Spying on Americans without warrants, charges based on secret evidence, a small town divided by fear. Welcome to the world of Bush's "specially designated global terrorists."
By Tim Shorrock
May 19, 2008 | RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, and ASHLAND, Ore. -- One day in March 2004, Soliman Hamd Al-Buthe, a former member of Saudi Arabia's national basketball team and a government official in the city of Riyadh, picked up his phone for an urgent call with two American lawyers in Washington, D.C. Most of the call concerned a growing confrontation between the U.S. government and the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in Ashland, Ore., the U.S. branch of a global Saudi Arabian charity organization under investigation for possible links to terrorism. Al-Buthe had been an advisor to Al-Haramain from 1995 to 2002 and was a member of the Oregon foundation's board of directors. Just weeks prior to the call, the foundation -- a respected fixture in the Ashland community run for years by an Iranian-American Muslim named Pete Seda -- had been raided by U.S. law enforcement agents.
Ever since a New York Times report uncovered warrantless domestic spying by the Bush administration, the issue of NSA surveillance and the 1978 law governing it has been intensely scrutinized and debated. Until now, however, little attention has been paid to dubious activities directly connected with the domestic spying. The Bush administration has used expanded national security powers to undermine the legal rights of people in the United States who are identified as al-Qaida supporters, but who are not charged with terrorist-related crimes. The U.S. Treasury Department and other agencies investigating domestic organizations and U.S. persons rely on the NSA to spy and collect evidence for them -- a fundamental shift from the past, when the NSA's vast eavesdropping powers were used only for foreign intelligence gathering. And in the name of protecting national security, the Bush administration has regularly withheld what it claims is key evidence against those accused -- insisting, essentially, that the public accept without question its private conclusions about the suspects' guilt.
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