Archive for Glenn Greenwald

Genocidal Arab-Bashing Muslim-Hating Rant From Pro-Israeli PAC’s Founding Board Member

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

Rachel Abrams is a founding board member of a pro-Israeli PAC called the Emergency Committee for Israel.  She recently posted this genocidal Arab-bashing Muslim-hating rant on her blog (h/t Glenn Greenwald):

Then round up [Gilad Shalit’s] captors, the slaughtering, death-worshiping, innocent-butchering, child-sacrificing savages who dip their hands in blood and use women—those who aren’t strapping bombs to their own devils’ spawn and sending them out to meet their seventy-two virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others—and their offspring—those who haven’t already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god—as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they’re traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose.

As Greenwald so presciently notes, Rachel Abrams is not “some fringe Arab-hating figure but from the heart and soul of the American neocon movement.”

Abram’s world view, one which depicts the Judeo-Christian America and Israel as the harbingers of freedom, liberty, and democracy–and the Violent Dark-Skinned Ay-rab jihad-loving Moozlum Terrorist world as the incarnation of all that is Evil–cannot exist in a vacuum.  The only reason so many people hold such views is because of how carefully and closely the mainstream media and the national discourse is controlled.

This is the reason that my controversial series–about the inequities of “the Judeo-Christian tradition”–is so important.  There is no other way to truly kill this paradigm except to expose how truly hypocritical such a view is.

Glenn Greenwald: The “very scary” Iranian Terror plot

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

Maybe the best piece Glenn Greenwald has ever written. A complete evisceration of the surreal absurdness that has come to characterize US politics.

The Islamophobes have been going buck-wild over this “Iranian plot,” which is surprising when one considers the fact that Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller both think Obama is a wacky Jihadi Mooslim who is working on behalf of Iran. See our post: Obama is a Mooslim, Jihadist, Pimp, anti-Semite who is aiding the Iranian Nuclear program

The “very scary” Iranian Terror plot

by Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com)

(updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV)

The most difficult challenge in writing about the Iranian Terror Plot unveiled yesterday is to take it seriously enough to analyze it. Iranian Muslims in the Quds Force sending marauding bands of Mexican drug cartel assassins onto sacred American soil to commit Terrorism — against Saudi Arabia and possibly Israel — is what Bill Kristol and John Bolton would feverishly dream up while dropping acid and madly cackling at the possibility that they could get someone to believe it. But since the U.S. Government rolled out its Most Serious Officials with Very Serious Faces to make these accusations, many people (therefore) do believe it; after all, U.S. government accusations = Truth. All Serious people know that. And in the ensuing reaction one finds virtually every dynamic typically shaping discussions of Terrorism and U.S. foreign policy.

To begin with, this episode continues the FBI’s record-setting undefeated streak of heroically saving us from the plots they enable. From all appearances, this is, at best, yet another spectacular “plot” hatched by some hapless loser with delusions of grandeur but without any means to put it into action except with the able assistance of the FBI, which yet again provided it through its own (paid, criminal) sources posing as Terrorist enablers. The Terrorist Mastermind at the center of the plot is a failed used car salesman in Texas with a history of pedestrian money problems. Dive under your bed. “For the entire operation, the government’s confidential sources were monitored and guided by federal law enforcement agents,” explained U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and “no explosives were actually ever placed anywhere and no one was actually ever in any danger.’”

But no matter. The U.S. Government and its mindless followers in the pundit and think-tank “expert” class have seized on this ludicrous plot with astonishing speed to all but turn it into a hysterical declaration of war against Evil, Hitlerian Iran. “The US attorney-general Eric Holder said Iran would be ‘held to account’ over what he described as a flagrant abuse of international law,” and “the US says military action remains on the table,” though “it is at present seeking instead to work through diplomatic and financial means to further isolate Iran.” Hillary Clinton thundered that this “crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for.” The CIA’s spokesman at The Washington Post, David Ignatius, quoted an anonymous White House official as saying the plot “appeared to have been authorized by senior levels of the Quds Force.” Meanwhile, the State Department has issued a Travel Alert which warns American citizens that this plot “may indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian Government on terrorist activity against diplomats from certain countries, to include possible attacks in the United States.”

In case that’s not enough to frighten you — and, really, how could it not be? — some Very Serious Experts are very, very afraid and want you to know how Serious this all is. Within moments of Holder’s news conference, National Security Expert Robert Chesney  – without a molecule of critical thought in his brain — announced that this “remarkable development” was “very scary.” Very, very scary. Chesney then printed large blocks of the DOJ’s Press Release to prove it. Self-proclaimed “counter-terrorism expert” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross tapped into his vast expertise to explain: ”Holder weighing in on the plot’s connection to Iran means the administration is deadly serious about it.” Progressive think-tank expert and Atlantic writer Steve Clemons decreed that if the DOJ’s accusations are true, then ”the US has reached a point where it must take action” and “this is time for a significant strategic response to the Iran challenge in the Middle East and globally,” which “could involve military.”

The ironies here are so self-evident it’s hard to work up the energy to point them out. Outside of Pentagon reporters, Washington Post Editorial Page Editors, and Brookings “scholars,” is there a person on the planet anywhere who can listen with a straight face as drone-addicted U.S. Government officials righteously condemn the evil, illegal act of entering another country to commit an assassination? Does anyone, for instance, have any interest in finding out who is responsible for the spate of serial murders aimed at Iran’s nuclear scientists? Wouldn’t people professing to be so outraged by the idea of entering another country to engage in assassination be eager to get to the bottom of that?

Then there’s the War on Terror irony: our Hated Enemy here (Iran) is a country which had absolutely nothing  to do with the 9/11 attack. Meanwhile, our close ally, the victim on whose behalf we are so outraged (Saudi Arabia), is not only one of the most tyrannical and aggressive regimes on the planet, but produced 15 of the 19 hijackers and had extensive and still-unknown involvement in that attack. If the U.S. is so deeply offended by the involvement of a foreign government in an attack on U.S. soil, it would be looking first to its close friend Saudi Arabia, where “elements of the government” were likely involved in an actual plot rather than a joke of a plot.

To make sure you understand just how dastardly and evil the Iranian plotters here are, the DOJ in its complaint highlighted that the used-car-salesman-Terrorist-Mastermind said that he preferred that nobody else be killed when the Saudi Ambassador was assassinated, but if it were absolutely necessary, he could accept some unintended deaths! Here’s how the NYT summarizes that:

The complaint quotes Mr. Arbabsiar as making conflicting statements about the possibility of bystander deaths; at one point he is said to say that killing the ambassador alone would be preferable, but on another occasion he said it would be “no big deal” if many others at the restaurant — possibly including United States senators — died in any bombing.

What kind of monster thinks that way, we are supposed to ponder. Behold the warped mind of the Terrorist! He’s actually willing to accept that others die besides his intended targeted! Is that not the mentality that drives U.S. behavior in multiple countries around the world every day? The U.S. flattened an entire civilian apartment building in Baghdad with a 2,000-pound bomb when it thought Saddam Hussein was there (he wasn’t — oops — but lots of innocent people were). NATO repeatedly bombed structures in Tripoli where it thought (mistakenly) Moammar Gadaffi was located, in the process almost certainly killing large numbers of unintended targets. The U.S. just killed one of its own citizens that it insists (not very credibly) it did not intend to kill in order to eradicate the life of Anwar Awlaki, and killed dozens of innocent people when it previously tried to kill Awlaki with cluster bombs.

The U.S. is the living, breathing symbol of this “collateral damage” rationale. It’s what drives all the multi-nation American wars and occupations and drone campaigns and assassinations that continuously pile up the corpses of innocent people. But we’re all going to gather in righteous disgust at the idea that this monstrous International Terrorist would be willing to incur some unintended civilian deaths in order to assassinate an official of the peaceful, freedom-loving Saudi regime. Really, for brazen irony, how can this be beat?

Tom Kean, former chairman of the 9/11 Commission said the alleged plot “surprises me.” Speaking to CNN’s Erin Burnett, Kean said the plot is “pretty close to an act of war. You don’t go in somebody’s capital to blow somebody up.

Meanwhile, President Obama decried this plot as “a flagrant violation of US and international law.” But maybe some Persian Marty Lederman in Tehran wrote a secret legal memo concluding that this was all in accordance with domestic and international law, which — as we know — is conclusive and provides a full shield of immunity.

So facially absurd are the claims here — why would Iran possibly wake up one day and decide that it wanted to engage in a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil when it could much more easily kill Saudi officials elsewhere? and if Iran and its Quds Force are really behind this inept, hapless, laughable plot, then nothing negates the claim that Iran is some Grave Threat like this does — that there is more skepticism expressed even in establishment media accounts than one normally finds about such things. Even the NYT noted — with great understatement — that the allegations “provoked puzzlement from specialists on Iran, who said it seemed unlikely that the government would back a brazen murder and bombing plan on American soil.” The Post noted that “the very rashness of the alleged assassination plot raised doubts about whether Iran’s normally cautious ruling clerics supported or even know about it.” The Atlantic‘s Max Fisher has more on why this would be so out of character for Iran.

But while some attention has been devoted to asking what motive Iran would have for doing this, little attention has been paid to asking what motive the U.S. would have for exaggerating or concocting the connection of Iran’s government to this plot. Aside from the benefits the FBI and DOJ receive when breaking up a “very scary” plot — the bigger, the better — it has been one of Obama’s highest foreign policy priorities to isolate Iran and sanction it further: as a means of placating Israel and punishing Iran for thwarting America’s natural right to rule that region (so monstrous is Iran that, as the U.S. has repeatedly complained, they actually continue to “interfere” in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan!). As Ignatius explains, the U.S. Government instantly converted this plot into a vehicle for furthering those policy ambitions:

With its alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Iran has handed the United States an opportunity to undermine Tehran at a moment when U.S. officials believe the Iranian regime is especially vulnerable. . . . “We see this as a chance to go out to capitals around the world and talk to allies and partners about what the Iranians tried to do,” the [White House] official said. “We’re not going to tolerate targeting a diplomat in Washington. We’re going to try to use this to isolate them to the maximum extent possible.”

Meanwhile, Joe Biden announced today that the U.S. is “working to unite the world” behind a response to Iran’s “outrageous” actions and that ”nothing has been taken off the table.” So Iran’s supposed involvement in this plot is the ideal weapon for the U.S. to advance its long-standing goals with regard to that country. Maybe that warrants some serious skepticism about whether the U.S. Government’s claims are true? But we all know that only Bad Muslim countries exploit foreign policy exaggerations or fabrications for political gain, and not the United States of America (especially not with Barack Obama, rather than a Republican, in the White House).

What’s most significant is that not even 24 hours have elapsed since these allegations were unveiled. No evidence has been presented of Iran’s involvement. And yet there is no shortage of people — especially in the media — breathlessly talking about all of this as though it’s all clearly true. If the Obama administration decided tomorrow that military action against Iran were warranted in response, is there any doubt that large majorities of Americans — and large majorities of Democrats — would support that? As I said when discussing the Awlaki killing, the truly “scary” aspect of all of this is that the U.S. Government need only point and utter the word “Terrorist” and hordes of citizens will rise up and demand not evidence, but blood.

 

UPDATE: Perpetual war-cheerleader Ken Pollack of Brookings says that, if true, this plot “shows that Tehran is meaner and nastier than ever before” and “would represent a major escalation of Iranian terrorist operations against the United States.” Also, he announces, this “should remind us that Iran also is not a normal country by any stretch of the imagination.” That — self-anointed arbiter of who is and is not a “normal country” — from a person as responsible as any pundit or think-tank expert for the attack on Iraq that killed at least 100,000 human beings, denouncing as Terrorists and abnormal a country that has invaded nobody.

 

UPDATE II: On NPR this morning, Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations — and Ken Pollack’s co-author on Iran — said this when asked if he has any doubts about the accuracy of U.S. government statements: “The only unusual aspect of this is actually having a terrorist operation on American territory. I don’t know what the evidence about this is, but I’m not in a position to doubt it.” That perfectly summarizes the political, media and “expert” class’ attitude toward U.S. Government claims: they’re keeping everything secret about their accusations, so there’s no reason to doubt what they’re claiming. The National Security Priesthood that uncritically amplified every U.S. Government claim and fanned the flames of war against Iraq is alive, well, and more mindless and dutiful than ever.

 

UPDATE III: The Christian Science Monitor details the many reasons why “Iran specialists who have followed the Islamic Republic for years say that many details in the alleged plot just don’t add up.”

 

UPDATE IV: On Good Morning America this morning, Joe Biden warned that “the Iranians are going to have to be held accountable” and “nothing has been taken off the table,” and then promised: “And when you see the case presented you will find there is compelling evidence for the assertion being made.” Except — after 24 hours of media hysteria — there’s this Reuters article, which — under the headline “Officials concede gaps in U.S. knowledge of Iran plot” — reports:

Iran’s supreme leader and the shadowy Quds Force covert operations unit were likely aware of an alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, but hard evidence of that is scant, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The United States does not have solid information about “exactly how high it goes,” one official said. . . .The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their confidence that at least some Iranian leaders were aware of the alleged plot was based largely on analyses and their understanding of how the Quds Force operates.

I wouldn’t exactly call that — what was the phrase Biden used? — “compelling evidence for the assertions being made.” In fact, it reminds me of the language anonymous government officials began using to describe their “knowledge” of Anwar Awlaki’s alleged operational role in plots against the U.S. once they killed him: “patchy”; “partial”; “suspicion.” But what we learned with Awlaki is likely what we’ll see here: many people reflexively believe government accusations even when unaccompanied by evidence, and that belief is not diluted even when government officials began acknowledging (albeit anonymously) that they do not possess and never did possess any conclusive evidence to support their accusations.

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

Robert Spencer Hates the U.S. Constitution

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2011 by loonwatch
Robert Spencer hates the U.S. Constitution

Robert Spencer, director of the hate site Jihad Watch, has been steamed by the arguments of certain individuals and groups who have protested against the killing of Anwar Awlaki, such as the ACLU, Rep. Ron Paul, and writer Glenn Greenwald.

He says the following:

Perhaps the ACLU, CAIR, Greenwald and Paul would have been satisfied if we had airlifted an elite corps of defense attorneys into Yemen, along with a couple of cops to read al-Awlaki his Miranda rights and give him a chance to lawyer up.  Along with them, CNN could have sent all the equipment necessary to set up a satellite feed, so that al-Awlaki could have been given an international platform to spread his message of anti-Americanism, hatred and Islamic jihad.

Then everyone would have been satisfied that the rights of this stalwart American citizen had been respected, and al-Awlaki himself could have had time to ensure that his efforts to murder innocent Americans in the name of Islam would go on unimpeded if he were convicted and imprisoned for a long stretch.

What all these statements fail to take into account is that we are at war, and that this war is different from all wars that have gone before it.  Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen, yes.  He was also a traitor.  He was waging war against his native country.  He was an enemy combatant.  If an American citizen had gone to Germany and joined the Wehrmacht in 1942, and was killed in battle against American forces, would anyone have been raising “constitutional issues” over the killing?

Al-Awlaki was on the battlefield of this war when he was sitting at his computer exchanging e-mails with the Fort Hood jihad mass murderer, Nidal Hasan​ , or working out the details of the plot to blow up American cargo planes last year.  Thus American forces were perfectly justified, legally and morally, to take him out in such a setting, without sending him a lawyer or reading him his rights or spending a few million dollars to give him a global forum to air his views.

As the nature of warfare has changed, so must also our response to it.  Al-Awlaki was not a cat burglar assassinated by rogue cops.  His killing is not a violation of anyone’s civil rights.  That this question has even been raised is indicative of just how thick the fog of ignorance still remains about the nature of the conflict we’re in, who it is exactly that we’re fighting, and what precisely we should do about it.

The short answers:  This is an Islamic jihad.  Al-Awlaki was a jihadist, dedicated to killing Americans.  He got what was coming to him.

Well then, it’s very simple, you see. President Obama, or anyone in government, can say so-and-so is a terrorist and voila! That person should be deemed an existential threat to the United States and be killed without any due process of law.

First, Spencer says that Awlaki was a traitor. He may very well have been a traitor, but we have constitutional provisions that handle this issue in Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. But if it were up to Spencer then the President or someone else in government could simply declare someone a traitor and have that person’s life taken away.

I find this logic by Spencer very illustrating not because of how mainstream this type of warped thinking is in the U.S. amongst the political punditry, but because of the hypocrisy he shows when it’s a Muslim country that does the same thing.

Recently Iran declared one of its citizens, Yusef Nadarkhani, an apostate and, as Spencer’s hate site reports it, has now dropped that charge and replaced it with a charge of treason. The same charge Spencer throws at Awlaki. Iran declares one of its citizens to be a traitor without any evidence and Spencer is there to protest against this. But the United States declares one its citizens to be a terrorist without a shred of proof offered and Spencer is smiling at the prospect at the death of the accused.

Don’t expect Spencer to catch the contradiction there.

Second, Spencer said that Awlaki was waging war. How does he know that? Because the U.S. government says so.

But didn’t the Iranian government say that Yusef Nadarkhani was a traitor? Why not believe them, too? I’m sure they have secret evidence as well.

In all seriousness, the situation with Nadarkhani should make Spencer pause and think about the implications of what he is saying about Awlaki and how it can affect civil rights in America. Instead of lusting for blood, if Spencer cared at all about civil rights he would be concerned about the abuse or potential abuse that Obama’s decision to kill Awlaki could have in the future.

But evidence doesn’t matter to Spencer – except when it’s an evil Muslim country that is attempting to punish its citizens without due process. Spencer just eats up whatever proof the U.S. government gives him – even when that proof is admittedly weak.

The Obama administration has not made public an accounting of the classified evidence that Awlaki was operationally involved in planning terrorist attacks.

But officials acknowledged that some of the intelligence purporting to show Awlaki’s hands-on role in plotting attacks was patchy.

And:

Officials said at the time the United States had voice intercepts involving a phone known to have been used by Awlaki and someone who they believed, but were not positive, was Abdulmutallab.

The proof the U.S. is offering is not even of the “full proof” variety. It’s “patchy” and they’re admittedly not even “positive” it was Awlaki who was allegedly giving instructions to another person to commit a terrorist operation.

