Of all the people on Fox News, I've always suspected that Shep Smith is the one guy who purses his lips and only pretends to drink the Kool-Aid. Whether it's his exasperated response to Hurricane Katrina, or his actually coherent news take, Smith really doesn't belong on that channel. The latest Shep: ThinkProgress catches him sounding like a pro-Constitution American on the subject of holding people indefinitely without charges -- something the Bush administration made de regeur for the Republican Party (though some righties managed to figure out out that it was a bad idea.)
SMITH: He has been held in a military prison for more than five years — not Chris Wallace — this next person. And he wasn’t ever charged. Think about that. I mean just think about it fundamentally. You are held for five years in prison, and you’re never charged! Oh well it was an al-Qaeda suspect, suspected al-Qaeda operative. Who cares who it is?! You don’t get to — this is America; you do not get to hold people for five years without — actually, you do. But he’s getting its day in court now.
Way to go, Shep. For more on the charging of America's last (we hope) enemy combatant, Saleh al-Marri, click here. The indictment itself, which was filed in Illinois, can be found here.
A smart take on the Gaza conflict: both sides are wrong
On the CNN website today, from international human rights lawyer, and "Islamic pacifist," Arsalan Iftikhar ...
Regardless of who's to blame for the origins of the conflict, shame on both Hamas and Israel for their recent violations of international law that have led to a humanitarian inferno in Gaza and southern Israel.
Hamas is to be blamed for its sophomoric provocation of its neighbor's military wrath by firing missiles into southern Israel. Israel also should be condemned for its disproportionately inhumane onslaught in Gaza, which has currently left 555 people dead and 2,750 injured, according to Palestinian medical sources cited by CNN. The United Nations estimates that at least 25 percent of Palestinians killed have been civilians.
Simply put, both sides have committed acts tantamount to "war crimes," and both continue to violate international law repeatedly in this nightmare.
Under international law, the Geneva Conventions prohibit armed reprisals that intentionally inflict "collective punishment" against civilian populations as well as the targeting of nonmilitary targets.
Both Israel (with its military onslaught in Gaza) and Hamas (with its primitive rocket-firing into southern Israel) violate Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, which states: "No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."
... Further, the legal doctrine of "proportionality" originated in the 1907 Hague Conventions where, according to Lionel Beehner, writing for the Council of Foreign Relations, "a state is legally allowed to unilaterally defend itself and right a wrong provided the response is proportional to the injury suffered. The response must also be immediate and necessary, refrain from targeting civilians and require only enough force to reinstate the status quo ante."
Israeli columnist Gideon Levy bravely tackled the "proportionality" debate recently in Israel's Haaretz newspaper by writing: "Once again, Israel's violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom. ... What began in Gaza is a war crime and the foolishness of a country."
Levy later cogently added, "In its foolishness, Hamas brought this on itself and on its people, but this does not excuse Israel's overreaction."
Fresh explosions and gunfire have been heard at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace hotel, one of several sites targeted in attacks that have killed at least 130.
Loud blasts have also rocked a Jewish outreach centre where commandos were attempting to free several hostages.
A 29-year-old rabbi and his wife were confirmed as being among five hostages killed inside Nariman House.
India's foreign minister said "elements with links to Pakistan" were involved in the attacks on Mumbai.
That last part is what's scary. It seems that what we're looking at is not what righties will jump to calling al-Qaida terrorism, but rather a continuation of the India-Pakistan problem -- a potential stand-off between two nuclear armed, endlessly entangled countries. To illustrate the point:
The BBC's Pakistan correspondent, Barbara Plett says there is a feeling among senior officials in Islamabad that India has acted too hastily in linking the Mumbai attackers to Pakistan.
In the UK, security officials said they were investigating reports that British citizens of Pakistani origin were involved.
Yikes. More on the possible UK connection from the Independent:
Two gunmen arrested after the Mumbai massacre were of British descent, the country's chief minister said today.
UK authorities played down reports that the terrorists included Britons as violence in the city continued for a third day.
Gordon Brown said there was no mention of any of the terrorists being linked with Britain during a conversation with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He said: "At no point has the Prime Minister of India suggested to me that there is evidence at this stage of any terrorist of British origins but obviously these are huge investigations that are being done and I think it will be premature to draw any conclusions at all.
"We remain steadfast and firm standing with India and all other countries against any form of terrorist activity and we will be vigilant in both helping the Indian authorities and in making sure that in every part of the world we support those who are fighting terrorism."
But Indian Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh claims two British-born Pakistanis were among eight gunmen arrested by Indian authorities, according to Associated Press reports.
