Criminalizing Compassion in the War on Terror: Muslim Charities and the Case of Dr. Rafil A. Dhafir

By Katherine Hughes
 
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But ... the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The truth shall set you free? Maybe. But first the Truth must be set free.”

Wole Soyinka, Nigerian playwright, educator.


Since the events of 9/11 the government has implemented powerful new prosecutorial tools to gain convictions in its War on Terror. In an article entitled, “Terrorist Financing,” Jeff Breinholt, Deputy Chief of the Department of Justice's Counterterrorism Section, explains these tools and how they are being used to win convictions.On page thirty-one of the article he lists the statutes being used in the criminal prosecution of terrorist financing and among these statutes is the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which Breinholt also labels as “United States economic sanctions.” IEEPA provides the President of the United States with authority to deal with any “unusual and extraordinary threat” that has its source in whole or substantial part outside the United States; this includes threat to “national security, foreign policy, and the economy.”

Prosecutors armed with the statutes listed in Breinholt’s paper are further empowered by using them in conjunction with the “material support of terrorism” laws, Executive Order 13224, and civil asset forfeiture laws, particularly those under IEEPA, which were amended by the PATRIOT Act. Under the IEEPA civil asset forfeiture provisions the government can close down an organization and seize its assets while an investigation is ongoing, without probable cause of criminal activity and without any charges ever being brought against anyone.

E.O. 13224 was issued on September 23, 2001, and introduced a blacklist of organizations and individuals suspected of terrorism, materially aiding terrorism, or associating with terrorists. IEEPA and international law permit humanitarian assistance for these suspects, including food, clothing and medicine, but this humanitarian aid is outlawed under the E.O. 13224. The penalty, for an IEEPA violation, for organizations that knowingly engage in terrorist financing already carries a sentence of twenty years to life in prison. What this new provision does is “drastically increase the penalties for knowing violations of non-terrorism-related IEEPA offenses.” People with a concern for civil liberties are troubled by the fact that the government provides no legal definition of what they consider a “specially designated terrorist” and by the broad manner in which the government is interpreting the new rules.
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Saving Condi's Life

by Mickey Z.

There's a disturbing dynamic that occurs on every Manhattan street corner, every minute of every day. By simply watching the typical New York City pedestrian when he or she reaches the corner at a red light, you get a pretty good idea of what it's like to deal with an overcrowded, rancorous metropolitan area on a daily basis: No one waits on the sidewalk.

Even if a thousand cars are racing by, practically every single New Yorker insists on stepping a few steps out into the street while waiting for the light to change. They'll even go as far as squeezing themselves past other impatient street-crossers just to get to the front of the pack. We are so hyped up, so overstressed, so programmed to do everything fast that we can't even endure waiting 30 seconds for a damn traffic light. We'll risk death by stepping off the curb in order to get a head start on the green light.

With this in mind, here's a little thought experiment: Let's say I'm on such a corner as a pedestrian pushes past me-too harried to realize that she is stepping directly into the path of an oncoming SUV. I reach out, grab hold of her jacket, and yank her back to safety...only to realize it was none other than Condoleezza Rice. I wonder: How might that make me feel?
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Determined to Discriminate in the Name of “God”

By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

“Welcome to Americans for Truth, the only national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda.” That’s the proud-to-promote bigotry greeting on the AFT website.

The “homosexual agenda” they want to counter was eloquently exposed by Rep. Barney Frank:

We want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.

They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.

Civil equality is what the so-called ‘homosexual agenda” is all about. Denying civil equality is what AFT is all about, as was well illustrated by its president, Peter LaBarbera, in one of his recent “press releases.” Consider his convoluted words and overt desire to discriminate.
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Iran turns up the Heat

by Mike Whitney

By now, anyone with a lick of sense can see that the war in Iraq has been a dead-loss. Still, few people understand how it has disrupted the region’s strategic balance and is quickening America’s decline as a world power.

The US is already facing fierce headwinds in the near future withthe deflating housing market,the falling dollar, and the growing prospects of a deep recession. A sudden realignment in the Middle East would be a major hit to the American economy. Even so, it’s looking more and more like big changes are on the way.

