The prisoner of Dhaka By John Pilger

Dandelion Salad

By John Pilger
03/13/08 “ICH

This illegal incarceration should be a global cause celebre, but instead there is a shameful silence

There is a decent, brave man sitting in a dungeon in a country where the British empire began – a country of poets, singers, artists, free thinkers and petty tyrants. I have known him since a moonless night in 1971 when he led me clandestinely into what was then East Pakistan and is now Bangladesh, past villages the Pakistani army had raped and razed. His name is Moudud Ahmed and he was then a young lawyer who had defended the Bengali independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

“Why have you come when even crows are afraid to fly over our house,” said Begum Mujib, the sheikh’s wife. This was typical of Moudud, whose tumultuous life carries more than a hint of Tom Paine.

As a schoolboy, Moudud wet his shirt with the blood of a young man killed demonstrating against the imposition of “Urdu and only Urdu” as the official language of Bangla-speaking East Pakistan. When the British attacked Egypt in 1956, he tried to haul down the union flag at the British consulate in Dhaka, and was bayoneted by police: a wound he still suffers.

When Bangladesh – free Bengal – was declared in 1971, Moudud brought a rally to its feet when he held up the front page of the Daily Mirror, which carried my report beneath the headline, BIRTH OF A NATION. “We are alive, but we are not yet free,” he said, prophetically.

Once in power, Sheikh Mujib turned on his own democrats and held show trials at which Moudud was their indefatigable defender until he himself was arrested.

Assassination, coup and counter coup eventually led to a parliamentary period headed by Zia ur-Rahman, a liberation general with whom Moudud agreed to serve as deputy prime minister on condition Zia resigned from the army. Together they formed a grassroots party, but when Moudud insisted that it must be democratic, he was sacked.

Whenever he came to London he would phone those of us who had reported the liberation of Bangladesh and we would meet for a curry. His pinstriped suit and inns-of-court manner belied his own enduring struggle and that of his homeland: recurring floods and the conflict between feudalists and democrats and, later, fundamentalists.

“I am the prime minister now,” he once said, as if we had not heard. Outspoken about his people’s “right to social and economic justice”, especially women, he was duly arrested again, then won his parliamentary seat from prison.

On April 12 last year, late at night, 25 soldiers smashed into Moudud’s house in Dhaka. They had no warrant. They stripped his home and “rendered” him, blindfolded, to a place known only as “the black hole”. There, he was interrogated and tortured and forced to sign a confession. He was finally charged with the possession of alcohol – a few bottles of wine and cans of beer had been found. The supreme court declared his prosecution and detention illegal. This was ignored by the government, which calls itself a “caretaker” administration, but is a front for a military dictatorship.

Moudud is suffering from a pituitary tumour and has been denied medication for six months. He is terribly ill, says his wife, the poet Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud. “Thousands of people have been detained for being activists, or just supporters,” she says. “The country is a prison, and the world must know.”

There are striking similarities between Moudud’s case and that of the Malaysian opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, who this week all but overturned the old, autocratic regime. Both were framed in order to silence them. The difference is that Anwar Ibrahim’s case became an international cause celebre, whereas there is only silence for Moudud Ahmed, locked in his cell, ill, without charge or trial.

In the next few days, Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed, the “chief adviser” to the caretaker government – in effect, the head of Bangladesh’s government – will visit London. He is said to have a meeting arranged at 10 Downing Street. I and others have written to Dr Fakhruddin, asking him to comply with the supreme court’s ruling and to release Moudud. He has not replied. If Gordon Brown’s recent pronouncements on liberty have a shred of meaning, it is the question he must ask.

www.johnpilger.com

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Emerging Out of the Violence (video)

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NewAmericaFoundation

Given the Israeli-Palestinian violence of the past few weeks, Ben-Ami will address the “how to’s” of a ceasefire plan, the ongoing security dilemmas, management of the Hamas-Fatah-Israel triangle, a return to permanent status negotiations, and the role that United States and the international community needs to play in all these stages. He will also share his insights regarding the uncertain regional context in the Middle East with respect to the role of Egypt, Iran, Syria, the Arab League Initiative, and the requirements for brokering peace in the region.

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Only The State Can Teach Children Correctly By William Mac

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ThisWeekInTime

This Week in Time has been all about the race to brainwash American children.William Mac talks about the struggle between courts and parents of home schoolers trying to maintain the right to educate their children at home as well as the new experiments in New York schools where kids are being rewarded cash for good test scores.William Mac asks, “what ever happened to gold stars or smiley face stickers?” Continue reading

Davis Fleetwood Nominated For “Best Of Youtube 2007” + 3AM (video)

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Updated: March 14, 2008 added video

Davis Fleetwood

DAVIS FLEETWOOD NOMINATED FOR “BEST OF YOUTUBE 2007”
go here to vote:
VOTE HERE & VOTE OFTEN

http://www.youtube.com/ytawards07

Hey Friends- My video: Students: A Challenge For You
has been nominated for Best Politics Video of 2007 in
the second annual YouTube Awards. The voting has
begun- please go here to vote for me:
GO HERE TO VOTE- VOTE OFTEN!

(there are 12 categories, click POLITICS)

Winning might be a big deal, but I have stiff
competition, so please vote once- VOTE OFTEN, and tell all of your
friends, all of your enemies to vote for me.