But for Spencer, and other fake patriots like him, whatever accusations the government hurls at someone are holy, while any attempts to examine the accusations of the government are met by hostile resistance from such fake patriots. Spencer and the fake patriots care little about the Constitution, but are more concerned with killing people who haven’t been proven guilty of any crime.

Look at Spencer jumping out of his seat to show this “proof” to his readers that Awlaki was a criminal:

Spencer says:

Here is more evidence that al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant — a commander in a new kind of war.

And then Spencer offers this damning evidence:

The Homeland Security/FBI bulletin, obtained by Fox News, specifically says Awlaki, an influential new-generation figure in Al Qeada, showed the suspected Christmas Day bomber how to detonate the bomb he is accused of hiding in his underwear….

See! Homeland Security said that Awlaki taught the underwear bomber how to detonate the bomb he hid in his underwear! Never mind that this “evidence” offered by Homeland Security and Spencer is simply an accusation. Also never mind that the accused underwear bomber himself, who is not even a U.S. citizen, is getting his day in court, while Awlaki – who was a U.S. citizen and had no opportunity to defend himself against the accusations made against him – had a missile fired at him from a drone that ultimately killed him.

This is how constitutional freedoms die. They die at the hands of fools who wrap themselves in the flag, while they simultaneously smash the essence of the country they claim to be fighting for because they are cowards.

President Obama: Judge, Jury and Executioner for Anwar al-Awlaki

Posted in Feature, Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by loonwatch

The title may offend some, but here at Loonwatch we do not believe in any sacred cows. By now we have all heard reports about the killing of accused terrorist and mastermind behind the “underwear bomber” and “Fort Hood shootings,” US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. The fact that he was on a “hit list” that included other US citizens was reported back in January:

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki.

After several unsuccessful attempts by the US government Anwar al-Awlaki is finally dead. The indefatigable Glenn Greenwald spells out the tendentious nature of the hunt for Awlaki and all the resultant shadiness:

No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him).  Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.  When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.  He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.  When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

Awlaki once was a marginal figure, on the run in the mountains of Yemen, his operational role in AlQaeda was nill, now he has been transformed into a martyr with a little help from our brutal friend, the President of Yemen:

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.).  It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its.  The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world.  The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

The implications for our civil liberties and checks and balances on the power of the Executive are clear:

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government.  Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki — including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists — criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

From an authoritarian perspective, that’s the genius of America’s political culture.  It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process).  It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.

Greenwald’s evaluation is dark because of the uncomfortable truth he relates: we are cheering the destruction of the very liberties that safeguard us from the abuses of power.

This is all being done under the guise of defending our “freedom” and “security.” In reality, as terror expert Professor Charles Kurzman points out, very few Muslims were interested in Awlaki’s message:

Given that Awlaki’s messages is sitting on the internet, easily accessible to millions of English speaking Muslims, it’s very interesting how few have taken him up on his demand that Muslims join the revolutionary movement.

It is time that US citizens stand up for their rights and say we will not allow the government to take the life of our citizens without due process. We are not going to buy the line that our civil liberties and freedoms must be bargained in the interest of “security,” especially from a threat that is overblown in the first place.

Ten Years After 9/11 Attacks, Exploitation of “Patriot Day” Continues

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by loonwatch

(Update I below)

Disclaimer:  I would like to point out that the views expressed below are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Salon’s indefatigable Glenn Greenwald recently wrote (emphasis added):

Worship of the American military and all that it does — and a corresponding taboo on speaking ill of it except for tactical critiques (it would be better if they purchased this other weapon system or fought this war a bit differently) is the closest thing America has to a national religion.

If worship of the military is America’s national religion, then the U.S. soldier is this religion’s holy warrior.  Greenwald noted that the Navy Seals are “a member of the most sacred and revered religious order.”  Those who die in “the line of duty” are martyrs who must be remembered for all “they have done for this country.”  Any criticism against the rank-and-file holy warrior is considered blasphemous.

There can be no possible profession that is more highly praiseworthy to the American than soldier in the military.  Many U.S. airlines will let soldiers board the plane even before women with children and the disabled.  Being part of the war machine is more respectable than being a doctor, a social worker, a teacher for the disabled, or a volunteer at the local orphanage.  Saving people (what a physician does) can in no way, shape, or form be considered better than killing people (what a soldier does).

A person foolish enough to say that “a soldier kills people” will be beaten into submission and subservience by jingoist mantras such as “you should be thankful that you are able to express such views, because it is only due to the sacrifices of those in uniform–who protect your freedoms–that you are free to say what you want.”  This, even though no rational mind could possibly believe this: how does bombing, invading, and occupying Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, or Yemen “protect my freedoms?”  That is, unless one is naive enough to think that any of these Evil, Foreign Brown People were about to conquer the United States, topple its government, and take away my freedoms.

In any case, I have my own government to do that for me.  Far from “fighting for my freedoms,” the military-industrial complex and those in authority who wage these wars are responsible for clamping down on my civil liberties.  With the rise of the Orwellian-named Patriot Act and its like, there has been a sustained war waged not just against Al-Qaeda but against civil liberties, with dedicated assaults on the First and Fourth Amendments.

Worship of the military and the holy warrior runs so deep that even the most ardent critic of the war must never utter a single word against those who wage it.  Such a common sense thing to do is completely off-limits and beyond the scope of decency and propriety.  To do so would be to open oneself up to the criticisms of being “unpatriotic” and “disloyal.”  Criticism of the war must be couched in “patriotic language:” war critics must ceremoniously acknowledge their support for U.S. troops, arguing that I support the troops which is why I want to bring them home.  It is simply unacceptable to just clearly say: I don’t support the troops because they are shooting at, bombing, and killing people.  To do such a thing would be to commit the highest of sins in the American national religion.

The fact that even war critics would hush you up for saying something against America’s cherished holy warriors says something of how deeply ingrained militarism is in our society.  How can it be that opponents of America’s wars will criticize the war as unjust on the one hand but not be anything but absolutely reverent towards those who wage it?  The United States, after all, uses an all-volunteer military; by joining the military is not one making an active choice to take part in these unjust wars?  And certainly, one can choose not to fight, as many brave soldiers and ex-soldiers have done.

Noting with what absolute reverence Americans speak of their soldiers of war, one wonders how it is that they are simultaneously amazed at how unbelievably warlike those Foreign, Other People are for revering their own men of war.  We are taken aback by how “primitive” the North Koreans are when they mindlessly revere their soldiers, yet somehow mystified when we do the same with our troops.  The North Korean soldiers have certainly killed far fewer and waged far fewer wars than our own military.  But alas, those North Koreans are so primitive, whereas we are so advanced, civilized, and peaceful.

I don’t malign or vilify soldiers in the military (as I partially do accept the idea that “they are just doing their job”), but must we continue to speak of our holy warriors with such absolute reverence, awe, and worship?  Our mindless idolization of the military profession is what is to blame for so many of our impressionable youth choosing to join the military to kill people abroad instead of spending those years going to college to expand their minds.  Placing the military and its soldiers on a pedestal is the only way a society can convince its young boys to risk their lives to go to war for the country–something so illogical, so contrary to the biological drive to save oneself from harm or death, that absent the most compelling of reasons one can hardly find it worthwhile to do so.

Interestingly, even that religious and ethnic minority that is the target of America’s wars is itself affected by this national religion.  Muslim-Americans will often bend over backwards to point out that they too “proudly serve this country” by being a part of the military.  (Even the phrase “serve this country” can only mean one thing: soldiering.)  In order to be accepted as Full Citizens, Muslim-Americans must prove their dedication to America’s war machine.

And so, Muslim-Americans–many of them immigrants or children of immigrants–beg to be included in the same institution that wages endless wars in their ancestral homelands.  It is that same institution that is rife with racism and bigotry against Arabs and Muslims, yet so desperately do Muslim-Americans want to be included in it.

*  *  *  *  *

In this national religion, 9/11 is America’s Karbala.  The Battle of Karbala involved the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad’s descendants by a tyrannical government–an event that is religiously commemorated each year by Shia Muslims, who will often make a religious pilgrimage (ziyarat) to the site of the battle or to the graves of the victims.  With vigor just short of this, Americans commemorate Patriot Day, the holy day of the American national religion.

Ground Zero, meanwhile, is the “hallowed ground”–a trip here is the ziyarat (religious pilgrimage) of the American religion.  The American flag becomes a symbol not to be disrespected, our nation’s holy book, waved high by people chanting “USA! USA! USA!”, which can only mean one thing: war!  The flag has become a raised symbol of war.

The military is our national religion, its soldiers are our holy warriors, the Navy Seals are our highest religious order, those soldiers who died in war are our martyrs, 9/11 was our Karbala, Patriot Day is our annual holy day, the flag is our holy book and symbol, Osama bin Laden is Lucifer, Terrorism is the greatest Evil, supporting the troops is our greatest religious obligation, and failure to do so is the greatest blasphemy and the highest of sins.

*  *  *  *  *

The problem I have with the cult-like remembrance of 9/11 is that it was the devotion to this day that was used to launch wars of vengeance that killed ten times as many people.  This date, 9/11, has been militarized.  It is a memory we are told that we must never forget lest we slacken in our resolve to wage war against the Forces of Evil, the Satan of our religion: radical Islam and Terrorism.  It is a memory that is invoked to remind the American people why they need to spend more of their taxpayer money to sustain their country’s illegal occupations and immoral wars.

Furthermore, the singling out of this day above all others (including days on which worse acts of violence were perpetrated by the United States), exudes the tribalistic mentality that infects people with strong feelings of national or religious identity–wherein only blood shed against one’s own national or religious group is remembered (and in fact, it is obsessed over), whereas that shed by one’s own national or religious group against others is ignored, denied, or justified.

Lastly, one cannot help but feel that 9/11 would hardly have been considered as important to the national religion had it not been Muslims who were implicated in the attack.  They attacked us.  The deaths of the victims of 9/11 are less relevant than the fact that they–those Foreign, Dark-Complexioned Moozlums–are the ones who caused these deaths.  The horrendous attacks of 9/11 have special significance due to the fact that the perpetrators were radical Muslims, an Existential Threat to our Safety and Freedoms.

The victims of 9/11 certainly ought to be remembered, as should all the victims of war and terrorism (whether the culprit be our enemies or our own country and whether the victims be American or not), but should their memory really be exploited to feed the national religion of warmongering?  Is it not deeply disturbing that an act of violence and the deaths of three-thousand innocents are being used to justify even greater acts of violence and even more civilian deaths?

Disclaimer: I would like to point out that the views expressed above are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Update I: An interesting Facebook status that is making the rounds:

On 9/11, I’ll mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost, over 6,000 injuries, the infrastructural carnage and devastation in NYC, and the humiliation of my country, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my religion

On 9/12, I’ll mourn the nearly 1,000,000 lives, the 10′s of millions of injuries, the infrastructural decimation in 3 countries, and the humiliation of my religion, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my country.

Update II:  Many readers and fellow LoonWatch writers have pointed out that many young people join the military due to financial reasons.  Additionally, many of them are “trying to serve their country” and “are just following orders.”  I do not completely disagree with these statements.  As I said, I do not malign or vilify soldiers, nor encourage that.  What I am opposed to is the glorification of what they do.

The DOJ’s escalating criminalization of speech

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2011 by loonwatch

BY GLENN GREENWALD

Over the past several years, the Justice Department has increasingly attempted to criminalize what is clearly protected political speech by prosecuting numerous individuals (Muslims, needless to say) for disseminating political views the government dislikes or considers threatening.  The latest episode emerged on Friday, when the FBI announced the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, charged with “providing material support” to a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)).

What is the “material support” he allegedly gave?  He produced and uploaded a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of U.S. abuses in Abu Ghraib, video of armored trucks exploding after being hit by IEDs, prayer messages about “jihad” from LeT’s leader, and — according to the FBI’s Affidavit – “a number of terrorist logos.”  That, in turn, led the FBI agent who signed the affidavit to assert that ”based on [his] training and experience, it is evident that the video . . . is designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT and to recruit jihadists to LeT.”  The FBI also claims Ahmad spoke with the son of an LeT leader about the contents of the video and had attended an LeT camp when he was a teenager in Pakistan.  For the act of uploading that single YouTube video (and for denying that he did so when asked by the FBI agents who came to his home to interrogate him), he faces 23 years in prison.

Let’s be very clear about the key point: the Constitution — specifically the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment — prohibits the U.S. Government from punishing someone for the political views they express, even if those views include the advocacy of violence against the U.S. and its leaders.  One can dislike this legal fact.  One can wish it were different.  But it is the clear and unambiguous law, and has been since the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1969 decision inBrandenburg v. Ohio, which overturned the criminal conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had publicly threatened violence against political officials in a speech.

In doing so, the Brandenberg Court struck down as unconstitutional an Ohio statute (under which the KKK leader was prosecuted) that made it a crime to “advocate . . . the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform.”  Such advocacy — please read the part in bold — cannot be a crime because it is protected by the First Amendment.  The crux of the Court’s holding: ”the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force“ (emphasis added; for more on the First Amendment law protecting this right to advocate violence, see my discussion here).

To put this less abstractly, and as I’ve noted before, a person has — and should and must have — the absolute free speech right to advocate ideas such as this:

For decades, the U.S. Government has been engaging in violence and otherwise interfering in the Muslim world. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslim men, women and children have died as a result. There is no end in sight to this American assault on the Muslim world and those of its client states. Therefore, it is not only the right, but the duty, of Muslims to engage in violence against Americans as a means of self-defense and to deter further violence against Muslims. That is the only available means for fighting back against the world’s greatest military superpower. The only alternative is continuing passive submission to this onslaught of violence aimed at Muslims.

One may find that idea objectionable or even repellent, but does anyone believe that someone should be prosecuted for writing that paragraph?  Anyone who would favor prosecution for that doesn’t understand or believe in the Constitution, as those ideas are pure political speech protected by the First Amendment, every bit as much as: the climate crisis now justifies violent attacks on polluting corporations; or capitalism is so destructive that the use of force in service of a Communist Revolution is compelled; or “if our President, our Congress, our Supreme Court, continues to suppress the white, Caucasian race, it’s possible that there might have to be some revengeance taken” (Brandenberg); or such is the tyranny of the Crown that taking up arms against it is not merely a right but the duty of all American patriots (The American Revolution).  The Jerusalem Post justfired one of its columnists, a Jewish leftist who wrote that Palestinian violence against Israel is ”justified” because they have the “right to resist” the occupation; is he guilty of a crime of materially supporting Terrorism?  Should Ward Churchill, widely accused of having justified the 9/11 attack (or Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who did the same) have been indicted?

Judging from the description of Ahmad’s video in the FBI Affidavit (Ahmad’s YouTube account has been removed), the video in question does not go nearly as far as the clearly protected views referenced in the prior paragraph, as it does not explicitly advocate violence at all; indeed, it appears not to advocate that anyone do anything.  Rather, the FBI believes it is evocative of such advocacy (“designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT”), which makes this prosecution even more troubling.  Apparently, if you string together video and photographs (or words) in a certain way as to make the DOJ think that you’re implicitly trying to “develop support” for a Terrorist group — based on the political ideas you’re expressing — you risk decades of imprisonment.  Is it possible to render the ostensible right of “free speech” more illusory than this?

This case is not an aberration; as indicated, prosecuting Muslims for pure political speech is an increasing weapon of the DOJ.  In July, former Obama OLC official Marty Lederman analyzed the indictment of a 22-year-old former Penn State student 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 [October, 2010] shootings” at the Pentagon and Marine Corps Museum and ”a number of postings encouraging attacks within the United States.”  He also posted links to a bomb-making manual.

Regarding the part of the indictment based on “encouraging violent attacks,” Lederman — who, remember, was an Obama DOJ lawyer until very recently — wrote: it “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 under the Brandenburg line of cases.”  As for linking to bomb-making materials, Lederman wrote: ”the First Amendment generally protects the publication of publicly available information, even where there is a chance or a likelihood that one or more readers may put such information to dangerous, unlawful use.”  Lederman’s discussion of the law and its applicability to that prosecution contains some caveats (and also raises some other barriers to these kinds of prosecutions), but he is clear that the aspect of the indictment based on the alleged advocacy and encouragement of violence in the name of jihad “would appear to be very vulnerable to a First Amendment challenge.”  That’s government-lawyer-ese for: this prosecution is attempting to criminalize free political speech.

Perhaps the most extreme example of this trend is the fact that a Pakistani man in New York was prosecuted and then sentenced to almost six years in prison for doing nothing more than including a Hezbollah news channel in the package of cable channels he offered for sale to consumers in Brooklyn.  On some perverse level, though, all of these individuals are lucky that they are being merely prosecuted rather than targeted with due-process-free assassination.  As I documented last month, that is what is being done to U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki due — overwhelmingly if not exclusively — to the U.S. Government’s fear of his purely political views.

If the First Amendment was designed to do anything, it was designed to prevent the government from imprisoning people — or killing them — because of the political ideas they promote.  Yet that is clearly what the Obama administration is doing with increasing frequency and aggression.

There is one last point that bears emphasis here.  Numerous prominent politicians from both political parties — Michael Mukasey, Howard Dean, Wes Clark, Tom Ridge, Ed Rendell, Fran Townsend, Rudy Giuliani, and many others — have not only been enthusiasticaly promoting andadvocating on behalf of a designated terrorist organization (MEK of Iran), but they have been receiving substantial amounts of cash from that Terrorist group as they do so.  There is only one list of “designated Terrorist organizations” under the law, and MEK is every bit as much on that list as LeT or Al Qaeda are.  Yet you will never, ever see those individuals being indicted by the Obama DOJ for their far more extensive — and paid – involvement with MEK than, for instance, Ahmad has with LeT.  That’s because: (1) the criminal law does not apply to politically powerful elites, only to ordinary citizens and residents (indeed, many of those MEK-shilling politicians cheer on broad and harsh application of the “material support” statute when applied to others), and (2) MEK is now devoted to fighting against a government disliked by the U.S. (Iran), so they’ve become (like Saddam Hussein when fighting Iran and bin Laden when fighting the Soviet Union) the Good Terrorists whom the U.S. likes and supports.

