Habeas Schmorpus

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Worth looking at: this site dedicated to Mike Hawash, a U.S. citizen and employee of the Intel Corp., who has been arrested and detained in federal prison without any charge–and with all warrants and subpoenas secret–since March 20.

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  1. Here’s my reflexive, anti-American reaction: Is there some kinda secret deal wherein Bush takes Americans’ freedoms and exports them to Iraq? I didn’t realize this was a zero-sum game.

  2. If we paid cash for all that oil, then certain people wouldn’t make as much money.

  3. I’m planning to duct-tape my eyeballs to make sure I’m never a “material witness” to anything. At least the people who actually commit crimes get rights.

  4. Grant Gould,

    Brilliant! One of the funniest bits of sarcasm I’ve heard in a while.

  5. Something a bit fishy here… The court decision (pdf on the linked page) states that Mr. Hawash agreed to the detention. Could it be that he’s afraid of being set free? But if so, isn’t that what protective custody is for? Any lawyers in the audience?

  6. First they came for the drug lords. And I did nothing because any South America with more money than me must be guilty.

    Then they came for the terrorists. And I did nothing because I never did trust those olive-skinned rag-headed heretics.

    Now I am safe from… Hang on a second, someone’s at the door…

  7. Material witness warrants are generally used at the investigative, i.e. grand jury phase of a federal criminal investigation. Occasionally, they are used to secure witness testimony at trial. They are used to hold over key witnesses, who were knee-deep in the suspected crime, who are also thought to be a flight risk. A good example of where they might have been used appropriately followed the 9/11 attacks, when the Saudi embassy took it upon itself to spirit lots of bin Laden family members and associates out of the U.S. before federal agents could speak with them. Thanks, our friends the Saudis!

    If it makes you feel better, you could change the name “material witness” to “unindicted co-conspirator” and you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Material witness warrants are regularly used in cases where the material witness travels a lot and would have opportunity to flee the jurisdiction before testifying before the grand jury. Some times, convening the grand jury takes a number of weeks. The US Attorney has to secure grand jury time (usually not a problem) and in national security cases, there may be a problem with classified information; Grand Jury members may require clearances before classified, sensitive information can be revealed to them.

    From what I can gather from a quick google search, Mr. Hawash – if he’s the same guy who pops up on google – did quite a bit of international IT business. If I was running an investigation and that fact surfaced, and I thought he had important information, I’d seriously consider putting Mr. Hawash under a material witness warrant.

    I know that Hawash is quickly becoming the “Free Mumia” of the blogosphere, but it’s a little soon to jump to the conclusion that he’s being held for no reason whatsoever. Federal agents and attorneys are personally and professionally liable under the Bivens line of cases if they improperly arrest or imprison someone, or otherwise violate their constitutional rights. This makes them reluctant to just throw somebody in jail for no reason. Assuming that Mr. Hawash is the victim of some brutal form of police state tyranny is being just a wee bit hasty. It’s good that we are all talking about it – public interest is a good form of oversight – but I wouldn’t call Ramsey Clark or summon the ghost of Bill Kunstler just yet.

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