Archive for Double Standards

Gun Parts, Ammo Found Hidden Inside Stuffed Animals at Rhode Island Airport, Suspects are Free to Go

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2012 by loonwatch

TSA via AP

This photo provided by the Transportation Security Administration shows pistol parts hidden in a stuffed animal found at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I.

Can you imagine if a Muslim or “Muslim looking” person had stuffed animals with gun parts and ammo? You can bet he would be on a one way ticket to Guantanomo! (via. What If They Were Muslim?)

Gun parts, ammo found hidden inside stuffed animals at Rhode Island airport

By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news services
(msnbc.com)

WARWICK, R.I. — Gun components and ammunition were found hidden inside three stuffed animals carried by a passenger at Rhode Island’s T.F. Green Airport on Tuesday, federal transportation officials said.

Authorities later allowed the 4-year-old boy and his father to continue their travel to Detroit after concluding the man didn’t pose a risk, authorities said. He told police that he didn’t know the parts were inside the stuffed toys — which included a Mickey Mouse and a teddy bear.

“It appears to be the result of a domestic dispute,” Rhode Island Airport Police Chief Leo Messier said. “It was jointly investigated by the RI Airport Police, FBI and the RI State Police and it was determined that there was no threat at any time to air safety.”

NBC News station WHDH reported that a magazine loaded with two .40-caliber rounds was discovered inside a bunny and a firing pin was inside Mickey Mouse.

‘Artfully concealed’
Officials with airport police and the Transportation Security Administration declined to comment further, saying the incident remained under investigation.

A TSA officer noticed the disassembled gun components “artfully concealed” inside three stuffed animals. The stuffed animals were inside the child’s carry-on bag, which had been put through an X-ray machine as part of normal security screening.

The parts could have been assembled to make a full firearm, authorities said.

The items were confiscated. Police have not released the man’s name.

Passengers at T.F. Green told WHDH they were thankful the system worked.

“I know a lot of people don’t like the screening procedure, but I’m thankful that they really screen people and we feel much safer because of it,” one woman told the station.

NBC News station WHDH and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Advertisements

Guenter Grass Being Labeled an Anti-Semite for Critical Poem of Israel

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2012 by loonwatch

The New York Times like many newspapers will not print Guenter Grass’ anti-War poem, I wonder if the hatemongers are going to compare this to the Danish cartoons that were supposedly “silenced” in attacks on “free speech” as they claimed at the time?

Quite a few commenters are calling Grass an “anti-Semite” and making hay out of his being drafted into the Waffen-SS in the final two months of World War II which dented his moral authority in Germany. Grass, for his part claims to have never fired a single bullet.

An opinion article in Haaretz has termed the poem “pathetic” but exonerates Grass from being an “anti-Semite,” which if anyone has read his works knows he is not.

Perhaps Guenter Grass is not the most astute individual when it comes to commenting on the geo-political intrigues playing out with regards to the war rhetoric between Israel and Iran, but it is a mistake to censor his work, not to take his points about double standards and hypocrisy seriously and to label him an anti-Semite.

Laureate accuses Israel of plotting to ‘wipe out’ Iran Israel to build 1,121 settler homes – Hebron squatters evicted

BERLIN: German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass touched off a firestorm of protest yesterday with a poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation and threatening world peace. The 84-year-old longtime leftist activist wrote in “What must be said” that he worried Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike” due to the threat it sees in Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. “Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace?” reads the poem, which appeared in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung yesterday.

Grass answers that Nazi Germany’s “incomparable” crimes against Jews and his own fear of accusations of anti-Semitism kept him from openly criticising Israel. But now, “tomorrow could already be too late” and Germany could become a “supplier to a crime”, Grass wrote, referring to a deal sealed last month for Berlin to sell Israel a sixth nuclear-capable Dolphin-class submarine. “I admit: I will be silent no longer, because I am sick of the hypocrisy of the West”.

Israel slammed the poem, which also sparked a fevered debate on German-language news and culture websites. “What must be said is that it belongs to European tradition to accuse the Jews of ritual murder before the Passover celebration,” said Emmanuel Nahshon, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli embassy in Berlin, in a statement. “It used to be Christian children whose blood the Jews used to make matza (unleavened bread), today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state purportedly wants to wipe out.” Nahshon said Israel was “the only state in the world whose right to exist is publicly doubted”. “We want to live in peace with our neighbours in the region. And we are not prepared to assume the role that Gunter Grass assigns us in the German people’s process of coming to terms with its history.”

The Israel director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Efraim Zuroff, accused Grass of making himself the spokesman “for anti-Semitic Germans sick of the Holocaust and seeking to rid themselves of any responsibility for its aftermath”. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle released a statement without mentioning Grass by name in which he warned against “making light of the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program”. “Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is not only a threat to Israel and the entire region but also a danger for the world’s security architecture,” he said, underlining Germany’s efforts to prevent Iran from having nuclear arms.

Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel “The Tin Drum”, shocked his admirers in 2006 when he admitted, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious Waffen SS – a revelation that severely undermined his until then substantial moral authority in Germany. Grass said he long kept silent on Israel’s own nuclear program because his country committed “crimes that are without comparison”, but he has come to see that silence as a “burdensome lie and a coercion” whose disregard carries a punishment – “the verdict ‘anti-Semitism’ is commonly used”.

Henryk M Broder, a prominent German Jewish columnist, accused Grass in light of his poem of having become “the prototype of the educated anti-Semite”. “Grass has always had a problem with Jews but he has never articulated it as clearly as with this ‘poem’,” Broder wrote in the daily Die Welt. The country’s most influential media commentators were unanimous in their criticism, saying Grass had offered up a one-sided portrayal of Israel as the aggressor and Iran as a victim of a mortal threat. “Never before in the history of the republic has a prominent intellectual waged a battle against Israel in such a cliched way,” wrote the website of news weekly Der Spiegel. Only Wolfgang Gehrcke of the far-left Die Linke party defended Grass in public, saying he had the “courage” to express “what is widely kept silent”.

Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East, has said it is keeping all options open for responding to Iran’s program which it says is aimed at securing atomic weapons, posing an existential threat to the Jewish state. Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad frequently questions Israel’s right to exist, has consistently denied that its sensitive nuclear work is aimed at making weapons.

Separately, Israel’s government yesterday published tenders for 1,121 new settler homes as it faced settler anger over its decision to evict Israeli families from a disputed home in the Palestinian city of Hebron. Documents published on the Israeli housing ministry website showed the government had issued tenders for 872 new homes in Har Homa, a contentious settlement neighbourhood in the southern part of Arab east Jerusalem. Another 180 are to be built in Givat Zeev, just to the north of Jerusalem in the West Bank, while the remaining 69 are to be built in Katzrin in the occupied Golan Heights, the documents showed. Read rest here

The full text of the poem:

Why I am silent, silent for too much time,
how much is clear and we made it
in war games, where, as survivors,
we are just the footnotes

That is the claimed right to the formal preventive aggression
which could erase the Iranian people
dominated by a bouncer and moved to an organized jubilation,
because in the area of his competence there is
the construction of the atomic bomb

And then why do I avoid myself
to call the other country with its name,
where since years – even if secretly covered –
there is an increasing nuclear power,
without control, because unreachable
by every inspection?

I feel the everybody silence on this state of affairs,
which my silence is slave to,
as an oppressive lie and an inhibition that presents punishment
we don’t pay attention to;
the verdict “anti-Semitism” is common

Now, since my country,
from time to time touched by unique and exclusive crimes,
obliged to justify itself,
again for pure business aims – even if
with fast tongue we call it “reparation” –
should deliver another submarine to Israel,
with the specialty of addressing
annihilating warheads where the
existence of one atomic bomb is not proved
but it wants evidence as a scarecrow,
I say what must be said

Why did I stay silent until now?
Because the thought about my origin,
burdened by an unclearing stain,
had avoiding to wait this fact
like a truth declared by the State of Israel
that I want to be connected to

Why did I say it only now,
old and with the last ink:
the nuclear power of Israel
threat the world peace?
Because it must be said
what tomorrow will be too late;
Because – as Germans and with
enough faults on the back –
we might also become deliverers of a predictable
crime, and no excuse would erase our complicity

And I admit: I won’t be silent
because I had enough of the Western hypocrisy;
Because I wish that many will want
to get rid of the silence,
exhorting the cause of a recognizable
risk to the abdication, asking that a free and permanent control
of the Israel atomic power
and the Iran nuclear bases
will be made by both the governments
with an international supervision

Only in this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and everybody,
all people living hostile face to face in that
country occupied by the craziness,
will have a way out,
so us too

(The original German):

Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.

Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren – wenn auch geheimgehalten –
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?

Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt ‘Antisemitismus’ ist geläufig.

Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.

Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?

Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir – als Deutsche belastet genug –
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.

Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.

Sheila Musaji: The MEK and Terrorism Double Standards

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by loonwatch

We have been covering the issue of high-powered support for the MEK terrorist organization for quite some time now, see: Anti-Muslims and Politicians Find Common Cause with Iranian Terrorist Organization.

The MEK and terrorism double standards

by Sheila Musaji (The American Muslim)

The Mujahedeen Khalq, or People’s Mujahedeen, known as the M.E.K has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Dept. for 15 years.

The M.E.K. are terrorists.  They were driven out of Iran and given a home at a place called Camp Ashraf in Iraq by Saddam Hussein, who they supported.  Saddam Hussein used the M.E.K. to carry out terrorist acts in Iran.  Now that Hussein is gone, the Iraqi’s want the M.E.K. out of Iraq as they also see it as a dangerous group.  They are not former terrorists, but current terrorists.

Richard Engel & Robert Windrem of NBC News reported just this month that

Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.

The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

The attacks, which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.

… Two senior U.S. officials confirmed for NBC News the MEK’s role in the assassinations, with one senior official saying, “All your inclinations are correct.” A third official would not confirm or deny the relationship, saying only, “It hasn’t been clearly confirmed yet.”  All the officials denied any U.S. involvement in the assassinations.

NIAC reports that

A 2004 FBI report on the Mujahaddin-e-Khalq (MEK) was revealed in June 2011 which states that the MEK “is actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism,” despite the organization’s alleged renunciation of terror in 2001.

…  Some of the highlights (all direct quotes):
•“Los Angeles investigation has determined that the MEK is currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” [pg 4]
•“This organization routinely lobbies unwitting members of Congress under the pretext of human rights issues in Iran.“ [pg 5]
•“NLA fighters are separated from their children who are sent to Europe and brought up by the MEK’s Support Network.  Investigation has learned that these children are then further indoctrinated in to the organization and are often used for various social benefit fraud such as was revealed during joint FBI/Cologne Police Department investigation in Germany.  In one case one of the children was chained to a bed and only after her escape and report to local police was the fraud scheme discovered.  Interviews of some of these MEK children found children fully indoctrinated into a “cult-like” organization with no regard to the welfare of the child.  These children are then returned to the NLA to be used as fighters upon coming of age.  Interviews also revealed that some of these children were told that their parents would be harmed if the children did not cooperate with the MEK.  Open source reporting from defecting MEK members has revealed that MEK fighters are often told the same story about their children should they take issue with MEK leadership and desire to leave the organization.” [pgs 26-27]
•“The MEK, in addition to being a foreign terrorist organization, is a “cult”…MEK members and supporters often indicate that Rajavi makes his decision based on input from God.” [pg 26]
•“MEK members/supporters/fighters have been through years of ideological training and for lack of better word ‘brain washing’.” [pg 31]
•“This (Foreign Terrorist Organization) designation was made due to the MEK’s long and violent history of past terrorist activity directed against U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Iran during the 1970s, the assassinations of multiple Americans, the MEK’s ongoing acts of terrorism in Iran, and the MEK’s past terrorist activities in Western Countries to include hostage taking and attacks on Iranian diplomatic establishments and officials.  This designation was also made to send the message that the U.S. had taken the high road on terrorism and would designate any foreign group engaged in terrorist activity abroad to include not only groups that target U.S. interests, but terrorists groups that target any sovereign nation.” [pg 24]
•“Additionally, the MEK continues to practice misinformation operations in the U.S. and Europe.  MEK lobbyist routinely hold press conferences and pass information regarding the current Iranian government that is inaccurate and is designed to influence Western Media and governments.” [pg 18]
•“Interviewers should keep in mind that membership in the MEK is a significant step in the MEK hierarchy or leadership cadre.  It is safe to say that only the high echelon leadership will most admit to being MEK members.” [pg 29]
•“ Another tactic that the MEK has been employing is disinformation regarding former MEK members and witnesses who have come forward to testify and speak against the MEK. The MEK will brand these former members and witnesses as Iranian government agents. This information is often picked up by Western Intelligence agencies as factual information and is disseminated as intelligence. This further frustrates criminal investigators as they attempt to interview these former MEK members and potentially use them for testimony.” Pg 18-9

That being the case, it is difficult to understand why it is that elected representatives, and government officials of the U.S. government could support and/or work with, and accept money from this organization freely and openly.  It is difficult to understand in the case of support for the M.E.K. as it is difficult to understand in the case of Rep. Peter King’s open support and fundraising for the IRA.  The only justification for such an indefensible position must be that these folks believe that the enemy of my enemy can’t be a terrorist.

Glenn Greenwald has written a very detailed article on the hypocrisy of this support for a terrorist organization.  Here are a few key points from his article:

In June, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 6-3 ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law. In that case, the Court upheld the Obama DOJ’s very broad interpretation of the statute that criminalizes the providing of “material support” to groups formally designated by the State Department as Terrorist organizations. The five-judge conservative bloc (along with Justice Stevens) held that pure political speech could be permissibly criminalized as “material support for Terrorism” consistent with the First Amendment if the “advocacy [is] performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” (emphasis added). In other words, pure political advocacy in support of a designated Terrorist group could be prosecuted as a felony — punishable with 15 years in prison — if the advocacy is coordinated with that group.

… One can reasonably debate whether MEK actually belongs on the list of Terrorist organizations (the same is true for several other groups on that list). But as a criminal matter, that debate is irrelevant. The law criminalizes the providing of material support to any group on that list, and it is not a defense to argue after one gets caught that the group should be removed.

…  What is particularly repellent about all of this is not the supreme hypocrisy and self-interested provincialism of Fran Townsend. That’s all just par for the course. What’s infuriating is that there are large numbers of people — almost always Muslims — who have been prosecuted and are now in prison for providing “material support” to Terrorist groups for doing far less than Fran Townsend and her fellow cast of bipartisan ex-officials have done with and on behalf of MEK. In fact, the U.S. Government has been (under the administration in which Townsend worked) and still is (under the administration Rendell supports) continuously prosecuting Muslims for providing “material support” for Terrorist groups based on their pure speech, all while Fran Townsend, Ed Rendell and company have said nothing or, worse, supported the legal interpretations that justified these prosecutions.

The last time I wrote about these individuals’ material support for MEK, I highlighted just a few of those cases:

•A Staten Island satellite TV salesman in 2009 was sentenced to five years in federal prison merely for including a Hezbollah TV channel as part of the satellite package he sold to customers;
•a Massachusetts resident, Tarek Mehanna, is being prosecuted now ”for posting pro-jihadist material on the internet”;
•a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, Jubair Ahmad, was indicted last September for uploading a 5-minute video to YouTube that was highly critical of U.S. actions in the Muslim world, an allegedly criminal act simply because prosecutors claim he discussed the video in advance with the son of a leader of a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba);
•a Saudi Arabian graduate student, Sami Omar al-Hussayen, was prosecuted simply for maintaining a website with links “to groups that praised suicide bombings in Chechnya and in Israel” and “jihadist” sites that solicited donations for extremist groups (he was ultimately acquitted); and,
• last July, a 22-year-old former Penn State student and son of an instructor at the school, Emerson Winfield Begolly, was indicted for — in the FBI’s words — “repeatedly using the Internet to promote violent jihad against Americans” by posting comments on a “jihadist” Internet forum including “a comment online that praised the shootings” at a Marine Corps base, action which former Obama lawyer Marty Lederman said ”does not at first glance appear to be different from the sort of advocacy of unlawful conduct that is entitled to substantial First Amendment protection.”