Nonetheless, MEK remains on the list of the designated Terrorist groups, and lending them material support — which certainly includes paid shilling for them — is every bit as criminal (at least) as the behavior in the above-discussed indictments.  As usual, though, “Terrorism” means nothing other than what the U.S. Government wants it to mean at any given moment.  The evisceration of the rule of law evidenced by this disparate treatment is as odious as the First Amendment assault itself.

(source: Salon)

Pakistani belief about drones: perceptive or paranoid?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by loonwatch

By: Glenn Greenwald

Two weeks ago, President Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, excoriated the White House for its reliance on drones in multiple Muslim nations, pointing out, as Politico put it, that those attacks “are fueling anti-American sentiment and undercutting reform efforts in those countries.”  Blair said: ”we’re alienating the countries concerned, because we’re treating countries just as places where we go attack groups that threaten us.”  Blair has an Op-Ed today in The New York Times making a similar argument with a focus on Pakistan, though he uses a conspicuously strange point to make his case:

Qaeda officials who are killed by drones will be replaced. The group’s structure will survive and it will still be able to inspire, finance and train individuals and teams to kill Americans. Drone strikes hinder Qaeda fighters while they move and hide, but they can endure the attacks and continue to function.Moreover, as the drone campaign wears on, hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan. American officials may praise the precision of the drone attacks. But in Pakistan, news media accounts of heavy civilian casualties are widely believed. Our reliance on high-tech strikes that pose no risk to our soldiers is bitterly resented in a country that cannot duplicate such feats of warfare without cost to its own troops.

Though he obviously knows the answer, Blair does not say whether this widespread Pakistani perception about civilian casualties is based in fact; if anything, he insinuates that this “belief” is grounded in the much-discussed affection which Pakistanis allegedly harbor for fabricated anti-American conspiracy theories.  While the Pakistani perception is significant unto itself regardless of whether it’s accurate — the belief about drones is what fuels anti-American hatred — it’s nonetheless bizarre to mount an anti-drone argument while relegating the impact of civilian deaths to mere “belief,” all while avoiding informing readers what the actual reality is.  Discussions of the innocent victims of American military violence is one of the great taboos in establishment circles; that Blair goes so far out of his way to avoid discussing it highlights how potent that taboo is.

Last month, I interviewed Chris Woods of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which had just published a report conclusively documenting the falsity of John Brennan’s public claim that “in the last year, ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral death‘” from U.S. drone attacks.  Last week, the Bureau published an even more detailed report focusing on the number of Pakistani children killed by American drone attacks:

The Bureau has identified credible reports of 168 children killed in seven years of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These children would account for 44% of the minimum figure of 385 civilians reported killed by the attacks. . . .The highest number of child deaths occurred during the Bush presidency, with 112 children reportedly killed. More than a third of all Bush drone strikes appear to have resulted in the deaths of children. . . . President Obama, too, has been as Commander-in-Chief responsible for many child deaths in Pakistan. The Bureau has identified 56 children reported killed in drone strikes during his presidency . . . .

The report indicates that the number of Pakistani children dying from drone attacks has decreased substantially over the past several months — since September, 2010, when one man’s son, two daughters and nephew were all killed by a single U.S. strike — but such deaths nonetheless continue (including one in April of this year, in which a 12-year-old boy, Atif, was killed).  These facts make John Brennan’s blatant lie particularly disgusting: it’s one thing to kill children using remote-controlled weaponized air robots in a country in which we’re not formally at war, but it’s another thing entirely to stand up in public and deny that it is happening.

In several ways, the Bureau’s study significantly understates the extent of U.S.-caused civilian deaths in the region.  As Woods told me, the Bureau uses such a rigorous methodology — counting civilian deaths only when they can be definitively confirmed up to and including the victims’ names — that some deaths almost certainly go uncounted in the notoriously inaccessible Waziristan region.  Other credible reports provide an even starker assessment of the number of innocents killed.  Moreover, this latest report from the Bureau counts only child deaths, not those of innocent adult men and women in Pakistan, nor does it discuss the large number of civilian deaths from drones outside of Pakistan (Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq), nor the U.S.-caused deaths of civilians from means other than drones (such as the “amazing number” of innocents killed at checkpoints in Afghanistan).

Adm. Blair’s Op-Ed may have had a much greater impact had it included a discussion of these facts, rather than implying that the problem with American drone attacks is Pakistani paranoia.  That’s precisely why the Op-Ed — like most discussions in establishment venues of this topic — didn’t include those facts.

Salon: Iraq foots the bill for its own destruction

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Some people have wondered why I focus so much on America’s many wars: isn’t this site about Islamophobia, not U.S. foreign policy? Although it is true that LoonWatch is primarily a site documenting and refuting Islamophobia, I strongly believe that there exists an intimate link between Islamophobia and America’s Endless Wars.

For one, America’s foreign policy is itself Islamophobic.  Our wars are launched thanks to Islamophobia within the most jingoist elements of American society, the neoconservatives, the Zionists (both Jewish and Christian), etc.  It finds an audience within the general public, which has a very poor opinion of Islam.  Our wars can only be sustained by ratcheting up fear-mongering and Islamophobia.  Our wars conveniently serve to complete the loop by feeding Islamophobia itself, as Muslims are Other-ized as the enemy.

Islamophobia operates under the assumption that it is Islam itself that makes Them Hate Our Freedoms.  They hate us (and some of them attack us) because we are the Infidels.  The reality, of course, is that they hate us not for our freedoms or the fact that we are infidels, but the fact that we bomb them, invade them, and occupy them.  As the article below shows, we also make them foot the bill for their own destruction:

Iraq foots the bill for its own destruction

By Murtaza Hussain

When considering the premise of reparation being paid for the Iraq War it would be natural to assume that the party to whom such payments would be made would be the Iraqi civilian population, the ordinary people who suffered the brunt of the devastation from the fighting. Fought on the false pretence of capturing Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the war resulted in massive indiscriminate suffering for Iraqi civilians which continues to this day. Estimates of the number of dead and wounded range from the hundreds of thousands into the millions, and additional millions of refugees remain been forcibly separated from their homes, livelihoods and families. Billions of dollars in reparations are indeed being paid for the Iraq War, but not to Iraqis who lost loved ones or property as a result of the conflict, and who, despite their nation’s oil wealth, are still suffering the effects of an utterly destroyed economy. “Reparations payments” are being made by Iraq to Americans and others for the suffering which those parties experienced as a result of the past two decades of conflict with Iraq.

Iraq today is a shattered society still picking up the pieces after decades of war and crippling sanctions. Prior to its conflict with the United States, the Iraqi healthcare and education systems were the envy of the Middle East, and despite the brutalities and crimes of the Ba’ath regime there still managed to exist a thriving middle class of ordinary Iraqis, something conspicuously absent from today’s “free Iraq.” In light of the continued suffering of Iraqi civilians, the agreement by the al-Maliki government to pay enormous sums of money to the people who destroyed the country is unconscionable and further discredits the absurd claim that the invasion was fought to “liberate” the Iraqi people.

In addition to making hundreds of millions of dollars in reparation payments to the United States, Iraq has been paying similarly huge sums to corporations whose business suffered as a result of the actions of Saddam Hussein. While millions of ordinary Iraqis continue to lack even reliable access to drinking water, their free and representative government has been paying damages to corporations such as Pepsi, Philip Morris and Sheraton; ostensibly for the terrible hardships their shareholders endured due to the disruption in the business environment resulting from the Gulf War. When viewed against the backdrop ofmassive privatization of Iraqi natural resources, the image that takes shape is that of corporate pillaging of a destroyed country made possible by military force.

Despite the billions of dollars already paid in damages to foreign countries and corporations additional billions are still being sought and are directly threatening funds set aside for the rebuilding of the country; something which 8 years after the invasion has yet to occur for the vast majority of Iraqis. While politicians and media figures in the U.S. make provocative calls for Iraq to “pay back” the United States for the costs incurred in giving Iraq the beautiful gift of democracy, it is worth noting that Iraq is indeed already being pillaged of its resources to the detriment of its long suffering civilian population.

The perverse notion that an utterly destroyed country must pay reparations to the parties who maliciously planned and facilitated its destruction is the grim reality today for the people [of] Iraq. That there are those who actually bemoan the lack of Iraqi gratitude for the invasion of their country and who still cling to the pathetic notion that the unfathomable devastation they unleashed upon Iraqi civilians was some sort of “liberation” speaks powerfully to the capacity for human self-delusion. The systematic destruction and pillaging of Iraq is a war crime for which none of its perpetrators have yet been held to account (though history often takes[though history often takes time to be fully written] time to be fully written), and of which the extraction of reparation payments is but one component.

How to Make a Terrorist

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Here’s an eye-opening article from the indefatigable Glenn Greenwald, which underscores why the government/media establishment absolutely cannot tolerate honest answers to the question: “why do they hate us?”

The transformation of Anwar al-Awlaki

The Washington Post today has the latest leak-based boasting about how the U.S. is on the verge of “defeating” Al Qaeda, yet — lest you think this can allow a reduction of the National Security State and posture of Endless War on which it feeds — the article warns that “al­-Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen is now seen as a greater counterterrorism challenge than the organization’s traditional base” and that this new threat, as Sen. Saxby Chambliss puts it, “is nowhere near defeat.”  Predictably, the Post‘s warnings about the danger from Yemen feature the U.S. Government’s due-process-free attempts to kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, widely believed to be in Yemen and now routinely (and absurdlydepicted as The New Osama bin Laden.

The Post says Awlaki is “known for his fiery sermons” (undoubtedly the prime — and blatantly unconstitutional — motive for his being targeted for killing).  But what is so bizarre about Awlaki’s now being cast in this role is that, for years, he was deemed by the very same U.S. Government to be the face of moderate Islam.  Indeed, shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon invited Awlaki to a “luncheon [] meant to ease tensions with Muslim-Americans.” But even more striking was something I accidentally found today while searching for something else.  In November, 2001, the very same Washington Post hosted one of those benign, non-controversial online chats about religion that it likes to organize; this one was intended to discuss “the meaning of Ramadan”. It was hosted by none other than . . . “Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki.”

More extraordinary than the fact that the Post hosted The New Osama bin Laden in such a banal role a mere ten years ago was what Imam Awlaki said during the Q-and-A exchange with readers.  He repudiated the 9/11 attackers.  He denounced the Taliban for putting women in burqas, explaining that the practice has no precedent in Islam and that “education is mandatory on every Muslim male and female.”  He chatted about the “inter-faith services held in our mosque and around the greater DC area and in all over the country” and proclaimed: “We definitely need more mutual understanding.” While explaining his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, he proudly invoked what he thought (mistakenly, as it turns out) was his right of free speech as an American:  “Even though this is a dissenting view nowadays[,] as an American I do have the right to have a contrary opinion.”  And he announced that “the greatest sin in Islam after associating other gods besides Allah is killing an innocent soul.”

Does that sound like the New Osama bin Laden to you?  One could call him the opposite of bin Laden.  And yet, a mere nine years later, there was Awlaki, in an Al Jazeera interview, pronouncing his opinion that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a civilian jet over Detroit was justified (while saying “it would have been better if the plane was a military one or if it was a US military target”), and urging “revenge for all Muslims across the globe” against the U.S.  What changed over the last decade that caused such a profound transformation in Awlaki? Does that question even need to be asked?  Awlaki unwittingly provided the answer ten years ago when explaining his opposition to the war in Afghanistan in his 2001 Post chat:

Also our government could have dealt with the terrorist attacks as a crime against America rather than a war against America. So the guilty would be tried and only them would be punished rather thanbombing an already destroyed country. I do not restrict myself to US media. I check out Aljazeerah and European media such as the BBC. I am seeing something that you are not seeing because of the one-sidedness of the US media. I see the carnage of Afghanistan. I see the innocent civilian deaths. That is why my opinion is different.

Keep in mind that I have no sympathy for whoever committed the crimes of Sep 11th. But that doesn’t mean that I would approve the killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.

And in his Al Jazeera interview nine years later, he explained why he now endorses violence against Americans, especially American military targets:

I support what Umar Farouk has done after I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than 60 years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, US missiles have killed 17 women and 23 children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a US civil jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.

A full decade of literally constant (and still-escalating) American killing of civilians in multiple Muslim countries has radically transformed Awlaki — and countless other Muslims — from a voice of pro-American moderation into supporters of violence against the U.S. and, in Awlaki’s case, the prime pretext for the continuation of the War on Terror.  As this blogger put it in response to my noting the 2001 Awlaki chat: ”it’s interesting to think about how many other people followed that same path, that we don’t know about it.”  In other words, the very U.S. policies justified in name of combating Terrorism have done more to spawn — and continue to spawn — anti-American Terrorism than anything bin Laden could have ever conceived.  The transformation of Awlaki, and many others like him, provides vivid insight into how that occurs.

* * * * *
It’s equally instructive to note that if the Post were to give Awlaki a venue to express his opinions now — or if the Pentagon were to invite him to a luncheon — those institutions would likely be guilty of the felony of providing material support to Terrorism as applied by the Obama DOJ and upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Rush to Blame Muslims and the Meaningless Term “Terrorism”

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2011 by loonwatch

Glenn Greenwald on point as always:

The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of “Terrorism”

(updated below – Update II)

For much of the day yesterday, the featured headline on The New York Times online front page strongly suggested that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Oslo; that led to definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits.  The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin wrote a whole column based on the assertion that Muslims were responsible, one that, as James Fallows notes, remains at the Post with no corrections or updates.  The morning statement issued by President Obama — “It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring” and “we have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks” — appeared to assume, though (to its credit) did not overtly state, that the perpetrator was an international terrorist group.

But now it turns out that the alleged perpetrator wasn’t from an international Muslim extremist group at all, but was rather a right-wing Norwegian nationalist with a history of anti-Muslim commentary and an affection for Muslim-hating blogs such as Pam Geller’s Atlas Shrugged, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch.  Despite that,The New York Times is still working hard to pin some form of blame, even ultimate blame, on Muslim radicals (h/t sysprog):

So if this is somehow not considered “terrorism”, are we admitting that whether something is “terrorism” is solely a function of who did it?

That Terrorism means nothing more than violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes has been proven repeatedly.  When an airplane was flown into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, it was immediately proclaimed to be Terrorism, until it was revealed that the attacker was a white, non-Muslim, American anti-tax advocate with a series of domestic political grievances.  The U.S. and its allies can, by definition, never commit Terrorism even when it is beyond question that the purpose of their violence is to terrorize civilian populations into submission.  Conversely, Muslims who attack purely military targets — even if the target is an invading army in their own countries — are, by definition, Terrorists.  That is why, as NYU’s Remi Brulin has extensively documented, Terrorism is the most meaningless, and therefore the most manipulated, word in the English language.  Yesterday provided yet another sterling example.

One last question: if, as preliminary evidence suggests, it turns out that Breivik was “inspired” by the extremist hatemongering rantings of Geller, Pipes and friends, will their groups be deemed Terrorist organizations such that any involvement with them could constitute the criminal offense of material support to Terrorism?  Will those extremist polemicists inspiring Terrorist violence receive the Anwar Awlaki treatment of being put on an assassination hit list without due process?  Will tall, blond, Nordic-looking males now receive extra scrutiny at airports and other locales, and will those having any involvement with those right-wing, Muslim-hating groups be secretly placed on no-fly lists?  Or are those oppressive, extremist, lawless measures — like the word Terrorism — also reserved exclusively for Muslims?

UPDATE:  The original version of the NYT article was even worse in this regard.  As several people noted, here is what the article originally said (papers that carry NYT articles still have the original version):

Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking al-Qaida’s signature brutality and multiple attacks.

“If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from al-Qaida,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Thus: if it turns out that the perpetrators weren’t Muslim (but rather “someone with more political motivations” — whatever that means: it presumably rests on the inane notion that Islamic radicals are motivated by religion, not political grievances), then it means that Terrorism, by definition, would be “ruled out” (one might think that the more politically-motivated an act of violence is, the more deserving it is of the Terrorism label, but this just proves that the defining feature of the word Terrorism is Muslim violence).  The final version of the NYTarticle inserted the word “Islamic” before “terrorism” (“even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause”), but — as demonstrated above — still preserved the necessary inference that only Muslims can be Terrorists.  Meanwhile, in the world of reality, of 294 Terrorist attacks attempted or executed on European soil in 2009 as counted by the EU, a grand total of one — 1 out of 294 — was perpetrated by “Islamists.”

UPDATE II:  This article expertly traces and sets forth exactly how the “Muslims-did-it” myth was manufactured and then disseminated yesterday to the worldwide media, which predictably repeated it with little skepticism.  What makes the article so valuable is that it names names: it points to the incestuous, self-regarding network of self-proclaimed U.S. Terrorism and foreign policy “experts” — what the article accurately describes as “almost always white men and very often with military or government backgrounds,” in this instance driven by “a case of an elite fanboy wanting to be the first to pass on leaked gadget specs” — who so often shape these media stories and are uncritically presented as experts, even though they’re drowning in bias, nationalism, ignorance, and shallow credentialism.

Glenn Greenwald: The true definition of “Terrorist”

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on June 22, 2011 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from Salon)

In late May, two Iraqi nationals, who were in the U.S. legally, were arrested in Kentucky and indicted on a variety of Terrorism crimes.  In The Washington Post today, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — writing under the headline:  “Guantanamo is the place to try terrorists” –castigates Attorney General Eric Holder for planning to try the two defendants in a civilian court on U.S. soil rather than shipping them to Guantanamo.

To make his case, the war-loving-but-never-fighting McConnell waves the flag of cowardly manufactured fear that is both his hallmark and the hallmark of uniquely American political rhetoric on Terrorism (“my constituents do not think that civilian judges and jurors in their community should be subjected to the risk of reprisal for participating in a terrorist trial“); relies on the ignoble example of Chuck Schumer and other New York Democrats who demanded that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not be tried in Manhattan; and, as usual, issues vacant cries of war-uber-alles to justify abandonment of basic legal safeguards (“our top priority in battling terrorism should be to find, capture and detain or kill those who would do us harm”).  Along the way, McConnell — as most right-wing politicians are now forced to do given the continuity with Bush 43 — praises Obama’s overall national security approach:

The administration has shown admirable flexibility in making decisions concerning national security and has shown that it is willing, on occasion, to put safety over ideology. President Obama launched a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, ignored calls to hastily withdraw from Iraq and recently agreed to extend the Patriot Act without weakening its provisions or making them harder to use.

