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

“….with liberty and justice for all” unless you’re an American Muslim


kafka-justice-for-muslims

If you thought DWB, ‘driving while black’ was bad for those American citizens who are of African descent, you can expect if you are a Muslim you will not receive any justice under the American judicial system.  In fact it is SO bad for American Muslims the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal asserts in an oped entitled ‘Liberty and Justice for non Muslims‘,

Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, genuine concerns about national security as well as politicking and fear have led to a shift in the balance between civil liberties and law enforcement. That much is indisputable, and widely discussed. Yet it’s rarely acknowledged that the attacks have also led to what’s essentially a separate justice system for Muslims. In this system, the principle of due process is twisted and selectively applied, if it is applied at all.

he then concentrates on special detention centers, due process and the lack thereof as it applies to Muslim defendants and extra judicial surveillance by government law agencies.

It is unfortunate to witness that in the second term of a “progressive” president we have seen the steady, unabated encroachment of the exclusion of due process for Muslim Americans.  This dates to the Clinton administration’s special administrative measures, SAM, which ended calls, letters and visits with anyone except attorneys and sharply limited contact with family members.  Bush introduced the dreaded Patriot Act which further muddied the waters and made due process even harder for people who came under government scrutiny by expanding government’s role in the rather nefarious and broadly defined “terrorism prosecutions”.  Glen Greenwald has  adroitly gone on to show how charges of “terrorism” make it a cinch for the government to win against defendants so charged

…when someone is accused of terrorism, the rules governing trials and law completely change. All sorts of things that the state is normally barred from doing on the grounds that it is unjust suddenly become permissible when someone faces terrorism charges. Indeed, so “prejudicial” are these special rules of “justice” for terrorism cases that anyone convicted under these rules is, by definition, treated unfairly if terrorism is inapplicable.

…It’s a separate system of justice so intrinsically unjust and unfair – designed to ensure that Muslims accused of “terrorism” have basically no chance of acquittal…

It is hard to overstate the centrality of the term “terrorism” when it comes to state power, policy and law. It is the term that launches wars and sustains the US posture of endless war..

Yet this term, arguably in the abstract and certainly as applied, has no fixed meaning. It’s just a manipulative slogan legitimizing all forms of American violence against Muslims…it’s the overarching foundation for a completely separate system of justice for Muslims that is in exactly the same category as the most shameful episodes of US history.

President Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act, NDAA, another heinous piece of legislation all but ensures that American citizens can be held indefinitely without legal recourse for as long as the “controlling legal authority” outside of the judiciary deems appropriate.  It strips a citizen’s access to due process and isolates him to a labyrinthine parallel system of government restrictions that can go on in perpetuity.  This is the kind of system people fled from before the formation of this country and until very recently it is this kind of randomness that has escaped us, but now it seems to be much more common than not.

If there’s any doubt about that ask Saadiq Long, an American Muslim and Air Force veteran with no criminal record who was denied the possibility of returning to America because he was placed, unbeknownst to him, on the dreaded no-fly list.  He lived and worked in the Middle East for America’s allies in places like Egypt and  Qatar, both of them countries of stability that have managed to avoid or eliminated, you choose the term, radicalism that has plagued the area, and it’s pretty safe to say that Long had too.  So it was, although because of recent history should not have been, a surprise that he was told he could not fly back to America from Qatar. Publicity and the advocacy of lawyers and civil rights groups, notably among them the Council of American Islamic Relations were able to secure a remedy for him…..seven months after initially being told he could not fly into American air space. Even now, Long does not know why he was told he could not fly back in April, 2012.  Unfortunately, his troubles  did not end there.

In a recently held press conference, Long claims the FBI has harassed him since his return to Oklahoma that led to a dramatic standoff between him and federal agents in front of his hometown police department.  Long claims reason given by one of the agents for the standoff which ended with guns being drawn on Long and his party, was Long’s refusal to speak with the FBI without legal counsel being present.  Had he agreed to meet with agents without a lawyer, so goes the theory, none of the dramatic, heart stopping action of the encounter would have taken place; but isn’t it a right of American citizens to have a lawyer present when talking to law enforcement officials? Evidently that right does not exist if you are an American Muslim, and why should it, if over the past decade an enormous amount of legal maneuvering has made it possible for what was formally known as rights to due process available to ALL citizens are now being denied people of the Islamic faith.  Common knowledge and wisdom about a person’s rights to legal access and the necessity thereof seem to be irrelevant and inapplicable to America’s Muslims, and this seems to be continuing into the second term of America’s latest progressive president who happens to have been a constitutional professor.

