• In Boston, media again trash a polices shooting victim by uncritically “reporting” police accusations

    Blogs June 3, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. In the Boston area yesterday, the FBI and Boston Police Department (BPD) shot and killed a 26-year-old black Muslim man, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, after they stopped him at a bus stop at 7:00 a.m. in front of a CVS drug store in order to question him. Media reports originally claimed that Rahim wielded a “machete” after he was approached by the agents. But after photos emerged showing how laughable that description was, the weapon was changed in subsequent reports to a “military-style black knife” — not just any knife, but a black one. Whatever the truth about the shooting itself turns out to be, think about what happened here. A black Muslim man charged with no crime was standing at a bus stop when approached by the FBI and BPD, who had no warrant to arrest him. Within minutes, he was dead. And literally within hours, he was universally vilified in the American media — with zero evidence — as an ISIS-inspired terrorist in the midst of a plot potentially involving multiple unnamed “others,” all based on nothing more than police accusations.

  • 40 reasons why our jails are full of black brown and poor people

    Blogs, Profiling June 2, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Huffington Post. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reports 2.2 million people are in our nation’s jails and prisons and another 4.5 million people are on probation or parole in the U.S., totaling 6.8 million people, one of every 35 adults. We are far and away the world leader in putting our own people in jail. Most of the people inside are poor and Black. Here are 40 reasons why.

  • Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and America’s ineluctable machinery of death

    Blogs June 2, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Beacon Broadside. According to the Sixth Amendment, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber, was entitled to a public trial at which he would be judged “by an impartial jury of the State and district” drawn from the community where the crime occurred. Yet while well more than half the people from the Boston community opposed the imposition of the death penalty, Tsarnaev was nevertheless sentenced to death. How did that happen? In a death penalty case, unlike nearly all other cases, potential jurors are questioned individually, outside the presence of any other members of the panel, by the prosecutor, the defense lawyer, even the judge, about his or her views toward the death penalty. The objective of this process, known as death-qualification, is to learn precisely where on a moral spectrum a potential juror’s attitudes lie.

  • Preemptive prosecution: Iraqi American arrested by FBI for allegedly lying about ‘pledging allegiance’ to ISIS leader

    Blogs May 16, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Firedoglake. An Iraqi-born US citizen in Mesquite, Texas, was arrested by the FBI for allegedly lying to agents about whether he had pledged allegiance to the “self-proclaimed” leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. A federal judge ruled a day later that he is a “danger to the community” and must remain in jail. Yet, as in most FBI cases involving alleged terrorism suspects, this again seems like a preemptive prosecution, where an individual has been targeted because of his beliefs, ideology or religious affiliations that raise concerns for the government. There is absolutely no evidence presented in a filed criminal complaint to suggest that Bilal Abood was plotting a terrorist attack.

  • Avoiding the sting: U.S. organization proposes different approach to “radicalization”

    Blogs May 1, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. Last March, John T. Booker, a 20-year-old from Kansas, checked himself into a mental health facility for evaluation. Now, a year later, he faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison, charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction — the fake bomb that he was provided by undercover FBI informants. In the United States today, individuals who make statements that could be construed as advocating violent extremism — even those who have mental health issues — often become the targets of law enforcement officials whose priority is putting people in prison, not helping them change course. It’s a pattern that has been repeated hundreds of times over the past decade: the FBI “foils” a terror plot, except the would-be terrorist’s only conspiracy is with government informants. The “Safe Spaces Initiative,” launched by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, came into being after a series of cases perceived as government entrapment of troubled youth in the Muslim-American community.

  • FBI uncovers another of its own plots, Senator Feinstein responds by saying we should censor the internet

    Blogs April 3, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Techdirt. As you may have heard, yesterday the FBI “uncovered” yet another of its own terrorist plots, the latest in a very long line of “terrorist plots” the FBI has “uncovered” — in which the details always show that it was an undercover FBI “informant” (often doing this to get off leniently for some other issue), who more or less goads hapless, naive people, into a “plot” that had no real chance of ever happening. This appears to be the same sort of thing. Still, politicians never leave an opportunity like this unexploited, and so in jumps Senator Dianne Feinstein, arguing that the only proper way to deal with this is to, of course… censor the internet.

  • Director Lyric Cabral talks exposing FBI counter-terrorism strategy in Sundance-winning doc ‘(T)ERROR’

    Blogs February 25, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Shadow and Act. This marks the first time a counterterrorism operation has been captured on screen, in real time, and it’s thrilling, stuff. It’s also, for lack of a better word, terrifying. . . . To date, 500 people have been charged with terrorism related crimes since 9/11, 30% of those cases involving an informant-driven sting operation. As an example of how these sting operations operate, “(T)ERROR” is a sobering portrait of a system that may be in dire need of reform and regulation in order to actually work. In the end, there are many questions, but one definitive answer: both sides of the coin, both the Saeeds and the Khalifahs, are essentially disposable pawns in an increasingly complex and convoluted war on terror.

  • What is “Islamic”? A Muslim response to ISIS and The Atlantic

    Source: Muslim Matters. Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants,” published in the March 2015 edition of The Atlantic, has quickly become the most widely read article on the militant group. Indeed, it is becoming the most read article ever published by The Atlantic. Popular as it is, Wood’s essay is deeply flawed and alarmingly tone-deaf – dangerously so. . . . By characterizing ISIS as Islamic, Wood and Haykel in effect, if not intent, attribute cruel beheadings, wanton massacre, and all other manner of savagery to Islam. . . .Of course, their attributions are factually incorrect and conceptually confused as we will discuss below. But their mistakes are especially egregious given the current climate of anti-Muslim bigotry. In light of the recent hate crimes directed towards the American and European Muslim communities, Wood’s piece is tantamount to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre and, therefore, deserves a thorough rebuttal, if nothing else.

  • The real heroes of the War on Terror: 6 brave Americans who defied Bush’s torture doctrine

    Blogs February 11, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Salon. Why was it again that, as President Obama said, “we tortured some folks” after the 9/11 attacks? Oh, right, because we were terrified. Because everyone knows that being afraid gives you moral license to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. That’s why we don’t shame or punish those who were too scared to imagine doing anything else. We honor and revere them. . . . Wouldn’t anyone do what these men did, if they, too, were frightened out of their wits? Actually, no. In fact, the sad, ugly story of the U.S. response to the criminal acts of 9/11 is brightened by a number of people who have displayed genuine courage in saying no to and turning their backs on torture. Their choices prove that Bush, Cheney, & Co. could have said no as well.

  • Lone wolf terrorists are exceedingly rare, so why does everyone keep talking about them?

    Source: Tom Dispatch. “The lone wolf is the new nightmare,” wrote Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer recently, and the conservative pundit wasn’t alone in thinking so. You could multiply such statements many times over. There’s only one problem with the rising crescendo of alarm about lone wolves: most of it simply isn’t true. There’s nothing new about the “threat” and the concept is notoriously unreliable, as well as selectively used. (These days, “lone wolf” has largely become a stand-in for “Islamic terrorist,” though the category itself is not bound to any specific ideological type.) Worst of all, its recent highlighting paves the way for the heightening of abusive and counterproductive police and national security practices, including the infiltration of minority and activist communities and elaborate sting operations that ensnare the vulnerable.