Indeed, the Kentucky Republican ends his Op-Ed with an appeal to Obama’s “flexibility”; the President, he urges, should “let Holder know that our civilian courts are off-limits to foreign fighters captured in the war on terrorism.”

McConnell’s criticism of Holder is patently absurd; the very idea that we should start rounding up people who are legally on U.S. soil and shipping them to Guantanamo — rather than trying them in a real court — is menacing, and the fear he invokes (they’ll kill us if we put them on trial) is as fictitious as it is cowardly.  But far more interesting than McConnell’s trite fear-mongering is the notion that these two individuals are “Terrorists.”  Just as McConnell’s Op-Ed did, in all the reporting thus far on this case, the fact that their alleged acts constitutes Terrorism has been tacitly assumed (AP: ”2 Iraqis charged in Ky. with terrorism plotting”; ABC News: “Kentucky Terror Case”; PoliticoMcConnell:  Get Terror Case out of Kentucky”).

But look at what they’re actually accused of doing.  Those above-linked news reports as well as the unsealed indictment make clear that there are two separate categories of acts forming the basis for these allegations.  The first is that one of the men, Waad Ramadan Alwan, admitted to working with the “Iraqi insurgency” to attack American troops during the first three years of the war.  From the indictment:

It was that activity which the FBI trumpeted when announcing the indictments:

WASHINGTON—An Iraqi citizen who allegedly carried out numerous improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and another Iraqi national alleged to have participated in the insurgency in Iraq have been arrested and indicted on federal terrorism charges in the Western District of Kentucky. . . .

According to the charging documents, the FBI has been able to identify two latent fingerprints belonging to Alwan on acomponent of an unexploded IED that was recovered by U.S. forces near Bayji, Iraq. . . . Alwan had also allegedly told the CHS how he had used a particular brand of cordless telephone base station in IEDs. Alwan’s fingerprints were allegedly found on this particular brand of cordless base station in the IED that was recovered in Iraq.

The second set of acts involves a plot apparently concocted by the FBI, and then presented to Alwan through the use of an informant, to ship weapons and money to “Al Qaeda in Iraq.”  I realize that the very mention of the phrase “Al Qaeda” is supposed to stop the brain of all Decent People, but as even AP acknowledges, that group is little more than an insurgency group specific to Iraq, devoted to attacking foreign troops in their country:

Neither is charged with plotting attacks within the United States . . . . Their arrests come after FBI Director Robert Mueller said in February that his agency was taking a fresh look at Iraqi nationals in the U.S. who had ties to al-Qaida’s offshoot in Iraq. The group had not previously been considered a threat in the U.S.

Indeed, the FBI — in touting the plot they created and induced Alwan to become part of — acknowledged that the plot was devoted exclusively to attacking U.S. troops in Iraq, not civilians:

Over the course of roughly eight years, Waad Ramadan Alwan allegedly supported efforts to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, first by participating in the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and, more recently, by attempting to ship money and weapons from the United States to insurgents in Iraq. His co-defendant, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, is accused of many of the same activities, said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

According to the charging documents, beginning in September 2010, Alwan expressed interest in helping the [confidential human source] CHS provide support to terrorists in Iraq. The CHS explained that he shipped money and weapons to the mujahidin in Iraq by secreting them in vehicles sent from the United States. Thereafter, Alwan allegedly participated in operations with the CHS to provide money, weapons — including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, Stinger missiles, and C4 plastic explosives — as well as IED diagrams and advice on the construction of IEDs to what he believed were the mujahidin attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.

There is no suggestion in any of these reports or documents, not even a hint, that either of the accused ever tried to stage any attacks in the U.S. or target civilians either in the U.S. or Iraq.  Leaving aside the fact that this seems to be yet another case where the FBI manufacturers its own plotswhich they entrap people into joining, and then praises itself for stopping them, the alleged crimes here are confined entirely to past attacks on U.S. invading forces in their country and current efforts to aid those waging such attacks now.

One can have a range of views about the morality and justifiability of Iraqi nationals attacking U.S. troops in their country.  One could say that it is the right of Iraqis to attack a foreign army brutally invading and occupying their nation, just as Americans would presumably do against a foreign army invading their country (at least those who don’t share Mitch McConnell’s paralyzing fears and cowardice).  Or one could say that it is inherently wrong and evil to attack U.S. troops no matter what they’re doing or where they are in the world, even when waging war in a foreign country that is killing large numbers of innocent civilians.  Or one could say that the American war in Iraq in particular was such a noble effort to spread Freedom and Democracy that only an evil person would fight against it.  Or one could say that it’s always wrong for a non-state actor to engage in violence (a very convenient standard for the U.S., given that very few nations around the world could resist U.S. force without reliance on such unconventional means).  And one can recognize that most nations, not only the U.S., would apprehend those engaged in attacks against their troops.

But whatever one’s views are on those moral questions, in what conceivable sense can it be called “Terrorism” for a citizen of a country to fight against foreign invading troops by attacking purely military targets?  This is hardly the first case where we have condemned as Terrorists citizens of countries we invaded for fighting back against invading American troops.  The U.S. shipped numerous people to Guantanamo, branded them Terrorists, and put them in cages for years without charges for doing exactly that (indeed, the Obama administration prosecuted at Guantanamo the first child soldier tried for war crimes, Omar Khadr, for throwing a grenade at U.S. troops in Afghanistan).

I’ve often written that Terrorism is the most meaningless, and thus most manipulated, term in American political discourse.  But while it lacks any objective meaning, it does have a functional one.  It means:  anyone — especially of the Muslim religion and/or Arab nationality — who fights against the United States and its allies or tries to impede their will.  That’s what “Terrorism” is; that’s all it means.  And it’s just extraordinary how we’ve created what we call ”law” that is intended to do nothing other than justify all acts of American violence while delegitimizing, criminalizing, and converting into Terrorism any acts of resistance to that violence.

Just consider:  in American political discourse, it’s not remotely criminal that the U.S. attacked Iraq, spent 7 years destroying the country, and left at least 100,000 people dead.  To even suggest that American officials responsible for that attack should be held criminally liable is to marginalize oneself as a fringe and unSerious radical.  It’s not an idea that’s even heard, let alone accepted.  After all, all Good Patriotic Americans were horrified that an Iraqi citizen would so much as throw a shoe at George Bush; what did he do to deserve such treatment?  The U.S. is endowed with the inalienable right to commit violence against anyone it wants without any consequences of any kind.

By contrast, any Iraqi who fights back in any way against the U.S. invasion — even by fighting against exclusively military targets — is not only a criminal, but a Terrorist: one who should be shipped to Guantanamo.  And this notion is so engrained that no media account discussing this case would dare question the application of the “Terrorism” label to what they’ve done, even though it applies in no conceivable way.

One sees the same manipulative dynamic at play in how the U.S. freely tries to kill foreign leaders of countries it attacks.  The U.S. repeatedly tried to kill Saddam at the start of the Iraq War, and — contrary to Obama’s early pledges — has done the same to Gadaffi in Libya. NATO has explicitly declared Gadaffi to be a “legitimate target.”  But just imagine if an Iraqi had come to the U.S. and attempted to bomb the White House or kill George Bush, or if a Libyan (or Afghan, Pakistani, or Yemeni) did the same to Obama.  Would anyone in American political circles be allowed to suggest that this was a legitimate act of war?  Of course not:  screaming “Terrorism!” would be the only acceptable reaction.

It’s hardly unusual that an empire declares that its violence and aggression are inherently legitimate, and that any resistance to it — or the very same acts aimed at it — are inherently illegitimate.  That double-standard decree, more or less, is a defining feature of an empire.  But the nationalistic conceit that all of that is justified by coherent, consistent principles of “law” — or can be resolved by meaningful application of terms such as “Terrorism” – is really too ludicrous to endure.

UPDATE:  Bolstering the definition of Terrorism I provided above, Jonathan Schwarz several years ago documented how establishment political and media circles in the U.S. routinely referred to the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon as “Terrorism.”   As Schwarz wrote:

Whatever else you might say about those bombings, they weren’t terrorism, at least if words have any meaning. They were attacks on military targets.

But this goes really, really deep in U.S. political culture. The basic idea is: we are allowed to send our military anywhere on earth to do anything to anyone. And if someone tries to fight back—even by targeting our military when it’s stationed in their country and killing them—that is fundamentally AGAINST THE RULES.

Propping up that warped mindset is the central purpose of the term Terrorism.

Greenwald: Primitive Muslims’ unique love of violence

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2011 by loonwatch
Glenn Greenwald

Islamophobes constantly argue that bloodlust is unique to Muslim extremists. However, as Glenn Greenwald points out, there are plenty of blood thirsty American Christians and Jews out there as well. Remember people like Joe Kaufman who were shouting for American nukes to be launched against Iraq and Syria after the 9-11 attacks. This is systematic in the loonosphere.

Salon.com: Primitive Muslims’ unique love of violence by Glenn Greenwald

University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds, today, echoing so many by lamenting the compulsive violence of Muslims:

It’s hard to keep track of all the barbaric behavior emanating from that part of the world.

Glenn Reynolds, November 23, 2010, on his prescription for dealing with North Korea:

If they start anything, I say nuke ‘em. And not with just a few bombs. They’ve caused enough trouble — and it would be a useful lesson for Iran, too.

Glenn Reynolds, November 4, 2006, on how to deal with the Muslim world:

It’s also true that if democracy can’t work in Iraq, then we should probably adopt a “more rubble, less trouble” approach to other countries in the region that threaten us.

Glenn Reynolds, February 13, 2007, on how to deal with Iran:

We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian atomic scientists . . .

Glenn Reynolds, September 11, 2001, on responding to the 9/11 attacks:

GEORGE BUSH IS NOW THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD:. . . Now, if he wants to nuke Baghdad, there is nobody to say him nay — and damned few who would want to.

Boy, those primitive, dirty, lowly Muslims sure do have a bizarre, unique cultural compulsion toward violence and barbarism, don’t they? Reynolds is highlighted here not because he’s unique but because he’s so drearily common. Behold the spectacle of those who cheered for the attack on Iraq (resulting in the deaths of at least 100,000 innocent people), who casually call for massive first-strike nuclear attacks on other nations (certain to vaporize hundreds of thousands or millions of human), who loyally marched lockstep behind a leader who instituted a worldwide torture and disappearance regime, lamenting how those grimy, backward Muslims over there have a disturbing and incomparable affinity for violence (and for examples of religious-motivated violence among Christians and Jews, see here).

Nuke ‘em. Invade ‘em. Torture ‘em. Occupy ‘em. Murder their scientists and religious leaders.  Put ‘em in cages for life without due process.  Reduce ‘em to rubble. Why? Because Muslims are so prone to violence and barbarism! That’s a fairly succinct summary of America’s political culture for the last decade at least.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S.

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2011 by loonwatch

A Somali-born US citizen was tortured in Kuwait. Glenn Greenwald interviewed him through telephone, what he found out was quite disturbing. You can hear the whole interview by clicking on this link.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S.

(Salon.com)

(updated below)

Gulet Mohamed is an 18-year-old American citizen whose family is Somalian.  His parents moved with him to the U.S. when he was 2 or 3 years old, and he has lived in the U.S. ever since.  In March, 2009, he went to study Arabic and Islam in Yemen (in Sana’a, the nation’s capital), and, after several weeks, left (at his mother’s urging) and went to visit his mother’s family in Somalia, staying with his uncle there for several months.  Roughly one year ago, he left Somalia and traveled to Kuwait to stay with other family members who live there.  Like many teenagers who reach early adulthood, he was motivated in his travels by a desire to see the world, to study, and to get to know his family’s ancestral homeland and his faraway relatives.

At all times, Mohamed traveled on an American passport and had valid visas for all the countries he visited.  He has never been arrested nor — until two weeks ago — was he ever involved with law enforcement in any way, including the entire time he lived in the U.S.

Approximately two weeks ago (on December 20), Mohamed went to the airport in Kuwait to have his visa renewed, as he had done every three months without incident for the last year.  This time, however, he was told by the visa officer that his name had been marked in the computer, and after waiting five hours, he was taken into a room and interrogated by officials who refused to identify themselves.  They then handcuffed and blindfolded him and drove him to some other locale.  That was the start of a two-week-long, still ongoing nightmare during which he was imprisoned for a week in an unknown location by unknown captors, relentlessly interrogated, and severely beaten and threatened with even worse forms of torture.

Mohamed’s story was first reported this morning by Mark Mazzetti in The New York Times, who spoke with Mohamed by telephone, where he is currently being held in a deportation center in Kuwait.  I also spoke with Mohamed this morning, and my 50-minute conversation with him was recorded and can be heard on the recorder below.  Mazzetti did a good job of describing Mohamed’s version of events.  He writes that during his 90-minute conversation, “Mr. Mohamed was agitated as he recounted his captivity, tripping over his words and breaking into tears.”

That was very much my experience as well.  It may be difficult at times to understand all of what Mohamed recounts because he is emotionally distraught in the extreme, but it’s nonetheless very worth listening to what he has to say, at the very least to portions of it.  Mohamed says he was repeatedly beaten with a stick on the bottom of his feet and his palms, hit in the face, and hung from the ceiling.  He also says his captors threatened him with both the arrest of his mother and electric shock, and told him that he should forget his family.

He still does not know why he was detained and beaten, nor does he know what is happening to him now.  Indeed, although Mazzetti writes that he was detained and beaten by Kuwait captors, Mohamed actually has no idea who was responsible, and told me that at least some of the people interrogating him spoke English.  He has been told that he will be deported back to the U.S., but is now on a no-fly list and has no idea when he will be released.  American officials told Mazzetti that “Mr. Mohamed is on a no-fly list and, for now at least, cannot return to the United States.”  He’s been charged with no crime and presented with no evidence of any wrongdoing.

This event is significant for multiple reasons, many of them obvious.  The questions Mohamed was repeatedly asked — including two days ago by American embassy officials and FBI agents who visited him in the detention facility — focused on whether he knew Anwar al-Awlaki, the American cleric in Yemen who has become an obsession of the Obama administration, as well as why he went to Yemen and Somalia.  Kuwait is little more than a subservient American protectorate, and the idea that they would do this to an American citizen without the American government’s knowledge, if not its assent and participation, is implausible in the extreme.  That much of the information they sought from Mohamed is of particular interest to the U.S. Government only bolsters that likelihood.

Independent of all that, the U.S. Government has an obligation to protect its own citizens.  Mohamed described to me how both embassy officials and the FBI expressed zero interest in the torture to which he had been subjected during his detention.  The U.S. Government has said nothing about this matter, and refused to comment about Mohamed’s treatment to The New York Times.

All of this underscores the rapidly expanding powers the U.S. Government and law enforcement agents within the country are seizing without a shred of due process.  For the government to put an American citizen on the no-fly list while he’s traveling outside the U.S. is tantamount to barring him from entering his own country — a draconian punishment, involuntary exile, meted out without any due process.  In June, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of several citizens and legal residents who — like Gulet Mohammed — have been literally stranded abroad and barred from returning with no hearing, simply by being placed secretly on the no-fly list.  Add to that the growing seizures of the laptops and other electronic equipment of American citizens re-entering the country without any warrants — or even yesterday’s ruling from the California Supreme Court that police officers can search and seize someone’s cell phone without a warrant when arresting them — and (even leaving aside the administration’s ongoing due-process-free prison camps and assassination programs) these are pure police state tactics.

The Bush-era torture scandal was as much about its use of torture-administering allies as it was the torture regime which the U.S. itself created.  In the face of these credible allegations — just listen to this American teenager talk and assess how credible he is — the Obama administration, at the very least, has the obligation to inform the public about whether this is true, what its role was, if any, and what it’s doing to investigate and protest this abuse of its own citizen.

My discussion with Mohamed can be heard by clicking PLAY on the recorder below.  I’m posting it in its entirety without edits, except for the last minute or so where we discussed how we came to speak, information I’m withholding at his request:

http://images.salon.com/flash/audio_player_mp3.swf

UPDATE:  Mohamed’s family has now secured a lawyer for him, Gadeir Abbas of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who has written a letter to the DOJ raising all the right questions and demanding all the right assistance.  Nobody should have to ask the government to provide this form of assistance to an American citizen under these circumstances.

 

Self-Hating Loon Asra Nomani Calls for Profiling Muslims

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by loonwatch
Asra Nomani on Fox “News”, fear-mongering about Muslims

Hat tip: to all the countless people who sent us tips about Asra Nomani’s lunacy.

Islamophobia is a big business.  From pretend-scholars of Islam to pretend-apostates from Islam, it seems like every other person is trying to cash in on the cash cow that is anti-Muslim bigotry.  All sorts of opportunists have made six-digit salaries and full-time careers out of Muslim-bashing.  So it shouldn’t surprise us that some Muslims would want to get in on the action.  And so, I introduce to you one very prominent self-hating loon, namely Asra Nomani.

Nomani has become the “Muslim-for-hire”, selling out her religious community in exchange for fame and money.  Like other anti-Muslim bigots, she arose out of obscurity and shot to national prominence by fear-mongering about the Evil Muslims.  Now, she has a very steady career out of doing the neo-con bidding.  Nomani is very useful to the right wing, as she provides them with the “voice from the inside.”  She says the same things as the Islamophobes do, but when she says them, then the Islamophobes can point and say: “Look, even one of their own–a real life Muslim–says the same as we’ve been saying all along!”

This self-hating loon has consistently taken positions that are anti-Muslim.  For example, she came to the swift defense of anti-Muslim bigots who opposed the construction of an Islamic cultural center two blocks away from Ground Zero, arguing that “their fears are legitimate.”  When Juan Williams stated that he discriminates against people who “look Muslim”, it was none other than Nomani whocame to his defense.  (One wonders how she’d feel about an old woman being “worried” about a young black man walking towards her on the street?  Would Nomani defend a white person admitting being fearful of blacks–and on top of that arguing that it was a justifiable fear?)  Notice how she prefaces her statement with “I am Muslim.”  Well then, you must automatically be a spokesperson for Muslims everywhere, and whatever you say about Islam and Muslims must be true.  You are, after all, a real life Muslim!  In fact, Asra Nomani can hardly ever write an article or argue a point without injecting herself into it, such is her self-absorbed nature.

