Two Standards of Detention

Scott Roeder, the anti-abortion zealot
charged with killing Dr. George Tiller, has been busy. He called the
Associated Press from the Sedgwick County Jail in Kansas, saying, "I
know there are many other similar events planned around the country as
long as abortion remains legal." Charged with first-degree murder and
aggravated assault, he is expected to be arraigned July 28. AP recently
reported that Roeder has been proclaiming from his jail cell that the
killing of abortion providers is justified. According to the report,
the Rev. Donald Spitz of the Virginia-based Army of God sent Roeder
seven pamphlets defending "defensive action," or killing of abortion
clinic workers.

Spitz's militant Army of God Web site
calls Roeder an "American hero," proclaiming, "George Tiller would
normally murder between 10 and 30 children ... each day ... when he was
stopped by Scott Roeder."

The site, with biblical quotes
suggesting killing is justified, hosts writings by Paul Hill, who
killed Dr. John Britton and his security escort in Pensacola, Fla., and
by Eric Rudolph, who bombed a Birmingham, Ala., women's health clinic,
killing its part-time security guard.

On Spitz's Web site, Rudolph continues
to write about abortion: "I believe that deadly force is indeed
justified in an attempt to stop it."

Juxtapose Roeder's advocacy from jail with the conditions of Fahad Hashmi.

Hashmi is a U.S. citizen who grew up in
Queens, N.Y., and went to Brooklyn College. He went to graduate school
in Britain and was arrested there in 2006 for allegedly allowing an
acquaintance to stay with him for two weeks. That acquaintance, Junaid
Babar, allegedly kept at Hashmi's apartment a bag containing ponchos
and socks, which Babar later delivered to an al-Qaida operative. Babar
was arrested and agreed to cooperate with the authorities in exchange
for leniency.

While the evidence against Hashmi is secret, it probably stems from the claims of the informant Babar.

Fahad Hashmi was extradited to New
York, where he has been held in pretrial detention for more than two
years. His brother Faisal described the conditions: "He is kept in
solitary confinement for two straight years, 23- to 24-hours lockdown.
... Within his own cell, he's restricted in the movements he's allowed
to do. He's not allowed to talk out loud within his own cell. ... He is
being videotaped and monitored at all times. He can be punished ...
denied family visits, if they say his certain movements are martial
arts ... that they deem as incorrect. He has Special Administrative
Measures (SAMs) ... against him."

Hashmi cannot contact the media, and
even his lawyers have to be extremely cautious when discussing his
case, for fear of imprisonment themselves. His attorney Sean Maher told
me: "This issue of the SAMs ... of keeping people in solitary
confinement when they're presumed innocent, is before the European
Court of Human Rights. They are deciding whether they will prevent any
European country from extraditing anyone to the United States if there
is a possibility that they will be placed under SAMs ... because they
see it as a violation ... to hold someone in solitary confinement with
sensory deprivation, months before trial."

Similarly, animal rights and
environmental activists, prosecuted as "eco-terrorists," have been
shipped to the Federal Bureau of Prisons' new "communication management
units" (CMUs). Andrew Stepanian was recently released and described for
me the CMU as "a prison within the actual prison. ... The unit doesn't
have normal telephone communication to your family ... normal visits
are denied ... you have to make an appointment to make one phone call a
week, and that needs to be done with the oversight of ... a live

Stepanian observed that up to 70
percent of CMU prisoners are Muslim--hence CMU's nickname, "Little
Guantanamo." As with Hashmi, it seems that the U.S. government seeks to
strip terrorism suspects of legal due process and access to the
media--whether in Guantanamo or in the secretive new CMUs. The American
Civil Liberties Union is suing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and
the Bureau of Prisons over the CMUs.

Nonviolent activists like Stepanian,
and Muslims like Hashmi, secretly and dubiously charged, are held in
draconian conditions, while Roeder trumpets from jail the extreme
anti-abortion movement's decades-long campaign of intimidation,
vandalism, arson and murder.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

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