Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Islamic state in Egypt can still mean democracy

By Timothy Stanley | CNN | June 27th 2012 | [Original Article]

"Islam is simply too complex to be stereotyped as the faith of tyrants.

Early Muslim societies, romanticized by Islamists, were decentralized in nature and allowed for a large degree of self-government. The first caliphs were elected by tribal councils, and their powers were limited by legal scholars in a manner that approximates to constitutionalism. Rulers could, theoretically, be impeached; religious pluralism was tolerated.

When Umar Ibn al-Khattab conquered Jerusalem in 637,he permitted Christians and Jews to remain in the holy city and worship freely in their own temples. The Covenant of Umar is one of history's first examples of a state guaranteeing religious freedom…

In short, the spread of democracy in the Islamic world has either been retarded by autocratic practices imported from the West, or subverted by Cold War politics and economic globalization. Pitted against these savage forces, Islam has sometimes offered a rare vehicle for anti-authoritarian dissent -- from Algeria to China…. [Read More]

The people overthrew a dictator and then elected a new leader in free and fair elections. The very fact that the "wrong man" was even allowed to assume the presidency suggests that Egypt is embracing a more humane politics. So far, political Islam has facilitated, not hindered, the building of a democratic country. So far"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Killer Drone Attacks Illegal, Counter-Productive

By Marjorie Cohn | TheHuffingtonPost | June 25th, 2012 | [Original Article]

"The Bush administration detained and tortured suspected militants; the Obama administration assassinates them. Both practices not only visit more hatred upon the United States; they are also illegal. Our laws and treaties prohibit torture. The Constitution forbids the government from depriving any person of life without due process of law; that is, arrest and fair trial. Yet President Obama has approved the killing of people, many of whom were not even identified before the kill order was given…

In the three and one-half years since Obama took office, between 282 and 585 civilians have been killed, including more than 60 children. "The CIA's drone campaign has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to rescue victims or who were attending funerals," a new report by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism found….

Drone attacks also violate well-established principles of international law. A targeted killing is defined as the "intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force... against a specific individual who is not in the physical custody of the perpetrator," according to Philip Alston, former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions. Targeted or political assassinations -- sometimes known as extra-judicial executions -- run afoul of the Geneva Conventions, which include willful killing as a grave breach. Grave breaches of Geneva are punishable as war crimes under the U.S. War Crimes Act.

Christof Heyns, the current UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, expressed grave concern about the targeted killings, saying they may constitute war crimes. He called on the Obama administration to explain how its drone strikes comport with international law, specify the bases for decisions to kill rather than capture particular individuals, and whether the State in which the killing takes place has given consent…

Likewise, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recently declared that U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan violate the international law principles of proportionality and distinction. Proportionality means that an attack cannot be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage sought. Distinction requires that the attack be directed only at a legitimate military target." [Read More]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Deploying Informants, the FBI Stings Muslims

By Petra Bartosiewicz | | June 13, 2012 | [Original Article]

According to the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, there have been 138 terrorism or national security prosecutions involving informants since 2001, and more than a third of those have occurred in the past three years. Nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation, at the center of which is a government informant. In these cases, the informants—who work for money or are seeking leniency on criminal charges of their own—have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots that are largely scripted by the FBI itself. Under the FBI’s guiding hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the charges to the level of terrorism….

After the men were convicted at trial, the judge in the case, Colleen McMahon, said it was “beyond question that the government created the crime here” and criticized the FBI for sending informants “trolling among the citizens of a troubled community, offering very poor people money if they will play some role—any role—in criminal activity.” The men were sentenced to twenty-five years in prison….

