The AACP Newsletter
Since 1970 Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages February 2004
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Will the Supreme Court Legalize
Governmental Kidnapping?

By Leonard Chan and Philip Chin

Kidnap - to take (any one) by force or fear, and against one's will, with intent to carry to another place.

Okay, did I catch your attention :)? Kidnapping may not be the correct word for what our government is doing and may even offend some of you, but I use it to draw your complete attention to the weight of the issues that are currently being debated in the courts and Congress.

The debate is an old one that reaches back to the inception of our nation. Issues of security versus civil liberties and the balance of power are all coming to a head. We have been brought to this point by an executive branch that is bent on testing the limits of its powers. With the anniversary of executive order 9066 around the corner (Feb. 19, 1942), it is an appropriate occasion to remember a time when another president tested the limits of his office and to compare it with the events of today.

"All that we knew about the FBI was that they were the good guys in the gangster programs on the radio. Then one morning we got to know them better…

"…they found our dad somehow and hauled him off to a place where all the Japanese community leaders were being held. Rumor claimed that they were spies of the Japanese imperial navy who had been planted in California years ago to wait for a good chance to sabotage strategic facilities.

"Obviously, Mom, my kid sister, and I were scared…As things turned out, we had good reason to be uneasy. It was nearly a year before we were altogether as a family again. It took the authorities a long time to clear my dad and thousands of other innocent people suspected of being enemy agents and dangerous foreigner."
From the book Poston Camp II
By Jack Matsuoka

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, but prior to President Roosevelt's February 19, 1942 Executive Order 9066 directive to relocate all West Coast Japanese into internment camps, approximately 4000 people were taken away and sent to special Justice Department Camps run by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Over half of these people were long-time American residents of Japanese origin like Jack Matsuoka's father. Because of discriminatory laws, people like Jack's father were not allowed to become naturalized American citizens. As a result, the early-incarcerated individuals were afforded even fewer rights and treated harsher than those interned after February 19th.

"Take the experience of Tarek Mohamed Fayad, an Egyptian dentist arrested in southern California on Sept. 13, 2001, for violating his student visa. During Fayad's first 10 days of incarceration, he was not allowed to make any telephone calls. Thereafter, he was allowed sporadic "legal" calls and only a single "social" call per month. The "legal" call was placed by a Bureau of Prisons counselor either to a designated law office or to one of the organizations on the INS's list of organizations providing free legal services in the region. The privilege of making a call was deemed satisfied once the call was placed, regardless of whether the call was answered. Of the agencies on the list provided to Fayad, only one number was a working contact for an agency providing legal counseling to detainees and none of the organizations agreed to provide representation. In the meantime, Fayad's friends had hired an attorney for him, but the attorney was unable to determine his location for more than a month. Even after the attorney found out that Fayad was being detained at a federal facility in New York, the Bureau of Prisons continued to deny having Fayad in custody."
Testimony, before the Senate Judiciary Committee
By Muzaffar A. Chishti
Dir. of Migration Policy Institute at NYU School of Law

By various estimates, from 700-1400 Arabs and Muslims were secretly picked up, interrogated, held, and/or deported soon after the events of September 11, 2001. None of these people were ever charged with any crimes related to the September 11th terrorist acts or any other potential acts of terrorism.

Some say that this is not a fair comparison - "after all, the recent detainees were often illegal residents and could be treated with substandard rights relative to those given to American citizens." Furthermore, "detainees that have been classified as enemy combatants are more akin to prisoners of war than people arrested of a crime." However, because the post 9/11 detainees caught in America were never charged with any crimes related to September 11th, was it fair to single out this group when there are millions of illegal residents in the United States? As for the enemy combatants, is it fair for them to be left in indefinite limbo waiting for an end to a war that may never have a clear end?

By all indications, the courts have agreed that the fight between security and civil rights is essentially over. Our government does have powers to limit our rights in the name of security. The real fight seems to be over which branch of government has final say as to where the lines are to be drawn.

