Archive for 9/11

Glenn Greenwald: More Federal Judge Abdication

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by loonwatch

More federal judge abdication

The branch designed to be insulated from political pressures has been the most craven of all in the post-9/11 era

BY , Salon.com

The abdication of U.S. federal judges in the post-9/11 era, and their craven subservience to Executive Branch security claims, has been a topic I’ve written about several times over the past couples of weeks. Yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the argument of the Obama DOJ that John Yoo is — needless to say — fully immune from any and all liability for having authorized the torture of Jose Padilla, on the ground that the illegality of Yoo’s conduct was not “beyond debate” at the time he engaged in it. Everything Iwrote a couple of weeks ago about the identical shielding of Donald Rumsfeld by federal courts and the Obama DOJ from similar claims applies to yesterday’s ruling, and The New York Times has a good editorial today condemning this ruling as “misguided and dangerous.”

In sum, this yet again underscores that of all the American institutions that have so profoundly failed in the wake of 9/11 to protect the most basic liberties — Congress, both political parties, the establishment media, the Executive Branch, the DOJ specifically — none has been quite as disgraceful as the federal judiciary, whose life tenure is supposed to insulate them from base political pressures that produce cowardly and corrupted choices. And yet, just consider these two facts:

(1) not a single War on Terror victim — not one — has been permitted to sue for damages in an American court over what was done to them, even when everyone admits they were completely innocent, even when they were subjected to the most brutal torture, and even when the judiciary of other countries permitted their lawsuits to proceed; and,

(2) not a single government official — not one — has been held legally accountable, either criminally or even civilly, for any War on Terror crimes or abuses; perversely, the only government officials to pay any price were the ones who blew the whistle on those crimes.

That is how history will record the behavior of American federal judges in the face of the post-9/11 onslaught of anti-Muslim persecution and relentless erosions of core rights.

Even worse, if you’re a Muslim accused of any Terror-related crime, your conviction in a federal court is virtually guaranteed, as federal judges will bend the law and issue pro-government rulings that they would never make with a non-Muslim defendant; conversely, if you’re a government official who abused or otherwise violated the rights of Muslims, your full-scale immunity is virtually guaranteed. Those are the indisputable rules of American justice. So slavish and subservient are federal judges when it comes to Muslim defendants that if you’re a Muslim accused of any Terror-related crime, you’re probably more likely at this point to get something approximating a fair trial before a Guantanamo military tribunal than in a federal court; that is how supine federal judges have been when the U.S. Government utters the word “terrorism” in the direction of a Muslim or any claims of “national security” relating to 9/11.

Just to underscore the point a bit further: the Justice Department fileda report this week setting forth its 2011 eavesdropping activities under FISA. Here’s the summary (h/t EPIC):

# of DOJ requests to the FISA court to eavesdrop on and/or physically search Americans/legal residents: 1,745

# of FISA court denials:  0

The DOJ filed close to 1,800 requests for FISA court permission to eavesdrop on the electronic communications of Americans or legal residents or to physically search their property (the vast majority, more than 90%, were for eavesdropping), and the FISA court did not deny a single request, though they did “modify” 30. This is a perfect expression of how the federal judiciary, in general, behaves in the face of claims of National Security from the Executive Branch: as an impotent, eager rubber-stamping servant.

* * * * *

Just by the way: the 1978 FISA law that required court approval before the U.S. Government could eavesdrop on Americans has produced this sort of blindly accepting rubber-stamping from the FISA court since its inception. Nonetheless, it was this FISA process that the Bush administration claimed was too significant of an obstacle to its eavesdropping powers when it decided to violate the law by eavesdropping without asking for FISA court permission, and it’s the same claim which the Democratic-led Congress and then-Sen. Obama made in 2008 when they enacted a new FISA law that dramatically expanded the U.S. Government’s warrantless eavesdropping powers. A 100% victory rate in court is apparently too low for those who see presidential powers as monarchical, and our nation’s federal judges seem all the time to be eagerly attempting to increase that rate.

Karen Armstrong: Islamophobia: We need to accept the ‘other’

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Islamophobia: We need to accept the ‘other’

A decade after 9/11, the West seems more bitterly divided from the Muslim world than ever. In Afghanistan, there’s been a violent explosion of anti-Western sentiment after last month’s Koran burning at a U.S. base and the slaughter of 17 Afghan civilians by an American soldier two weeks ago. But this hatred is not confined to distant parts of the globe. We’re witnessing a surge of virulent Islamophobia in Europe, especially in the Netherlands and some parts of Scandinavia. And sadly, this seems to have crossed the Atlantic.