These informants operate in a post-9/11 environment of relaxed guidelines that allow the FBI to engage in lengthy and extensive surveillance of individuals and communities with little or no evidence of any wrongdoing afoot. Where once agents needed to have a “predicate” to launch such an investigation, these days none are required…

Though relatively few informant-driven investigations have led to the discovery of actual “homegrown” plots, the Muslim community for years has reported instances of people being approached by informants trying to enlist them in violent jihad. At times the informants have been so aggressive they have quickly raised suspicions. At a California mosque in 2010 one FBI informant, Craig Monteilh, advocated violent jihad so vehemently that the mosque’s members sought and received a restraining order against him. Monteilh, a former fitness instructor paid $177,000 over the course of his service with the FBI, participated in what the bureau dubbed Operation Flex, in which he was assigned to monitor gyms and mosques across Orange County, California, home to the country’s second-largest Muslim population. “We started hearing that he was saying weird things,” college student Omar Kurdi later told a reporter. “He would walk up to one of my friends and say, ‘It’s good that you guys are getting ready for the jihad.’”

… He also gave a statement in support of a suit filed against the bureau by the ACLU that named the then head of the Los Angeles office, J. Stephen Tidwell, who had made a point of visiting a mosque in Irvine in June 2006 and telling the congregants that the FBI would not spy on them. “If we’re going to mosques to come to services, we will tell you,” he said. “We don’t want you to think you’re being monitored. We would come only to learn.” The next month, agents under Tidwell deployed Monteilh to the very same mosque….

According to Monteilh, his handlers in Operation Flex instructed him to identify potential militants or, failing that, to “pay attention to people’s problems”—such as marital or business difficulties—and assess whether individuals might be susceptible to rumors about their sexual orientation “so that they could be persuaded to become informants.” His handlers also told him that “everybody knows somebody,” meaning that people from Afghanistan, for example, would inevitably have family members or acquaintances with ties to the Taliban—information the FBI could use to “threaten…and pressure them to provide information, or could justify additional surveillance.” Monteilh said the agents also gave him the green light to have sex with Muslim women for investigative purposes. “They said if it would enhance the intelligence, go ahead and have sex,” he told a reporter. “So I did.” When Monteilh asked his handler, agent Kevin Armstrong, about the FBI’s broad latitude in conducting the investigation, he said Armstrong told him that on national security matters, “Kevin is God.”

In 2005 the FBI’s Office of the Inspector General found “serious shortcomings” in the bureau’s Criminal Informant Program. The report, which examined some 120 cases, including those related to terrorism, found that 87 percent of the investigations involving informants contained violations of the FBI’s own guidelines. Among the chief violations were the failure of agents to caution informants about the “limits of their activities,” the “failure to report unauthorized illegal activity” by their informants, and the issuance of “retroactive approvals” for illegal acts the informants had already committed. The report noted that since 2001 the rules had been loosened at the FBI’s request to reflect the new emphasis on intelligence gathering, and by extension the bureau’s dire need for informants. In testimony before Congress in May 2002, FBI Director Mueller argued that requiring agents to read “verbatim instructions” to their informants, “written in often intimidating legalese, [was] proving to have a chilling effect, causing confidential informants to leave the program.”

… “The FBI approaches the vast majority of our clients as potential informants to partake in mass surveillance of Muslim communities, unconnected to any real criminal investigation,” said Amna Akbar, a supervising attorney at CLEAR. “The bureau is aggressively attempting to cultivate informants in Muslim communities by using coercion, pressure tactics and intimidation.”

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How the Media Created the Muslim Monster Myth

Jack Shaheen | MiddleEastOnline | June 16, 2012 | [Original Article]

"You can hit an Arab free; they’re free enemies, free villains -- where you couldn’t do it to a Jew or you can’t do it to a black anymore. -- Sam Keen, author of Faces of the Enemy 

In 1918 American movie audiences were treated to their first major silver-screen glimpse of a reel bad Arab. In Tarzan of the Apes, the first of six popular Tarzan films to vilify Arabs, viewers got to see brutal Arab slave masters whipping African slaves and forcing their kidnapped Englishman “to endure ten years of agony,” all the while brandishing guns and scruffy goatees. It was quite a debut.

For four decades I have been tracking these kinds of images of Arabs and Muslims in more than 1,200 feature films and hundreds of television programs, from dramas and news documentaries to comedies and children’s cartoons. Along the way, I’ve discovered that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes have a long and powerful history in American popular culture. Constantly repeated, these damaging portraits have manipulated viewers’ thoughts and feelings, conditioning them to ratchet up the forces of rage and unreason. Make no mistake: fictional narratives have the capacity to alter reality. As the Florentine philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli reminds us, “The great majority of mankind are…more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.”...

