December 01, 2009
By Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News
The Israeli secret service agency, Shin Bet, responded to a petition in Israel's High Court on Monday, defending their use of torture against detainees.
The petition was filed by the Public Committee Against Torture, a prisoner advocacy group which challenged the Israeli practice of forcing Palestinian detainees to sit on small chairs with their hands cuffed behind the chair during interrogations.
But Shin Bet agents insisted that their methods of interrogating Palestinian detainees are 'humane'. They said that since they increased the length of the chain between the handcuffs to 48 inches, their methods of handcuffing are now humane.
The Israeli secret agency said that the handcuffing of Palestinians during interrogation is necessary in order to 'prevent escape attempts', but gave no examples of such escape attempts actually taking place.
In 1999, the Israeli High Court determined that a number of torture techniques used by Shin Bet, including the 'banana' technique ... were illegal. But Palestinian detainees who have served time in Israeli prison camps in the ten years since that ruling say that many of the banned techniques continue to be used by Shin Bet and other Israeli military agencies.
November 30, 2009
European Union governments have given in to the pressure and appear set to make a last-minute agreement with the United States to allow its intelligence agencies to monitor bank accounts and transactions across the bloc.
Actually, the EU has been clandestinely allowing US intelligence agencies to have access to these financial records since 2001, allegedly to fight terrorism.
However, EU citizens were outraged when this invasion of privacy was revealed in 2006.
Now, however, interior ministers and security officials of the 27-member bloc are going to meet on November 30 to make a decision on legally allowing the United States to have access to bank data across the EU.
According to Spiegel Online, the EU interior ministers gradually succumbed to the “massive” pressure exerted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US ambassadors in Europe, who pressed governments like door-to-door salespeople.
“They pulled out all the moral and political stops,” one EU foreign minister quipped.
Germany was initially opposed to the agreement but came around this week, and a recalcitrant Austria, one of the last holdouts, followed suit.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, who is from the new coalition government, told German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberg, who belongs to the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), that he would not block the US proposal in Brussels.
There will not be a German “no” vote, but instead, he will simply abstain, Spiegel Online reported.
In what many Europeans say is a surreptitious move, the final decision on the issue is going to be made one day before the Lisbon Treaty comes into effect on December 1, since the treaty would allow the European Parliament to have a say in the matter.
However, the issue will definitely face opposition in the EU Parliament anyway since a majority of MEPs are opposed to the idea of disclosing the bank data to the US.
The new treaty envisages a host of security measures and has paved the way for many inexperienced but obedient people like Catherine Ashton, a former EU commissioner for trade, to be elevated to the very apex of European politics.
Many analysts view the entire process as an attempt by Washington to realize its security goals.
The US involvement in the EU's banking system started after it illegally got its hands on the private bank data via the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT.
Over 8,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries are affiliated with SWIFT. The cooperative organization is not a bank and it lacks funds but operates a network of international financial messages.
The firm is registered in Belgium but one of its two major computer servers is located in the US.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the White House decided to intercept the bank data of people suspected of involvement in terrorist activities via the SWIFT server in the US.
The CIA, the FBI, the US government, and major banks all put pressure on SWIFT until the organization “voluntarily” began to hand over millions of pieces of data.
Privacy advocates and liberal politicians are opposed to the “SWIFT agreement” because it would give US intelligence agencies access to the personal information and financial records of all EU citizens.
November 29, 2009
The protest reflected tensions between Israel's secular majority and an Orthodox minority that wants the Jewish state to follow ancient laws barring driving or working on the sabbath.
Police said there was no violence as hundreds marched in the predominantly Jewish western part of Jerusalem, waving blue and white Israeli flags and holding placards reading "Jerusalem will not fall," and "We are sick of (religious) coercion".
Earlier on Saturday dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews had protested outside Intel Corp's electronic chip plant in the city, demanding it cease operating on the sabbath.
In a separate protest, dozens of religious Jews demonstrated to demand the authorities shut a public parking lot near the old walled city of Jerusalem on the day of rest, which begins at sundown on Friday.
Protests by the ultra-Orthodox have taken place on nearly a weekly basis, occasionally spilling over into violence, in what appears to be an attempt by some rabbis to reassert influence after a religious mayor lost a hotly contested 2008 election. (Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
November 27, 2009
To whom it may concern,
As a user of the Internet, I am very concerned about the very secretive proposed trade agreement, ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). This is an international treaty, the draft of which has been recently leaked, that proposes some radical and potentially disastrous changes to international copyright law, and the way Internet service providers do business.
- Currently, Internet service providers are not held liable for the actions of their customers. ACTA will make ISPs responsible for enforcement of the new legal framework put forth. They will have to police copyright on user-contributed material. This could potentially put an end to sites that depend on such content (Youtube, Flickr, Blogger) due to the impossibility of monitoring the amount of data involved for infringing materials. The only practical option for the ISP would be to block access entirely.
- ISPs will be asked to take a ‘three strikes’ approach, and will have to disconnect users that have been accused of copyright infringements three times, as will be required by law. The user will be disconnected without trial, an opportunity to defend themselves, or even any hard evidence.
- The whole world must adopt US-style "notice-and-takedown" rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is claimed to be infringing, without evidence or trial. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy method of censoring certain people and their websites – just by claiming a copyright violation.
- Stronger laws about breaking DRM measures will be brought into effect, even if you have a legitimate reason to be doing so.
This treaty isn’t just about ‘preventing piracy and stopping hackers’. The large content distributors have become greedy, and wish to nullify the prominent role the Internet has on entertainment as a whole in the modern world. They can smell their precious money slipping through of their fingers and aren’t afraid to manipulate the democratic process to avoid that. Hopefully you can see how their greed will affect you, me, and anyone else that uses the internet. They know that if this treaty becomes common knowledge before being passed, there will be an outcry – that’s why it has been kept secret so long. The passing of this treaty will be disastrous to the Internet as it exists today. It would end the free reign we have had to speak our minds without fear of censorship. Do we really want to follow China’s example with Internet policies?
This entire debacle is just another demonstration of how little democracy exists in today’s corporate controlled world, so let’s try take a little bit of it back. Fight ACTA.
-A concerned citizen of the Internet.
I have just read and signed the online petition:
"Stop ACTA Now!"
hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition service, at:
I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider signing yourself.
Your name here
- U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab
- Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA)
- Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA)
- Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
- Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA)
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
- Time Warner
- News Corp
- Sony Corp of America
- Walt Disney Co
Cainkar argues convincingly that the anti-Arab, and Anti-Muslim attitudes were not created solely by an 11 September backlash, but that instead the images of the Arabs and Muslims as an "other" were present much earlier. Although Orientalist tropes about Arabs and Muslims were present in the US prior to the Second World War, they were more common in Europe, which had a longer history of interaction with the "East." Thus the fear, xenophobia, nativism and suspicion in the wake of the attacks was accompanied and reinforced by government attempts to implement and enforce policies of racial and ethnic profiling, expulsion and arrest.
In Cainkar's review of the history of Arab immigration to and racial formation in the US, she finds that their social status changed by mid-century. In the early part of the 20th century, Arab immigrants were largely comprised of Christians from present-day Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Egypt and were generally viewed as "marginal" whites which provided them with a degree of belonging to American society. Arab-American political organizations and associations were formed from 1915 to 1951. They opposed the partition of Syria into Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan by Britain and France, the partition of Palestine and US support for the creation of Israel.
However, integrating into American society was not as easy for Muslims. The establishment of Israel in 1948 and the erasure of Palestine and the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War were major consciousness raisers for Arab-Americans, and significant Arab-American organizations were formed. The "brain drain" immigrants in the 1960s were active in these organizations. Meanwhile, Hollywood consistently portrayed Arabs and Muslims as villains. Thus began the social and political exclusion as their official classification as white was overridden by a racial narrative of them being basically different culturally.
