American publishers, protesters, and travelers under surveillance.
Under a law developed by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control last year, those who edit manuscripts from nations under U.S. trade embargos--which specifies Iran but by implication includes Cuba, Libya, North Korea, and Sudan--could face criminal punishment including fines of up to $500,000 and ten years in prison, unless they have been specifically licensed by the government engage in this activity. The reasoning behind this law is that, although publication of these items isn't itself illegal, editing and enhancing the manuscripts makes them more marketable and could therefore be seen as giving an economic service to the embargoed country.
The law doesn't clearly detail what constitutes "editing," however, or if translating or correcting typographical errors in the manuscripts constitutes enhancing them. The law does specifically forbid rearranging sentences or paragraphs, correcting grammar, and replacing "inappropriate words." Reviewing such manuscripts for the purpose of communicating with the author about additions or changes that should be made is deemed a prohibited service because it constitutes "collaboration." Particularly forbidden is the illustration of such manuscripts; the law specifies that only "camera-ready copies of manuscripts" can be published.
American publishers who want to maintain their integrity will have to either risk prosecution or abide by a law that borders on censorship. According to Jamal Elias, a professor of religious studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts, this Treasury rule may harm America's place in the fields of science and culture. "The U.S.'s reputation as a center of culture and higher education is based to a large degree on the eagerness of talented people from around the world to participate in our society," he told the Advocate. "As we make it more difficult for good graduate students in the sciences to come to our universities ... and foreign scholars to publish in our magazines and journals, they will turn elsewhere."
On February 24, 2004, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced a new counter-terrorism computer system that will allow hundreds of federal, state, and local intelligence and law enforcement agencies to instantaneously share via the Internet investigative leads, threat reports, and potential evidence of terrorism. Designed to aid in the prevention of acts of terrorism, the Homeland Security Information Network gives these authorities increased access to federal intelligence. According to the Washington Post, "the system will flash information from a police officer on the street to Ridge's office to across the country in minutes."
The Joint Regional Information Exchange System (JRIES), headed by Ed Manavian, is the root of this new network. Manavian is the former director of the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC), which collected and distributed information on American protestors. JRIES was founded by CATIC, the New York Police Department's Counter Terrorism Division and the Defense Intelligence Agency's Joint Intelligence Task Force Combating Terrorism.
According to CATIC, protestors can be categorized as terrorists. Last Spring the CATIC system posted information about antiwar protesters gathering in the port of Oakland, California. Police officers arrived at the scene and fired wooden bullets at the participants. Following the event CATIC spokesman Mike Van Winkle said to the Oakland Tribune, "You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that [protest]. You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act."
This summer the Homeland Security Information Network will be fully in place. But with warnings such as those from CATIC, anti-war protestors and all dissenters nationwide are at risk for being accused of terrorism. Van Winkle notes: "I've heard terrorism described as anything that is violent or has an economic impact, and shutting down a port certainly would have some economic impact. Terrorism isn't just bombs going off and killing people."
On March 17, 2004, the head of the Transportation Security Agency announced at a Congressional hearing a plan to have airlines report to the government the travel activities of all Americans who fly.
Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Program said "it is a deeply significant step for the nation's airlines to begin feeding the details of Americans' travel records to the government for CAPPS II." According to the ACLU, CAPPS II, the Computer Assisted Passenger Profiling System, allows the government to run background checks and give a "risk score" to all Americans who fly. Steinhardt added that CAPPS II "is a sign of things to come with a program that is simply incompatible with privacy and fairness for travelers."
The TSA itself has admitted that it doesn't have an infrastructure capable of protecting the privacy of these travelers. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives made a "conservative estimate" that put the cost to businesses at approximately $2 billion in denied boardings and delays.
On April 6 the ACLU filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Seattle claiming that passengers' rights to due process and constitutional protection against unfair searches and seizures are violated by the government's "no-fly list." Among those involved in the lawsuit are a member of the military, a college student, and a retired minister.
According to the ACLU, the program is "secretive, lack[s] due process protections for people who are unfairly tagged, and yet easy for terrorists to circumvent" Steinhardt added that "the costs of this program will be far steeper than proponents are letting on--not only in dollars, but in lost civil liberties."
Information on CAPPS II can be found on the ACLU's website at: www.aclu.org/capps.
Rachel Hundley is the editorial assistant for the American Humanist Association. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|Title Annotation:||Civil Liberties Watch|
|Date:||May 1, 2004|
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