I’ve tried to make this point several times here, so I’ll let someone else do it more eloquently than I could


Radically Wrong: Misstated Threats – Terrorism isn’t an American-Muslim Problem

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office

blog-muslimprofiling-500x280-v01None. Zero. That’s the number of fatalities or injuries from terrorist acts by American Muslims over the last two years, according to a recent report from the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. Here are some other numbers from the report worth noting: In the United States in 2012, there were nine “terrorist plots” by American Muslims—only one of which led to violence. Of those nine plots, only 14 suspects were indicted. Separately, six suspects were indicted for support of terrorism.

Terrorism is not a “Muslim” phenomenon. Indeed, last year, the author of the report called terrorism by American Muslims “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Yet far too many policymakers assume the opposite is true, and too many policies are predicated on the false and bigoted assumption that Muslims are more likely to engage in terrorism than other Americans. The numbers above show how false the premise is. So why are we willing to undermine civil liberties, target an entire religious community, and devote countless resources to this “minuscule threat?”

The answer: a widely debunked “theory” on describing the “process” that drives people to become terrorists. This “theory” is based on the mistaken notion that adopting “radical” ideas (which, under the theory, includes religious beliefs) is a dangerous first step toward committing terrorist acts. Countering terrorism, the thinking goes, begins with countering “radicalization.”

Although it’s been refuted, the “theory” continues to drive policy. Recent Congressional Research Service reports cite it, and the White House issued a plan to counter violent extremism based on it. While the White House deserves some credit for using more careful language and for emphasizing the need for community engagement, it still perpetuates the notion that “how individuals are radicalized to violence” is something we can and should study and understand. And the number of agencies, task forces, working groups, and committees across government that are engaged in the White House’s plan is, well, staggeringly high.

Not surprisingly, when flawed theory drives policy, implementation of the policy is flawed too. If counterterrorism officials believe that adopting radical beliefs is a necessary first stage to terrorism, they will obviously target religious communities and political activists with their enforcement measures.

Take for example, the practice of “preventive policing” by which law enforcement doesn’t focus on crime, but rather tracks legal activities. It has a real and negative impact on individuals: the FBI conducts “assessments” or uses informants, conducts interviews, and surveils people based on their ideas or religious beliefs, or whether they are a certain religion, race, or ethnicity rather than information suggesting they might be involved in criminal activity. Preventive policing also affects entire communities. Through “domain management,” the FBI monitors and tracks entire religious, ethnic, and racial communities based on false stereotypes that ascribe certain types of crimes to entire minority communities. Targeted groups include Muslim- and Arab-Americans in Michigan, and also African-Americans in Georgia, Chinese- and Russian-Americans in California, and broad swaths of Latino-American communities in multiple states.

The FBI has increasingly relied on another tactic based on this flawed theory: the agent provocateur. Remarkably, most of the nine terrorist plots carried out by American Muslims uncovered in 2012 involved informants and undercover agents. According to a recent investigation, undercover agents and informants have targeted “Muslims who espouse radical beliefs, are vocal about their disapproval of American foreign policy, or have expressed sympathy for international terrorist groups”—otherwise known as First Amendment-protected activity. The investigation shows that these targets are fairly unsophisticated and “clearly pose little real threat” on their own. With all essential materials (like money and weapons) coming from government agents and informants, these plots are more manufactured by the government than interdicted.

It’s also clear that preventive policing won’t be tied to an empirical analysis of where significant violence occurs. According to West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, violent acts by far-right extremists significantly outnumber those by American Muslims, but have been virtually ignored by policy makers (though the report has its own problems). While there have been multiple congressional hearings on so-called radicalization of Muslims, there have been none on political violence emanating from the Far Right.

When we implement law enforcement practices that say those who hold “radical” political ideas or religious beliefs, for instance, are dangerous, we could all be in danger. What’s a “radical” idea or belief? It’s one that “reject[s] the status quo.” It’s not hard to imagine that almost all of us hold some “radical” beliefs, which is why it’s not surprising that so many groups come under government suspicion. Anti-government militiamen, misfit anarchists, PETA, Greenpeace, and the Catholic Worker have already been targeted. Who’s to say the group you belong to won’t be next.