...American images of Arabs and Muslims have remained remarkably consistent over the decades. Despite the diversity of Arab and Muslim experience, reel Arab women have appeared mostly mute and submissive -- belly dancers, bundles in black and beasts of burden. Arab men have fared no better, appearing as Bedouin bandits, sinister sheiks, comic buffoons and weapon-wielding terrorists... [Read More]

...To some, dispensing with this stereotype may seem an impossible task. Yet openness to change is an American tradition and the strength of our society. The path ahead may be littered with ingrained, prejudicial precedents, but I believe these baleful portraits will be shattered, one image at a time. Young scholars and artists will lead the way, creating inventive new portraits that depict Arabs and Muslims as neither saints nor devils but as fellow human beings, with all the strengths and frailties that condition implies..."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A First Amendment Analysis of Anti-Sharia Initiatives

Asma Uddin & Dave Pantzer | ISPU| June 14, 2012 | [Original Article]  

Executive Summary

"Ten years after September 11, 2001, the American Muslim community continues to be surrounded by a fear created and promoted mostly by a small group of anti-Muslim organizations and individuals. Collectively, these groups have spread their message in twenty-three states through books, reports, websites, and blogs. Other anti-Islam grassroots organizations have utilized this propaganda to “educate” their constituency. The Center for American Progress defines Islamophobia as an “exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political, and civic life.” This Islamophobia movement’s ability to influence politicians’ talking has made mainstream that which was once considered marginal, extremist rhetoric.

The impact of the Islamophobia campaign upon the American public’s perception of Islam and Muslims has been very negative. Approximately half of all Americans hold an unfavorable view of Islam. To date, dozens of bills have been introduced in more than half of the states to ban Sharia and/or international law. Some of these bills are overly broad, and some in essence would outlaw any organization that adhered to any Islamic jurisprudential school. The Muslim community pushed back, specifically because the regulations on common activities such as how to wash before prayer or how much money to give to the poor emanate from these same schools of thought and would cause great restrictions on their ability to practice their faith.

This report describes the broader climate of anti-Muslim sentiment, as promoted by anti-Islam grassroots organizations, and examines the various manifestations of this hate in light of the First Amendment. More specifically, this report analyzes the anti-Sharia bills and ballot measures proposed by numerous states and determines the extent to which they comply with free exercise and establishment principles and jurisprudence"

Key Findings

The American legal system has built-in safeguards

"The crucial feature of any kind of arbitration is that an arbitrator, whether religious or not, has no ability to enforce the arbitral decision; only state or federal courts have that power...." [Read More

FBI Terror Plot: How the Government Is Destroying the Lives of Innocent People

By Petra Bartosiewicz | | June 14, 2012 | [Original Article

"It wasn’t long after he met the man called Shareef that Khalifa Al-Akili began to sense he was being set up. Within days of their seemingly chance meeting, Shareef was offering to drive Akili, a 34-year-old Muslim living in East Liberty, Pennsylvania, to the local mosque for prayers. Shareef told Akili he was “all about fighting” and “had a lot of resources at his disposal.” But when Shareef began to probe Akili about his views on jihad and asked him if he could obtain a gun, Akili grew nervous. “I begin to try to avoid him, but would still see him due to the fact that he lived two minutes’ walking distance from my apartment,” Akili said later. In January of this year, Shareef showed up with a “brother” who called himself Mohammed and was keen to meet Akili. Mohammed told Akili that he was a businessman from Pakistan involved in jihad. “He kept attempting to talk about the fighting going on in Afghanistan, which I clearly felt was an attempt to get me to talk about my views,” Akili recalled. “I had a feeling that I had just played out a part in some Hollywood movie where I had just been introduced to the leader of a terrorist sleeper cell.”