When anti-Muslim bigots began burning the Quran, Nomani couldn’t get herself to say a word against these lovely people.  (One wonders how she’d feel if people were burning Torahs?  Remember how that ended up in Europe?)  Instead, she came out on the side of bigotry once again, writing an article fit for Pamela Geller’s hate site.  When right wing bigots need a Muslim voice, who better to do their bidding than Asra Nomani?  By so doing, she allows people to say “well, there are Muslims on both sides of the aisle.”  She might be one of the only voices chanting anti-Muslim talking points, but HEY A REAL LIFE MUSLIM SAYS WHAT WE’VE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG!  Suddenly there is an equivalence: “there are Muslims on both sides of the issues!”

Asra Nomani is marketed as a “progressive Muslim” and argues that what “we need [is] an expression of institutional Islam that is moderate, progressive and liberal.”  Yet there is absolutely nothing progressive about her.  Instead, she actually finds herself agreeing with right wing loons.  In the very same article, she states that “the Tea Party activists actually express the sentiments of Muslims such as myself…”  She criticizes liberal and progressive Americans like myself, saying:

Liberal and progressive Americans and their organizations have dropped the ball in having a nuanced, intelligent critique of extremist Islamic ideology, currying pluralism points instead in the name of interfaith relations.

So on the one hand, Muslims should be liberals and progressives…And on the other hand, she always is on the side of right wing loons and against real liberals and progressives.  Nomani’s so-called “liberalism and progressivism” is akin to colonial feminism.  Colonial feminism is when people with no connection to feminism suddenly become indignant about womens’ rights in Foreign-Looking Peoples and Countries.  For example, many right wingers in America became the world’s most ardent defenders of womens’ rights when it came to invading and occupying Afghanistan.  Those People Over There need to be conquered by Us, so We can show them how to treat women.  (Lost on them of course is that they are dropping bombs on the heads of women.)

In the same way, Asra Nomani is far removed from liberalism and progressivism, having no relation to it whatsoever.  Womens’ rights is nothing more than a great big stick with which to bash Muslims over the head with.  Nomani is, allow me to coin a new term (albeit a cheap rip-off of the previous neologism), a colonial liberalist.  Her liberalism and progressivism only comes in the flavor of Muslim-bashing. Her liberalism and progressivism goes into overdrive when it comes to the ultraconservative Saudi Arabia (so does mine), but meanwhile she remains silent when this Goodly Judeo-Christian Beacon of Light Country imprisons and tortures Muslims without charge.  Iran’s belligerence is then seen as the Ultimate Evil, but meanwhile our own country’s multiple unjust wars cannot be questioned.  When it comes to criticizing Muslims, she dons the mantle of liberalism and progressivism.  When liberalism and progressivism would mean standing up for Muslims against right wing nut jobs, she’ll be sure to write a piece chastising Muslims.

As a colonial feminist and colonial liberalist, Asra Nomani provides the U.S. government with the proper environment for it to continue waging endless wars against the Muslim world, and to continue occupying their lands. This is no different than what the colonialists aforetime did.  And the Arabs, Africans, and Asians are well aware of it.  The British would always find some chump from amongst the natives to chant the colonialist line.  Back then they used to shower that chump with gifts, money, and positions of power.  In exchange, that person would sell out his own people.  Today, the same dynamic exists: Asra Nomani says what they want her to say, and in exchange she gets media appearances on Fox News, sells her books for millions, and gains positions of prestige.  (How Yale took her as a fellow amazes me.)

Whilst claiming to be the voice of progressive and liberal Islam, she remains chummy with the right wing nuts who find her ever the useful tool.  As a proud progressive myself, I cannot understate the degree of harm that her type of self-hating Muslim-bashing “liberals and progressives” have done.  Due to people like her, the term “liberal and progressive” has a negative connotation in the Muslim world.  And why shouldn’t this be the case, when all the Muslims have heard from such so-called “liberals and progressives” is how barbaric they are, and how great the West is compared to them?  People like her make it harder for true liberals and progressives to market themselves in the Muslim world.

Interesting is the fact that despite saying what they want her to say, many extreme right wing characters hate Muslims to such an extent that they can’t tolerate Asra Nomani because she still refers to herself as a Muslim.  And so, the colonial analogy comes full circle: the chumps-for-hire were generally hated by their own people and scorned by the colonialists themselves.  This oneYouTube conversation between bigcherry99 and bronco200005 is accidentally very insightful:

bigcherry99: asra is a really nice lady, but i cannot believe she hasn’t completely denounced islam. what the hell is wrong with her?

bronco200005: @bigcherry99 well if she denounces islam wat will she be left to milk?? Christianity?? Judaism maybe?? I dnt fink so

I don’t “fink” so either.  Her utility is only in that she is a Muslim.  That’s what she milks.  Her article promoting racial and religious profiling would hardly have gotten such significance had she been another non-Muslim calling for profiling of those Dark-Skinned Bad People.  But because she plays (and exploits) the I’m-a-Muslim card, her writings are thus pushed to the forefront.

Career bigot and hate blogger Robert Spencer, who advocated a militant video calling for the genocide of Pakistanis and joined a genocidal Facebook group against Muslims of Turkey, gave high praise of Asra Nomani, saying: “why are voices like this so rare among Muslims in the West?”  And he lauds her as “courageous.”  She is praised elsewhere on his vitriolic website.  Why is it, Ms. Asra Nomani, that one of the world’s leading Islamophobes is praising you so? If you are really a “liberal and progressive” Muslim, why is an extreme right wing website speaking so fondly of you?  Is it perhaps because you say the exact same things that they normally do against Muslims?

Thankfully, almost no Muslims are buying what Asra Nomani is selling.  Instead, her fans consist of right wing non-Muslims, who love the fact that A REAL LIFE MUSLIM is saying exactly what they say.  One article critical of Nomani asked (perhaps rhetorically):  “Are her remarks given any more weight or legitimacy by the fact that she herself is Muslim?”  The answer to that question is obvious: if she wasn’t a Muslim, nobody would have heard of her.  She’d have to get a real job then, or at least struggle for a job in the already saturated I-am-an-ex-Muslim-writing-a-book-against-Islam market.

And so, with the latest anti-Muslim controversy, Nomani once again sides with the voices of bigotry.  As many of you know, many Americans are protesting the TSA (Transit Security Administration) and their invasive ways, including “touching [your] junk” and using XXX-ray scanners to see you naked. But as the ever astute Glenn Greenwald (a real liberal and progressive, unlike the right wing loon Asra Nomani) notes:

[The] American People. They’re not angry that the Government had adopted inexcusably invasive and irrational security measures.  They’re just angry that, this time, it’s being directed at them — rather than those dark, exotic, foreign-seeming Muslims who deserve it, including their own fellow citizens.  And if there were a successful bombing plot against a passenger jet, many of those most vocally objecting now would be leading the way in attacking the Government for not having kept them Safe, and would be demanding even more invasive measures — just directed at those Other People, the Bad Dark People over there.

Asra Nomani, ever the self-hating loon, tries to reassure Good Judeo-Christian Folk that they shouldn’t need to get screened like that, and that it’s better to just target Her People.  This then is her “difficult solution” that “we need to consider”, namely “racial and religious profiling.”  In other words, the “cop-a-feel strategy” (her words) ought to be used only against Muslims and Muslim-looking peoples.

Her article is full of weak arguments to prove her point.  The article starts out with the following introduction (emphasis is mine):

In the wake of yet another Muslim terror plot, we can’t ignore the threat profile any longer–or the solution.

Which “Muslim terror plot” is she referring to?  She clarifies in her article:

…the Somali-born teenager arrested Friday night for a reported plot to detonate a car bomb at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Oregon.

It amazes me that this loon was allowed to blog for Salon.com (which is one of my favorite sites).  Another writer for Salon, the epic blogger Glenn Greenwald, wrote an excellent piece about how “the Somali-born teenager” was in fact set up by the FBI:

The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot

…The FBI — as they’ve done many times in the past — found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a “Terrorist plot” which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI’s own concoction.  Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts — and an uncritical media amplifies — its “success” to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government’s vast surveillance powers — current and future new ones — are necessary.

How Asra Nomani’s conclusion from this entire escapade was that we need to adopt racial and religious profiling against Muslims (an essentially more right wing position than is currently in place, at least officially)–instead of reflecting on the backwards approach of the authorities in combating terrorism–only a self-hating loon could explain!  But this indeed is where Nomani misses the mark entirely.  Terrorism to her is the fault of “literal interpretations of the Quran” which supposedly sanction “terrorism, militancy, and suicide bombings in the name of Islam.”  The Somali-born teenager was ready to kill children because of “literal interpretations of the Quran”, or at least so the argument goes.  See!, argues the Islamophobe, even a Muslim herself says that the Quran is to blame for terrorism, militancy, and suicide bombing!

Of course, the reality is that the Quran forbids terrorism, suicide, and targeting of civilians.  No literal interpretation of the Quran could justify such things.  Neither did traditional Islam ever tolerate such.  In fact, ultraconservative traditionalists–including the Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia–have declared terrorist tactics to be strictly prohibited in Islam, a view that is entirely consistent with the Islamic tradition.  Contrary to popular misconception, Al-Qaeda types justify such deeds not in the Quran or Islamic tradition, but based on the political situation today, wherein the West (the United States and Israel in specific) invade, occupy, and bomb Muslim countries.  Greenwald writes:

Finally, there is, as usual, no discussion whatsoever in media accounts of motive.  There are several statements attributed to Mohamud by the Affidavit that should be repellent to any decent person, including complete apathy — even delight — at the prospect that this bomb would kill innocent people, including children.  What would drive a 19-year-old American citizen — living in the U.S. since the age of 3 — to that level of sociopathic indifference?   He explained it himself in several passages quoted by the FBI, and — if it weren’t for the virtual media blackout of this issue — this line of reasoning would be extremely familiar to Americans by now (para. 45):

Undercover FBI Agent:  You know there’s gonna be a lot of children there?

Mohamud:  Yeah, I know, that’s what I’m looking for.

Undercover FBI Agent:  For kids?

Mohamud:  No, just for, in general a huge mass that will, like for them you know to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays.  And then for later to be saying, this was them for you to refrain from killing our children, women . . . . so when they hear all these families were killed in such a city, they’ll say you know what your actions, you know they will stop, you know. And it’s not fair that they should do that to people and not feeling it.

And here’s what he allegedly said in a video he made shortly before he thought he would be detonating the bomb (para. 80):

…For as long as you threaten our security, your people will not remain safe. As your soldiers target civilians, we will not help to do so.  Did you think that you could invade a Muslim land, and we would not invade you..

We hear the same exact thing over and over and over from accused Terrorists — that they are attempting to carry out plots in retaliation for past and ongoing American violence against Muslim civilians and to deter such future acts.  Here we find one of the great mysteries in American political culture:  that the U.S. Government dispatches its military all over the world — invading, occupying, and bombing multiple Muslim countries — torturing them, imprisoning them without charges, shooting them up at checkpoints, sending remote-controlled drones to explode their homes, imposing sanctions that starve hundreds of thousands of children to death  — and Americans are then baffled when some Muslims — an amazingly small percentage — harbor anger and vengeance toward them and want to return the violence.   And here we also find the greatest myth in American political discourse:  that engaging in all of that military aggression somehow constitutes Staying Safe and combating Terrorism — rather than doing more than any single other cause to provoke, sustain and fuel Terrorism.

Even Asra Nomani’s article itself betrays this point, as she quotes Usama bin Ladin as follows (emphasis is mine):

Our response to the barbaric bombardment against Muslims of Afghanistan and Sudan will be ruthless and violent,” he said in a statement. “All the Islamic world has mobilized to strike a prominent American or Israeli strategic objective, to blow up their airplanes and to seize them.”

Naturally, pointing out the obvious–that nothing promotes Terrorism more than us “invading, occupying, and bombing” their countries–would be anathema to a fake “liberal and progressive” like Asra Nomani.  Instead, she’d rather agree with the likes of the Tea Party and other right wing nuts who–even though the United States has killed way more Muslims than “the Muslims” have killed Americans–wonder mysteriously why a few Muslims would want to attack us.  It’s much easier to blame The Other for being so violent, and then have a self-hating loon affirm this for them.  It is only by removing this key element–our invading, occupying, and bombing their countries–that we can condescendingly discuss what’s wrong with Islam.  The truth is, however, that terrorism is directly related to our own foreign policy.  As Nomani herself says (except she’s talking about racial and religious profiling):

I know this is an issue of great distress to many people. But I believe that we cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore.

Yes, it does cause great distress to many people that we dare cogitate that we are responsible for our own plight.  But I believe that we cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore.  How the media completely blacks out the obvious–and how any politician who dares argue this point must be immediately ostracized–is indicative of its truth.

Not only is Asra Nomani’s article ethically repugnant, she deceitfully cites “studies.”  She cites the Rand Corporation’s study entitled “Would-Be Warriors.”  Only a self-hating loon could read that entire report and only glean the point that she did!  In fact, I wrote an article summarizing the Rand Corporation’s findings here:

Rand report:  Threat of homegrown jihadism exaggerated, Zero U.S. civilians killed since 9/11

The “threat profile”, as Nomani asserts, is defined as follows by Rand:

[Of the] 83 terrorist attacks in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2009, only three…were clearly connected with the jihadist cause.

Fifty of the 83 terrorist attacks were committed by environmental extremists and animal rights fanatics, “which account for most of the violence.”  Five civilians were killed by the anthrax letters.

The Rand study states:

There are more than 3 million Muslims in the United States, and few more than 100 have joined jihad—about one out of every 30,000—suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence. A mistrust of American Muslims by other Americans seems misplaced.

Only a self-hating loon could argue that 3 million Muslims should be profiled for the crimes of 100.  In fact, the Rand study blasts people like Asra Nomani who fear monger about the “threat profile.”  Says Rand:

Public reaction is an essential component of homeland defense. Needless alarm, exaggerated portrayals of the terrorist threat, unrealistic expectations of a risk-free society, and unreasonable demands for absolute protection will only encourage terrorists’ ambitions to make America fibrillate in fear and bankrupt itself with security…Panic is the wrong message to send America’s terrorist foes.

Nomani argues for widened governmental power, including invasive security measures.  Yet, the Rand report argues the opposite.  As I wrote in that previous article:

Americans have ceded their civil liberties to the government due to the misplaced fear of terrorism.  The first group affected by these heavy-handed laws are Muslim Americans, which hampers anti-terrorism efforts by alienating the very community whose cooperation is so necessary.  The report declares:

In response, the country has conceded to the authorities broader powers to prevent terrorism. However, one danger of this response is that revelations of abuse or of heavy-handed tactics could easily discredit intelligence operations, provoke public anger, and erode the most effective barrier of all to radicalization: the cooperation of the community.

We argue that the loss of civil liberties and rise in xenophobia have a more significant and longer lasting effect than acts of terrorism.

In any case, the Rand study is an excellent one, and enough to refute loons like Asra Nomani.  I urge our readers to read my summary of it as well as the original study.

Asra Nomani writes:

According to a terrorism database at the University of Maryland, which documents 60 attacks against airlines and airports between 1970 and 2007, the last year available, suspects in attacks during the 1970s were tied to the Jewish Defense League, the Black Panthers, the Black September, the National Front for the Liberation of Cuba, Jewish Armed Resistance and the Croatian Freedom Fighters, along with a few other groups.

In each of these groups’ names was a religious or ethnic dimension. For that time, those were the identities that we needed to assess. Today, the threat has changed, and it is primarily coming from Muslims who embrace al Qaeda’s radical brand of Islam.

So, terrorism was before linked to Jews, blacks, and Hispanics in the 1970′s.  But now it is linked to Muslims.  Hence, we should racially and religiously profile Muslims.  OK, so would Asra Nomani have agreed to racially and religiously profiling Jews, blacks, and Hispanics in the 1970′s?  (Notice how the “threat profile” is always The Other, never Good Christian White Folks, but Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and now the Evil Muslims!)  I suspect Nomani will issue a response to my article, and if she does, then I want a direct yes/no answer from her: would she agree that it would have been the right thing to do at that time to racially and/or religiously profile Jews, blacks, and Hispanics?

But we need not restrict this to a hypothetical in the 1970s.  Rather, it can be applied to the situation today.  Nomani’s argument is very simple: Muslims are (according to her) the number one terrorists, therefore it makes sense to racially and religiously profile them.  Extending that logic, one could easily sanction racial and religious profiling of blacks and Hispanics by police.  One could cite studies and statistics just like Asra Nomani did against Muslims.  For example,the government released a report which showed that “more than three times as many black people live in prison cells as in college dorms.”  And: “The ratio is only slightly better for Hispanics, at 2.7 inmates for every Latino in college housing.”   The same study found that the percentage of U.S. inmates that are black is 41%, and the percentage that are black and Hispanic is 60%.   The same is the case in the UK, where the Metropolitan Police found that 54% of those who committed street crimes were blacks, 59% of robberies were by blacks, and 67% of gun crimes were by blacks.

One racist website breaks it down for us:

The chilling report by The New Century Foundation, called The Colour of Crime [PDF], shows in unflinching statistical detail, that in the USA:

  • Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.
  • The single best indicator of violent crime levels in an area is the percentage of the population that is black and Hispanic.
  • Of the nearly 770,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving blacks and whites, blacks commit 85 percent and whites commit 15 percent.
  • Blacks commit more violent crime against whites than against blacks. Forty-five percent of their victims are white, 43 percent are black, and 10 percent are Hispanic. When whites commit violent crime, only three percent of their victims are black.
  • Blacks are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.
  • Blacks are 2.25 times more likely to commit officially-designated hate crimes against whites than vice versa.

Meanwhile, over here in Our Country the pattern appears to be much the same

  • Blacks are 5 times more likely to commit violence against the person.
  • Blacks are 4 times ‘more likely’ to commit sexual offences.
  • Blacks are fifteen times ‘more likely’ to commit robbery.
  • Blacks are over six times ‘more likely’ to commit fraud and forgery.
  • Blacks are over twice as likely to commit criminal damage.
  • Black are five times ‘more likely’ to commit drugs offences.