Many thanks:
D
please go here to vote for me:
http://www.youtube.com/ytawards07

***

3AM

March 14, 2008

OK GO goes to Washington to Save the Internet (video)

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SaveTheInternet

http://SavetheInternet.com
http://futureofmusic.org/rockthenet

OK Go calls on their fans and Congress and to support Net Neutrality. Take action at http://SavetheInternet.com

Continue reading

The Deployment of US Troops inside Canada by Michel Chossudovsky

Dandelion Salad

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, March 13, 2008

On February 14th, Canada and the US signed an agreement for the deployment of US troops inside Canada. 

There was no official announcement nor was there a formal decision at the governmental level.  

In fact the agreement was barely mentioned by the Canadian media. 

The agreement, which raises issues of national sovereignty, was not between the two governments. It was signed ny military commanding officers. U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) released a statement confirming that the agreement had been signed between US NORTHCOM and Canada Command, namely between the military commands of each country. Canada Command was established in February 2006. 

U.S. Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, and Canadian Air Force Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, commander of Canada Command, have signed a Civil Assistance Plan that allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.

“This document is a unique, bilateral military plan to align our respective national military plans to respond quickly to the other nation’s requests for military support of civil authorities,” Renuart said. “Unity of effort during bilateral support for civil support operations such as floods, forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and effects of a terrorist attack, in order to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate damage to property, is of the highest importance, and we need to be able to have forces that are flexible and adaptive to support rapid decision-making in a collaborative environment.”

“The signing of this plan is an important symbol of the already strong working relationship between Canada Command and U.S. Northern Command,” Dumais said. “Our commands were created by our respective governments to respond to the defense and security challenges of the twenty-first century, and we both realize that these and other challenges are best met through cooperation between friends.”

The plan recognizes the role of each nation’s lead federal agency for emergency preparedness, which in the United States is the Department of Homeland Security and in Canada is Public Safety Canada. The plan facilitates the military-to-military support of civil authorities once government authorities have agreed on an appropriate response.

U.S. Northern Command was established on Oct. 1, 2002, to anticipate and conduct homeland defense and civil support operations within the assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect, and secure the United States and its interests.

Similarly, Canada Command was established on Feb. 1, 2006, to focus on domestic operations and to offer a single point of contact for all domestic and continental defense and security partners.

The two domestic commands established strong bilateral ties well before the signing of the Civil Assistance Plan. The two commanders and their staffs meet regularly, collaborate on contingency planning and participate in related annual exercises.

(NORTHCOM website:
http://www.northcom.mil/News/2008/021408.html

The Decision to Allow the Deployment of US Troops inside Canada was taken in April 2002

While a formal agreement was reached in February 2008, the decision to allow the deployment of US troops in Canada was taken in April 2002. . 

Territorial control over Canada is part of Washington’s geopolitical and military agenda as formulated in April 2002 by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  “Binational integration” of military command structures was also contemplated alongside a major revamping in the areas of immigration, law enforcement and intelligence.

The matter has been known for more than five years. It has been deliberately obfuscated. There  has been no public debate. It has not received news coverage nor has it been the object of discussion in the Canadian parliament or the US Congress. 

In a text published in 2004 entitled Is the Annexation of Canada Part of Bush’s Military Agenda?, I provided a detailed analysis of the process of integration of military command structures. The Toronto Star had accepted to publish an abridged version of my November 2004 text as an oped. It never appeared in print. Below is a summary of my November 2004 text as well as a link to the original article:

The creation of NORTHCOM announced in April 2002, constitutes a blatant violation of both Canadian and Mexican territorial sovereignty. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced unilaterally that US Northern Command would have jurisdiction over the entire North American region. Canada and Mexico were presented with a fait accompli. US Northern Command’s jurisdiction as outlined by the US DoD includes, in addition to the continental US, all of Canada, Mexico, as well as portions of the Caribbean, contiguous waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans up to 500 miles off the Mexican, US and Canadian coastlines as well as the Canadian Arctic.

NorthCom’s stated mandate is to “provide a necessary focus for [continental] aerospace, land and sea defenses, and critical support for [the] nation’s civil authorities in times of national need.”

(Canada-US Relations – Defense Partnership – July 2003, Canadian American Strategic Review (CASR),
http://www.sfu.ca/casr/ft-lagasse1.htm

Rumsfeld is said to have boasted that “the NORTHCOM – with all of North America as its geographic command – ‘is part of the greatest transformation of the Unified Command Plan [UCP] since its inception in 1947.'” (Ibid)

Following Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s refusal to join NORTHCOM, a high-level so-called “consultative” Binational Planning Group (BPG), operating out of the Peterson Air Force base, was set up in late 2002, with a mandate to “prepare contingency plans to respond to [land and sea] threats and attacks, and other major emergencies in Canada or the United States”.

The BPG’s mandate goes far beyond the jurisdiction of a consultative military body making “recommendations” to government. In practice, it is neither accountable to the US Congress nor to the Canadian House of Commons.

The BPG has a staff of fifty US and Canadian “military planners”, who have been working diligently for the last two years in laying the groundwork for the integration of Canada-US military command structures. The BPG works in close coordination with the Canada-U.S. Military Cooperation Committee at the Pentagon, a so-called ” panel responsible for detailed joint military planning”.

Broadly speaking, its activities consist of two main building blocks: the Combined Defense Plan (CDP) and The Civil Assistance Plan (CAP).

