The Dr. Bhatti Travesty

Scary that the same Patriot Act of George Bush in still in force in 2015 under Obama.

Dr. Tajummal H. Bhatti is a retired 65-year-old psychiatrist from Marion, Virginia. What happens when your "neighbors" don't like your looks, religion, or ethnic origins and you look "suspicious?" Then they convince your apartment building manager to break into you private domain and they all go looking through your private stuff and don't like what they see?

Then they call the FBI and you are placed in a maximum security jail with no charges, etc. for six days! Angry the travesty became public a federal judge tries to make an example of a local newspaper reporter with threats of jail and fines? This isn't China or Cuba, it's Southwest Virginia! In the end the judge relented but this is still scary, police-state tactics.

He is a retired doctor from Marion and was arrested by the Feds as material witness for "the development of weapons of mass destruction." Dr. Tajummal H. Bhatti is 65, is from a Pakistan, and has no record. His hobbies that involve computers and electronics, just like mine. He was detained for six days.

ACLU spokeswoman Rebecca Glenberg said the secrecy surrounding Bhatti's arrest and hearing was troubling. "One of the most disturbing problems here is that because the warrant is under seal and all the proceedings in this case are secret, we really have no way of knowing whether Mr. Bhatti's constitutional rights are being respected and if there was cause to arrest and detain him. He was released later on (June 27, 2002), reporter (Herald Courier) Chris Dumond was threatened with contempt charges for the story getting out if he did reveal his source, he refused, the Herald Courier backed him up.

A citizen speaks out:

Given the choice between having my rights protected by John Ashcroft or protected by reporters such as Chris Dumond, I'll go with Dumond. Remember, it was Ashcroft who proposed the TIPS scheme whereby neighbors are encouraged to spy on neighbors -- something like Hitler's Germany, Mao's China and East Germany under the Stasi.

In the wake of 9-11, Ashcroft has caused several hundred people to be arrested, held without charges and without even being publicly identified. Fortunately, a judge recently had the courage to order that these "detainees" be identified. The Ashcroft-Bush "Patriot Act" now gives the FBI the right to obtain lists of books you have checked out of a public library, without your knowledge that you are being investigated.

We need more Chris Dumonds and no more Ashcrofts.

Joe Schlatter Bristol, Tenn.

It turned out Dumond didn't have to reveal his source. To quote, The newspaper's first hint of Bhatti's arrest came June 25 in a fax from his son, Munir Bhatti, who lives in Arcadia, Ca. A story about the elder Bhatti's arrest was published a day later. That ended the case leaving a divided and angry public. I believe Dr. Bhatti left the area.

This letter appeared in the Bristol Herald Courier on Aug 20, 2002.

Unlike much of war on terrorism, war on our values the real thing

To the editor:

The recent detention of Dr. Bhatti (a local doctor held for 6 days with no charges) and threats to jail reporter Chris Dumond (for exposing it) should put all Americans on alert. Since Sept. 11, the religious/political right has waged a mostly "phony war" on terrorism and open war on our civil liberties. John Walker Lindh isn't the only traitor.

Saudi Arabia is a direct supporter of terrorism in Israel and elsewhere. It holds American citizens against their will and is among the most repressive and anti-Western nations in the world; we arm the Saudis with advanced weapons.

We continue to support other terrorist states like Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons. John Ashcroft as a senator voted to protect terrorist states like Sudan, etc. and weapons suppliers like China from economic sanctions while demanding sanctions on Cuba. We must give full support to all democracies like India and Israel who are on the front lines fighting fundamentalist terror.

The Religious Right (with Bush's blessings) has joined forces with Islamic fundamentalists at the United Nations (Washington Post, June 17) to oppose civil rights for women, etc. Quoting one U.S. official: "We have tried to point out ... areas of agreement ... on these social issues." If the Religious Right wants "areas of agreement" with Islamic fundamentalists, then Ashcroft is a good example of how he agrees with their police-state mentality.

Peace by appeasement doesn't work. Instead of jailing Americans without due process and threatening the press, we need to deal with the source of the problem. That means no aid, trade, and even direct military actions against all nations that refuse to live by civilized standards (our standards) even in their own nations. This isn't about race or religion. It's a culture war, and our Western values of secular democracy and personal freedom must triumph over evil. Acting like them while arming or protecting them is just treason.

Lewis Loflin
Bristol, VA.

Muslims have disproportionately high rates of antisocial behavior, conduct disorder and violence. Because these deadly incidents are hidden under the guise of religion, little has been done to address the deviance-amplifying nature of Islamic Jihadi teachings...

Dr. Babu Suseelan