In 2002, a survey of Canadian Muslims by the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations found that 56 per cent of respondents had experienced at least one anti-Muslim incident in the 12-month period since 9/11. Mosques or mosque construction sites in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Waterloo and Vancouver have been targeted by vandals. In January, anti-Islamic graffiti were spray-painted on the walls of the Outaouais Islamic Centre in Gatineau, Que. – the third such attack in four months.

These hate crimes are committed by a small minority, of course. But unfortunately, on both sides of the divide, extremists set the agenda. The news media, for example, inform us of terrorist attacks but don’t give much coverage to those Muslim leaders who regularly condemn them. Between 2001 and 2007, Gallup conducted a massive survey representing the views of more than 90 per cent of the world’s Muslim population. When asked if the 9/11 attacks were justified, 93 per cent of respondents said they weren’t – basing their arguments on religious grounds. This finding wasn’t widely reported and could, therefore, make no impression on the widespread view that Islam is an inherently violent faith.

This belief is deeply engrained. It dates back to the Crusades, when Western Christians were fighting holy wars against Muslims in Syria and Palestine; their brutal ferocity stunned the people of the Near East. Even though Islam had a far better record of tolerance than Christianity at this time, European scholar-monks depicted Islam as a fanatical religion of the sword that was violently opposed to other faiths. They were, perhaps, projecting buried anxiety about their own behaviour onto their victims – Jesus, after all, had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them.

As Europeans fought their way out of the Dark Ages, Islam, a great world power that dwarfed Christendom for centuries, became their shadow self, arousing in them the same kind of complicated resentment as the United States inspires in some regions today – an image of everything that they were not (or feared obscurely that they might be). This distorted image of Islam became one of the received ideas of the West.

During the 12th century, anti-Semitism also became a chronic disease in Europe. It seemed absurd to the Crusaders to travel to the Middle East to liberate Christ’s tomb when the people who had killed Jesus – or so the Crusaders mistakenly believed – were alive and well on their very doorsteps. Those who couldn’t go on Crusade would often do their bit by attacking Jewish communities at home. Jews were said to kill Christian children and use their blood to make matzo at Passover. This image of the Jew as child-slayer, representing an almost Oedipal fear of the parent faith, persisted well into the modern period and regularly inspired pogroms in Europe. Without a thousand years of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe, the Holocaust would have been impossible.

We now know what can happen when unexamined prejudice is allowed free rein. 9/11 was a terrible crime. But if it has stained the reputation of Islam, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have equally tainted the image of the West. Islamophobia is also a violation of essential Western values: tolerance, liberalism and egalitarianism. Founded on fear and ignorance, it also flies in the face of Western rationalism. We have created a global market in which, whether we like it or not, we’re interconnected as never before. If we want a peaceful, stable and sustainable world, we have to learn to live with those we instinctively regard as “other.”

Karen Armstrong, a historian of religion and founder of the Charter for Compassion, received Simon Fraser University’s Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue last week.

The ex-FBI Informant with a Change of Heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Craig Monteilh

Craig Monteilh

The ex-FBI informant with a change of heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’

 in Irvine, California

Craig Monteilh describes how he pretended to be a radical Muslim in order to root out potential threats, shining a light on some of the bureau’s more ethically murky practices

Craig Monteilh says he did not balk when his FBI handlers gave him the OK to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting. Nor, at the time, did he shy away from recording their pillow talk.

“They said, if it would enhance the intelligence, go ahead and have sex. So I did,” Monteilh told the Guardian as he described his year as a confidential FBI informant sent on a secret mission to infiltrate southern Californian mosques.

It is an astonishing admission that goes that goes to the heart of the intelligence surveillance of Muslim communities in America in the years after 9/11. While police and FBI leaders have insisted they are acting to defend America from a terrorist attack, civil liberties groups have insisted they have repeatedly gone too far and treated an entire religious group as suspicious.

Monteilh was involved in one of the most controversial tactics: the use of “confidential informants” in so-called entrapment cases. This is when suspects carry out or plot fake terrorist “attacks” at the request or under the close supervision of an FBI undercover operation using secret informants. Often those informants have serious criminal records or are supplied with a financial motivation to net suspects.

