Federal agents from the FBI and CIA/FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force tried to get a distinguished international lawyer to inform on his Arab and Muslim clients in violation of their Constitutional rights to attorney-client privilege, this reporter has learned. When the lawyer refused, he said the FBI placed him on a “terrorist watch list.”
Law professor Francis Boyle gave a chilling account of how, in the summer of 2004, two agents showed up at his office (at the University of Illinois, Champaign,) “unannounced, misrepresented who they were and what they were about to my secretary, gained access to my office, interrogated me for about one hour, and repeatedly tried to get me to become their informant on my Arab and Muslim clients.”
“This would have violated their (clients) Constitutional rights and my ethical obligations as an Attorney,” Boyle explained. “I refused. So they put me on all of the United States government’s ‘terrorist watch’ lists.”
Boyle said his own lawyer found “there are about five or six different terrorist watch lists, and as far as he could determine, I am on all of them.” Despite a legal appeal to get his name removed, Boyle said, “I will remain on all of these terrorist watch lists for the rest of my life or until the two Agencies who put me on there remove my name, which is highly unlikely.”
“Whatever people might think about lawyers, we are the canary-birds of democracy. When the government goes after your lawyer soon they will be going after you,” Boyle warned. “Indeed,” he added, “the government goes after your lawyer in order to get to you, which is what happened to me. This is what the so-called ‘war against terrorism’ is really all about. It is a war against the United States Constitution.”
Boyle is a leading American professor and practitioner of international law. He holds doctorates in both law (cum laude) and Political Science from Harvard and has more than two decades of experience representing pacifist anti-war resisters, suspects in the so-called “War on Terror” and foreign governments such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is the author of numerous books, including “Protesting Power,” (Rowman & Littlefield), “Biowarfare and Terrorism,”(Clarity) and “Destroying World Order”(Clarity).
Writing of the attorney-client privilege, the American Bar Association has defined it as “the right of clients to refuse to disclose confidential communications with their lawyers, or to allow their lawyers to disclose them.” It further states the privilege “is viewed as fundamental to preserve the constitutionally based right to effective assistance of legal counsel, in that lawyers cannot function effectively on behalf of their clients without the ability communicate with them in confidence.”
The attempt by the government to destroy the Constitutional right of privileged communication between lawyer and client began in earnest after 9/11 when the Justice Department initiated a wave of such illegal actions. According to an article in Criminal Justice Magazine, Summer, 2002, “Immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a controversial order that permits the government to monitor all communications between a client and an attorney when there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ to ‘believe that a particular inmate may use communications with attorneys or their agents to further or facilitate acts of violence or terrorism.” That order “raises a wide range of constitutional concerns under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments,” authors Paul Rice and Benjamin Saul wrote.
As if to mock the very concept of attorney-client privilege, military interrogators at Guantanamo prison posed as “lawyers” to trick illegally held suspects into providing them with information, according to a report in The Catholic Worker newspaper.
And Newsday, the Long Island, N.Y., daily, reported a wholesale invasion of lawyer-client privilege, as when lawyers at Guantanamo are forced to turn over their interview notes to guards, who send them on to the Pentagon facility in Virginia that is the only place lawyers can go to write their motions and where the Pentagon attempts to edit out detainees’ claims of mistreatment from the public record. What’s more, Newsday reported, “The military has set up a system that delays legal correspondence (between lawyers and prisoners) for weeks,” adding that “Detainees have alleged that interrogators have tried to turn them against their lawyers.”
According to Newsday, guards and interrogators peruse prisoners’ private legal papers and warn them that prisoners who have lawyers will wait longer to get out! Tom Wilner, a lawyer for 12 Kuwaiti detainees, said an interrogator asked one of his clients, “Did you know your lawyers are Jews?”
The U.S. government is “not only trying to deny counsel to the prisoners, but is actively trying to remove Guantanamo from any scrutiny, legal or otherwise” as well as “marginalizing the lawyers representing the prisoners,” The Catholic Worker said.
Placing attorney Boyle on the Terrorist Watch List is a form of punishment that is being ever more widely applied. According to “USA Today” the list grew from 288,000 names in 2005 to 1-million in March, 2009, according to an article of March 10th of that year. “People put on the watch list… can be blocked from flying, stopped at borders or subjected to other scrutiny,” reporter Peter Eisler wrote.
The attorney-client privilege is the oldest such privilege enshrined in Anglo-Saxon law and was commonly respected even under the British crown during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. That it is being flouted by the U.S. government today when a constitutional lawyer occupies the White House represents an incredible stain on what remains of the fabric of American democracy.
Sherwood Ross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“When it comes to the rights of Palestinians in Israel, there is no difference between opposition and coalition.” The AIC interviews MK Hanin Zoabi, who is concerned that racism has become part of Israeli national consensus, and everything outside of this must now be criminalized.
Since she was sanctioned for her participation in the first Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi (National Democratic Assembly) spends most days inside her office in the Knesset. Her desk is overflowing with papers, the small coffee table on the side is occupied with used tea mugs and some treats; in one corner, facing her desk, a television is broadcasting live the debate on the Knesset floor.