Yet we have the most well-connected national security and military officials in Washington doing far more than all of that right out in the open — they’re receiving large payments from a Terrorist group, meeting with its leaders, attending their meetings, and then advocating for them in very public forums; Howard Dean, after getting paid by the group, actually called for MEK’s leader to be recognized as the legitimate President of Iran – and so far none have been prosecuted or even indicted

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has previously expressed concern about this support for a terrorist organization. They noted in July of 2011 that

Congressional supporters of the drive to remove the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) from the U.S. terrorism list defended the organization’s use of violence while dismissing Iran’s nonviolent Green Movement at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week. The hearing was also remarkable in that senior leaders of the designated foreign terrorist organization were caught counseling some of the witnesses before the hearing. It is illegal to coordinate with a foreign terrorist organization to advocate on behalf of the terrorist group.

… Despite the terrorist listing, Ali Safavi, a senior member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, was at the hearing, where he openly counseled witnesses before and during their testimony. The NCRI is the MEK’s political wing and is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
The hearing’s witnesses included three former U.S. officials who have actively participated in pro-MEK conferences, including former Bush Administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

All three witnesses who previously appeared at MEK conferences unanimously called for the MEK to be removed from the terror list, though none were asked to disclose whether they had received money to support the organization, as have other officials who have advocated for delisting the group.

The NY Times reports today that this state of affairs may be changing and that such individuals may now face scrutiny.  According to the article’s author Scott Shane Edward G. Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania and an outspoken supporter of the M.E.K., said on Monday that William Morris Endeavor, which handles his speaking engagements, received a subpoena last week seeking information on fees he had received for M.E.K.-related speeches.

Shane had reported back in November of 2011 on a long list of officials.  At that time, he wrote

The extraordinary lobbying effort to reverse the terrorist designation of the group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People’s Mujahedeen, has won the support of two former C.I.A. directors, R. James Woolsey and Porter J. Goss; a former F.B.I. director, Louis J. Freeh; a former attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey; President George W. Bush’s first homeland security chief, Tom Ridge; President Obama’s first national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones; big-name Republicans like the former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Democrats like the former Vermont governor Howard Dean; and even the former top counterterrorism official of the State Department, Dell L. Dailey, who argued unsuccessfully for ending the terrorist label while in office.
The American advocates have been well paid, hired through their speaking agencies and collecting fees of $10,000 to $50,000 for speeches on behalf of the Iranian group. Some have been flown to Paris, Berlin and Brussels for appearances.

… The M.E.K. advocacy campaign has included full-page newspaper advertisements identifying the group as “Iran’s Main Opposition” — an absurd distortion in the view of most Iran specialists; leaders of Iran’s broad opposition, known as the Green Movement, have denounced the group. The M.E.K. has hired high-priced lobbyists like the Washington firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Its lawyers in Europe won a long fight to persuade the European Union to drop its own listing of the M.E.K. as a terrorist group in 2009.

The group’s spending, certainly in the millions of dollars, has inevitably raised questions about funding sources.

Ali Safavi, who runs a pro-M.E.K. group in Washington called Near East Policy Research, says the money comes from wealthy Iranian expatriates in the United States and Europe. Because “material support” to a designated terrorist group is a crime, advocates insist that the money goes only to sympathizers and not to the M.E.K. itself.

Congress has taken note of the campaign. A House resolution for dropping the terrorist listing has 97 co-sponsors, including the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan. At a hearing this month, senators pressed the defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, about the threat to Camp Ashraf

Last month, Congressman Dana Robrahacher spoke in favor of removing the terrorist designation from the M.E.K.

Rep. Ted Poe (R – TX) has praised the M.E.K. as the ticket to regime change in Iran.

John Bolton spoke at an event in honor of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK)

Two years ago, Rachel Slajda reported that Rudy Giuliani, Tom Bolton, and Tom Ridge had gone to Paris and spoke at an event in support of the M.E.K.

Jason Ditz has reported that The MeK’s history of terrorist attacks includes repeated attacks on US businessmen and military personnel in pre-revolution Iran, and the group was one of the founding members of the “Foreign Terrorist Organization” list when it was created by the US State Department in 1997. The group is typified by its harsh reaction to any criticism, and was reported by Human Rights Watch to have run a private system of detention centers inside Iraq to detain (and in many cases torture) dissident members.

In addition to all of this open support for a terrorist group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) ran this ad on American television calling for its removal from the State Department’s list of terrorist organization. Former Gov. Ed Rendell, Tom Ridge, and former Mayor Rudy Guiliani are mong the people appearing in the ad.  Can anyone imagine any other designated terrorist organization being allowed to purchase television advertising?

During the uproar over the Park51/Cordoba House community center last year, Rep. Peter King called for a “full investigation” of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf because Rauf refused to publicly call Hamas a “terrorist organization.”  Imam Rauf hadn’t expressed suport for a terrorist organization, he hadn’t lobbied to get it removed from a terrorist list, he hadn’t accepted money from them, or attended or spoken at their events – but simply because he hadn’t publicly called them a “terrorist organization”, Rep. King thinks he deserves a “full investigation”.

I think it is time to demand the same standards of our elected officials and representatives.

Washington’s High-Powered Terrorist Supporters

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Glenn Greenwald, the first nomination for induction in the Anti-Loon Hall of Fame

Greenwald is like the canary in the coal mine, warning about the grave threat to our civil liberties and the abuse of the rule of law at the hand of the political elite:

Washington’s high-powered terrorist supporters

by Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com)

We now have an extraordinary situation that reveals the impunity with which political elites commit the most egregious crimes, as well as the special privileges to which they explicitly believe they — and they alone — are entitled. That a large bipartisan cast of Washington officials got caught being paid substantial sums of money by an Iranian dissident group that is legally designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization, and then meeting with and advocating on behalf of that Terrorist group, is very significant for several reasons. New developments over the last week make it all the more telling. Just behold the truly amazing set of facts that have arisen:

In June, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 6-3 ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law. In that case, the Court upheld the Obama DOJ’s very broad interpretation of the statute that criminalizes the providing of “material support” to groups formally designated by the State Department as Terrorist organizations. The five-judge conservative bloc (along with Justice Stevens) held that pure political speech could be permissibly criminalized as “material support for Terrorism” consistent with the First Amendment if the “advocacy [is] performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” (emphasis added). In other words, pure political advocacy in support of a designated Terrorist group could be prosecuted as a felony — punishable with 15 years in prison — if the advocacy is coordinated with that group.

This ruling was one of the most severe erosions of free speech rights in decades because, as Justice Breyer (joined by Ginsberg and Sotomayor) pointed out in dissent, “all the activities” at issue, which the DOJ’s interpretation would criminalize, “involve the communication and advocacy of political ideas and lawful means of achieving political ends.” The dissent added that the DOJ’s broad interpretation of the statute “gravely and without adequate justification injure[s] interests of the kind the First Amendment protects.” As Georgetown Law Professor David Cole, who represented the plaintiffs, explained, this was literally “the first time ever” that “the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment permits the criminalization of pure speech advocating lawful, nonviolent activity.” Thus, “the court rule[d] that speech advocating only lawful, nonviolent activity can be made a crime, and that any coordination with a blacklisted group can land a citizen in prison for 15 years.” Then-Solicitor-General Elena Kagan argued the winning Obama DOJ position before the Court.

Whatever one’s views are on this ruling, it is now binding law. To advocate on behalf of a designated Terrorist group constitutes the felony of “providing material support” if that advocacy is coordinated with the group.

