"Most Americans today have no idea that since 9/11, one single organization has been responsible for hatching and financing more terrorist plots in the United States than any other. That organization isn’t Al Qaeda, the terrorist network founded by Osama bin Laden and responsible for the spectacular 2001 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. And it isn’t Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Al-Shabaab, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or any of the other more than forty U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations. No, the organization responsible for more terrorist plots over the last decade than any other is the FBI. Through elaborate and expensive sting operations involving informants and undercover agents posing as terrorists, the FBI has arrested and the Justice Department has prosecuted dozens of men government officials say posed direct—but by no means immediate or credible—threats to the United States."-The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson (Excerpt)
"Plainly, air travel safety is not what any of this is about. It is about inventing ways to punish US Muslims and deprive them of the most basic rights without so much as providing any notice, let alone any due process that would enable the secret, unknown accusations to be discovered and rebutted. And it is a very common weapon."-
Some of you probably remember this story from November. Saadiq Long, an American citizen, had been living with his wife and two children for several years in Qatar teaching English. Despite never having been charged with a crime, Long was barred from reentering his own country when attempting to visit his seriously ill mother. After a several-month-long battle, he was removed from the no-fly list without explanation.
His lawyers informed the FBI of when Long planned to fly back to Qatar to ensure there would be no problems, but sure enough, he was still denied a boarding pass on the day of his departure. The airline and the FBI are refusing to comment, once again leaving him with no way to know why he is on the list or how he can work towards getting back to Qatar, his job, and his family. Full story over here.
The Administration Really Doesn't Want to Talk About the Drone That Killed an American Citizen
In the latest sign that President Obama’s targeted killing program may be forever shrouded in secrecy, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon has denied a Freedom of Information Request from the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times over the death of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old American-born son of former Al-Queda heavy Anwar al-Awlaki who was killed by a drone strike.
Well I, for one, am shocked.
NDAA Indefinite Detention Provision Mysteriously Stripped From Bill
WASHINGTON — Congress stripped a provision Tuesday from a defense bill that aimed to shield Americans from the possibility of being imprisoned indefinitely without trial by the military. The provision was replaced with a passage that appears to give citizens little protection from indefinite detention.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 was added by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), but there was no similar language in the version of the bill that passed the House, and it was dumped from the final bill released Tuesday after a conference committee from both chambers worked out a unified measure.
Okay so most people have probably heard about Zero Dark Thirty (the film premiering today which is based on the story of Osama Bin Laden’s capture) and its two major points of controversy: that its makers were given access to classified information, and the fact that it is essentially based on the lie that torture led to the capture of Osama Bin Laden. It promotes torture based on this false premise pretty heavily, according to Stuart Klawans:
The movie juices the audience on the adrenaline generated by these physical confrontations, and offers vicariously the sense of power enjoyed by the person holding the leash. Does the film go further, and present torture as the necessary tool for taking down bin Laden? Absolutely.
But that’s really only the beginning of why this film is so problematic. Add in the fact that it’s received universal acclaim and you’ve got the perfect recipe for government sponsored propaganda. Glenn Greenwald writes in a lengthy review that’s really worth a full read:
Indeed, from start to finish, this is the CIA’s film: its perspective, its morality, its side of the story, The Agency as the supreme heroes. […] It is a true sign of the times that Liberal Hollywood has produced the ultimate hagiography of the most secretive arm of America’s National Security State, while liberal film critics lead the parade of praise and line up to bestow it with every imaginable accolade. Like the bin Laden killing itself, this is a film that tells Americans to feel good about themselves, to feel gratitude for the violence done in their name, to perceive the War-on-Terror-era CIA not as lawless criminals but as honorable heroes.
Peter Maass writes about a “new frontier of government-embedded filmmaking” in The Atlantic:
An already problematic practice—giving special access to vetted journalists—is now deployed for the larger goal of creating cinematic myths that are favorable to the sponsoring entity (in the case of Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA). If the access that Boal and Bigelow received was in addition to access that nonfiction writers and documentarians received, I would be a bit less troubled, because at least the quotes in history’s first draft would be reliable, and that means a lot. But as it stands, we’re getting the myth of history before getting the actual history.
And finally, Jane Mayer for The New Yorker:
Knowing the real facts—the ones that led the European Court of Human Rights to condemn America for torture this week—I had trouble enjoying the movie. I’ve interviewed Khaled El-Masri, the German citizen whose suit the E.C.H.R. adjudicated. He turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, an innocent car salesman whom the C.I.A. kidnapped and held in a black-site prison for four months, and who was “severely beaten, sodomized, shackled, and hooded.” What Masri lived through was so harrowing that, when I had a cup of coffee with him, a few years ago, he couldn’t describe it to me without crying. Maybe I care too much about all of this to enjoy it with popcorn. But maybe the creators of “Zero Dark Thirty” should care a little bit more.
