A Brooklyn College Grad Experiences the Constitution in a Cage

Torture in Manhattan for 28-year-old Muslim American Sayed Fahad Hashmi

Last August, Jeanne Theoharis, an associate professor of political science at the City University of New York's Brooklyn College, was instrumental in organizing a "Free Fahad" campaign that enlisted more than 550 prominent academics to sign a petition to the Justice Department protesting the fearsome conditions of Hashmi's confinement and the corollary undermining of his right to a fair trial. Among them were Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Duncan Kennedy of Harvard; Seyla Benhabib at Yale; Eric Foner and Saskia Sassen of Columbia University; and Professor Theoharis's father, Athan Theoharis, of Marquette University (emeritus), from whose work I've learned a lot about the FBI, constitutional law, and the determination to safeguard the latter from the government.

Hashmi was a student of Jeanne Theoharis at Brooklyn College, and as the Chronicle of Higher Education reported in a front-page August 8, 2008, story: "Ms. Theoharis recalls that her student took a keen interest in civil liberties. Mr. Hashmi wrote his final paper for her class on the contradiction between basic American freedoms and the U.S. government's treatment of citizens since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. . . . He also loved a vigorous discussion with his fellow students, sometimes lingering after class to finish a debate.

Mr. Hashmi, in his cell here in New York, is witnessing the disappearance of the basic American freedoms he so enjoyed exercising. To be continued.

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