Like most assaults on the Constitution in the name of Terrorism during the Obama presidency, criticism of that Court decision was rare in establishment circles (that’s because Republicans consistently support such assaults while Democrats are reluctant to criticize them under Obama). On the day the Humanitarian Law decision was released, CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer interviewed Fran Townsend, George Bush’s Homeland Security Advisor and now-CNN analyst, and Townsend hailed the decision as “a tremendous win for not only the United States but for the current administration.” Here’s how that discussion went:

BLITZER: There is a related case involved that the Supreme Court came out with today and I want to talk to you about this. The Supreme Court ruling today in the fight against terrorism . . . .The 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court, the justices rejecting the arguments that the law threatens the constitutional right of free speech. You read the decision, 6-3, only three of the Democratic appointed justices decided they didn’t like this. They were the minority. But the majority was pretty firm in saying that if you go ahead and express what is called material support for a known terrorist group, you could go to jail for that.

TOWNSEND: This is a tremendous win for not only the United States but for the current administration. It’s interesting, Wolf, Elena Kagan the current Supreme Court nominee argued in favor of upholding this law. This is an important tool the government uses to convict those, to charge and convict, potentially convict those who provide money, recruits, propaganda, to terrorist organizations, but are not what we call people who actually blow things up or pull the trigger.

BLITZER: So it’s a major decision, a 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court. If you’re thinking about even voicing support for a terrorist group, don’t do it because the government can come down hard on you and the Supreme Court said the government has every right to do so.

TOWNSEND: It is more than just voicing support, Wolf. It is actually the notion of providing material support, significant material support.

BLITZER: But they’re saying that if material support, they’re defining as expressing support or giving advice or whatever to that organization.

TOWNSEND: That’s right. But it could be technical advice, bomb-building advice, fundraising.

So Fran Townsend lavishly praised this decision — one that, as Blitzer put it, means that “If you’re thinking about even voicing support for a terrorist group, don’t do it because the government can come down hard on you.”  And while Townsend was right that the decision requires “more than just voicing support” for the Terrorist group, the Court was crystal clear that such voicing of support, standing alone, can be prosecuted if it is done in coordination with the group (“the term ’service’ [] cover[s] advocacy performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization“).

But look at what is happening now to Fran Townsend and many of her fellow political elites. In August of last year, The Christian Science Monitor‘s Scott Peterson published a detailed exposé about “a high-powered array of former top American officials” who have received “tens of thousands of dollars” from a designated Terrorist organization – the Iranian dissident group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) — and then met with its leaders, attended its meetings, and/or publicly advocated on its behalf. That group includes Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Michael Mukasey, Ed Rendell, Andy Card, Lee Hamilton, Tom Ridge, Bill Richardson, Wesley Clark, Michael Hayden, John Bolton, Louis Freeh — and Fran Townsend. This is how it works:

Former US officials taking part in MEK-linked events told the Monitor or confirmed publicly that they received substantial fees, paid by local Iranian-American groups to speaker bureaus that handle their public appearances.

The State Dept. official, who is familiar with the speech contracts, explains the mechanism: “Your speech agent calls, and says you get $20,000 to speak for 20 minutes. They will send a private jet, you get $25,000 more when you are done, and they will send a team to brief you on what to say.”

As but one example, Rendell, the former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania and current MSNBC contributor, was paid $20,000 for a 10- minute speech before a MEK gathering, and has been a stalwart advocate of the group ever since.

Even for official Washington, where elite crimes are tolerated as a matter of course, this level of what appears to be overt criminality — taking large amounts of money from a designated Terrorist group, appearing before its meetings, meeting with its leaders, then advocating on its behalf — is too much to completely overlook. The Washington Times reported on Friday that the Treasury Department’s counter-Terrorism division is investigating speaking fees paid to former Gov. Rendell, who, the article notes, has “become among [MEK’s] most vocal advocates.” According to Rendell, “investigators have subpoenaed records related to payments he has accepted for public speaking engagements” for MEK. As the article put it, ”some observers have raised questions about the legality of accepting payment in exchange for providing assistance or services to a listed terrorist group.” Beyond the “material support” crime, engaging in such transactions with designated Terrorist groups is independently prohibited by federal law:

David Cole, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, noted that “any group that’s on the list is also, by definition, on the Treasury Department’s list for specially designated global terrorists.”

Anyone in the United States is prohibited from engaging in any transaction with such an entity,” he said.

While Mr. Cole stressed his personal belief that individuals have a “First Amendment right to speak out freely” for an organization like the MEK, he said that “it is a crime to engage in any transaction, which would certainly include getting paid to do public relations for them.

Rendell has a lot of company in the commission of what very well may be these serious crimes — including the very same Fran Townsend who cheered the Humanitarian Law decision that could be her undoing. After someone on Twitter wrote to her this weekend to say that she should be prosecuted (and “put in GITMO indefinitely”) for her “material support”of MEK, this is how — with the waving American flag as her chosen background — she defended herself in reply:

How reprehensible is the conduct of Fran Townsend here? Just two years ago, she went on CNN to celebrate a Supreme Court decision that rejected First Amendment claims of free speech and free association in order to rule that anyone — most often Muslims — can be prosecuted under the “material support” statute simply for advocacy for a Terrorist group that is coordinated with the group. And yet, the minute Fran Townsend gets caught doing exactly that — not just out of conviction but also because she’s being paid by that Terrorist group — she suddenly invokes the very same Constitutional rights whose erosions she cheered when it came to the prosecution of others. Now that her own liberty is at stake by virtue of getting caught being on the dole from a Terrorist group, she suddenly insists that the First Amendment allows her to engage in this behavior: exactly the argument that Humanitarian Law rejected, with her gushing approval on CNN (“a tremendous win for not only the United States but for the current administration“; This is an important tool the government uses to convict those . . . who provide []  propaganda, to terrorist organizations”).”

What is particularly repellent about all of this is not the supreme hypocrisy and self-interested provincialism of Fran Townsend. That’s all just par for the course. What’s infuriating is that there are large numbers of people — almost always Muslims — who have been prosecuted and are now in prison for providing “material support” to Terrorist groups for doing far less than Fran Townsend and her fellow cast of bipartisan ex-officials have done with and on behalf of MEK. In fact, the U.S. Government has been (under the administration in which Townsend worked) and still is (under the administration Rendell supports) continuously prosecuting Muslims for providing “material support” for Terrorist groups based on their pure speech, all while Fran Townsend, Ed Rendell and company have said nothing or, worse, supported the legal interpretations that justified these prosecutions.

The last time I wrote about these individuals’ material support for MEK, I highlighted just a few of those cases:

  • A Staten Island satellite TV salesman in 2009 was sentenced to five years in federal prison merely for including a Hezbollah TV channel as part of the satellite package he sold to customers;
  • a Massachusetts resident, Tarek Mehanna, is being prosecuted now ”for posting pro-jihadist material on the internet”;
  • a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, Jubair Ahmad, was indicted last September for uploading a 5-minute video to YouTube that was highly critical of U.S. actions in the Muslim world, an allegedly criminal act simply because prosecutors claim he discussed the video in advance with the son of a leader of a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba);
  • a Saudi Arabian graduate student, Sami Omar al-Hussayen, was prosecuted simply for maintaining a website with links “to groups that praised suicide bombings in Chechnya and in Israel” and “jihadist” sites that solicited donations for extremist groups (he was ultimately acquitted); and,
  •  last July, a 22-year-old former Penn State student and son of an instructor at the school, Emerson Winfield Begolly, was indicted for — in the FBI’s words — “repeatedly using the Internet to promote violent jihad against Americans” by posting comments on a “jihadist” Internet forum including “a comment online that praised the shootings” at a Marine Corps base, action which former Obama lawyer Marty Lederman said ”does not at first glance appear to be different from the sort of advocacy of unlawful conduct that is entitled to substantial First Amendment protection.”

