press—particularly its television and radio divisions—has not been paying enough attention.

11/12/01...An Affront to Democracy ... Washington Post Editorial

The right to be represented by a lawyer is fundamental to life in a democratic culture. That right has no meaning if the confidentiality of lawyer-client communications is not respected.

November 10, 2001...Disappearing in America ... New York Times Editorial

Two months into the war against terrorism, the nation is sliding toward the trap that we entered this conflict vowing to avoid. Civil liberties are eroding, and there is no evidence that the reason is anything more profound than fear and frustration.

November, 2001...The New USA Patriot Act: Are You a Patriot? ... by John Kaminski, Common Dreams.Org

The recent passage and signing of the Patriot Act has effectively nullified at least six amendments of the Bill of Rights addendum to the U.S. Constitution. As a result of this, America is longer America, but a police state, pure and simple. This Patriot Bill is, in fact, a massive violation of the Constitution it purports to uphold and improve.

November, 2001...The USA Patriot Act: By Any Means Unnecessary ... by Patricia Williams, The Nation

Stoked by tragedy and dread, the creativity of our paranoia is in overdrive right now. We must take a deep collective breath and be wary of persecuting those who conform to our fears instead of prosecuting foes who were and will be smart enough to play against such prejudices.

November, 2001...New Anti-Terrorism Law Continues Dangerous Trend Of Stripping Federal Judiciary Of Authority...ACLU

At first glance, the anti-terrorism legislation recently signed into law by President Bush appears to only be a means to give law enforcement officials the necessary tools to find terrorists and prevent future attacks. But in reality, the USA Patriot Act continues an alarming trend known as court-stripping--removing authority from the judiciary--in times of crisis.

November, 2001...Behind the USA Patriot Act ... by Ann Harrison, Alternet.Org

The new law, known as the USA Patriot Act, reaches into every space that Americans once imagined was private. This seismic shift in the government's power of search and seizure also extends to the examination of records. Authorities can browse medical, financial, educational or even library records without showing evidence of a crime. The law overrides existing state and federal privacy laws if the FBI claims that the information is connected to an intelligence investigation.

11/5/01...Attack on Bill of Rights ... by Nat Hentoff, Washington Times

With most Americans unaware, the Congress of the United States, yielding to the pressure of the U.S. attorney general and the the President, have passed an anti-terrorism bill in one of the worst breakdowns in the legislative process in the history of our representative government.

November 19, 2001...Less Secure, Less Free ... by Morton Halperin, American Prospect

Most alarming to supporters of democratic principles was the way the bill was enacted: the absence of public hearings, of any markup in the Senate (coupled with the sham markup conducted in the House), of meaningful floor debate, of committee reports that explain the bill, and of a real conference between the two houses. One can only hope that Congress will conduct rigorous oversight of the new powers it is granting to the president--and that it will refuse to follow the same procedures or to be intimated when the next antiterrorism bill is sent to Capitol Hill.

Investigative Reporting

Upsetting Checks and Balances: Congressional Hostility Toward the Courts in Times of Crisis...ACLU special report

Throughout American history, threats to domestic security have triggered unjustified assaults on civil liberties. Today the most basic civil liberty of all – the right to judicial review of executive authority – is uniquely vulnerable. Anti-terrorism laws passed by Congress in 1996 and again in 2001 reflect growing hostility to the role of judges in our constitutional system.

Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism...2000 Report to Congress

This is the 2000 report of the National Commission on Terrorism, which was set up by Congress in the aftermath of the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Recent commentators have called the report prescient--the commission predicted that there would be a terrorist attack on the United States on the scale of Pearl Harbor.

Frontline's Hunting Bin Laden, PBS

In FRONTLINE's "Hunting bin Laden," a Pulitzer Prize-nominated team of New York Times reporters and FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman investigates the man who has declared holy war on the U.S. -- a wealthy Saudi Arabian exile believed to be hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan with a $5 million bounty on his head.

Other Resources

Fighting Terrorism, Protecting Liberty....NACDL

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' Response to the 9-11 Attacks with links to news articles, analyses of bills, and commentary to keep you informed as to the current status of changes in law that affect criminal defense lawyers and all Americans.

Jurist's Page on Terrorism Law and Policy

From Jurist, the Legal Education Network and Law Professor Site

National Security Institute's Counter-Terrorism Links

Links to legislation, commentary, analysis

Terrorism Research Center

The Terrorism Research Center is dedicated to informing the public of the phenomena of terrorism and information warfare. This site features essays and thought pieces on current issues, as well as links to other terrorism documents, research and resources.

The U.S. Embassy Bombing Trials, CNN

On August 7, 1998, a truck bomb destroyed the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. Moments later another truck bomb exploded outside the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. The bombings killed 213 in Kenya and 11 in Tanzania. The investigation led investigators to alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden and his followers. A federal grand jury has indicted 22 men with crimes related to the bombings, including bin Laden. A trial for four of the defendants began in January. CNN offers extensive materials relating to the U.S. embassy bombings trial, including transcripts of testimony, court documents, analysis, and commentary.

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