Apr 21 2010

Emptywheel: al-Haramain only on watch list because of illegally tapped conversation

For those of you who don’t know Emptywheel, you should. She’s done a stellar job at piecing together information for the last several years in order to help us understand what the government doesn’t seem so eager to share.

Today she wrote:
Full article

As al-Haramain has made clear from the beginning, what got the organization put on the terrorist list in the first place was probably a conversation in which one of its lawyers mentioned Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law. It’s likely, in other words, that al-Haramain Oregon is only on the terrorist list because of a conversation that was illegally wiretapped.

I mention Bin Laden in calls all the time because I’m covering these issues and it wouldn’t surprise me that an organization like al-Haramain might likely mention Bin Laden, his family members, or any number of people. If a conversation is enough to provoke putting you on a watch list, if you cannot know what got you on a watch list, and if you have to defend yourself from the phantom accusation, then how can anyone operate in this country without fear of government intrusion, misinterpretation, and inappropriate action?

As a result of the recent decision that stated the Bush administration’s wiretapping was illegal, we know that the efforts along the way by al-Haramain were not in vein. But what about current and future programs? Will we be willing to abide by our constitution in passing surveillance law? Are we willing to adhere to the existing laws? Perhaps more important, do we understand how we came to have the 4th Amendment and Habeas review?

We’ll stay tuned to the upcoming Holder hearings and will ask representatives and senators to probe into contemporary use of domestic surveillance and what actions the DOJ will take in response to the recent decision.