Thursday, August 21, 2008

Senators Protest FBI Guidelines

The New York Times reported on a forthcoming plan by the Justice Department to loosen restrictions on the FBI, effectively allowing them to investigate someone without reasonable suspicion. Although details have not yet been released, four Congressional staffers obtained information on the plan during a briefing and four Democratic Senators have already aired concerns about the new plan in a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Senators wrote, “[the plan] might permit an innocent American to be subjected to such intrusive surveillance based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities.” Mukasey said the FBI would still require a legitimate purpose for an investigation, but agreed to hold off on approving the plan until after a Congressional hearing on the matter scheduled for September 17th.

These guidelines come on the heels of a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow Custom and Border agents to randomly search and seize electronic information stored on laptop computers, cameras, cell phones, MP3 players, and other devices without “reasonable suspicion. Triple A has already aired concerns about these searches, and will take similar action on any discriminatory plans that give the FBI carte blanche to investigate US citizens.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

APA Members Protest Torture

Democracy Now! reported on a rally that was held at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association this past week. APA members were protesting the involvement of psychologists in the design of CIA interrogation methods. APA members will be voting on a resolution that would make participation in military interrogations a violation of their code of ethics.

During AAA's 2006 Annual Meeting in San Jose, a resolution was voted on and passed by our membership condemning the use of anthropological knowledge as an element of physical and psychological torture, and to prosecute all individuals who have violated laws prohibiting torture.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Expand Iraqi Resettlement

Although the US has increased the number of visas awarded to Iraqis being threatened for their affiliation with US forces, a group of Iraqi and international NGOs urged the US to resettle 105,000 Iraqi refugees. Given the US' poor resettlement efforts over the past several years, the prospect for a mass resettlement seem dim. Still, the need to assess and address the needs of internally-displaced peoples, refugees in countries neighboring Iraq, and other vulnerable populations is of crucial importance.

Anthropologists working with refugee populations are often familiar with the hardships and obstacles of resettlement and migration. Is there are a way for social scientists to facilitate the resettlement process and alleviate the tense situations that many refugees find themselves in? Comment below...

2009 Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples

Our readers involved in indigenous rights may know someone who can benefit from the 2009 UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples. The fund provides financial assistance for indigenous delegates seeking to attend the 2nd Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 8th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Additional information is available here, and application forms can be found here [.doc].

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Threatened Iraqis to Receive Visas

The U.S. is finally making good on its goal to admit more Iraqi refugees into the States. The NY Times reported that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will issue ten times the number of visas for Iraqis who have received threats for working with the American government. Five thousand Iraqis will be admitted to the US for each of the next five years; a dramatic improvement from the 500 translators allowed to apply to the program in 2007.

As anthropologists are acutely aware, the challenge does not end once refugees arrive in the U.S. Many will have difficulty learning English, finding jobs, supporting their families, and adjusting to a new socio-cultural environment. Mechanisms need to be in place in order to help immigrants make this transition as smooth as possible.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fulbrights Denied Visas... Again

The three remaining Palestinian Fulbright scholars were issued visas following review by US officials. According to the NY Times, these visas were revoked two days after they were issued. The State Department apparently received new information regarding the scholars, and is currently reevaluating their cases. One scholar left Gaza before being informed about his changed status and was denied entry at the airport.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gazan Fulbright Scholars Update

In June, AAA joined Human Rights Watch and the Middle East Studies Association in writing a letter to the Department of State regarding Israel’s refusal to allow students, specifically seven Palestinian Fulbright recipients, in Gaza to travel abroad for further education. Israeli officials carried out security checks on the seven Gazans, but according to the NY Times, only granted four of them travel permits. The remaining three Fulbright scholars were determined to have links to Hamas and denied permits. American consular officials will interview these scholars, and, if they don’t raise any alarms, grant them visas and pressure Israel to allow them to leave. The Fulbright controversy has compelled the Israeli government to let more Gazan students with foreign study grants to leave the region, but more progress still needs to be made.