So the question of whether anything like the Japanese internment could happen again has most definitely been answered yes. Governmental "kidnapping" for the purpose of security, does seem to be legal, but the rules are still in flux. Upcoming court cases may help to better define these rules.

Current and Recent Court Cases
as of February 12, 2004

Center for National Security Studies v. Department of Justice
On January 12, 2004, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the Center for National Security Studies and other civil liberties groups asking the high court to decide whether the Department of Justice must break its secrecy regarding the post September 11th detainees or not.

The civil liberties organizations were hoping to reverse a lower court's decision that allowed the Department of Justice to continue to conceal information about the detainees on the grounds of national security. As a result, the courts have essentially given the United States federal government freedom to continue the practice of secret arrests without any public oversight.

Rasul v. Bush
The Supreme Court will hear an appeal by legal groups acting for British, Australian, and Kuwait detainees (enemy combatants) asking the high court to decide whether the United States court system has any jurisdiction over these individuals that are being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

These individuals are among hundreds that were captured during the US's military actions in Afghanistan and are currently being held on a US military base in Cuba. Lower courts have refused to accept legal petitions seeking a Writ of Habeas Corpus on the grounds that the US courts do not have any jurisdiction over non-American individuals held on non-US lands. The legal groups' main point of contention is that they believe that individuals should not be held in indefinite detention without due process. The Bush administration's stand is that these individuals are enemy combatants and are to be afforded similar rights to prisoners of war. However, the public knows little about the circumstances of these individuals' capture and whether or not they truly qualify as "enemy combatants."

Some observers of this case point out that if the ruling should go against the Bush Administration, detainees in Cuba may only be switched from enemy combatant to formal prisoner of war status and thus see little improvement in their overall situation. Whatever is decided, these court cases and the extra scrutiny resulting from it have already had an impact - some prisoners are getting reviewed and released and others may at least face military tribunals.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case this spring and make a decision sometime around June.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld
Yasser Hamdi was captured in Afghanistan and originally taken to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. However, he was transported from Cuba to a naval base in Virginia after he told interrogators that he was born in Louisiana and had moved to Saudi Arabia as a small child. While the government tacitly acknowledged that it would have been illegal to detain an American citizen in Cuba, he has been deprived of the right to be brought before a court to learn of the charges against him. The government has so far been unable or unwilling to charge him with any criminal offense.

Can a US citizen, detained within the United States, be denied all the protections of the Constitution and Geneva Conventions if the executive designates him an "enemy combatant?" The Bush Administration's position is that they have complete discretion to suspend the application of the Bill of Rights and the writ of habeas corpus to American citizens because of the very real threat of global terrorism. So far, one federal circuit court has agreed with the government while another has disagreed, thus setting up a conflict also to be resolved by the US Supreme Court this spring.

Rumsfeld v. Padilla
Unlike Yassar Hamdi, who was captured in Afghanistan, Jose Padilla, was detained at Chicago's O'Hare Airport inside the United States. According to statements by the US Government, Padilla, a US citizen, was trained by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and directed by its leaders to look into the possibility of setting off a "dirty" or radiological bomb within the United States. Soon after being arrested, Padilla was transferred from civilian jurisdiction to military jurisdiction by being declared an "enemy combatant" at the direction of the president.

On Dec. 18, 2003, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government could not detain a US citizen without charges despite their arguments about combating international terrorism. As part of the ruling, Padilla is to be release back to the civilian judicial system where they can decide to charge him with a crime or not.

In the 2nd Circuit Court's majority statement, it said "…presidential authority does not exist in a vacuum, and this case involves not whether those responsibilities should be aggressively pursued, but whether the president is obligated, in the circumstances presented here, to share them with Congress." The basis for this statement comes from a section of US criminal law, US Code Title 18, Part III, Chap. 301, Sect. 4001 and in part the repeal of the 1950 Emergency Detention Act. 18 USC 4001(a), passed by Congress, reads that: "No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress."

