By Richard Norton-Taylor | The Guardian | February 10, 2010
Three of Britain’s most senior judges have ordered the government to reveal evidence of M15 complicity in the torture of British resident Binyman Mohamed- unanimously dismissing objections by David Miliband, the foreign secretary.
In a ruling that will cause deep anxiety among the security and intelligence agencies, they rejected Miliband’s claims, backed by the US government, that disclosure of a seven-paragraph summary of classified CIA information showing what British agents knew of Mohamed’s torture would threaten intelligence sharing between London and Washington, and therefore endanger Britain’s national security.
One of the key paragraphs states that there “could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Binyam Mohamed by the United States authorities”.
The judges – Sir Igor Judge, the lord chief justice; Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls; and Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen’s Bench – shattered the convention that the courts should not question claims by the executive relating to national security.
In damning references to claims made by Miliband and his lawyers, and stressing the importance of the media in supporting the principle of open justice, they said the case raised issues of “fundamental importance”, of “democratic accountability and ultimately the rule of law itself”.
Publication of the material Miliband wanted to suppress was “compelling”, Judge said, since they concerned the involvement of wrongdoing by agents of the state in the “abhorrent practice of torture”. The material helped to “vindicate Mr Mohamed’s assertion that UK authorities had been involved in and facilitated the ill- treatment and torture to which he was subjected while under the control of USA authorities”.
The disputed paragraphs have now been published by the Foreign Office.
Miliband said in a statement: “The government accepts the decision of the court of appeal that in the light of disclosures in the US court, it should publish the seven paragraphs at issue in the case of Binyam Mohamed.
“At the heart of this case was the principle that if a country shares intelligence with another, that country must agree before its intelligence is released.
“This ‘control principle’ is essential to the intelligence relationship between Britain and the US.
“The government fought the case to preserve this principle, and today’s judgment upholds it.
“It agreed that the control principle is integral to intelligence sharing. The court has today ordered the publication of the seven paragraphs because in its view their substance had been put into the public domain by a decision of a US court in another case.
“Without that disclosure, it is clear that the court of appeal would have overturned the divisional court’s decision to publish the material.
“The government has made sustained and successful efforts to ensure Mr Mohamed’s legal counsel had full access to the material in question.
“We remain determined to uphold our very strong commitment against mistreatment of any kind.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Under the terms of the embargo we were permitted by the court to notify a small number of US officials in advance of this judgment. We have done so.
“The foreign secretary spoke last night to Hillary Clinton. He stressed to her that the court had strongly supported the control principle and would have agreed with HMG [her majesty's government] had it not been for the Kessler judgment in the US court last December, which had effectively disclosed the material in the seven paragraphs.
“The foreign secretary and the secretary of state reaffirmed the importance of the US-UK intelligence relationship.”
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said the ruling and revelations made a public inquiry “inescapable”.
“It has been clear for over a year that the Foreign Office has been more concerned with saving face than exposing torture.
“These embarrassing paragraphs reveal nothing of use to terrorists but they do show something of the UK government’s complicity with the most shameful part of the war on terror.
“The government has gone to extraordinary lengths to cover up kidnap and torture. A full public inquiry is now inescapable.”
Key to the appeal court’s ruling was a recent case in a US court where the judge noted that Mohamed’s “trauma lasted for two long years. During that time he was physically and psychologically tortured. His genitals were mutilated … All the while he was forced to inculpate himself and others in various plots to imperil Americans.”
The US court, which was hearing a case relating to another detainee at Guantanemo Bay, noted that Mohamed was told “that the British government knew of his situation and sanctioned his detention”.
An MI5 officer known only as Witness B is being investigated by the Metropolitan police over his alleged role in questioning Mohamed incommunicado in a Pakistan jail.
The whole basis of Miliband’s case had “fallen away” because of the US court case, said Neuberger, who added: “It is a case which is now logically incoherent and therefore irrational and is not based on any convincing evidence.”
