July 21, 2014


This report was a collaborative effort of Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute. The report was researched and written by Tarek Z. Ismail, former fellow at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute; Naureen Shah, former associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project of Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute; and Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch. Matthew Wells, former researcher in the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch, also contributed significant research to this report. The report would not have been possible without the valuable research and writing contributions of Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic student Naz Ahmad, JD ‘14. The report was edited by Peter Rosenblum, former faculty co-director of Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute and by the following individuals at Human Rights Watch: Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, deputy US Program director; James Ross, legal and policy director; Joseph Saunders, deputy program director; and Danielle Haas, senior editor.

Shantha Rau Barriga, director of the disability rights program at Human Rights Watch; Jamie Fellner, senior US Program advisor at Human Rights Watch; and JoAnn Kamuf Ward, associate director of Human Rights in the US Project at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute, reviewed and commented on the report. Brian Root, quantitative analyst at Human Rights Watch, helped analyze and develop graphic representation of the prosecution data presented here. Layout and production were coordinated by W. Paul Smith and Adam Lewis. Valuable research and assistance were also provided by students of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic, including Nathiya Nagendra, JD ’14; Andrew Napier, JD ’13; Erica Selig, JD ’12; Funmi Showole, JD ’13; and Michaela Wallin, JD ’13; and by Human Rights Watch interns, including: Jackie McArthur, Heather Leibowitz, Samit D’Cunha, Talia Nissimyan, Mark Tyson Nelson, Grace Fennell, Kaitlin Brush, Stephanie Rebolo, and Kelley Dupre Andrews.

We want to extend our thanks to the men and women prosecuted for terrorism-related offenses who shared their experiences for this report. We are also very grateful to the many individuals, families and community members across the United States who opened their doors to share their insight on the effects of the policies discussed in this report on themselves and their broader communities.

We are grateful to the many defense attorneys, civil society leaders, activists and legal scholars who spoke to us about their experiences and impressions of US federal counterterrorism policy. Defense attorneys, activists and community members across the country gave freely of their time and perspective on, and experience of domestic counterterrorism policy. In particular, we want to thank community members and defense attorneys in Boston, Chicago, New York, Albany, Washington, DC, Dallas, Houston, Portland, Cherry Hill and Minneapolis. We are grateful for the input and support of Jeanne Theoharis, Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College. We are also grateful to law enforcement officials, former prosecutors and judges who spoke candidly about their experiences investigating, prosecuting and presiding over federal counterterrorism cases. We would like to thank the few prison officials who allowed us to conduct interviews in their facilities.

We are grateful to the numerous individuals who provided thoughtful comments on this report, including Arun Kundnani, professor at New York University and author of “The Muslims of Coming;” Michael German, fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice; Nahal Zamani, advocacy program manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights; and at the American Civil Liberties Union: Hina Shamsi, director, national security project; and David C. Fathi, director, national prison project. While this research has been reviewed by numerous individuals, Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute take full responsibility for the findings presented.

The Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute is grateful to the Open Society Foundations and Bullitt Foundation for their financial support of the Institute’s Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project, and to Columbia Law School for its ongoing support.

Human Rights Watch is grateful to The Atlantic Philanthropies for their support of its US counterterrorism work.