In the case of the Newburgh Four – where four men were convicted for a fake terror attack on Jewish targets in the Bronx – a confidential informant offered $250,000, a free holiday and a car to one suspect for help with the attack.

In the case of the Fort Dix Five, which involved a fake plan to attack a New Jersey military base, one informant’s criminal past included attempted murder, while another admitted in court at least two of the suspects later jailed for life had not known of any plot.

Such actions have led Muslim civil rights groups to wonder if their communities are being unfairly targeted in a spying game that is rigged against them. Monteilh says that is exactly what happens. “The way the FBI conducts their operations, It is all about entrapment … I know the game, I know the dynamics of it. It’s such a joke, a real joke. There is no real hunt. It’s fixed,” he said.

But Monteilh has regrets now about his involvement in a scheme called Operation Flex. Sitting in the kitchen of his modest home in Irvine, near Los Angeles, Monteilh said the FBI should publicly apologise for his fruitless quest to root out Islamic radicals in Orange County, though he does not hold out much hope that will happen. “They don’t have the humility to admit a mistake,” he said.

Monteilh’s story sounds like something out of a pulp thriller. Under the supervision of two FBI agents the muscle-bound fitness instructor created a fictitious French-Syrian altar ego, called Farouk Aziz. In this disguise in 2006 Monteilh started hanging around mosques in Orange County – the long stretch of suburbia south of LA – and pretended to convert to Islam.

He was tasked with befriending Muslims and blanket recording their conversations. All this information was then fed back to the FBI who told Monteilh to act like a radical himself to lure out Islamist sympathizers.

Yet, far from succeeding, Monteilh eventually so unnerved Orange County’s Muslim community that that they got a restraining order against him. In an ironic twist, they also reported Monteilh to the FBI: unaware he was in fact working undercover for the agency.

Monteilh does not look like a spy. He is massively well built, but soft-spoken and friendly. He is 49 but looks younger. He lives in a small rented home in Irvine that blends into the suburban sprawl of southernCalifornia. Yet Monteilh knows the spying game intimately well.

By his own account Monteilh got into undercover work after meeting a group of off-duty cops working out in a gym. Monteilh told them he had spent time in prison in Chino, serving time for passing fraudulent checks.

It is a criminal past he explains by saying he was traumatised by a nasty divorce. “It was a bad time in my life,” he said. He and the cops got to talking about the criminals Monteilh had met while in Chino. The information was so useful that Monteilh says he began to work on undercover drug and organised crime cases.

Eventually he asked to work on counter-terrorism and was passed on to two FBI handlers, called Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen. These two agents had a mission and an alias ready-made for him.

Posing as Farouk Aziz he would infiltrate local mosques and Islamic groups around Orange County. “Paul Allen said: ‘Craig, you are going to be our computer worm. Our guy that gives us the real pulse of the Muslim community in America’,” Monteilh said.

The operation began simply enough. Monteilh started hanging out at mosques, posing as Aziz, and explaining he wanted to learn more about religion. In July, 2006, at the Islamic Center of Irvine, he converted to Islam.

Monteilh also began attending other mosques, including the Orange County Islamic Foundation. Monteilh began circulating endlessly from mosque to mosque, spending long days in prayer or reading books or just hanging out in order to get as many people as possible to talk to him.

“Slowly I began to wear the robes, the hat, the scarf and they saw me slowly transform and growing a beard. At that point, about three or four months later, [my FBI handlers] said: ‘OK, now start to ask questions’.”

Those questions were aimed at rooting out radicals. Monteilh would talk of his curiosity over the concepts of jihad and what Muslims should do about injustices in the world, especially where it pertained to American foreign policy.

He talked of access to weapons, a possible desire to be a martyr and inquired after like-minded souls. It was all aimed at trapping people in condemning statements. “The skill is that I am going to get you to say something. I am cornering you to say “jihad”,” he said.

Of course, the chats were recorded.

In scenes out of a James Bond movie, Monteilh said he sometimes wore a secret video recorder sewn into his shirt. At other times he activated an audio recorder on his key rings.

Monteilh left his keys in offices and rooms in the mosques that he attended in the hope of recording conversations that took place when he was not here. He did it so often that he earned a reputation with other worshippers for being careless with his keys. The recordings were passed back to his FBI handlers at least once a week.