Out of curiosity, Akili did an Internet search on the cellphone number he’d received from Mohammed. Much to his surprise, he discovered that the man was, in fact, an FBI informant named Shahed Hussain, who had played a pivotal role in at least two major terrorism-related sting operations in recent years. In a lengthy posting on his Facebook page recounting these events, Akili wrote, “I would like to pursue a legal action against the FBI due to their continuous harassment.” He also set up a press conference in Washington with Muslim civil liberties groups to publicize his fear that he was being entrapped..." [Read More

"...Akbar says the FBI placed Tanvir on the “no fly” list as retaliation for his refusal to work as a paid informant. In May CLEAR sent a letter to the FBI threatening to sue if Tanvir isn’t removed from the list. Regardless of the outcome, Tanvir—a green card holder who once hoped to settle in the United States—says that as a result of his ordeal, he is now seeking to return to Pakistan permanently"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate

Max Blumenthal | | June 13, 2012 | [Original Article

"...Besides funding a Who’s Who of anti-Muslim outfits, Rosenwald has served on the board of AIPAC, the central arm of America’s Israel lobby, and holds leadership roles in a host of mainstream pro-Israel organizations. As groups like AIPAC lead the charge for a US military strike on the Islamic Republic of Iran, threatening to turn apocalyptic visions of civilizational warfare into catastrophic reality, Rosenwald’s wealth has fueled a rapidly emerging alliance between the pro-Israel mainstream and the Islamophobic fringe. (In 2003 alone the Rosenwald Family Fund donated well over half of its $1.6 million in total contributions to pro-Israel and Islamophobic organizations.) This alliance serves to sanitize and legitimize professional anti-Muslim bigots like Wilders, allowing their ideas to mingle easily with those of neoconservative foreign policy heavyweights intent on promoting the appearance of a convergence between US and Israeli interests by invoking the specter of a common “Islamofascist” enemy. With Gatestone—which publicizes the writings of figures ranging from pro-Israel super-lawyer Alan Dershowitz to “counter-jihad” propagandist Robert Spencer, and boasts Harold Rhode, a neoconservative former Pentagon official credited, as a senior fellow, with helping to try to push the Bush administration to invade Iraq—Rosenwald has attempted to shift the alliance into overdrive. [Read More]

To his shame, Pipes earned eighteen citations in the manifesto of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, the self-proclaimed “counter-jihadist” standing trial for the murder of seventy-seven people, mostly teenagers. Drawing heavily on sources like Pipes to justify his actions, Breivik said he carried out the slaughter to punish Europe for succumbing to “Islamicization” and multiculturalism. Ranking just behind Pipes in Breivik’s thought was the Middle East Monitoring and Research Institute (MEMRI), with sixteen citations from the right-wing terrorist. Founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer to monitor and selectively disseminate Arabic-language media, MEMRI has become a key source for organizations in the Islamophobic network. MEMRI provided much of the translated material in the anti-Muslim Clarion Fund’s mass-distributed propaganda film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. The Clarion Fund and MEMRI have received handsome donations from the Rosenwald family."

The True Story of Sharia in American Courts

Abed Awad | TheNation | June 13, 2012 | [Original Article

"On May 21 Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed legislation prohibiting judges in the state from considering foreign law in their rulings. The law declares that any court decision will be considered void if it relies “in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the…decision the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the United States and Kansas constitutions.”

The real target of the law goes unnamed. “This [bill] doesn’t say ‘Sharia law,’” Republican State Senator Chris Steineger said in a speech that condemned the legislation for discriminating against Muslims, “but that’s how it was marketed back in January and all session long—and I have all the e-mails to prove it."

"...From a legal perspective, the wave of anti-Sharia legislation should be much ado about nothing. Sharia is as much a threat to our Constitution as Bible verses calling for the stoning of adulterers or the genocidal directive in Deuteronomy to leave “alive nothing that breathes.” Like the Old and New Testaments, Sharia has its own conflicts and tensions with modern conceptions of gender equality and citizenship. To suggest that banning Sharia or the Bible is the only way to ward off the stoning of women or the execution of apostates is clearly, maliciously false...

