Op-Eds

  • Why wasn’t Dylann Roof charged with terrorism?

    Opinions July 22, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. The Department of Justice charged Dylann Roof, the white 21-year-old man who allegedly gunned down nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, with murder, attempted murder and use of a firearm, all in the commission of a hate crime. Some media outlets, lawyers, public figures and activists have called for Roof to be charged not just with a hate crime, an illegal act “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias,” but with the separate label of domestic terrorism. Critics contend that the label of terrorism is too often only applied to Islamic extremists, and not white supremacists or anti-government anarchists. Roof’s crime certainly seems to fit the federal description of domestic terrorism, . . . It turns out there was one major obstacle in charging Roof with domestic terrorism: The crime does not exist.

     
  • A frightening proposal to intern Muslim citizens

    Opinions July 21, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Aljazeera. Terrorist violence can make the previously unthinkable suddenly seem acceptable. The levels of surveillance introduced after 9/11 could have been considered reasonable only in the climate of collective panic that the attacks induced. But this week’s reaction to the fatal shooting of four Marines and a Navy petty officer in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by a 24-year-old Muslim has to win the prize for the worst proposed civil liberties infringement to come out of a violent disruption. No matter how high tensions may have run after the Boston Marathon bombing or 9/11, few dared to propose what figures of both left and right have now suggested: the segregation and internment of Muslim citizens.

     
  • FBI needs new anti-terrorist strategy

    Opinions July 18, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Contra Costa Times. So why doesn’t the bureau, and others, adopt a policy of early intervention? Why, in the Riverside case last fall, did the FBI pay a convicted drug dealer about $250,000 to infiltrate a ragtag gang of four young men? That wasted countless hours of their agents’ time at a cost approaching $1 million, when they could have just as effectively ended their plan to join ISIS by intervening early on. Arrests, trials and convictions are more exciting, newsworthy, and justification for promotions and bigger budgets than quietly warning potential terrorists that their conduct could lead to long prison terms. But that warning would have been a lot cheaper for the government and would have saved many young people, like Ciccolo, from the ruin they now face.

     
  • The Chattanooga shootings: Can attacking military sites of a nation at war be “terrorism”?

    Opinions July 17, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. That “terrorism” in U.S. political and media discourse means little beyond “violence by Muslims against the West” is now too self-evident to debate (in this case, just the name of the suspect seemed to suffice to trigger application of the label). I’ve documented that point at length many times — most recently, a couple of weeks ago when the term was steadfastly not applied to the white shooter who attacked a black church in Charleston despite his clear political and ideological motives — and I don’t want to rehash those points here. Instead, I want to focus on a narrow question about this term: Can it apply to violent attacks that target military sites and soldiers of a nation at war, rather than civilians?

    Photo: John Bazemore/AP

     
  • Critics say bill would turn Muslim communities into “mini-surveillance states”

    Opinions July 15, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. An open letter published this week by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, signed by a coalition of 42 civil rights organizations, says that a proposed bill designed to counter violent extremism would threaten “freedom of speech, association, and religion,” while doing little to actually combat terrorism. The legislation, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 25, would create a new government agency, the Office of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. Naureen Shah, the director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, says the bill would have the potential result of creating “mini-surveillance states” within Muslim-American communities, by compelling the implementation of CVE programs that use threats and incentives to encourage people to report on each other’s political views.

     
  • Irfan Khan – 319 days in solitary confinement, then released due to lack of evidence

    Blogs July 11, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: MLFA. Irfan Khan immigrated to the U.S. to pursue a life of freedom and prosperity — the American Dream. He worked hard as a taxi driver, service technician and limousine company manager and eventually became a proud naturalized American citizen. In may of 2011, Irfan was charged with providing material support for terrorism. Irfan spent the next 319 days in solitary confinement before prosecutors and a federal judge dropped all charges against him. It turns out, the FBI had no evidence to support their claims. The only reason for his detention was that Irfan was a Muslim from Pakistan. Muslim Legal Fund of America is funding Irfan Khan’s lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice and Department of Bureau of Prison for false arrest, imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

     
  • Got to be thwarting something: FBI claims it stopped unspecified mayhem, possibly on July 4

    Blogs July 9, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: FAIR. Last week, in the wake of another vague terror warning issued by the government, FAIR reported how FBI terror warnings have a long history of always being wrong. So it was curious, to say the least, when on Thursday the FBI asserted to CNN’s Jim Sciutto that “a number” of “ISIS-inspired” terror plots had been “thwarted” from “coast to coast” over the Fourth of July weekend. So the arrests were of people without “elaborate plans” who are “unreliable in terms of when they’re going to act.” It’s not even clear that they were intending to act, since it’s “hard to figure out when they’re trying to kill somebody.” But not hard to get the media to report as fact that these plan-less, unreliably scheduled suspects who may or may not have been trying to kill anybody had “ISIS terrorist plots linked to the Fourth of July holiday.”

     
  • On flags, fireworks, hot dogs, and torture

    Blogs July 7, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Vice. Last week, as millions of Americans prepared to celebrate freedom, independence, and other lofty values on July 4, two men were quietly released from a prison in Afghanistan after spending more than a decade without charge or due process in US custody. Oh, and they were brutally tortured. For those men and their loved ones, it is an injustice that ended only recently with their release. And contrary to popular perception and political rhetoric, what happened to those men can happen again to others. Indeed, with the authority that has been so carefully carved out for the CIA and other components of the national security state, it could already be happening in the shadows.

     
  • Senate measure would expand FBI’s power to target internet thought crimes under guise of fighting terrorism.

    Blogs July 6, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Firedoglake. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved a measure in the 2016 intelligence authorization bill, which would require social media websites and email services to flag “terrorist activity” for the FBI and other law enforcement and security agencies. The expansion of power, which would increase the government’s power to undermine freedom of expression, is supposedly not supported by “industry officials” from companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Government officials may claim it is necessary for the fight against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. However, what the measure would do is increase the capability of the United States security state to engage in preemptive prosecution—to target and prosecute individuals or organizations who have beliefs, ideology, or a religious affiliations which make them a person of interest for the government.

     
  • The good news about extremist violence in the United States: It’s vanishingly rare

    Editorials July 6, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Washington Post. Extremist violence is incredibly rare in the United States. That doesn’t mean it never happens, or that it isn’t tragic and awful when it does. But it’s okay to recognize the tragedy of a particular event and conclude that there was nothing to be done about it. Doing so doesn’t mean the lives that were lost any less important or meaningful, nor does it make the sheer horror of it all any more palatable. But when a monster commits an inexplicable crime, we do no one any good by insisting that this particular monster could only have been one of an army of them– despite all evidence to the contrary — then insisting that no one feel safe until we’ve destroyed them all.