New Level of Depravity

Thursday, June 30, 2005

What do you think of when I mention the occupation of doctor? My assumption is that most of us would answer: healer or a person dedicated to helping others. Apparently the U.S. government has another meaning for doctor: Facilitator of torture.
A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine sheds light on another disgusting practice going on at GITMO. It would appear that standard operating practice at GITMO is to have no-mandate doctors provide information on detanees to interrorgators.
Vice Admiral Albert T. Church (Inspector General-U.S. Navy) led an investigation this spring that found "While access to medical information was carefully controlled at GITMO, we found in Afghanistan and Iraq that interrorgators sometimes had easy access to such information." Further light can be shed on this subject by a policy statement from SOUTHCOM (U.S. Southern Command) in effect since August 6, 2002, which instructs health care providers that communications from enemy persons under U.S. control at GITMO "are not confidential and are not subject to the assertion of privileges" by detainees.
The statement goes on to say such information, "shall be communicated to other United States personnel with an apparent need to know, whether the exchange of information with the non-medical person is initiated by the provider or by the non-medical person." This makes it mandatory that the health care provider initiate such information transfer whether provoked or not.
Such practices are in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions that state "medical personnel shall not be compelled to perform acts or to carry out work contrary to the rules of medical ethics." The practices are also in direct violation of the 1966 Internatinal Covenant on Civilian and Political Rights. Another internal memo dated May 24, 2005 from the Army medical Command urges health professionals to avoid involvement in detainee care, absent an emergency.
What happened to doctor patient confiedentiality? Since when is the role of a doctor that of providing interrorgators with information they can use to better torture people? I will sum this up with what the New England Journal of Medicine had to say about these reports: "Wholesale disregard for clinical confidentiality is a large leap across the threshold, since it makes every caregiver into an accessory to intelligence gathering. Not only does this undermine patient trust: it puts prisoners at greater risk for serious abuse. The global political fallout from such abuse may pose more of a threat to U.S. security than any secrets still closely held by shocked internees at Guantanamo Bay."

An interesting inside view to this story can be found in the Washington Post article by Army Medical Corps and presidential physician to George H.W. Bush, Burton J. Lee III.

The Real Weapons Of Mass Destruction

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

You would never see or hear this on the American news, but the U.S. government has admitted to using napalm in Iraq. This is in direct violation of the Geneva Protocol and the 1980 Convention on Certain Chemical Weapons (CCW). Of course in classic "Orwellian" form they classify them as firebombs and not napalm. The weapon being used is the MK77, this 750lb bomb is an aluminum container filled with 75 gallons of kerosene-based jet fuel, polystyrene and benzene. This creates a sticky combustible gel that cannot be exstinguished. As if this type of weapon was not dangerous enough, there is no stabilizing tail or fin on the MK77, thus making the bomb very unprecise. Maybe I am off base here, but didn't we go to war with Iraq to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction? Or did we go there to spread weapons of mass destruction?
"We napalmed both those bridge approaches, unfortunately there were people there because you could see them in the cockpit video. They were Iraqi soldiers there. It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm, it has a big psychological effect."-Colonel Alles(Commander of Marine Air Group 11)

"Usually we keep the gloves on. For this operation, we took the gloves off"-Capt. Erik Krivda(officer in charge of 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2; Fallujah)

The United States military, in your name, the name of the American citizen, has now used land mines and napalm/chemical weapons on the people of Iraq. What other regime in the world does things like this to people, and what do we think of them? What would happen if another country used chemical weapons on our people? What if another country kidnapped and imprisoned people from our country? Why is this accepted to do to the people of Iraq, what did they do to us?
The administration does not go to great lengths to deny what we are doing. It's right there to see, plain as day. We went to war with Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction, there were none so we dropped some of our own on them. We went to war with Iraq to fight terrorism, there was none so we brought some of our own.