America must stop this decline into the illegal abyss because if it’s possible to make this step with one group of American citizens it can extend to each and every one of us; once precedent is accepted it becomes the rule of law and there is very little likelihood of retreat from the abuses that will arise thereof.   I hope that EVERY American can see the disadvantage of remaining silent as this happens to a very disliked, despised group of Americans and support them even if it’s to keep the same abuses from happening to them.  Wake up America, please.

A comment is needed for this latest Islamophobic display


When I saw this the first thing that came to mind was the poor, ignorant people responsible for this “display” probably were including traffic tickets received by the Muslims who live in their area.  I wasn’t too far off

Factually, the number of “*19,250 Islamic attacks (*and counting)” is a purposeful fabrication….this so-called “Islamic Terrorism ticker” that gives us the oddly precise round number of 19,250 is taken from the anti-Muslim website “The Religion of Peace” (TROP)

Many of the attacks listed by TROP relate to nationalist insurgencies, such as the conflict involving Baluchi nationalists seeking independence from Pakistan. Some of the attacks listed by TROP are in fact crimes committed by Muslims or people with Muslim sounding names that have nothing to do with Islam or terrorism, such as honor killings, the killing of local policemen, petty assault, etc.

In other words, the people who come up with these figures have managed to include everything that was ever done by someone with a Muslim sounding name as terror related and I may not be too far off in wondering if traffic tickets have been included in the mix.  I’m a bit conflicted however, to read that the people who are obliged to post such displays acknowledge they are offensive but run them because of free speech requirements in place in society.  They have come up with an answer  to assuage their conscious by saying they will donate profits from the ad to education campaigns against discrimination.  May I suggest they give such proceeds to CAIR or any other Muslim organization in their area who in turn will produce and organize  the education campaigns.  With such a stipulation attached to the airing of such displays there’s no doubt in my mind they will cease to appear on the American landscape.  Does anyone have the courage to propose such a thing to the voices of hatred and bigotry?

It’s now time to do away with the no-fly lists


The no-fly list is an instrument of state coercion that is selectively used to oppress citizens of America and in reality limit their movements among the national or international community or even force them into exile from their own country.  It is a throwback to an antiquated way of a state being heavy handed and oppressive towards its citizens in an attempt to bend them towards what government wants them to do.  Many Muslim Americans who when asked why they were not allowed to fly were told if they would become informants for the government their names would be removed from such lists.

We now have the means to know if someone is immediately a threat to the security of public transportation, not just planes, with the invention of this device, Picosecond Programmable Laser scanner.

The latest scanners acquired by the U.S. government will be able detect the most minute traces of molecular discrepancies in both individuals’ bloodstream and carry on luggage from 50 meters away……the new scanners are said to be ten million times faster and one million times more sensitive than the scanners used in airports and border patrols currently.

The company says that the Picosecond Programmable Laser scanner can ‘penetrate clothing and many other organic materials and offers spectroscopic information, especially for materials that impact safety such as explosives and pharmacological substances.’The process of scanning and downloading the information takes only picoseconds- so one-trillionth of a second- which means that security workers would be alerted to any alarming substances as you were approaching them.Because it takes such a short amount of time to use the laser technology and interpret the data, security officials will not have to discriminate among suspicious passengers and will have time to use the technology on everyone.

‘From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you’, that’s how sensitive and extensive this machine is.  Now that the government is able to in real time know whether any one is a threat before boarding a plane, they should immediately abolish the no fly lists.  Even if a person is a terrorist, the government can know whether he is mission capable at the time he/she gets on the plane, i.e. whether they possess the tools necessary to take down an airplane.  Add to this really fancy wizadry, the full body scanners in use in airports around the world, and federal air marshals, those steroid pumped, accurate shooting human machines, there should no longer be any need to prevent American citizens from flying.  If the federal government is reluctant to stop using these lists to keep people off planes it could mean only one thing and that is it’s not a security instrument but rather a coercive or punitive one.

Two recent terrorism cases


Some people made a big deal about Hani Nour Eldin, a member of Egypt’s dissolved parliament, getting a U.S. visa and meetings with U.S. officials despite his membership in Egypt’s Gama’a al-Islamiyya, which the State Department deems a “foreign terrorist organization.”  It didn’t matter to those same people that the group Gama’a al-Islamiyya renounced violence  at around the turn of this century.  Nor did it matter to them  that the group’s renounciation was accepted by our ally, Egypt’s Hosni Mubara.  The problem was/is  the US State department, now headed by the dreaded and hated spouse of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton that the Right has pilloried ever since their appearance on the political stage had gone over to the Islamist/terrorist  side.  But as in most things that originate from the right side of America’s political spectrum these days, there really wasn’t much substance to their concern for America…..it did give the right the opportunity to sling mud at its two biggest political existential threats, the Obama Administration and Muslims.

