Jihad in Islam


One always hears how there are no voices opposing Islamic terrorism, or so the saying goes, although the two term “Islamic terrorism” is an oxymoron, and it’s really a false argument.  If you want to know what Muslims say about terrorism there are plenty of places where you can find the voice that expressly unequivocally denounces terrorism.  One can find a very good source here if you care to look.  jihad

However, as for the issue of “jihad”, there’s lots written about it but it all boils down to this.

Declare your Jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see – egoism, arrogance, conceit, selfishness, greed, lust, intolerance, anger, lying, cheating, gossiping, and slandering. If you can master and destroy them, then you are ready to fight the enemy you can see.

Ok…do you know anyone who has fought jihad in the way described above?

 

Dueling tweets


These two tweets ran across one another in the net-o-sphere

Right

 

Left

…and here’s the skinny

The number of Americans who have been killed by Islamic extremists in the United States since September 2001 is just 21 — less than two per year — and none of them on airplanes. Statistically speaking, you’re several times more likely to be fatally attacked on an American schoolyard: in just the year and a half since the December 2012 Sandy Hook attack, 28 people have been killed in US school shootings. And meanwhile, right-wing extremists — virtually all of them white — have killed 37 people since 2001.

Israel Provoked This War


…as if you didn’t already know that?!?!?! This is par for the course type of behavior for one of the most ruthless governments known to civilized man.  It doesn’t belong among semitic peoples of the Middle East; rather it belongs among its colder hearted brethren of the European hinterlands who love war, destruction and genocide.  It has taken its playbook from Nazi Germany in the way it has systematically destroyed Palestinian hopes and aspirations for self-determination and to live in peace with its neighbors.  If it were any other country in the Middle East, America would have invaded Israel right now for its crimes against humanity conducted against the Palestinians. Saddam Hussein was guilty of far fewer atrocities and he was hung to the glee of the neocons of the Bush administration. Henry Siegman has written the brilliant, thought provoking piece below

There seems to be near-universal agreement in the United States with President Barack Obama’s observation that Israel, like every other country, has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from threats directed at them from beyond its borders.

But this anodyne statement does not begin to address the political and moral issues raised by Israel’s bombings and land invasion of Gaza: who violated the cease-fire agreement that was in place since November 2012 and whether Israel’s civilian population could have been protected by nonviolent means that would not have placed Gaza’s civilian population at risk. As of this writing, the number killed by the Israel Defense Forces has surpassed 600, the overwhelming majority of whom are noncombatants.

Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times, was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.

 The notion that it was Israel, not Hamas, that violated a cease-fire agreement will undoubtedly offend a wide swath of Israel supporters. To point out that it is not the first time Israel has done so will offend them even more deeply. But it was Shmuel Zakai, a retired brigadier general and former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, and not “leftist” critics, who said about the Israel Gaza war of 2009 that during the six-month period of a truce then in place, Israel made a central error “by failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians in the [Gaza] Strip. … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they are in and expect Hamas just to sit around and do nothing.”

This is true of the latest cease-fire as well. According to Thrall, Hamas is now seeking through violence what it should have obtained through a peaceful handover of responsibilities. “Israel is pursuing a return to the status quo ante, when Gaza had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages caused sanitation plants to shut down and waste sometimes floated in the streets.” It is not only Hamas supporters, but many Gazans, perhaps a majority, who believe it is worth paying a heavy price to change a disastrous status quo.

The answer to the second question — whether a less lethal course was not available to protect Israel’s civilian population — is (unintentionally?) implicit in the formulation of President Barack Obama’s defense of Israel’s actions: namely, the right and obligation of all governments to protect their civilian populations from assaults from across their borders.

But where, exactly, are Israel’s borders?

It is precisely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to identify those borders that placed Israel’s population at risk. And the reason he has refused to do that is because he did not want the world to know that he had no intention of honoring the pledge he made in 2009 to reach a two-state agreement with the Palestinians. The Road Map for Middle East peace that was signed by Israel, the PLO and the United States explicitly ruled out any unilateral alterations in the pre-1967 armistice lines that served as a border between the parties. This provision was consistently and blatantly violated by successive Israeli governments with their illegal settlement project. And Netanyahu refused to recognize that border as the starting point for territorial negotiations in the terms of reference proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry.

But on July 12, as noted in The Times of Israel by its editor, David Horovitz, Netanyahu made clear that he has no interest in a genuine two-state solution. As Horovitz puts it, “the uncertainties were swept aside … And nobody will ever be able to claim in the future that [Netanyahu] didn’t tell us what he really thinks. He made it explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank.” The IDF, Netanyahu said, would remain permanently in the West Bank. During the Kerry-sponsored negotiations, he rejected out of hand the American proposal that U.S. and international forces be stationed on the Israeli-Palestinian border, which he insisted would remain permanently under the IDF’s control. Various enclaves will comprise a new Palestinian entity, which Palestinians will be free to call a state. But sovereignty, the one element that defines self-determination and statehood, will never be allowed by Israel, he said.

Why will he not allow it? Why did he undermine Kerry’s round of peace talks? Why is he inciting against the Palestinian unity government? Why does he continue to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, and why did he use the tragic kidnapping and killing of three Israelis as a pretext to destroy what institutional political (as opposed to military) presence of Hamas remained in the West Bank?

 He’s doing all of these things because, as suggested by Yitzhak Laor in Haaretz, he and his government are engaged in a frenzied effort to eliminate Palestinians as a political entity. Israel’s government is “intent on inheriting it all” by turning the Palestinian people into “a fragmented, marginalized people,” Laor writes. It is what the Israeli scholar Baruch Kimmerling described as “politicide” in a book by that name he wrote in 2006.

So exactly who is putting Israel’s population at risk? And what is Obama prepared to do about it?

I’m sure the president’s political advisers are telling him that a congressional election year is not the time to take on the Israel lobby. They are wrong, not only because it is always election time in the United States, but because successive polls have established that American Jews vote constantly and overwhelmingly Democratic for a wide variety of domestic and international reasons, but support for Netanyahu’s policies is not one of them.

And if the president wishes to convince Israelis and Palestinians that Israeli-Palestinian peace is a cause worth taking risks for, should he not be willing to take some domestic political risks as well?

 

 

Politics and bedfellows


Eric Cantor

Eric Cantor

Eric Cantor, Republican congressman from Virginia was defeated in his state’s primary election Tuesday night by someone from the Tea Party, oddly enough that group that Cantor had some hand in shaping, named David Brat.

William Gheen

William Gheen

No big deal really until you see who Brat asked for help to defeat Cantor, one David Gheen of ALIPAC (Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee) a rather innocuous sounding name until you read what that group stands for.