Bush's Reality

The fantasy-laden speech by President Bush last night made me wonder when this country morphed into Bizzaro World. Is the country really as uneducated/uninformed as it seems to be, or would people believe anything Bush says?
What rational American could possibly buy into Bush's false reality? In classic republican fear-peddling form, the President made the claim that Iraq is the front in the war on terror and that we are fighting them there so we don't have to face them here. Of course this fantasy was supported with the usuall 9-11 rhetoric.
Back to reality: The 9-11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, not a single highjacker was from Iraq. There was no and is no terrorism in Iraq, this is an insurgency against an occupying force. Were the American colonists terrorists?
Bin Laden/Al-Quida had no connection to Iraq and Sadam either physical or ideological. The President also claimed Iraq will be a shining light in the middle east and democracy will spread through the area.
Back to reality: The invasion and occupation of Iraq has only strengthened the ideology of the jihadist. Killing the innocent people of Iraq only creates terrorists. There were zero car bombings in Iraq before we showed up. Bin Laden could not have created a better recruitment strategy. Bush played right into his hands by invading a country that posed no threat to the United States.
All this makes me wonder just how far people's belief in Bush's false reality goes. If the President came out on a dark night and told us it was, in fact, daytime would they believe that too?

The Taking Of A Town: Supreme Court Ruling Kelo v. New London

Thursday, June 23, 2005

In what, years from now, may be seen as the landmark case of our generation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today 5-4 in favor of the city of New London CT. For those not familiar with this case, here is a brief overview: The city of New London approved a development plan for the Fort Trumbull area of the city. The plan would be broken down into 8 projects (or sections) which are:
1. Waterfront conference hotel (equipped with stores, restaurants, marinas and a riverwalk)
2. 80 new residences organized into an urban neighborhood equipped with a public walkway
3. 90,000 square feet of research and development office space
4A. 2.4 acre site to be used for parking or retail services, or to support the marina
4B. Renovated marina, and final stretch of riverwalk
5,6,7. Land for office and retail space, parking, and water-dependent commercial uses.

This city beautification/development project would bring in money and jobs to the area and may not be a bad idea except for the fact that the owners of 15 houses in the neighborhood resisted city plans. When the city tried to take the property with the power of eminent domain Susette Kelo filed a lawsuit on behalf of the other 8 petitioners. Here's a brief look at Mrs. Kelo: she has lived in the Fort Trumbull area since 1997. She has made extensive improvements to her house, which she is said to love for its water view. Also on the petition was Wilhelmina Dery who was born in 1918 in the same Fort Trumbull home she lives in now.
It is important to note that the Supreme Court made clear that "there is no allegation that any of these properties is blighted or otherwise in poor condidtion; rather, they were condemned only because they happen to be located in the develpment area." Government was able to take property from individuals through the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause. However, until today the "private property" taken would have to be for "public use" (highways, roads, etc.). With this ruling today, "public use" now means the economic profit of others.
In her dissenting opinion, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stated "Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded." She then asked "Who amoung us can say she already makes the most productive or attractive use of her property?" Justice O'Connor also stated in her dissent "The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more, the founders cannot have intended this perverse result." One of the basic principles of the "American Way of Life" is the thought that a person can own a home, settle down and have something to pass onto the next generation. Every homeowner in America should be scared. No longer is your home your castle. The invaders have stormed the gate.

War on Terror: Where is the Battlefield?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Maybe I am being overly technical here but once again I have to call out Scott McClellan and the White House. In a press briefing given yesterday when asked about the treatment of people in Guantanamo, Mr. McClellan tried to put into perspective who these people being detained were and where they came from. He told reporters "Now, these detainees are dangerous enemy combatants. They are at Guantanamo Bay for a reason. They were picked up on the battlefield fighting American forces, trying to kill American forces."
I was not there to ask follow up questions but my understanding of this statement would be that the people being held in Gitmo were directly battling American troops either on the battlefield in Afgahnastan or Iraq. However a little research would suggest otherwise, The Associated Press released a list of detainees at Guantanamo Bay whose cases before U.S. military tribunals are detailed in Federal Court. Reviewing this small list of detainees it quickly becomes clear that either the battlefield is everywhere or all of the people in Gitmo were not picked up on the battlefield fighting American forces. Some of these "mystery battlefield" detainees are: Bisher Amin Khalil Al-Rawi--picked up in Gambia, Boudella Al Hajj--picked up in Bosnia, Abdul Latif El Banna--picked up in England and Abdullah Kamel Abudullah Kamel--picked up in Kuwait. This is just another classic example of the administration trying to deflect critisism of the treatment of humans in Gitmo by painting them as something they are not.

