18 posts tagged war on terror
Gayane Chichakyan of RT interviews Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake was a senior executive of one of America’s biggest intelligence agencies at the beginning of the 2000’s.
He was an expert on electronic eavesdropping and had top secret security clearance. He was also a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, computer software expert, linguist, management and leadership specialist. Then Mr Drake essentially sacrificed his career to blow the whistle on his agency’s wrongdoings, as he saw them.
He was then charged under the Espionage Act, and only last year the charges were dropped.
In 2010, the U.S. government alleged that he ‘mishandled’ documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award.
On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against him were dropped. He rejected several deals because he refused to “plea bargain with the truth”. He eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer; Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who helped represent him, called it an act of “Civil Disobedience.” The interview makes for very interesting listening, as they discuss the fact that the NSA (National Security Agency had a secret deal with the White House after 9/11, that made the NSA responsible for a secret surveillance program. They also discuss the current situation with whistleblowers and also with the Flame and Stuxnet viruses, created by the U.S. government.
“You go after the messenger because the last thing you want to do is deal with the message. You’re talking about all the activities, the secret surveillance, the warrantless wiretapping, torture, rendition, drone strikes, and a whole host of other measures that I would assert are extra-constitutional. Not only do they violate our own law, but they also violate a number of international laws.
Go after the messenger and not the message because to actually discuss or address the message becomes very uncomfortable. Essentially, what’s happened is that law—and we’re a nation of law—if we start to part (which we have in a very significant way), moving away from being a nation of laws and simply leaving it up to policy as a substitute, we’re going down a very slippery slope in the United States of America.”
The ostensible authorization [AUMF] (also mentioned in last week’s [War Powers Resolution 6-Month Report] on a “consistent with” basis) for [the continued use] of U.S. military forces is the brief resolution that Congress passed in the days immediately following 9/11. That resolution authorized the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
More than a decade after 9/11, any connection between that terrorist attack and its perpetrators, on one hand, and U.S. military operations of today, on the other hand, is tenuous to say the least. The continued loose usage of this resolution as an authorizing document comes close to saying that the president can use military force wherever and whenever he pleases as long as he is able to say it has something to do with terrorism.
Same justification with the war on Iran today.
On 12 April, Tarek Mehanna was found guilty of conspiracy and of giving material support for terrorism and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. The prosecution accused Mehanna of translating statements for al-Qaida and of disseminating pro-jihadist material on the internet. Mehanna maintains that he does not support the world view of al-Qaida, though he is unapologetic for supporting the rights of Muslims to defend themselves against their oppressors – in this case, US and British soldiers.
However, if Tarek Mehanna is guilty, so am I. I, too, support the right of Muslims to defend themselves against US troops, even if that means they have to kill them, and I try to give the Iraqi resistance a voice through my website. I have done everything that Tarek Mehanna has done, and there are only two possibilities as to why I am not sitting in a cell with him: first, the FBI is incompetent and hasn’t been able to smoke me out; second, the US judicial system would never dream of violating my freedom of speech because I am white and I am a veteran of the occupation of Iraq.
… I’m not afraid to profess my support for Tarek Mehanna, or to advocate for his ideas, because I know the law does not apply equally to all in America. My whiteness and my status as a veteran will protect me. But Tarek was brown and he never made the mistake of enlisting in the Marine Corps, as I did. So he will spend the next 17 years in a prison cell.
A glimpse into the world of entrapment:
Days before his arrest in Pittsburgh last month, Khalifa Ali al-Akili posted a remarkable message on his Facebook page: A mysterious man who spoke often of jihad had tried to interest Akili in buying a gun, then later introduced him to a second man, whom Akili was assured was “all about the struggle.”
It smelled, Akili wrote on Facebook, like a setup.
“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,” Akili wrote.
When he googled a phone number provided by the second man, it turned out to be to Shahed Hussain, one of the FBI’s most prolific and controversial informants for terrorism cases. Soon the sting was off; Akili was subsequently arrested on gun — not terrorism — charges, which he has denied.
It was a rare miss for Hussain, 55, who has played a wealthy, dapper member of a Pakistani terrorist group in several FBI operations over nearly a decade.
So a man in Massachusetts who commits no actual violent crime is on his way to federal prison simply because he is Muslim and translated some anti-U.S. Arabic texts, but a guy in Florida who admits to murdering an unarmed teen remains free of any criminal charges simply because the victim was Black and the killer is friends with the police?!
Prosecutors call Tarek Mehanna a dangerous radical, but he says he’s being punished for not turning into an FBI informant.
On Thursday in a Boston court, a 29-year-old Muslim student faces being sentenced to life behind bars in a case that civil liberties groups raises profound questions for freedom of speech in America.
Tarek Mehanna, a bearded Islamist with fundamentalist beliefs, was convicted last year for conspiring to provide support to terrorists by downloading jihadi videos from the internet and translating Islamist documents that he found online.
Emptyself - Phantoms in the Sky
This is what you choose, to kill and be enclosed
Sheltered by the news, ‘cause it’s difficult to choose
So let us all decide what you should know
And stay too busy to keep up with the truth
How ‘bout you ignore the world beyond our shores
And leave the rest to me, so you won’t feel guilty
See I’m a guy like you, easily confused
So I stick to my guns, and god tells me where to shoot
And angels guide the bombs straight to guilty homes
So when they hit a child it was probably in the wrong
To you they look the same one threat with different names
As long as we’re at war, we can count on your support
So keep going to church, keep worshipping words
Immerse yourself in work, you’ll get what you deserve
Put a fake smile on your face, and find someone to hate
'cause they need your control, and they deserve the blame
See it’s easier that way, you never have to feel
And you can close your eyes inside your house upon the hill
And never have to look into their crying eyes
That wonder why your heart belongs to phantoms in the sky
Instead of your fellow man, who you sentence to die
They wonder why your heart belongs to phantoms in the sky
Instead of your brothers and sisters who you sentence to die
They wonder why your heart belongs to phantoms in the sky
Scott Horton: In diagnosing the “National Security Complex,” you suggest that America’s democratic institutions are under a quiet but steady assault. What do you mean by this concept, and where do you think it’s taking us?
Tom Engelhardt: In my book, I say that we are now in a “post-legal America” when it comes to the National Security Complex. What that means is simple enough. The U.S. legal system, which still applies to you and me, really no longer applies to the national-security state. What the last decade-plus should have taught anyone working in that world is: no matter how extreme or potentially illegal your actions may be, American justice no longer applies to you. You will never be brought before a court of law, whatever you do. Torture, illegal surveillance, kidnapping terror suspects off the streets of global cities and rendering them to torturing regimes—it really doesn’t matter. It’s as if the mother ship of the national-security complex had simply lifted off from American earth and was now beyond our control. Thought of another way, only one prosecutable crime exists today—under the Espionage Act, no less—for anyone in the complex: whistleblowing. In other words: do what you want, just don’t tell Americans what goes on in these precincts or we’ll take you down.
President Barack Obama’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 31 shocked many people who hoped that Obama, a former constitutional law professor, would reverse the abuses routinely committed by the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
But while the NDAA—with its provisions that authorize the military, on the say-so of the president, to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens—is ominous, it certainly isn’t Obama’s first assault on civil liberties. After spending his presidential campaign in 2008 criticizing the Bush administration for providing a “legal” justification for torture, Obama has refused to take action against Bush-era officials for violating international law, and he has made sure the U.S. government’s repressive apparatus remains in place, at home and in countries around the world.
Abdul Malik Mujahid is a leader of Muslim Peace Coalition, an organization formed in 2011 to challenge Islamophobia. He spoke with Eric Ruder about the anxiety that the NDAA has caused in the Muslim American community—and what people are doing to stand up for their rights.