...However absurd, the notion that radical Muslims are trying to take over the country seems to be catching on. A 2011 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 30 percent of Americans believe Muslims want to establish Sharia in the United States. The percentage was even higher—52 percent—among those who said they most trust Fox News..." [Read More]

The Long Roots of the NYPD Spying Program

Ramzi Kassem | | June 13, 2012 | [Original Article

"The stories are as remarkable for their banality as for their detail.

On February 8, 2006, the imam at a Bronx mosque advised congregants to boycott Danish products in response to caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published by a Danish newspaper. In November 2006, a member of the Muslim Students Association at the state university in Buffalo forwarded an e-mail to a Yahoo chat group advertising a conference featuring various Muslim scholars. And in April 2008, college students on a rafting trip discussed religion and prayed “at least four times a day.”

What the imam and students didn’t know was that members of the New York Police Department Intelligence Division were spying on them and recording their names and actions in secret reports forwarded to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. None of these people had done anything wrong or even suspect: they were simply Muslims practicing their constitutionally protected freedoms of religious belief and speech. But for today’s police, that was enough to earn them a place in the department’s secret counterterrorism database.

As the Associated Press revealed in a Pulitzer Prize–winning series of exposĂ©s, the New York Police Department has been engaged in a vast domestic spying operation targeting Muslims for surveillance, mapping and infiltration. Stretching from the heart of New York City to the border of Canada—by way of Connecticut, New Jersey and Long Island—the program is as massive in scope as it is in ambition. In the name of total security, the NYPD treated basic acts of daily living as potential crimes, disregarding privacy and the freedom of speech and religion. Traditional barriers between foreign and domestic spying were partially collapsed. And the “war on terror” took lessons from the war on crime. In the process, the NYPD created perhaps the largest spying program by a local law enforcement agency on record—a sprawling effort to map entire communities that emerged from the toxic convergence of the permanent state of emergency gripping our society since 9/11 with the NYPD’s historic propensities..."[Read More

Islamophobia and Its Discontents

Laila Lalami | | June 13, 2012 | [Original Article

"Although the anti-Muslim backlash is frequently called a myth, the numbers tell a different story. Muslims in the United States make up less than 1 percent of the population, but they were nearly 13 percent of victims of religious-based hate crimes in 2010. It is true that this number is down from the historic high of 27 percent in 2001, the year of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but almost double what it was in 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected president. These crimes include intimidation, burglary, arson, vandalism and aggravated assault. And they target not just Muslims but also people who are mistaken for Muslims—Sikh men, for instance.

Furthermore, this rise in hate crimes is taking place in the context of a highly virulent debate about the visibility of Muslims in America. Two years ago, a huge controversy broke out about building Park51, an interfaith community center and mosque planned to be two blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan. Nearly everyone with political ambitions jumped into the fray. Mitt Romney declared that Park51 had “the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda.” Rudy Giuliani called it “a desecration.” And Sarah Palin famously tweeted, “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate [sic].” A month later, a cabdriver in New York was asked, “Are you Muslim?” When he said yes, he was stabbed in the neck...."[Read More]

"...None of this is to suggest that ideas should not be debated, still less ideas about Islam. But if you are opposed to specific religious edicts—retrograde blasphemy laws, say, or unfair divorce laws—then why not say you oppose them? Folding distinct issues under the banner term “Islam”—a term that covers an entire religion, a geographical region and countless individual cultures—is imprecise and maybe even useless. By all means, denounce fatwas on free speech, speak out against misogyny, criticize hateful practices. But don’t deny that Muslims, too, defend free speech; that they, too, fight for equality; and that they, too, can be victims of hate. Muslims are just like you. Incredible? No, just true."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Defeating hatred in America

By Hassan Shibly | | June 1, 2012 | [Original Article]

Today is my one-year anniversary in Tampa as executive director and legal counsel of CAIR Florida. It has been a year of tremendous responsibility, challenges and accomplishments. Since moving to Tampa I have joined the Florida Bar Association, been blessed with a beautiful daughter, enjoyed excellent fishing in the Gulf and made many wonderful friends.