  • Warns of violent revolution if the Tea Party can’t stop the immigrant “invasion.”
  • Says violence may be needed to stop Obama’s war on “white America.”
  • Wants President Obama arrested for his immigration policies, possibly through a military coup .
  • Calls immigration “national rape” that takes the power away from “traditional Americans.”
  • Fears that America will no longer be “governed by people of European descendancy.”
  • Warns of “black mobs roaming many U.S. cities targeting and beating the crap out of white people.”
  • Demanded that Sen. Lindsey Graham come out as gay because he claimed he was being blackmailed into supporting immigration reform.

Notice how Gheen has wrapped himself in the American flag which some say is usually what “scoundrels” do.  This is the constituency Brat will be expected to listen, cater to when and if he takes office. Let’s hope the people of the 7th Congressional district in Virginia have the sense not to elect him.  Brat’s victory comes a day after Juan Cole wrote another brilliant article detailing the latest white American terrorists and their attacks on the Homeland.   In it he lays the connection between white terror and white supremacy….something people of color have been asserting for quite some time in America.

The American far Right, with its white supremacism, fascination with guns and explosives, profound hatred for the Federal government, poses the biggest terrorism threat in the country by far.  Worse, they receive support from right wing media in the U.S. because they hate taxes just the way the ultra-conservative media moguls doe.  Although their attacks are ideological, directed at civilian victims and violent, they are seldom categorized as ‘terrorists.’  Rather what they do is “mass shootings.”  In the meantime, plots hatched by Muslims in the U.S. during the past few years appear almost always to be a form of entrapment by the FBI.

 

 

American media, guilty of sedition?


Bowe Bergdahl hasn’t even stepped foot in this country and yet members of the media are saying this?

Is he guilty of being a deserter, is he guilty of being a defector? And after five years of captivity — some people initially said, well, that’s enough — should he face the appropriate punishment if he is found guilty?

chris wallaceChris Wallace of FoxNews infamy (I guess you know why such a provocative question would be posed) was asking the former Attorney General Michael Mukasey from the even guiltier, more deserving of prosecution, GWB administration who replied such a question was premature.  I assert on what basis should such a question like that even be asked?!?!?  It was only mere hours  before Wallace went on the air with the typical FoxNews bluster that this headline appeared

U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has told people treating him at an American military medical facility in Germany that he was tortured, beaten and held in a cage by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan after he tried to escape, a senior U.S. official said Sunday.

CIA tortureNow if one were to ask what proof can Bergdahl provide since there is no one to independently verify beside Bergdahl and the Taliban, if you were to pose the question where are the physical scars to indicate such torture it would have to be said perhaps the Taliban is as adept at torturing people without leaving scars as our own government under George Bush was with the countless people tortured at Baghram and other secreted sites where suspected “Islamists”, whatever that means, were held.

What we’re witnessing is the #DemonicGOP nipping at Obama’s heels like the attack dog is has become, rather than a political party, in order to generate scandal.  In fact Lindsey Graham is now saying the President should be impeached because of his decision to exchange Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners.  Of course impeachment won’t occur….it’s not a political reality, but the mere suggestion of it is enough to taint the Obama administration and the Democratic party in this off year election. Obama and Bergdahl are being “swiftboated” much like John Kerry who had the distinction of being the first politician to be given that dubious distinction and it’s as ugly now as it was was in 2004.  Some say however this time it won’t be as effective

Republicans have been carrying out a swiftboating media operation that is being led by a former Bush administration official that is designed to smear Sgt. Bergdahl in order to create an Obama political scandal. The revelation that Bergdahl was tortured means that Republicans are not only attacking the credibility of a soldier, but they are attacking a soldier who was tortured by the enemy.

Even by the new Obama era standards for conservative hate, this is low. The possibility that Sgt. Bergdahl was tortured confirms the White House’s reasoning for making a deal to bring Bergdahl home. Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with their attacks on Bergdahl……

I don’t think however that the #DemonicGOP will look bad…they’ll simply deflect and move on to the next scandal they hope will have traction with the equally insatiably racist, xenophobic, gun toting segments of American society.

 

The history of the Taliban starts here


Whenever you hear talk about negotiating with terrorists and the Obama administration, remember the Taliban was hatched in the White House of the #DemonicGOP’s idol, Ronald Reagan.

Reagan-Taliban

 

Islam in America-The Source


I’ve always thought if you wanted to get information the best place is the source.  Islam is a diverse, multi-ethnic community that has been progressive, influential and peaceful force in America.  Here is one perspective of the religion in America

Now, don’t say you haven’t heard or don’t know.

The GOP is a bad joke


Louie Gohmert - Caricature

Louie Gohmert – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Perhaps this is why Republicans are against immigration because they see an Islamist in every Hispanic immigrant that comes into this country.

‘Radical Islamists’ Learn Spanish, Pretend To Be Hispanic, Claims Rep. Louie Gohmert

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, believes he has solved a terrorist tactic.

While speaking to the Longview, Texas Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Gohmert claimed “radical Islamists” were learning Spanish “because we don’t have any fear of Hispanics coming into the country.”

Gohmert added that he is opposing immigration reform based on the theory, noted News-Journal.com.

“The FBI director has confirmed more than once that we know that there are radical Islamists that change their names to Hispanic-sounding last names, they come to Mexico and get and ID, and some of them even learn a little bit of Spanish so that they can try to act as if they’re Hispanic,” Gohmert said (video below). “Why? Because we don’t have any fear of Hispanics coming into the country, but we’ve got concerns about radical Islamists.”

He also suggested that real undocumented Hispanic immigrants might lie about how long they have been in the United States in order to stay under the DREAM Act, which is supposed to be for immigrant children who were brought to America by their undocumented parents.

Gohmert also said the United States was the best country “because most Americans, generally speaking, had a faith in God, they had a devotion to family and they had a hard worth ethic,” but lamented that might not be true today.

It seems the only policy this demented party has is to instill fear and hatred in the hearts of Americans against others who are different.  The GOP accentuates differences, points them out and builds policy around them which is not very constructive in a country of over 300 million people from all walks of life, if not suicidal for a political party.  All of that doesn’t seem to matter to the likes of Gohmert, who has taken boorish behavior to a new level as a member of Congress.  Want to see more of his outlandish actions go here, here , here and here.  A four time elected US representative, Gohmert resonates with that part of the DemonicGOP that believes Obama is a foreign socialist Muslim who wants to destroy the American way of life….and did I mention he’s been elected FOUR times!  God help us!!

No Comment


Nabil sounds off on the Woolwich attacks and says exactly what Miscellany101 would say!  This is a brilliant No Comment segment!