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Here we go again…..


Remember this guy? longHe was denied entry into his own country for several long, excruciating months due to the appearance of his name on the mysterious, unfathomable no fly list or whatever it’s designation really is. Finally he was allowed to fly to his home state of Oklahoma and his return was uneventful, if you don’t count this  rather intimidating run in he had with the FBI back in November.  Well he’s back in the news again and here’s why

In early November, I wrote about the infuriating story of Saadiq Long, the 43-year-old African-American Muslim who – despite having never been charged with any crime – was secretly placed on a no-fly list and thus barred from flying to the US to visit his seriously ill mother. When I met with Long in early November in Doha, Qatar, where he has lived for several years with his wife and her two children while teaching English, he was in the middle of his futile months-long battle just to find out why he was placed on this list, let alone how he could be removed.

Two weeks after that article was published, Long – without explanation – was finally removed from the no-fly list and he flew from Doha to Oklahoma City to visit his mother and other family members. He took several flights to make the 20-hour journey, all without incident. He has remained in Oklahoma for the last ten weeks, visiting his family in the US for the first time in over a decade.

But now Long – unbeknownst to him – has once again apparently been secretly placed by some unknown National Security State bureaucrat on the no-fly list. On Wednesday night, as Associated Press first reported, he went to the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City to fly back home to Qatar. In order to ensure there were no problems, his lawyer sent the FBI a letter ahead of time notifying them that Long would be flying home on that date (see the embedded letter below).

But without explanation, Long was denied a boarding pass at the airport by a Delta Airlines agent. Three local police officers then arrived on the scene, followed by a US Transportation Security Administration agent who “told Long he couldn’t board a plane but did not give him a specific reason”.

Long’s lawyer, Adam Soltani of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was with him at the airport and repeatedly asked agents why this was happening and who they should contact. He got no answers, except was told to contact the FBI. But both the FBI and Delta refused to comment to AP, while TSA spokesman David Castelveter would only say this:

“It’s my understanding this individual was denied a boarding pass by the airline because he was on a no-fly list. The TSA does not confirm whether someone is or is not on the no-fly list, as that list is maintained by the FBI.”

Long and his CAIR lawyers have thus far been told nothing about why he is barred once again from flying.

The personal cost to this injustice is obvious and substantial. Long has a job he needs to return to in Doha from which he has been away for more than two months, and his family needs that income for its sustenance. “I was extremely disappointed when I was unable to board the flight this past Wednesday,” Long told me through his lawyer. “My family in Qatar feels crushed that I will not be returning home as expected.”

The sense of humiliation and outrage should not be hard to fathom. Just imagine being a US citizen, denied the right to travel home – first to your own country, then back to your family – by a government that has never charged you with any crime or indicated you have engaged in wrongdoing of any sort. Imagine going to the airport and having local and federal agents arrive to prevent you from boarding a plane, treating you like a criminal – a Terrorist – without any tangible accusations. “I don’t understand how the government can take away my right to travel without even telling me,” he told me back in November. “If the US government wanted me to question or arrest or prosecute me, they could have had me in a minute. But there are no charges, no accusations, nothing.”

But what’s particularly infuriating here is that, if they had evidence that Long has done anything wrong, they easily could have arrested him at any point over the last ten weeks when he was in the US. The reality is that they could have arrested him at any time over the last decade because he has lived in three countries with highly US-loyal autocracies: Egypt, the UAE and Qatar. But he was never arrested, never charged with anything – just denied the basic right to travel.

Here is what CAIR’s Gadeir Abbas told me about all of this on Thursday:

“It is not as if the FBI actually thinks Saadiq is a threat. If it did – and it had actual evidence – the FBI would simply arrest him. As they surely recall, they let him fly just a few months ago. It turns out, though, the only reason for doing so is because it is, in the FBI’s view, slightly more indefensible to prevent an American citizen from flying home than it is to prevent him from flying abroad.