In his ruling , May said: “In principle a real risk of serious damage to national security, of whatever degree, should not automatically trump a public interest in open justice which may concern a degree of facilitation by UK officials of interrogation using unlawful techniques which may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
In a stinging reference to claims by Jonathan Sumption QC, Miliband’s counsel, that high court judges in earlier rulings were “irresponsible” in saying that CIA intelligence relating to ill treatment and torture and Britain’s knowledge of it should be disclosed, the lord chief justice said: “No advantage is achieved by bandying deprecatory epithets.”
Mohamed was detained in 2002 in Pakistan, where he was questioned incommunicado by an MI5 officer. The US flew him to Morocco, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay, where he says he was tortured with the knowledge of British agencies.
In the high court last year, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones ruled that it was clear from the evidence “that the relationship of the United Kingdom government to the United States authorities in connection with Binyam Mohamed was far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing”.
By Ziyaad Lunat, The Electronic Intifada, 10 February 2010
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was elected on a platform of “economic peace” with Palestinians in the West Bank. He contended that developing the Palestinian economy, by providing Palestinians with jobs and a better living standard, would render the “problems” between Israelis and Palestinians “more accessible for solutions.”
Salam Fayyad, the appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister in Ramallah and a former International Monetary Fund official, was quick to follow with his own complementary plan last August. His policies recently earned praise from Israeli President Shimon Peres who called Fayyad a Palestinian “Ben Gurionist,” in reference to Israel’s founding prime minister. Economic peace won broad backing from the UN, European leaders as well as the administration of US President Barack Obama — representatives of which form the self-appointed “Quartet” that dictates terms for the “peace process.
Tony Blair, the Quartet envoy for the Middle East peace process, characterized Fayyad as “absolutely first class — professional, courageous, intelligent.” Blair did not hold back praise for Netanyahu either, calling him a “peacemaker.”
A consensus has developed among the political elite, and even among Arab states, that improving Palestinians’ quality of life, even if under military occupation, is the long sought solution for Palestinian misfortunes. Netanyahu assigned Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom to lead the economic peace task force and coordinate with both Blair and the PA.
The Netanyahu-Fayyad plan has been a magnet for foreign capital. The US Congress approved last July a deposit of $200 million into the PA treasury, under Fayyad’s direct control. In September donor countries pledged on the sidelines of the General Assembly $400 million to the PA by the end of 2009. Last month, the European Union transferred 21 million Euros to “help the Palestinian Authority pay the January salaries and pensions of 80,551 Palestinian public service providers and pensioners.”
This “West Bank First” policy of economic development replaced Bush’s failed policy of democracy promotion. In 2006, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip elected Hamas but Israel and its western allies boycotted the movement because it did not conform to the demands of the Quartet, much of them at odds with international law.
The Quartet switched strategies towards finding “moderate” partners that can implement their vision of “peace.” One such person is PA President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term in office expired for the second time last month (after being questionably extended for an additional year in early 2009).
Western donors also hand-picked Salam Fayyad for the post of prime minister despite his Third Way party obtaining less than three percent of the popular vote in the 2006 legislative elections. His exclusive control of the Palestinian coffers give him immense power to implement policies to his own credit as speculation — and in some PA circles fear — grows that he is being groomed by the West to replace Abbas.
“Economic peace,” coupled with the “West Bank First” policy of economic development serves too as warning to Palestinians. They either conform to a political program approved by Israel and Western donors or risk sharing the dire fate of Gaza, under a crippling siege since June 2007. Hamas, under intense pressure, is gradually softening its positions, with cautious overtures to Israel and the West with the hope of inclusion in the process and perhaps a slice of the monetary rewards.
The results of the first year of Netanyahu’s economic peace are visible. While there has been no progress on the political front, security and economic cooperation with the PA has never been better. The American-trained security forces have kept a tight grip over West Bank towns squashing dissent and keeping “order.” When the Israeli army invades during the night, Palestinian security forces swiftly retreat. Intelligence sharing has enabled joint campaigns of arrest against members of the resistance.