No Comment


domestic-bombings_0

The phony war on terror just got phonier


We are now in the middle of a campaign season where President Obama is seeking a second term and the horror of George Bush’s war on terror is quickly becoming a distant memory.  Unfortunately, the illegal legacy of that war and what it has done to the fabric of America is still being revealed and this latest revelation casts a negative light on how terror suspects were interrogated and the nature of the information gained from their interrogation.

Reports have been circulating for years that US officials, and because of the very nature of these allegations accountability will be difficult if not impossible to pinpoint who they are, have been using drugs during the interrogation of people captured on various military theaters where American forces have been engaged. The very use of drugs during questioning is considered torture according to laws and conventions that we, America, used to subscribe.  Torture under these circumstances is defined as

the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.

Detainees captured by or sold to US forces and their allies were given drugs against their will, not told what the drugs were or what their effects would be and then questioned and the legal system put in place under these circumstances presumed that any information obtained from such an interrogation was accurate.  It didn’t matter to those in charge that powerful antipsychotic drugs’  side effects included lethargy, tremors, anxiety, mood changes and an inability to remain motionless, the idea that any information gathered as a result of this type of medical intervention was acceptable as a legitimate source of intelligence. This then became another rung on the torture ladder that the government hung their treatment and handling of people during the war on terror.  What happened to our country is it engaged in illegal torture, saying it was necessary to protect America and during the course of that illegal behaviour further exacerbated it by employing drugs meant to alter a captive’s perception of reality, and skew the information passed on to officials, who then trumpeted that before we the people to justify continuing  illegal activity.  The war on terror and the information we supposedly gathered fighting that war, and even the enemy itself was all a sham a ruse, made up to justify invading countries with an expanded, bloated military.    In other words, we cooked the books…we made things up, we frightened ourselves with lies obtained through drugs from people  who were sold to us in most cases or who had nothing to do with the attacks on our country .  This is the legacy Bush’s war on terror has left us.

The Israeli leaderships’ assault on the American military


It used to be in American politics if you hurled insults, character assassination and humiliating invective towards your opponent you could either get them to shut up or do what you want.  That worked because the victim of such verbal abuse dealt from a position of weakness or insecurity.  Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and others within the Israeli government are trying that with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey because of his stance towards Iran and the seeming confrontation Israel wants to have with the Iranians.  Let’s hope the tactic doesn’t work.  Dempsey is a decorated military officer who has served his time and his country in the United States military, at times fighting for the best interests  of the Israeli government to the detriment of America.  Our latest foray into Iraq is the most recent example of that….and now he seems to think along with others that a much more prudent path should be taken in dealing with the Iranians. He’s not alone in that assessment however. American men and women serving in the US military seem to have grown tired of endless wars that drain the national resources of their country, ask them to make sacrifices that are not in their best interests and ruin the reputation of their country and make it a target of the disillusioned.  They are making that discontent known by supporting financially and overwhelmingly  the non-interventionist candidacy of Ron Paul  more than all the other candidates running for office combined, including Obama!

Perhaps Dempsey has sampled that discontent; certainly he has observed the effects a decades old war on two fronts has had on the US military and understands the impact another confrontation could have.  Moreover, conclusive proof that Iran has a nuclear weapon or the means to obtain one shortly is far less than conclusive, much like the weapons of mass destruction meme we were so used to hearing leading up to the Iraqi war.  The Israelis have also decided to reach back into the WMD bag of insults bristling at Dempsey’s words of caution with personal attacks and innuendo, which ring all too much like the cries of traitor and impotent neo cons hurled at dissenters and doubters of the Iraqi war a decade ago.  The latter were proved too prescient, yet despite being discredited neo-cons and their Israeli supporters are still around to assail us with sophomoric insults that have no basis in fact.  Certainly not with the likes of General Dempsey who has nothing to prove to anyone about his loyalties or his competence.  Juan Cole in his blog, Informed Comment, lists Dempsey’s credentials thus

Dempsey served in the Gulf War and deployed twice to Iraq during the Iraq War. “General Dempsey’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.”

What’s unfortunate for America is that election years tend to make officials running for office weak kneed when it comes to standing up to lobbying interests, and especially those of Israel.  Even though America is perhaps the safest it has ever been, in spite of recent flare ups in Afghanistan and Iraq, officials who worship at the altar of political action committees like AIPAC, et.al cannot say “no” when it comes time to draw a line between American and Israeli interests, so this salvo directed at Dempsey is only the opening shot. There will be more to come, from the Israelis as well as their American surrogates who are running for office on both sides of the isle.  In an age where political donations have no limit and can be endlessly given to candidates who can run for office regardless of the electoral process’ outcome, one can expect such boorish behavior designed to publicly question and deride honorable public servants to continue.  Hang on to your hats America…..it’s gonna’ be a bumpy ride!

Twenty Examples of the Obama Administration Assault on Domestic Civil Liberties


by Bill Quigley

The Obama administration has affirmed, continued and expanded almost all of the draconian domestic civil liberties intrusions pioneered under the Bush administration.  Here are twenty examples of serious assaults on the domestic rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience that have occurred since the Obama administration has assumed power.  Consider these and then decide if there is any fundamental difference between the Bush presidency and the Obama presidency in the area of domestic civil liberties.

Patriot Act

On May 27, 2011, President Obama, over widespread bipartisan objections, approved a Congressional four year extension of controversial parts of the Patriot Act that were set to expire.  In March of 2010, Obama signed a similar extension of the Patriot Act for one year.  These provisions allow the government, with permission from a special secret court, to seize records without the owner’s knowledge, conduct secret surveillance of suspicious people who have no known ties to terrorist groups and to obtain secret roving wiretaps on people.

Criminalization of Dissent and Militarization of the Police

Anyone who has gone to a peace or justice protest in recent years has seen it – local police have been turned into SWAT teams, and SWAT teams into heavily armored military.  Officer Friendly or even Officer Unfriendly has given way to police uniformed like soldiers with SWAT shields, shin guards, heavy vests, military helmets, visors, and vastly increased firepower.  Protest police sport ninja turtle-like outfits and are accompanied by helicopters, special tanks, and even sound blasting vehicles first used in Iraq.  Wireless fingerprint scanners first used by troops in Iraq are now being utilized by local police departments to check motorists.  Facial recognition software introduced in war zones is now being used in Arizona and other jurisdictions.  Drones just like the ones used in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan are being used along the Mexican and Canadian borders.  These activities continue to expand under the Obama administration.

Wiretaps

Wiretaps for oral, electronic or wire communications, approved by federal and state courts, are at an all-time high.  Wiretaps in year 2010 were up 34% from 2009, according to the Administrative Office of the US Courts.