As of Monday 18 July, MK Zoabi is unable to participate in Knesset general debates or even speak in parliamentary committees until the end of this year’s parliamentary sessions, at the end of July. “I can just vote”, explains the Palestinian politician, with a half smile of open resignation. Throughout the entire interview with the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Zoabi will not take her eyes off the screen for more than a minute; she doesn’t want to miss the chance to exercise her last remaining right as a democratic elected MK: expressing her minority vote.
– Do you think you can still promote change from within the Knesset?
Promote change…mmmm, yeah! (She laughs). Definitely. The event of the Flotilla proved how crucial our presence in the Knesset is. It is ironic. The fact that they restrict our movements and incite against us indicates that we are really challenging their policies. Because if you don’t challenge their policies, if you don’t make a difference, if our existence as the National Democratic Assembly was insignificant to them, they could simply marginalise us, let us do whatever we want. The fact that they are so racist against us, the fact that they are doing everything in order to incite against, is proof that we are bothering them; we are not making their life easy.
Zoabi refuses to yield to pessimism. It’s been more than a year since she gained global fame with her participation in the Freedom Flotilla on board the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship on which nine activists died and dozens were injured after it was attacked by an elite Israeli naval force. Since then Zoabi has become accustomed to the insults and aggressive comebacks of her fellow MKs, both from the right and the centre. As she said, “when it comes to the rights of Palestinians in Israel, there is no difference between opposition and coalition”. “When I could still participate in Knesset committees, every time I used to speak, someone would say ‘yeah, you are in the Flotilla so go to the Flotilla and go to Gaza’. I talked about kindergartens and about children and they would say ‘you can go to Gaza’. I spoke of the confiscation of lands and they would say ‘it is better to go to Gaza’, she recalled, laughing carelessly.
A month after the first Flotilla was attacked and their passengers detained and deported, MK Zoabi received the first sanction from her colleagues. She was stripped of three of her parliamentary privileges: her diplomatic passport, funds for any legal counseling and the right to visit countries with which Israel doesn’t have diplomatic relations. “It’s just hatred,” Zoabi explained. In this Knesset irrational racism exists. Maybe in the previous Knesset there was a more rational racism, a more sophisticated racism; but now it’s very basic, very direct”.
This “irrational racism” is part of the new ruling consensus in Israel, Zoabi continues. “A lot of people now think that Jewish values are more important than democratic values. This obsession with judaising everything…the children in schools have no idea what democracy means, or equality. When you obsessively teach them Zionist values, they will grow up with the conclusion that there are no Palestinians citizens here. It’s a psychological ethnic cleansing. They teach them to recognize the Palestinian as an enemy, but not to recognize him in daily life, as a citizen, as a partner in this home land,” warns Zoabi, losing her relaxed manner for a moment.
For Zoabi, the sole Palestinian woman in the Knesset, the main difference between the current government and the previous ones is not racism (“Israel has been a Jewish state since 1948, that is not something new””, but the criminalisation of everything outside of this consensus. The recently approved anti-boycott law is proof of that. “The settlements are part of Israel and that is not negotiable. This way of thinking is delegitimising politics as such, because now everything is part of a consensus and whatever is outside this consensus is criminalised. This is the dramatic effect of this government”, Zoabi asserts, before turning her eyes for a last time to the TV. The last speech is about to finish; she can finally take her seat on the floor of the Knesset and vote against the creation of an investigative committee on the funding sources of Israeli human rights organizations.
OSLO — The European network to support the Palestinian prisoners (Ufree) has condemned Israel’s continued detention of the 17-year-old daughter of the mayor of Al-Beira near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The statement comes as the Israeli military prosecutor has placed new charges against her and signs of torture inside the prison have surfaced on her person.
The girl Bushra al-Tawil has been in Israeli custody for 25 days so far. She was abducted in a raid on her family’s home.
Ufree said that Israel was deliberately complicating releasing Tawil in a bid to bargain over her or use her to extort her father Mayor Jamal al-Tawil in a political game.
Israeli occupation forces had arrested Jamal al-Tawil as well as his wife on several occasions.
The Israeli Ofer military court ruled Thursday for the release of Tawil as no condemning evidence had been presented against her. But the military prosecutor quickly intervened and introduced an entirely new indictment against her. It also ordered that she be kept in detention and appear before another judge.
Ufree said that by keeping her detained after she was ruled a free girl; the Ofer court gave the prosecutor a fresh chance to present a new indictment against her, as the initial indictment had not been backed by evidence.
Since imprisoned, Tawil has experienced extreme physical pain, Ufree said quoting sources from her family. She was also tied up in awkward positions during the investigation process. Her family said that she appeared to have been suffering from fatigue and health problems when they last saw her bound in the courthouse.
Ufree said it will begin contacting international rights groups in an effort to unify efforts being made to support Tawil. It is also planning on preparing a document on Tawil to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.