The Militarisation of Civilian Institutions

As part of its Civil Assistance Plan (CAP), the BPG is involved in supporting the ongoing militarisation of civilian law enforcement and judicial functions in both the US and Canada. The BPG has established “military contingency plans” which would be activated “on both sides of the Canada-US border” in the case of a terror attack or “threat”. Under the BPG’s Civil Assistance Plan (CAP), these so-called “threat scenarios” would involve:

“coordinated response to national requests for military assistance [from civil authorities] in the event of a threat, attack, or civil emergency in the US or Canada.”

In December 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the Canadian government reached an agreement with the Head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, entitled the “Canada-US Smart Border Declaration.” Shrouded in secrecy, this agreement essentially hands over to the Homeland Security Department, confidential information on Canadian citizens and residents. It also provides US authorities with access to the tax records of Canadians.

What these developments suggest is that the process of “binational integration” is not only occurring in the military command structures but also in the areas of immigration, police and intelligence. The question is what will be left over within Canada’s jurisdiction as a sovereign nation, once this ongoing process of binational integration, including the sharing and/or merger of data banks, is completed?

Canada and NORTHCOM

Canada is slated to become a member of NORTHCOM at the end of the BPG’s two years mandate.

No doubt, the issue will be presented in Parliament as being “in the national interest”. It “will create jobs for Canadians” and “will make Canada more secure”.

Meanwhile, the important debate on Canada’s participation in the US Ballistic Missile Shield, when viewed out of the broader context,  may serve to divert public attention away from the more fundamental issue of North American military integration which implies Canada’s acceptance not only of the Ballistic Missile Shield, but of the entire US war agenda, including significant hikes in defense spending which will be allocated to a North American defense program controlled by the Pentagon.

And ultimately what is at stake is that beneath the rhetoric, Canada will cease to function as a Nation:

  • Its borders will be controlled by US officials and confidential information on Canadians will be shared with Homeland Security.
  • US troops and Special Forces will be able to enter Canada as a result of a binational arrangement.
Canadian citizens can be arrested by US officials, acting on behalf of their Canadian counterparts and vice versa.

But there is something perhaps even more fundamental in defining and understanding where Canada and Canadians stand as a Nation.

The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. It has formulated the contours of an imperial project of World domination. Canada is contiguous to “the center of the empire”. Territorial control over Canada is part of the US geopolitical and military agenda.

The Liberals as well as the opposition Conservative party have endorsed embraced the US war agenda. By endorsing a Canada-US “integration” in the spheres of defense, homeland security, police and intelligence, Canada not only becomes a full fledged member of George W. Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing”, it will directly participate, through integrated military command structures, in the US war agenda in Central Asia and the Middle East, including the massacre of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture of POWs, the establishment of concentration camps, etc.

Under an integrated North American Command, a North American national security doctrine would be formulated. Canada would be obliged to embrace Washington’s pre-emptive military doctrine, including the use of nuclear warheads as a means of self defense, which was ratified by the US Senate in December 2003. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The US Nuclear Option and the “War on Terrorism” http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO405A.html May 2004)

Moreover, binational integration in the areas of Homeland security, immigration, policing of the US-Canada border, not to mention the anti-terrorist legislation, would imply pari passu acceptance of the US sponsored police State, its racist policies, its “ethnic profiling” directed against Muslims, the arbitrary arrest of anti-war activists.


Links to Articles

Is the Annexation of Canada Part of Bush’s Military Agenda? by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2007-07-18 (first published in November 2004)

Canada and America: Missile Defense and the Vows of Military Integration – by Michel Chossudovsky – 2005-02-23 (accepted for publication as an OpEd by the Toronto Star)   

Continental Integration of Military Command Structures: A Threat to Canada’s Sovereignty – by Michel Chossudovsky – 2006-05-12

Canadian Sovereignty in Jeopardy: the Militarization of North America by Michel Chossudovsky – 2007-08-17

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8323

Dennis Kucinich: You Can’t Secure Our Nation With LIES!

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CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

March 13, 2008 C-SPAN

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Debate about Secret Session in House of Representatives (videos)

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Watching the Dollar Die By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
13/03/08 “ICH

I’ve been watching the dollar die all my life. I sometimes think I will outlast it.

When I was a young man, gold was $35 an ounce. Today one ounce gold bullion coins, such as the Canadian Maple Leaf, cost more than $1,000.

Our coinage was silver. Our dimes, quarters, and half dollars had purchasing power. Even the nickel could purchase a candy bar, ice cream cone or soft drink, and a penny could purchase bubble gum or hard candy. If a kid could collect 5 discarded soft drink bottles from a construction site, the 2 cents deposit on the returnable bottles was enough for the Saturday afternoon movie. Gasoline was 32 cents a gallon. A dollar’s worth was enough for a Saturday night date.

Our silver coinage was 90% silver. People sometimes melted coins in order to make silver spoons, known as coin silver, which can still be found in antique shops. Except for the reduced silver (40%) Kennedy half dollar which continued until 1970, 1964 was the last year of America’s silver coinage. The copper penny departed in 1982. As Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, I opposed the demise of America’s last commodity money, but I couldn’t prevent the copper penny’s death.

During World War II (1941-1945), nickel was diverted from coinage to war, and the US mint issued a wartime silver (35%) nickel.

It is not easy to find items to purchase with today’s US coins, but the silver coins of the same face value still have purchasing power. The 10 cent piece of my youth contains $1.42 worth of silver at today’s silver price. The quarter is worth $3.55, and the half dollar contains $7.10 of silver. The silver dollar is worth 15.2 times its face value. These are just the silver values of coins that might be worth far more depending on condition and rarity. The silver in the wartime nickel is worth $1.10, which is 22 times the coin’s face value. Even the copper penny is worth 2.5 cents.