He also met with them every two months at a hotel room in nearby Anaheim for a more intense debriefing. Monteilh says he was grilled on specific individuals and asked to view charts showing networks of relationships among Orange County’s Muslim population.

He said the FBI had two basic aims. Firstly, they aimed to uncover potential militants. Secondly, they could also use any information Monteilh discovered – like an affair or someone being gay – to turn targeted people into becoming FBI informants themselves.

None of it seemed to unnerve his FBI bosses, not even when he carried out a suggestion to begin seducing Muslim women and recording them.

At one hotel meeting, agent Kevin Armstrong explained the FBI attitude towards the immense breadth of Operation Flex – and any concerns over civil rights – by saying simply: “Kevin is God.”

Monteilh’s own attitude evolved into something very similar. “I was untouchable. I am a felon, I am on probation and the police cannot arrest me. How empowering is that? It is very empowering. You began to have a certain arrogance about it. It is almost taunting. They told me: ‘You are an untouchable’,” he said.

But it was not always easy. “I started at 4am. I ended at 9.30pm. Really, it was a lot of work … Farouk took over. Craig did not exist,” he said. But it was also well paid: at the peak of Operation Flex, Monteilh was earning more than $11,000 a month.

But he was wrong about being untouchable.

Far from uncovering radical terror networks, Monteilh ended up traumatising the community he was sent into. Instead of embracing calls for jihad or his questions about suicide bombers or his claims to have access to weapons, Monteilh was instead reported to the FBI as a potentially dangerous extremist.

A restraining order was also taken out against him in June 2007, asking him to stay away from the Islamic Center of Irvine. Operation Flex was a bust and Monteilh had to kill off his life as Farouk Aziz.

But the story did not end there. In circumstances that remain murky Monteilh then sued the FBI over his treatment, claiming that they abandoned him once the operation was over.

He also ended up in jail after Irvine police prosecuted him for defrauding two women, including a former girlfriend, as part of an illegal trade in human growth hormone at fitness clubs. (Monteilh claims those actions were carried out as part of another secret string operation for which he was forced to carry the can.)

What is not in doubt is that Monteilh’s identity later became public. In 2009 the FBI brought a case against Ahmad Niazi, an Afghan immigrant in Orange County.

The evidence included secret recordings and even calling Osama bin Laden “an angel”. That was Monteilh’s work and he outed himself to the press to the shock of the very Muslims he had been spying on who now realised that Farouk Aziz – the radical they had reported to the FBI two years earlier – had in fact been an undercover FBI operative.

Now Monteilh says he set Niazi up and the FBI was trying to blackmail the Afghani into being an informant. “I built the whole relationship with Niazi. Through my coercion we talked about jihad a lot,” he said. The FBI’s charges against Niazi were indeed later dropped.

Now Monteilh has joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the FBI. Amazingly, after first befriending Muslim leaders in Orange County as Farouk Aziz, then betraying them as Craig Monteilh, he has now joined forces with them again to campaign for their civil liberties.

That has now put Monteilh’s testimony about his year undercover is at the heart of a fresh legal effort to prove that the FBI operation in Orange County unfairly targeted a vulnerable Muslim community, trampling on civil rights in the name of national security.

The FBI did not respond to a request from the Guardian for comment.

It is not the first time Monteilh has shifted his stance. In the ACLU case Monteilh is now posing as the sorrowful informant who saw the error of his ways.

But in previous court papers filed against the Irvine Police and the FBI, Monteilh’s lawyers portrayed him as the loyal intelligence asset who did sterling work tackling the forces of Islamic radicalism and was let down by his superiors.

In those papers Monteilh complained that FBI agents did not act speedily enough on a tip he gave them about a possible sighting of bomb-making materials. Now Monteilh says that tip was not credible.

Either way it does add up to a story that shifts with the telling. But that fact alone goes to the heart of the FBI’s use of such confidential informants in investigating Muslim communities.

FBI operatives with profiles similar to Monteilh’s – of a lengthy criminal record, desire for cash and a flexibility with the truth – have led to high profile cases of alleged entrapment that have shocked civil rights groups across America.

In most cases the informants have won their prosecutions and simply disappeared. Monteilh is the only one speaking out. But whatever the reality of his year undercover, Monteilh is almost certainly right about one impact of Operation Flex and the exposure of his undercover activities: “Because of this the Muslim community will never trust the FBI again.”