The Emergency Detention Act was essentially a law that gave the executive branch full legal power to implement future incarcerations like what was done to the US Japanese during WW II. In 1971, as a result from African and Japanese American protests, this act was finally repealed. Congress further acted in 1971 to strengthen 18 USC 4001, making it read as above, and thus making it expressly Congress' business to detain and imprison US citizens.

The Department of Justice at the urging of the president has appealed the ruling to the US Supreme Court. In their submission, they argued that Congress had enacted a resolution expressing its support of the President's use of "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

The Bush Administration is hoping that this case will be heard at the same time as the Hamdi v. Rumsfeld case. The Supreme Court's decision to hear the case or not should be announced very soon.


PBS News Hour - Summary

Rasul v. Bush
PBS News Hour - Summary
ACLU - Summary
The Center for Constitutional Rights - Summary
Find Law - Circuit Court Petition

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld
PBS News Hour - Summary
The Center for Constitutional Rights - Summary
Find Law (PDF file) - U.S. Supreme Court Order

Rumsfeld v. Padilla
CNN - Summary
Edward Lazarus - Commentary (a must read)
Charge Padilla - Summary with lots of good links
Cato Institute - Earlier Summary
DOJ - Official writ of cert

Senate Judiciary Committee
America after 9/11: Freedom Preserved or Freedom Lost?

Home Page
Testimony of Muzaffar Chishti Director

National Park Service - "Justice Department Camps"
Emergency Detention Act (EDA)
Masumi I Zumi (PDF file) - movement to repeal EDA

Editor's Message

Hello everyone. For those of you that celebrate them, I hope you had a wonderful Lunar New Year and Eid-Al-Adha. Did any of you go on the Hajj? Let me know if you got any good pictures. Maybe we can use them in our 2005 calendar.

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback on last month's poetry special. Judging from your feedback, I think we will try this again sometime. Start working on your haiku and general poetry writing and be ready to give us your help next time. Perhaps we'll even hold a contest. Thank you Todd and Lisa for giving me some helpful suggestions. I'll try to work on some of your ideas for future newsletters.

We're going to a bunch of events this month and next. We hope to see you at some of them. Drop by and say hello. There are two book-signing events at the end of the month and we'd like to see a nice turnout. Come and say hello to Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (author of Farewell to Manzanar and The Legend of Fire Horse Woman) and Jack Matsuoka (artist and author of Poston Camp II), get your books autographed, partake in the festivities, and be sure to catch Jack's art exhibit.

If you can find the time, please follow some of the links for our articles. I found a lot of interesting material while doing research for our piece and I'm sure I just scratched the surface. In addition, if any of you were actively involved with the repeal of the 1950 Emergency Detention Act in 1971, I'd love to hear your accounts of the movement and of your take on current events - maybe you can do an article for us.

Keep giving me your feedback and thoughts - I do read them. Thanks very much.

Leonard Chan
Executive Editor

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
Feb. 15 Day of Remembrance Exhibit/Sales SJ Buddhist Temple
San Jose, CA
Feb. 22
2-6 pm
Day of Remembrance Exhibit/Sales Kabuki Theatre
1881 Post St. &
1840 Sutter St.
Feb. 28 Academic Success Day Exhibit/Sales SC County
Office of Educ.

Santa Clara, CA
Feb. 28 Jack Matsuoka Cartoon Exhibit Grand Opening JAMSJ
535 N. 5th St.
San Jose, CA
Feb. 28
Jack Matsuoka Book Signing Wesley United Methodist Church
566 N. 5th St.
San Jose, CA
Feb. 29
SM JACL Day of Remembrance
Jeanne W. Houston Book Signing
San Mateo Co. Hist. Assoc.
Redwood City, CA
Mar. 5-7 California Council for the Social Studies Conference Burbank Hilton
Burbank, CA
Mar. 7
Chinese New Year's Celebration Stockton Civic Aud.
525 N. Center St.
Stockton, CA
Mar. 13-14 Reading the World VI USF
2130 Fulton St.
April 7-9 APAHE Conference 2004 Radisson Miyako Hotel
Other Event of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
Feb 21-22 Marysville
Bok Kai Festival
3rd & D St.
Marysville, CA
Mar. 4-21 22st San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, CA
Mar. 24-28 Association for Asian American Studies National Conference Boston, MA

By Florence M. Hongo
February, for each of us has many meanings. For many it is the thoughts of Valentine romance, chocolate candy, red roses and good wine, sharing love with family, friends and lovers. Skiing weekends. Chinese New Year's celebrations with parades, special foods and family gatherings.