‘Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.’ Every parent can connect with what President Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.
It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world’s concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why.
Most of the world’s media, which has rightly commemorated the children of Newtown, either ignores Obama’s murders or accepts the official version that all those killed are “militants”. The children of north-west Pakistan, it seems, are not like our children. They have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and flowers and teddy bears. They belong to the other: to the non-human world of bugs and grass and tissue.
“Are we,” Obama asked on Sunday, “prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” It’s a valid question. He should apply it to the violence he is visiting on the children of Pakistan.
By adopting honour killings as a pet topic, Zionists and other right-wing forces seek to delegitimise and even criminalise Arab and Muslim society in general.
Consider an August 2012 essay in the neo-conservative FrontPage Magazine asserting an “Arab cultural and Islamic propensity of violence toward women”.
The author characterises the fatal stabbing of a 27-year-old Palestinian woman by her husband as a “death sentence which tragically has been shared by a long and ever-expanding list of Palestinian women and girls”. He does not care to explain why it is not also tragic that an even longer expanding list of Palestinian women, girls and all other varieties of human beings happen to share the fate of obliteration by Israeli munitions. Nor does he delve into what this might indicate about Israeli cultural propensities or those of Israel’s preferred ally and automated teller machine.
Without downplaying the obvious tragedy of honour crimes, we must ask why it is that we are supposed to be horrified by the idea that “in the past two years, 25 [Palestinian] women have been subjected to honour killings” but not by the fact that 1,400 Palestinians were wiped out in three weeks during Operation Cast Lead." -Belen Fernandez for Al Jazeera English: “Honour Crimes and Islamophobia”
"It is obvious what Judge Mawla is doing is a ‘jihad’ against men in general and fathers specifically … Therefore, as a fathers’ rights group we intend to initiate a ‘crusade’ to remove this vermin from the bench."-
Bruce Eden, civil rights director of the state chapter of Dads Against Discrimination, commenting on a New Jersey case in which a Pennsylvania resident remains in jail after being unable to pay his ex-wife $8,000 monthly payments ordered by Mawla. Eden is an advocate of alimony reform in New Jersey, claiming that it is sexist towards men, and he is accusing Judge Hany Mawla of imposing Sharia law on a family Court. Hawla was the first Muslim appointed to a State Superior Court in 2010.
Seems you just can’t win as an American Muslim in the public/political sphere. Misogynist? due to sharia or jihad. “Misandrist?” Due to Sharia or jihad.
Hina Rabbani Khar: 'Give Pakistan some time'
This is one of the most uncomfortable interviews I’ve seen in a long time.
What The 2012 Election Would Have Looked Like Without Universal Suffrage
(Left: If only men could vote. Right: If only whites could vote)
Terrorism is a Distraction From a Larger Threat
We’ve been shortsighted. We’ve marginalized those who warned us. We’ve treated environmentalism as an irksome fad. We’ve given cadence to nontroversies and called it balance. We’ve spent trillions to protect ourselves against terrorists and done nothing to keep our biggest cities above water in a storm.
“One of the very important national security threats we face is climate change.” Said Senator Barbara Boxer in a 2007 cable interview. In the 2010 mid-terms, her opponent sacked Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, made it into a campaign commercial and said: “Terrorism kills and Barbara Boxer is worried about the weather.”
Yes, the weather. This frivolous weather thing the hippies keep harping about just devastated the biggest, most densely populated, city in the country. The city that never sleeps shut down completely. The structural damage and loss in revenue are unprecedented. Even before Sandy, our weather-related fatalities far exceed the Americans who’ve died from terrorist attacks. Since September 11, 2001 there have been roughly 30 Americans killed by terrorism (depending on how you do the numbers). Meanwhile, extreme weather deaths in the same time period have totaled 6,408 as of 2011, according to the National Weather Service.
But the word “terror” is what’s ginning up the right wing and the phrase “climate change” never got mentioned once during the presidential debates.
"What makes this most ironic is that the US loves to sermonize to the world about the need for open ideas and political debate. In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lectured the planet on how ‘those societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in our internet world they will be left behind.’
That she is part of the same government that seeks to punish and exclude filmmakers, students, lawyers, activists and politicians for the crime of opposing US policy is noticed and remarked upon everywhere in the world other than in the US. That demonstrates the success of these efforts: they are designed, above all else, to ensure that the American citizenry does not become exposed to effective critics of what the US is doing in the world."