The events of the past year have greatly increased my appreciation for the great freedoms we are guaranteed as Americans. This year has also taught me that some people will question my loyalty and integrity as an American, label me as "the other" and never accept me as a fellow countryman, simply because of my religion.

It seems that since the abhorrent events of 9/11 every Muslim has become guilty until proven innocent. This collective punishment and irrational fear of Muslims and Muslim organizations is nothing new. We have seen this against African-Americans, Japanese, Jews, the Irish, Catholics and many other minorities in our nation's history. The theme that Jews were taught by their religion to lie so they could take over has been used by Nazi propagandists before the Holocaust. And today, we find that same theme being promoted by local hate groups against American Muslims.

To this day, some people expect me and other Muslims to answer for the atrocious attacks of 9/11. But when the planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I was in a 10th-grade public high school class in New York, watching in tears and horror. I was a victim of 9/11, as all Americans were.

It would be patently unreasonable to expect Christians or Christianity to answer for the slaughter in Norway by Anders Breivik in the name of Western Christianity. His terrorist attacks, which killed 77 in Oslo, were inspired by American anti-Muslim groups and bloggers. Yet these same hate groups and their supporters blame all Muslims for the acts of a deranged few; the double standard is clear.

The government has, on occasion, supported this idea of collective punishment for Muslims and, in doing so, has made our nation both less free and less secure. This includes the New York Police Department spying on Muslims simply for being Muslim; the "special" treatment most Muslims get at airports; the labeling of every major Muslim organization as "unindicted co-conspirator" to wrongly defame them; and opposition to mosques and attempts to outlaw Muslim tradition. These attacks against religious freedom and theories of guilt by association are abhorrent to our ideals as Americans.

I experienced this government discrimination for the first time when I was 18 and the government decided to detain all attendees of a mainstream Islamic conference. It was this first major incident of profiling I faced that prompted my desire to become a civil rights attorney. At that young age I felt the principals that make America a beacon of freedom — freedom of religion, speech and association — were being threatened by overhyped fear of Muslims, and that it was up to us to defend our Constitution and American freedoms, lest we lose them by taking them for granted.

In the seven years since, I have become an imam, a civil rights attorney and executive director of the largest Muslim civil rights organization in Florida. This past year we worked with diverse interfaith and civil rights coalitions to defeat legislation that threatened religious freedoms; we have won many cases on behalf of victims of discrimination and built strong coalitions to defend freedom and justice.

In the course of this work, I have been called a terrorist a few times and even received threats against my family. But this hatred has only reinforced my desire to keep working to unite our community through understanding and tolerance. The beauty of our nation is that the same laws that give freedom to those who promote hatred and intolerance also give us the freedom and ability to challenge such hatred. I find comfort in remembering the sacrifice, struggles and opposition faced by all those who stood against fear mongering, discrimination and hatred throughout our nation's history.

Our challenge as fellow Americans is not to defeat our enemies but to defeat the enmity we have for each other in our hearts. United we stand; divided we fall. Thank God for the U.S. Constitution, which I have had the privilege of defending for the past year, and hopefully for many years to come.

Pamela Geller Ally Testifies on Behalf of Anders Breivik's Defense

By Brian Tashman | | June 6, 2012 | [Original Article]

"Back in 2010, Pamela Geller announced the formation of an international “coalition of the free” to stop the supposed “overthrow of our western civilization” by Muslims. One of the groups Geller said she is working with is SIO Norway (Stop the Islamization of Norway), and today the leader of SIO Norwaytestified in court to bolster the defense of Anders Behrin Breivik, the Norwegian right-wing terrorist who murdered scores of Norwegians at a left-wing youth retreat and bombed a government building:" [Read More]

"...Geller had blamed the Norway attacks on Muslims, and Breivik cited Geller twelve times in his manifesto. After it came out that Breivik, not radical Islamists, were behind the atrocities, Geller then attacked the victims for their political views and diverse racial makeup."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Obama Administration Argues No Warrant Required for GPS Tracking of Citizens

By Joe Wolverton | | June 4, 2012 | [Original Article]

"The federal government informed an appeals court on Thursday that it has the right and the power to place GPS tracking devices on the privately owned vehicles of citizens without obtaining a warrant. This is in open rebellion to a Supreme Court decision from January that held that such warrantless installation of tracking devices on cars was unconstitutional.