When I was a young man enjoying travels in Europe, the German mark or Swiss franc traded four to one US dollar. The euro, which is today’s equivalent to the mark or franc, costs $1.55.

People who haven’t accumulated much age have little idea of the corrosive power of “acceptable” inflation. Unlike gold and silver, fiat money has no intrinsic value. When money is created faster than goods and services it drives up prices, thus driving down the value of the money. If freely traded currencies are excessively printed or if inflation, budget deficits, and trade deficits drive currencies off their fixed exchange rates, prices of imports rise as the foreign exchange value of the currency falls.

Today the US, heavily dependent on imports, is subject to double-barrel inflation from both domestic money creation and decline in the dollar’s foreign exchange value.

The US inflation rate is about twice as high as the government’s inflation measures report. In order to hold down Social Security payments, the government changed the way it measures inflation. In the old measure, inflation measured the nominal cost of a defined standard of living. If the price of steak rose, up went the inflation rate. Today if the price of steak rises, the government assumes that people switch to hamburger. Inflation doesn’t go up. Instead, the standard of living it measures goes down.

This is just one of the many ways that the government pulls the wool over our eyes.

With the dollar value of the euro rising through the roof, today a vacation in Europe is far more costly than in the past. Thanks to China, so far Americans have been sheltered from the greatest effects of the dollar’s declining value. Our greatest trade deficit is with China. The prices of the goods from China have not risen, because China keeps its currency pegged to the dollar. As the dollar goes down, China’s currency goes with it, thus holding down price rises.

The resignation of Admiral William Fallon as US military commander in the Middle East probably signals a Bush Regime attack on Iran. Fallon said that there would be no US attack on Iran on his watch. As there was no reason for Fallon to resign, it is not farfetched to conclude that Bush has removed an obstacle to war with Iran.

The US is already over stretched both militarily and economically. An attack on Iran is likely to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.


Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Change for a penny? With pennies, nickels costing more to make than they’re worth, Congress considers metal makeover h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

Republicans & “Free Market” Zealots Bring Death To America

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
03/13/08 “ICH

March 12. Crude oil for April delivery hit $110 per barrel. The US dollar fell to a new low against the Euro. It now takes $1.55 to purchase one Euro.

These new highs against the dollar are the ongoing story of the collapse of the US dollar as world reserve currency and corresponding collapse of American power.

Each new decision from the insane Bush Regime pushes the dollar a little further along to oblivion. The same Fed announcement that boosted the stock market on March 11 sent the dollar reeling and the price of oil up. The Fed’s announcement that it and other central banks are going to deal with the derivative crisis by monetizing $200 billion of the troubled instruments signaled more dollar inflation.

Of course, something needed to be done to forestall an implosion of the financial system, but a less costly alternative was at hand. The mark-to-market rule could have been suspended in order to halt the forced sale and write down of assets and to provide time in which to sort out derivative values, which are higher than the fire sale prices.

More pressure on the dollar resulted from the decision to award the European company, Airbus, a $40 billion contract that could reach $100 billion to build US Air Force tankers. In simple terms, that means another $40 to $100 billion added to the US trade deficit, and a loss of $40 to $100 billion in US Gross Domestic Product and associated jobs.

Of course, the Bush Regime had to award the contract to Europe as a payoff for Europe’s support of the Bush Regime’s wars of aggression in the Middle East. Europe is not going to provide Bush with diplomatic cover for his wars and NATO troops for his war in Afghanistan without a payoff.

Here is the picture: The US economy, which has been kept alive by enormous debt expansion that has over-reached its limit, is falling into recession. The traditional way out by expanding the supply of money and credit is blocked by the impaired banking system, the levels of consumer debt, the collapsing value of the US dollar, and rising inflation.

The Bush Regime is attempting to bypass the stalled credit expansion by sending Americans $600 checks, money that will mainly be used to reduce existing credit card debt and not to fund new consumption.

The US is dependent on foreigners not only for energy but also for manufactured goods and advanced technology products. The US is dependent on foreigners to finance our consumption of $800 billion annually more than the US produces. The US is dependent on foreigners to finance its red ink wars, and the US government’s budget deficit is now expanding as tax revenues decline with the declining economy.

The bottom line: US power is enfeebled. US power depends on the willingness of foreigners to finance our wars and on the willingness of foreigners to continue to accumulate depreciating dollar assets.

The US cannot close its trade deficit. Oil prices are rising, and offshore production of goods and services for US markets results in a dollar-for-dollar increase in imports, while reducing the supply of domestic goods available for export.

The US cannot close its budget deficit while it is squandering vast sums on wars that serve no US purpose, handing out $150 billion in red ink rebates, and falling into recession.

US living standards, which have been stagnant for years, will plummet once dollar decline forces China off the dollar peg. So far prices of the Chinese made goods on Wal-Mart shelves have not risen, because the Chinese currency, pegged to the dollar, falls in value with the dollar. In a word, tottering US living standards are being supported by China’s willingness to subsidize US consumption by keeping its currency grossly undervalued.

The US is overextended economically and militarily, just as was Great Britain with the fall of France in the opening days of World War II. The British had the Americans to bail them out. After the chewing gum and bailing wire patch-ups are exhausted, who is going to bail us out?

