CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, August 4, 2008


Press Release

August 4, 2008


Janet LeMonnier    973-642-8724 (office) – 973-985-3165 (cell)

Mark Denbeaux     201-214-6785 (cell)
Joshua Denbeaux
  201-664-8855 (office) – 201-970-6534 (cell)

Decision Based on Nationality, Not Level of Danger: Detainees with Strongest Ties to Al-Qaeda and Taliban Released as Quickly as Those with Weakest Connections

Newark, NJ —Today Seton Hall Law delivered a report to the Senate Judiciary Committee that reveals the U.S.government decided to release detainees at GuantánamoBayaccording to their nationality rather than to the strength of their ties to terrorist groups or to the presumed threat they presented to Americans here and abroad.

In his written testimony to the Committee, Professor Mark P. Denbeaux, director of Seton Hall Law’s Center for Policy and Research stated, “…the Center sought to determine how evidence gathered against any given detainee influenced the decision whether to release him. Center researchers expected to find that the detainees who presented the greatest threat would have been released last, or would still be held at Guantánamo. 

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August 4, 2008 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bilbray: Suspect's release in Mexico 'a huge blunder'


LOS ANGELES — A Republican congressman is accusing the Bush administration of failing to own up to "a huge blunder" that led to the release in Mexico of a man wanted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Rep. Brian Bilbray, who represents an area of San Diego near the border of Mexico, said this week that he will continue to press the Justice Department for answers it has refused to provide him about the apparent failure to seek timely extradition of Jesus Navarro Montes last month.

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July 27, 2008 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Former Assistant AG Winds Up on Feds' Terror Watch List

The Justice Department's former top criminal prosecutor says the U.S. government's terror watch list likely has caused thousands of innocent Americans to be questioned, searched or otherwise hassled.

Former Assistant Attorney General Jim Robinson would know: he is one of them.

Robinson joined another mistaken-identity American and the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday to urge fixing the list that's supposed to identify suspected terrorists.

"It's a pain in the neck, and significantly interferes with my travel arrangements," said Robinson, the head of the Justice Department's criminal division during the Clinton administration. He believes his name matches that of someone who was put on the list in early 2005, and is routinely delayed while flying -- despite having his own government top-secret security clearances renewed last year.

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July 15, 2008 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Candidates' views differ on detainee policy

51954mccainnobama_embedded_prod_aff For months now, John McCain and Barack Obama have peppered their campaign speeches with pledges to close the Guantánamo Bay prison camps.

Both have cast the detention center as harmful to U.S. foreign policy and a source of international alienation. Both say they would move the terrorism suspects to U.S. soil.

But delve a little deeper, and that's where the harmony ends.

An analysis of McCain campaign statements and policy proposals shows that the Vietnam-era prisoner of war would seek to beef up the Bush administration's detainee doctrine.

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July 13, 2008 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Terror watch uses local eyes Privacy advocates worry that officers' snooping will entangle innocent people

20080627__20080629_a06_cd29cctlospi Hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and even utility workers have been trained and recently dispatched as "Terrorism Liaison Officers" in Colorado and a handful of other states to hunt for "suspicious activity" — and are reporting their findings into secret government databases.

It's a tactic intended to feed better data into terrorism early-warning systems and uncover intelligence that could help fight anti-U.S. forces. But the vague nature of the TLOs' mission, and their focus on reporting both legal and illegal activity, has generated objections from privacy advocates and civil libertarians.

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July 3, 2008 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 6, 2008

4th Circuit Orders New Sentencing for Convicted al-Qaida Member A federal appeals court upheld the conviction Friday of a Virginia man convicted of joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate President Bush, but said that he must be resentenced.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a 30-year prison term and ordered a new sentencing hearing for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali. Prosecutors had argued that the judge improperly deviated from federal sentencing guidelines that called for life in prison.

The ruling is a major victory for prosecutors in one of their most high-profile terrorism cases.

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June 6, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, Trials | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Government Pushes Criminal Prosecution of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers

N.Y. Times: Waterloo, Iowa —  In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 270 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents.

The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush administration’s crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

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May 24, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Homeland Security, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New FISA Provides Greater Protections for Americans

From   A standoff in the Senate over expanding the government's eavesdropping powers has finally come to a conclusion. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama left the campaign trail to join in a series of votes to amend the wiretapping bill backed by the White House. The Senate then passed the legislation 68-29.

The Senate's version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides greater protections for Americans targeted for surveillance. It also gives legal immunity to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

The bill must be reconciled with the House bill, which contains no immunity. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 12, 2008 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New FISA Provides Greater Protections for Americans

From   A standoff in the Senate over expanding the government's eavesdropping powers has finally come to a conclusion. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama left the campaign trail to join in a series of votes to amend the wiretapping bill backed by the White House. The Senate then passed the legislation 68-29.