Cainkar reports that there has been a dramatic growth in Muslim American communities over the past half-century. By some estimates there were toughly two to three million Muslims residing in the US by 1987, the majority of whom were not members of a mosque. By 2005, this estimate is between six to seven million, although there are figures much lower and much higher. About a third are African-American, another third of South Asian descent, and a quarter of Arab descent. Cainkar discusses how this demographic growth was accompanied by an increase in Muslim organizations and schools. However, when the 11 September attacks occurred, Arabs and Muslims experienced increased marginalization, discrimination and hostility and Cainkar argues that it began to change to a characterization of "social pariah and political outcast" (p. 72).
Homeland Insecurity opens with five oral histories, and demonstrates the complexity of and differing affects of the 11 September attacks on members of Chicago's Arab-American community. This is an important introduction to the subject, since it provides context and demonstrates diversity in the treatment and fears experienced by members of the community. While there may be demographic variables in other US communities, Cainkar asserts that it is fair to say most Arab-Americans experienced similar anxieties. She states that substituting the words "Arab and Muslim men" for the word "terrorist" in a statement by former US Attorney General John Ashcroft provides a proximate rendering of the US government's anti-terrorism policies in the aftermath of the attacks and reflects the way those policies were perceived especially by Arab and Muslim men (p. 114). Ashcroft warned of using every available statute and prosecutorial advantage on terrorists, stating that "If you overstay your visa -- even by one day -- we will arrest you" (p. 114).
Cainkar extensively and clearly discusses the laws passed in the wake of 11 September and their consequences. Hate crimes and emotions of victims are discussed extensively, and provide an inventory of the damage done to individuals. She chronicles how the USA Patriot Act expanded the power of the federal government, including: the use surveillance and wiretapping without probable cause, permitted secret searches and access to private records, detention of immigrants on alleged suspicions and denial of admission to the US based on speech, FBI interviews, a special registration program for persons mainly from Muslim countries, and deportations. It also inspired the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002.
Cainkar calls this enhanced power "the security spotlight" and she contends that it greatly affected the conduct of everyday life. It helped to dehumanize individuals and groups, divesting them of human values and feelings shared by other groups. They are "not like us," do not enjoy weddings, holding children or show affection. Of those interviewed, 53 percent said they experienced discrimination, and the largest proportion spoke of workforce discrimination. Schools were also an area of confrontation and although her interviewees were more than 19 years of age, these scenes were recounted by parents. The fact that most Americans did not attack them did not reduce the effect of fear when other persons or mosques were attacked. They said they felt most safe in Arab communities or in the mosques. An additional result of these fears is that many innocent members of families left the US if they felt a member of their family had violated a visa requirement. Other families left because they feared discrimination and harassment for themselves and their children. However, a very important conclusion of Cainkar's study is found in her statement, "This study shows that when weighed against each other, the American people provoked much less fear among Arab and Muslim Americans than did the federal government -- the Bush administration" (p. 8).
One of the most interesting discussions is that of gendered nativism, whereby men are threatened the most by laws, but that women, especially those wearing the hijab (headscarf), are perceived as a cultural threat to everything "American." Cainkar argues that although no Arab or Muslim citizens of the US were implicated or convicted of supporting the 11 September attacks, the hijab was a convenient way of demonizing and further marginalizing the population.
Barbara Aswad, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Wayne State University.
November 18, 2009
November 17, 2009
Latest reports of what is being called a deadly Swine Flu outbreak in Ukraine according to on sight reports appear to be a political concoction by a threatened government to avoid election defeat and possibly declare martial law. The details indicate how convenient the current WHO "Swine Flu" H1N1 "pandemic" scare is for regimes in trouble.
Worldwide media reports in recent days have painted a picture of Ukraine as being under the Black Plague or worse. Pittsburgh Swine Flu "mapper" Dr Henry Niman had earlier predicted that H5N1 Avian Flu would mutate into a deadly human-to-human pandemic. It didn’t.
Niman’s map of the spread of alleged H1N1 Swine Flu since April has given the WHO, the US Government and CNN and major media a convenient graphic to create the image of a new type of "bubonic plague" threatening mankind unless we react with massive doses of untested vaccines from Big Pharma. .
Early on Niman reported about events in Ukraine: "The rapid rise in reported infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in the past few days raise concerns that the virus is transmitting very efficiently…the spike in fatalities and the frequency in hemorrhagic cases in Ukraine have raised concerns." Niman added the alarming note, "The number of infected patients has almost doubled to just under ½ million, compared to the report two days ago."
That’s pretty scary stuff. It conjures images of the reports of the Black Death in 1348 which is said to have killed up to 60% of Europe’s population. Though that history has been challenged, the image as well as the equally terrifying if incorrect panic image of the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918, are being applied in Ukraine.
Exact information about what is really taking place in Ukraine is far from easy. The country is one of the most politically complex and economically distressed states in Europe. One possible hypothesis, yet to be verified, emerges from the writings of Dr Lawrence Broxmeyer MD.
Broxmeyer suggests that the WHO and CDC wish to divert attention from a worldwide epidemic of tuberculosis, while focusing attention on flu instead. Indeed recently the WHO changed its categories of causes of death to lump death from influenza in the same group as death from tuberculosis and other pulmonary disease. Given the present Swine Flu hysteria, any pulmonary death seems to be reported as "death from H1N1 influenza." In a passing note the report typically notes the patient also suffered from lung problems.
Broxmeyer states, "Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are fully aware of a far more serious and ongoing tuberculosis Pandemic in the world today. Yet they choose to downplay the link, disregarding the similar flu-like symptoms tuberculosis often begins with. WHO freely admits that there were approximately 1.8 million deaths from tuberculosis in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available as well as that presently about one-third of the world's population, or two billion people, carry the TB bacteria."
Broxmeyer suggests that there is an underestimation of tuberculosis deaths using "flu" as the diversion: "Khomenko's 1993 study showed that the explosive contagiousness of just such influenza-like forms of tuberculosis are exactly the stuff that previous epidemics and pandemics could have been made of... But back in the US, the CDC and NIH seem to feel differently, ignoring everything but "the virus". There was much the same "Influenza" talk when in 1990, a new multi-drug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis outbreak took place in a large Miami municipal hospital. Soon thereafter, similar outbreaks in three New York City hospitals left many sufferers dying within weeks. By 1992, approximately two years later, drug-resistant tuberculosis had spread to deadly mini-epidemics in seventeen US states, and was reported, not by the American, but the international media, as out of control. Viral forms of swine, avian and human TB can be transmitted from one species to another."
He points to the similarities between the onset of the much-cited 1918 "Spanish Influenza" epidemic and that of today. However, as Broxmeyer notes, "a Press Release, issued on August 19, 2008, by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), contains a striking finding and conclusion: The 20 to 40 million deaths worldwide from the great 1918 Influenza ("Flu") Pandemic were NOT due to "flu" or a virus, but to pneumonia caused by massive bacterial infection."
Reports of low flying aircraft spraying in regions of Ukraine where outbreaks and lung-related deaths reportedly took place cannot be verified. What is clear however is that there is no scientifically rigorous proof of deaths or diseases that can be labeled H1N1 Influenza A in Ukraine.
The WHO, the organization responsible for declaration of the H1N1 Pandemic last summer, allowing governments like the USA and Ukraine to declare martial law and a national state of emergency, suspending all rights and imposing arrests and detentions, has validated the dubious Ukraine claims of out-of-control spread of Swine Flu. A WHO press statement November 3 declared, "Laboratory testing in Ukraine has confirmed pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in samples taken from patients in two of the most affected regions. As the pandemic virus has rapidly become the dominant influenza strain worldwide, it can be assumed that most cases of influenza in Ukraine are caused by the H1N1 virus."