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Yassin Aref’s Struggle for Justice in Police State America by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, March 13, 2008

Yassin Aref is a 37 year old Albany, New York resident and one of many Muslim victims of police state justice in post-9/11 America. They’ve been hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence and trumped-up charges, then incarcerated as political prisoners or deported to where they face possible arrest and torture.

Because of his faith and ethnicity, Aref was victimized by US “justice” in a post-9/11 climate of fear. He’s an Iraqi Kurd who emigrated to the US as a UN refugee in 1999 with his wife and three young children. He’s now in federal prison but committed no crime. He’s also the author of a poignant memoir/autobiography titled “Son of Mountains: My Life as a Kurd and a Terror Suspect.” He wrote it in custody at Troy, New York’s Rensselaer County Jail after his wrongful conviction in October 2006.

It’s his story in prose and poetry covering much more than his arrest, conviction and imprisonment. It’s an account of an early life in poverty, his struggle to survive, his time in exile, of a two-time immigrant, and a UN refugee who sought peace and freedom in America but instead was persecuted. It’s his story of wrongful conviction, of grave injustice, of a militarized state, of his constitutional rights denied, of despotism run amuck, of a nation where no one is safe, where many hundreds like him are imprisoned, and where we’re all Yassins in police state America.

The story concludes with a powerful essay by pro bono lawyer, Stephen Downs, that details how Yassin was framed and wrongfully convicted. It explains how he “never before in (his) professional life (of over 35 years) encountered a deliberate frame-up. (He) was familiar with prosecutorial abuses” wrongful convictions, “sloppy police work, concealment of errors, hubris and arrogance, but what happened to Yassin was (much) different.”

The government deliberately fabricated bogus charges and plotted to convict a man they knew was innocent. It was a “cold, calculating plan carried out over a long period of time, costing millions of dollars and involving dozens of agents, prosecutors, and the acquiescence of high-level officials, to convict two men of terrorism who had no involvement or interest in (it)….I could not adapt….to this new reality. For me, Yassin’s case (won’t end) until (his) injustice (is) corrected. Besides, (he’s) now my brother.” Today, we’re all Yassin’s brothers and sisters and must stand with him for justice.

The FBI Plot

In August 2004, FBI agents arrested Aref and Mohammed Hossain as part of a counterterrorism sting operation based on an unsubstantiated claim: that his name, address and phone number were in a notebook in a “bombed out Iraqi encampment.” The information was classified and unavailable to his defense counsel even though he’s cleared for security. The government first claimed Aref was called “commander.” It then admitted there was a “mistranslation” and the Kurdish word “kak” means brother and is a common term of respect.

Aref originates from Iraqi Kurdistan where his grandfather was a famous imam, and Aref was known and respected in the area. No information is available on the target was bombed, whether a notebook really exists, or what’s in it if it does. Its “contents” are classified and kept under wraps, so that automatically raises suspicions about their authenticity or existence.

Nonetheless, the FBI claims Aref was tied to Mullar Krekar, Ansar al-Islam’s founder. It’s a Kurdish Sunni group that supposedly promotes radical Islamic and Jihad views. Since 1991, Krekar lived in Norway as a political refugee. While there, police investigated him for seven months, found incriminating evidence, and in April 2003 the country’s Supreme Court acquitted him of terrorism charges. In spite of it, US authorities recharged him with consorting with Ansar to carry out 2003 suicide bombings in northern Iraq.

Norwegian police then reopened their investigation, went to Iraq, and what they learned was disquieting. The key witness (Didar Khalan) was in Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) custody, and his statement was obtained through torture. He subsequently retracted it, said he never met Krekar, and Norwegian authorities dropped all charges they believed had no basis in fact.

The real issue is this. In mid-2002, US officials sought Ansar’s support for its planned Iraq invasion. When Krekar refused, Washington targeted him and his group. It got Jordan to demand his extradition on drugs-smuggling charges with no substantiating evidence. It also called Ansar the “missing link” between Saddam and Al Qaeda, and the New York Times mysteriously uncovered evidence of the group’s tie to bin Laden. The PUK was the rest of the “link” on a trumped up Ansar- Baathist connection. It was all untrue, but in February 2003, the State Department designated Ansar a “foreign terrorist organization (FTO),” claimed it was “one of the leading groups (against) Coalition (forces) in Iraq,” and accused Krekar as the group’s founder.

It also got Aref in trouble with trumped-up charges of his ties to Krekar and secret “evidence” supposedly proving it. After marrying, Aref left Iraq in 1994 and lived for five years in Syria. While there, the UN approved his refugee status and right to emigrate that allowed him to come to America. While still in Syria, he worked as a gardener, lost his job in 1998, and was hired by the Damascus office of an Islamic Kurdish US ally opposed to Saddam Hussein – the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK). Krekar was an IMK official. In 2001, two years after Aref left Syria, he formed Ansar al-Islam. Aref briefly met him in Damascus but neither knew him or espoused his views.

In 1999, Aref and his family came to America and worked as a hospital janitor and ambulance driver. A year later he became the Masjid As Salam Mosque’s imam. Aref’s troubles began when FBI agents targeted him in a 2003 sting operation that his lawyers call a frame-up. They convinced a Pakistani informant (facing a long prison sentence and deportation on fraud charges) to approach Aref’s friend, Mohammed Mosharref Hossain (a Bangladesh immigrant and US citizen), as a way to target him.