For me, it is all those special events and more. It is also the "Day of Remembrance" for the infamous EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 signed on February 19, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This ordered the removal of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast. American born citizens and aliens alike were removed without due process.

In February of 1942 when the Evacuation Orders went up on the electrical poles along the roads, I was thirteen year old and in the eighth grade in the California Central Valley town of Cressey. Our school was very small with a total of 75 students from first to eighth grade. Twin sisters taught 75 students divided into two classroom from first to fourth grade in one room and fifth to eighth in the other.

As a thirteen year old, the great shock was not being able to graduate with my eight classmates with whom I had been together for eight years, learning, playing and becoming close friends. It was a time of incredible upheaval for our family of nine. Parents, three sons, and four daughters lived on a 60-acre farm carved from virgin soil in this farming community.

Soon after, I came home from school to find a rectangular dust pattern where my piano used to be. My parents knowing how much I loved that piano had quickly made arrangements without telling me for "friends" to keep the piano until our return. There was no more space in the designated storage facility. When we returned some three and a half years later, the piano had been "stored" in a leaky shed and had hosted numerous generations of mice. The piano was in ruins, but we kept it for years hoping that it could be repaired. This was but one incident of the bad attitude of "friends" with whom we had entrusted farm equipment and, vehicles that we could not store or sell before evacuating.

During the war, our family was removed to the Amache, Colorado concentration camp in the Southeast corner of Colorado, in the high desert country. When the call came out for volunteers for the Army, my oldest brother, Ernest, volunteered. Soon after my father became very ill partly due to the lack of good medical services and he spent the rest of his internment time in a sanitarium. Eventually my second brother, Harry, was drafted into the Army and served in Military Intelligence with Mac Arthur in the Philippines and Japan. My third brother, Joe, was one of the first to return home to the West Coast after the Supreme Court ruled it could not keep loyal Japanese Americans in internment camps or away from the West Coast.

Returning to the town where we lived before was traumatic because we had lost everything. Our former ranch and home were gone and in its place was a three-year-old vineyard. Mother, brother Joe, and the four girls labored twelve hours a day on a farm to earn money to re-establish ourselves. The first vehicle Joe purchased was an old Harley Davidson motorcycle. Everywhere I went, I rode on the back of this Harley. To this day, I always turn my head whenever I hear the sound of a Harley.

Slowly our family made progress and eventually was able to purchase property again. It was not until 1947 that our family was reunited.

Ernest, a three-time Purple Heart recipient of Company I of the famed 442nd Infantry Combat Team returned completely disabled. Father returned from the sanitarium but was never able to work again. Harry returned from Japan after serving in the Military Intelligence Service translating Japanese military documents after the war.

The unforgettable family reunion was on a rainy and cold Christmas Eve of 1947. A warm house, Mother's delicious cooking, Christmas carolers in the rain, and we were again together after almost five years. Life went on.

In 1969 after attending San Francisco State, marrying and moving to San Mateo, the San Mateo Elementary School District asked me to join their Human Relations Team filling the post of Advisory Specialist. I was to be the Asian American in an ethnically diverse team. This team was preparing to go out to the district elementary schools to tell the stories of our lives as people of color during the drive to integrate our schools. When I told this team about my experience in an American concentration camp, they responded in great disbelief and insisted that I must tell this story to students.