The Senate's version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides greater protections for Americans targeted for surveillance. It also gives legal immunity to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

The bill must be reconciled with the House bill, which contains no immunity. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 12, 2008 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 29, 2007

NY Gov. Spitzer Flips in Plan and Now Supports the Scarlet Letter for Illegal Immigrants

From Eliot Spitzer’s retreat from his plan to permit illegal immigrants to obtain the same kind of driver’s licenses as other New Yorkers drew angry reactions yesterday from civil liberties advocates and immigrant groups, some of whom described the shift as a stunning betrayal.

The governor has been under fierce assault from conservative groups and others since proposing last month to allow illegal immigrants to get New York driver’s licenses. But joined by the federal secretary of homeland security, Micheal Chertoff, in Washington yesterday, the governor announced a starkly different version of his plan.

It calls for separate tiers of licenses. New Yorkers who could provide stringent proof of legal residency could get the new federally recognized license known as Real ID. The licenses available to illegal residents would not serve as federal identification.

“What a huge political flip,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. 

“He’s now embracing and letting his good name be used to promote something that has been widely known in the immigrant community as one of the most anti-immigrant pieces of legislation to come out of Congress,” Ms. Hong said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 29, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Military Prosecutor Shares Moral Dilemma With Law Students

0401stuartcouch_2 Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, who refused to prosecute a high-profile terrorism case because he believed the defendant's interrogation included torture, visited with Elon University School of Law students.

Couch served as a prosecutor on military commissions formed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Assigned to prosecute a top al Qaeda operative, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Couch soon had misgivings about the case.

"It became obvious to me that he was being tortured," said Couch, who began to look into the methods being used to interrogate Slahi. That revelation, combined with his religious faith and belief in "the human dignity of every person," prompted Couch to make a decision that threatened to jeopardize this career. "I just decided that I couldn't go into court, face a jury with a straight face and prosecute the case."

The case didn't end Couch's career, and he has been featured in numerous media reports, including a Wall Street Journal story on his courageous decision. He serves as a judge on the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, and will receive the Minister of Justice award from the American Bar Association Nov. 2, the first military prosecutor to receive the honor. [Mark Godsey]


October 24, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

New Wiretapping Bill May Require the Justice Dept to Reveal Surveillance

From The Justice Department would have to reveal to Congress the details of all electronic surveillance conducted without court orders since Sept. 11, 2001, including the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program, if a new Democratic wiretapping bill is approved.

The draft bill, scheduled to be introduced to Congress Tuesday, would also require the Justice Department to maintain a database of all Americans subjected to government eavesdropping without a court order, including whether their names have been revealed to other government agencies.

The Bush administration has refused to share that information with Congress so far.

The Terrorist Surveillance Program was a secret eavesdropping program undertaken after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks without the approval of an intelligence court created 30 years ago to monitor such programs.

The Democratic legislation is certain to draw sharp objections and possibly a veto threat because it lacks at least one feature the White House demands: it does not grant retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with government surveillance between 2001 and 2007 without the court orders. Around 40 lawsuits name telecommunications companies for alleged violations of wiretapping laws, according to administration officials. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 9, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man's Story May be a Snapshot of War on Terror

From A man is walking alone along a mountain path in the darkness. He is carrying a suitcase. He seems frightened, tired and confused. He has long hair and a long beard, but they are untidy, as if he did not grow them voluntarily. He turns a bend and meets three men carrying Kalashnikovs.

The man shows them his passport. It indicates that he is a German citizen, born in Lebanon, called Khaled el-Masri. Using poor English, he tells them that he does not know where he is. They tell him that he is on the Albanian border, close to Serbia and Macedonia, and that he is there illegally since he doesn't have an Albanian stamp in his passport.

The story that el-Masri tells them by way of explanation, on this evening in late May 2004, is extraordinary: a story of how an unemployed German car salesman from the town of Ulm went on a New Year's holiday to Macedonia, was seized by Macedonian police at the border, held incommunicado for weeks without charge, then beaten, stripped, shackled and blindfolded and flown to a jail in Afghanistan, run by Afghans but controlled by Americans. Five months after first being seized, he says, still with no explanation or charge, he was flown back to Europe and dumped in an unknown country which turned out to be Albania.

What really happened? With no way to prove his story, el-Masri's account remains in the balance, a terrifying snapshot of America's "war on terror". It is certain that he returned home to Ulm from Albania in May 2004, and that he was taken off a bus from Germany at the Macedonian border on New Year's Eve 2003. The only person who has offered a clear explanation for what happened in the five months in between is el-Masri himself. Yet that may change.