Yet we have the most well-connected national security and military officials in Washington doing far more than all of that right out in the open — they’re receiving large payments from a Terrorist group, meeting with its leaders, attending their meetings, and then advocating for them in very public forums; Howard Dean, after getting paid by the group, actually called for MEK’s leader to be recognized as the legitimate President of Iran  – and so far none have been prosecuted or even indicted. The Treasury Department investigation must at least scare them. Thus, like most authoritarians, Fran Townsend suddenly discovers the importance of the very political liberties she’s helped assault now that those Constitutional protections are necessary to protect herself from prosecution. It reminds me quite a bit of how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman — one of the most reliable advocates for Bush’s illegal spying program — suddenly started sounding like a life-long, outraged ACLU member as soon as it was revealed that her own private communications were legally surveilled by the U.S. Government.

One can reasonably debate whether MEK actually belongs on the list of Terrorist organizations (the same is true for several other groups on that list). But as a criminal matter, that debate is irrelevant. The law criminalizes the providing of material support to any group on that list, and it is not a defense to argue after one gets caught that the group should be removed.

Moreover, the argument that MEK does not belong on the Terrorist list — always a dubious claim —  has suffered a serious blow in the last couple of months. An NBC News report from Richard Engel and Robert Windrem in February claimed that it was MEK which perpetrated the string of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, and that the Terrorist group “is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service” (MEK denied the report). If true, it means that MEK continues to perpetrate definitive acts of Terrorism: using bombs and guns to kill civilian scientists and severely injure their wives. Yet Townsend, Rendell, Dean, Giuliani and other well-paid friends continue to be outspoken advocates of the group. Even the dissenters in Humanitarian Law argued that the First Amendment would allow “material support” prosecution “when the defendant knows or intends that those activities will assist the organization’s unlawful terrorist actions.” A reasonable argument could certainly be advanced that, in light of these recent reports about MEK’s Terrorism, one who takes money from the group and then advocates for its removal from the Terrorist list “knows or intends that those activities will assist the organization’s unlawful terrorist actions”: a prosecutable offense even under the dissent’s far more limited view of the statute.

But whatever else is true, the activities of Townsend, Rendell, Dean, Giuliani and the rest of MEK’s paid shills are providing more than enough “material support” to be prosecuted under the Humanitarian Law decision and other statutes. They’re providing more substantial “material support” to this Terrorist group than many people — usually vulnerable, powerless Muslims — who are currently imprisoned for that crime.  It’s nice that Fran Townsend suddenly discovered the virtues of free speech and free association guarantees, but under the laws she and so many others like her have helped implement and defend, there is a very strong case to make that her conduct and those of these other well-connected advocates for this Terrorist group is squarely within the realm of serious criminal behavior.

Glenn Greenwald
Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

Robert Spencer: Muslim Appointees Deserve Special Loyalty Test (Video)

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by loonwatch

Faith in Public Life (FPL) just interviewed Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer.  I’ve reproduced their excellent article below, which is where you can see the video yourself.  In it, Spencer endorses a special loyalty test for Muslims:

FPL: Do you think Muslim appointees to office deserve a special test or a special kind of investigation before they are appointed?

Spencer: Well, I think it’s entirely reasonable.

In light of the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is, in its own words, dedicated to eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house, then certainly any Muslim official that [sic] has ties to the Brotherhood organizations in the United States–of which there are very many–should be vetted very carefully.

FPL: So you think any Muslim that is appointed should be investigated for any of those ties before they are appointed?

Spencer: Yes, certainly.

FPL also points to Robert Spencer’s double standards and hypocrisy when it comes to Islam and his own religion, Christianity (specifically, Catholicism).  Those of you familiar with my writing know that whenever I point this out, Spencer starts crying “tu quoque, tu quoque fallacy!”  That’s because his own religion can’t withstand the same standard he applies to Islam.

FPL asked Spencer if he found it problematic when Muslims called themselves “Muslims first, Americans second.”  Spencer responded emphatically in the affirmative, saying: “It’s a big problem.”  Then, FPL asked Spencer if he himself was American first or a Christian first.  Spencer was caught off-guard and tried to evade answering the question.  When FPL pushed him further on the issue, he refused to answer the question, saying: “Neither one.” Then, he finally admitted that he in fact placed his faith first, even above American law.

Anybody see the glaring hypocrisy here?  It’s in fact the same double standard applied by pro-Israel Islamophobes who attack American Muslims for having “dual loyalty” to their ancestral homelands and “the Ummah”, when in fact they themselves have “dual loyalty” to America and Israel, often placing the latter’s interests above the former.

Spencer tries to justify his double standard by arguing that Christianity “isn’t incompatible with the constitutional freedoms” whereas Islam is “is manifestly incompatible” with them.  In other words, it simply hasn’t been an issue with his Christianity.

Yet, Spencer contradicts himself in the very next sentence:

FPL: So would you describe yourself as an American first and a Christian second, or Christian first and American second?

Spencer: Neither one.  I think it’s a distinction when it comes to Christianity that thus far, there has not been a problematic issue of allegiance. If it comes down to the new Obama directives with the Catholic Church, for example, forcing it to go back on its own policies and its own doctrine…then obviously those are unjust laws that ought not to be passed.

Spencer is here alluding to the issue of abortion.  It should be noted that “the Supreme Court ruled that women had a constitutional right to abortion”, yet Catholics like Robert Spencer want to deny this right to women.  Isn’t this exactly the sort of conflict that Spencer found to be “a big problem” when it comes to Muslims?  Isn’t this, using Spencer’s own standard, “a problematic issue of allegiance” between Catholic doctrine and the Constitution?

But remember: don’t dare apply the standard Spencer does to Islam to his own religion!  Only a leftist dhimmi would do that!

Here is the article:

Robert Spencer’s Double-Standard on Religious Freedom

Anti-Muslim activists often complain that Muslims living in this country don’t effectively assimilate into American culture, that they consider themselves Muslims first and Americans second. Despite the fact that polling has found that Muslim Americans are actually the most loyal religious group in the nation – 93 percent of Muslim Americans say they are loyal to America, and Muslims have the highest confidence in the integrity of the US election process – far-right pundits continue to further the myth that Muslims lack commitment to this country because their faith puts them in conflict with constitutional law.

In fact, the concept of prioritizing faith principles before the law is not unique to Muslims. Prominent Christian figures such as Pat Robertson have publicly remarked that they consider themselves Christians first and Americans second. Perhaps even more telling is the extent to which the current contraception mandate controversy is dominating the political conversation, with some Catholic leaders suggesting they would shut down their hospitals and schools or perform civil disobedience instead of complying with a law they believe conflicts with their faith.

At the recent CPAC conference here in Washington, Nick interviewed prominent anti-Islam activist Robert Spencer and found this exact double standard. Spencer criticizes Muslims for prioritizing Islam over US law, while going on to say he would put his Christian faith first in a situation where Christianity came into conflict with the law:

FPL: A lot of people point to polls that Muslims in various countries suggest that they’re Muslims first and then loyal to that country second – American second, or Spanish second. Do you think that’s a problem and are you worried about that?

Spencer: It’s a big problem, and it’s something that has to be taken into account…when it comes to Islamic law and the constitution, there are many, many ways in which Islamic law contradicts the constitutional freedoms. Then if somebody has a loyalty to Sharia, to Islam first, then that’s very problematic.

FPL: And would you describe yourself as American first, or as a person of faith first?

Spencer: I’m an American and a person of faith. And I believe that my faith, as a Christian, isn’t incompatible with the constitutional freedoms. But Islamic law is manifestly incompatible with constitutional freedoms.

FPL: So would you describe yourself as an American first and a Christian second, or Christian first and American second?

Spencer: Neither one. I think it’s a distinction when it comes to Christianity that thus far, there has not been a problematic issue of allegiance. If it comes down to the new Obama directives with the Catholic Church, for example, forcing it to go back on its own policies and its own doctrine…then obviously those are unjust laws that ought not to be passed.

FPL: So if there was a conflict between your faith and the law, you would choose your faith?

Spencer: Yeah.

The hypocrisy is apparent. If conservatives are concerned with religious liberty, then that liberty ought to be applied to faith traditions across the board, including Islam. At the same conference, conservative paragon Grover Norquist made this same point (around the 2:42 mark):

FPL: So do you think it harms the conservative argument for religious liberty…when [Republican candidates] have previously expressed some similar concerns to extending this [liberty] to Muslim Americans?