The Guardian newspaper reported that Palestinians security forces have been working closely with the CIA to torture Palestinian dissenters. When Palestinians killed a settler last December, Abbas’ forces worked “overtime” to find the culprits arresting hundreds in the process. A PA spokesperson described the security situation up to the attack as “nearly perfect,” in reference to the diligent job of Palestinian security forces in preventing attacks against Israelis but ignoring the daily attacks Palestinians are subjected to at the hands of the Israeli military and settlers. Abbas’ clampdown didn’t prevent an Israeli death-squad from invading Nablus and killing in cold blood three Palestinians as an act of revenge.
Israel deems the PA a trusted partner for its diligent efforts to provide security for Israelis including settlers actively engaged in colonizing the West Bank. This perception motivated Netanyahu to order the dismantlement of a few dozen roadblocks and the lifting of strategic checkpoints to ease movement between Palestinian cities. Over 578 “closure obstacles” remain in place inside the West Bank. According to the UN, “while some of these measures have contributed to the easing of movement, they exact a price from Palestinians in terms of land loss, disruption of traditional routes, and deepening fragmentation of West Bank territory.” These “goodwill gestures” help give the impression of improvements nonetheless.
Other policies targeting the 17 percent of the West Bank controlled by the PA, otherwise designated as Area A under the 1993 Oslo accords, include the opening of a shopping center in Jenin and a cinema in Nablus. Netanyahu plans 25 other economic initiatives in the West Bank including more shopping centers, a light industrial zone in the Bethlehem area, a major industrial zone in the Jenin area and an agricultural processing and export zone in Jericho. Each ribbon cutting ceremony Fayyad attends reinforces the normalcy discourse propagated by the PA and Fatah-affiliated media that contrast it to the destruction and despair of Israeli-blockaded, Hamas-controlled Gaza.
There are fears these projects are attracting foreign speculators. “My message is very clear: there is an economic prize before us, there is a double dividend for you as companies” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to a conference of investors in Bethlehem. One such “prize” is the creation of a Palestinian equity market. The Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), the body leading such effort, expects to deliver an annual return of 15 percent. PIF plans to use cash deposits in local banks as well as money from investors to encourage growth in consumer spending. “Our banks have cash deposits of $7 billion, and they are saying there are not enough opportunities to invest,” said Mohammad Mustafa, the Fund’s chief executive and a former World Bank official.
Real Estate is the main target for foreign corporate investment. Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city, is Fayyad’s flagship project. The Washington Post reported that Rawabi “is specifically designed for upwardly mobile families of a sort that in the United States might gravitate to places such as Reston, VA. The developments are also relying on another American import, the home mortgage, including creation of a Fannie Mae-style institution for the West Bank.” USAID, a branch of the American government, is funneling funds through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for the promotion of a mortgage culture in Palestine to support these initiatives from bottom-up. One such example is CHF International, a corporate-led development NGO, which is organizing community level focus groups and technical training as part of their “homebuyer education” program.
A year on, the cost of the Netanyahu-Fayyad plan is becoming clear. Low-income Palestinian families and small business are being encouraged to borrow to fuel a high-risk economy. Israel has proven time again that it won’t hesitate to strike a blow against Palestinian infrastructure should they dissent from the current consensus in its favor. Families are risking their possessions as collateral for their debts. Corporations responsible for the global financial collapse are applying their failed models in Palestine. Abraaj Capital, a Dubai-based investment fund that recently sparked fears for debt default, announced a $50 million private equity fund dedicated to “raising standards of living,” mirroring the predatory behavior that led to the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage system in the US.
