Clear and Present Danger

Anti-Terrorism Law and Mumia Abu-Jamal

"The 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act and the accompanying Immigration Reform Act," said Bright, "did virtually nothing to combat terrorism; instead they limited the power of the courts to review criminal and immigration cases and cut back drastically on the constitutional protections available to those convicted of crimes or subject to the immigration laws. I think the same thing has happened this time."

The broader implications of the bill were an obvious factor in the process of its passage. When the law passed, Congressman Robert Scott stated, "Had it been limited to terrorism, this bill could have passed three or four weeks ago without much discussion." But some were excited about the broader powers in the law. "This bill can be an effective tool against terrorism and against drug trafficking, and against organized crime," said Senator Paul Sarbanes.

Thus the door is opened by putting what Senator Orrin Hatch called "hybrid tools" at the disposal of our law enforcement agencies and judges to create hybrid problems, as when Judge Yohn used them on July 19 and Judge Dembe on November 21 in Abu-Jamal's case. Just as effortlessly as the applications were made in the Abu-Jamal case, so too they will be for countless others.

Related Story:
"Death Sentence Overturned, but Danger Still Clear and Present" by Dasun Allah

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