Gitmo Investigation Commission?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

White House press secretary Scott McClellan gave a briefing today and among other things answered questions about Guantanamo. A reporter asked if the White House has any plan to set up an independent commission to look into the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo. To this question McClellan answered "I think there have been 10 such investigations launched-major investigations launched by the Department of Defense. They have looked into these issues. They continue to look into allegations of abuse. People are being held to account, and we think that's the way to go about this."
The reporter then asked "So you would rule out supporting any sort of independent or bipartisan commission?" In response to this Mr. McClellan said "I would say the Department of Defense has worked to address these issues and hold people accountable and take steps to prevent abuse from happening again where it has occured."
What is unbelievable is the administration's view that the Department of Defense can and should investigate and "police" itself. Later in the briefing, Scott McClellan points out that it has been a relatively small number of people that have been involved in any "wrongdoing", but again this is only the number that the Department of Defense has reported on; reporting on itself. Maybe another way to look at this situation is to imagine you suspect your daughter of being in an abusive relationship, would you be comfortable with her spouse launching an in-depth investigation into his own actions? Or would you rather put that in the hands of the courts and or police?

Downing St. Memo: The Administration's View

Thursday, June 16, 2005

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan gave a press briefing today. During the brief one reporter asked Mr. McClellan:
"Has the President or anyone else from the administration responded to the letter sent last month by Congressman John Conyers and signed by dozens of members of the House of Representatives, (hate to correct the reporter here but it was 112 members of Congress that signed the letter along with 550,000 citizens) regarding the Downing Street memo? Has the President or anyone else responded?" The answer was classic republican deflect and divert, after responding no, the reporter followed up by asking "why not?" To this Mr. McClellan responded: "Why not? Because I think that this is an idividual who voted against the war in the first place and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed. And our focus in not on the past. It's on the future and working to make sure we succeed in Iraq. These matters have been addressed, Elaine. I think you know that very well."
That's it in a nutshell, we don't talk about the lies we were told before going to war in Iraq because it is "old news". Tell that to the people who are dying in Iraq everyday, I bet they would disagree.

International Red Cross Committee: The GOP Goes On The Attack

First it was Amnesty International, now the GOP has the International Committee of the Red Cross in their sights. The Republican Policy Committee recently published a report titled "Are American Interests Being Disserved by the International Committee of the Red Cross?". The report calls on the Bush administration to ask the Government Accountability Office to review Red Cross operations.
It would appear that the GOP has a problem with the fact that the US is the largest contributor to the ICRC and that they are not "advancing American interests". According to the report, the ICRC "is in direct opposition to the advancement of US interests. For this, the ICRC needs to be scrutinized and its actions addressed".
The GOP seems to believe that because the US funds 28% of the ICRC budget they should not scrutinize the actions of the US government. This school of thought is pushed throughout the report time and time again with one section stating "In some cases, actions and statements by the ICRC have run contrary to the interests of the American taxpayer, the ICRC's single largest donor".
While this is true, does that mean the ICRC should not lobby for arms-control issues such as the ban of land mines, and the reinterpretation of the Chemical Weapons Convention? These are examples used in the report of the ICRC not having the US governments interests' in mind. The report itself is not much more than the classic "Rove" type attack that seeks to discredit and destroy. The report goes on to state that "the ICRC is no longer an impartial and trustworthy gaurdian: it has become yet another clamoring interest group like Amnesty International."
This coming from the largest interest group in the world: the GOP. Of course, no report from the Republicans would be complete without the fear-inspiring 9-11 reference, which can be found on the last page.
Excatly when did the memo go out that stated all humanitarian organizations had to make it their policy to further the cause of the US government and its policies? If you give money to a charity do you then try to force the charity to better your life, or are you giving because you want to help?

