Big brother moves in

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2003

The Empire has taken the misguided editorial position that the USA Patriot Act should not be a community-wide concern in Juneau. The paper quoted with approval the sentiment that giving the government the power to violate civil liberties is OK because the government, in its benevolence, won't really use those powers I would like to submit (with her permission) the following e-mail which I received from a colleague of mine, Elizabeth Barker Brandt, a professor at the University of Idaho College of Law in Moscow, Idaho. Anyone who thinks it won't happen in Juneau, or that the government won't actually use the draconian powers they have been given in the USA Patriot Act, is deluded. Here is Liz's account:

"Well, yesterday was an exciting day in my small town. The FBI flew in 120 agents, fully armed in riot gear, on two C-17 military aircraft (I think - they were big planes) to Moscow, Idaho (population 17,000 +/-) to arrest one Saudi graduate student for visa fraud. The raid went down in University of Idaho student housing at 4:30 in the morning, terrorizing not only the suspect's family (he lived in student housing with his wife and three elementary school age children) but also the families of neighboring students who were awakened by the shouting and lights and were required to remain in their homes until after 8:30 a.m.

"At least 20 other students who had the misfortune to either know the suspect or to have some minor immigration irregularities were also subjected to substantial, surprise interrogations (4-plus hours) although none were detained or arrested yesterday. Now, however, a witch-hunt for additional unnamed suspects who supposedly helped the guy who was arrested is on.

"The INS and FBI are working together using Gestapo tactics to question the students - threatening their immigration status (and hence their education) if they don't answer questions which are really aimed at the criminal investigation. They have also threatened their partners and spouses with perjury charges if they don't talk.

"I spent yesterday working with our immigration clinic director and local criminal defense attorneys to organize legal representation for the students who are being swept into the hunt for co-conspirators. We have reached out to our entire area (40 -mile radius) to find enough attorneys. Now I'm working on getting resources and support to them. The Saudi government is providing financial support.

"Reading about this stuff is one thing. Having it in your backyard is another. The international students at the University of Idaho are terrorized and scared."

Paul H. Grant


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