The WHO added, "The outbreak in Ukraine may be indicative of how the virus can behave in the northern hemisphere during the winter season, particularly in health care settings typically found in Eastern Europe. Given the potential significance of this outbreak as an early warning signal, WHO commends the government of Ukraine for its transparent reporting and open sharing of samples." The samples have been sent to the WHO Mill Hill Influenza Reference Lab in London, not exactly inspiring confidence in a scientifically honest report given the record of UK health authorities in manipulating data to please the vaccine giants like GlaxoSmithKline. As of this writing, bizarre enough the WHO has yet to utter a single word of the test results at Mill Hill.
Nonetheless, WHO "strongly recommends early treatment with the antiviral drugs, oseltamivir or zanamivir, for patients who meet treatment criteria, even in the absence of a positive laboratory test confirming H1N1 infection." That means Tamiflu, the highly dangerous drug whose major shareholder includes former Pentagon head Don Rumsfeld. And it means GlaxoSmithKline, maker of the rival Relenza drug.
Ukrainian election geopolitics
The bizarre developments in Ukraine over the past two weeks are being blamed inside the country on intense Ukrainian election politics. In four months national elections in Ukraine are due. Among rival candidates are Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her chief rival, Arseniy Yatseniuk.
Since Washington financed and organized the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought a pro-NATO Victor Yushchenko in as President, Ukraine politics has been a geopolitical tug-of war between Moscow and Washington. How the current political games around allegations of H1N1 panic play into that tug of war is not yet clear.
The recent speech in Warsaw by Vice President Joe Biden offering Poland and the Czech Republic a "new and improved" version of US anti-missile defense against Russia only four weeks after Obama announced the US was backing out of a controversial earlier missile defense plan for the two eastern European countries underscores the shambles of US strategic policy towards Russia.
Russia has been quick to take advantage as might be expected, as a US missile shield on its borders, as I detail in Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, gives the US a long-sought nuclear primacy over its only potential strategic rival on the planet. At that point the resistance of the rest of the world to incalculable or objectionable US policies, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia or wherever, becomes moot.
It’s clear Moscow has been working quietly to bring Ukraine, an original part of Kiev Rus, and a strategically essential part of the Russian economy, back into a more friendly "NATO-free" relationship after five years of Orange Revolution chaos in Ukraine under Yushchenko. .
Yatseniuk, a 35 year old former banker and aide to Washington’s darling, President Viktor Yushchenko, has charged that Tymoshenko is deliberately fostering unnecessary panic in order to impose martial law and suspend elections that she might well lose to Yatseniuk.
There definitely are political games going on by one or another faction in the economically devastated Ukraine. Oleksandr Bilovol, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Health, claims the outbreak of flu cases in Ukraine has been essentially contained in 11 out of 25 Ukrainian regions, with the number of people allegedly stricken with H1N1 only 15% higher than figures reported in previous years. "Figures in other the regions are in line with 2007 and 2008," Bilovol said. As well the number of reported deaths is also in line with deaths annually attributed to ordinary influenza.
Could it be the reports of Ukraine "Swine Flu" pandemic in Ukraine have more to do with the country’s geopolitical location?
Tymoshenko declared the outbreak as the threat of the third level – the highest possible – to unlock spending of up to 3 billion hryvnias to combat the swine flu. Among measures imposed by the decree include shutting down schools and public gatherings for three weeks across Ukraine, with the government also considering introducing restrictions on movement of people between the regions.
Yatseniuk said the ban on public gatherings spreads fear and panic helping Tymoshenko to promote herself on television, while hindering other presidential candidates to campaign.
Yatseniuk is Tymoshenko’s biggest rival as both compete for votes in western regions of Ukraine. He is perhaps the only candidate that may challenge Tymoshenko in the first round of vote on January 17, 2010 to enter the runoff with opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych.
Yatseniuk said the panic spread by the government helps overshadow issues politically damaging to Tymoshenko, including pedophile and the murder scandals involving Tymoshenko lawmakers, and
Ukraine’s dismal economic performance.
Prime Minister Tymoshenko, whatever the real facts of the case, is using the WHO Swine Flu panic scenario to the hilt. In a recent statement, she stated, "We cannot relax even for a moment because the World Health Organization predicts two more waves of flu, including the bird flu, are expected in Ukraine. There is no alternative to vaccination. The entire world is going this way…" A day earlier she admitted she was not vaccinated and that she prefers "like all other people" plans to rely on garlic, onion and lemon as a way of preventing the flu.
Ukraine Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn accuses Tymoshenko as well, declaring, "You've organized the flu epidemic in order to avoid responsibility for not supplying heat to houses, schools, higher educational establishments, and kindergartens," he said in Parliament. And Orange Revolution President, Yushchenko has declared there was no reason for declaring an emergency in Ukraine. "There are no such reasons," Yushchenko said. "I am not a supporter of measures that freeze the country, restrict its operation to levels that is hard to justify."
Ihor Popov, Deputy Chief of Staff to Yushchenko, said that in case of emergency the election, which is due on Jan. 17, 2010, would have to be "rescheduled."
Germany joins Swine Flu corruption
Not only is the Ukrainian government apparently using fears of Swine Flu pandemic to change the domestic political calculus, and President Barack Obama using the fears to impose an unnecessary state of emergency. Now it comes out that the responsible German health authorities are caught in a corrupt conflict of interest with the very pharma giants profiting from government decisions on "anti-swine flu" vaccines.
The recent issue of the German weekly Der Spiegel, reports that members of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI), which claims to be an independent scientific advisory body advising EU member governments on policies regarding H1N1 influenza, is anything but independent.
It’s being financed by Big Pharma. ESWI claims it brings together scientific "key opinion leaders in influenza." However the sole financial backers are 10 pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline -- manufacturer of the German swine flu vaccine -- and Roche -- producer of the antiviral drug Tamiflu.
The group lists Walter Haas as one of its scientific advisers. Haas coordinates Germany's flu pandemic preparedness measures at the Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI), the federal institute for disease research. ESWI portrays itself as an independent group of scientists. But even the organization's own statute tells a different story, describing its role as advising politicians and health authorities on "the benefits and safety of influenza vaccines and antivirals" and initiating "a policy for antiviral provisions."
The degree of fraud, deceit, official coverup and outright criminal endangerment of the broad population by the current Swine Flu hysteria is seemingly without precedent.
source: Global Research
November 16, 2009
GAZA- Sawasya-center for human rights stated Monday that Israel uses Palestinian prisoners as guinea pigs without their consent to test the efficacy of new drugs manufactured by its health ministry on their bodies, calling for an immediate investigation into this violation.
The center cited as evidence that Israeli interrogators gave prisoner Zuhair Al-Iskafi an injection he never saw before which resulted in losing his hair all over his body permanently, adding that similar incidents happened to other prisoners.
The center appealed to Arab and international media outlets to highlight this serious issue and expose the Israeli violations committed against Palestinian prisoners.
It also called on human rights organizations and the world health organization (WHO) to send a delegation of medical specialists to the occupied Palestinian lands to visit Israeli prisons and examine the detainees who were subjected to these tests.
In another context, the Palestinian prisoner committee reported Sunday that the Israeli administration of Hadarim prison decided to deprive five Palestinian detainees from pursuing their academic studies at Hebrew universities without giving reasons.
The committee called on human rights organizations to intervene and pressure the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) to reverse this arbitrary decision taken against the prisoners, asserting that this measure is a prelude to depriving other prisoners from their right to education.
For its part, the popular resistance movement stated Monday that the Palestinian resistance will not rest until it frees all prisoners from Israeli jails.
During a sit-in in solidarity with prisoners held in the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza, spokesman for the movement Abu Ali Azaalan talked about the suffering endured by the Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails and stressed the need for official and popular action to stop the Israeli violations against them.
November 17, 2009
The world is becoming unsafer by the day. Before the end of November, half a billion new terrorists will be added to the list kept by the US government.
On November 30, one day before the Lisbon Treaty is scheduled to take effect, the ministers of justice of the EU's 27 member states will sign yet another security agreement with the US. It is supposed to be an essential weapon in the global “War on Terror” the US claims to be fighting.