It’s little wonder that members of the Right were silent about this bit of news. The Syrian government’s Muslim religious leader,  Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun was quoted last October as saying, ‘I say to all of Europe, I say to America, we will set up suicide bombers who are now in your countries, if you bomb Syria or Lebanon. From now on, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ The as dreaded as the Clinton’s State Department, CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) in today’s America wasn’t going to let that kind of rhetoric go unnoticed and protested

We urge you to deny entry to Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, who has threatened our nation’s national security with calls for suicide attacks and whose state-appointed function is to provide a religious veneer for a brutal regime that has killed and tortured thousands of its own people…

Hassoun’s entry into the United States would only serve to provide credibility for his false claim that the ongoing revolution against the Assad dictatorship is inspired by foreign interests, instead of the Syrian people‘s clear desire for peace, freedom and the rule of law.

By allowing Hassoun entry to the United States, we would send a contradictory and counterproductive message to the beleaguered people of Syria at time when they are suffering such hardships at the hands of the regime’s forces.

No doubt CAIR’s diligence is due in no small part to criticism about how Muslims do very little self-policing of themselves which CAIR did to a rather successful conclusion but it will do little to stem the name calling they are part of a larger Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy.  They needn’t worry about that however, since it seems EVERYONE is a part of the takeover of America by the Muslim Brotherhood. Neither should CAIR expect anyone from the Right will give them credit for the organization’s  outspokenness on an issue that they, the Right  likes to call its own….pointing out or highlighting religiously connected terrorism.  By co opting the Right’s  issue of choice, CAIR has made the Right irrelevant.  At the least they deserve an ‘attaboy!

Courage


Sometimes all it takes is for someone to take a principled stand against people who intimidate by fear and hatred.  That’s what Hillsborough County school board chair Candy Olson did at a school board meeting this month when confronted by parents who were upset the school system allowed a Muslim to speak to classrooms about Islam.

They (assembled parents)  said the presentation by CAIR’s Hassan Shibly — made to an advanced-placement world history class in November at Steinbrenner High — was a threat to children, to schools, to America.

“As a father to a child, this breaks my heart to know this is even considered in the schools,” said William Terrell of Tampa.

“CAIR funds homicide bombers to do what they do. They fund the ability of rockets being shot into Israel,” said Ryan Italiano, an 11-year-old who is home-schooled.

“Why you’ll let this religion be taught in our schools but you won’t let the religion that this country was made of be taught in the schools. What’s the point in teaching religion that caused the twin towers to fall down?”

Finally, after 17 speakers on the topic, and with dozens more anti-CAIR forces in the crowd who didn’t speak, school board Chairwoman Candy Olson had heard enough. And she unleashed on the group.

“Our teachers do need to give our students a broad view of the world,” she said, clearly irritated. “The Muslim faith is here to stay. I don’t think we can protect our children from the fact that there are people in this world who believe in Islam.”

She called those in the audience out of touch and criticized what she labeled a negative and mostly anonymous e-mail campaign that she said was meant to intimidate.

“This was one speaker for part of one class. This wasn’t an indoctrination,” Olson said. “How dare you show such disdain for people who are by and large competent professionals? It is essential, it is imperative we support our teachers in showing a broad view of the world.”

Olson said that despite speakers’ statements to the contrary, there were plenty of opportunities for other faiths to be present in the schools. After all, Olson said, there are Bible studies and clubs such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Instead of being bullied, cowed or merely quiet, Olson took a stand on the issue and held her ground.  She needs to be congratulated for that.  Too many have capitulated to assembled voices of hatred and not defended the rights and responsibilities we all have and share, regardless of faith, color or creed.  Olson would have none of that however and held fast.  Would that American politicians on both sides of  politics had such bravery; it’s a trait that’s sorely missing in them. Kudos, Ms Olson!

More No Fly List news


Michael Migliore an American citizen who was put on the no-fly list by US authorities possibly because he refused to talk to the FBI without a lawyer had to end his way to Italy by train from the West Coast and then by boat to England.  The story doesn’t end there however, he was detained by authorities before the boat he was in even made it to port in Suffolk, England.

Migliore was responsible enough to make his way to Europe by 19th century means because of how the US government categorized him, but it seems that “brand” followed him to England as well which underscores the pernicious nature of the no-fly lists.  Migliore’s crime seems to be  being Muslim, knowing  someone who was charged with terrorism and not talking  to the FBI about that relationship without a lawyer (something any seasoned lawyer would advise and which he has the right to do).  What this says is the federal government wants to rescind the right to have someone present when authorities talk to you AND the government wants to punish you for exercising your right to freedom of religion.  That a 21 year old university graduate has to fight this fight against the two greatest powers in the world, the US and the UK, is shameful and disgusting.  That no one or very few people in America is up in arms about this violation of Migliore’s inalienable rights is further indication of  how close this  country is to abandoning the principles of its Founding Fathers.