Rumsfeld Interview

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Donald Rumsfeld gave an interview to the BBC recently and I couldn't help but post some of his choice quotes. These are too good not to share. Let's start with the subject of the war in Iraq and hear what Mr. Rumsfeld has to say.
"[Iraq] is an important country with intelligent people, water and oil. [The war] was completed with dispatch, and with minimal collateral damage, and with minimal loss of life."
When asked by the BBC whether Iraq was safer since the US-led invasion ended, Rumsfeld said "Well, statistically no. But clearly it has been getting better as we've gone along." "A lot of bad things that could have happened have not happened."
On the subject of Guantanamo Bay, Rumsfeld told the BBC "The people in Gitmo 99% have the best food probably, the best medical treatment they've ever received in their lives."
Finally, to wrap up this little talking points post is this last quote from Rumsfeld that I am not sure how to label, so here it is: "There are things we know we know, and that's helpful to know you know something. There are things we know we don't know. And that's really important to know, and not think you know them, when you don't. But the tricky ones are the ones-the unknown unknowns - the things we don't know we don't know. They're the ones that can get you in a bucket of trouble."
Well there you have it straight from the horse's mouth. Iraq is full of intelligent people with water, who are safer yet not safe. Gitmo is the place to go for a great meal and a check-up, and we know things that we don't know.

Just A Thought

Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion... In the long run it will create a generation incapable of appreciating the difference between independence of thought and subservience.
-Henry Steele Commager

Dinner at Gitmo

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The republicans started to discredit the leaked log of Gitmo torture yesterday, once again not by provided facts or even disputing the torture practices. Rep Duncan Hunter chairman of the House Armed Services Committee appeared on CNN in a live press conference defending Gitmo. The short video linked to here through down a little for CNN Gitmo video) is a must watch and left me wondering if Mr. Hunter is for real. Note the use of the word killers when he describes the prisoners at Gitmo. If in fact some of these people are killers(and some may in fact be) then why don't we take them through the legal system and convict them as such. The most ridiculous thing I have heard in maybe my lifetime is Duncan Hunter saying that the people in Gitmo have "never been treated better in their lives." If the treatment at Gitmo is so plush, maybe Mr. Hunter would like to offer up his family for internment, I mean summer camp.

Gitmo Torture Practices Revealed

Monday, June 13, 2005

Time magazine has recently obtained an 84-page interrogation log from Gitmo Camp. The log documents the interrogation of Detainee 063 and is the first inside look at the interrogation process.
The log reveals the disgusting practices going on in Gitmo by the US government in our name. Some of the interrogation minutes were released from Time and show the pattern of abuse escalating. Another press release from Time goes a little deeper into the various techniques used at Gitmo. Some of these include dripping water on detainees, stripping them of clothing and "invasion of space by a female".
Once again we are slapped in the face with the reality and hypocrisy of this administration. We are torturing human beings in Gitmo! Clearly the administration has even discontinued denying these injustices as you can read in the "official" response from the Department of Defense. Instead the administration is now employing the "ends justify the means" strategy.
The question begs to be asked: how exaggerated does the Amnesty International report seem now? The writing is on the wall, we need to shut down the Gitmo torture camp now.

Bush Lies Again...

Thought I would post the Washington Post's article about President Bush's speech that I posted about last week. The most interesting thing about the article would be the uncovering of 39 terrorist related convictions and not the 200 that Bush claimed.