Criminalization of Speech

Muslims in the US have been targeted by the Obama Department of Justice for inflammatory things they said or published on the internet.  First Amendment protection of freedom of speech, most recently stated in a 1969 Supreme Court decision, Brandenberg v Ohio, says the government cannot punish inflammatory speech, even if it advocates violence unless it is likely to incite or produce such action.  A Pakistani resident legally living in the US was indicted by the DOJ in September 2011 for uploading a video on YouTube.  The DOJ said the video was supportive of terrorists even though nothing on the video called for violence.  In July 2011, the DOJ indicted a former Penn State student for going onto websites and suggesting targets and for providing a link to an explosives course already posted on the internet.

Domestic Government Spying on Muslim Communities

In activities that offend freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and several other laws, the NYPD and the CIA have partnered to conduct intelligence operations against Muslim communities in New York and elsewhere.  The CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans, works with the police on “human mapping”, commonly known as racial and religious profiling to spy on the Muslim community.  Under the Obama administration, the Associated Press reported in August 2011, informants known as “mosque crawlers,” monitor sermons, bookstores and cafes.

Top Secret America

In July 2010, the Washington Post released “Top Secret America,” a series of articles detailing the results of a two year investigation into the rapidly expanding world of homeland security, intelligence and counter-terrorism.   It found 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence at about 10,000 locations across the US.  Every single day, the National Security Agency intercepts and stores more than 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other types of communications. The FBI has a secret database named Guardian that contains reports of suspicious activities filed from federal, state and local law enforcement.  According to the Washington Post, Guardian contained 161,948 files as of December 2009.  From that database there have been 103 full investigations and at least five arrests the FBI reported.  The Obama administration has done nothing to cut back on the secrecy.

Other Domestic Spying

There are at least 72 fusion centers across the US which collect local domestic police information and merge it into multi-jurisdictional intelligence centers, according to a recent report by the ACLU.  These centers share information from federal, state and local law enforcement and some private companies to secretly spy on Americans.  These all continue to grow and flourish under the Obama administration.

Abusive FBI Intelligence Operations

The Electronic Frontier Foundation documented thousands of violations of the law by FBI intelligence operations from 2001 to 2008 and estimate that there are over 4000 such violations each year.  President Obama issued an executive order to strengthen the Intelligence Oversight Board, an agency which is supposed to make sure the FBI, the CIA and other spy agencies are following the law.  No other changes have been noticed.

Wikileaks

The publication of US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks and then by main stream news outlets sparked condemnation by the Obama administration officials who said the publication of accurate government documents was nothing less than an attack on the United States.  The Attorney General announced a criminal investigation and promised “this is not saber rattling.” Government officials warned State Department employees not to download the publicly available documents.  A State Department official and Columbia officials warned students that discussing Wikileaks or linking documents to social networking sites could jeopardize their chances of getting a government job, a position that lasted several days until reversed by other Columbia officials.  At the time this was written, the Obama administration continued to try to find ways to prosecute the publishers of Wikileaks.

Censorship of Books by the CIA

In 2011, the CIA demanded extensive cuts from a memoir by former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan, in part because it made the agency look bad.  Soufan’s book detailed the use of torture methods on captured prisoners and mistakes that led to 9-11. Similarly, a 2011 book on interrogation methods by former CIA agent Glenn Carle was subjected to extensive black outs.  The CIA under the Obama administration continues its push for censorship.

Blocking Publication of Photos of U.S. Soldiers Abusing Prisoners

In May 2009, President Obama reversed his position of three weeks earlier and refused to release photos of US soldiers abusing prisoners.  In April 2009, the US Department of Defense told a federal court that it would release the photos.  The photos were part of nearly 200 criminal investigations into abuses by soldiers.

Technological Spying

The Bay Area Transit System, in August 2011, hearing of rumors to protest against fatal shootings by their police, shut down cell service in four stations.  Western companies sell email surveillance software to repressive regimes in China, Libya and Syria to use against protestors and human rights activists.  Surveillance cameras monitor residents in high crime areas, street corners and other governmental buildings.  Police department computers ask for and receive daily lists from utility companies with addresses and names of every home address in their area.  Computers in police cars scan every license plate of every car they drive by.  The Obama administration has made no serious effort to cut back these new technologies of spying on citizens.

Use of “State Secrets” to Shield Government and Others from Review

When the Bush government was caught hiring private planes from a Boeing subsidiary to transport people for torture to other countries, the Bush administration successfully asked the federal trial court to dismiss a case by detainees tortured because having a trial would disclose “state secrets” and threaten national security.  When President Obama was elected, the state secrets defense was reaffirmed in arguments before a federal appeals court.  It continues to be a mainstay of the Obama administration effort to cloak their actions and the actions of the Bush administration in secrecy.

In another case, it became clear in 2005 that the Bush FBI was avoiding the Fourth Amendment requirement to seek judicial warrants to get telephone and internet records by going directly to the phone companies and asking for the records.  The government and the companies, among other methods of surveillance, set up secret rooms where phone and internet traffic could be monitored.  In 2008, the government granted the companies amnesty for violating the privacy rights of their customers.  Customers sued anyway. But the Obama administration successfully argued to the district court, among other defenses, that disclosure would expose state secrets and should be dismissed.  The case is now on appeal.

Material Support

The Obama administration successfully asked the US Supreme Court not to apply the First Amendment and to allow the government to criminalize humanitarian aid and legal activities of people providing advice or support to foreign organizations which are listed on the government list as terrorist organizations.   The material support law can now be read to penalize people who provide humanitarian aid or human rights advocacy. The Obama administration Solicitor General argued to the court “when you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs.”  The Court agreed with the Obama argument that national security trumps free speech in these circumstances.

Chicago Anti-war Grand Jury Investigation

In September 2010, FBI agents raided the homes of seven peace activists in Chicago, Minneapolis and Grand Rapids seizing computers, cell phones, passports, and records.  More than 20 anti-war activists were issued federal grand jury subpoenas and more were questioned across the country.  Some of those targeted were members of local labor unions, others members of organizations like the Arab American Action Network, the Columbia Action Network, the Twin Cities Anti-War Campaign and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.  Many were active internationally and visited resistance groups in Columbia and Palestine.  Subpoenas directed people to bring anything related to trips to Columbia, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Israel or the Middle East.  In 2011, the home of a Los Angeles activist was raided and he was questioned about his connections with the September 2010 activists.  All of these investigations are directed by the Obama administration.

Punishing Whistleblowers

The Obama administration has prosecuted five whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, more than all the other administrations in history put together.  They charged a National Security Agency advisor with ten felonies under the Espionage Act for telling the press that government eavesdroppers were wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on misguided and failed projects.  After their case collapsed, the government, which was chastised by the federal judge as engaging in unconscionable conduct allowed him to plead to a misdemeanor and walk.  The administration has also prosecuted former members of the CIA, the State Department, and the FBI.  They even tried to subpoena a journalist and one of the lawyers for the whistleblowers.

