Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: How To Pre-Convict And Pre-Punish An American Muslim

Tom Dispatch
Victoria Brittain
June 9, 2013.
A four-month hunger strike, mass force-feedings, and widespread media coverage have at last brought Guantanamo, the notorious offshore prison set up by the Bush administration early in 2002, back into American consciousness. Prominent voices are finally calling on President Obama to close it down and send home scores of prisoners who, years ago, were cleared of wrongdoing.
Still unnoticed and out of the news, however, is a comparable situation in the U.S. itself, involving a pattern of controversial terrorism trials that result in devastating prison sentences involving the harshest forms of solitary confinement. This growing body of prisoners is made up of Muslim men, including some formerly well-known and respected American citizens.

At the heart of these cases is a statute from the time of the Clinton presidency making it a crime to provide “material support” to any foreign organization the government has designated as “terrorist.” This material support provision was broadened in the USA PATRIOT Act, passed by Congress just after the 9/11 attacks, and has been upheld by a 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. Today, almost any kind of support, including humanitarian aid, training, expert advice, “services” of all sorts, or “political advocacy” undertaken in “coordination” with any group on the State Department’s terrorist list, can lead to such a terror trial. The Court has never defined what “coordination” actually means.

In that Supreme Court ruling, Justice Stephen Breyer was joined in dissent by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Breyer proposed a narrower interpretation of material support: individuals should not be subject to prosecution unless they knowingly provided a service they had reason to believe would be used to further violence. At the time, the position of the dissenting judges was backed by key editorials in major newspapers. In the three years since, however, more material support cases have resulted in long sentences with very little public notice or critical comment.
Read the rest here.

Victoria Brittain, journalist and former editor at the Guardian, has authored or co-authored two plays and four books, including Enemy Combatant with Moazzam Begg. Her latest book, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013), has just been published.  This is her second piece for TomDispatch.
Comment: The US is at war with Muslims and Islam.  It matters little to make the argument that what the US and its allies want is oil or some geo-strategic position when the campaign being waged is on the bodies of Muslims everywhere.

It is for this reason that I am amused by American Muslims who bend backwards to do the bidding of the empire or, at the very least, to make themselves appear politically neutered.

Makes me remember the Peter Tosh and Bob Marley classic Get Up. Stand Up - particularly the following verse:
You can fool some people sometimes
But you can't fool all the people all the time
So now we see the light
We gonna stand up for our right

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