Under the new agreement, the US government will get access to all the banking data of all Europeans. This means that from December 2009, every single financial transaction done by every single European banking customer will come under the scrutiny of the US authorities. Henceforth, whenever the US government suspects a European “citizen” of supporting terrorism, it can request all his or her banking data, including all bank statements as well as any and all personal data connected with the account.
No doubt, many people will fail to see much harm in this, because “they have nothing to hide.” But such an attitude is based on the assumption the US is governed by benign, rational individuals, controlled by an elaborate system of checks and balances.
In fact, this is obviously not the case. If any conclusion can be drawn from recent history, it is that the US government does not act benignly, neither towards it own citizens nor to those of other nations. Especially not toward those of other nations, one should say. US policies are vindictive, vicious, ruthless, deceitful, destructive and murderous. Since the end of World War II, the number of people killed worldwide by the US government, directly or indirectly, runs in the millions. It is safe to say the US government finds itself in the same league as the Nazis and the Stalinists. And don't let anybody retort that the millions of victims of US violence have died to make the word safe for democracy, or that their deaths were somehow necessary or inevitable or some such nonsense.
Today, under the very eyes of an indifferent world, hundreds of innocent Afghans, Pakistanis and Iraqis are being slaughtered every day by US bullets, bombs and missiles, just like during the 1960s and 70s every day hundreds were being killed directly or indirectly by US violence in Indochina and Latin America.
Within a few weeks, US authorities will gain full access to some of the most private data of all inhabitants of the European Union and this should be cause for alarm. After all, from a moral point of view the EU leadership (and of the 27 member states) is just as evil and corrupt as the US government.
With the list of organizations that the US whimsically qualifies as terrorist constantly growing, the likelihood of a European “citizen” making a donation to such a group likewise increases. By the same token, the list of individuals the US has been putting on terrorist lists already runs in the millions. In fact, by employing the usual mix of lies, cajoling, blackmail and bullying in order to impose its paranoid rules on air traffic worldwide, the US government has already turned every airline passenger into a terrorist suspect.
Anybody who believes this is normal or acceptable should do some serious soul searching.
Heaven knows how the US has managed to persuade the Europeans to go along and sign the newest agreement. It is a mystery why the Europeans should have lent a willing ear at all to the US fairy tales about terrorism, because it means they will be sacrificing their sovereignty, or rather, what remains of it.
The only explanations one could possibly offer is that European politicians have no idea who they are dealing with, and are weak kneed. Or they are being blackmailed. There is no other logical explanation why European nations, some of them proud states with a long history of fiercely defending their sovereignty, would sign away their sovereign rights and hand them to a rogue state like the US.
Given that under previous agreements, European governments have already approved extraditing their own citizens to the US and given that all European governments collaborate with the secret CIA rendition flights taking kidnapped individuals to US-controlled or operated torture centers all over the world, all Europeans will soon be fair game.
The true purpose of the entire “War on Terror” can only be to terrorize peaceful, law-abiding citizens and to browbeat them in order to impose harmful legislation. For thousands of years governments have had to face underground opposition, some of it well-organized and with a propensity to violence. The best way to counter such a threat is to go about it in utter secrecy. Mind you, secret services are supposed to do their work in secret, so that no one will notice. Indeed that is what they have been doing throughout history in most of the world, especially in democratic countries. However, the US and its acolytes have been bombarding the world on a daily basis with alarmist fairy tales for almost a decade now. According to all official US reports, the increase of terrorism outpaces any efforts to combat it. However, despite having the biggest military and security budgets in history, with unlimited technological resources at its disposal and a staggering panoply of legal controls on every single activity by every single citizen, the US still claims to be losing the struggle.
This is clearly a lie. Because, whenever nations are losing a war, they will publicly deny this in the most emphatic manner. Conversely, when nations are claiming for years on end that they are losing, it has got to be be a lie. Therefore it can be safely said the “War on Terror” is a hoax.
The danger of the new agreement between the US and the EU is that nobody will know if what he or she is doing may land him in a US jail or in some distant torture center. Suppose you sympathize with a European group giving aid to the civilian victims of NATO bombing campaigns in Afghanistan. You buy a T-shirt for 20 Euros and you forget about it. Then the US government puts the group (whose T-shirt you are wearing) on the list of terror organizations and requests its banking details. As soon as the US government gets these, it has the names of everyone who has ever made donations to the group. Then your name appears and together with all the other names coming up, it is put on the terror suspect list. In the eyes of the US government, you have become a supporter of terrorism and an enemy of the (US) state. Now, nothing stands in the way of your being extradited to the US by your own (European) government. If you are lucky, that is. If not, you may end up in the worldwide US Gulag. You may get kidnapped and put on a rendition flight to a dungeon in Uzbekistan or some other hell hole, where you will be tortured in the most horrible way. Neither your government nor the European Commission will lift a finger to prevent this.
You can be sure this sort of thing is going to happen. Not systematically, but it will inevitably. Soon, rumors will start circulating, and fear will come to dominate the everyday lives of all EU citizens.
However there may be a lighter side to it all. Since your government no longer protects your life and liberty, but on the contrary has betrayed you and given the US (with its abysmal human rights record) the right to prosecute you on trumped up and false charges, you are no longer bound by any obligations to your government. It could mean, for instance, you now have sound legal grounds to stop paying taxes.
You have in fact been turned into a terrorist and an outlaw and you may thank the EU Commission and your national government for that. However, it may be a consolation to realize you are not alone. All the other 500 million inhabitants of the EU have become terrorists just like you.
November 16, 2009
By Simon Davies | The Guardian | November 14, 2009
The government is playing a two-handed game over its plan to snoop on all our communication and internet activity. On the one hand, officials have put it about that the scheme has been indefinitely shelved because of concerns raised in the public consultation on the proposals. On the other, Home Office insiders assure me that the government has no intention of putting the scheme on hold. Any statements to the contrary are designed to mitigate the risk of a negative campaign in the run-up to the general election.
The government quite rightly perceives an election risk because of its surveillance plans. It is, after all, proposing to reach deep into the private life of everyone in the nation. From your phone records and emails to your activity on social networking sites such as Facebook, the government wants to know everything you do.
The scheme is a political disaster in the making. Both the Tories and the Lib Dems have positioned themselves with a reform agenda on privacy. The mere existence of a surveillance plan of this magnitude would have created the sort of clear blue water that no government would want. Bad enough that it has already created a surveillance society second to none in the democratic world; even worse if it was seen to be moving toward a North Korean model.
The consultation in this scheme was a disreputable piece of work. The government tried to sell the snooping plans as if they were a range of vacuum cleaners. It offered a "do nothing" option, already dismissed by ministers; a ridiculously complex and unlawful option; and a "middle ground" option. The document offered no specific detail, primarily because officials and ministers had no clue what technology or techniques are available to spy on the public. It said nothing about safeguards, principally because the Home Office had no idea what it had to safeguard. And it was mute on specifics about risks, again because the government had no clue what it was trying to "protect" us from.
In other words, what was proposed was a nebulous scheme dreamed up on non-existent technology to combat unspecified threats. Little wonder that the majority of responses to the consultation dismissed the plans as sheer nonsense.
But the true litmus test of the viability of the government's scheme happened in Madrid recently. There, more than a thousand of the world's leading technical experts, lawyers, privacy regulators and corporations gathered at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners to consider the best and the worst information projects in the world. The government's scheme sat magnificently at the top of the pile of bad ideas, attracting a uniquely harsh assessment from the experts at the meeting.
To give you a flavour of the considered expert view of the scheme, I could not find a single supporter of the proposals. The technology companies told me they were fantasy, the privacy commissioners said they were probably unlawful, and civil society groups said they are obnoxious. On the basis of my straw poll at the event, I could write a slogan for this scheme: "Eight out of ten of the world's biggest corporations think the government's plan is insane."
