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Highlights from 2011 and before

Some highlights from recent years:

In the first few months of 2011:

In the second half of 2010:

In July 2010:

In June 2010:

  • The Washington Post featured a blog post and online a video including my comments about the experience of Muslims in America, and our shared belief in our country's founding ideals.
  • I published Restoring the Fourth Amendment: How We the People Can Win Over Washington on Huffington Post and Truthout, explaining the organizing strategy underlying the proposed local reforms I wrote in 2009 through which cities and towns across America can restore civil rights and civil liberties eroded by the federal government.
  • The Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference invited me to share comments about "Activism and Social Networking" in San Jose, CA
  • The U.S. Social Forum in Detroit offered a chance to share organizing resources with a range of communities, meet a nationwide legion of committed social justice activists, and re-connect with friends and allies across the country.

In May 2010:

  • I visited Toledo, OH to speak at the University of Toledo Law School and drew some local press coverage about my concerns that "violations [that] began under the Bush a lot of cases, have grown worse under the Obama Administration."
  • My organization, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, joined a coalition that filed a complaint before the Federal Trade Commission seeking an investigation of Facebook after the company unilaterally revised its social network's privacy settings to allow less control by users over our individual privacy
  • The Institute for Public Accuracy quoted my analysis of profiling, including my concerns that it is ineffective and even counterproductive as a matter of national security, as well as unconstitutional as a matter of law.

In April 2010:

  • Several colleges around the country invited me to address students, including Amherst, Cornell, and my alma mater, Stanford (where I keynoted the "Listen to the Silence" conference). Each visit proved fascinating -- it's amazing how much one can learn from insightful questions!
  • Truthout posted my thoughts on the tragic withdrawal of Dawn Johnsen's nomination to head the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel -- the same office made infamous by her predecessors who approved torture.
  • Huffington Post published my reflections on the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Stevens, which were also cross-posted by Alt.Muslim and my alma mater, Stanford Law School.

In March 2010:

  • The Jackson (MS) Free Press declared me its "person of the day" during a series of appearances launching the Cross-Pollinate speaker & performance series.
  • The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism quoted me at length in a story about emerging Muslim American leaders, around the same time that the Center for American Progress included a brief clip from a recent interview in a segment on Muslims' "Dreams for the New Decade."
  • I did a fun interview on the Alyona Show about Senator Lieberman's preposterous proposal to revoke the citizenship of anyone (merely) accused of a national security offense.

In February 2010:

In January 2010:

  • Rabbis for Human Rights quoted me in an A Drash for Vaera on January 11.  As a Muslim-American, it felt very humbling for my voice to resonate with their's.
  • Eloise Shim suggested that I debate the President about executive accountability for torture and government spying.
  • Deborah Dupre encouraged grassroots activists to join me and my colleagues at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in a grassroots lobby day we organized to oppose government spying.
  • I published Double Standards: How Our Lawlessness Strengthens Our Enemies, on Huffington Post and Truthout.

In December 2009:

In November 2009:

  • Heather Hurlburt of the National Security Network named me #3 on her list of the top 20 national security experts whose voices could inform the national discourse.
  • I wrote a coalition letter to President Obama on behalf of 30 interfaith, civil rights, and peace & justice organizations calling on the Defense Department to release evidence of torture and allow prosecution of all officials involved. Our efforts attracted some third-party media attention, and are part of our outreach strategy for model legislation I wrote through which cities & towns can assert universal jurisdiction, under principles of international law, to adjudicate alleged human rights abuses.

In October 2009:

  • A group of Muslim and South Asian leaders in New York City asked me to help represent them at a meeting with the FBI's regional leadership.
  • The Rights Working Group convened its member organizations around the country to hear about model legislation I wrote to limit local law enforcement by granting protections sought by Latino, African-American, Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and (often demographically mainstream) civil libertarian groups.
  • Beat the Chip, a web radio program based in Austin, TX, aired an interview with me about domestic surveillance.

In September 2009:

In August 2009:

  • I published Losing Wars We Already Won (Part I): Torture v. WWII on Huffington Post (and later taped a recorded video commentary summarizing the analysis that aired on GRITtv in October).
  • Smoke and Mirrors was published on Huffington Post and alt.Muslim, examining how "engagement of vulnerable communities emphasizes form over substance and, historically, has amounted to mere public relations.


  • On August 1, 2009, I did an extended studio interview with WMUA, the student-run radio station at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.  Part 1 focused on art & culture as a vehicle for social organizing and building political power, and included We Watch RealityPart 2 riffed on my personal history, recommendations for student activists, and reflections on the first year of the Obama administration.  Part 3 includes some historical context for civil liberties issues, as well as further reflections on the Obama administration and the landscape it confronts in DC.  Part 4 includes a discussion about the state of our democracy and opportunities to recover political ground lost during the Bush years, as well as Bumpin in My SUV. Part 5 discusses the electronic dance underground and its transformative social potential.  And Part 6 includes me rhyming live over a Daft Punk track from the Homework album.