Four Myths that Led to the NYPD’s Attack on Muslim Civil Liberties

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch
Daniel Tutt
Daniel Tutt

(Via IslamophobiaToday)

Four Myths that Led to the NYPD’s Attack on Muslim Civil Liberties

by Daniel Tutt, Bio

Over the last month, multiple scandals have leaked that show the extent to which the NYPD has violated the civil liberties of thousands of New York Muslims under the banner of counterterrorism efforts. Protecting the homeland must remain central in all of our policing and intelligence-gathering efforts, but it should not, and does not have to result in the alienation of hundreds of thousands of New York Muslims. Equally important, counterterrorism efforts must operate on sound and factual analysis of the threat posed by the Muslim community, and collaboration with Muslim community leaders and citizens should be a top priority.

The damage that these scandals have caused in severing the lines of trust between law enforcement and the Muslim community may be irreparable in the short term, but it is not too late for the NYPD to begin assessing the policies that led us to where we are today.

In a recently exposed white paper published by the NYPD entitled, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” we find the basis of an entire philosophy of counterterrorism that operates on several myths that must be addressed.

Let’s examine each of these myths in turn.

1. Extremist Muslims have permeated New York Muslim communities. The white paper states:

“New York City has a diverse Muslim population of between 600,000 and 750,000 within a population of about 8 ½ million–about 40% of whom are foreign-born. Unfortunately, extremists who have and continue to sow the seeds of radicalization have permeated the City’s Muslim communities.”

To suggest that the Muslim community of New York is being overran with violent extremism is far from the truth. The New York Muslim community makes up an estimated 1 million people throughout the entire state. The community has incredible racial, socioeconomic, and ethnic diversity, and is very well integrated into the larger society.

The threat this community poses is similar to the threat that American Muslims pose nationwide: very little to none. Since 9/11, over 40% of the cases where criminal charges were brought upon an American Muslim for suspicion in a terrorism related case, the Muslim community was responsible for turning that individual, or individuals, over to the authorities. Muslims see counterterrorism as their duty according to recent public opinion polls, and they are more concerned about preventing terrorism then are the rest of the non-Muslim American public per capita. Don’t we want to increase this trend of Muslims serving on the front line of counterterrorism efforts? Increasing it has the dual benefit of making Muslims an integral part of the solution, and making them feel like a valued collaborator in the war on terrorism.

According to the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s comprehensive terrorism database, of the 49 Muslim domestic and foreign based plots against the U.S. since 9/11 – there were over 105 terrorist plots from non-Muslim groups and individuals – nearly 1 in 3 of these plots were turned over to the authorities by the American Muslim community.

2. A Muslim’s level of religiosity is a sign of radicalization and support for terrorism. The second myth that the document supports is the so called “conveyor belt theory” of terrorism, which argues that terrorism is based on a continuum of religiosity, where the more religious a Muslim gets, the greater likeliness they may adopt violent extremism. This is a major misnomer that has unfortunately been taught to hundreds of thousands of police and intelligence agents nationwide as exposed in a recent investigative report by Political Research Associates entitled Manufacturing the Muslim Menace.

The white paper describes the ideology that supports terrorism as “jihadi-Salafi Islam” but never defines these terms, especially what they mean for Muslims. Instead, they exaggerate what a “Salafi Muslim” is, and neglect to point out that the majority of Salafi Muslims in western Europe and in America are not in favor of using violence and are generally peaceful. It also refuses to look at competing studies of radicalization. For example, Quintan Wiktorowicz, National Security Agency Director learned in anextensive empirical research project he headed up on radicalization of Muslim youth, that there is no correlation between religiosity and a willingness to become radicalized. In other words, the more religious Muslims became, the less likely they would be to join radical movements.

Wiktorowicz insight supports what Policy Analyst Alejandro Beutel has recently discovered in his careful analysis of Osama bin-Laden’s recruitment rhetoric. In a careful analysis of the content of each lecture that bin-Laden gave, MPAC discovered that al-Qaeda’s recruiting “pitch” was overwhelmingly political/policy-oriented, not religious.

