• Too little, too late? Obama to make first Presidential visit to American mosque

    Opinions February 1, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Alternet. It should not be front-page news that a U.S. president is planning to visit a religious institution. But amid the disturbing rise of Islamophobic incitement and violence in the United States, President Barack Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he will make his first visit as president to an American mosque—the Islamic Society of Baltimore—has nabbed widespread attention. The planned visit, however, has also raised eyebrows among some Muslim-Americans, who wonder what took the president so long—and whether the bar has been set too low.

  • When life is disposable: Muslim bodies as precarious in the war on terror

    Opinions February 1, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Amnesty International. When Life is Disposable: Muslim Bodies as Precarious in the War on Terror
    This dehumanization of Muslims explains why 779 Muslim men have been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay over the course of the last 14 years, many of whom were subjected to enforced disappearance, and arbitrary detention, and 91 continue to be indefinitely detained. It is impossible to discuss such policies without discussing the role of Islamophobia. Would a U.S. off-shore prison that completely and utterly disregards established human rights protections exist if it housed a different religious group?

  • “Holy smokes, this stuff is all real?”: How I get my best ideas for thrillers from the good ol’ U.S. government

    Opinions January 30, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Salon. Whenever people ask where I get ideas for my thrillers, I say, “Direct from the U.S. government.”They laugh, but it’s true—in a time of detention (indefinite imprisonment without charge, trial or conviction); enhanced interrogation (torture); targeted killings (extrajudicial assassinations); and, of course, the unprecedented bulk surveillance revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, third-party villains like SMERSH and SPECTRE and the rest can feel a bit beside the point. Indeed, when the NSA, in its own leaked slides, announces its determination to “Collect it All,” “Process it All,” “Exploit it All,” “Partner it All,” “Sniff it All” and, ultimately, “Know it All,” it’s safe to say we’re living in an age of “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

  • The dangers of ‘see something, say something’

    Opinions January 25, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Huffington Post. Unfortunately, the federal government has doubled down on broad surveillance (and harassment) of marginalized communities in the wake of 9/11. Most notably, the government has deputized untrained civilians to further their surveillance reach through the now ubiquitous “See Something, Say Something” ad campaign. This desire by the government to cast a wider net to identify and respond to “suspicious behavior” has only heightened the risk of unfair and unjust targeting of marginalized individuals. Experience has shown that this crowd-sourcing of surveillance ensures that it is not behavior or activity that is identified as suspicious, but rather skin color, religious markers, language, and other signs of difference.

  • Americans are bargaining away their innocence

    Opinions January 20, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The Washington Post. The presumption of innocence helps to combat prejudice and prejudging in the U.S. criminal justice system. But because plea bargains have supplanted trials in our criminal justice system, that presumption does not apply to most cases in the United States. In a plea bargain, the prosecutor typically offers the defendant a reduced prison sentence if he agrees to waive his right to a jury trial and admit guilt in a brief hearing before a judge. Prosecutors use their power to pressure people who have been accused of a crime, and are presumed innocent, to waive their right to a trial and admit guilt. Ironically, the prisoners who keep insisting upon their innocence face greater punishment.

  • The mirage of justice

    Opinions January 17, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Truth Dig. If you are poor, you will almost never go to trial—instead you will be forced to accept a plea deal offered by government prosecutors. If you are poor, the word of the police, who are not averse to fabricating or tampering with evidence, manipulating witnesses and planting guns or drugs, will be accepted in a courtroom as if it was the word of God. Once you are charged in America, whether you did the crime or not, you are almost always found guilty. Because of this, as many activists have discovered, the courts already are being used as a fundamental weapon of repression, and this abuse will explode in size should there be widespread unrest and dissent. Our civil liberties have been transformed into privileges . . . Once rights become privileges, none of us are safe.

  • Fearmongering around Muslim immigrants echoes anti-Asian hysteria of past

    Opinions January 14, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Murtaza Hussain in The Intercept. “The type of rhetoric we’re seeing today about Muslims is both very similar and also slightly different from that which was used to describe Asian immigrants in the past,” said University of Minnesota professor Erika Lee. A specialist in immigration studies, Lee is also author of the 2015 book The Making of Asian America, which chronicles in part the anti-Asian sentiment that new arrivals often had to contend with. “Like Muslims, Asian immigrants were characterized as a slowly creeping civilizational threat to the security and integrity of the United States, but today, with Muslims, there is also the additional allegation that they have a violent intent to overthrow the existing order.”

  • How the FBI keeps us safe

    Opinions January 7, 2016 at 0 comments

    Times Union. Here we go again. The FBI has found yet another easy mark, another vulnerable young man — black, mentally disturbed, a jailhouse convert to Islam — that it could dupe into going along with a harebrained plot of its own invention so he could be arrested for supporting terrorism and thus make the FBI appear to be on top of things.

  • Let’s Call the Oregon ‘protesters’ What they are: terrorists

    Opinions January 5, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Time. Form this mental picture: armed Muslims take over a federal building in the U.S. and announce their willingness to “kill or be killed.”Now imagine the government and media response. One would expect an immediate and massive law-enforcement reaction, with minute-by-minute media analysis detailing the religious and political background of the “terrorists.”Now look at the reality of the ongoing situation in Oregon, in which armed militiamen have taken over a federal building and have announced their willingness to “kill or be killed.”

  • The worst of the worst? What al-Shamiri’s case tells us about Gitmo detainees

    Opinions December 17, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Just Security: Earlier this month, the US government revealed that Guantánamo detainee Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was a low-level fighter, not the al-Qaeda courier and trainer the government initially claimed. Other detainees have alleged that they are the victims of “wrong place, wrong time” misunderstandings or circumstances of mistaken identities like al-Shamiri. So why isn’t the government doing more to review their cases? Which leaves us to wonder: Who else at Guantánamo isn’t who the government thought they were? Who else is there because of a mistranslation? Who else has the United States held without charge or trial for more than a decade because of a mistake?Because of the overwhelming secrecy surrounding everything to do with the prison, we may never know for sure.