This scheme is a break point for this government. If it had any mind to assure the public that it cares about rights, it will make an unequivocal commitment in parliament to withdraw the plans. At least then we can have some assurance that some shred of privacy remains in our surveillance-infested world.
November 15, 2009
Britain is to join Australia in issuing an official apology for the "shameful" export of tens of thousands of children to Commonwealth countries with the promise of a better life, only for many of them to end up abused and neglected.
By Richard Alleyne - The Telegraph
3:48PM GMT 15 Nov 2009
In what Ed Balls, the children secretary, described as "stain on our society" the child migrant programmes saw poor, orphaned and illegitimate children sent to Australia, Canada and other former colonies until as recently as the late 1960s, often without the knowledge of their families.
Many ended up in institutions, many suffered abuse and neglect and many others were used as "slave labour" on farms.
Now after years of campaigning from pressure groups, Gordon Brown has agreed to meet with representatives of the surviving children before making a formal apology next year.
Mr Balls said the apology would be "symbolically very important".
"I think it is important that we say to the children who are now adults and older people and to their offspring that this is something that we look back on in shame," he said.
"It would never happen today. But I think it is right that as a society when we look back and see things which we now know were morally wrong, that we are willing to say we're sorry."
The government has estimated that a total of 150,000 British children may have been shipped abroad under a variety of programs that operated between the early 19th century and 1967.
A 2001 Australian report said that between 6,000 and 30,000 children from Britain and Malta, often taken from unmarried mothers or impoverished families, were sent alone to Australia as migrants during the 20th century.
Some of the children were told, wrongly, that they were orphans.
The migration was intended to stop the children being a burden on the British state while supplying the receiving countries with potential workers.
A 1998 British parliamentary inquiry noted that "a further motive was racist: the importation of 'good white stock' was seen as a desirable policy objective in the developing British Colonies".
Mr Balls said that while an apology would not "take away the suffering" it was important to the victims to admit it was wrong and to make sure lessons are learnt.
He said the government was talking to the victims' organisation to work out how to frame the apology.
"These were children who were shipped out of the country, often without their parents even knowing, went on to be labourers thousands and thousands of miles away, suffered physical and sometimes sexual abuse as well and it was something that was sanctioned by government and that is no way to treat children," he said,
"I think there have been discussions going on for some months about how to do this but to be honest it’s a matter of shame for our country and countries around the world that this terrible policy happened for so many years and decades and was actually government policy."
The issue of the UK child migrants was investigated in 1998 by the Commons health select committee, a process which led to the Department of Health drawing up guidance for families to trace those sent away.
Kevin Barron, the chairman, said Mr Brown wrote to him over the weekend to confirm he would issue an apology in the new year.
The Prime Minister told him "the time is now right" for the UK government to apologise for the "misguided policies" of previous governments.
However some survivors felt the apology was too little too late.
Harold Haig, the secretary of the International Child Migrants Association, said he was appalled that the Australian apology has come before any British apology.
"Gordon Brown should hang his head in shame," he said.
"He is allowing the country that we were deported to to apologise before the country where we were born. It is an absolute disgrace. He should hang his head in shame."
November 14, 2009
Germany has announced its opposition to an EU agreement to share bank data with the United States for anti-terrorist investigations.
According to the draft, financial records stored by the SWIFT financial data system including "name, account number, address, national identification number, and other personal data", can be shared with the US.
Germany's justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she was against the deal because of lack of "legal protection provisions."
"I am still critical of the extent of the information transfer to the USA and the lack of legal recourse," Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said.
The German government also called on its representative in the European Union to refrain from signing the deal.
With three other countries in opposition, an agreement on the draft will likely be delayed until after the Lisbon Treaty, which gives the European Parliament a larger role in shaping the deal, goes into effect on December 1.
Germany, Austria, France and Finland are opposing the text negotiated by the Swedish EU presidency and the European Commission.
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said Germany would try to stop the deal.
"The government has distanced itself from the SWIFT agreement," she told the Berliner Zeitung daily.
"I consider it unfortunate that the EU is trying to push through this agreement according to the old rules one day before the Lisbon Treaty goes into effect," she said.
Citing data privacy concerns, experts warn there are no controls over the use of the data by the American organizations.
They fear that the financial data will be misused by certain US companies.
November 08, 2009
MADRID, Nov. 7 (AFP) – The new ''smart meters'' utilities are installing in homes around the world to reduce energy use raise fresh privacy issues because of the wealth of information about consumer habits they reveal, experts said Friday.
The devices send data on household energy consumption directly to utilities on a regular basis, allowing the firms to manage demand more efficiently and advise households when it is cheaper to turn on appliances.
But privacy experts gathered in Madrid for a three-day conference which wraps up Friday warned that the meters can also reveal intimate details about customers' habits such as when they eat, what time they go to sleep or how much television they watch.
With cars expected to be fuelled increasingly by electricity in the coming years, the new meters could soon be used to gather information on consumer behaviour beyond the home, they added.
''The collection and storage and retention of the data makes it vulnerable to security breaches as well as to government access,'' Christopher Wolf, the co-chairman and founder of the Washington-based Future of Privacy Forum, told AFP.
''It is really an issue of how much information about us can be collected by a third party, how much do they really need, how long do they need to keep it, what should the rules be on retention and when should destruction of it occur.''
More than eight million ''smart meters'' have already been installed in the United States and the number is projected by the government to rise to 52 million by 2012.
Last month US President Barack Obama announced 3.4 billion dollars (2.3 billion euros) in grants to modernise the country's electricity grid, part of which will pay for about 18 million ''smart meters.''
The European Parliament passed an energy package in April which proposed that 80 percent of electricity consumers have ''smart meters'' by 2020.
In Italy 85 percent of homes already have smart meters installed, the highest penetration rate in Europe, according to the Future of Privacy Forum. France is second with a 25 percent penetration rate.
''This is certainly the next stage, the new frontier, in the potential for privacy invasion,'' Elias Quinn, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Energy and Environmental Security at the University of Colorado, told AFP.
''The potential is great for privacy invasion depending on who can have access to this information. We are kind of walking into 'smart meter' development blindly. There is no general informed consent.''
November 04, 2009
Italian Officials Complicit in 2003 'Rendition' of Cleric
Completing one of Europe’s most high profile terror related trials, an Italian judge today convicted 23 Americans, 22 of them confirmed by the prosecutor as CIA agents, to sentences of between five and eight years in prison related to the 2003 kidnapping of a cleric from the streets of Milan.
The longest sentence went to Robert Lady, America’s former Milan CIA chief. All the Americans were tried in absentia and are now considered fugitives from justice by the Italian government. The CIA declined comment.
The incident, dubbed the “imam rapito affair” by the Italian press, involves the abduction of Milan’s imam, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian cleric who was in Italy on an asylum passport. The CIA agents kidnapped Nasr off the streets of Milan and shipped him to Egypt.
Once in Egypt, Nasr spent the next several years in and out of prison, where he was tortured repeatedly. An Egyptian judge finally ordered his release in 2007. His only charge during the whole time was membership in a banned organization, though even this was eventually dropped.
Lady has insisted he was acting on the orders of his superiors with respect to the “rendition.” Two Italian officials were also convicted today as accomplices to kidnapping, though the Italian government’s declaration of “state secrecy” prevented more serious charges and pointed to official complicity in the incident.
November 03, 2009
It's not often that an appellate court decision reflects so vividly what a country has become, but such is the case with yesterday's ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Arar v. Ashcroft (.pdf). Maher Arar is both a Canadian and Syrian citizen of Syrian descent. A telecommunications engineer and graduate of Montreal's McGill University, he has lived in Canada since he's 17 years old. In 2002, he was returning home to Canada from vacation when, on a stopover at JFK Airport, he was (a) detained by U.S. officials, (b) accused of being a Terrorist, (c) held for two weeks incommunicado and without access to counsel while he was abusively interrogated, and then (d) was "rendered" -- despite his pleas that he would be tortured -- to Syria, to be interrogated and tortured. He remained in Syria for the next 10 months under the most brutal and inhumane conditions imaginable, where he was repeatedly tortured. Everyone acknowledges that Arar was never involved with Terrorism and was guilty of nothing. I've appended to the end of this post the graphic description from a dissenting judge of what was done to Arar while in American custody and then in Syria.