The German authorities are now taking his allegations very seriously. They are subjecting a sample from el-Masri's hair to radioisotope analysis, which can reveal, down to a particular country, the source of a person's food and drink over a period of time. Discussions are also under way about bringing to Germany two men whom el-Masri has identified as being with him in the Afghan prison, and who were also subsequently released. The fact that the German authorities do regard Ulm as an area of potentially dangerous radical Islamic activity - a number of premises were raided and alleged Islamic activists were arrested on Wednesday - only emphasises the concern that Germany has over the el-Masri case.

So far the US authorities have neither confirmed nor denied el-Masri's story, although German investigators first requested information about the case in autumn. The FBI office in the US embassy in Berlin did not return calls yesterday. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 9, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

President Bush Once Again Discusses Interrogation Tactic

From President Bush on Friday defended the CIA's harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, saying its methods do not constitute torture and are necessary to protect America from attack.

But Bush's declaration that the United States "does not torture people" did little to dampen the fallout from fresh evidence that his administration has used secret legal memos to sanction tactics that stretch, if not circumvent, the law.

The president's comments came amid disclosures this week of classified opinions issued by the Justice Department in 2005 that endorsed the legality of an array of interrogation tactics, ranging from sleep deprivation to simulated drowning.

Bush's decision to comment again on what once was among the most highly classified U.S. intelligence programs underscores the political peril surrounding the issue for the White House, which has had to retreat from earlier, aggressive assertions of executive power.

October 6, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

White House Secrecy on Wiretaps Described

From No more than four Justice Department officials had access to details of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program when the department deemed portions of it illegal, following a pattern of poor consultation that helped create a "legal mess," a former Justice official told Congress yesterday.

Jack L. Goldsmith, former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the White House so tightly restricted access to the National Security Agency's program that even the attorney general and the NSA's general counsel were partly in the dark.

Rest of Article. . . . [Mark Godsey]

October 4, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Senate May Vote to Restore Habeas Right to Non-Citizen Enemy Combatant

From Congress revoked the right to habeas corpus for non-citizen enemy combatants last year. If reinstated, it would affect the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, some of whom have been held without charge for up to five years. Dahlia Lithwick, legal analyst with the online magazine Slate talks to Madeleine Brand about the Senate's possible vote to restore the detainees' right. Listen. . .

[Mark Godsey]

September 17, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

LAPD Gets $3 Million to "Fight Terrorism"

From As part of an anti-terrorism effort, the Los Angeles Police Department is now equipping a helicopter and officers on the ground with devices capable of detecting potential radiological weapons or materials used in so-called dirty bombs.

Police Chief William J. Bratton said a new suitcase-sized device for one of the LAPD's helicopters can detect "radiation signatures" from up to 800 feet above ground. In addition, the LAPD bought six hand-held units that officers on the ground can use.

"Terrorism is all about getting them before they get us," the chief said.

The devices are among several items the city acquired with $3 million in Homeland Security funds that will enable the LAPD to better respond to a terrorist attack or natural disaster, Bratton said.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 11, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Federal Judge Strikes Calls Portion of Patriot Act Unconstitutional

From A federal judge struck down controversial portions of the USA Patriot Act in a ruling that declared them unconstitutional yesterday, ordering the FBI to stop its wide use of a warrantless tactic for obtaining e-mail and telephone data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York said the FBI's use of secret "national security letters" to demand such data violates the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers, because the FBI can impose indefinite gag orders on the companies and the courts have little opportunity to review the letters. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 10, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Largest Criminal Case From Iraqi War

From The leader of a Marine squad charged with killing 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha faces a military hearing at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Sgt. Frank Wuterich is charged with 18 counts of unpremeditated murder in what's been called the largest criminal case to emerge from the war in Iraq. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 5, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Abu Ghraib Officer's Sentence: Formal Reprimand

From  Military jury announced that an Army officer who was convicted of a lesser charge and acquitted of all others Tuesday in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal would receive a formal reprimand as his sentence.

The officer, Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, was acquitted of charges that he failed to properly train and supervise enlisted soldiers involved in detainee interrogations in 2003 at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where prisoners were subjected to brutal treatment. He was found guilty of only one lesser offense, that of disobeying an order to refrain from discussing the case. The maximum punishment for that offense was five years in prison.

Colonel Jordan, 51, was the only officer to stand trial on charges related to the detainee-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, which led to prolonged investigations and charges against several soldiers. He was tried at Fort Meade, Md., by a jury of nine Army colonels and a brigadier general.

Colonel Jordan’s acquittal on most charges means that no officers have been found criminally responsible for the abuses at the prison. Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the military intelligence officer who ran Abu Ghraib, was punished administratively by senior Army commanders for improperly allowing military dogs to be used during interrogations to frighten detainees. Janis L. Karpinski, the brigadier general who was the military police commander at Abu Ghraib, was reprimanded and demoted.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 29, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)