In a case being heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Obama administration argued that since the Supreme Court’s ruling didn’t specifically mandate the obtaining of a search warrant in all situations, then the justices intended to leave a loophole open — a loophole large enough to mount a tracking device..." [Read More]

"...For its part, the Obama administration in its brief submitted to the Ninth Circuit argues that “requiring a warrant and probable cause would seriously impede the government's ability to investigate drug trafficking, terrorism and other crimes." Furthermore, following somebody’s every move via satellite is only a “limited intrusion” into his privacy.

Not surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) disagrees. In an amici curiae brief filed in the Pineda-Moreno case, attorneys for the ACLU argue: "The warrant requirement is especially important here given the extraordinary intrusiveness of modern-day electronic surveillance. Without a warrant requirement, the low cost of GPS tracking and data storage would permit the police to continuously track every driver."..."

Closing a loophole in the war on terror

By Los Angeles Times | June 3, 2012 | [Original Article]

"...Adding Feinstein's language to the 2013 defense authorization bill would do away with an ambiguity that a future administration could exploit to hold Americans without trial. The question is whether it goes far enough. Not only U.S. citizens arrested in the United States but those arrested abroad — and, for that matter, all suspected terrorists — should be afforded a civilian trial.

Unfortunately, despite the proven success of the civilian justice system in trying terrorism cases, Congress continues to thwart the administration's original plan to hold civilian trials for detainees now held at Guantanamo, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed architect of the Sept. 11 attacks. (Mohammed and four confederates are instead being tried by a military commission.) Congress should establish one system of justice for all suspected terrorists, but the Feinstein bill would at least codify Obama's promise that no U.S. citizen will be held without trial." [Read More

Crusade 2.0

John Feffer talked about the resurgence of anti-Islamic sentiment in the West and reviewed the actions that the U.S. has taken against Muslim countries since September 11, 2001.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bush’s Terror Overreach Becomes ’New Normal’ Under Obama

By Albert R. Hunt| | May 27, 2012 | [Original Article

"Critics of President George W. Bush’s anti-terrorism efforts, mainly Democrats and some Republicans, rejoiced when Barack Obama was elected. They were convinced that what they considered the post-Sept. 11 trampling of constitutional rights and civil liberties would end...

...Things look different today. In his new book, “Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11,” Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who served in the Office of Legal Counsel under Bush and objected to some of that administration’s tactics, writes: “The Obama administration would continue almost all of its predecessor’s policies, transforming what had seemed extraordinary under the Bush regime into the ‘new normal’ of American counter-terrorism policy.” That seems only a slight exaggeration..."


"...In his first week in office, Obama pledged to close Guantanamo, issued an executive order banning torture and suspended military commissions. There was tremendous political blowback to his decision to close Guantanamo and move the accused terrorists to the U.S. or try suspects such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in U.S. courts. Congress ultimately cut off funding for any such actions..."

Rendition Reversal

"...He backed off on ending rendition -- the policy of sending alleged terrorists to other countries for interrogation -- insisting that the U.S. would ensure that torture is no longer practiced in the places they are sent and that their treatment is in accord with international laws. The administration also says it has curbed the excesses of indefinite detention without trial, which now requires judicial review..."

Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don't want the government spying on you (and they include 'pork', 'cloud' and 'Mexico')

By Daniel Miller | | May 26 2012 | [Original Article]

"The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S...

...However they insisted the practice was aimed not at policing the internet for disparaging remarks about the government and signs of general dissent, but to provide awareness of any potential threats...

...They point out that it includes 'vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters.' ...

...However the agency admitted that the language used was vague and in need of updating...

...Spokesman Matthew Chandler told website: 'To ensure clarity, as part of ... routine compliance review, DHS will review the language contained in all materials to clearly and accurately convey the parameters and intention of the program.'..." [Read More