Shahed Hussein was the informant, he was known as Malik, and here’s the essence of the scheme:

— Malik was wired to secretly record all conversations with his targets;

— he offered Hossain a $50,000 loan, pretending an interest in his pizza shop; as a show of good faith, he asked for $45,000 in checks so Hossain could keep the rest;

— Hossain was told the money came from a surface-to-air (SAM) Chinese missile purchase that was intended for a group called JEM (Jaish-e-Mohammed – a Pakistani-based Islamic group that’s also a designated FTO); and

— the missile supposedly would be used against the Pakistani ambassador in New York.

It was all untrue, Malik was a willing FBI accomplice, Hossain thought JEM was a musical group, and he knew nothing about terrorism. He went along with the arrangement, and according to Muslim custom, brought in Aref to witness it. Later, the government arrested both men and claimed Aref was part of a money laundering and terrorist scheme. Aref’s defense argued that he spoke poor English at the time, believed the loan was legitimate, was unaware of any laws broken, and the affair was a plot to entrap him.

Moreover, in January 2006, the defense learned that “evidence” was illegally obtained through NSA warrantless wiretapping and filed a motion to suppress it. It was denied. The defense appealed and was joined by the New York ACLU. Their appeal was denied on procedural grounds that no action could be taken while the case was still pending. It was unclear how this and other classified evidence (99% withheld from the defense) affected the trial. However, the Court instructed the jury that “the FBI had good and valid suspicions for investigating Yassin Aref.”

He and Hossain were arrested in August 2004 and convicted in October 2006 – Hossain on 27 counts and Aref on 10 of 30 charges of money laundering, conspiracy to provide material support for a terrorist plot, terrorism, and making false statements in February 2002 and August 2004.

In March 2007, both men were sentenced to 15 years in prison and have filed appeals. In addition, Aref’s counsel filed a lengthy sentencing memorandum to the US District Court for the Northern District of New York. It detailed his client’s history and character and concluded as follows:

….”this case….raises a lot of troubling issues (including) the nature of the sting operation, targeting two individuals who had never been in any trouble before, and who clearly were not involved in any illegal activity at the time the informant entered their lives…. Moreover, the case occurred in a post-9/11 climate of great fear when ordinary Americans had become suspicious of Muslims…..history will recognize that this case never should have happened, and that the two defendants were the victims of an unfortunate over-reaction….Yassin Aref asks that the Court seriously consider his entire history and character (and) all (his) letters (of support,) the troubling nature of the case, and impose a truly just sentence.”

Before sentencing, Aref professed his innocence and addressed the Court in imperfect English: ….”I know you, (your) Honor, and every single person and everybody, FBI, they check all my record, all my life, they interview thousands of the people….they knew never I did any violence, never I participate in any fighting, never I support any terrorist group….everybody knew I did nothing to be one day in the jail for. And I did not come to this country to be in the jail. I came to be free. I did not come to this country to destroy (it). I came to be my life. I (didn’t) threaten any human being….I came for my children to be safe from terrorist….I believe what’s done for me it is unfair and I believe, (your) Honor, it is your duty to make sure that justice has been served.”

The prosecution asked for 30 years. The Court imposed 15. After the convictions, the Muslim Solidarity Committee (MSC) was formed to support Aref, Hossain and their families. It collected letters and around 1000 petition signatures asking the Court for leniency. It also held vigils twice weekly between conviction and sentencing and raised funds to support the two families. IMC members were traumatized by the verdict and knew it could happen to them. Others in the community were also outraged because Aref was innocent and was targeted for political reasons. They united with a committed goal – to exonerate Aref and Hossain, get all charges against them dropped, and protect their families from further harm.

For now, however, Aref remains a victim of US justice. After sentencing, he endured a punishing 43 day odyssey that took him to Terre Haute, Indiana federal prison. But first he was sent to federal facilities in Massachusetts, Brooklyn, Oklahoma City and the Ray Brook, New York Correctional Institution about which he recounted his first days:

They “placed (him) in the special housing unit (SHU) or, as they call it, the Hole. Even in that unit they placed (him) in a special cell. (He) was alone by (himself), the rest of the prisoners were in double cells. (His) cell was so small and had a concrete bed in the middle of it where there was no room to talk and a small window with frosted glass, one could not see outside. The unit was like a basement and it was a nasty and filthy place. (He) was shocked to see that!….(He) did not know why (he was there). (He) was thinking how the place was (and) asking (himself) – how can such a place exist in the United States?

….It was like a bad dream….(He) had no mail….no books to read….no commissary….no cellmate….not even a call to (his) attorney!!….(He believed) the reason (he was convicted was) that (he) is a Muslim (with) a beard, not because (he) did something wrong….(and because he doesn’t) know English well….am from the Middle East and speak Arabic (and) am not a citizen. (He kept) thinking about the kind of victory (the government) achieved (that) separate(d) (him) from (his) four very young children….They knew in their hearts what they did to (him) was unfair, unjust. (How can what they did to him be) a victory in the justice system of this country.”

After Ray Brook, Aref was sent to the secret Terre Haute, Indiana federal penitentiary Communications Management Unit (CMU) that opened in December 2006. It’s for “high-security risk” Muslim and Middle Eastern prisoners to limit or cut them off entirely from outside contact. Doing so, however, violates the May 3, 2004 US Supreme Court decision in Johnson v. California which held that segregating prisoners by race, ethnicity or language is illegal. In addition, Prison Bureau regulations stipulate that “staff shall not discriminate against inmates on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or political belief (including) administrative decisions (involving) access to work, housing and programs.” Further, the Federal Administrative Procedures Act explicitly requires all prison regulations comply with this law.