Investors, Palestinian and internationals, are leading in the efforts for normalization of economic relations with Israel in violation of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) call of Palestinian civil society. There is concern about the growing power that the emerging Palestinian capitalist class can yield over the political process as the personal stakes rise as their economic relationships with Israel intensify. Abbas is said to have yielded to pressure from economic interests when he forfeited UN discussion of the Goldstone report last October causing popular outrage.
The economic peace model comes with a dose of cultural imperialism. Palestinians do not have basic freedoms but they are being told that they can enjoy the mundane and superfluous in cinemas and shopping centers. This is more vividly seen in wall-encircled Ramallah, the seat of the PA government. High-end clubs are appearing to cater for the western-oriented elite. These spaces draw invisible barriers of class and social status that the majority of people cannot relate to or simply cannot afford. This sort of social stratification inevitably leads to the creation of an individualist and self-interested culture and to contentment for the status quo. The availability of disposable income has even encouraged the presence of Russian chains of prostitution in the city. Fahmi Shabaneh, former head of the PA’s Anti-Corruption Department, was forced to quit from his position last year after uncovering a sex scandal involving one of Abbas’ top aides in Ramallah. As expected, the PA denies the accusations. Shabaneh said that “Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the thieves and officials who were involved in theft of public funds and who became icons of financial corruption.”
There is also a division being fostered between the urban and the rural populations. The Palestinians living in the 60 percent of the West Bank officially controlled by Israel, also known as Area C, are continuously dispossessed of their land and gradually being pushed to PA-controlled enclaves. The almost exclusive focus of Fayyad’s plan on the service sector, while ignoring the farming community, will inadvertently lead to acceleration of desertification of the rural areas as the young are pulled to new jobs in the city. The Bantustanization process is accelerating with the construction of Israel’s apartheid wall. The rural population, represented by the popular committees, is now leading resistance against Israel’s encroachment. They have been left without effective political representation, finding themselves in the front line of Israel’s annexationist policies. These two dichotomous realities, the urban and the rural, have left certain sectors of the population in urban centers like Ramallah to be completely oblivious to these struggles only a few miles away.
Hamas’ election in 2006 showed how vital is the Palestinian Authority’s dependence on foreign donors. It also showed how easily donors can turn off the money tap and cause the near destruction of the Palestinian social fabric as in Gaza. The plan that is being forged in the West Bank is fostering such dependence even more, raising the costs for sustaining the Palestinian struggle for liberation. Should the masses awaken from the current delusion, many of the rich elites would not hesitate to turn against their brethren to protect their status and power. Adding to the current political and territorial separation affecting Palestinians, the emerging economic stratification is yet another challenge in the way of Palestinian unity and liberation.
Ziyaad Lunat is an activist for Palestine.
Saudi Arabia is planning to introduce regulations that include licensing internet news sites in a bid to bring them under government control
Carlyle Murphy | The National | February 08. 2010
RIYADH // Saudi Arabia is planning to introduce regulations, including a licensing requirement, for its indigenous internet news sites, which have become a key fixture in the kingdom’s active online community.
The draft regulations, still under study, would require internet-based news sites to request a government licence and to respond to complaints about their content that are received by the ministry of culture and information.
“We want them to feel that they are under our umbrella,” Abdul Rahman al Hazza, spokesman for the ministry, said in a phone interview yesterday.
Mr al Hazza referred to the new rules as “guidelines for the e-press”, and said the idea is to help the electronic media with staffing and financing and give them “somebody to talk to” if they have problems. “It’s going to be simple and easy.”
Asked if the new rules would involve censorship, Mr al Hazza replied: “Not that much.” Mainly, he added, if there are complaints about something written at an online news site, “we just look at it”.
A report last year in the Saudi Gazette said the draft regulations also cover “appointment conditions for editors-in-chief, granting permits to journalists, and invitations to cover news events”.
A 2007 law already subjects online writers to criminal penalties for such things as defamation.
The planned regulations, which Mr al Hazza said are still two to three months away from being finalised by the ministry, are an effort to bring online news sites such as Sabq, Alweeam and A’ajel under government control in much the same way that the country’s traditional daily newspapers are regulated.
