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Pakistan Link - Sept. 12, 2003

AMV Director Northern California
meets with Congressman Mike Thompson

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Khalid Saeed, Director of American Muslim Voice for Northern California, joined Attorney Natalie Wormeli  and Adrienne Kandel of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Davis and Judy Tischer of the ACLU  Woodland California in a meeting with Congressman Mike Thompson of the First District of California.

Mr. Khalid Saeed  presented the concerns of Muslim American Community on the USA Patriot Act and the proposed Patriot Act II also known as the victory act. He told the congressman that victims of the civil right abuse and the immigration law abuse are afraid to come forward as they fear even further hardships because of that. He stated that the whole Muslim community, which is a very patriotic community, is living under constant fear of the unknown and misinterpretation of any of their act or words.

Attorney Natalie Wormeli talked about some specific cases of people who are going through immigration and civil rights problems because of effects caused by the Patriot Act. She also gave an example of a Sikh student who came from Egypt and was stopped on the airport. His computer and other belonging were confiscated by the authorities and now he is having tough time even to get his computer back. (Picture shows, standing from left: Ms. Judy Tischer ACLU , Mr.   Khalid Saeed , Congressman Thompson, Ms. Adrienne Kandel ACLU. Attorney Natalie Wormeli is seen sitting.)

Ms. Judy Tischer of Yolo County ACLU said that there are some good things in Patriot Act as well which are needed for the security of our nation, but we are very much concerned about several sections which become basis to make a minority a target and become basis for to take away their civil rights.

Ms. Adrienne Kandel, who is with ACLU Davis California and a very active member of her synagogue, was very concerned about the proposed Patriot Act 2. She asked the congressman to make efforts to block the Patriot Act.

Responding to a question the congressman said that frankly he does not see any possibility of discussion in congress or repeal of the act any time soon. He said the only logical time to start the discussion will be in 2006, when the sunset clause is supposed to take effect as that time the government might void the sunset clause and try to make the act as a permanent law. 

Congressman Thompson briefly talked about his pre-war trip to Iraq. Along with Representatives Jim McDermott of Seattle, David Bonior of Michigan, Mike Thompson of California went to Iraq before on a  visit which was organized by “Physicias for Social Responsibility” and “the Interfaith Network of Concern for the People of Iraq”.

Congressman Thompson said: "Before war he went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi officials to help convince them to allow immediate and unfettered access to U.N. weapons inspectors." He said trip was to gain  first hand knowledge about Iraq, to understand  the humanitarian challenges faced by Iraqi citizens who may not be responsible for their leaders' actions. 

Congressman Thompson, a combat veteran who served in the Army’s 173nd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam and was awarded a Purple Heart, said war should always be the last resort and only used when evidence is provided of a direct and imminent threat to our nation or our allies.