“And because we told the FBI ahead of time when Saadiq would be flying, hardly the behavior of a criminal, they could have stuck an air marshal right next to him. They could have subjected his person and luggage to extra scrutiny. But the FBI does not do these things because the No Fly List is not used to protect aircraft. This watchlist – and the many others like it – is a means by which the FBI metes out extra-judicial punishment.”

How can anyone argue with that? Even leaving aside that he just flew into and around the US less than three months ago without incident, the very idea that he poses a threat to this flight is patently ludicrous given their advance knowledge that he was flying and the multiple precautions they could take if they really were concerned.

Plainly, air travel safety is not what any of this is about. It is about inventing ways to punish US Muslims and deprive them of the most basic rights without so much as providing any notice, let alone any due process that would enable the secret, unknown accusations to be discovered and rebutted. And it is a very common weapon.

Use of this repressive tactic has worsened significantly under the Obama administration. Last February, Associated Press learned that “the Obama administration has more than doubled, to about 21,000 names, its secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the United States, including about 500 Americans.” Moreover, as I detailed last November based on that AP report:

“Worse, the Obama administration ‘lowered the bar for being added to the list’. As a result, reported AP, ‘now a person doesn’t have to be considered only a threat to aviation to be placed on the no-fly list’ but can be included if they ‘are considered a broader threat to domestic or international security’, a vague status determined in the sole and unchecked discretion of unseen DHS bureaucrats.”

There should be no doubt of the FBI’s desire to harass Long. Although they never charged him with any crime or arrested him while he was in Oklahoma, he was, along with his sister, Ava Anderson, handcuffed and put on the ground the day after Thanksgiving after they drove to their local police department in fear when they noticed they were being followed. It turns out that the FBI had falsely told local police that Long and his sister were “fleeing felons”, but when the local police learned that was false, they never arrested Long or his sister. They were simply told to leave without explanation.

As Abbas told me after that incident occurred: “Our sense is that a particular FBI agent, or perhaps a small group of them, in Oklahoma City are looking to inflict some pain on Saadiq and his family – maybe in retaliation for the embarrassment he caused them or the thousands of emails that ended up getting sent to their field office there.”

The worst part of all of this is the complete lack of remedy available to Long. Abbas told me: “unfortunately, because of arcane jurisdictional complications, we don’t think seeking a preliminary injunction is necessarily an expeditious option for getting Saadiq on a plane.” Even worse:

“We’ll likely try again in a couple of weeks, but if there isn’t some change by then, this puts Saadiq in the position of rolling the dice and trying to get to a country by land or sea that will actually let him fly. Even in these situations, however, we’ve seen detentions and interrogations by foreign authorities, such as here and here.”

So now he’s just in a no-man’s land. He can’t contest the accusations against him because there are none. After being blocked for months from visiting his own country and his terminally ill mother, he’s now barred from returning to his home, his job, and his own family. All of this is done by his own government without a shred of due process, transparency or accountability.

When I wrote on Tuesday about the Obama DOJ’s “white paper” justifying due-process-free presidential assassinations, I wrote that “the core distortion of the War on Terror under both Bush and Obama is the Orwellian practice of equating government accusations of terrorism with proof of guilt” and that “if the US government simply asserts without evidence or trial that someone is a terrorist, then they are assumed to be, and they can then be punished as such.” This is exactly what I was talking about: I’m sure there will be no shortage of people justifying this by insisting that he must have done something wrong: even though the government has never said what that is, offered evidence for it, or provided any opportunity for the accusations to be independently examined.

This is also a perfect example of what New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal meant when he wrote last March that the US now has “what’s essentially a separate justice system for Muslims”. State punishment without charges and trials is now perfectly normal – for Muslims.

Glenn Greenwald—The Guardian

Where’s the outrage?!?!


rageI like President Obama.  I thought he was a viable and even American alternative to the excesses of the Bush presidency,which were rooted in lies and secrecy that I thought threatened the existence of America as we know it.  However,  close examination of Obama’s record, vis-a-vis foreign policy shows that at the least there is no difference between the two administrations or worse that Obama has surpassed Bush’s excesses.