Norquist: You can’t be for religious liberty for some people and not others, or the whole thing falls apart. No one in court is going to rule that way. The court will either go with, yes you can ban synagogues, mosques, missionaries and Catholic hospitals– or you can’t do any of that…I’ve noticed that all faith traditions recognize that an attack on one is an attack on all.

As Norquist points out, Spencer’s duplicitous arguments about Islam fall flat. When it comes to religious freedom, the far right cannot have its cake and eat it too.

Kosher Meals Cost Taxpayers Over Half a Million Dollars: What if These Were Halal Meals?

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 1, 2012 by loonwatch

GOP presidential hopeful and rabid Islamophobe Newt Gingrich is slamming Mitt Romney for vetoing a 2003 bill that would allocate an additional $600,000 of taxpayer money to provide poor Jewish nursing home residents with Kosher meals.  Thundered Gingrich:

Romney as Governor eliminated kosher food for retired Jewish senior citizens…He has no understanding of the importance of religious liberty in this country.

I myself don’t have a problem with providing Kosher meals, and I would not have opposed the additional funding like Romney did.  But, this does beg the question: what if this had been about Halal meals instead?

Had that been the case, the situation would have been completely reversed.  In that scenario, had Mitt Romney supported a bill that allocated over half a million dollars of taxpayer money to Halal meals for poor Muslim nursing home residents, what do you think Newt Gingrich and the rest of the right-wing would be saying then?  They would be ruthlessly attacking him for this.

We’d also hear a lot about how Muslims in America and the West in general demand “special rules” and “special treatment”–how they have a “feeling of entitlement.”  We’d hear about how Muslims want “hand-outs” and “leech off” of the rest of us.  We’d hear all the typical racist and bigoted charges that are often levied against non-white minorities.

Whenever a minority asks for cultural or religious accommodation, especially Muslims, they are accused of such things.  What good, white, Judeo-Christian folk sometimes fail to realize is that the system is by default heavily bent in their favor, with “special accommodations” for them already built in.

This reminds me of a conversation I overheard between a Christian and Muslim colleague of mine.  The Christian employee was complaining about how “it was unfair” that the Muslim colleague got to come in late for work on his religious holiday (Eid) and leave a bit early on that same day; she said: “It’s not fair: you guys get our Christmas off but we don’t get your holiday off.”  I couldn’t believe my ears.  She gets a whole two weeks off to go visit her family in another state, whereas he gets half a day off so that he can take his wife and kids out to eat at the local kabob joint.  The Muslim employee wants “special treatment” (if you can call it that) because the system is already so slanted in favor of the dominant, majority group.

I’ve seen a similar occurrence with Friday prayers, with Muslim colleagues racing back and forth during lunch to make it in time.  Meanwhile, Jews get Saturday off and Christians get Sunday off–by default.  At my work, we often have to come in on Saturdays, but observant Jews can get it off by “special request.”  If Muslims made that sort of request, we wouldn’t hear the end of it.

This is a nation of immigrants, and as such, we must be ready to accommodate–within the bounds of reason–various races, religions, and customs.  The only alternative, I suppose, is to adopt the nativist view of right-wingers: “they” must accommodate to “us.”  This view, however, fails to realize that both groups need to bend a little to accommodate the other.

Speaking of Kosher and Halal, one recalls how the Queen of Islamophobia, Pamela Geller, who is herself Jewish, attacks Muslims for how cruel Halal slaughter is, even though it’s virtually the exact same process used by Jews for Kosher.  Had a candidate supported a bill to give half a million dollars to provide Halal food, Geller would be screeching about how this was providing state support for evil Muslim butchery and animal cruelty.  Common sense and rationality are lost with such absurdities.

On that note, I think it would behoove the reader to consider how dramatically different views are when we substitute “Jew” for “Muslim” or the other way around: for example, the standard “you can’t be racist against Muslims, because Muslim is not a race” doesn’t seem right when we say “you can’t be racist against Jews, because Jew is not a race.”  It’s a worthwhile exercise to do any time you read a story about Muslims: just do the substitution and ask yourself if it sounds right.  There’s a reason it doesn’t: all of these anti-Muslim smears were once used against Jews: it’s the same message, just used against a different minority group.

Islamophobes never want to play the substitution game, which is why they cry “tu quoque, tu quoque” whenever anyone uses it.  They must at all costs prevent it from being used because it lays bare their bigotry.

In this particular case, it’s supporting “religious freedom” to use taxpayer money to provide Kosher meals to Jewish residents.  But remember: it would be against freedom and free choice to use taxpayer money to provide Halal meals for Muslims.  When it’s about Kosher, then it’s forcing your religious beliefs onto Jews to not provide Kosher meals, thereby “forcing” them to eat non-Kosher meals; when it’s about Halal, then it’s Muslims forcing their beliefs onto us, by forcing us to provide them with special meals.

As George Orwell said: ”Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

The Greater Islamophobia: Bombing, Invading, and Occupying Muslim Lands (II)

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by loonwatch

This article is part II of The Greater Islamophobia: Bombing, Invading, and Occupying Muslim Lands (I).  

Read Part I first.

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg is a prominent establishment journalist who helped push the country to war against Iraq: he famously claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was on the verge of going nuclear, and was linked to Al-Qaeda and 9/11.  These were all lies, nothing short of alarmist war-propaganda.

Jeffrey Goldberg is at it again, but this time against Iran and Pakistan.  This is part of his overall warmongering ideology, one that involves advocating what I call the Supreme Islamophobic Crime: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.  The justifications used to wage war against Muslims are steeped in hypocrisy and double standards, which are very prevalent in Goldberg’s articles.

In part I, I responded to Goldberg’s claims that Iran should be attacked because it is supposedly on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons.  I pointed out the hypocrisy of the U.S. and Israel in this regard, both of which also have nuclear weapons and are either in violation of the NPT (the U.S.) or refuse to sign it (Israel).  As George Orwell famously said in his critique of nationalism: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

For the record, I am a strong believer in complete nuclear disarmament.  However, either all countries should get rid of nuclear weapons or all countries have the right to acquire them.  There cannot be a double-standard in this regard.  If the United States and Israel possess them, then Iran–which is under constant American and Israeli threat of not just conventional warfare but nuclear strike–not only has the right to obtain them, but–as Glenn Greenwald notes–“nothing is more rational than Iran’s wanting a nuclear weapon” (note: that is, if Iran secretly wanted to do so).

*  *  *  *  *

Here in part II, I will tackle the rest of Goldberg’s article, which is filled with typical Zionist, neoconservative, and warmongering rhetoric.  Each of his pro-war arguments can be equally applied to America and/or Israel, reinforcing Orwell’s statement.

First, Goldberg writes:

The leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites; men who, for reasons of theology, view the state of the Jews as a “cancer.” They have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction… Iran’s leaders are men who deny the Holocaust while promising another.

Goldberg is repeating multiple falsehoods against Iran.  Here, he is referring to an infamous statement that was uttered by the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he supposedly said “Israel must be wiped off the map.”  In fact, this was a case of blatant mistranslation by the Western media: what he really said was:

The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.

Ahmadinejad was calling for regime change, not for Israel’s destruction or the annihilation of Jews.  Certainly, the two greatest proponents of regime change–the United States and Israel–should be the last to equate regime change with genocide.

