|A. The Express Tribune (6/20): Dr Aafia still alive: US prison spokesperson
Dr Maria Douglas, a spokesperson for Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas where Dr Siddiqui is serving her prison sentence, vehemently denied rumours and said that it was absolutely false that Dr Siddiqui had passed away, adding that no medical emergency has arisen.
B. New York Times (6/22): Man Is Sentenced for Threats Against Creators of ‘South Park’
The man, Jesse Curtis Morton, pleaded guilty in February to federal charges that stemmed from messages that he and an associate, Zachary A. Chesser, wrote on a Web site called Revolution Muslim after an episode of “South Park” that they said had insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
C. Reuters (6/22): Moroccan man pleads guilty to U.S. Capitol bomb attempt
Amine El Khalifi, 29, was arrested in a sting operation in a parking garage near the Capitol on February 17 with an automatic weapon and wearing a vest he believed was full of explosives supplied by al Qaeda, according to U.S. officials. He intended to shoot bystanders before detonating a bomb inside the building, which is home to Congress, they said. His gun and the explosives, however, had been rendered inoperable by U.S. agents, according to the FBI.
Islamophobia and Civil Rights
A. Truthdig (6/21): A Top Conservative Think Tank Embraces Islamophobia
Recently the AEI took a broad step to the right and firmly planted its feet on the other side of the line that divides the sensible Republican Party from fringe extremists. It announced that its resident scholar Michael Rubin would join blogger Robert Spencer, who is a vitriolic critic of Islam, and writer Claire Berlinski to lead a 10-day tour of Turkey. The excursion (whose participants must cough up more than $4,500 each) is being organized by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a right-wing activist group named for its founder, who in addition to being Spencer’s sugar daddy (Horowitz funds Spencer’s blog Jihad Watch and publishes his articles on FrontPage Magazine) has led campaigns against the Muslim Student Association and said such things as Islam is a religion of hate and Palestinians are “morally sick.”
B. Think Progress (6/21): Suspended U.S. Military Instructor Taught Officers To Wage ‘Total War’ On Islam
The U.S. military is taking concrete action against an instructor, Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, who taught U.S. military officers at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) to wage “total war” on Islam… Dooley acknowledges that some of the examples provided in his class “will be seen as not ‘politically correct.” These include disregarding the Geneva Convention as “no longer relevant” and “taking war to a civilian population wherever necessary.”
C. US News (6/22): Peter King On ‘Fox & Friends’: NYPD Should Focus on Muslims
An Associated Press investigation last year found that the New York Police Department had been monitoring Islamic schools, NGOs, mosques, student associations, and persons of interest in a secret and legally questionable program. King also told Fox that it was important Muslims not be controlled by “radical groups” like CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) or “influenced by the New York Times.”
Civil Freedoms Under Threat
The Atlantic (6/22): The Increasingly Absurd Conceit That Drone Strikes Are Secret
In broad strokes, here is the game that the White House is playing: President Obama, John Brennan, and other senior administration officials are happy to disclose information about government drone strikes when they are touting counterterrorism success stories. But every time critics of their national-security strategy seek information about their actions, they claim that some of the very things they’ve spoken about on and off the record are actually state secrets.
LA Times (6/25): Congress keeps closer watch on CIA drone strikes
The regular review of some of the most closely held video in the CIA’s possession is part of a marked increase in congressional attention paid to the agency’s targeted killing program over the last three years. The oversight, which has not previously been detailed, began largely at the instigation of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, officials said. The lawmakers and aides with the intelligence oversight committees have a level of access shared only by President Obama, his top aides and a small number of CIA officials.
Government Policy Under Scrutiny
Wired (6/25): Much-Abused ‘State Secrets Privilege’ Under Fire in Congress
The proposed State Secrets Protection Act, H.R. 5956, introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), would be the first law to rein in the president’s “state secrets privilege,” a nearly limitless power to kill litigation by claiming a lawsuit would expose national security information to the benefit of America’s enemies. First recognized by the US Supreme Court in a McCarthy-era lawsuit in 1953, the privilege has been increasingly and successfully invoked in the post-9/11 era to shield the government and its agents from court scrutiny in cases involving rendition, torture, warrantless wiretapping, and the lethal targeting of U.S. citizens.
A. Jason Silverstein in the Huffington Post (6/22): Stop and Frisk — and DNA Test?
Taking DNA samples from people arrested, but not convicted of a crime, has the potential to make our already unfair justice system even less fair. Before we expand the preconviction DNA dragnet, we should think hard about what that means in a racially biased system. Currently, 26 states and federal law enforcement permit pre-conviction DNA collection. However, our recent national conversation about stop and frisk policies should make us cautious. African-Americans already constitute roughly 40 percent of the federal DNA database, the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), reflecting racial disparities in convictions and sentences. Collecting DNA from people prior to conviction will likewise reflect the racial disparities in arrests that plague our justice system.
B. President Jimmy Carter in the New York Times (6/24): A Cruel and Unusual Record
Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.