It is not clear if news sites like Elaph.com, which is London-based but has a Riyadh office, would also have to get a licence.
Saudi newspapers are licensed by the government and can be temporarily stopped from publishing if they print something upsetting to a government official. But this has been rare in recent years, during which the Saudi print media has been encouraged to report more critically on social and economic problems. There is considerable self-censorship, however, as the media stay away from sensitive issues.
Although the draft regulations under consideration do not apply to bloggers, there are concerns that the government eventually will try to regulate them as well.
“They are not talking about blogs” right now, observed one veteran Saudi blogger, Ahmed Ba-Aboud. “But eventually they will get to us. It is a concern.”
Mr Ba-Aboud, 38, a management consultant in the kingdom’s Eastern Province city of Dhahran, said the government does not understand that online media are attracting readers because they are not controlled like traditional newspapers. “There’s no way I’d send anything I write to the government to censor it,” he said. “That’s not how the internet works.”
Ahmed al Omran, who blogs at http://www.saudijeans.org, was caustic about what he called the ministry’s “dumb idea to regulate so-called electronic media”.
“Ironically, some owners of news websites are actually pushing for this law,” Mr Omran lamented in a posting last month.
“They argue that it would make it easier for them to get funding and make money from advertising. What about their independence and freedom that could be threatened by the new law? Well, apparently these things are not high on their agenda.”
Saudi Arabia’s sprightly blogging community includes both Saudis and foreigners writing in both Arabic and English. It also boasts one of the region’s highest proportion of female bloggers – about 46 per cent, according to a 2009 study by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. About one-third of the kingdom’s population regularly goes online.
The community’s latest arrival showed up February 2, when Mr Ba-Aboud launched a new English-language blog so that outsiders can learn more about “regular people like myself”.
Most foreigners know certain kinds of Saudis, Mr Ba-Aboud said in an interview, including “extremists like Osama bin Laden”, “rich people” and “people related to the government”.
But the voice of ordinary Saudis “does not reach around the globe in a similar magnitude”, he wrote at the new site, http://alternativesaudivoices.wordpress.com.
It will be a sort of communal blog in that Mr Ba-Aboud has invited anyone to contribute a posting, and as co-ordinator, he will post them on the site. Only those that “call for hate or violence” will be rejected, he added.
In an interview last November, Mr al Hazza, the ministry spokesman, said the new regulations arose partly because ordinary citizens “don’t know where to go” to complain about something written at an online news site.
“The problem we have is that there is no government department to refer to … Nobody to evaluate their job to see if they are doing wrong or right.”
Censorship “is not the idea” behind the new rules, he said. “The idea is to regulate.”
Mr al Hazza said a decision will probably be made in the next couple of weeks about whether the new regulations shall be issued by the minister of culture and information, Abdel Aziz al Khoja, or be sent to the Shoura Council for action.
Meanwhile, anyone wanting to send Mr al Khoja a comment on the new rules can reach him at his personal page at Facebook
By Terri Saunders | Ottawa Sun | February 10, 2010
The Canadian government had little concrete evidence when it declared an Ottawa man a national security threat, an intelligence expert suggested Tuesday.
Wesley Wark, an expert in international intelligence and security, told a federal court he believes officials with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had little to go on when they arrested and jailed Mohamed Harkat in 2002 and kept him in jail for three-and-a-half years on a security certificate.
CSIS officials have already testified they considered Harkat, an Algerian native who came to Canada as a refugee in 1995, a threat to national security based on information Harkat had ties to international terrorist organizations such as an Egyptian Islamic group, Le Groupe Islamique Arme (GIA) and Al-Qaida.
Wark said the CSIS report that forms the basis of the government’s case against Harkat contains “no concrete evidence” Harkat was associated with any known terrorist organizations, pointing out some of their allegations against him are based solely on media reports.
