9/11 whistleblower warns against new defense spending bill

12/05/11 Josh Holton
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Americans are entitled to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution, but the new defense spending bill that passed by an overwhelming majority in the Senate last week excluded an amendment to prohibit the military from indefinitely detaining US citizens.

Former FBI agent Colleen Rowley is now an anti-war activist, and she spoke about the National Defense Authorization Act to a crowd of Muslim-Americans at a Tampa hotel yesterday.

She said the bill also renews the 2001 authorization to use military force with more expansive language. She said this could continue the so-called War on Terror indefinitely.

While the original authorization to use military force hinged on 9/11 and deterring future terrorist attacks, Rowley said that according to State Department figures the number of terrorism attacks world wide has spiked since 1998, when there were about 160 to 700 attacks per year.

And while prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay have been criticized for inflicting torture upon detainees, she said the defense bill could lead to the creation of even more secretive prisons, where even American citizens could be held captive.

Rowley is best known as a whistleblower who testified before the 9/11 Commission. She claimed the FBI mishandled information related to Al-Qaeda supporter Zacarias Moussaoui, which she says could have prevented the terrorist attacks. She said that secrecy among governmental agencies is a big problem.

Rowley’s testimony led to a major reorganization of the FBI, which she said is one of many federal agencies to lack proper communication. She said that while there are more than 1,200 “alphabet soup” federal agencies like the CIA and the FBI, there are also some 1,900 private contractors. And although she was able to affect change on the governmental level, she said she would also like to see more accountability from the private sector.

In 2002 Rowley jointly held the “TIME Person of the Year” award, for her work as an FBI whistleblower. She now spends most of her time as a board member for the Women Against Military Madness. Rowley called on the audience to pressure President Obama to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, which she feels would infringe upon the rights of not just Muslims, but all American citizens.

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