LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Certain laws meant to fight terrorism have actually hijacked the war on terror, says Ahilan Arulanantham, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California who will speak at a public forum on government repression Wednesday evening.

Arulanantham, the director of immigrant rights and national security cases for the ACLU/SC, will be one of three featured speakers at the forum, scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 10 in room 311 of the Westmoreland Building of the Southwestern School of Law, at 3050 Wilshire Blvd.

The government has stepped up enforcement of so-called 'material support of terrorism' laws, but that has done nothing to make us safer, Arulanantham said. It has actually undermined American efforts to help victims of disaster around the world while at the same time threatening our most cherished freedoms.

'The war on terror has been distorted by misguided legislation and then hijacked by irrational enforcement policies,' Arulanantham said. 'There's no rationale for why we have laws that make it a crime to send school books or baby formula to people who are victims of natural disasters.'

At the forum, Arulanantham will describe United States v. Omidvar, et al, in which he represents one of several Iranian Americans being prosecuted under material support of terrorism laws for having worked with a charity alleged to have links to an Iranian resistance group designated by the government as terrorist organization. In fact, the group is collaborating with U.S. military forces in Iraq.

'The bureaucratization of the war on terror has resulted in a terrorism enforcement system that has taken on a life of its own,' Arulanantham said.

Also available at the forum will be copies of Arulanantham's paper for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, 'A Hungry Child Knows No Politics,' published in June.

In addition to Arulanantham, the forum will feature as keynote speakers Vince Warren, executive Director of the Center For Constitutional Rights in New York City, which has coordinated representation for defendants detained as enemy combatants by the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay; and Stacy Tolchin, a National Lawyers' Guild member and noted immigrants' rights attorney who is involved in challenging recent raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Los Angeles area.

The forum is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Southwestern School of Law Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.