If the daunting powers given to federal agents by the USA Patriot Act seem like an abstract fear, they have become a bizarre and unanswered nightmare for Mike Hawash, an Arab-American who's been a U.S. citizen for the past 14 years. As Hawash arrived at work at Intel on March 20, he was arrested as a "material witness" by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. At the same time, FBI agents armed with rifles and wearing bulletproof vests stormed his apartment in Hillsboro, where his wife and three children were still sleeping.
No charges have been filed, but on Monday about 200 friends and families gathered around the federal courthouse in Portland, where they were greeted by armed guards. There was a rumor that Hawash was being arraigned. (There was no record of the arraignment, but the court clerk also pointed out that secret tribunal hearings would not appear on the docket.)
According to the FBI, Hawash is being held in solitary confinement in Sheridan Federal Prison. But spokespeople refuse to provide any further information. Friends and family claim they are baffled.
Even Senator Ron Wyden lobbied federal agents for information, but was told that the soonest any further details would be available would be May. Both the ACLU and American Bar Association have protested that the detention violates basic civil liberties and due process protections. For more information or to donate to Hawash's legal fund, go to freemikehawash.org. PB
Thursday, Bill of Rights Defense Committee: A group trying to convince city council to pass an anti-USA Patriot Act/pro-civil liberties resolution, Red & Black Café, 2138 SE Division, 7:30 pm
Friday, Critical Mass: The bike rally leaves from NW Park and Couch, 6 pm
Saturday, Alliance for Peace and Justice Antiwar Rally: Waterfront Park, 3:30 pm
Saturday, upset about the war abroad and the simultaneous war on civil liberties at home, protesters are gathering at the Central Library to demonstrate against the USA Patriot Act and the FBI's policy of monitoring "library activity." Ursula Le Guin will speak. 1 pm, SW Park and Salmon
Locked up or arrested? Contact the "jail support team" at 286-2477, or the helpful attorneys at Belmont Law offices, 234-2694.