Let’s be realistic. The threat from al-Qaeda is concerning. Despite the controversial nature of his assassination, Anwar Awlaki’s death and disappearance from the scene is a welcoming sign in the ongoing recruitment that Al-Qaeda is attempting, mainly online, to American Muslims. The fact that we no longer have a charismatic, English speaking figurehead of al-Qaeda to brainwash American Muslims to commit acts of violence is a great thing. Awlaki’s model seemed to be fairly effective in turning about two-dozen American Muslims towards a commitment to violent radicalization against the west andAmerica in particular. Importantly, this was happening in anonymous chat rooms online, not in mosques, or mainstream religious institutions in America.

3. Profiling Muslims is possible and necessary. The third myth that the white paper supports is that Muslims must be profiled; suggesting not only is it necessary, but that it is possible. Here is an excerpt from the paper:

“Radicalization makes little noise. It borders on areas protected by the First and Fourth Amendments. It takes place over a long period of time. It therefore does not lend itself to a traditional criminal investigations approach.”

When we analyze the homegrown cases of Muslim terrorists since 9/11, we find vastly different ethnic origin, age, ideological affiliation, and motivations. While the policy grievance remains consistent in each case, the idea of profiling based on religiosity or the outward expression of religiosity is just plain wrong and nonsensical. Like we saw from Wiktorowicz’s research, religious Muslims should be seen as allies, as there is no empirical relationship between religiosity and support for terrorism.

4. Muslim community leaders and citizens do not need to be consulted in counterterrorism efforts. Nowhere in the 90 plus page report do we find details or best practices for policymakers and intelligence officers in building partnerships with New York Muslims.

In an ironic way, the controversies coming out of the NYPD, while they hurt the relationship between Muslims and law enforcement, they help engage Muslims in the political process and in speaking up for their rights. The New York Muslim community is fed up, and many point to the rising trend of Islamophobia as the cause for this wanton disregard for Muslim civil liberties.

One of the key recommendations that Charles Kurzman, a leading expert on Muslim radicalization of the Triangle Center for Terrorism Research proposes is that Muslim Americans be given the means to express themselves politically in American society. The fight against Islamophobia as a healthy way for Muslim Americans to stand up for their rights and in the process demand equal respect. Like the civil rights movement for Black Americans, many politically engaged Muslims feel that the fight against bigotry and misunderstanding of their faith will result in a greater level of integration into the American experience.

From 2005 to 2011 we have witnessed an increase in the so-called “lone wolf” phenomenon of extremism – an isolated individual becomes indoctrinated by a charismatic pseudo religious leader and seeks to act out violence against the American populace. Thankfully, this threat is relatively minor, and unfortunately often caused by FBI entrapment.

What we have not yet seen is the climate of growing Islamophobia serving as the cause for a lone wolf attack on America, or even the turn to radicalization itself. Since it is always best to be ahead of the storm, we must encourage large-scale movements against Islamophobia because they help to further a healthy civic alternative to American Muslims that are somewhat prone to lunatic false prophets on YouTube like Anwar Awlaki. It is through fighting Islamophobia and standing up for civil rights that we can create a vehicle whereby Muslims can vent their anger and develop a new language that ties the values of Islam to a unique American and democratic narrative. This sort of action has already begun, and when scandals emerge like these, Muslim Americans should be vocal and demand justice.

Rick Santorum’s Islamophobia Problem

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by loonwatch

Rick Santorum’s Islamophobia Problem

By Ali Gharib

GOP presidential hopeful and former senator Rick Santorum found himself amid a flurry of new attention after placing a close second in the Iowa caucuses. One of the fiery right-wing politician’s views coming under increased scrutiny is his attitude toward Islam. Already in this campaign, Santorum endorsed profiling in airport security and, when pressed, said, “Obviously, Muslims would be someone you’d look at.

Now, journalist Max Blumenthal unearthed a 2007 speech Santorum gave to a Washingtonconference at the invitation of David Horowitz. In the speech (audio can be found at anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller‘s site), Santorum outlined the “war” against “radical Islam”:

What must we do to win? We must educate, engage, evangelize and eradicate. …

The other thing we need to do is eradicate, and that’s the final thing. As I said, this is going to be a long war. There are going to be pluses and minuses, ups and downs. But we have to win this war to — fight this war to win this war.

Santorum insists that he’s “not suggesting that we have to go in there and blow them up.” But, later in the speech, he compares the “long war” to World War II, adding, “Americans don’t like war. They don’t like suffering and dying. No one does.”