Unfortunately President Obama has gone from an America where detention of American citizens was something hinted at or debated in foreign policy circles in the Bush administration to indefinite detention being codified with NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act.  By widening the ‘war on terror’ or accepting as did Bush that it is an infinite conflict in both time and borders, and with the appropriate laws in place, Obama has made the federal government an usurper of the rights of American citizens to habeas corpus meaning any American anywhere in the world can be captured and held indefinitely for as long as the federal government wants.  This also means, should the government wish it could act  as  executioner of those it wants to target for assassination without giving them a chance to turn themselves in or  have access to the judicial system, so says this  latest bit of news to come out of Washington

…the president can order the killing of a US citizen who is a member of al-Qaida…(without any specificity on)  the “minimum legal requirements” for launching such an operation, (the Administration) insists that the killing would be constitutionally justified as the United States is engaged in an “armed conflict” as defined by international law and authorised by Congress, with al-Qaida and its affiliates.  In a key passage in the document – which is unsigned – (the Administration) argues that for a US citizen who has rights under the due process clause and the fourth amendment, “that individual’s citizenship would not immunise from a lethal operation”.

The Administration also goes on to assert all of this can be done without any over sight from the judiciary…..it is considered too intrusive and burdensome and would get in the way of the President’s ability to act swiftly  against citizens.  Obama also says that such lethal and deadly force can be carried out against Americans even if they are not in the planning stages of an attack or if they are “associated” with terror organizations.  Just what he means by associated with is left up to his discretion alone.  Therefore, it is conceivable that an American citizen can be targeted for assassination by his government because he knows someone who is a member of a terrorist organization even though he may not share the views of his friend or the group to which he belongs.  The prospect is frightening and  horrifying.

If there is any doubt that these measures are designed for Muslims and Muslim Americans, that doubt should be erased just by a casual glimpse of those organizations deemed terrorist by the US government….an overwhelming majority of them are situated in the Middle East and most likely made of those who call themselves Muslim by faith.  That does not mean that the organization is driven by any Islamic ideals or philosophy, however, because of the many different groups the one area of the Middle East which has the most groups designated as a terrorist organization is Palestine with 8 followed by Iraq with five.  Clearly while these groups may be made up of Muslims they  exist to drive out what their members consider invaders or occupiers of their territory, or violators of their sovereignty.  Absent such a foreign influence it may be safe to assume these groups would blend into a normal political structure consistent with governments and politics the world over.

The other indication that Muslims have become targeted by this Administration in ways that exceed what Bush did is with the denial of return to American citizens living and working abroad, forced exile,  or those who may want to travel from America to other countries.  We’ve written extensively here at Miscellany101 about the pesky no-fly list since it was imposed on the American public.  Unfortunately, the Obama administration has chosen to expand upon no fly lists and means of denying travel  in ways that seem to point to it targeting specifically American Muslims.  This from the president who spent most of his first term weathering rumors that he himself was Muslim, now seemingly oppressing Muslims in order to exorcise the label from him. Fix this America!

 

 

 

Scared yet? You shouldn’t be!


scared_faceThere’s good news on the horizon for all of you who have believed the news pounded in the Nation’s subconscious since 911 that there’s some sort of Muslim plot to terrorize the homeland into submission.  We’ve always said such notions simply don’t exist among Muslim citizens of America and each year we’ve been proven right.  Well the trend keeps supporting that notion, with the latest news describing the prospects of terror from America’s Muslims as “nil”.

Try as al-Qaida might to encourage them, American Muslims still aren’t committing acts of terrorism. Only 14 people out of a population of millions were indicted for their involvement in violent terrorist plots in 2012, a decline from 2011′s 21. The plots themselves hit the single digits last year.

So much for a widespread stereotype. According to data tracked by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in North Carolina and released Friday (.PDF), there were nine terrorist plots involving American Muslims in 2012. Only one of them, the attempted bombing of a Social Security office in Arizona, actually led to any violence. There were no casualties in that or any other incident. And the Triangle study tracks indictments, not convictions.