U.S. Campaign Produces Few Convictions on Terrorism ChargesStatistics Often Count Lesser Crimes
By Dan Eggen and Julie TateWashington Post Staff WritersSunday, June 12, 2005; A01
First of two parts
On Thursday, President Bush stepped to a lectern at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus to urge renewal of the USA Patriot Act and to boast of the government's success in prosecuting terrorists.
Flanked by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush said that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted."
Those statistics have been used repeatedly by Bush and other administration officials, including Gonzales and his predecessor, John D. Ashcroft, to characterize the government's efforts against terrorism.
But the numbers are misleading at best.
An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people -- not 200, as officials have implied -- were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.
Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law -- and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows. For the entire list, the median sentence was just 11 months.
Taken as a whole, the data indicate that the government's effort to identify terrorists in the United States has been less successful than authorities have often suggested. The statistics provide little support for the contention that authorities have discovered and prosecuted hundreds of terrorists here. Except for a small number of well-known cases -- such as truck driver Iyman Faris, who sought to take down the Brooklyn Bridge -- few of those arrested appear to have been involved in active plots inside the United States.
Among all the people charged as a result of terrorism probes in the three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Post found no demonstrated connection to terrorism or terrorist groups for 180 of them.
Just one in nine individuals on the list had an alleged connection to the al Qaeda terrorist network and only 14 people convicted of terrorism-related crimes -- including Faris and convicted Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui -- have clear links to the group. Many more cases involve Colombian drug cartels, supporters of the Palestinian cause, Rwandan war criminals or others with no apparent ties to al Qaeda or its leader, Osama bin Laden.
But a large number of people appear to have been swept into U.S. counterterrorism investigations by chance -- through anonymous tips, suspicious circumstances or bad luck -- and have remained classified as terrorism defendants years after being cleared of connections to extremist groups.
For example, the prosecution of 20 men, most of them Iraqis, in a Pennsylvania truck-licensing scam accounts for about 10 percent of individuals convicted -- even though the entire group was publicly absolved of ties to terrorism in 2001.
"For so many of these cases, there seems to be much less substance to them than we first assume or have first been told," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert who heads the Washington office of Rand Corp., a think tank that conducts national security research. "There's an inherent deterrent effect in cracking down on any illicit activity. But the challenge is not exaggerating what they were up to -- not portraying them as super-terrorists when they're really the low end of the food chain."
Justice Department officials say they have not sought to exaggerate the importance or suspected associations of those prosecuted in connection with terrorism probes, and they argue that the list provides only a partial view of their efforts.
Officials said all the individuals were first put on the list because of a suspected connection or allegation related to terrorism. Last week, they also said that the department had tightened the requirements for including a case on the terrorism list.
Barry M. Sabin, chief of the department's counterterrorism section, said prosecutors frequently turn to lesser charges when they are not confident they can prove crimes such as committing or supporting terrorism. Many defendants also have been prosecuted for relatively minor crimes in exchange for information that is not public but has proved valuable in other terrorism probes, he said.
"A person could not have been put on this list if there was not a concern about national security, at least initially," he said. "Are all these people an ongoing threat presently? Arguably not. . . . We are not trying to overstate or understate what we're doing. You don't want to put language or a label on people that is inconsistent with what they have done."The Numbers
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Justice Department database has served as the key source of statistics on the status of terrorism investigations in the United States and has been cited frequently in official speeches and testimony to Congress. The list obtained by The Post includes 361 cases defined as terrorism investigations by the department's criminal division from Sept. 11, 2001, through late September 2004. Thirty-one entries could not be evaluated because they were sealed and blacked out. (The list does not include about 40 cases filed since then that account for Bush's total of about 400.) The Post sought to update and correct data whenever possible, including noting convictions or sentences handed down within the past nine months.