Both in this speech and in other writings and remarks, Santorum often specifies that he’s speaking of “radical Islam.” But what does “radical Islam” mean to Santorum? In fact, the former senator often times conflates extremists with the entire Muslim faith at-large and, at other times, he states outright that radicals dominate Islam. In the 2007 D.C. speech, Santorum compared Muslim wars from hundreds of years ago to 9/11: “Does anybody know when the high-water mark of Islam was? September the 11th, 1683,” he said to gasps from the audience.

As to what “losing” the war with “radical Islam” looks like, Santorum discussed Europe. “Europe is on the way to losing,” he said. “The most popular male name in Belgium — Mohammad. It’s the fifth most popular name in France among boys.” The other data point he cited was larger birthrates among “Islamic Europeans” as opposed to “Westernized Europeans.” Nowhere did he indicate a growing “radical” threat in Europe.

In October 2007 at his alma mater Penn State, Santorum gave a speech and failed to break out the radical strain from the faith at-large: “Islam, unlike Christianity, is an all-encompassing ideology. It is not just something you do on Sunday. … We (as Americans) don’t get that.” The quote is particularly ironic from someone who, among other such statements, has said, “[O]ur civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God’s law.

In a January 2007 speech, Santorum suggested Islam at-large was responsible for religious freedom issues and put the onus Muslims to deal with these issues to end the “war”:

Until we have the kind of discussion and dialogue with Islam — that democracy and freedom of religion, along with religious pluralism, are essential for the stability of the world and our ability to cohabit in this world. Unless Islam is willing to make that conscious decision, then we are going to be at war for a long time.

If Santorum’s discourse sounds like some of the Islamophobia network outlined in CAP’s Fear, Inc. report, that should be no surprise. Horowitz has repeatedly hosted Santorum for “Islamo-fascism Awareness Week” events and Geller and her associate Robert Spencer cite his work approvingly.

In a 2008 appearance at the Christians United For Israel confab, Santorum outflanked even Daniel Pipes. When Pipes mentioned that radicals only constituted about 10 to 15 percent of Muslims worldwide, Santorum, before wondering whether Muslims are capable of making moral decisions at all, challenged him:

It’s not a small number. OK? It’s not a fringe. It’s a sizable group of people that hold these views. [Pipes’ notion of ‘moderate’ Islam] is the exception, I would argue, of what traditional Islam is doing.

No decent American — or anyone across the globe — should oppose “eradicat(ing)” extremist ideologies like militant, “radical Islam.” But Santorum’s history of statements raises questions about just exactly what and who he’s targeting for eradication.

Amnesty International: Happy World Travel

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on December 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Amnesty International: Happy World Travel


Indefinite detention, torture, Islamophobia, Guantanamo, the “war on terror”. Ten years after 9/11 this remains the new normal that we live in, and there’s nothing funny about it.

But humor can be powerful — so we at Amnesty International USA invite you to check out our new short video “Happy World Travel”, featuring Dileep Rao (Avatar, Inception). What happens when a normal dude named Rob (or is it Raj?!) heads to a travel agency looking for a relaxing vacation? Will he be eligible for the “Not-so Geneva Package”? Could Rob’s story be yours if we continue to allow the US to flout the rule of law?

What can you do? Join us on January 11th in Washington, DC for a day of action to close Guantanamo. http://www.amnestyusa.org/jan11

And visit Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights campaign to learn more about ending torture and indefinite detention, once and for all.
http://www.amnestyusa.org/security

Islamophobia: ‘Vanguard’ Trailer

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by loonwatch

Islamophobia: ‘Vanguard’ Trailer

In “Islamophobia,” Vanguard correspondent Adam Yamaguchi examines the rising tide of Islamophobia on both sides of the Atlantic. Ten years after 9/11, the fear of future attacks paired with the growing number of Muslims across Europe and America has given birth to an aggressive new network of anti-Muslim alarmists.

Watch the premiere of Vanguard’s “Islamophobia” on Monday, November 7, at 9/8c.

“Vanguard” is Current TV’s no-limits documentary series whose award-winning correspondents put themselves in extraordinary situations to immerse viewers in global issues that have a large social significance. Unlike sound-bite driven reporting, the show’s correspondents, Adam Yamaguchi, Christof Putzel and Mariana van Zeller, serve as trusted guides who take viewers on in-depth real life adventures in pursuit of some of the world’s most important stories.
http://current.com/e/93519706/en_US

For more, go to http://current.com/vanguard.