In July 2009:

In June 2009:

In May 2009:

  • I moved back to the east coast to lead the Bill of Rights Defense Committee as Executive Director.
  • I played a few open mics in Northampton, including the May 30 session at Sam's Pizza (which picks up around 1:30).
  • The Stanford Asian American Activities Center awarded me its alumni award for public service.
  • My 4-part analysis of the Supreme Court, "Bush v. Gore Rears Its Head (Part III): Justice Souter's Resignation as an Invitation to Balance a Politicized Court," appeared on Huffington Post.  Two weeks later, I posted the final installment, "Bush v. Gore Rears Its Head (Part IV): A New Check on the Court to Defend the Rule of Law."
  • WMNF in Tampa aired an interview on May 22 about several civil liberties and rule of law issues.

In April 2009:

  • After slightly over a year at Muslim Advocates, I announced my departure to lead the Bill of Rights Defense Committee as Executive Director. The Hampshire Gazzette in western Massachusetts published a profile of me on April 22, 2009, titled "City rights group hires scholar with extra talent."
  • I delivered a commencement address at USC's ceremony celebrating the inaugural class of its American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (video forthcoming).
  • Muslim Advocates published and presented to Congress the report I wrote on border profiling over the prior year (though unfortunately without attributing or publicly recognizing my authorship).
  • South Asian Americans Leading Together invited me to talk at its South Asian Summit about racial & religious profiling and the recent expansion in FBI powers (podcast forthcoming).

In March 2009:

  • I visited Berkeley Law School to share reflections (and a rhyme) with several student groups who graciously invited me, including the ACS and NLG chapters, the Graduate Assembly, Journal of Middle-Eastern and Islamic Law, and Law Students of African Descent.
  • I wrote an open letter to the lawyers of Pakistan in the wake of their Chief Justice being restored to the bench for the second time in as many years.
  • My fellowship class of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute hosted a graduation ceremony at USC, where I delivered a commencement address
  • Inspired by others' examples, I wrote & posted on Facebook a list of 25 things about me.

In February 2009:

In January 2009:

  • I wrote Could Gitmo Get Worse? The Policy Implications of Executive Accountability on Huffington Post.
  • I submitted a FOIA request for a secret FBI policy mandating ethnic profiling in two dimensions, which appear to reflect national equivalents of local proposals by the NYPD and LAPD that were decisively rejected in 2007.
  • Some of my lyrical reflections on the DC political counter-culture were posted on
  • The Fix crew put me on the mic at their three year anniversary party at Shine in SF.
  • I rode for the first time in San Francisco's Critical Mass. 
  • The Muslim Community Association of San Jose, CA invited me to present "Know Your Rights" guidance to its membership.

In December 2008:

  • My latest writing, Defending Liberty: How to Shift the Center, was posted on Huffington Post.
  • I started writing Waiting for AAA, a screenplay based on my road trip over the holidays from Philadelphia to San Francisco.
  • My dear friend Melvin & I launched the Hook a Brothuh Up Investment Club at Lipo Lounge in SF.
  • Abraham's Vision invited me to lead a guest lecture for a group of young people in Palo Alto, CA.

In November 2008:

  • I wrote After the (Grand Old) Party: Don't Go Home Just Yet., which posted on Huffington Post on November 11.
  • Al-Jazeera English invited me to offer live commentary on their international election night programming...minutes before the Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency kickstarted a pro-Obama street party with several thousands of people outside the Reeves Center in DC.
  • The Center for American Progress released Partnership for Progress: Advancing a New Strategy for Prosperity and Stability in Pakistan and the Region, a policy report I helped inform & advise throughout 2008.
  • Some friends threw a mic at me at The Science Club in DC.

In October 2008:

In September 2008:

  • Legislation relating to border security was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate, informed by testimony and suggestions submitted by the advocacy program I direct;
  • I performed with Syd Gris of Opel Productions at SF Love Fest for a crowd of thousands on the steps of City Hall on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

In August 2008, I:

  • camped with 40,000 other burners in Black Rock City, NV, where I performed at The Opulent Temple, Pink Mammoth and Garage Mahal camps.
  • wrote a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey on behalf of a coalition of 40 organizations around the country, representing a variety of civil liberties, interfaith and other interests, urging him to release a pre-final draft of the revised FBI investigative guidelines that ultimately remained secret until October 3.
  • did an interview on NPR's Here & Now relating to profiling at the nation's borders & airports (randomly following an interview with a dear friend whose appearance was a total surprise).
  • performed at a screening of Committing Poetry in Times of War hosted by the SF chapter of the National Lawyers Guild at El Rio.