“It’s like trying to grab at thin air,” said Wark. “It’s a paper trail you can’t follow.”
Wark pointed to one source the CSIS report cites to show Harkat’s connection to the Egyptian group known as AGAI — an Italian news article which reported an address book found at a safehouse during an investigation into a French terror cell contained the name Mohamed Adnani, one of the names CSIS claims Harkat used as an alias.
Wark said he found nothing in the report which proved such an allegation.
“There’s no explanation as to why they believe Adnani and Harkat are one and the same person,” said Wark. “Harkat never spent time in Egypt. How he would have become a member of AGAI is not explained.”
Wark also suggested the government’s assertions Harkat was sent to Canada as an Al-Qaida sleeper agent are not supported by evidence. He said there’s no clear link between Harkat and Osama Bin Laden’s core network or any affiliated terrorist groups.
“Very little evidence has come to light in the post-9/11 world that sleeper cells do exist,” said Wark. “The fear they might exist is understandable, but evidence is an entirely different thing. With time, you have to wonder if that fear was reasonable.”
Netanyahu to EU envoys:
“In the last two days the brutal regime in Tehran has made more outrageous statements, including the implicit call for the extermination of my country. Israel expects all responsible governments, including all those represented here, to forcefully condemn these outrageous statements.”
“But I think what is required is a lot more than words, Iran is racing forward to produce nuclear weapons in brazen defiance of the international community. And the international community must decide if it is serious about neutralizing this threat to Israel, the region and the entire word. I believe that what is required right now is tough action from the international community.”
“This means not moderate sanctions or watered down sanctions, this means crippling sanctions, and these sanctions must be applied right now.” – February 9, 2010
BBC | February 10, 2010
American forces in Iraq have released an Iraqi freelance photographer held in detention for 17 months without charge. Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed, who worked for Reuters, was arrested in September 2008 in a dawn raid on his home.
The US said the photographer was a “security threat”, but all evidence against him was classified secret. An Iraqi court had ruled in December 2008 that there was no case against him and that he must be released, but the US military refused.
“How can I describe my feelings? This is like being born again.” Mr Jassam told Reuters.
According to Reuters, the US accusations were based on his “activities with insurgents”.
“The term ‘insurgents’ in Iraq generally refers to Sunni Islamist groups, like al-Qaeda. Jassam is a Shia Muslim,” the news agency said.
The US military has detained a number of Iraqi journalists working for international news organisations, but none have been convicted. It has been criticised by press freedom organisations such as Reporters Without Borders.
Americans have been losing the protection of law for years. In the 21st century the loss of legal protections accelerated with the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” which continues under the Obama administration and is essentially a war on the Constitution and U.S. civil liberties.
The Bush regime was determined to vitiate habeas corpus in order to hold people indefinitely without bringing charges. The regime had acquired hundreds of prisoners by paying a bounty for terrorists. Afghan warlords and thugs responded to the financial incentive by grabbing unprotected people and selling them to the Americans.
The Bush regime needed to hold the prisoners without charges because it had no evidence against the people and did not want to admit that the U.S. government had stupidly paid warlords and thugs to kidnap innocent people. In addition, the Bush regime needed “terrorists” prisoners in order to prove that there was a terrorist threat.
As there was no evidence against the “detainees” (most have been released without charges after years of detention and abuse), the U.S. government needed a way around U.S. and international laws against torture in order that the government could produce evidence via self-incrimination. The Bush regime found inhumane and totalitarian-minded lawyers and put them to work at the U.S. Department of Justice (sic) to invent arguments that the Bush regime did not need to obey the law.
The Bush regime created a new classification for its detainees that it used to justify denying legal protection and due process to the detainees. As the detainees were not U.S. citizens and were demonized by the regime as “the 760 most dangerous men on earth,” there was little public outcry over the regime’s unconstitutional and inhumane actions.
