FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

University of Wisconsin Will Not Aid in Interviews

by Joshua Orton

Citing a lack of specific criminal information, UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley announced in a written statement Thursday that UW Police will not assist the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the questioning of international students.

“University officials, including me, believe the criteria to select individuals for interviews … is broadly based and appears to consist of people who are not suspected of any crimes or suspicious activities,” Wiley said.

Wiley’s announcement came after recent reports that two or three UW-Madison students had been questioned in conjunction with terrorism investigations ordered by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to interview 5,000 Middle Eastern men who have entered the country since Jan. 1, 2000.

In addition, university officials say they will maintain a policy of only providing federal officials with already public information, unless legally bound to do otherwise.

UW-Madison University Communications spokesperson John Lucas said that to the best knowledge of UW-Madison administration, any contacting of students by federal authorities thus far has been “obtained in a manner other than [through] a records request to the UW.”

Other local authorities are taking similar positions. For instance, Madison Police Department Public Information Officer Larry Kamholz said police would not assist federal authorities questioning individuals unless there is a specific suspicion of criminal activity. Kamholz cited departmental concerns regarding the use of racial profiling to question individuals.

“We’re not going to start violating people’s rights just because of their ethnic background or wherever they’re from,” Kamholz said. “Just on that basis, you won’t see involvement from this department.”

Cathy Fahey, a spokesperson for the Milwaukee field office of the FBI, also denied Thursday having conducted the reported student interviews.

In addition, Grant Johnson, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, who is overseeing Justice Department investigations in Madison, denied that student questioning was related to Ashcroft’s orders regarding the list of Middle Eastern men.

Johnson would not comment on who might have conducted the interviews or for what reason, only saying that the reported student interviews “[have] nothing to do with the list of people that we’re supposed to interview at the direction of the attorney general through the District Terrorism Task Force.”

The UW-Madison Office of International Student Services, which originally reported the questioning of students, did not respond to media inquiries Thursday.

According to Lucas, the questioned students originally saw an adviser in the Office of International Student Services after being sought for interviews.

The identity of the questioned students, as well as who questioned them, still remains unknown.

Johnson said he was aware that “some” of the men on the list were university students, who have yet to be questioned. He said his office was taking the list given to it by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office and cross-matching it to local public directories, such as UW-Madison’s student directory, in order to find accurate contact information.

Outlining the procedure for interviewing individuals, Johnson said agents from his office, or cooperating local officials, would visit individuals at home. If no contact was made, a note would be left directing the individual to call the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Once contact was made, he said, agents would ask if the individual would like to be interviewed, and would also explain what was wanted from the interview.

If the individual declined to answer questions, agents would “smile and say ‘thank you,'” Johnson said. If personal legal counsel was requested by the interviewee, both individual and counsel would be directed to the assistant U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Attorney assigned to the task force.

“We’d figure out what they wanted to do and move on with life,” Johnson said.

“This is truly a voluntary program.”

Micabil Diaz, the legal director of the Wisconsin American Civil Liberties Union, said students should not answer any questions without the presence of a lawyer.

“If any of these investigatory agencies approach you, seek a lawyer,” he said.

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail