Saturday, December 02, 2006

Worshipping A Terrorist God

The paranoid wing of the blogosphere continues to go ballistic with joy about the six Muslim imams who were removed in handcuffs from a US Airways flight because one passenger thought it was "suspicious" that they knelt on their prayer rugs and prayed in the airport waiting room before boarding their flight.

The six had been attending a conference of imams in Minneapolis and were headed for Phoenix. Like all the other passengers, they had cleared the usual security screenings. But a passenger told CNN she saw the imams praying and thought they had made anti-US statements before boarding and "made similar statements while boarding," according to Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

The bloggers went wild.

"I think it's fairly obvious that these people cannot be trusted in any way shape or form.... Whomever the passenger(s) was/were who raised a stink about these jokers, he/she needs to be commended! Great work by US Airways for being vigilant, too ... Let the 'scholars' sue.... They don't have a case with this kind of evidence," blogged one reader on Jihad Watch.

Another encouraged readers to "phone, email or call and express your support for US Airways."

Yet another inveighed, "Starting to think the imams were testing security - otherwise why draw attention to yourself by praying like that? Also one was hamas [sic] linked..."

One conspiracy-theorist blogged, "Their refusal to accept the seats they were assigned makes it appear that they were acting as agents provocateurs, attempting to create a cause celebre to arouse radicalism in quiescent Muslims in the USA. That wouldn't surprise me at all."

Yet another used a "Happy Thanksgiving" blog post to give thanks that "Islam is on the radar screens of some pretty sharp minds..." and for "the small arsenal in my basement."

So let's hear it for US Airways. Its vigilance saved the nation from God only knows what catastrophe! And maybe the president should confer the Medal of Freedom on the sharp-eyed passenger who passed a note to a flight attendant about these "suspicious" people. She will then be in the august company of other heroes like George Tenet and L. Paul Bremer.

US Airways said it is investigating the imams' removal. "We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind and will continue to exhaust our internal investigation until we know the facts of this case and can provide answers for the employees and customers involved in this incident," the airline said in a written statement.

Meanwhile, the airline denied the clerics access to another flight and refused to assist them in obtaining tickets on another carrier. One of the imams told the AP that when he went back to the airport the following morning, he was told by a ticketing agent his payment for the flight had been refunded. He said the agent told him that neither he nor the other imams could purchase tickets from US Airways.

Russ Knocke of the DHS defended the airline's action. "We do not criticize anyone who errs on the side of security," he told CNN, but "we have absolutely no issue with any of these individuals."

"This was a difficult spot for the airport police and for the pilot," he said. "This is an unfortunate circumstance, and we recognize that these six individuals were inconvenienced and delayed about three hours." After the six imams were removed, they and their luggage were re-screened and the plane was checked out with dogs, Knocke said. "Everything checked out. The FBI and Secret Service conducted interviews and everything checked out fine," he said.

Still, authorities told the press they thought US Airways "made the right call."

Right for everyone but the six imams. And the millions of other American Muslims to whom the FBI, DHS, and other national security agencies say they're trying to reach out.

But US Airways' knee-jerk reaction to the six imams simply adds another layer of mistrust to the deep suspicion that still lingers after the treatment of Muslims following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

That's when the FBI began to round up and detain "suspected terrorists." Arabs and other Muslims - as well as anyone who looked "Middle Eastern," including South Asian Sikhs - became the bureau's top targets. John Ashcroft's Justice Department scooped up hundreds of people for questioning, an effort now led by DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. They were denied lawyers, held in prison-like conditions and, according to a DHS Inspector General's report, frequently physically abused. The FBI also shut down Muslim charities and froze their assets, monitored mosques for radiation and held refugees for months because of security checks.

That's the history the US Government is now trying to overcome. But the mistrust persists.

''You never hear the FBI say that part of the reason there has not been another terrorist attack in this country is because radical extremists have not found a home in American mosques,'' says Rebecca Abou-Chedid, director of government relations for the Arab American Institute, in Washington. "It's as if they believe that we know about terrorist cells and we're not telling them."

The blogger's reference to Hamas refers to one of the ejected imams' alleged ties to a charity known as Kind Hearts, which was founded in Toledo, Ohio, in 2002, after the government shut down and froze the assets of the largest Muslim charities in the US for "providing material support" to terrorists and their organizations.

The Senate Finance Committee conducted a two-year investigation of Kind Hearts, along with two dozen other US Muslim charities. The chairman of the committee, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, announced that his panel found no evidence of criminal activity.

Thus far, even though the charity shut-downs began in 2002, only one charity has been charged with any wrongdoing, and none have been convicted of any crime. Nevertheless, their assets remain frozen - sometimes resulting in lack of funds to hire defense lawyers.

Nevertheless, the US Department of the Treasury web site proclaims that "Kind Hearts is the progeny of Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, which attempted to mask their support for terrorism behind the facade of charitable giving - By utilizing this specialized designation tool, we're able to prevent asset flight in support of terrorist activities while we further investigate the activities of Kind Hearts."

I have no idea whether any of these charities were actually providing "material support" to terrorist organizations. But the place to find out is in court, not on a Treasury Department web site.

I do have an idea about what the treatment of the six imams does for the absolutely vital relationships between Muslim-Americans, the US Government, and the "bad guys" that both are eager to bring to justice.

If major corporations like US Airways and its employees continue to cave on an accusation by a single paranoid passenger, and government officials hand out praise by describing that as "the right call," then both will have been complicit in crippling real efforts to find terrorists in our midst.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) today called on officials from the Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation to launch a formal review of the incident and the possible violation of passengers' civil rights by US Airways. "We hope that by opening this type of investigation, US corporations can be held accountable by our government and the federal agencies can adequately address the racial profiling that is occuring in our nation's airports," said Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC Executive Director.

An excellent idea. I hope the government agencies will remember that US Airways had a choice: It could have invited the complaining passenger to leave the flight, thus assuring that she, at least, would not be slammed into the White House.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

US Settles Nuisance Lawsuit By Domestic Terrorist

U.S. Settles Suit Filed by Oregon Lawyer
$2 Million Will Be Paid For Wrongful Arrest After Madrid Attack

The U.S. government agreed yesterday to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by an Oregon lawyer who was arrested and jailed for two weeks in 2004 after the FBI bungled a fingerprint match and mistakenly linked him to a terrorist attack in Spain.

Under the terms of the settlement filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Portland, the government also issued an unusual apology to Brandon Mayfield for the "suffering" caused by his wrongful arrest and imprisonment. It acknowledged that the ordeal was "deeply upsetting" to Mayfield and his family.

Mayfield will be able to continue pursuing his legal challenge to the constitutionality of the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law, which was used to obtain his personal records while he was under investigation.

The payment is a clear embarrassment for the FBI, which arrested Mayfield as a material witness in May 2004. FBI examiners had erroneously linked him to a partial fingerprint on a bag of detonators found after terrorists bombed commuter trains in Madrid in March, killing 191 people. The bureau compounded its error by stridently resisting the conclusions of the Spanish National Police, which notified the FBI three weeks before Mayfield was arrested that the fingerprint did not belong to him.

Mayfield's lawsuit alleged that his civil rights had been violated and that he was arrested because he is a Muslim convert who had represented some defendants in terrorism-related cases. In a statement Mayfield said that he was threatened with the death penalty while in custody, that he and his family were targeted "because of our Muslim religion," and that he looks forward "to the day when the Patriot Act is declared unconstitutional."

On March 11, 2004, terrorists later linked to al-Qaeda detonated bombs on several commuter trains in Madrid. The FBI assisted Spanish police by comparing latent fingerprints found nearby on a bag of detonators against its massive fingerprint database, which includes prints from former U.S. soldiers. Mayfield served in the U.S. Army. Two FBI examiners and a unit chief eventually narrowed the fingerprint match to Mayfield. Spanish police conducted their own analysis and concluded that the print was not Mayfield's. The FBI disputed that finding, dispatching an examiner to Madrid to press its case. Mayfield was arrested three weeks later amid media leaks about the ongoing investigation.

The FBI, which did not comment on yesterday's settlement, has repeatedly said that there were unusual similarities between Mayfield's fingerprints and the one found on the bag of detonators, which was eventually identified as belonging to an Algerian national named Ouhnane Daoud.

A report released in March by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that although Mayfield's religion was not a factor in his initial identification, it contributed to the FBI's reluctance to reexamine its conclusions after challenges from Spanish police.

Fine also found that the FBI used expanded powers under the Patriot Act to demand personal information about Mayfield from banks and other companies, and that the law "amplified the consequences" of the FBI's mistakes by allowing other government agencies to share flawed information.
Once more the Bush Administration's War on Terror has blown up in their face. This time leaving you and I to foot the $2.3 Million bill for their fuckup.

But oh, no, we don't need to do away with the Patriot Act, do we? Government NEVER makes mistakes and never tries to ruin innocent people's lives. Government certainly never abuses its powers to detain alleged terrorism suspects under relaxed standards of probable cause... err, scratch that.

The Patriot Act is an abomination and must be repealed. Any parts of it which are truly necessary for law enforcement's use should be separated out and passed individually. The idea of lumping together all sorts of semi-legal and blatantly illegal bullshit together and then demanding that Congress vote on something called a "Patriot Act" three days after 9/11 is typical of Bush's reign of terror. Only one senator and two Congressmen had the guts to even read the thing in advance and all three of them voted against it... what should THAT have told us?

The Bind Torture Kill President -NEEDS- that power, though... how else is he to perpetuate his divide-and-conquer policy of State Terror enforced through fear?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Terrorist Whines to Congress About Torture

Alleged CIA Torture Victim Speaks Out

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Khaled el-Masri, who claims the CIA kidnapped and tortured him, recounted his story on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and said he hoped he could help prevent others from suffering a similar fate.

The Kuwaiti-born German citizen said he had brought his story to Washington to encourage greater oversight of CIA activities and force the U.S. government to acknowledge what happened to him.

El-Masri alleges he was kidnapped while trying to enter Macedonia for a vacation on Dec. 31, 2003. He claims he was flown to a CIA-run prison known as the ''salt pit'' in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was beaten and sodomized with an object during five months in captivity.

Jeez, this guy AGAIN? Doesn't he know that he's just lucky we let him go the first time? How many times do we have to illegally kidnap and torture this guy before he gets the hint that he's not supposed to complain about us illegally kidnapping and torturing him?

Besides, rape is the sentence that every single American prisoner receives alongside his years in jail (some 25% of prison inmates are raped and America has chosen to ignore this). Why should our foreign terror suspects receive better prison treatment than our domestic forgery and drug abuse convicts? BRING ON THE RAPE!

Bind. Torture. Rape. Kill.

Incidentally, I'm all for "support our troops" and all, but what is it about America's military and intelligence cultures that brings out all the rape and forced sodomy?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Terrorist Whiner Wants To Sue America

A lawyer for a German man who was abducted while on vacation in Macedonia and said he was tortured while in C.I.A. custody in Afghanistan urged a federal appeals court on Tuesday to reinstate his lawsuit against the agency, which had been dismissed for national security reasons.

In May, a federal trial judge threw out the suit brought by Khaled el-Masri, who said he was an innocent victim of the Central Intelligence Agency’s program of transferring terrorism suspects secretly to other countries for detention and interrogation. Judge T. S. Ellis III of Federal District Court in Alexandria said that although it appeared a great injustice might have been done to Mr. Masri, he was persuaded by the government that there was no way to even begin a trial without impermissibly disclosing state secrets.

Benjamin Wizner, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told a three-judge appeals panel on Tuesday that the government’s position was absurd because what happened to Mr. Masri had hardly remained secret. He noted that the German government was openly investigating whether its officials had played a role in Mr. Masri’s ordeal, and numerous news accounts have quoted unidentified American officials as confirming what happened.

Mr. Wizner said the government had not plausibly explained how national security interests might be harmed by a trial. He said President Bush acknowledged the C.I.A.’s program, known as extraordinary rendition, this summer, and it is widely known that other governments have been involved. A trial would not disclose state secrets but would merely involve “confirmation of a fact the entire world already knows,” he said.

Gregory G. Katsas, a senior Justice Department lawyer, told the judges that courts must defer to the executive branch when it invokes the state secrets doctrine, which was first recognized by the Supreme Court in 1953.

Mr. Katsas said Porter J. Goss, who was the C.I.A. director when the suit was brought, filed a secret statement with the court outlining the agency’s case against a trial. Mr. Katsas said the statement provided a detailed account of how seemingly innocuous disclosures “will have a cascading effect that will have devastating consequences” for national security.

Mr. Masri, who was born in Kuwait, was arrested in Macedonia on Dec. 31, 2003, and flown to a prison in Afghanistan, where he was held for five months. During his incarceration, he has said, he was shackled, beaten and injected with drugs.

United States officials have been quoted anonymously in news reports as saying that Khaled el-Masri’s case was one of mistaken identity; intelligence authorities may have confused him with an operative for Al Qaeda with a similar name, Khalid al-Masri.

The officials said Mr. Masri was released in May 2004 on the orders of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, after she learned he had been mistakenly identified as a terrorism suspect. He was freed in Albania, where he was left to make his way home to Germany, which he likened to being treated “like a piece of luggage.”

Mr. Masri, who had earlier been denied permission to come to the United States to attend the hearing, said he has not been able to find a job since his return to Germany. “Both my Arab and German friends keep their distance,” he said.


So... we don't kidnap, illegally imprison and torture people, but we can't let a neutral third party look into the facts because they might discover... uhm, what, exactly? Oh, right, that we kidnap, illegally imprison and torture innocent people.

The BTK Presidency. Brought to you by a complacent citizenry and a Congress of Evil Morons. Bind! Torture! Kill! FOR JUSTICE!