……The sample of Muslim Americans turning to terror is “vanishingly small,” Kurzman tells Danger Room…..Yet the scrutiny by law enforcement and homeland security on American Muslims has not similarly abated. The FBI tracks “geomaps” of areas where Muslims live and work, regardless of their involvement in any crime. The Patriot Act and other post-9/11 restrictions on government surveillance remain in place.

So while you don’t have anything to fear from your Muslim neighbors, you still have an intrusive, bloated, super secret, covert government that is finding ways to insert itself into your daily routines at your expense.  What the government and most Americans fail to realize is America’s Muslims are busy living their lives and finding their niche on this multi-cultural landscape like this Muslim American8424302590_8c1284e1c2 , Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim woman to compete on behalf of the United States in international competition.

Ibtihaj, a two-time U.S. National Fencing Champion and a member of the U.S. National Fencing Team since 2009, began fencing at the age of 13. She was raised in an athletic household with four siblings and played many recreational sports growing up. After searching for a sport that would enable her to comply with the Muslim requirement of modesty by remaining fully covered, her mother pointed out students fencing in full body uniforms while driving by their local school. Muhammad said because of this chance moment, “I’d like to think fencing found me.” Reminding students again of the ability to find a passion regardless of circumstance she added, “Don’t let anyone tell you no. There’s nothing you can’t achieve.”

America, it’s time to throw off your shackles of fear and embrace those who make up a part of the American fabric, albeit with different names and clothing than your own, but who are your equal in their fealty to the rule of law and the pursuit of happiness.  You can do it America if you stop being afraid.

Hat tip to @ZahraBillo

Transracial adoption-why is it such taboo?


transracialRecently I went on a tear on Twitter where I railed:

Is cross racial adoption as much a taboo for Muslims as it is for non Muslims? http://tinyurl.com/atnmgfo  evidently so!

Whose identity do adoption agencies fear will be lost; the adopted child or the State’s?

Where in Islam is institutional racism justified? I ask my Muslim friends but no one can give me an answer!

The cause of my ire which sent me spiraling out of  control was  this article during my daily consumption of news which I read on the web on a daily basis.  What was written there was this one sentence tidbit,

“We also consider the race of the adopting family,” she said. “A black child who lives at the centre would go to a black Emirati family because we don’t want the child growing up completely different.”

This caused me to fire off a letter to a dear friend in which I wrote,
….Muhammad’s (way of conducting affairs in society) says there is not supposed to be any difference between black and white, and where everything else is the same, I.e. religion, language AND nationality why would a Muslim country want to accentuate one of these man made obstructions……
Instead, I wrote to my friend,  I optimistically cling to the position that a society should welcome ANY family, and let’s say for the moment we’re talking about a typical man-woman/husband-wife family absent physical-emotional abuse, taking on the responsibility of adopting a child and raising it according to the norms of that society, be it an Islamic or predominantly Muslim country, or a Christian or predominantly Christian society.  What struck me about the article, even provoked me is that even when there are no impediments to a society coexisting with so many similarities within it self, we, humans place some sort of stumbling block in the way to keep peaceful coexistence and harmony from happening, to the detriment of the society as a whole.  (In the case of the young girl in the article, one has to ask how long will she languish in legal limbo while authorities  try to find a “black” family to adopt her when there may be white families ready and willing to do so now?!) There are as many examples of successful cross-racial adoptions as there are failures, yet, like the half-empty half-full glass analogy, we tend to focus on the negative and by doing so add to its power and impact on us.    I also went on to write  to my friend, without knowing at the time, that the American model of adoption was a far better example to follow, and after reading came to find out this
MEPA (Multiethnic Placement Act) contains three major provisions affecting child welfare policy and practice:

  • Prohibits agencies from refusing or delaying foster or adoptive placements because of a child’s or foster/adoptive parent’s race, color, or national origin
  • Prohibits agencies from considering race, color, or national origin as a basis for denying approval as a foster or adoptive parent
  • Requires agencies to diligently recruit a diverse base of foster and adoptive parents to better reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of children in out of home care

It’s interesting to see America, the great Satan as it was once called, teaching Islamic countries and the rest of the world lessons those countries should have learned at their inception and which still seem to elude them.