The problem is that American power is waning just as Iran’s is ascendant. This doesn’t bode well for the “Great Satan” whose economy relies on dependable sources of cheap oil.

Iran is playing a clever game in Iraq using US occupation forces to crush the Ba’athist-led resistance while expanding their influence via the Shiite militias. This is a “lose-lose” situation for the United States. American troops must continue to focus on one enemy while they inadvertently strengthen the other. How long will it be before the Bush administration sees that they’ve been supporting the very group which is most hostile to American interests?
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Family Feud: Little Bush Hits Back at Daddy

by Chris Floyd

Bush Initiates Iraq Policy Review Separate From Baker Group's (Washington Post)

Excerpt: President Bush formally launched a sweeping internal review of Iraq policy yesterday, pulling together studies underway by various government agencies, according to U.S. officials. The initiative… parallels the effort by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to salvage U.S. policy in Iraq, develop an exit strategy and protect long-term U.S. interests in the region…The White House's decision changes the dynamics of what happens next to U.S. policy deliberations. The administration will have its own working document as well as recommendations from an independent bipartisan commission to consider as it struggles to prevent further deterioration in Iraq.

When I saw the Newsweek cover featuring Big Daddy Bush muscling toward the front with a diminished little Dubya skulking in the background, my first thought was: How is Junior going to react to this? Bush II's resentment toward his father is well-known -- a resentment no doubt compounded by his lifelong, abject dependence on Daddy's financial and political pull -- and I knew that Little Bush would not simply accept this media humiliation and move on.
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Freshman Class War: New Senator Sends Message on Economic Injustice

by Chris Floyd

I don't know that much about Jim Webb. I don't know how he will actually vote when lobbyist push comes to corporate shove in the Senate. And I certainly don't buy into the propensity of so many in the blogosphere (not to mention the mainstream media) to fall into swoons of hero worship over this or that politician.

But I will say this: Webb's recent opinion column – in the Wall Street Journal, no less – put the facts about the elitist rapine of the American people about as squarely as you could hope for from an elected official writing in an Establishment paper. If Webb backs up these insights with political guts, he could serve as a formidable champion for economic justice – or at least (and more likely, given the near-total corporate-elite control of Congress) an outspoken gadfly, in the Proxmire mold, who by stating bald truth draws constant attention to the hypocrisy and servility of his colleagues.

What I found especially interesting was Webb's insider exposé of the true attitudes of the corporate elite – their overwhelming sense of entitlement, their utterly callous dismissal of the rabble they squeeze their riches from. Let us have more of this, Senator Webb.

Some excerpts:

The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.
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Killing Hope in Beit Hanoun

By Ramzy Baroud



“God is greater than Israel and America,” was the echoing cry of tens of thousands of Palestinians, who descended into the graveyard in grief stricken Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. They congregated in yet another familiar scene to bury their loved ones, killed by Israel’s brutal war against the Palestinians.

This time, the loss was too great to bear, even by the standards of the people of Gaza: eighteen ambulances lined up, carrying the mutilated bodies of eighteen members of the same extended family, the majority of whom were women and children; all civilians.

“I will avenge; I will avenge,” screamed a relative of one of those who died in the Israeli artillery attack on Beit Hanoun, on November 8.  A man initiated the burial ceremony by stepping forward carrying the lifeless body of his one-year-old baby. The tough posture Gaza’s men often wish to exhibit was overshadowed by incomprehensive grief; relatives and friends were collapsing in droves; others reached to the sky, in despair.

Only God could hear them now. Two more tiny bodies swaddled in white made their way through the crowd; more followed.

The total number of those killed in the Israeli bombing of the civilian neighborhood rose to 20, adding to over 50 others killed earlier in the same Israeli military assault dubbed “Clouds of Autumn”, which converged mainly on Beit Hanoun. The latest two figures are to be included in the overall count of 350 Palestinians killed since last June, in the wider military operation carried out in Gaza and dubbed “Summer Rains”.
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Let Lieberman Go; He's an Albatross

by Dave Lindorff

If the Democratic Party were a real opposition party--a party of principle filled with fighters--I'd say maintaining control of the Senate, even with by a margin of a single, fragile vote, would be important and valuable.