Source: The UK Government

This is of course all “threat assessment.”  Another racist website argues that we are curtailing the government’s ability to Protect and Keep Us Safe by prohibiting racial profiling of blacks (emphasis is mine):

Data suggest ‘racial profiling’ may have scientific basis

1. African-Americans commit 90% of the approximately 1,700,000 interracial crimes of violence that occur in the United States every year, and are more than 50 times more likely to commit violent crime against whites than vice versa.

Study: blacks commit 90% of interracial crime

2. Blacks are so much more likely than Americans of other races to commit crimes that police may be justified in stopping and questioning them more frequently – just as they stop men more often than women and young people more often than old people.

These are some of the controversial findings of a new think tank report based on extensive cross-analysis of government crime statistics. The study finds that Asians consistently commit the smallest number of crimes, followed by whites. Hispanics commit violent crime at approximately three times the white rate, and blacks are five to eight times more violent. In one of its most startling conclusions the report finds that blacks are as much more violent than whites as men are more violent than women.“This is the painful reality that gives rise to ‘racial profiling,’ “ said Jared Taylor, the report’s author. “Police quickly learn who the bad guys are. When there is a murder they don’t look for little old ladies. They look for young men – unfortunately, they are often justified in looking for young black men.”

Why should you stop my grandma instead of that young black man?  Isn’t that wasting resources?  Any argument that Nomani and other right wingers make against Muslims in support of racial or religious profiling could be applied even more so to blacks and Hispanics.  In fact, violent crime on the streets accounts for a hundreds times more American deaths than from terrorists.  So if there is an urgency that must be met–if we simply just cannot avoid racial or religious profiling of terrorists due to the imminent threat–then surely there is an even greater urgency to apply such standards to our domestic police force.

This is Asra Nomani’s logic to justify racial and religious profiling.  There is no logical way for her to support the racial and religious profiling of Muslims, and to be against it when it comes to black people and Hispanics.  My point here is not to argue for the profiling of blacks and Hispanics.  Rather, it is to show that we all immediately have a visceral reaction to the mere thought of this (as we should).  But when people on national media routinely suggest the profiling of Muslims, then it’s something that is seriously debated.  This proves that although blacks and Hispanics are certainly low on the social totem pole, the Muslims are the absolute lowest.

On the other hand, even passingly mentioning the idea of racially and religiously profiling Jews would be met with absolute shock. Yet, if we were to use Asra Nomani’s logic (and that of the right wing in general), then wouldn’t Iran be justified in racially and religiously profiling Jews in their country?  After all, logic dictates that a Jewish guy is much more likely to be an Israeli spy than anyone else.  Wouldn’t this be justified in light of the fact that Israel has repeatedly threatened Iran?  Shouldn’t national interest trump everything else?  So I’m sure we wouldn’t have a problem if the Iranians racially or religiously profiled Jews, right?

Racial and religious profiling is immoral.  Our nation had already come to this conclusion.  It is sad that Islamophobia has reintroduced this ugly evil.  Asra Nomani, like all bigots, has to justify her bigotry with the necessary disclaimer: “I’m not racist, but…”  She states:

I realize that in recent years, profiling has become a dirty word, synonymous with prejudice, racism, and bigotry…

Yes, she is correct.  It is certainly synonymous with prejudice, racism, and bigotry.  Too bad she didn’t stop there.  Nomani concludes (emphasis is mine):

We have to choose pragmatism over political correctness, and allow U.S. airports and airlines to do religious and racial profiling.

Pragmatism?  Perhaps Asra Nomani is a “racial realist”?  Racial realists are just being “pragmatic” when they argue for racially profiling young black men.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with pragmatism, or any desire to actually stop terrorism.  Terrorists do not fit one mold, and in fact come in all different shapes, sizes, and races.  TheUnderwear Bomber was a black guy, and so was the recent Somali would-be bomber…Show both pictures to any random person on the street, and see how many of them would recognize them as “Muslim.”  On the other hand, most people would see two black guys.  Asra Nomani argues not just for religious profiling, but racial profiling.  So is she arguing for racial profiling of black people?  Or perhaps just young black men?  The Underwear Bomber was Nigerian and the Oregon would-be bomber was Somali.  Nomani states that “they trace their national or ethnic identity back to specific countries.”  So, are we to screen out only Nigerians and Somalis as opposed to other black people?  How many people could make that fine distinction?  I’m sure there are plenty of black people–born and bred here in the United States–who could pass off as Nigerian or Somali.  Should we also profile them?

(Many Islamophobes will chime in that they oppose racial profiling but support religious profiling…Would it then be OK to religiously profile Jews in the 1970′s or for Iran to do so today?  The famous line “you-can’t-be-racist-against-Muslims-since-Muslim-is-not-a-race” is debunked by simply asking “would it be OK to discriminate against Jews in a similar fashion?”)

Asra Nomani came to Juan Williams’ defense, arguing that Williams was justified in fearing passengers who wore “Muslim garb.”  Yet, Al-Qaeda operatives are told to blend in.  They are not dressed in stereotypical “Muslim garb.”  Oftentimes, they are as clean-shaven as they come, and wearing Western clothes just like you or I.  Does Asra Nomani think that Al-Qaeda cannot recruit blue-eyed blond-haired terrorists?  They sure can, and they have.

There are certainly times when we must choose between the ideologically sound choice and the expedient one.  Even if that were the case here–even if we had to choose between being racially/religiously equal vs Being Safe–then our moral conscience should choose the former.  Evenif racial or religious profiling made us safer, we should not opt for that route, since it goes against our moral character.  Benjamin Franklin famously said: “The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.”

But in this case, racial and religious profiling of Muslims does not make us safer at all. Andrew Curry wrote an excellent article on Salon.com (why on earth did a great website like Salon.com ever hire a right wing Tea Party sympathizing loon like Asra Nomani!?) on how a recent study found that “such profiling is not only ineffective, it’s counterproductive.”  (Not like the proponents of racial and religious profiling actually care about keeping us Safe; if they really did, they would be the first to oppose U.S.-led invasions, occupations, and bombings of Muslim countries.) The article reads:

In a study released on Tuesday, the Open Society Institute — a think tank and democracy-promotion organization funded by billionaire George Soros — argues that racial profiling of Muslims is essentially a public relations tool designed to make people feel safer in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack. After the 2006 bus and subway bombings in London, for example, highly publicized raids on mosques or ID checks in Muslim areas gave the public the impression the police were taking action.

There is also the desire to use racial and religious profiling to single out and blame Muslims.  Yourpeople are to blame.  And Asra Nomani, the ever eager self-hating loon, chants: my people are to blame for all this.  But just because she is Muslim, it does not give her the right to cede Muslim rights to the majority population.  She cannot be allowed to speak for all Muslims, no more than Uncle Tom was allowed to speak for black people.  Neither should Nomani be thought of as some Muslim “liberal and progressive”, when in fact she has nothing to do with liberals and progressives.  Liberals and progressives stand for all minority groups, be they Christians being targeted in Iraq by Muslim extremists or Muslims being targeted by Jewish extremists in Israeli Occupied Territories.  We stand up for them not to score cheap political points, nor to reinforce the Team Muhammad vs Team Jesus mentality.  The last thing we tolerate is the demonization and singling out of one community, which is what Asra Nomani facilitates.  She is not a liberal or progressive Muslim; she is a self-hating loon and self-absorbed opportunist.

This entire “I’m a Muslim, Please Profile Me” nonsense is theatrics.  Nomani knows she would be immune from scrutiny due to her fame.  Subjecting her fellow Muslims to such treatment–which she herself calls “cop-a-feel strategy” and knows is an outrage to The Real Americans (Good Judeo-Christian White Folks)–this she has no problem with.  She has no qualms about selling out her religious community for the fame and money it provides her.

Update #1:

It seems that the last article Asra Nomani wrote for Salon was in 2003.  Perhaps she realized that a right wing nut like herself has no reason to write for such a website.  In light of the fact that Nomani’s last article on Salon was so many years ago, it might be making much ado about nothing to question that site about this.  Nonetheless, I think it might behoove people to message Salon and especially people like Glenn Greenwald to give them a heads up that Asra Nomani does not in any way, shape, or form represent Muslims.  This is not to say that a Muslim is not allowed to give a dissenting opinion from the Standard Muslim Line…I’m all for that.  But, notice how she seems to use her Religious Affiliation as an immunity card, always making sure that it is known that she is a Real Life Muslim.  Furthermore, she posits herself as a representative for Muslims, using such constructs as “The Tea Party activists actually express the sentiments of Muslims such as myself…”  A Muslim supporting the Tea Party is as much of a political oddity as a gay black man supporting the Republican party.  Ms. Nomani, try making an argument without seeking to validate it with the “I’m-a-Muslim” routine.

Update #2:

Asra Nomani’s support for the right wing Islamophobia machine was highlighted in a previous profile of the loon Wafa Sultan by our very own Garibaldi. Sultan, like Nomani, lives off of the anti-Muslim cash cow–the “I’m a real life (former?) Muslim” canard–and she uses it to deliver speeches and write books declaring Islam a greater threat to civilization than Nazism.  Amongst other things, Sultan is friends with and is admired by career Islamophobe Pamela Geller, who she often lectures with.  Sultan was seen at a synagogue calling for nuclear strikes on Muslim countries.

Asra Nomani, the so-called “liberal and progressive”, has expressed her deep admiration for Wafa Nuke-the-Muslims Sultan, referring to her as a fellow “bad girl of Islam.”  From Garibaldi’s article on Sultan:

Another good example of her (Sultan’s) tale of woe is the profile carried by self-described “bad girl of Islam” Asra Nomani in TIME magazine. Asra Nomani, who can’t pen anything without including herself writes,

I connected with her (Sultan’s) anger and pain. She questioned Islam in 1979, when, she says, she witnessed the murder of a professor by men with alleged ties to the ultraconservative Muslim Brotherhood political group.

One wonders if Nomani was so moved by her “connection” with Sultan that she (and her editors) forgot to fact check whether or not Sultan actually could have witnessed the murder of her professor in her classroom. InFocus, a California based magazine did more thorough research into the matter than TIME in a piece titled Wafa Sultan: Reformist or Opportunist,

As to the claim that her professor (thought to be Yusef Al-Yusef) was gunned down before her eyes in a faculty classroom at the University of Aleppo, Halabi said the incident never took place. “There was a professor who was killed around 1979, that is true, but it was off-campus and Sultan was not even around when it happened,” he added.

InFocus contacted the University of Aleppo and spoke to Dr. Riyad Asfari, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who confirmed Halabi’s account. “Yes, the assassination took place off-campus,” he said. Dr. Asfari was keen to add that no one had ever been killed in a classroom anytime or anywhere at the university.

Syrian expatriate Ghada Moezzin, who attended the University of Aleppo in 1979 as a sophomore, told InFocus that she never heard of the assassination. “We would’ve known about the killing if it had happened,” she said. “It would have been big news on campus and I do not recall ever hearing about it.” Moezzin, who lives in Glendora, Calif., added that government security was always present around the university given the political climate in Syria at the time.

Update #3:

Anyone read Asra Nomani’s article entitled “My Big Fat Muslim Wedding?” In it, she uses her n=1 experience to stereotype Pakistani men as brutish.  A great reply to her silly article was written by G. Willow Wilson:

Asra Nomani’s recent essay in Marie Claire, My Big Fat Muslim Wedding, lays out a scenario that has become familiar to everyone in the post-9/11 world: despairing Muslim woman is forced to choose between her (literally) white knight and a traditional marriage to a boorish, vaguely ominous Muslim man. Losing love to Islam has become as universal a theme as finding love in Paris. It’s the subject of high art, low art and everything in between: Samina Ali’s Madras on Rainy Days springs to mind, as does the much-hyped failed marriage of Princess Meriam Al-Khalifa and Lance Corporal Jason Johnson. The implication of Nomani’s story, like those I’ve just listed, is that there are no decent Muslim men on planet Earth–or, if by some miracle they do exist, they are so difficult to find that it’s not worth the bother. This is the crux of the argument that Shari’a law should be changed to allow Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and perhaps the reason even liberal Muslim groups can be defensive and traditionalist when it comes to this point. It is an implicit condemnation of Muslim men everywhere: in the eyes of women, they do not measure up in any way that counts.

Nomani’s complaints about her Muslim ex-husband are indeed cringeworthy: he is cold, withdrawn, childish, and sexually worse than useless. But this litany of failings is not limited to Muslim men–not by a long shot. The story of a passionate woman in a stale marriage is as old as Helen of Troy. The theme is so perennial that without the specter of Islam to dress it up, it’s almost boring. This is a case of cultural amnesia: as soon as a Muslim man enters the picture, women everywhere forget about Thelma and Louise,The Good Girl and The Divorcee, and pretend that sullen oafish husbands are an Islamic phenomenon. If this was really true, poor Shakespeare–along with hundreds of thousands of modern divorce lawyers–would have been out of a career.

Out-marriage is an issue religious groups have been wrestling with for some time. Of course men and women fall in love. Of course it’s not always convenient to their respective cultural and spiritual norms. Out-marriage is of such concern in the Jewish community that its leaders have gone to extraordinary lengths to encourage romantic relationships between young Jews. If they are successful, it is because they are not up against the same barrier: Jewish men are not perceived (by Jewish women or anyone else) as inherently threatening and perverse. In western culture, Muslim men start the marriage process with a handicap–because of the way they are portrayed and the example that is made of them, even Muslim women have begun, consciously or unconsciously, to view them with suspicion.

This puts those of us in healthy Muslim marriages to good Muslim men in a difficult position. On one hand, there is an onus on us to provide a counterexample, and inject a little hope into the grim picture of Islamic marriage. On the other hand, people in happy marriages are usually (and for good reason) unwilling to write about the intimate details of their sexual and domestic lives in magazines. So I will close with the conclusion I’ve come to after years of listening to girlfriends Muslim and non complain about men: the reason Asra Nomani discovered a dirth of eligible Muslim men is the same reason Carrie Bradshaw discovered a dirth of eligible Manhattanite men. The good ones go first, and they go fast. The battle of the sexes–love gained and lost, marriages failed and personalities mistaken–was raging long before the demonization of Muslim men became fashionable. Choosing a spouse with religion in mind is not always a mistake, especially if your heritage and your faith are important parts of who you are. The trick is, as always, to recognize a good thing when you see it–and never mistake the bad for something more.

G. Willow Wilson is author of the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series AIR. Her memoir The Butterfly Mosque is forthcoming from Grove Press.

 

Greenwald: FBI Thwarts its Own Terrorist Plot

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2010 by loonwatch

Recently a case regarding a 19 year old Somali-American accused of attempting to blow up a Christmas event in Oregon has garnered national attention. The arrest fits a familiar pattern in which individuals are encouraged, supported and financed by the FBI to detonate bombs. Did the FBI stay within their limits when pursuing the Somali-American, or did they cross over the boundary into entrapment?

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent piece that questions this arrest and highlights for the umpteenth time the motive behind these “attacks,” a motive that is obfuscated quite often by politicians, the media and anti-Muslim activists.

These individuals aren’t, (as the Robert Spencer’s of the world proclaim) randomly convinced to blow up things because of some religious prescription/motivation, they are motivated by “occupations” and aggression against Muslims and Muslim countries! (Note to the FBI: Spencer is not going to tell you that when he is training your gumshoe detectives)

Time and time again the statements of these misguided individuals speak towards the reality that“It’s the occupation stupid!” but the Cassandra cries of Glenn Greenwald and those like him are willfully ignored and marginalized and so the fear-mongering, exploitation and violence against innocents continues unabated.

The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot

(Salon.com)

by Glenn Greenwald

The FBI is obviously quite pleased with itself over its arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who — with months of encouragement, support and money from the FBI’s own undercover agents — allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon.  Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it.  Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.

What’s missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism.  All of the information about this episode — all of it — comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud.  As shocking and upsetting as this may be to some, FBI claims are sometimes one-sided, unreliable and even untrue, especially when such claims — as here — are uncorroborated and unexamined.  That’s why we have what we call “trials” before assuming guilt or even before believing that we know what happened:  because the government doesn’t always tell the complete truth, because they often skew reality, because things often look much different once the accused is permitted to present his own facts and subject the government’s claims to scrutiny.  The FBI affidavit — as well as whatever its agents are whispering into the ears of reporters — contains only those facts the FBI chose to include, but omits the ones it chose to exclude.  And even the “facts” that are included are merely assertions at this point and thus may not be facts at all.

It may very well be that the FBI successfully and within legal limits arrested a dangerous criminal intent on carrying out a serious Terrorist plot that would have killed many innocent people, in which case they deserve praise.  Court-approved surveillance and use of undercover agents to infiltrate terrorist plots are legitimate tactics when used in accordance with the law.

But it may also just as easily be the case that the FBI – as they’ve done many times in the past — found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a “Terrorist plot” which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI’s own concoction.  Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts — and an uncritical media amplifies — its “success” to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government’s vast surveillance powers — current and future new ones — are necessary.

There are numerous claims here that merit further scrutiny and questioning. First, the FBI was monitoring the email communications of this American citizen on U.S. soil for months (at least) with what appears to be the flimsiest basis: namely, that he was in email communication with someone in Northwest Pakistan, “an area known to harbor terrorists” (para. 5 of the FBI Affidavit).  Is that enough to obtain court approval to eavesdrop on someone’s calls and emails?  I’m glad the FBI is only eavesdropping with court approval, if that’s true, but certainly more should be required for judicial authorization than that.  Communicating with someone in Northwest Pakistan is hardly reasonable grounds for suspicion.

Second, in order not to be found to have entrapped someone into committing a crime, law enforcement agents want to be able to prove that, in the 1992 words of the Supreme Court, the accused was “was independently predisposed to commit the crime for which he was arrested.”  To prove that, undercover agents are often careful to stress that the accused has multiple choices, and they then induce him into choosing with his own volition to commit the crime.  In this case, that was achieved by the undercover FBI agent’s allegedly advising Mohamud that there were at least five ways he could serve the cause of Islam (including by praying, studying engineering, raising funds to send overseas, or becoming “operational”), and Mohamud replied he wanted to “be operational” by using exploding a bomb (para. 35-37).

But strangely, while all other conversations with Mohamud which the FBI summarizes were (according to the affidavit) recorded by numerous recording devices, this conversation — the crucial one for negating Mohamud’s entrapment defense — was not.  That’s because, according to the FBI, the undercover agent ”was equipped with audio equipment to record the meeting.  However, due to technical problems, the meeting was not recorded“ (para. 37).