Bradley Manning

Army private Bradley Manning is accused of leaking thousands of government documents to Wikileaks.  These documents expose untold numbers of lies by US government officials, wrongful killings of civilians, policies to ignore torture in Iraq, information about who is held at Guantanamo, cover ups of drone strikes and abuse of children and much more damaging information about US malfeasance.  Though Daniel Ellsberg and other whistleblowers say Bradley is an American hero, the US government has jailed him and is threatening him with charges of espionage which may be punished by the death penalty.  For months Manning was held in solitary confinement and forced by guards to sleep naked.  When asked about how Manning was being held, President Obama personally defended the conditions of his confinement saying he had been assured they were appropriate and meeting our basic standards.

Solitary Confinement

At least 20,000 people are in solitary confinement in US jails and prisons, some estimate several times that many.  Despite the fact that federal, state and local prisons and jails do not report actual numbers, academic research estimates tens of thousands are kept in cells for 23 to 24 hours a day in supermax units and prisons, in lockdown, in security housing units, in “the hole”, and in special management units or administrative segregation.  Human Rights Watch reports that one-third to one-half of the prisoners in solitary are likely mentally ill.  In May 2006, the UN Committee on Torture concluded that the United States should “review the regimen imposed on detainees in supermax prisons, in particular, the practice of prolonged isolation.”  The Obama administration has taken no steps to cut back on the use of solitary confinement in federal, state or local jails and prisons.

Special Administrative Measures

Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) are extra harsh conditions of confinement imposed on prisoners (including pre-trial detainees) by the Attorney General.  The U.S. Bureau of Prisons imposes restrictions such segregation and isolation from all other prisoners, and limitation or denial of contact with the outside world such as: no visitors except attorneys, no contact with news media, no use of phone, no correspondence, no contact with family, no communication with guards, 24 hour video surveillance and monitoring. The DOJ admitted in 2009 that several dozen prisoners, including several pre-trial detainees, mostly Muslims, were kept incommunicado under SAMS.  If anything, the use of SAMS has increased under the Obama administration.

These twenty concrete examples document a sustained assault on domestic civil liberties in the United States under the Obama administration.  Rhetoric aside, how different has Obama been from Bush in this area?

Muslims have a right to remain silent, and they have a right to retain attorneys.


In response to Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks about the NYPD being his personal army the following op-ed piece in Al-Jazeerah deserves a look

New York, NY – The Associated Press recently reported on know-your-rights trainings happening in New York City’s Muslim communities. This was one of the latest installments in the wire agency’s series confirming what Muslim New Yorkers had long suspected – that the New York Police Department has engaged in indiscriminate surveillance on ethnic and religious grounds, without concrete suspicion of criminal activity. Curiously, the AP’s latest story turns the series on its head, giving the dangerous impression that Muslim communities are refusing to share with law enforcement tips on actual criminal activity. This could not be further from the truth.

Through the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project at CUNY School of Law, we provide know-your-rights trainings in response to the NYPD and FBI’s broad-based surveillance of Muslim communities. We advise targeted communities about their rights when law enforcement knocks on their doors, asking questions about mosque attendance, political opinions and charitable giving that are unconnected to any suspicion of criminal activity.

We were therefore quite surprised to read the AP’s latest article, beginning with its headline, “Muslims Say: ‘Don’t Call NYPD'”. Our work focuses on a very different scenario: what to do when the NYPD calls you. And, in that context, the advice we offer is standard and uncontroversial fare, such as the rights to silence and to retain a lawyer, rights that apply to all within the United States.

The NYPD’s seeming suspicion of entire communities seems to be based on the notion that when Muslims live their faith and identity or associate with other Muslims, they pose a danger to American society. Like everyone else in the US, and especially given pervasive ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim communities, Muslims have a right to remain silent, and they have a right to retain attorneys.

This basic rights awareness message is important in Muslim communities where law enforcement has interrogated at least tens of thousands of people not suspected of any crime. The government seems most concerned about legally protected activity. Agents have attempted to question our clients about the mosques they attend, about what is said in those places of worship, about what they make of recent events in the Middle East, and about the websites they visit to get their news.

Of course, the government has no business prying into protected activity or fishing for opportunities to pressure people into sharing information about their families, neighbours and communities. Accordingly, we advise the clients and communities we serve to do what any American senator, president or public figure has done when law enforcement knocks: to exercise their right to remain silent and to retain an attorney.

The AP article misses an essential distinction between the reporting of criminal activity and participation in law enforcement’s indiscriminate efforts to collect information on the expressive and lawful activities of Muslim communities. To call Muslims “uncooperative” for exercising their rights in the face of such broad-based surveillance programmes is unfair and absurd.

In fact, there is no support for the claim that Muslims do not share information with law enforcement when they suspect criminal activity. It was a Muslim community in California, for example, that reported Craig Monteilh to the police when he started talking about blowing up buildings in the name of Islam. It turned out Monteilh was an informant on the FBI’s payroll. Taxpayer dollars were funding his efforts to collect the names, phone numbers, email addresses and licence plate numbers of Muslims in southern California.

The FBI and NYPD’s covert surveillance programmes in Muslim communities rely heavily on the deployment of undercover agents and informants such as Monteilh. Many informants are vulnerable community members themselves, who are pressured by the government to report voluminous amounts of information on the lawful activities of Muslims. In the cases that we know of, the government has used money, the threat of deportation or imprisonment and other forms of coercion to recruit its informants.

Though this may come as a surprise to a segment of the general public, informants are not typically sent into Muslim communities when law enforcement fears criminal activity is afoot. Instead, often without any suspicion of criminal activity, they are dispatched to countless mosques and community spaces around the country on fishing expeditions. Sometimes, as in the case of Monteilh, the informants actually promote violence.

A recent rally organised against NYPD surveillance in Manhattan signals that there remains great reason to hope. Even in this age of surveillance and fear, Muslims joined fellow New Yorkers to reject, collectively and publicly, the hallmarks of a police state. Together, they stood, prayed and chanted so that Muslims, too, can enjoy and exercise a full panoply of rights, including the right to express political opinions, to organise and, yes, to remain silent and to retain attorneys.

No Comment-How Long Has America Been At War?


Terror from within


At the moment America is too consumed with news about Herman Cain’s sexual predilections to hear or be interested in the the latest terror plot. It seems, sex sells even better than terror, or at least good enough to obscure news about terror. The fact that the defendants are not the types we like to associate with terror, although they are of the demographic that is more likely to be terrorists here in America than any Muslim, makes our fascination with their case even more fleeting if not downright non existent.  Four men in their 60s and 70s have been charged with offenses that could only be considered terrorism given what it was they were accused of doing.