In January, 2007, the Canadian Prime Minister publicly apologized to Arar for the role Canada played in these events, and the Canadian government paid him $9 million in compensation. That was preceded by a full investigation by Canadian authorities and the public disclosure of a detailed report which concluded "categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constituted a threat to the security of Canada." By stark and very revealing contrast, the U.S. Government has never admitted any wrongdoing or even spoken publicly about what it did; to the contrary, it repeatedly insisted that courts were barred from examining the conduct of government officials because what we did to Arar involves "state secrets" and because courts should not interfere in the actions of the Executive where national security is involved. What does that behavioral disparity between the two nations say about how "democratic," "accountable," and "open" the United States is?
Yesterday, the Second Circuit -- by a vote of 7-4 -- agreed with the government and dismissed Arar's case in its entirety. It held that even if the government violated Arar's Constitutional rights as well as statutes banning participation in torture, he still has no right to sue for what was done to him. Why? Because "providing a damages remedy against senior officials who implement an extraordinary rendition policy would enmesh the courts ineluctably in an assessment of the validity of the rationale of that policy and its implementation in this particular case, matters that directly affect significant diplomatic and national security concerns" (p. 39). In other words, government officials are free to do anything they want in the national security context -- even violate the law and purposely cause someone to be tortured -- and courts should honor and defer to their actions by refusing to scrutinize them.
Reflecting the type of people who fill our judiciary, the judges in the majority also invented the most morally depraved bureaucratic requirements for Arar to proceed with his case and then claimed he had failed to meet them. Arar did not, for instance, have the names of the individuals who detained and abused him at JFK, which the majority said he must have. As Judge Sack in dissent said of that requirement: it "means government miscreants may avoid  liability altogether through the simple expedient of wearing hoods while inflicting injury" (p. 27; emphasis added).
The commentary about this case from Harper's Scott Horton perfectly captures the depravity of what our Government has done -- and continues to do -- to Arar. His analysis should be read in its entirety, and he concludes with this:
When the history of the Second Circuit is written, the Arar decision will have a prominent place. It offers all the historical foresight of Dred Scott, in which the Court rallied to the cause of slavery, and all the commitment to constitutional principle of the Slaughter-House Cases, in which the Fourteenth Amendment was eviscerated. The Court that once affirmed that those who torture are the “enemies of all mankind” now tells us that U.S. government officials can torture without worry, because the security of our state might some day depend upon it.
I want to add one principal point to all of this. This is precisely how the character of a country becomes fundamentally degraded when it becomes a state in permanent war. So continuous are the inhumane and brutal acts of government leaders that the citizens completely lose the capacity for moral outrage and horror. The permanent claims of existential threats from an endless array of enemies means that secrecy is paramount, accountability is deemed a luxury, and National Security trumps every other consideration -- even including basic liberties and the rule of law. Worst of all, the President takes on the attributes of a protector-deity who can and must never be questioned lest we prevent him from keeping us safe.
This is exactly why I find so objectionable and dangerous the ongoing embrace by the Obama administration of these same secrecy and immunity weapons. Obama had nothing to do with the Arar case -- all the conduct, and even the legal briefing, occurred before he was President -- but he has taken numerous steps to further institutionalize the core injustice here, including in cases that are quite similar to Arar: namely, that the Executive can use secrecy and national security claims to shield himself from the rule of law, even when he's accused of torture and war crimes. That's exactly what happened here, yet again. As Judge Parker wrote in dissent (click image to enlarge)
Identically, Judge Calabresi -- one of the most respected and non-ideological appellate judges in the country -- accused the majority of "utter subservience to the executive branch." Surely that's true, but it isn't only the Arar majority that is guilty of that. It is the nation as a whole -- drowning in infinite claims of "state secrets" and executive immunity and war necessity and the imperatives of "looking forward" -- that has meekly acquiesced to the pernicious idea that the President in an allegedly national security context must never have his actions disclosed, let alone judicially scrutinized and held accountable, no matter how criminal, brutal and inhumane those actions are.
Here's Judge's Sack's description of what was done to Arar in Syria, which accords perfectly with what the Canadian investigation found -- this is what our Government (both the executive and judicial branches) has continuously insisted it can purposely cause to happen without any accountability or even transparency (pp. 13-15):
Judge Sack's equally horrific description of exactly what the U.S. did to cause all of that to happen to Arar is here.
November 02, 2009
November 2, 2009
On October 28, New York Times writer Nick Bunkley wrote the following:
"Federal agents (today) fatally shot a man they described as the leader of a violent Sunni Muslim separatist group in Detroit." Targeted was Luqman Ameen Abdullah "whom agents were trying to arrest in Dearborn on charges that included illegal possession and sale of firearms and conspiracy to sell stolen goods."The Times echoed FBI allegations that Abdullah "began firing at them from a warehouse (and) was shot in the return fire...." Ones also that he said:
-- "America must fall;"In fact, neither happened, and no surprise. No bombs were found or went off, and bulletproof vests are easily bought online from web sites like bulletproofme.com, so why shoot anyone to get them.
-- if police tried to arrest him he'd "strap a bomb on and blow up everybody;" and
-- that he urged his followers to get bulletproof vests by "shoot(ing) a cop in the head and tak(ing) their vest."
Post-9/11, America declared war on Islam with the FBI in the lead at home. It notoriously targets the vulnerable, entraps them with paid informants, inflates bogus charges, spreads them maliciously through the media, then intimidates juries to convict and sentence innocent men and some women to long prison terms. Justice is nearly always denied. At times willful killings are committed. The Detroit Muslims are their latest victims.
The Muslim Community Reacts
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) "is a public service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims, for the integration of Islam into American pluralism, and for a positive, constructive relationship between American Muslims and their representatives." Since its 1988 founding, it's become known for promoting "Mercy, Justice, Peace, Human Dignity, Freedom, and Equality for all."
On October 29, MPAC's Executive Director, Salam Al-Marayati said:
"There is a clear and present danger in the escalating mob mentality against vulnerable Muslim Americans."The organization called for an investigation into the shooting death, saying it is "deeply disturbed" by the incident.
So is the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), a national network of masjids (mosques), Muslim organizations and individuals committed to addressing the needs of the Muslim community. It released a statement saying:
"It is with deep sadness and concern that we announce the shooting death of Imam Luqman A. Abdullah, of Masjid Al-Haqq (Detroit, MI). Imam Luqman was a representative of the Detroit Muslim community to the 'National Ummah' and the general assembly (Shura) of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA)...."Ummah founder Jamil Al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown) wanted it to be an association of mosques in US cities to coordinate religious and social services primarily in the black community. Calling it a "nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African-Americans" is an "offensive mischaracterization."
Those who've worked with Imam Abdullah know him for having "advocated for the downtrodden and always sp(eaking) about the importance of connecting to the needs of the poor." Alleging that he and his followers engaged in illegal activity, resisted arrest, and waged an "offensive jihad against the American government" are "shocking and inconsistent."
On October 30, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a coalition of major national Islamic organizations, issued this statement:
"It is imperative that an independent investigation of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah's death make public the exact circumstances in which he died. And unless the FBI has evidence linking the criminal allegations to the religious affiliation of the suspects, we ask that federal authorities stop injecting religion into this case. The unjustified linkage of this case to the faith Islam will only serve to promote an increase in existing anti-Muslim stereotyping and bias in our society."AMT also urged the Congressional Tri-Causus (African-American, Latino and Asian) to call for a judicial inquiry.