At great personal risk, Aref described his CMU life in an October 2007 article titled “Dead Life – Inside out and upside down: Life at the ‘Communication Management Unit’ of Terre Haute Federal Prison.” When he wrote it, his English had improved, and it was painful to read. He said Terre Haute is geared toward revenge, to hurt for the sake of hurting. There’s no pretense of rehabilitation, no thought of protecting society from harm. The place is a playground for thugs who like to make people suffer. CMU inmates are “lock(ed) down in this old leaky building and prohibit(ed) from hugging our children and calling them often….(This) will never bring peace to this country, and will never make this nation safer. But it is really putting the justice system in this country on trial.”

“Is it true that all humans are equal?

Is it true that everyone is free to choose his faith?

Are human rights really protected by law?

We hear this but we would like to see it!!”

Aref and Hossain’s appeal is before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Oral arguments are scheduled for late March with a decision likely months in the future, so their status remains on hold. Their case may challenge NSA’s warrantless wiretapping as it’s the only time evidence from it has been used so far against a defendant. The motion before the Court states: “The government engaged in illegal electronic surveillance of thousands of US persons, including Yassin Aref, then instigated a sting operation to attempt to entrap (him) into supporting a non-existent terrorist plot, then dared to claim that the illegal NSA operation was justified because it was the only way to catch (him)!”

Winning won’t be easy, however, in a post-9/11 climate and after the Protect America Act of 2007 became law last August. It allows near-unrestricted warrantless spying of anyone considered a national security risk. It further ends Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and Fifth Amendment ones against self-incrimination. It effectively annuls the letter and spirit of the law and henceforth denies everyone its protection.

International law and human rights expert, Francis Boyle, explains what defense attorneys are now up against in federal court. In his new book, “Protesting Power – War, Resistance and Law,” he explains that federal judges abdicated their authority, defer instead to presidential lawlessness, and over two-thirds of them are from the extremist Federalist Society. It means winning in this environment is tenuous at best, but Aref’s lawyers are determined to press on.

Defense counsel Stephen Downs recounted the case in a Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (September-October 2007) article called “From Sting to Frame-Up: The Case of Yassin Aref.”

He described how, for three years, the government tried to destroy his life through bogus terrorist charges from a sting operation frame-up with “evidence” from it classified, inconclusive, and unavailable to the defense. So it hired a convicted felon (Malik) to entrap him through a “fictitious plot,” and for his cooperation would “make all of his legal troubles go away (and cancel his scheduled deportation)….” On October 27, 2006, a federal judge sentenced Malik to time served, and he’s now a free man.

Aref’s conviction highlights how America treats Muslims post-9/11 and in a climate where no one is safe. Targets are innocent victims of rogue state justice that “send(s) a politically reassuring message to the country that the government is hard at work catching terrorists – even if (those targeted) are not real terrorists at all, but simply people the government can frame.” It makes no one safer – “indeed it makes us less safe by undermining the rule of law.”

Aref is well-known in Albany and his family recognized and respected. It’s reassuring that “Yassin’s case will not be forgotten. His family (bears) silent witness to the government’s reign of terror against people who have no involvement or interest in terrorism. Injustice, no matter how we try to rationalize it as part of a ‘war on terror,’ is still injustice, and it will not be forgotten.” Neither will Aref and Hossain until they’re exonerated and free in the land that should afford everyone that right but denies to Muslims and others police state America targets.

Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM -1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests.

For program details click below:

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8264

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

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© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8315

Mosaic News – 3/12/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

linktv

For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Admiral Quits After Questioning Bush,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Jordan Releases Islamist Leader,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Dora Residents Suffer Lack of Services,” Sumaria TV, Iraq
“Egypt Suspends Gaz Exports to Israel,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“An Olive Grove Gifted to Sarkozy,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Revenge Plotted for Seminary Attack Denied,” IBA TV, Israel
“Land Mines Haunt Southern Lebanon,” New TV, Lebanon
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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see

NBC Makes Mockery of US Constitution & Rule of Law (video)

Why Fallon’s Resignation is Frightening (video)

Disagreements by Top Military Brass regarding Bush-Cheney War Plans by Michel Chossudovsky

Threat of Iran War More Real: End the World for What? By Liam Bailey

The Ant Man Exits: War Crime Accomplice Canned for Insufficient Groveling by Chris Floyd

New UN Sanctions Make US-Iran War More Likely

‘Fox’ Fallon Fired – And we’re f*cked… By Justin Raimondo

Stop-Loss Congress Direct Action + Arrested Activists + What does ‘Stop Loss’ Mean? (videos)

Dandelion Salad

WHYNotNews

Stop-loss Congress Mission

myspace.com/stoplosscongress

Mission Statement:We believe that Congress works for US, and that the time has come to TELL them what they must do. It is time to stop the corrupt and murderous business as usual in the Senate and House of Representatives.

