From the LA 8 to Guantanamo with Jules Lobel, Marc Van Der Hout and Michel Shehadeh

November 28, 2007

How the "war on terror" has diminished human rights and actually made us more susceptible to future terrorist attacks.

Wednesday, November 28
Women's Building, 3543 18th Street, San Francisco
Audre Lorde Room
6:30 p.m. Reception
7 p.m. Presentation
co-sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Rights

Jules Lobel: professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Vice President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and author of Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is losing the War on Terrorism.
Marc Van Der Hout: former national president of the National Lawyers Guild and attorney for the LA8.
Michel Shehadeh: Palestinian activist and one of the LA8

Michel Shehadeh was a member of a group of Palestinian student activists arrested in 1987 in Los Angeles. A 20-year effort to deport him and another man, Khader Hamide, ended last month when the nation's highest administrative body overseeing immigration cases dismissed all charges against them.

The case against the pair began in January 1987, when the government arrested them and six others who became known as the LA 8, placed them in maximum security prison, and accused them of having ties to a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The government alleged that Hamide and Shehadeh distributed newspapers, held demonstrations and organized humanitarian aid fundraisers for Palestinians, and that because these actions supported the PLO faction, they should be deported for providing material support to a terrorist organization. The case went before the US Court of Appeals four times, the Supreme Court once, and the Board of Immigration Appeals multiple times. The BIA dismissed the case at the request of the government, which agreed in a settlement to drop all charges and not to seek removal of either of the men in the future based on any of the political activities or associations at issue in the case.

Marc Van Der Hout is the founding partner of the San Francisco immigration law firm of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano and Nightingale and has been representing the LA 8 since the case began. When the charges were finally dismissed Van Der Hout commented "This is a monumental victory for all immigrants who want to be able to express their political views and support the lawful activities of organizations in their home countries fighting for social or political change ... The government's attempt to deport them all these years marks another shameful period in our government's history of targeting certain groups of immigrants for their political beliefs and activities."

The 20-year time period that the federal government has gone after the LA8 connects the Cold War with the "War on Terror." The Communist label has now been replaced with the terrorist one. The end of the LA8 case is a great victory but a rare one in a time of dwindling civil liberties for Americans and far worse for non-citizens around the world who find themselves a target of American anti-terror policies. In his new book, co-authored with David Cole, Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is Losing the War on Terror, Jules Lobel argues that the U.S. government has cast far too broad a net and that the government's policies are making us less, not more, safe.

In this brilliantly conceived critique, two of the country's preeminent constitutional scholars argue that the great irony is that these sacrifices in the rule of law, adopted in the name of prevention, have in fact made us more susceptible to future terrorist attacks. They conclusively debunk the administration's claim that it is winning the war on terror and offer an alternative strategy in which the rule of law is an asset, not an obstacle, in the struggle to keep us both safe and free.

Join the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights for this event with Jules, Marc and Michel and discover more about why and how our human rights and our safety are both dwindling.