In fact, the Iranian leadership, while reserving the right to defend itself if Iran is attacked, has never threatened to initiate an attack against Israel, let alone “repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction” as Jeffrey Goldberg imagines.  Once again, quite ironically, it is Israel that has repeatedly threatened to initiate an attack against Iran.  Remember: actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

Goldberg’s claim that the Iranian government has “promised another [Holocaust]” is absolutely bogus; therefore, his claim that “[t]he leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites” is also completely contrived.  They are anti-Semites, but they are not eliminationist anti-Semites.  Do we bomb people for being anti-Semites?  To put the shoe on the other foot, would any sane person call to bomb Israel for their leaders being anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and/or Islamophobic?  One cannot help but reiterating the Orwellian mantra: actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

Meanwhile, it is Israeli leaders who have not just endorsed but actively enacted a policy of “driving the Palestinians out of Palestine.”  The Israeli leadership has, for well over half a century, supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, euphemistically called “forced transfer.”  For example, the current prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed support for ethnic cleansing by famously saying that Israel should “carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”  (In fact, a majority of Israelis support the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.)  Worse yet, Netanyahu has not just supported ethnic cleansing by mere words, but is right now engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

In a previous article, I pointed out how misleading it is to focus on Iranian rhetoric over Israeli action.  While the Western media obsesses over whether or not Hamas or Iran may have called to wipe Israel off the map (mere rhetoric), Israel has literally wiped Palestine off the map (actual action)–it has been and is currently in the process of wiping the land of pesky Palestinians as well.  This is the difference then between word and deed: if one looks at a map, Israel is on it and Palestine is not.  Who has wiped out whom?  That this obvious absurdity is not ever pointed out in the Western media speaks volumes.

Yes, the Iranian leadership has called “the Zionist regime” a “cancer.”  So, now we are invading countries for simple name-calling?  If the Venezuelan government calls the United States and everything it represents a “fulminating disease” or even a “pile of human feces,” are we justified in attacking it?  If that is the case, then would Iran be justified in attacking the United States and Israel for all the things it has been called?   We dubbed Iran to be part of the “Axis of Evil.”  That’s just as bad as being called a “cancer.”  Can Iran attack us on that basis?  Here exists another double standard: we freely label Iran with the label of “Axis of Evil” but if Iran did the same to us, that would be proof of their innate belligerence.  This is because actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

There is no doubt that denying or downplaying the Holocaust is morally repugnant, but how could such a person as Jeffrey Goldberg, who throughout his career has justified, downplayed, and denied the Palestinian suffering, be up in arms about Iranian leaders doing the same with the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust?  More importantly, would any sane person apply the logic to Israel, arguing that denial of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe)–the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948-1949–is reason to attack Israel?  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. (Note: Denying either the Holocaust, the Catastrophe, or any other such crime against humanity should be considered completely unacceptable.)

*  *  *  *  *

Then, Jeffrey Goldberg uses every Zionist’s favorite go-to trump card: “Hamas and Hezbollah!”  He writes that Iran has been

providing material support and training to two organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, that specialize in the slaughter of innocent Jews.

Prof. William Beeman of Brown University argues that the Iranian links to Hamas and Hezbollah are exaggerated.  Aside from this, however, there is a profound double standard at play here: Israel supports Mujahedin-e Khalq, a militant group inside Iran that even the U.S. State Department designates a “terrorist organization”:

It is widely known within intelligence circles that the Israelis use the MEK for varied acts of espionage and terror…

If it is justified to attack Iran on the grounds that Iran supports Hamas and Hezbollah which in turn commit acts of terrorism against Israel, then would our opponents argue that it is justified for Iran to attack Israel because Israel supports the MEK which engages in terrorism against Iran?  Such double standards are never pointed out in the U.S. media, but they certainly do not go unnoticed in the Muslim world and elsewhere.  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.  

If Iran is to be attacked for its “material support” of groups that commit acts of terrorism, then wouldn’t the Iranians be more justified in attacking Israel, which has committed not just “material support” but actual acts of terrorism within Iran?  Israel has been implicated in several terrorist acts within Iran, including “bombings” and “assassinations” of Iranian scientists.  Just a couple weeks ago, the Israeli intelligence agency orchestrated a terrorist bombing within Iran, “in which 17 people were killed” including a prominent Iranian scientist.

One can only imagine the reaction within pro-Israeli circles–and the absolute indignation of the American media–if “stealth jihadists” of Iranian descent bombed an MIT lab and killed a dozen and a half civilians along with a prominent research professor.  Do you think the mainstream media would be silent about this string of terrorist attacks if they were against American targets and perpetrated by Muslims?  Remember:  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.  (This media double standard explains why most Americans believe the lie that nearly all terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims.)

The Guardian reports:

Israel has been linked to several previous incidents in Iran similar to Saturday’s explosion, including an explosion at a Shahab facility in south-western Iran in 2010 and a bomb attack earlier that year in Tehran, in which Iranian physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi was killed.

One need not look back to two weeks ago to prove Israeli terrorism in Iran: just a few days ago it was reported that an Iranian power plant was bombed in an Israeli terrorist attack JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer rejoiced, calling this terrorist attack “good news” and saying that “[t]his calls for some champagne.”  Similarly, Jeffrey Goldberg gleefully reported the news that Iran is under attack, showing once again how the Goldbergs and Gellers (in this case, Geller’s partner-in-crime) agree on advocating the Supreme Islamophobic Crime of bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim countries.

What do you think Spencer or Goldberg’s reaction would have been had it been a “stealth jihadist” who bombed an American power plant?  Recall the absolute rage of Islamophobes, neoconservatives, Goldbergs, and Gellers–as well as Americans in general–over the Fort Hood Shooting.  In that incident, Nidal Hasan killed U.S. soldiers on a military base as they were about to be deployed to go to war against Muslim countries.  At that time, it was wondered: how could Muslims be so bloodthirsty that they would do such a thing?  Yet, when Americans or Israelis kill Iranian scientists, then this is either brushed off as a necessary casualty in the War on Terror or even gleefully rejoiced over as yet another “success” in the War on Terror.

Of course, such double standards abound in our national discourse, without anyone pointing out the obvious.  This is because, repeat after me, actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

*  *  *  *  *

Goldberg then tries throwing the kitchen sink at Iran, arguing that we should attack Iran because it is lead by a “messianic, apocalyptic cult”:

[I]t isn’t too much to imagine that some of Iran’s more mystically minded leaders, mesmerized by visions of the apocalypse, would actually consider using a nuclear weapon on Israel — a country so small that a single detonation could cripple it permanently.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who once told me he believes that Iran is led by a “messianic, apocalyptic cult,” is correct to view Iran as a threat to his country’s existence.

Here, we see another example of Goldberg’s double standards.  While it is true that some Iranian leaders dabble in “messianic, apocalyptic” dribble, there is an equally pernicious ”messianic, apocalyptic” impulse among Israelis, which Jeffrey Goldberg himself acknowledges.  Should this be legitimate grounds for another country to attack Israel?  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

The only recognized sect of Judaism in Israel is Orthodox Judaism, the most prominent sect of which is Religious Zionism.  Rabbi Abraham Kook, considered the father of modern Religious Zionism, argued that “Zionists were agents in a heavenly plan to bring about the messianic era.”  According to this messianic group, the congregating of the Jews in Israel will bring about the end times, meaning the wheels are already in motion.

Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, doesn’t seem to have a problem with “messianic, apocalyptic” Religious Zionists; in fact, Netanyahu proclaimed:

The religious Zionist public is part of every major way of life in Israel and it is time it was part of the ruling party

Netanyahu not only reached out to put such messianic Jews in “the ruling party”  but also “affirm[ed] Christian Zionists”, a nutty “the End is Near” Christian group.  He has himself engaged in messianic babble, and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article entitled “Netanyahu’s messianism could launch attack on Iran“.

There is another underlying irony here.  As noted above, Israel supports Mujahedin-e Khalq, which is a “revolutionary cult.”  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

*  *  *  *  *

Jeffrey Goldberg gives four more reasons why President Obama should lob missiles at Iran.  The first:

First, Iran and the U.S. have been waging a three- decade war for domination of the Middle East. If Iran goes nuclear, it will have won this war. American power in the Middle East will have been eclipsed, and Obama will look toothless.

This is a complete non-sequitur.  How does Iran having nuclear weapons in the region equate to “domination of the Middle East”?  Israel would still have tens or hundreds of times as many nuclear weapons as Iran, and the United States would have Iran surrounded.  What it would do is even out the scales of power a bit, making Israel think twice before nuking any of its neighbors.  What Zionists like Goldberg do not want, and will seek to prevent at any cost, is Iran to balance out the scales of power.  Goldberg et al. want American and Israeli “domination of the Middle East.”