Thus, we have only the FBI’s word, and only its version, for what was said during this crucial — potentially dispositive — conversation.  Also strangely: the original New York Times article on this story described this conversation at some length and reported the fact that “that meeting was not recorded due to a technical difficulty,” but the final version omitted that, instead simply repeating the FBI’s story as though it were fact:  ”undercover agents in Mr. Mohamud’s case offered him several nonfatal ways to serve his cause, including mere prayer. But he told the agents he wanted to be ‘operational,’ and perhaps execute a car bombing.”

Third, there are ample facts that call into question whether Mohamud’s actions were driven by the FBI’s manipulation and pressure rather than his own predisposition to commit a crime.  In June, he attempted to fly to Alaska in order to work on a fishing job he obtained through a friend, but he was on the Government’s no-fly list.  That caused the FBI to question him at the airport and then bar him from flying to Alaska, and thus prevented him from earning income with this job (para. 25).  Having prevented him from working, the money the FBI then pumped him with — including almost $3,000 in cash for him to rent his own apartment (para. 61) — surely helped make him receptive to their suggestions and influence.  And every other step taken to perpetrate this plot — from planning its placement to assembling the materials to constructing the bomb — was all done at the FBI’s behest and with its indispensable support and direction.

It’s impossible to conceive of Mohamud having achieved anything on his own.  Before being ensnared by the FBI, the only tangible action he had taken was to write three articles on “fitness and jihad” for the online magazine Jihad Recollections.  At least based on what is known, he had no history of violence, no apparent criminal record, had never been to a training camp in Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere else, and — before meeting the FBI — had never taken a single step toward harming anyone.  Does that sound like some menacing sleeper Terrorist to you?

Finally, there is, as usual, no discussion whatsoever in media accounts of motive.  There are several statements attributed to Mohamud by the Affidavit that should be repellent to any decent person, including complete apathy — even delight — at the prospect that this bomb would kill innocent people, including children.  What would drive a 19-year-old American citizen — living in the U.S. since the age of 3 — to that level of sociopathic indifference?   He explained it himself in several passages quoted by the FBI, and — if it weren’t for the virtual media blackout of this issue — this line of reasoning would be extremely familiar to Americans by now (para. 45):

Undercover FBI Agent:  You know there’s gonna be a lot of children there?

Mohamud:  Yeah, I know, that’s what I’m looking for.

Undercover FBI Agent:  For kids?

Mohamud:  No, just for, in general a huge mass that will, like for them you know to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays.  And then for later to be saying, this was them for you to refrain from killing our children, women . . . . so when they hear all these families were killed in such a city, they’ll say you know what your actions, you know they will stop, you know.  And it’s not fair that they should do that to people and not feeling it.

And here’s what he allegedly said in a video he made shortly before he thought he would be detonating the bomb (para. 80):

We hear the same exact thing over and over and over from accused Terrorists — that they are attempting to carry out plots in retaliation for past and ongoing American violence against Muslim civilians and to deter such future acts.  Here we find one of the great mysteries in American political culture:  that the U.S. Government dispatches its military all over the world — invading, occupying, and bombing multiple Muslim countries — torturing them, imprisoning them without charges, shooting them up at checkpoints, sending remote-controlled drones to explode their homes, imposing sanctions that starve hundreds of thousands of children to death  — and Americans are then baffled when some Muslims — an amazingly small percentage — harbor anger and vengeance toward them and want to return the violence.   And here we also find the greatest myth in American political discourse:  that engaging in all of that military aggression somehow constitutes Staying Safe and combating Terrorism — rather than doing more than any single other cause to provoke, sustain and fuel Terrorism.

UPDATE:  A very similar thing happened last month when the FBI announced that it had arrested someone who was planning to bomb the DC Metro system when, in reality, “the only plotting he did was in response to instructions from federal agents he thought were accomplices.”  That concocted FBI plot then led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers’ bags.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, the mosque sometimes attended by Mohamud wasvictimized today by arson.  So the FBI did not stop any actual Terrorist plots, but they may have helped inspire one.

 

Homeland Security Meets its Rosa Parks

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by loonwatch

Whereas the United States government consistently refuses to take the measures needed to curtail terrorism (i.e. halting U.S.-led occupations and interventions abroad), Homeland Security (and the TSA in specific) has taken extreme measures in the name of Security.  Although these curtailments on civil liberties do virtually nothing to stop terrorism, they are very successful in ratcheting up the fear level in an already spooked citizenry. This may well be an unintended yet helpful consequence, but it may certainly also be a deliberate attempt to create an aura of imminent danger.

It truly speaks to our state of mind that we forever live in a world characterized by the government as “threat level: orange” or “threat level: red.”  Before the threat of Terrorism our collective conscious was paralyzed over the thought of nuclear annihilation from the Soviet Union.  It seems there is always one great existential threat that must exist in order for the U.S. government to keep its citizenry in a state of eternal trepidation.  Fear-stricken Americans are then forced to turn to the government for Security, ceding their freedoms in the process.

One American patriot, John Tyner, decided he had just about enough.  Tyner refused to be go through the XXX-ray scanner.  He also refused to be sexually molested by those acting in the name of Security.  Tyner’s refusal may well turn out to be historic.  It is certainly reminiscent of Rosa Parks and her refusal to go to the back of the bus. Glenn Greenwald writes:

Last week, John Tyner, a resident of Southern California, was subjected to a long series of harassing and vindictive actions by Homeland-Security/TSA functionaries after he refused to submit to the new body scanning and groping searches at the San Diego International Airport.  He was randomly selected for the new procedures, and after he refused on privacy grounds, he repeatedly offered instead to go through the metal detectors which were being used on the vast majority of passengers.  When told that he would not be permitted to fly unless he submitted to the new procedures, he agreed to leave the airport, but was then prevented from doing so and threatened with large fines and other punishments if he tried.  The same day, he chronicled this abuse in a long blog post — with detailed narratives and videotapes — which quickly went viral and was widely-circulated.   If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading it.  As Digby wrote about it:

Just read this story of Orwellian airport hell and then think about how many of our basic notions of freedom we’ve given up in the name of “Homeland Security” in the past few years. Then think about the fact that we are spending billions of dollars in this so-called era of austerity on bullshit like this, with layer upon layer of supervisors and officers and supervisory officers basically performing security theater for no good reason.

These routine insults, humiliations and suspensions of human dignity are training us to submit to the police state. I noticed this morning that in all the blathering about tax cuts and deficits, not one person brought up Homeland Security. That bloated budget is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger and if you build it they will use it. And the results of that are obvious.

Making this story so much worse:  as John Cole notes today, the TSA called a news conference to announce that it was formally investigating Tyner to determine whether to impose $11,000 in fines on him.  As Cole observes:  ”Don’t submit to the police state, and we’ll come after you. This isn’t a punishment for Tyner, it is a message to everyone else.”

This is the sort of outrage that really merits a national uprising in defense of this citizen.  I hope to have some details on that in a bit (I turned in a major chunk of my book today and am thus slightly liberated until tomorrow).  I wrote on Twitter two days ago in response to this story:  “What has most degraded the American citizenry is convincing them that no value competes with or should be weighed against *Security*.”  And, of course, these measures rarely provide real security:  only security theater.

Many Americans, to their shame, are typically apathetic to such concerns because privacy and civil liberties infringements are — at least it’s perceived — being directed only at foreigners and Muslims, not “real Americans.”

I have bolded the last two paragraphs because they are especially poignant.  The last sentence speaks to the general theme of our website: Islamophobia (which, in all honesty, is simply one of the flavors of Other-ophobia) has far reaching consequences.  Not only does it enable and encourage morally defunct and horribly unjust wars, but Islamophobia’s power stretches to affect the lives of everyday Americans.  It is true, however, that many Americans won’t care until it affects the “realAmericans”, by which of course we mean God-fearing Judeo-Christian white people.

Anyways, here is the whole post by John Tyner (well worth the read):

TSA encounter at SAN

This morning, I tried to fly out of San Diego International Airport but was refused by the TSA. I had been somewhat prepared for this eventuality. I have been reading about the millimeter wave and backscatter x-ray machines and the possible harm to health as well as the vivid pictures they create of people’s naked bodies. Not wanting to go through them, I had done my  research on the TSA’s website prior to traveling to see if SAN had them. From all indications, they did not. When I arrived at the security line, I found that the TSA’s website was out of date. SAN does in fact utilize backscatter x-ray machines.

I made my way through the line toward the first line of “defense”: the TSA ID checker. This agent looked over my boarding pass, looked over my ID, looked at me and then back at my ID. After that, he waved me through. SAN is still operating metal detectors, so I walked over to one of the lines for them. After removing my shoes and making my way toward the metal detector, the person in front of me in line was pulled out to go through the backscatter machine. After asking what it was and being told, he opted out. This left the machine free, and before I could go through the metal detector, I was pulled out of line to go through the backscatter machine. When asked, I half-chuckled and said, “I don’t think so.” At this point, I was informed that I would be subject to a pat down, and I waited for another agent.

A male agent (it was a female who had directed me to the backscatter machine in the first place), came and waited for me to get my bags and then directed me over to the far corner of the area for screening. After setting my things on a table, he turned to me and began to explain that he was going to do a “standard” pat down. (I thought to myself, “great, not one of those gropings like I’ve been reading about”.) After he described, the pat down, I realized that he intended to touch my groin. After he finished his description but before he started the pat down, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “if you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” He, a bit taken aback, informed me that he would have to involve his supervisor because of my comment.

We both stood there for no more than probably two minutes before a female TSA agent (apparently, the supervisor) arrived. She described to me that because I had opted out of the backscatter screening, I would now be patted down, and that involved running hands up the inside of my legs until they felt my groin. I stated that I would not allow myself to be subject to a molestation as a condition of getting on my flight. The supervisor informed me that it was a standard administrative security check and that they were authorized to do it. I repeated that I felt what they were doing was a sexual assault, and that if they were anyone but the government, the act would be illegal. I believe that I was then informed that if I did not submit to the inspection, I would not be getting on my flight. I again stated that I thought the search was illegal. I told her that I would be willing to submit to a walk through the metal detector as over 80% of the rest of the people were doing, but I would not be groped. The supervisor, then offered to go get her supervisor.

I took a seat in a tiny metal chair next to the table with my belongings and waited. While waiting, I asked the original agent (who was supposed to do the pat down) if he had many people opt out to which he replied, none (or almost none, I don’t remember exactly). He said that I gave up a lot of rights when I bought my ticket. I replied that the government took them away after September 11th. There was silence until the next supervisor arrived. A few minutes later, the female agent/supervisor arrived with a man in a suit (not a uniform). He gave me a business card identifying him as David Silva, Transportation Security Manager, San Diego International Airport. At this point, more TSA agents as well as what I assume was a local police officer arrived on the scene and surrounded the area where I was being detained. The female supervisor explained the situation to Mr. Silva. After some quick back and forth (that I didn’t understand/hear), I could overhear Mr. Silva say something to the effect of, “then escort him from the airport.” I again offered to submit to the metal detector, and my father-in-law, who was near by also tried to plead for some reasonableness on the TSA’s part.

The female supervisor took my ID at this point and began taking some kind of report with which I cooperated. Once she had finished, I asked if I could put my shoes back on. I was allowed to put my shoes back on and gather my belongs. I asked, “are we done here” (it was clear at this point that I was going to be escorted out), and the local police officer said, “follow me”. I followed him around the side of the screening area and back out to the ticketing area. I said apologized to him for the hassle, to which he replied that it was not a problem.

I made my way over to the American Airlines counter, explained the situation, and asked if my ticket could be refunded. The woman behind the counter furiously typed away for about 30 seconds before letting me know that she would need a supervisor. She went to the other end of the counter. When she returned, she informed me that the ticket was non-refundable, but that she was still trying to find a supervisor. After a few more minutes, she was able to refund my ticket. I told her that I had previously had a bad experience with American Airlines and had sworn never to fly with them again (I rationalized this trip since my father-in-law had paid for the ticket), but that after her helpfulness, I would once again be willing to use their carrier again.

At this point, I thought it was all over. I began to make my way to the stairs to exit the airport, when I was approached by another man in slacks and a sport coat. He was accompanied by the officer that had escorted me to the ticketing area and Mr. Silva. He informed me that I could not leave the airport. He said that once I start the screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed. Having left the area, he stated, I would be subject to a civil suit and a $10,000 fine. I asked him if he was also going to fine the 6 TSA agents and the local police officer who escorted me from the secure area. After all, I did exactly what I was told. He said that they didn’t know the rules, and that he would deal with them later. They would not be subject to civil penalties. I then pointed to Mr. Silva and asked if he would be subject to any penalties. He is the agents’ supervisor, and he directed them to escort me out. The man informed me that Mr. Silva was new and he would not be subject to penalties, either. He again asserted the necessity that I return to the screening area. When I asked why, he explained that I may have an incendiary device and whether or not that was true needed to be determined. I told him that I would submit to a walk through the metal detector, but that was it; I would not be groped. He told me that their procedures are on their website, and therefore, I was fully informed before I entered the airport; I had implicitly agreed to whatever screening they deemed appropriate. I told him that San Diego was not listed on the TSA’s website as an airport using Advanced Imaging Technology, and I believed that I would only be subject to the metal detector. He replied that he was not a webmaster, and I asked then why he was referring me to the TSA’s website if he didn’t know anything about it. I again refused to re-enter the screening area.

The man asked me to stay put while he walked off to confer with the officer and Mr. Silva. They went about 20 feet away and began talking amongst themselves while I waited. I couldn’t over hear anything, but I got the impression that the police officer was recounting his version of the events that had transpired in the screening area (my initial refusal to be patted down). After a few minutes, I asked loudly across the distance if I was free to leave. The man dismissively held up a finger and said, “hold on”. I waited. After another minute or so, he returned and asked for my name. I asked why he needed it, and reminded him that the female supervisor/agent had already taken a report. He said that he was trying to be friendly and help me out. I asked to what end. He reminded me that I could be sued civilly and face a $10,000 fine and that my cooperation could help mitigate the penalties I was facing. I replied that he already had my information in the report that was taken and I asked if I was free to leave. I reminded him that he was now illegally detaining me and that I would not be subject to screening as a condition of leaving the airport. He told me that he was only trying to help (I should note that his demeanor never suggested that he was trying to help. I was clearly being interrogated.), and that no one was forcing me to stay. I asked if tried to leave if he would have the officer arrest me. He again said that no one was forcing me to stay. I looked him in the eye, and said, “then I’m leaving”. He replied, “then we’ll bring a civil suit against you”, to which I said, “you bring that suit” and walked out of the airport.

You can see the video of Tyner’s encounter on his blog.

We at LoonWatch salute this man’s bravery and his courageous support of civil liberties.  Unless more Americans stand up to such curtailments of citizen rights, then it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that one day TSA will give us pre-flight colonoscopies, and we’ll be forced to walk onto planes naked.

UPDATE:

A reader by the name of Mindy posted the following comment:

How come on Puerto Rico they had a base, they did not attack us, and we left it a couple of years ago(please correct me if I am wrong)

In fact, Prof. Brent Smith writes in his book Terrorism in America (p.22):

Puerto Rican Terrorism Puerto Rican nationalists were the most active terrorists in the United States and its territories during the 1980s.  From 1980-1982 Puerto Rican terrorists accounted for fifty-three of the 122 terrorism incidents (43 percent) that took place in that period.  As many as ten different Puerto Rican groups claimed responsibility for bombings and assassinations during the early 1980s.

In 1990 alone, Puerto  Rican terrorists carried out five bombings in the United States.  Can one imagine the reaction of the media and “average Americans” if Muslims carried out five coordinated terrorist attacks in one year?

Puerto Rican terrorism has subsequently declined.  Why?  Prof. Smith writes (p.23):

…Recent efforts in the U.S. Congress to allow Puerto Ricans to vote on the future political status of the island may have had an adverse effect on violent nationalists’ recruitment efforts.

How much clearer would you like it to be?  Was it Jihad, Islam, and the Quran which compelled Puerto Ricans to terrorism?  Or was it U.S. interventionist policies?

Mindy says further:

If people want sympathy from the average American, don’t blow things up, average people like me won’t like you.

This is exactly what average Muslims in the Islamic world think about us.  The United States drops more bombs on Muslim heads in the Islamic world in one single day (and continue to do so on a regular basis) than all the Islamic extremists combined have ever detonated throughout history.  The U.S. kills more Muslims in the Islamic world than Islamic extremists have ever killed Americans, on the order of magnitude of greater than 100.  And these killings, unlike the non-state actors like Al-Qaeda, are orchestrated by the democratically elected U.S. government herself, with the blessing of its citizenry.  So yes: if the United States wants sympathy from the average Muslim in the Islamic world, don’t blow things up, because average people won’t like you then.  Americans should not vote for such warmongers if they wish not to be seen as warmongers by the populations living in areas being warred upon by the U.S.

Please see:

Prof. Stephen Walt: Why They Hate Us?

And of course Glenn Greenwald’s excellent commentary:

They Hate Us For Our Occupations

Mindy says:

Weren’t terrorists trying to kill us before Afghanistan and Iraq?

U.S. interventionism in the region far preceded the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.  It may be worthwhile to read this document from the CATO Institute, which calls the U.S. “the heir to British imperialism in the region” and concludes that “U.S. conduct in the Middle East since the end of World War II” is “trag[ic]“.  The right-liberterian group argues that “it should not be surprising that the West is viewed with suspicion and hostility by the populations…of the Middle East.”

There is indeed a direct correlation between U.S. interventionism and terrorism against the U.S.  The more people we bomb, the more they want to be bomb us.  The more people we kill, the more they want to kill us.  Having said that, it’s probably a good idea to eschew the usage of unhelpful terms like “us” and “they”, as neither “us” or “they” are two monoliths.

And just for the record:

The FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation) is a clandestine organization committed to the political independence of Puerto Rico from the United States. Between 1974 and 1983, the FALN claimed responsibility for more than 120 bombings of military and government buildings, financial institutions, and corporate headquarters in Chicago, New York, and Washington DC, which killed six people and injured dozens more. The purpose of these bombings was to protest U.S. military presence in Puerto Rico, draw attention to Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States, and object to increased influence of U.S.-based corporate and financial institutions on the island.

source

Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, a Puerto Rican nationalist, was classified as a terrorist by the United States, and was in fact one of the FBI’s most wanted.  He had great support in Peuerto Rico.