In July 2008, I:

  • published "Bush v. Gore Rears Its Head: The Triumph of Politics Over Law," the second in a series examining the political co-optation of the U.S. Supreme Court by partisan conservatives.
  • played a show with some friends (including v:shal, Christylez, and the Medievil Punditz)  at the Rock & Roll Hotel in DC.
  • wrote some reflections that my old colleagues at ACS posted about a terrifying Fourth Circuit decision that could lay a legal foundation for the preventive detention of U.S. citizens.
  • celebrated my 34th birthday.  It was actually far less celebratory than my birthdays have been recently, which only offered more reasons to be thankful for the company of my dear friends.

In June 2008, I:

  • published "Even Bigger Than the Hype: Obama's Candidacy as World-Historical" on Huffington Post and a handful of other outlets that cross-posted it.
  • helped prepare congressional testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution regarding racial & religious profiling at the nation's borders and airports.
  • spoke at a brownbag forum hosted by the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco regarding the Rule of Law crisis in Pakistan.
  • addressed the graduating class of '08 at Horace Mann Elementary School in San Francisco.  If you've never heard hundreds of families rocking hip-hop chants in Spanish inside a closed auditorium about empowering their communities, you've not lived.
  • delivered a policy briefing for an allied organization's Lobby Day in Washington DC and introduced a know-your-rights training video before an audience of roughly 1,500 conference attendees. 
  • met with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and several of his senior staff about objectionable Bureau policies & practices.  Little did we know they were being redrafted at the time to become even more objectionable.

In May 2008, I:

  • wrote a response on behalf of several advocacy organizations representing recently marginalized communities to a poorly reasoned and internally inconsistent Senate report by the Homeland Security Committee under Senator Lieberman's confused and counter-productive leadership. 
  • published on Huffington Post (and numerous other outlets cross-posted) the first in an ongoing series of articles examining the political co-optation of the Supreme Court: "Bush v. Gore Rears Its Head: The Politicization of Voting Rights."
  • performed at a positively sick fundraising party for the Garage Mahal crew at the Urban Art Farm in SF.
  • attended an uplifting & inspiring reunion of alumni from the Stanford Spoken Word Collective, which I co-founded back in 2002.

In March and April 2008, I:

February 2008 was an intense month.

In January 2008:

  • We released Get Outta Your Chair, my debut CD.  Check it out!
  • Our delegation to Pakistan released "Defending Dictatorship: U.S. Foreign Policy and Pakistan's Struggle for Democracy, a preliminary report presenting our findings based on interviews with over 50 jurists, lawyers, journalists, elected officials, civil servants, political candidates, and activists in five cities around the country.  Over the course of the month, I shared our delegation's findings with audiences in DC, Baltimore, and San Francisco. 
  • We hosted an epic going away party at the Belmont House (where I dropped a set on the decks before hitting the mic) rated by one attendee as the best party she'd ever seen in DC, and by another as the best she'd ever attended in the United States!

In December 2007, I posted my 2007 highlights and went to Pakistan on a fact-finding delegation organized by the National Lawyers Guild and the Rule of Law Porject at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

In November 2007, I made a few additions to the site and started working on several others.

  • I posted some of my latest interviews, including a nationally-syndicated radio interview on the imposition of "emergency" martial law in Pakistan and a late-night talk show appearance on ABC's The Edge with Jake Sasseville scheduled to air in January or February 2008.
  • The list of projects & organizations I actively support got updated, notably with the addition of Muslim Advocates, the Ad-Hoc Committee for the Rule of Law in Pakistan (ACRLP) and John Edwards for President
  • I posted a few poems to the poetry section, including a new poem responding to the crisis in Pakistan and an old one from 2005 in the wake of Bush's re-election to the Presidency
  • On tap for December: a slightly redesigned site, as well as the release of my first CD: Get Outta Your Chair.  Check back soon....

In October 2007, I posted two updates, in particular:

In September 2007, I re-formatted my social commentary and academic scholarship archive to make it more accessible.

In August 2007, I added a list of some venues I've played and made all content on the site available pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License

In July 2007, I made each song posted on the site available for free download and added a page explaining my appearance in the masthead.  And while it's not new (having been published this May), an article I wrote on CommonDreams attained greater relevance as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned.

In June 2007, I renamed the track now known as An Old Friend, which is far more descriptive than the essentially random name I'd dubbed it before.  I also posted several videos, including:

In May 2007, I posted several pieces of recent commentary that ran in a variety of media outlets around the country, including pieces on:

  • The controversy surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the overlooked impeachment remedy
  • The meaning of the Second Amendment in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings
  • The constitutional crisis in Pakistan and longstanding Republican support for military dictators.

I also posted some new music:

  • The Disease of Industrialization, fusing one of my global fusion electronic beats with a rhyme about environmental destruction and the tragedy of our moral failure to preserve the Earth for our successors
  • An Old Friend, the first new instrumental I've produced since moving to the east coast four years ago
  • Little Runnin' Roo, an ebullient ode to global jazzy, funky house

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