As our Founding Fathers and a long list of scholars warned, once civil liberties are breached, they are breached for all. Soon U.S. citizens were being held indefinitely in violation of their habeas corpus rights. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an American citizen of Pakistani origin, might have been the first.
Dr. Siddiqui, a scientist educated at MIT and Brandeis University, was seized in Pakistan for no known reason, sent to Afghanistan, and was held secretly for five years in the U.S. military’s notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan. Her three young children, one an 8-month-old baby, were with her at the time she was abducted. She has no idea what has become of her two youngest children. Her oldest child, 7 years old, was also incarcerated in Bagram and subjected to similar abuse and horrors.
Siddiqui has never been charged with any terrorism-related offense. A British journalist, hearing her piercing screams as she was being tortured, disclosed her presence.. An embarrassed U.S. government responded to the disclosure by sending Siddiqui to the U.S. for trial on the trumped-up charge that while a captive, she grabbed a U.S. soldier’s rifle and fired two shots attempting to shoot him. The charge apparently originated as a U.S. soldier’s excuse for shooting Dr. Siddiqui twice in the stomach, resulting in her near death.
On Feb. 4, Dr. Siddiqui was convicted by a New York jury for attempted murder. The only evidence presented against her was the charge itself and an unsubstantiated claim that she had once taken a pistol-firing course at an American firing range. No evidence was presented of her fingerprints on the rifle that this frail and broken 100-pound woman had allegedly seized from an American soldier. No evidence was presented that a weapon was fired, no bullets, no shell casings, no bullet holes. Just an accusation.
Wikipedia has this to say about the trial: “The trial took an unusual turn when an FBI official asserted that the fingerprints taken from the rifle, which was purportedly used by Aafia to shoot at the U.S. interrogators, did not match hers.”
An ignorant and bigoted American jury convicted her for being a Muslim. This is the kind of “justice” that always results when the state hypes fear and demonizes a group.
The people who should have been on trial are the people who abducted her, disappeared her young children, shipped her across international borders, violated her civil liberties, tortured her apparently for the fun of it, raped her, and attempted to murder her with two gunshots to her stomach. Instead, the victim was put on trial and convicted.
This is the unmistakable hallmark of a police state. And this victim is an American citizen.
Anyone can be next. Indeed, on Feb. 3 Dennis Blair, director of National Intelligence told the House Intelligence Committee that it was now “defined policy” that the U.S. government can murder its own citizens on the sole basis of someone in the government’s judgment that an American is a threat. No arrest, no trial, no conviction, just execution on suspicion of being a threat.
This shows how far the police state has advanced. A presidential appointee in the Obama administration tells an important committee of Congress that the executive branch has decided that it can murder American citizens abroad if it thinks they are a threat.
I can hear readers saying the government might as well kill Americans abroad as it kills them at home–Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Black Panthers.
Yes, the U.S. government has murdered its citizens, but Dennis Blair’s “defined policy” is a bold new development. The government, of course, denies that it intended to kill the Branch Davidians, Randy Weaver’s wife and child, or the Black Panthers. The government says that Waco was a terrible tragedy, an unintended result brought on by the Branch Davidians themselves. The government says that Ruby Ridge was Randy Weaver’s fault for not appearing in court on a day that had been miscommunicated to him. The Black Panthers, the government says, were dangerous criminals who insisted on a shoot-out.
In no previous death of a U.S. citizen by the hands of the U.S. government has the government claimed the right to kill Americans without arrest, trial, and conviction of a capital crime.
In contrast, Dennis Blair has told the U.S. Congress that the executive branch has assumed the right to murder Americans who it deems a “threat.”
What defines “threat”? Who will make the decision? What it means is that the government will murder whomever it chooses.
There is no more complete or compelling evidence of a police state than the government announcing that it will murder its own citizens if it views them as a “threat.”
Ironic, isn’t it, that “the war on terror” to make us safe ends in a police state with the government declaring the right to murder American citizens whom it regards as a threat.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.