But that's not what we have.

The Democratic Party, particularly the actual elected congressional delegation and the leadership of the party in the two houses, is so washed out, so gutless, so calculating, and so self-serving, that it hardly rates as a second party.

Because of this, the role of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, recently re-elected by the voters of Connecticut while running as an independent after losing his own party's nomination to an upstart anti-war candidate, Ned Lamont, is dangerous in the extreme.

Lieberman, who won re-election by stealing the votes of Connecticut's Republicans from the GOP's official candidate (Lieberman only won about a third of the Democratic vote), has been a closet Republican for years. He was a Republican in all but name when he ran as Al Gore's vice presidential partner in 2000, and since helping that campaign go down in flames has been one of George Bush's most stalwart supporters in Congress.

Let's look at the Lieberman record:
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Sophocles rides the N Train

by Mickey Z.

Nobody walks in the subway anymore. I say this to myself but even in my own head, my voice sounds weary this early in the morning

Look down in the New York City subway and you'll see feet. Lots and lots of feet. In high heels, sneakers, work boots, dress shoes, and casual loafers, the feet pounding on the filthy, century-old floor have one thing in common: they are moving quickly. If it's not an all-out sprint, it's at least a two-steps-at-a-time, get-the-hell-out-of-my-way stride. In the middle of it all, I try to maintain a more reasonable pace amidst enough jostling and bumping to please even the most diehard roller derby fanatic

The prehistoric subway system of New York City was obviously designed well before anyone could have ever have dreamed of millions of riders each day Still, in general, that imposing amount of straphangers could theoretically all fit without much fuss if humanity was further along in its glacially gradual evolutionary process. But, since we're stuck in the primitive confines of the early twenty-first century, illogic reigns supreme and the trains are a daily-but essentially unfunny-replay of the infamous (and over-rated) stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers' classic 1936 film, "A Night At The Opera." I say "over-rated," because the Marxsters did infinitely more comical work but somehow, it is the stateroom that has become synonymous with their genius thanks to myriad film critics afraid to buck the system and be original

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Bush's "New" Iraq Strategy Revealed: More Troops, More War

by Chris Floyd   

US plans last big push in Iraq (Guardian)

Did anyone really imagine it would be any different? The Guardian reports that Bush has already decided on his "new" strategy for Iraq, ahead of the recommendations of the "Iraq Study Group" he appointed – and ahead of the internal government review of strategy which he ordered only this week. And what is the strategy? More of the same. How could it be otherwise? The Decider-in-Chief cannot admit, not even to himself, that any of his decisions have ever been wrong. How can they be, when they are dictated by his "gut," and his gut is guided by God Almighty?

Yet no man rises to such a position – even with the enormous, endless help of his elitist family and friends – without some animal cunning. Bush knows that he cannot do what he would have to do to "win" the war on his terms: send in hundreds of thousands of more troops in a brutal, no-holds-barred campaign to eradicate all active opposition to the imposition of a docile Iraqi regime and the permanent installation of American bases. He knows there is no political will, even among his own party and most of his "base," to take this route. (Barring, of course, another convenient terrorist attack on American soil, this time blamed on the Iraqi insurgents. Then there would be no limit to Bush's "justifiable retaliation." This scenario, although unlikely at present, is certainly not to be discounted altogether.)

And so he is going to intensify the war as much as politically possible, push the envelope of further brutality and repression as far as he can, for as long as he can, and hope that this will finally do the trick. It won't, of course, but as the Guardian notes, quoting a former top Bush official, "He is in a state of denial about Iraq. Nobody else is anymore. But he is." He believes that his willfuly ignorant "gut feelings" – formed, of course, out of the malevolent whisperings of his handlers, especially those who most assidiuously flatter his prejudices and his enormous, infantile ego – must be correct and will win through in the end.

Thus he is now planning to send at least 20,000 more troops to Iraq, to "secure Baghdad" and free up the U.S. forces currently tied down there to spread out and "pacify" the rest of the country. There will be a stab at securing "regional cooperation" for the "successful rehabilitation" of Iraq. The Saudi and Kuwaiti royal families – longtime business partners of the Bush Family – will be hit up for "reconstruction" money: more fodder for Bush-connected contractors and the bottomless corruption of the Bush-backed Iraqi government. How then will this be different from the epic of waste and corruption we have already seen in the "reconstruction" process?