Greenwald writes in response to the detention of Pakistani politician and anti-drone activist Imran Khan last Saturday, when he was pulled off a plane for interrogation by US officials.
There are several obvious points raised by this episode. Strictly on pragmatic grounds, it seems quite ill-advised to subject the most popular leader in Pakistan - the potential next Prime Minister - to trivial, vindictive humiliations of this sort. It is also a breach of the most basic diplomatic protocol: just imagine the outrage if a US politician were removed from a plane by Pakistani officials in order to be questioned about their publicly expressed political views. And harassing prominent critics of US policy is hardly likely to dilute anti-US animosity; the exact opposite is far more likely to occur.
But the most important point here is that Khan’s detention is part of a clear trend by the Obama administration to harass and intimidate critics of its drone attacks. As Marcy Wheeler notes, “this is at least the third time this year that the US has delayed or denied entry to the US for Pakistani drone critics.”
Another informant confesses that the NYPD paid him to bait Muslims
NEW YORK — A paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.
Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bengali descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.
“We need you to pretend to be one of them,” Rahman recalled the police telling him. “It’s street theater.” […]
Rahman, who was born in Queens, said he never witnessed any criminal activity or saw anybody do anything wrong.
He said he sometimes intentionally misinterpreted what people had said. For example, Rahman said he would ask people what they thought about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, knowing the subject was inflammatory. It was easy to take statements out of context, he said. He said wanted to please his NYPD handler, whom he trusted and liked.
“I was trying to get money,” Rahman said. “I was playing the game.”
Every time another one of these stories comes out, it creeps me the fuck out. The article outlines some of the tactics regularly used by informants, most of which have already been seen before in other cases. Here, the NYPD sent three informants to ISNA in 2008 (a yearly Islamic conference widely attend by Muslims), kept watch on the Muslim American Society, and regularly attended Muslim Student Association meetings. At one event, the informant took pictures of a sign-up sheet for a class at a mosque and sent people’s cell phone numbers to the NYPD.
All it takes is for you to maintain any sort of contact with Muslim groups at your university, and there’s a good chance you’re under surveillance.
Pew Climate Change Poll Reveals That Less Than Half Of Americans Make Anthropogenic Connection
Recent polling conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests that a greater number of people in the U.S. are accepting the reality of climate change. 67 percent of Americans said that there is “solid evidence” that average global temperatures have been rising in recent decades, signaling a gain of four points since last year and 10 points since 2009. Yet only 42 percent say this warming is “mostly caused by human activity,” according to Pew.
In a presidential election marked by accusations of “climate silence” and a lack of forthright discussion of what has been called a “planetary emergency,” the Pew polling reveals another stark difference between supporters of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Only 42 percent of Romney supporters say there is strong evidence of global warming and a paltry 18 percent acknowledge its human origin. This 42 percent stands in sharp contrast to the 88 percent of Obama supporters who say that average global temperatures are on the rise and 63 percent who say it is anthropogenic. Among Republicans overall, 48 percent say there is “solid evidence” of global warming, up from 35 percent in 2009.
Despite these numbers, at least 97 percent of the most actively publishing climate scientists and nearly a dozen of the world’s most prominent national science academies acknowledge that the world’s climate is changing as a result of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels. According to the Pew poll, 45 percent of Americans — including 58 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans — answered yes to the question “Do scientists agree earth is getting warmer because of human activity?” […]
"I think that the public has a very difficult time with this case for two reasons … The first being that gender is the most misunderstood area of human behavior so many people don’t accept that this is a legitimate medical reason. The second is the age old question: Why do people who are incarcerated often get medical treatments that people who are living freely in society don’t get access to?"-
Randi Ettner, chairwoman of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Committee for Incarcerated Persons, commenting on the public response to the case of Michelle Kosilek.
For years, Michelle Kosilek has been asking the Massachusetts prison system for “sex-change” surgery. Born Robert Kosilek, she went to jail in 1992 for murdering her wife and at that point, changed her name and “began living like a woman to the maximum extent possible,” according to a recent court ruling.
In 2003, after Kosilek sued the state for refusing to grant her hormone therapy and a sex-change operation — now more commonly known among transgender advocates and medical professionals as gender confirmation surgery — a judge ruled that the therapy was necessary treatment.
This month, the same judge ordered the state Department of Correction to provide surgery as well, marking the first time in the United States that a federal judge has ordered this type of surgery for an inmate. Transgender advocates praised the court’s ruling and called it step forward, but this week the state appealed the ruling, citing safety concerns and insisting that the treatment isn’t necessary.