The list of domestic prosecutions does not include terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba or at secret locations around the world. Nor does it include many of the approximately 50 people the Justice Department has acknowledged detaining as "material witnesses," or three men held in a military prison in South Carolina, one of whom has been released.
The Post identified 180 cases in which no connection to al Qaeda or another terrorist group could be found in court records, official statements, the 9/11 commission report or news accounts. Even some of the terrorism-related cases featured early allegations of terrorist connections that were later dropped.
Of the 142 individuals on the list linked to terrorist groups, 39 were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security. More than a dozen defendants were acquitted or had their charges dismissed, including three Moroccan men in Detroit whose convictions were tossed out in September after the Justice Department admitted prosecutorial misconduct.
Not surprisingly, these minor crimes produced modest punishments. The median sentence for all cases adjudicated, whether or not they were terrorism-related, was 11 months. About three dozen other defendants were given probation or were deported. The most common convictions were on charges of fraud, making false statements, passport violations and conspiracy.
Two life sentences have been handed down so far: to Richard Reid, the British drifter who was foiled by passengers in his attempt to blow up an aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean; and Masoud Khan, a Maryland man convicted of traveling to Pakistan and seeking to fight with the Taliban against U.S. forces. Two others convicted of terrorism-related crimes face life sentences: Ahmed Abdel Sattar, an Egyptian-born postal worker convicted of conspiring to kill and kidnap in a foreign country; and Ali Timimi, a Northern Virginia spiritual leader convicted of encouraging others to attend terrorist camps. (Timimi was indicted in late September and was not on the list obtained by The Post.)
Only 14 of those convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security have clear links to bin Laden's network, most notably Moussaoui and Reid. Others include Faris, an admitted member of al Qaeda who sought to sabotage the Brooklyn Bridge, and six Yemeni men from Lackawanna, N.Y., convicted of providing material support to terrorists by attending an al Qaeda training camp before Sept. 11.
In addition, Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh, who is most closely associated with Afghanistan's deposed government, trained at an al Qaeda camp.
The patterns discovered by The Post are similar to findings in studies of Justice Department terrorism cases by New York University and Syracuse University, each of which examined more limited sets of data.
More than a third of the cases on the list arose from a post-Sept. 11 FBI dragnet, which resulted in the arrests of hundreds of Muslim immigrants for minor violations unrelated to the hijackings or terrorism.
"What we're seeing over time is the equivalent of mission creep: Cases that would not be terrorism cases before Sept. 11 are swept onto the terrorism docket," said Juliette Kayyem, a former Clinton administration Justice official who heads the national security program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "The problem is that it's not good to cook the numbers. . . . We have no accurate assessment of whether the war on terrorism is actually working."Tracking Al Qaeda
Before the Sept. 11 attacks, many veteran U.S. counterterrorism officials assumed that al Qaeda sleeper cells were hiding in the country, awaiting orders to launch attacks. The strikes -- carried out by 19 hijackers who arrived in the United States and trained here undetected -- prompted an aggressive campaign by the Justice Department, the FBI and other agencies to identify al Qaeda operatives on U.S. soil.
The results from the Justice Department database, however, raise the possibility that the presence of al Qaeda operatives and sympathizers within the United States is either limited or largely undetected, many terrorism experts say. "These kind of statistics show that we really don't know if they exist here in any significant way," said Martha Crenshaw of Wesleyan University in Connecticut, who has studied terrorism since the late 1960s. "It's possible that they could have sleepers planted here for a long time and we could always be very surprised. But I'd say that's less likely compared with them trying to repeat a 9/11-style infiltration from the outside."
Other experts and government officials say the relatively small number of domestic terrorism prosecutions is partly the result of the administration's strategy to handle some of its most dangerous suspects -- such as Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed -- outside U.S. courts.