Federal authorities said the men held clandestine militia meetings, beginning in March, in which they discussed using toxic agents and assassinations to undermine federal and state government…

This will never get the play in the media that foreigners or foreign sounding terrorist names would get in the face of such revelations and that is one of the many problems with the politicization of terrorism in today’s America.  The four defendants aren’t just some  cranky old men hatching another isolated incident of terror inspired violence on America, they are a side of America which has always been around and views change as violent and necessarily so.

During the 60s and 70s people of similar mindset were paraded in front of our televisions and on the front pages of our newspapers as threats to our society, and politicians made their political fortune denouncing the likes of the Black Panthers, SDS, SNCC, SCLC and other alphabet soup organizations that we were told posed an imminent threat to our democracy.  These organizations and the people that participated in their activities bore the full brunt of an enraged federal government and its police agencies that trampled on their rights, spied on and at times even killed them because some one said it was necessary and the right thing to do and very few of us flinched nor protested. Rather we cheered on and elected those politicians who said such actions were necessary in order to preserve the social order.  That was the same response we had to the cries from neocons about the clash of civilizations meme.

Somehow we are not quite able to see the threat the same way when it’s presented to us in the form of four senior citizen white males who are members of groups we’ve been told since the beginning of the Obama Administration were equally vicious and threatening to the American fabric. (On a side note, I wonder how vociferous  would our denunciation be if Obama decided to unilaterally send a drone attack over one of the meetings these four defendants had to hatch their plots and  killed them and any of their relatives?)  Our minds still seem to be  focused only on the dark, seedy,murderous, savage fundamentalist Muslims who want to destroy what we stand for because they are unable to reach the greatness that is America.  Such imagery when attached to anything evokes a response of horror and disgust, revulsion and abject rejection even when that thing is notable and essential to the life of our Nation.  How else can we look at our indifference to the various  Occupy movements spreading across the country, and the hostility they face from political leaders and members of the media who conjure up images of opponents of a bygone era or radical associations of a more recent time.

This is the story that will probably not receive the attention it deserves, not because these men wanted to overthrow the country….they couldn’t, or not because they are symptoms of a wider problem, they are but we are a country of over 300 million people and we’ve got a lot of problems.  This story deserves attention because there are too many people who believe that in order to defend this country they have to go out and kill somebody to do it. How did we get to this point that people like 73 year old Frederick Thomas think, ‘when it comes to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die.”  Perhaps, his time would have been better spent joining #OccupyWallStreet in Atlanta where he could have affected real change rather than plotting acts of terror that would only lead, as it has, to his own ruin.

 

The Never-ending Terror Threat


By Ivan Eland

Now that the big kahuna — Osama bin Laden — has been killed, the “War on Terror” is much less exciting.

Even before Osama’s demise, experts sent chills through the massive post-9/11 U.S. government anti-terrorism bureaucracies by concluding that the threat from al-Qaeda had been much weakened by the group’ s own bloody excesses against civilians, many of whom were Muslims.

Yet the way government works, every agency needs a threat to hype to keep the cash flowing in from scared taxpayers. So the anti-terrorism agencies need to keep the threat, however declining, fresh in the public mind and publicize their efforts to successfully combat the danger.

Recently, two incidents illustrate the extent of the government’s refrain that the “terrorists are (still) coming, the terrorists are (still) coming!”

As the public has tired of drawn-out, muddled and costly (in blood and treasure) counterinsurgency wars in faraway places that seem to have only a tangential relationship to battling insidious terrorists, technology has ridden to the rescue.

Now any U.S. president can kill potential terrorists with pilotless drone aircraft much more cheaply and without casualties from putting troops on the ground. For example, the U.S. is using such technology in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen to take out alleged Islamic terrorists.

Recently, an American drone successfully assassinated Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who spoke fluent English and was inspiring Islamist militants with charismatic speeches. U.S. authorities also made vague allegations that he was operationally involved in the BVD (underwear) bombing and a plot to blow cardboard boxes on cargo planes out of the sky.

Even disregarding the obvious problem of what legal authority the United States used to justify violating the Fifth Amendment’ s prohibition on taking life, liberty or property without due process — the Justice Department’ s legal memo justifying Awlaki’ s killing is classified, and Awlaki doesn’ t seem to be covered by the post-9/11 authorization for war, which only approved military action against those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks or harbored the attackers — the U.S. government clearly hyped the threat that Awlaki posed.

Awlaki was little known in the Middle East, and one knowledgeable scholar termed him “a-dime-a-dozen cleric.” Thus, his importance to the war on terror was largely a creation of the American government and media.

Seeing the opportunity for some free publicity — what terrorists crave — al-Qaeda then pushed Awlaki further into the manufactured limelight.

And now that the U.S. has made him a martyr by assassinating him on the basis of secret criteria, vague allegations, and no due process, the State Department had to put out a worldwide travel alert to American citizens warning of retaliatory attacks to avenge Awlaki’s death.

Also as part of the post-9/11 terrorism hype, the government has created a terrorist watch list containing 420,000 names, with no public disclosure of the criteria used to put that many people on it and no due process for such persons to answer the allegations. If only a fraction of that massive and wildly inflated list is trying to do harm to the United States, we are all in trouble.

In sum, in the war on terror, the U.S. government hypes the threat to justify expanding anti-terrorism efforts and budgets, argues that war is the only means to effectively combat the inflated threat (instead of using low-key intelligence and law enforcement measures, which don’t generate more terrorists by poking the hornet’s nest), and creates a wider retaliatory threat by using such draconian military action.

This wider danger is used to justify the need for even harsher military action, and the action-reaction cycle escalates. In sum, the government is creating the demand for its own services; private businesses should be in awe of such ability.

And not only is the government hyping the terrorist threat, it is creating it.

Like the hapless BVD bomber, who didn’t even have a bomb big enough to bring down the airliner, a graduate student the FBI recently arrested for plotting to blow up the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol with hobbyists’ remote-controlled aircraft would have been foiled by the fact that the planes just couldn’t carry enough explosives to do the job.

The student, a U.S. citizen, got very different treatment than Awlaki. Instead of being assassinated, he was arrested, but before that, the U.S. government purposefully helped him. The government, in order to entrap him, gave him money and grenades, assault rifles, C-4 plastic explosives, and even the remote-controlled aircraft to carry out the attack.

Without all this money and equipment, the student would have likely been no threat at all. In fact, according to The New York Times, Carmen M. Ortiz, the U.S. attorney in Boston, admitted, “The public was never in danger from the explosive devices.”

This is not an isolated case. In similar cases, the FBI has provided the means to carry out terrorist attacks but then arrested the alleged plotter. Such entrapment provides opportunities for people to do what they otherwise would not or could not do.

And Muslims have complained that the FBI is targeting their community with such “gotcha” tactics.