A statement from The International Council for Urban (Formations) Peace, Justice and Empowerment read:
We members "are appalled by the raids on Masjid Al-Haqq and a halal meat packing plant that left (Abdullah) dead. We are demanding an independent investigation into this action that is clearly the result of a climate of Islamophobia fed by law enforcement and a media bent on sensationalism. (The FBI's) complaint and the resulting raid are nothing more than government sponsored terrorism against a group that was working to help the community...."Omar Regan, Abdullah's son, led the Friday, October 30 prayers at the Al-Haqq mosque, and said the following:
"The inconsistencies in this investigation are glaring. The case is based on sworn statements of informants. These informants were convicted criminals who were paid by the federal government for their 'work.' These criminals were used to engage and entrap law abiding citizens...."
We "never heard Imam Abdullah make any statements (or suggest any actions) consistent with the statements in the complaint...."
"The FBI has stated that this was not a terrorism case. However, the investigation was conducted by a counter terrorism unit."
"....Masjid Al-Haqq, under the direction of Imam Abdullah, fed the hungry, housed the homeless, worked with gangs and the formerly incarcerated to turn a crime ridden and drug infested neighborhood around to becoming a productive community....The most disturbing fact is that a religious leader who reached out to his people and his community is dead, the victim of a society that sees anyone who is different as dangerous."
"My father was a sharp-tongued individual. He would talk about his dislike of the government, about how law enforcement wasn't protecting and serving the people. But speaking his emotions and acting on (them) are two different things."Other community members echoed that sentiment in accusing the FBI of heavy-handed tactics that killed Abdullah maliciously from multiple gunshot wounds.
Abdullah El-Amin, an imam at Detroit's Muslim Center (the city's largest black mosque), said he knew Luqman for years and never heard him talk about wanting a separate Muslim state, just something "like the Pennsylvania Dutch have (with) their own communities and stuff."
He and about 20 other Detroit imams attended an October 29 meeting with US Attorney Terrence Berg and FBI Special Agent Andrew Arena at which they charged the Agency with entrapping Abdullah, then killing him in cold blood. One informant, they said, was a former Abdullah follower with a criminal past, and he and the others "came to a place where people are not getting social security, unemployment. They had nothing," so could easily be manipulated to sell stolen items they provided.
Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:
"The very incendiary rhetoric that the FBI alleges, I never heard that from (Abdullah). There was nothing extraordinary about him....I knew him as a respected imam in the Muslim community....I knew him to be charitable. He would open up the mosque to homeless people. He used to run a soup kitchen and feed indigent people....I knew nothing of him that was related to any nefarious or criminal behavior."Walid added:
"Is this the kind of excessive force that we black Americans are all too familiar with?" He also questioned using informants he called "agent provocateurs" who entice law-abiding people to self-incriminate.
Other community members believe Abdullah was maliciously targeted, that the FBI likely initiated gunfire, and if he shot back it was in self-defense.
Even the FBI's complaint admitted that whatever alleged crimes were planned or committed, they were minor and inconsequential. Hardly offenses warranting a high-profile raid, shoot-out, and political assassination.
Department of Justices Allegations
On October 28, a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release headlined: "Eleven Members/Associates of Ummah Charged with Federal Violations - One Subject Fatally Shot During Arrest." The FBI and US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Terrence Berg, charged:
"Luqman Ameen Abdullah, aka Christopher Thomas, and 10 others with conspiracy to commit several federal crimes, including theft from interstate shipments, mail fraud to obtain the proceeds of arson, illegal possession and sale of firearms, and tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers. The eleven defendants are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years, and known to be armed."
Those charged were "believed to be armed and dangerous (so) special safeguards were employed by law enforcement to secure the arrests without confrontation. During the arrests today, the suspects were ordered to surrender. At one location, four (did) and were arrested without incident. Luqman Ameen Abdullah did not surrender and fired his weapon. An exchange of gun fire followed and Abdullah was killed."In the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, a criminal complaint named:
"Abdullah was the leader of part of a group which calls themselves Ummah ('the brotherhood'), a group of mostly African-American converts to Islam, which seeks to establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States. The Ummah is ruled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is serving a (life) sentence (without parole) in USP Florence, CO, ADMAX (supermax), for the murder of two police officers in Georgia."
-- Luqman Ameen Abdullah (aka Christopher Thomas);At the time of the raid, three of the men were still at large - Mujahid Carswell (Abdullah's son), Mohammad Philistine and Yassir Ali Khan. However, Windsor, Ontario police announced the arrest of Carswell the next day, and on October 31, they arrested Philistine and Ali Khan.
-- Mohammad Abdul Bassir (aka Franklin D. Roosevelt Williams);
-- Muhammad Abdul Salaam (aka Muhammad Addul Salam; aka Gregory Stone; aka Gun Man; aka Norman Shields);
-- Abdul Saboor (aka Swayne Edward Davis);
-- Muhahid Carswell (aka Muhahid Abdullah, Luqman's son);
-- Abdullah Beard (aka Detric Lamont Driver);
-- Mohammad Philistine (aka Mohammad Palestine; aka Mohammad Al-Sahli);
-- Yassir Ali Khan;
-- Adam Hussain Ibraheem;
-- Garry Laverne Porter (aka Mujahid); and
-- Ali Abdul Raqib.
The unsealed complaint charged Abdullah with "espous(ing) the use of violence against law enforcement, (and) train(ing) members of his group in the use of firearms and martial arts in anticipation of some type of action against the government." It said "Abdullah and other members of this group were known to carry firearms and other weapons."
According to FBI Counter-Terrorism Squad Special Agent Gary Leone, a "confidential source" (aka paid informant) called S-2 provided "reliable and credible" information, "independently corroborated by other sources, and by consensual recordings he has made with the members of The Ummah at the direction of the FBI."
In a "surreptitiously" recorded December 12, 2007 conversation, "S-2 told Abdullah he had asked to donate $5,000 to pay to have someone 'do something' during the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit. Abdullah said he would not be involved in injuring innocent people for no reason: 'If there's something to be done....it (has) to be legitimate.' "
He then allegedly said...."things are coming....I got some violence (in me) because of what they did to Imam Jamil (H. Rap Brown)....I got some stuff, man, I got some soldiers with me....Brothers that I know would, you know, if I say 'Let's go, we going to go and do something,' they would do it."
Leone said this and other recordings "confirm(ed) by (another paid informant) S-1 (showed) that Abdullah and his followers view themselves as soldiers at war against the United States government, and against non-Muslims," yet nothing in his above statement says that, so charges amount to putting FBI allegations in the mind of a dead man, unable to refute them.
The DOJ presented no evidence of a plot, a crime, or intent to commit one.
The FBI used three paid informants for over two years. On October 10, 2008, the third, S-3, allegedly recorded Abdullah saying:
"We have to cut the ties to (Christians, Jews, and the Kuffar (infidels). You cannot please them until you follow their religion....Obama is a Kafir (infidel, non-Muslim, an insulting term for any African American)....the premise of Allah and Islam (is) 'the worst Muslim is better than the best Kafir....we should be trying to figure out how to fight the Kuffar....Washington is trying to stop everything we do....they are my enemy, and I should be trying to plot as to how to make moves to get some things accomplished....(we) need to plan to do something."These and other recordings show anger, not intent to commit crimes. Yet that's what the DOJ alleges. Saying "We are going to have to fight against the Kafir" suggests resistance against a hostile state. Even stronger statements, allegedly recorded, aren't hard evidence of planned violence against the FBI, other federal agents, or anyone else.
In its October 28 press release, the DOJ acknowledged that the above criminal complaint "is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A trial cannot be held on felony charges in a complaint. When the investigation is completed a determination will be made whether to seek a felony indictment." Yet the FBI killed Abdullah, allegedly in a shoot-out with only its account for proof, an Agency notorious for political assassinations and twisting facts to make its case.