Goldberg’s statement is very telling, because he accidentally reveals what every Arab and Muslim in the region knows: “[T]he U.S. [has] been waging a three-decade war for domination of the Middle East.”  Hmm….I wonder why do Arabs and Muslims in the region hate us?  It’s such a big mystery to me.

How would Americans feel if some other country was “waging a three-decade war” to dominate them?  But, of course, such comparisons–putting the shoe on the other foot–must never be discussed in the national discourse–and anyone who does so should be ignored, marginalized, and vilified.

Then, Goldberg says:

Second, every U.S. ally in the Middle East — Israel, the Gulf countries and Turkey, especially — fears a nuclear Iran. The president would have their complete support.

Here, we have another glimpse into the imperialist mind.  The reality of Arab street is thus:

According to the Brookings Institution’s 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, 77 percent regard Israel as the biggest threat, 80 percent regard the United States as the biggest threat, and only 10 percent regard Iran as the biggest threat. Fifty-seven percent think the region will be better off if Iran had nuclear weapons.

The same is the case in Turkey:

Turks see US as biggest external threat, poll results show

Some 43 percent of Turks perceive the United States as the country’s biggest threat, followed by Israel, according to a broad survey carried out in December…

The survey asked “From which country does the biggest threat come?” with 43 percent of Turks saying the U.S., followed by 24 percent who indicated Israel, 3 percent for Iran…

The percentage of Arabs, Muslims, and Turks who would support an American or Israeli attack on Iran would be, one can reasonably assume, even lower.

What Goldberg is saying then is that the American-supported stooge dictatorships–those same ones that the democratic Arab Spring has been shaking off–would support such a move against Iran.  To any good colonialist, what the people of a nation want does not matter: simply install a subservient client regime and through it thwart the will of the people.  I wonder why they hate us?  It is an absolute mystery to me.

Goldberg goes on:

Third, the president is ideologically committed to a world without nuclear weapons. If Iran gets the bomb, it will set off an arms race in the world’s most volatile region. At the very least, Saudi Arabia and Turkey will seek nuclear weapons. It would mark a bitter defeat for Obama to have inadvertently overseen the greatest expansion of the nuclear arms club in recent history.

The irony of the president of the United States–leader of a country that has the most nuclear weapons in the world, the only one to have ever used them (not once, but twice), one that is in violation of the NPT, one that still actively plans on how to use nuclear weapons in future wars, and one that comes to the swift defense of Israel when it opposes a nuclear free Middle East (see part I of my article)–claiming to be “ideologically committed to a world without nuclear weapons” should not be lost.

In fact, President Barack Obama–unlike Iran’s leaders who have steadfastly pledged never to use nuclear weapons against anyone–came up with a list of conditions under which the U.S. could use nuclear weapons (see this article by The New York Times).  Obama argued that any restrictions on nuclear weapons would simply not apply to “outliers like Iran and North Korea.”  He also reserved the right to use “nuclear retaliation against a biological attack” by any country (or even by a non-state actor, one assumes).  Obama refused to issue a “blanket statement that the country would never be the first to use nuclear weapons.”  Therefore, the United States effectively rejects a “no-first use” policy.

To be sure, the NYT article article mentions that Bush had an even more militant position; he “reserved the right to use nuclear weapons ‘to deter a wide range of threats,’ including banned chemical and biological weapons and large-scale conventional attacks.”  In other words, the Republican party is even more militant than Obama in this regard, giving an almost carte blanche to use nuclear weapons.

To sum it up: America reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, but is dedicated to restricting nuclear arms to, in Goldberg’s words, “the nuclear arms club”–with the U.S. being the leader of this exclusive club.  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

Goldberg’s obsession with Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons contrasts sharply with his indifference or acceptance of Israel’s known nuclear program.

Goldberg’s last reason to attack Iran uses typical Zionist exploitation of Jewish suffering coupled with alarmist fear-mongering to justify war:

Finally, the president has a deep understanding of Jewish history, and is repulsed by Iranian anti-Semitism. He doesn’t want to be remembered as the president who failed to guarantee Israel’s existence.

Does Israeli bigotry towards Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims give Iran the justification to attack Israel?  Or does this, like all of Goldberg’s other reasons, apply only one way?  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

Jeffrey Goldberg completes his pro-Israel propaganda by invoking the mandatory Hitler reference, arguing that a “nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people.”  As Greenwald noted:

No discussion of any of this is complete without noting that it was endlessly claimed that it was Saddam who was the New Hitler in order ratchet up fear levels and justify an attack that country, too. How many times can we be persuaded to attack the New Hitler?

*  *  *  *  *

Glenn Greenwald’s recent article, George Orwell on the Evil Iranian Menace, is an absolute must read.  The United States has been hard at word portraying the Iranians as “the Aggressor, the Modern Nazis, a True Menace” and itself (and Israel) as Iran’s “innocent peace-loving victims.”  This is of course placing reality on its head, which is completely obvious if one puts the shoe on the other foot.

Imagine, for instance, if Iran militarily occupied Canada and Mexico, if Cuba and other islands near the U.S. mainland were Iranian client regimes, if a massive Iranian naval fleet were stationed nearby on both East and West Coasts, if Iranian sky robots were flying over American soil targeting and killing U.S. citizens, if Iran committed acts of terrorism on U.S. soil such as blowing up power plants, if Iran assassinated American scientists, if Iran launched sophisticated cyber-attacks against the U.S., if Iran lobbied for crippling sanctions against America, and if Iranian leaders routinely called for war against America–what do you think the American reaction to all this would be?

After noting that the U.S. has done all this whereas “Iran has not invaded, occupied or air attacked anyone”, Greenwald writes:

Given the extensive violence and aggression the U.S. has perpetrated, and continues to perpetrate, on numerous countries in that region, one might think that not even our political culture could sustain the propagandistic myth that it is Iran that is the aggressor state and the U.S. that is its peace-loving victim. But, of course, one who thought that would be completely wrong. Not only is it a widespread belief, but it’s virtually mandated orthodoxy. But none of that should be at all surprising or confusing, given that 66 years ago, George Orwell — in his 1945 Notes on Nationalism— explained exactly the warped form of thinking that creates this mindset:

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

This is not to say that the Iranian regime is benevolent; there is no question that it is domestically oppressive.  Oppression of Bahais and other minorities is something that should not be downplayed.  (This is why I hope that, like other Arab dictatorships that have been toppled by the people themselves, the same happens in Iran.  This is also the reason I supported the Iranian Green Movement against the Iranian regime and ayatollah-ruled theocracy.)

But, as Greenwald pointed out:

Iran, to be sure, is domestically oppressive, but no more so — and in many cases less — than the multiple regimes funded, armed and otherwise propped up by the U.S. during this period.

I would also point out that this line of argumentation cannot reasonably be used by Goldberg and other Israeli apologists because Israel itself is domestically oppressive to its significant Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim population.  This, as we see, is another argument that seems to only work one way, because the moral of the story is that actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.

*  *  *  *  *

In conclusion, every single one of Jeffrey Goldberg’s reasons to go to war against Iran are hypocritical.  He, like Islamophobes everywhere, uses profound double standards, applying one standard to Muslims (Iranians, in this case) and another for America and Israel.  This is the Greater Islamophobia, which revolves around the Supreme Islamophobic Myth: radical Islam is the greatest threat to world peace.  This is something that both Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Geller strongly agree with, and they advocate the Supreme Islamophobic Crime: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.

The disagreement between Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Geller just has to do with a difference of opinion with regard to P.R.: Goldberg believes that the Lesser Islamophobia gives the Greater Islamophobia “a bad name”, whereas Geller believes it helps create popular support for it.  In reality, both of them are correct:  Goldberg gives the Supreme Islamophobic Myth the Seriousness it needs in order to be taken Seriously by policy-makers and Serious People, whereas Geller helps create popular support for such warlike policies among the masses.  The Goldbergs and Gellers of the world work hand in glove.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.