Los Macheteros is a Puerto Rican group categorized by the FBI as a terrorist group.  It operated (and continues to operate) cells in the United States, with an active membership in 2006 of approximately 1,100 to 5,700 members and an unknown number of supporters and sympathizers.  The group campaigns for Puerto Rican independence from what they see as “U.S. colonial rule.”

Members of the Puerto Rico Nationalist Party infiltrated the gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives and shot 5 Congressman. We must ask, as we always do: what if they were Muslims?

 

Glenn Greenwald: Terrorism and Civil Liberties Speech (Video)

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by loonwatch
Glenn Greenwald

Another excellent piece from Glenn Greenwald, candidate for anti-Loon of the year.

Terrorism and civil liberties speech

by Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com)

I’m traveling today and therefore likely unable to post, but last night I spoke at the University of Wisconsin on “Civil Liberties and Terrorism in the Age of Obama.” An article on the event from the Badger Herald is here. The speech — which focused on the meaning (or lack thereof) of the terms “civil liberties” and “terrorism” — was roughly 50 minutes long and can be seen in the video below. There was also an hour-long question-and-answer session that followed which was quite good, and although the video of the Q-and-A portion appears to be not yet available, it will be posted here once it is. Note that I will also be on MSNBC with Dylan Ratigan at roughly 4:00 p.m. today, and on Morning Joe tomorrow morning:
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=16494687&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=0b349c&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

UPDATE:  I neglected to mention that tomorrow from 11:oo am-12:15 p.m., I’ll be at NYU Law School for this event on Terrorism and the First Amendment.  The all-day event is free, open to the public, and features some excellent speakers and panels.

As for last night’s speech at the University of Wisconsin, the 50-minute Q-and-A session that followed my speech is below, and was driven by uniformly excellent questions (and some dissents):
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=16505647&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=0b349c&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

 

 

Greenwald: Anti-Muslim bigotry needed for fear campaigns

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on October 22, 2010 by loonwatch
Glenn Greenwald, the first nomination for induction in the Anti-Loon Hall of Fame

Glenn Greenwald is on point as usual. He summarizes the core issue of the Juan Williams firing from NPR – that anti-Muslim bigotry is needed by many in power to keep the masses scared of the Muslim boogeyman in order to further their agendas, whether domestically or internationally. The entire episode also shows the hypocrisy of many in the media on the issue of free speech – when it’s anti-Muslim speech it’s all good!

The real danger from NPR’s firing of Juan Williams (Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald)

I’m still not quite over the most disgusting part of the Juan Williams spectacle yesterday:  watching the very same people (on the Right and in the media) who remained silent about or vocally cheered on the viewpoint-based firings of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason JordanPeter ArnettPhil DonahueAshleigh BanfieldBill MaherWard ChurchillChas FreemanVan Jones and so many others, spend all day yesterday wrapping themselves in the flag of “free expression!!!” and screeching about the perils and evils of firing journalists for expressing certain viewpoints.  Even for someone who expects huge doses of principle-free hypocrisy — as I do — that behavior is really something to behold.  And anyone doubting that there is a double standard when it comes to anti-Muslim speech should just compare the wailing backlash from most quarters over Williams’ firing to the muted acquiescence or widespread approval of those other firings.

But there’s one point from all of this I really want to highlight.  The principal reason the Williams firing resonated so much and provoked so much fury is because it threatens the preservation of one of the most important American mythologies:  that Muslims are a Serious Threat to America and Americans.  That fact is illustrated by Washington Post Op-Ed today from Reuel Marc Gerecht, who is as standard and pure a neocon as exists:  an Israel-centric,Iran-threateningWeekly Standardand TNR writer,  former CIA Middle East analyst, former American Enterprise Institute and current Defense of Democracies “scholar,” torture advocate, etc. etc.  Gerecht hails Williams as a courageous “dissident” for expressing this “truth”:

[W]hile his manner may have been clumsy, Williams was right to suggest that there is a troubling nexus between the modern Islamic identity and the embrace of terrorism as a holy act.

Above all else, this fear-generating “nexus” is what must be protected at all costs.  This is the “troubling” connection — between Muslims and Terrorism — that Williams lent his “liberal,” NPR-sanctioned voice to legitimizing.  And it is this fear-sustaining, anti-Muslim slander which NPR’s firing of Williams threatened to delegitimize.  That is why NPR’s firing of Williams must be attacked with such force:   because if it were allowed to stand, it would be an important step toward stigmatizing anti-Muslim animus in the same way that other forms of bigotry are now off-limits, and that, above all else, is what cannot happen, because anti-Muslim animus is too important to too many factions to allow it to be delegitimized.  The Huffington Post‘s Jason Linkinsexplained the real significance of NPR’s actions, the real reason it had to be attacked:

Yesterday, NPR cashiered correspondent Juan Williams for doing something that had hitherto never been considered an offense in media circles: defaming Muslims. Up until now, you could lose your job for saying intemperate things aboutJews and about Christians andabout Matt Drudge. You could even lose a job for failing to defame Muslims. But we seem to be in undiscovered country at the moment.

There are too many interests served by anti-Muslim fear-mongering to allow that to change.  To start with, as a general proposition, it’s vital that the American citizenry always be frightened of some external (and relatedly internal) threat.  Nothing is easier, or more common, or more valuable, than inducing people to believe that one discrete minority group is filled with unique Evil, poses some serious menace to their Safety, and must be stopped at all costs.  The more foreign-seeming that group is, the easier it is to sustain the propaganda campaign of fear.  Sufficiently bombarded with this messaging, even well-intentioned people will dutifully walk around insisting that the selected group is a Dangerous Menace.

“The Muslims” are currently the premier, featured threat which serves that purpose, following in the footsteps of The American-Japanese, The Communists, The Welfare-Stealing Racial Minorities, The Gays, and The Illegal Immigrants.  Many of those same groups still serve this purpose, but their scariness loses its luster after decades of exploitation and periodically must be replaced by new ones.  Muslims serve that role, and to ensure that continues, it is vital that anti-Muslim sentiments of the type Williams legitimized be shielded, protected and venerated — not punished or stigmatized.

Beyond the general need to ensure that Americans always fear an external Enemy, there are multiple functions which this specific Muslim-based fear-mongering fulfills.  The national security state — both its public and private arms — needs the “Muslims as Threat” mythology to sustain its massive budget and policies of Endless War.  The surveillance state — both its public and private arms — needs that myth to justify its limitless growth.  Christians who crave religious conflict; evangelicals who await the Rapture; and Jews who were taught from birth to view the political world with Israel at the center, that the U.S. must therefore stay invested in the Middle East, and that the “Arabs” are the Enemy, all benefit from this ongoing demonization.

Beyond that, nationalists and militarists of various stripes who need American war for their identity, purpose and vicarious feelings of strength and courage cling to this mythology as desperately as anyone.  Republicans gain substantial political advantage from scaring white and Christian voters to shake with fear and rage over the imminent imposition of sharia law in America.  And political officials in the Executive Branch are empowered by this anti-Muslim fear campaign to operate in total secrecy and without any checks or accountability as they bomb, drone, occupy, imprison, abduct, and assassinate at will.  Add that all together and there is simply no way that NPR could be permitted to render off-limits the bigoted depiction of Muslims which Juan Williams helped to maintain.

And then there’s the more amorphous but arguably more significant self-justifying benefit that comes from condemning “Muslims” for their violent, extremist ways.  I’m always amazed when I receive emails from people telling me that I fail to understand how Islam is a uniquely violent, supremely expansionist culture which is intrinsically menacing.  The United States is a country with a massive military and nuclear stockpile, that invaded and has occupied two Muslim countries for almost a full decade, that regularly bombs and drones several others, that currently is threatening to attack one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, that imposed a sanctions regime that killed hundreds of thousands of Muslim children, that slaughters innocent people on a virtually daily basis, that has interfered in and controlled countries around the world since at least the middle of the last century, that has spent decades arming and protecting every Israeli war with its Muslim neighbors and enabling a four-decade-long brutal occupation, and that erected a worldwide regime of torture, abduction, and lawless detention, much of whichstill endures.  Those are just facts.

But if we all agree to sit around and point over there – hey, can you believe those primitive Muslims and how violent and extremist they are — the reality of what we do in the world will fade blissfully away.  Even better, it will be transformed from violent aggression into justified self-defense, and then we’ll not only free ourselves of guilt, but feel proud and noble because of it.  As is true with all cultures, there are obviously demented, psychopathic, violent extremists among Muslims.  And there’s no shortage of such extremists in our own culture either.  One would think we’d be more interested in the extremists among us, but by obsessively focusing on Them, we are able to blind ourselves to the pathologies which drive our own actions.  And that self-cleansing, self-justifying benefit — which requires the preservation of the Muslim-as-Threat mythology — is probably more valuable than all the specific, pragmatic benefits described above.  All this over a “menace” (Terrorism) which killed a grand total of 25 noncombatant Americans last year (McClatchy:  ”undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism“).

The double standard in our political discourse — which tolerates and even encourages anti-Muslim bigotry while stigmatizing other forms — has been as beneficial as it has been glaring.  NPR’s firing of Juan Williams threatened to change that by rendering this bigotry as toxic and stigmatized as other types.  That could not be allowed, which is why the backlash against NPR was so rapid, intense and widespread.  I’m not referring here to those who object to viewpoint-based firings of journalists in general and who have applied that belief consistently:  that’s a perfectly reasonable view to hold (and one I share).  I’m referring to those who rail against NPR’s actions by invoking free expression principles they plainly do not support and which they eagerly violate whenever the viewpoint in question is one they dislike.  For most NPR critics, the real danger from Williams’ firing is not to free expression, but to the ongoing fear-mongering campaign of defamation and bigotry against Muslims (both foreign and domestic) which is so indispensable to so many agendas.

 

Salon.com: Glaring Double Standard in Tolerance for anti-Muslim Bigotry

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2010 by loonwatch

An excellent post from Glen Greenwald that was too good to not be featured.

Glaring double standard in tolerance for anti-Muslim bigotry

In theory, it could be a fun game to try to detect the double standard in this pattern of facts, except that it’s so obvious and glaring that no effort is required to see it:

The Washington Post, July 8, 2010:

Octavia Nasr has been fired. CNN fired the editor responsible for Middle Eastern coverage after she posted a note on Twitter expressing admiration for a late Lebanese cleric considered an inspiration for the Hezbollah militant movement. Octavia Nasr later apologized for her tweet, but CNN’s senior vice president for international newsgathering, Parisa Khosravi, said Wednesday that Nasr’s credibility had been compromised.

Politico, June 7, 2010:

In the world of political journalism, it’s the end of an era: Helen Thomas has retired just months shy of her 90th birthday … [Thomas] stepped down from her latest role — a columnist for Hearst Newspapers — in the wake of controversial remarks made in late May about the need for Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and return to Poland and Germany. “Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately,” read a statement from Hearst Newspapers on Monday. “Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.”

USA Today, Oct. 1, 2010:

CNN has fired Rick Sanchez following his controversial comments on the radio show “Stand Up With Pete Dominick” … On Thursday, Sanchez called Jon Stewart a “bigot,” arguing that “The Daily Show” host is against “everybody else who’s not like him.” He also suggested that CNN is run by Jewish people. Stewart is also Jewish.”

Nafees A. Syed, CNN, Sept. 23, 2010:

At a time when our nation’s top university is more diverse than ever before, Harvard’s recent decision to honor its former professor Marty Peretz on Friday for setting up an undergraduate research fund in his name comes as a big, disappointing surprise … Here is the latest blog-post calumny: “Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims” and “I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse” … Despite the voices raised against it, the university just reaffirmed its decision to recognize him …

Think Progress, today (with video):

Last week, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said on ABC’s “The View” that “Muslims killed us on 9/11,” prompting “The View” co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar to walk off the set in disgust. “Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade defended O’Reilly the next day, making an equally idiotic and “obviously false” statement that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” Kilmeade even defended that statement a few hours later on his radio show, saying it’s a fact “you can’t avoid.” But today, after having the weekend to think it over, the “Fox and Friends” host offered a half-hearted apology:

KILMEADE: “On the show on Friday, I was talking about Bill O’Reilly appearance on ‘The View’ and I said this: ‘Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.’ Well, I misspoke. I don’t believe all terrorists are Muslims. I’m sorry about that if I offended or hurt anybody’s feelings. But that’s it.”

In contrast to the loud backlash of anger from journalists over the remarks of Thomas and Sanchez, few have condemned the remarks from Peretz or Kilmeade (for instance, when asked about Peretz, the Washington Post’s media critic Howard Kurtz — who devoted substantial attention to the remarks of Thomas and Sanchez — was steadfastly silent, telling the Guardian: “I’m afraid I just haven’t focused on the subject.” And Kilmeade, of course, will suffer no repercussions (or even widespread criticisms) either for his initial bigoted and patently false statement, nor for his proudly begrudging non-apology, with more emphasis on defiance than regret (“I’m sorry about that if I offended or hurt anybody’s feelings. But that’s it”). Could the double standards in our discourse be any more glaring?

 

It’s the Occupation, Stupid

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by loonwatch
U.S. military occupations are causing terrorism

Glenn Greenwald, citing the work of University of Chicago scholar Robert Pape, describes how it is the United States’ occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as America’s support for tyrannies in the Middle East that have led to an upsurge of terrorism. This flies in the face of the proclamations made by pseudo-scholar Robert Spencer and co., who endlessly claim that terrorism is due to Muslim fanatics following Islamic texts and teachings. The obvious evidence staring these bigots in the face is apparently not enough, even when a Muslim extremist, like Faisal Shahzad, says things like “Muslims must defend themselves from ‘foreign infidel forces,’” who have invaded their countries. No, it is much easier (and profitable) to just blame a whole religion for the acts of a few of its misguided followers.

They hate us for our occupations (Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald)

In 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld commissioned a task force to study what causes Terrorism, and it concluded that “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies”:  specifically,“American direct intervention in the Muslim world” through our “one sided support in favor of Israel”; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, “the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan” (the full report is here).  Now, a new, comprehensive study from Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor and former Air Force lecturer, substantiates what is (a) already bleedingly obvious and (b) known to the U.S. Government for many years:  namely, that the prime cause of suicide bombings is not Hatred of Our Freedoms or Inherent Violence in Islamic Culture or a Desire for Worldwide Sharia Rule by Caliphate, but rather.  . . . foreign military occupations.  As summarized by Politico‘s Laura Rozen:

Pape. . . will present findings on Capitol Hill Tuesday that argue that the majority of suicide terrorism around the world since 1980 has had a common cause: military occupation.

Pape and his team of researchers draw on data produced by a six-year study of suicide terrorist attacks around the world that was partially funded by the Defense Department’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. They have compiled the terrorism statistics in a publicly available database comprised of some 10,000 records on some 2,200 suicide terrorism attacks, dating back to the first suicide terrorism attack of modern times – the 1983 truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 241 U.S. Marines.

“We have lots of evidence now that when you put the foreign military presence in, it triggers suicide terrorism campaigns, … and that when the foreign forces leave, it takes away almost 100% of the terrorist campaign,” Pape said in an interview last week on his findings.

Pape said there has been a dramatic spike in suicide bombings in Afghanistan since U.S. forces began to expand their presence to the south and east of the country in 2006. . . . Deaths due to suicide attacks in Afghanistan have gone up by a third in the year since President Obama added another 30,000 U.S. troops. “It is not making it any better,” Pape said.

Pape believes his findings have important implications even for countries where the U.S. does not have a significant direct military presence, but is perceived by the population to be indirectly occupying.

For instance, across the border from Afghanistan, suicide terrorism exploded in Pakistan in 2006 as the U.S. put pressure on then Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf “to divert 100,000 Pakistani army troops from their [perceived] main threat [India] to western Pakistan,” Pape said.

Imagine that.  Isn’t Muslim culture just so bizarre, primitive, and inscrutable?  As strange as it is, they actually seem to dislike it when foreign militaries bomb, invade and occupy their countries, and Western powers interfere in their internal affairs by overthrowing and covertly manipulating their governments,imposing sanctions that kill hundreds of thousands of Muslim children, and arming their enemies.  Therefore (of course), the solution to Terrorism is to interfere more in their countries by continuing to occupy, bomb, invade, assassinate, lawlessly imprison and control them, because that’s the only way we can Stay Safe.  There are people over there who are angry at us for what we’re doing in their world, so we need to do much more of it to eradicate the anger.  That’s the core logic of the War on Terror.  How is that working out?

* * * * *

Akbar Ahmed, the Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, was onBloggingheads TVyesterday with Robert Wright discussing convicted attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, and said this:

Take the case of Faisal Shahzad.  He seems to be, if you put him in a category . . .  he grows up with the reputation of being a party guy, a party boy in the tribal areas [in Pakistan]. . . . He then comes to America and all the pictures are of a modern young man. . . . He changes, but he changes, again, for interesting reasons. The media would have us believe that it’s the violence in the Koran and the religion of Islam.  But hear what he’s saying.  He’s in fact saying:  I am taking revenge for the drone strikes in the tribal areas.  So he’s acting more like a tribesman whose involvement in Pashtun values . . .  one of the primary features of that is revenge, rather then saying I’m going to have a jihad or I’ve been trained by literalists . . . .

That is confirmed by mountains of evidence not only about what motivated Shahzad but most anti-American Terrorists as well:  severe anger over the violence and interference the U.S. brings to their part of the world.  The only caveat I’d add to Professor Ahmed’s remarks is that a desire to exact vengeance for foreign killings on your soil is hardly a unique attribute of Pashtun culture.  It’s fairly universal.  See, for instance, the furious American response to the one-day attack on 9/11 — still going strong even after 9 years.  As Professor Pape documents:  ”when you put the foreign military presence in, it triggers suicide terrorism campaigns . . . and that when the foreign forces leave, it takes away almost 100% of the terrorist campaign.”  It hardly takes a genius to figure out the most effective way of reducing anti-American Terrorism; the only question is whether that’s the actual goal of those in power.