Such governmental hyping of the terrorist threat, or actual creation of it, to justify greater federal coercive action makes one wonder whether to fear more the low probability of a successful terrorist attack or the massive, expensive and intrusive government efforts to combat it.

An update on the “American Taliban”


John Walker Lindh, the American who was taken prisoner by US forces in Afghanistan at the very beginning of the Afghan/Iraq war and his subsequent mistreatment both by the Bush Administration and corporate media, which marked the beginning of America’s decent into lawlessness and criminality has always had a stalwart defender in his father Frank Lindh.  The senior Lindh wrote a lengthy, detailed piece for The Guardian newspaper earlier this summer  asserting his son’s  innocence against the charges of terrorism leveled by Bush’s justice department and proclaiming that the son, John met bin laden at some point BEFORE 911 but wasn’t impressed with him and felt no desire to do whatever it was bin laden wanted done in the way of terror.  He also says John was in Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance who at one point was even at odds with the Bush Administration, the implication being Lindh was doing America’s dirty work in fighting the NA until 911 happened.  Below is an excerpt; the entire article is linked above

As they moved among the prisoners, they singled out captives for interrogation. They never identified themselves as American agents, and so they appeared to John and the other prisoners to be mercenaries working directly for General Dostum.

John was spotted and removed from the body of prisoners for questioning. The moment was recorded on video and later seen by millions on television.

In the video, John sits mutely on the ground as he is questioned about his nationality.

“Irish? Ireland?” Spann asks.

John remains silent.

“Who brought you here?… You believe in what you are doing that much, you’re willing to be killed here?”

Still no reply.

Tyson to Spann [for John's benefit]: “The problem is, he’s got to decide if he wants to live or die, and die here. We’re just going to leave him, and he’s going to [expletive] sit in prison the rest of his [expletive] short life. It’s his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys.”

I think it was apparent that Spann and Tyson were American agents, but because they were in the company of Dostum’s forces, unaccompanied by American troops, it clearly was not safe for John to talk to them. They meant business when they said John might be killed by Dostum, and that the Red Cross could only “help so many guys”. John was in extreme peril at that moment, and he knew it.

John was then returned to the main body of prisoners, while others were still being brought out of the basement and forced to kneel in the horse pasture. Then, there was an explosion at the entrance to the basement, shouts were heard, and two prisoners grabbed the guards’ weapons. According to Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s account: “It was then… that Spann ‘did a Rambo’. As the remaining guards ran away, Spann flung himself to the ground and began raking the courtyard and its prisoners with automatic fire. Five or six prisoners jumped on him, and he disappeared beneath a heap of bodies.”

Spann’s body was later recovered by US special forces troops. He was the first American to die in combat in the American–Afghan war. He was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.

There were two groups of Taliban prisoners in the fortress: those who chose to fight and those who hunkered down in the basement of the pink building and tried to survive. John was in the latter group.

By Wednesday, the last of the resisting Taliban fighters had been killed, and Dostum’s soldiers were once again in full control of the fortress. Luke Harding was allowed into the compound along with some other journalists, and he found a horrific scene: “We had expected slaughter, but I was unprepared for its hellish scale… It was hard to take it all in. The dead and various parts of the dead… turned up wherever you looked: in thickets of willows and poplars; in waterlogged ditches; in storage rooms piled with ammunition boxes.” Harding observed that many of the Taliban prisoners had died with their hands tied behind their backs.

On Saturday 1 December, the Red Cross arrived at the fortress and the survivors, who for several days had been trying to surrender, were finally allowed to exit the basement. When they emerged into the bright sunlight, they encountered a confusing horde of journalists, Red Cross workers, Dostum’s soldiers, and British and American troops.

That evening John and the other survivors were taken to a prison hospital in Sheberghan. Although wet and cold from the flooding of the basement, they were transported in open bed trucks in the frigid night air. At Sheberghan, John was carried on a stretcher and set down in a small room with approximately 15 other prisoners. CNN correspondent Robert Pelton came in accompanied by a US special forces soldier and a cameraman. Despite John’s protests, Pelton persisted in filming John and asking questions as an American medical officer administered morphine intravenously. By the time he departed a short time later, Pelton had captured on videotape an interview in which John said that his “heart had become attached” to the Taliban, that every Muslim aspired to become a shahid, or martyr, and that he had attended a training camp funded by Osama bin Laden.

The CNN interview became a sensation in the US. By mid-December, virtually every newspaper in America was running front-page stories about the American Taliban, and the broadcast media were saturated with features and commentary about John. Here was a “traitor” who had “fought against America” and aligned himself with the 11 September terrorists. Newsweek magazine published an issue with John’s photograph on the cover, under the caption “American Taliban”.

Beginning in early December, President Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, members of the cabinet and other officials then embarked on a series of truly extraordinary public statements about John, referring to him repeatedly as an “al-Qaida fighter”, a terrorist and a traitor. I think it fair to say there has never been a case quite like this in the history of the US, in which officials at the highest levels of the government made such prejudicial statements about an individual citizen who had not yet been charged with any crime.

I will offer only a small sample of these statements. In an interview at the White House on 21 December 2001, President Bush said John was “the first American al-Qaida fighter that we have captured”. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defence, told reporters at a press briefing that John had been “captured by US forces with an AK-47 in his hands”. Colin Powell, secretary of state, said John had “brought shame upon his family”. Rudy Giuliani, New York mayor, remarked: “I believe the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider.”

John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, staged two televised press conferences in which he accused John of attacking the US. “Americans who love their country do not dedicate themselves to killing Americans,” he declared.

A federal judge took the unusual step of writing to the New York Times criticising the attorney general for violating “Justice Department guidelines on the release of information related to criminal proceedings that are intended to ensure that a defendant is not prejudiced when such an announcement is made”.

Even the ultra-conservative National Review thought Ashcroft had gone too far in making such prejudicial comments about a pending prosecution. It criticised the comments as “inappropriate” and “gratuitous”, stating that in the future “it would be better for the attorney general simply to announce the facts of the indictments, and to avoid extra comments which might unintentionally imperil successful prosecutions”.

Once John was in the custody of the US military, the US government had to decide what to do with him. The FBI has estimated that during the 90s as many as 2,000 American citizens travelled to Muslim lands to take up arms voluntarily, and that as many as 400 American Muslims received training in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. None of these American citizens was indicted, or labelled as traitor and terrorist. They were simply ignored by their government, which made no attempt to interfere with their travel. But the 9/11 attacks changed everything, and it was the timing of John’s capture that contributed to his fate. It soon became apparent to me that, rather than simply repatriate my wounded son, the government was intent on prosecuting him as a “terrorist”.

In the days and weeks that followed, John endured abuse from the US military that exceeded the bounds of what any civilised nation should tolerate, even in time of war. Donald Rumsfeld directly ordered the military to “take the gloves off” in questioning John.