In 1969, I knew very little about the politics of how this removal had happened. In an effort to educate myself, I was told to read, "American Concentration Camps" by Allan Bosworth, a $1.00 paperback. As I began to read this book, I felt myself becoming emotional. Tears began to stream down my face. The sudden realization of the clear violation of our civil rights as American citizens revolutionized me. The traumas that I had experienced caused anger and gave me the determination to tell this important story from my point of view. In the beginning, I was called a "Liar!" as people heard my story; a disloyal person for accusing the government of this wrongdoing and many other names (you don't want to hear).

This was the beginning of the organization originally named "Japanese American Curriculum Project." There were twelve other San Francisco Bay Area Japanese American teachers, administrators, who agreed with me that there needed to be honest curriculum materials written from our point of view. The materials written up to that time were mostly written by "others" who found ways to justify the removal.

This is the story of how JACP came to organize in 1970. In 1995, we changed our name to Asian American Curriculum Project, to reflect our growing focus on all Asian Americans and their histories. We continue though to have our mission of telling our story to teachers and educators throughout the nation. The story of prejudice and discrimination is common to the history of all peoples of color in the United States, not just to Asian Americans, and continues in our nation with Arabs, Muslims, and others being treated with suspicion because of events in the world.

Therefore, each February, organizations get together to remind everyone of the great injustices done to Japanese Americans in World War II and to show support for other peoples who suffer from public misunderstanding. It is important for us to know that in our society, we need to protect each other's civil rights or else the civil rights of everyone are compromised

The work of AACP continually grows, changes, and expands since the validity of our mission is continually reinforced by daily events. As we face 2004, we are encouraged that there are so many of you who understand and support our mission.


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end March 9, 2004.

Going Home, Coming Home

By Truong Tran
Illustrated by Ann Phong
2003, 31 pages, hardback, English & Vietnamese.

A young girl visits her grandmother in Vietnam, where her parents were born, and learns that she can call two places home.

Poet Truong Tran uses delicate, lyrical prose to craft this tender story of leaving and finding the places that make up who we are. Ann Phong's lush paintings complete this unforgettable journey with vibrant color and loving detail.

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ORDER -- Item #3206, Price $16.95

The Legend of Fire Horse Woman

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
2003, 304 pages, hardback.

In Hiroshima, Japan, 1902, a woman born under the portentous Fire Horse Sign is married by proxy into the wealthy Matsubara family, and sent to join her new husband in a new world—America. In California, 1942, this same woman—facing the sunset of her life rather than the dawn—is sent to a Japanese internment camp with her daughter and granddaughter.

This is Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's, co-author of Farewell to Manzanar, first novel.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3198, Price $23.00

The Story of Paper

By Ying Chang Compestine
Illustrated by YongSheng Xuan
2003, 30 pages, hardback.

After the Kang brothers get in trouble at school, they devise a way to make paper, which will make things easier for both their teacher and themselves.

Includes a historical note and a recipe for home-made paper.

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ORDER -- Item #3202, Price $16.95

The Opposite of Fate

By Amy Tan
2003, 416 pages, hardback.

These are musings on my life, including the metaphors I used as an eight-year-old child, sensing books as windows opening and illuminating my room, and the thoughts I had as I wrote my mother's obituary, trying to sum up who she was and what legacy she had bequeathed to me….

They are musings linked by my fascination with fate, both blind and blessed, and its many alternatives: choice, chance, luck, faith, forgiveness, forgetting, freedom of expression, the pursuit of happiness, the balm of love, a sturdy attitude, a strong will, a bevy of good-luck charms, adherence to rituals, appeasement through prayer, trolling for miracles, a plea to others to throw a lifeline, and the generous provision of that by strangers and loved ones.
- Amy Tan

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ORDER -- Item #3199, Price $24.95

Celebrating Chinese New Year

By Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
Photographs by Lawrence Migdale
1998, 32 pages, paperback.

Follow the life of Ryan Leong and his family as they get ready for and celebrate the Lunar New Year in San Francisco.

This is a wonderful introduction to Chinese culture as it relates to the celebrating of the Lunar New Year.

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ORDER -- Item #3205, Price $6.95

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