As a result, only a limited number of potentially significant cases have been pursued publicly in U.S. courts.
Viet D. Dinh, a Georgetown law professor who headed the Office of Legal Policy at Justice before and after the attacks, said the primary strategy is to use "prosecutorial discretion" to detain suspicious individuals by charging them with minor crimes.
"You're talking about a violation of law that may or may not rise to the level of what might usually be called a federal case," Dinh said, referring to credit-card fraud and other offenses. "But the calculation does not happen in isolation; you are not just talking about the crime itself, but the suspicion of terrorism. . . . That skews the calculation in favor of prosecution."
Bush administration officials have frequently compared the strategy to the anti-Mafia campaign by former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, who vowed to prosecute mobsters for crimes as minor as spitting on a sidewalk. But many defense lawyers and civil liberties advocates argue that the Mafia analogy is misplaced.
David Z. Nevin represented Idaho graduate student Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a Saudi national who was acquitted of federal terrorism charges in a closely watched trial last summer but agreed to be deported rather than fight immigration charges. Nevin said there are key differences between current counterterrorism cases and the prosecutions of gangsters such as Al Capone, who was famously convicted of tax evasion to get him off the street. "Everybody knew that Al Capone was committing murders and was doing all sorts of things. They just couldn't convict him," Nevin said.
"That's fine if you take it as a given that you have the devil here," he continued. "The problem is that you end up with people like Sami Al-Hussayen. . . . Whenever you live in that realm, you're going to make mistakes and you're going to hurt innocent people."Using One Case to Build Another
In the end, most cases on the Justice Department list turned out to have no connection to terrorism at all.
They include Hassan Nasrallah, a Dearborn, Mich., man convicted of credit-card fraud who has the same name as the leader of Hezbollah, or Party of God. Abdul Farid of High Point, N.C., was arrested on a false tip that he was sending money to the Taliban and was deported after admitting he lied on a loan application. Moeen Islam Butt, a Pakistani jewelry-kiosk employee in Pennsylvania, spent eight months in jail before being deported on marriage-fraud and immigration charges.
And there is the case of Francois Guagni, a French national who made the mistake of illegally crossing the Canadian border on Sept. 14, 2001, with box cutters in his possession. It turned out that Guagni used the knives in his job as a drywall installer. He was deported in March 2003 after pleading guilty to unlawfully entering the country.
"His case had nothing to do with terrorism, as far as I've ever been told," said Guagni's attorney, Christopher D. Smith.
Some of the cases, however, remain murky. The question of involvement in terrorism lingers even after formal allegations of such ties have been dropped.
Consider the case of Enaam Arnaout, director of the Illinois-based Benevolence International Foundation, who was indicted amid great fanfare in October 2002 for allegedly helping to funnel money and equipment to al Qaeda operatives on three continents. The charity was shut down.
Less than a year later, prosecutors dropped six of the seven charges against Arnaout, and he pleaded guilty to a single count of racketeering for funding fighters in Bosnia and Chechnya. During a sentencing hearing in August 2003, U.S. District Judge Suzanne B. Conlon told prosecutors they had "failed to connect the dots" and said there was no evidence that Arnaout "identified with or supported" terrorism.
The administration views the case differently. Bush, in a speech Friday at the National Counterterrorism Center in Northern Virginia, said investigators had "helped close down a phony charity in Illinois that was channeling money to al Qaeda."
Sabin, the Justice Department's counterterrorism chief, said he could not discuss the specifics of most cases. But he said one case in particular illustrates the government's strategy: the conviction of Abdurahman Alamoudi, who admitted to taking $1 million from Libya and using it to pay conspirators in a scheme to kill Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
Alamoudi, who once worked with senior U.S. officials as head of the American Muslim Council, has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators as part of a plea agreement. Sabin said the case is "a significant success story" that shows how prosecutors can use one case to help build others.
"We have been successful in obtaining information and fueling our intelligence gathering efforts with many of these cases," Sabin said.
Research database editor Derek Willis contributed to this report