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That's me on screen!

by Craig Murray

The similarities between Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, and a character in a new spy series are uncanny. So why is the BBC denying it?

I was first alerted to BBC1's new conspiracy thriller The State Within by a friend who pointed out some of the BBC publicity to me. It concerned a character in the series, a former British ambassador, whom the BBC described thus: "James Sinclair. An outspoken critic of President Usman and the human rights abuse he encountered in Tyrgyzstan. As a result he was recalled and subsequently fired from the job of ambassador. Seen as an embarrassment to the UK government, who support Usman and have many commercial and strategic interests in the country.

Now determined to turn western public opinion against Usman. And to force both the UK and US administrations into withdrawing their support for him." Now, if you substitute the very real Uzbekistan of President Karimov for the fictional Tyrgyzstan, you get a description of me precise in every detail. Uniquely so; there is nobody else that description remotely fits. There are other coincidences. When I was ambassador, the Uzbek prime minister was named Usmanov. James Sinclair is an anglicised Scot like me. I live in Sinclair Gardens. Sinclair's wife has the common Uzbek name of Saida. I have an Uzbek partner. Like me, his tipple is neat scotch (not as common as you might think). Both "Tyrgyzstan" and Uzbekistan are in Central Asia; both have major US airbases threatened by a change of allegiance of the dictator. Both are described by the US and UK as "an ally in the war on terror" and "a backdoor to Afghanistan". Both have perpetrated a large-scale massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators.

Fine by me. I like the series, and Sinclair is well played (by Alex Jennings). I have received scores of emails from viewers, mostly complete strangers, commenting on the series, often asking me about its accuracy. So I was surprised to hear the BBC was not just denying the character was based on me, but denying it vehemently, as though it were an appalling accusation. A journalist had inquired on my behalf, and received rebuttals from both the press department and a producer.
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The Price of Imperial Arrogance

by Stephen Lendman

Lyndon Johnson was a conflicted man about Vietnam almost from the time he took office. As early as May, 1964, he confessed his doubts about the conflict to his good friend Senator Richard Russell in one of the many phone calls he taped in the Oval Office. That was three months before the fateful Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave him congressional authorization for military action in Southeast Asia without needing a formal declaration of war for it. Later that year, he privately acknowledged the Tonkin Gulf incident never happened and told Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara "we concluded maybe they hadn't fired at all." He was referring to the claimed attacks by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on two US destroyers which, on its face, seemed preposterous but which propelled this country deeply into the Vietnam conflict that didn't end until President Gerald Ford evacuated the last of the US forces and a few South Vietnamese collaborators in humiliation from the rooftop of the US Embassy in Saigon 11 years later in April, 1975.

They left behind a nation in ruins, its landscape devastated and chemically poisoned that remains so today, and a few million dead Southeast Asians in three countries showing the kind of men Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were - imperial war lords who never had to answer for their war crimes as they never do under a system of victor's justice. The only compensation the victims got was their freedom from US aggression when realizing it couldn't win it decided to give up a futile fight and pull out.

Long before he left office, Johnson knew the war was unwinnable, and in 1965 told Secretary McNamara "I don't believe they're ever going to quit. And I don't see....that we have any....plan for victory - militarily or diplomatically" - spoken as he was about to escalate the conflict dramatically by shipping over many thousands more US forces that would eventually exceed a half million before things began to be scaled down in preparation for the final exodus in disgrace and defeat. Johnson did it even while confiding to his closest Senate friend, Richard Russell, that he was on the horns of his greatest dilemma. He had to find a way out of the Vietnam mess he felt was pointless but said he couldn't do it without being impeached - for Johnson, a classic Hobson's choice or in his own words "I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't." He asked his savvy friend for advice, but Russell told him he had none. Johnson felt trapped, and in May, 1964, (when the US commitment stood at a 16,000 troop strength level) he told Russell "We're in quicksand up to our necks, and I just don't know what the hell to do about it."
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