On 7 December, wounded and still suffering from the effects of the trauma at Qala-i-Jangi, John was flown to Camp Rhino, a US marine base approximately 70 miles south of Kandahar. There he was taunted and threatened, stripped of his clothing, and bound naked to a stretcher with duct tape wrapped around his chest, arms, and ankles. Even before he got to Camp Rhino, John’s wrists and ankles were bound with plastic restraints that caused severe pain and left permanent scars – sure proof of torture. Still blindfolded, he was locked in an unheated metal shipping container that sat on the desert floor. He shivered uncontrollably in the bitter cold. Soldiers outside pounded on the sides, threatening to kill him.

In June 2002, Newsweek obtained copies of internal email messages from the justice department’s ethics office commenting on the Lindh case as the events were unfolding in December 2001. The office specifically warned in advance against the interrogation tactics the FBI used at Camp Rhino, and concluded that the interrogation of John without his lawyer present would be unlawful and unethical. This advice was ignored by the FBI agent who conducted the interrogation.

Interestingly, in an 10 December email, one of the justice department ethics lawyers noted: “At present, we have no knowledge that he did anything other than join the Taliban.”

John’s lawyers filed a motion to “suppress” the statements that had been extracted him under duress at Camp Rhino. A hearing was scheduled in July 2001, which would have included testimony by John and others about the brutality he had suffered at the hands of US soldiers. On the eve of the hearing, the government prosecutors approached John’s attorneys and negotiated a plea agreement. It was apparent they did not want evidence of John’s torture to be introduced in court.

In the plea agreement John acknowledged that by serving as a soldier in Afghanistan he had violated the anti-Taliban economic sanctions imposed by President Clinton and extended by President Bush. This was, as John’s lawyer pointed out, a “regulatory infraction”. John also agreed to a “weapons charge”, which was used to enhance his prison sentence. In particular, he acknowledged that he had carried a rifle and two grenades while serving as a soldier in the Taliban army. All of the other counts in the indictment were dropped by the government, including the terrorism charges the attorney general had so strongly emphasised and the charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Mike Spann.

At the insistence of defence secretary Rumsfeld, the plea agreement also included a clause in which John relinquished his claims of torture.

The punishment in the plea agreement was by any measure harsh: 20 years of imprisonment, commencing on 1 December 2001, the day John came into the hands of US forces in Afghanistan. The prosecutors told John’s attorneys that the White House insisted on the lengthy sentence, and that they could not negotiate downward.

On 4 October 2002, the judge approved the plea agreement as “just and reasonable” and sentenced John to prison. Before the sentence was pronounced, John was allowed to read a prepared statement, which provided a moment of intense drama in the crowded courtroom. He spoke with strong emotion. He explained why he had gone to Afghanistan to help the Taliban in their fight with the Northern Alliance, saying it arose from his compassion for the suffering of ordinary people who had been subjected to atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance. He explained that when he went to Afghanistan he “saw the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance as a continuation of the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets”.

John strongly condemned terrorism. “I went to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting against terrorism and oppression.” He had acted, he said, out of a sense of religious duty and he condemned terrorism as being “completely against Islam”. He said: “I have never supported terrorism in any form and never would.”

After a brief recess, the judge granted a request by John Spann, the father of Mike Spann, to address the court and express his dissatisfaction with the plea agreement. He began by saying that he, his family, and many other people believed that John had played a role in the killing of Mike Spann. Judge Ellis interrupted and said: “Let me be clear about that. The government has no evidence of that.” Spann responded: “I understand.” The judge politely explained that the “suspicions, the inferences you draw from the facts are not enough to warrant a jury conviction”. He said that Mike Spann had died a hero, and that among the things he died for was the principle that “we don’t convict people in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Osama bin Laden is dead. John Lindh, now 30 years old, remains in prison. He spends most of his time pursuing his study of the Qur’an and Islamic scholarship. He also reads widely in a variety of nonfiction subjects, especially history and politics. He remains a devout Muslim.

NOW, they say bin laden wasn’t all that important so does that mean 10 more years of war until we get the REAL leader of al-qaeda? I’m just saying…


A still of 2004 Osama bin Laden video

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve seen his picture blasted across TV screens and computer monitors the world over for the last ten years; we’ve heard his speeches speak of the doom our civilizations would suffer at the hands of his followers and the humiliation we would face at their victory and our defeat, and we watched as two presidents decided their political fate based on his words, but never mind.  Seems Usama bin Laden wasn’t the real deal after all if this article is to be believed.

Osama bin Laden was out of touch with the younger generation of al Qaida commanders, and they often didn’t follow his advice during the years he was in hiding in northern Pakistan, U.S. and Pakistani officials now say…..bin Laden clearly wasn’t in control of al Qaida, though he was trying to remain involved or at least influential.

“He was like the cranky old uncle that people weren’t listening to,” said a U.S. official, who’d been briefed on the evidence collected from the Abbottabad compound and who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “The younger guys had never worked directly with him. They did not take everything he said as right.”

What does it mean for the greatest power in the world to spend all of the manpower and money it did  over the last 10 years to bring to justice a man who it turns out was not really the leader of the most despised movement known to man after all? Opps, my bad.  Does that also mean we’ll have to spend another decade hunting down the REAL leader of al-Qaeda?

 

If you think black people can’t be racist, look no farther than Herman Cain to dispel that notion


A 66 year old black man from the state of Georgia had this to say about Muslims.

You have peaceful Muslims, then you have militant Muslims, those that are trying to kill us…I was thinking about the ones that were trying to kill us.

I guess he forgot about the history of lynchings of people like him in his home state of Georgia by terrorists. Perhaps Mr. Cain doesn’t know the history of these terrorists whose tactics sound strikingly familiar to ones being used by members of Mr. Cain’s party today!

William J. Simmons renewed the KKK at a Stone Mountain, Georgia, ceremony in 1915. Later, Christian fundamentalist ministers aided recruitment as the Klan portrayed itself as the protector of traditional values during the Jazz Age.

As its membership grew into the millions in the 1920s, the Klan exerted considerable political influence, helping to elect sympathetic candidates to state and national offices. The group was strong not only in southern states such as Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, but also in Oklahoma, California, Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. Strongly opposed to non–Anglo-Saxon immigration, the Klan helped secure the passage of strict quotas on immigration. In addition to being racist, the group also espoused hatred of Jews, Catholics, socialists, and unions.

No doubt, Mr. Cain probably believes that black citizens of America wanted to be kept as slaves, so shallow and misguided is his understanding of his own history and that of his country, but what he says sounds good enough to enough Americans to be considered a serious contender to the Republican Party’s nomination!  And you thought we didn’t have a race problem in this country!

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