Imam Umar Responds
In a widely distributed message, an Imam Umar wrote:
"The FBI ups the ante. They set up Imam Luqman of Detroit and murdered him. We know him and the community he comes from. This is no terrorist trap. This was part criminal sting and when the Imam and his brothers peeped the tricks of the FBI, they lured him to a warehouse and killed him. Now they accuse Imam Jamil (H. Rap Brown) who has been in prison for the past ten years as leader of this group. He is an easy target. A lone Imam with the FBI was also an easy target. The FBI is not only tricky and devious....they are extremely dangerous thugs and murderers."A follow-up message added:
"The FBI is known for their murderous tactics all over the world. When they are given an assignment they use every imaginative strategy to accomplish their goal. When they were under J. Edgar Hoover, he found various ways to discredit Martin Luther King....They turned the Black Stone Rangers against the Black Panthers in Chicago that (caused) the death of the (BPP) leaders. They got the Huey P. Newton and Eldredge Cleaver factions to kill one another. They have gone after the so-called terrorists with one phony case after another. They first went after immigrants, decimating their numbers in America. Now they are after African American Muslims. Next will most likely be the support groups of mostly white people....These FBI devils are very shrewd and their evil spreads....The murder of a good Muslim will only make it more dangerous to live in America. They know that black people sooner or later will fight back."Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Formerly Known as H. Rap Brown
"The Ummah is not a 'brotherhood,' it is the Arabic word for 'community.' This group setting up a Muslim state? What a joke. They can hardly set up an annual conference. This information is to cause fear....to cause backlash against Muslims....Let the FBI continue with their tricks, lies and murder. Before long, everyone will see through their veil and they will become the target."
Born Hubert Gerold Brown, he became famously known as H. Rap Brown, a 1960s civil rights activist, social commentator, and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (succeeding Stokely Carmichael) where he distinguished himself as a charismatic leader and effective organizer. In 1968, he was named minister of justice for the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense that strove for ethnic justice, racial emancipation, and real economic, social, and political equity across gender and color lines.
As a result, he was targeted by federal and state authorities, charged with inciting a riot in Maryland, violating the National Firearms Act, and illegally crossing state lines to skip bail. During his 1970 firearms trial, he disappeared for 17 months and was placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list. In late 1971, he reemerged after being arrested and falsely charged with armed robbery in Manhattan. Convicted, he served five years in Attica State Prison.
While there, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. After release, he started an Atlanta mosque and operated a small grocery store and community center. Then in 2000, he was charged with murdering a black police officer and injuring his partner in a gun battle outside his store.
In 2002, he was tried, and despite strong evidence of his innocence, was convicted on 13 counts, including murder, aggravated assault, obstruction, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.
At trial, his lawyers argued for a case of mistaken identity, claimed prosecutors were out to get him for decades, and presented a strong defense in his behalf, including:
-- his fingerprints weren't on the murder weapon;It became clearer when the Georgia Supreme Court agreed that the prosecution committed a grave constitutional error when, in closing arguments, the assistant district attorney directed jurors to consider posed questions relating to Al-Amin's failure to present testimony or evidence. Nonetheless, the Court upheld the verdict.
-- he wasn't wounded in the incident even though the arresting deputy said he shot the assailant;
-- he also identified his eyes as gray; Al-Amin's are brown;
-- his attire didn't match clothing the shooter wore;
-- blood found at the scene was discounted and unchecked;
-- potentially exculpatory evidence relating to the sheriff's vehicle was either lost or destroyed;
-- a man named Otis Jackson confessed to the crime; it was ignored, never introduced at trial, days later Jackson recanted, and the defense team never got a chance to interview him; and
-- withheld evidence and proceedings were so controversial that observers believed Brown was convicted pre-trial for his civil rights activism and conversion to Islam; he was clearly a targeted man;
Afterward, his legal team filed a habeas corpus writ citing gross irregularities, including:
-- not investigating Otis Jackson's confession;A Final Comment
-- denying a change of venue due to negative publicity;
-- prohibiting Al-Amin from testifying in his own defense;
-- eliminating Muslims from the jury pool;
-- dismissing three of his four trial lawyers;
-- prohibiting potentially exculpatory evidence from being introduced;
-- denying favorable testimony in his behalf;
-- withholding discovery from the defense team;
-- denying them a chance to cross-examine an FBI agent relating to his prior misconduct against a Muslim, his misleading and false testimony, and charges that he tampered with evidence; and
-- inflammatory media reports during trial, portraying Al-Amin as a radical extremist.
As a nationally known civil rights champion and Islamic leader, Al-Amin was a prime FBI COINTELPRO target, the agency's infamous counterintelligence program against political activists, legitimate dissent, independent thought, and non-violent opposition to the Vietnam war, and racial and social injustice.
It continues today against men like Abdullah, his followers, and dozens more like them for their faith, ethnicity, race, activism, prominence, and opposition to government injustice at the wrong time to be Muslim in America.
According to an Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) December 2007 report on Al-Amin titled, "Prisoners of Faith Campaign Pack," many thousands of "Muslim prisoners of faith around the world" are being held in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, including politicians, human rights activists, students, writers, and others with "one thing in common:" their adherence "to the Islamic belief and way of life."
They're portrayed as "terrorists, inciters of religious hatred or of even trying to change the constitution of the country" where they live. They're vilified and denied their civil rights. In custody, they're neglected, brutalized, tortured, and forgotten as non-persons. As one of them, Al-Amin once said:
"For more than thirty years, I have been tormented and persecuted by my enemies for reasons of race and belief....I seek truth over a lie; I seek justice over injustice; I seek righteousness over the rewards of evil doers; and I love ALLAH more than I love the state."For others like him, their struggle for equity, social justice, and mutual understanding persists against hostile government oppression. In America as much as anywhere. Its tradition continues.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- Israel's ministerial committee on legislation has endorsed a draft law allowing the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) to confiscate the property of anyone convicted of "terrorism", a report by the Hebrew radio said on Sunday evening.
The IOA refers to anyone resisting its occupation as a "terrorist".
The broadcast noted that the Likud MP Danny Danon was the one who tabled the draft law in parliament.
Israel is the only place in the world where laws against the international law are being legislated including one that sanctions torture against detainees.
November 01, 2009
by Kitchen Table Cartoons on November 1, 2009
“Censored NY Times Cartoon,” the true story behind how the New York Times reneged on running a cartoon critical of Israel, was scheduled to appear in the special November 2 cartoon edition of the New Yorker. Three days before the magazine went to press, the New Yorker staff–by order of the Editor–stated that the ad could not be published with the word “censored.” Ironically, this only validates the message of my original cartoon below. Was this censorship by the NY Times? You decide.
Here is the backstory to the political cartoon above:
In the summer of 2003, the world watched as land, water, and dignity were stolen from the Palestinian people–all with the silent complicity of the US media. To express my growing outrage, I drew this cartoon at my kitchen table in Maine.
After realizing that no newspaper would accept it, I decided to publish the cartoon as an advertisement in the NY Times. I focused on the quarter-page space in the Op-Ed section reserved for opinion ads. Contacting the Times, I learned that pro-Israel organizations had reserved the space for 30 of the next 52 Sundays. I took the first available date.
My cartoon was scheduled to appear on September 21, 2003.
The Times required several changes to the cartoon so that it conformed to the acceptability standards of the newspaper. These changes were made. The Times production staff then asked for and was sent the camera-ready copy.
I paid the cost of the ad in full.
On Friday, September 19 I received notification that the cartoon’s publication was canceled by order of the Times‘ publisher. I recall simply shaking my head at the news–wryly noting that this action by the Times was validating the very point of the cartoon.
I next submitted the cartoon to USAToday, where it was accepted. The morning that the cartoon appeared, I received a call at 8:45am from a USAToday vice president.
He said that in all his years at the paper, he had never had a response like what was happening as a result of the cartoon’s publication. Apparently, American pro-Israel groups are geared up for such "emergencies" and inundated USAToday offices nationwide with telephone calls and emails. But of course it was too late.
1. I received more hate mail/ threats than I did accolades.2. A year later, senior management at USAToday had been replaced.