On March 10, 11, and 12 we will participate in nonviolent direct actions that will deliver our official orders to Congress, and confront them peacefully if they refuse to comply. When we model this behavior to the citizens of the USA, and the world, we hope to inspire them to take similar actions, and take back control of Congress and the Government that is ours.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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Statements from Arrested Stop-Loss Congress Activists

These people speak for themselves, as they are arrested for protesting War Crimes committed by Congress.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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Stop Loss Congress March 12, 2008

Stop Loss Congress is a direct action taken largely on the part of students who are demanding of the US Congress that they apply the same standards to themselves that they are applying to military personnel through stop loss provisions that effectively extend tours of duty beyond the contractual length of service that service members signed up for, without the consent of the service member. Many have referred to this process as “an involuntary draft.” The action at Congress on Wednesday went a long way towards demonstrating that the torch is indeed being passed to a new generation of Americans who are young, bright, intelligent, dedicated to and respectful of the Constitution and the proper role of Congress in checking the President’s war powers.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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Updated: Mar 15, 2008

What does ‘Stop Loss’ Mean?

Jay Marx of the Washington Peace Center discusses the origins of the phrase “stop loss” and why it was applied this week in direct actions taken outside Congress to emphasize the complicity both houses and both parties have in the continued illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan by the US military. The actions were staged to coincide with the Winter Soldier tribunals being held in Washington by Iraq Veterans Against the War and the growing resistance that is assembling to mark the 5th anniversary of America’s unprovoked attack of the sovereign nations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Many hold the view that for an administration that centered its rhetoric on comparisons of Sadaam Hussein to Adolf Hilter, its policies of aggression and the propaganda it uses to support those policies more closely resemble fascism than the government that is laid out in the American Constitution. Some have even gone so far as to compare “Shock & Awe,” the rallying cry of the American attack that killed thousands of innocent civilians, to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The use of white phosphorous, depleted uranium and other weapons of mass destruction by American troops are widely regarded around the world to be brazen war crimes in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the US Constitution and Code of Conduct for American soldiers.

There are, not surprisingly, massive efforts underway in America at the grass roots level, in local municipalities and in state legislatures to impeach both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for their complicity in these crimes and for domestic spying, the systematic use of torture and other atrocities the Bush administration continues to inflict on the untold numbers of people it liberally calls “terrorists.” These extra-congressional measures are seen as necessary due to Congress’s complicity in the deception of the lead up to the aggressions. Several intelligence analysts, government insiders and weapons inspectors have said publicly that all of the arguments the Bush administration made during the lead up to the unprovoked attacks (i.e. that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, had attempted to acquire yellow cake uranium from Africa and that there was a connection between the attacks of 911 and Iraq), were fully understood to be without merit, but were used anyway to justify American and British designs to seize control of vast Middle Eastern oil reserves. To this day, the administration continues to invoke the discredited charges to justify its illegal policies.

Stop Loss Congress is a direct action taken largely on the part of students who are demanding that the US Congress apply the same standards to themselves that they are applying to military personnel through stop loss provisions that effectively extend tours of duty beyond the contractual length of service that military personnel signed up for, without the consent of the service member. This is often referred to as “an involuntary draft.” The action at Congress on Wednesday went a long way towards demonstrating that the torch is indeed being passed to a new generation of Americans who are young, bright, intelligent, dedicated to and respectful of the Constitution and the proper role of Congress in checking the President’s war powers. There is even some hope that the Congress, the President, Vice President and those who conspired with them, will ultimately be brought to justice, if not through impeachment, then through the World Court where many other war criminals have been tried for their atrocities.

see

Winter Soldier Hearings By Aaron Glantz (+ video; over 18 only)

Fort Hood soliders breaking the silence in war in Iraq (video link)

Anti-War Protest meets IRS protest at headquarters DC 03.19.08 + videos

Stop-loss Congress (video; over 18 only)

Take Action against the war March 19th, 2008 (video)

UPDATE Winter Soldier events in EUROPE

blogswarm March 19, 2008

NBC Makes Mockery of US Constitution & Rule of Law (video)

Dandelion Salad

representativepress

http://representativepress.blogspot.c…
Fallon’s resignation is frightening.

see link for message to Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent – about Post at NBC News BLOG “Field Notes” on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 11:25 AM
http://representativepress.blogspot.c…

http://representativepress.googlepage…

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

.

see

Why Fallon’s Resignation is Frightening (video)

Disagreements by Top Military Brass regarding Bush-Cheney War Plans by Michel Chossudovsky

Threat of Iran War More Real: End the World for What? By Liam Bailey

The Ant Man Exits: War Crime Accomplice Canned for Insufficient Groveling by Chris Floyd

New UN Sanctions Make US-Iran War More Likely

‘Fox’ Fallon Fired – And we’re f*cked… By Justin Raimondo

What they won’t say about NAFTA by Adam Turl

Dandelion Salad

by Adam Turl
socialistworker.org
March 14, 2008

HILLARY CLINTON’S and Barack Obama’s criticisms of NAFTA make it seem like the U.S. is the biggest loser. ADAM TURL sets the record straight.

HILLARY CLINTON and Barack Obama are waging rhetorical war on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)–the free trade deal shepherded through Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993.

While NAFTA was initially sold as a way to create new jobs in the U.S. and Canada and help Mexico modernize its economy (thereby preventing undocumented immigration to the U.S.), in truth, the agreement lowered wages in the U.S. and opened up Mexico’s economy to restructuring for the benefit of U.S. companies–at the expense of ordinary people in Mexico.

In the lead-up to the critical March 4 primary vote in Ohio, Clinton and Obama tried to outdo each other to reflect workers’ frustrations with NAFTA.

Obama told a group of unionists that he refused “to accept that we have to stand idly by while workers watch their jobs get shipped overseas.” Hillary Clinton declared, “If you travel through Youngstown, and you travel through communities in my home state of Illinois, you will see entire cities that have been devastated as a consequence of trade agreements.”

…continued

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