Patriot Act-Bush Speaks

Friday, June 10, 2005

President Bush gave a speech to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy yesterday. The topic of the speech was the Patriot Act and the need to renew and expand it. I could get into a whole episode on the Patriot Act and whether or not it is constitutional but for the sake of this post I will stick to the words of President Bush.
Speaking to the academy, Bush stated "Your vigilance is keeping our communities safe, and you're serving on the front lines of the war on terror. It's a different kind of war than a war our nation was used to. You know firsthand the nature of the enemy."
Am I to believe there is a war going on here in the U.S. and that the state troopers are "in the trenches"? Should I be wearing a helmet? Also how do Ohio State Troopers know the nature of this mystery enemy, and are they sharing this knowledge with the rest of us?
Bush then goes on to tell the crowd "You know that these enemies cannot be deterred by negotiations, or concessions, or appeals to reason. In this war, there's only one option--and that option is victory."
So let me get my bearings here, there are five options to winning this mystery war one of which is victory? Well then I chose victory, but I am sure that in order to win a "war" you need to establish how you can achieve victory otherwise there is no victory.
Later Mr. Bush explains his strategy "This is a long war, and we have a comprehensive strategy to win it. We're taking the fight to the terrorists abroad, so we don't have to face them here at home. We're denying our enemies sanctuary, by making it clear that America will not tolerate regimes that harbor or support terrorists. We're stopping the terrorists from achieving the ideological victories they seek by spreading hope and freedom and reform across the broader Middle East."
Whoa, first off, I thought the state troopers were the first line of defense. This doesn't explain to me why we are in Iraq. Did they harbor or support terrorists when I wasn't looking? Not only this but I would argue that we are actually feeding into their ideological victories with our actions in Abu Gharib and GITMO, not to mention the innocent deaths in Iraq (100,000 or so).
Finally Bush tells the audience "Congress has recently created a federal board to ensure that the Patriot Act and other laws respect privace and civil liberties. One Senator, Dianne Feinstein of California, has worked with civil rights groups to monitor my administration's use of the Patriot Act. Here's what she said: We've scrubbed the area, and I have no reported abuses."
There it is plain and simple, no need to worry about abuses of the Patriot Act we have a committee. Not sure what the President's idea of recent is but the Civil Liberties Oversight Board was approved by Congress on December 7, 2004. This five member board will be selected by the President and approved by Congress. To date, Bush has not appointed anybody to the Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Let me repeat this, the only group set up to oversee the use of the Patriot Act and make sure there are no abuses is empty, nada, nothing, nobody is home.
As for the "no abuses" claim by Dianne Feinstein , the administration claims that 400 suspects have been charged and more than half of those charged being convicted since the Patriot Act passed (there is a Syracuse U. study on these 400 which I cannot find). There have also been 1,943 complaints to the Justice Department regarding suspected civil rights abuses involving the Patriot Act.

ANWR: Oil and the Caribou

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Now that the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been opened to oil and gas exploration, I just can't seem to get a quote from Robert Novak out of my head. He stated one day on Crossfire that "no fuzzy animals will be hurt in the ANWR drilling." Of course any reasonable person could understand this was a lie, but until recently I had no proof. A report titled Politics and Science in the Bush Administration by the Committee on Government Reform-Special Investigations Division requested by Rep. Henry Waxman in August of 2003 offers some interesting reading.
According to the report scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and five offices within the Interior Department provided, data indicated that calving of ANWR's caribou occurred primarily inside area 1002 (the area designated for drilling) for 11 of the past 18 years. This is contrary to the report Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton gave to congress in July of 2001 in which she stated that calving occurred primarily outside area 1002 for 11 of the past 18 years. Furthermore the report, which scientists approved, states that:
1. Some part of the herd has calved in area 1002 for 27 of the past 30 years.
2. Calf production and survival are lower when the Porcupine Caribou herd does not calve in area 1002.
3. Herd birth rates were lower in areas near oil field development than elsewhere.

Maybe Porcupine Caribou are just not classified as "fuzzy animals".


Since the news will never show the death and destruction that war actually causes, let's take a little peak at a city named Fallujah. The population count for this city that we bombed the hell out of was 500,000 in 2003. Here is a link to some recent pictures, doesn't look like the precision smart-bombing worked well. According to a report from Johns Hopkins University, 100,000 civilians have died as a result of the war in Iraq. The report goes on to state that most casulties came after major fighting in May of 2003 with an astonishing two-thirds of the overall civilian deaths in Fallujah (roughly 66,666).

What Can We Do?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

"There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and war, who yet do nothing to put an end to them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to every virtuous man." -Henry David Thoreau...
"I know this well that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name-if ten honest men only-ay, if one honest man, in this state of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this coparternship [with the government] and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it." -David Henry Thoreau

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