MUMBAI - The unprecedented night of horror in India's financial capital began at about 9.30 pm for two Germans, Rita and Thomas, part of a Lufthansa in-flight crew finishing dinner at Leopold Cafe in Colaba in south Mumbai. Mumbai's night of terror By Raja Murthy
MUMBAI - The unprecedented night of horror in India's financial capital began at about 9.30 pm for two Germans, Rita and Thomas, part of a Lufthansa in-flight crew finishing dinner at Leopold Cafe in Colaba in south Mumbai.
Barely five hours earlier, Asia Times Online published an article ( Closing time for India's Iranian cafes) mentioning the restaurant
as a favorite of Western tourists, and this popularity caused it to be among the first of 12 terrorist targets on Wednesday night that killed more than 80 people and injured nearly 300, and the figures are rising.
Apart from the cafe, groups of militants armed with automatic weapons and grenades burst into luxury hotels, a hospital and a railway station, spewing death. As of publication time, many tourists were being held hostage in the Taj Mahal hotel, a 105-year-old landmark, and the five-star Trident Oberoi.
"I saw the terrorist firing his machine gun at people sitting at the next table," Rita said, "and then thought the gun would turn around to me." But the terrorist, in his mid-30s, swung the gun away from her, momentarily distracted by his accomplice waiting in the mezzanine floor and firing randomly at diners.
Her life had been saved in that split second. Police said they had killed four gunmen and arrested nine. A group identifying itself as the Deccan Mujahideen said it was responsible, per emails sent to news organizations. Virtually nothing is known of this group. "Deccan" is an area of India and "Mujahideen" is the plural form of a Muslim participating in jihad. Security officials believe it unlikely an unknown group could carry out such a precise and heavily-armed attack.
It is more likely to be the work of the Indian Mujahideen, an Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for other attacks in India. On Thursday morning, speaking from inside the Oberoi where foreigners are being held hostage, a man identified as Sahadullah told India TV he belonged to an Indian Islamist group seeking to end the persecution of Indian Muslims: "We want all mujahideens held in India released and only after that we will release the people."
No one knows how the terrorists arrived in the city. One theory is that they came from the sea in an explosives-laden boat. But there is no doubt about their agenda.
And the drama continues. And by the way, while you've been watching Mumbai, nobody has noticed that Thailand is also in turmoil, with gunman having stormed the Bangkok airport.
BAGHDAD, July 6 -- A wave of attacks in Baghdad and areas north of the capital Sunday shattered a relative lull in violence, killing 16 people and injuring 15 a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared that Iraq's government had defeated terrorism.
Rush Limbaugh signs an eight year, $400 million deal to continue his top-rated radio show. Premiere Radio Networks: Palm Beach County's property tax rolls (and the underground pill trade), thank you.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the pay scale: U.S. employers cut another 62,000 jobs in June, making it six months in a row of job cuts for the Bush economy. And, says the New York Times:
... as job losses mount, even those still on payrolls have felt the pain: employers are cutting hours for their full-time employees and shrinking salaries, just as workers face record-high prices for gasoline and food.
The unemployment rate stayed steady in June at 5.5 percent, the highest level in four years. The elevated figure dispelled speculation among some economists that last month’s half-percentage point jump, the biggest monthly spike in 22 years, was a statistical anomaly.
...In the last 12 months, the economy had seen a net gain of only 15,000 jobs, the lowest net increase since November 2003.
The Hill reports that both the Obama and McCain campaigns are touting plans to turn the bleak employment picture around.
The Democratic presidential candidate promised that he would “restore broad-based, bottom-up growth that benefits all Americans.”
“I will provide working families with a middle-class tax cut; fight for affordable health care and college tuition; work to help raise workers' wages, and invest in infrastructure, education and a clean energy future to create millions of new jobs,” he said.
Sen. John McCain also noted that Americans are feeling the pain of a struggling economy and said that “Washington can no longer abdicate its responsibility to act.”
“To get our economy back on track, we must enact a jobs-first economic plan that supports job creation, provide immediate tax relief for families, enact a plan to help those facing foreclosure, lower healthcare costs, invest in innovation, move toward strategic energy independence and open more foreign markets to our goods,” the Arizona Republican said.
Both sought to paint the other party as responsible for the woes.
“Last night, President Uribe and the defense minister did brief us that the operation was going to take place today,” said McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, who was visiting Colombia Wednesday to promote a free trade agreement and to discuss drug trafficking.
“Today, I spoke by phone to President Uribe. He told me some of the details of the dramatic rescue of the people who were held hostage. Three Americans are now free and Ingrid Betancourt is now in good condition,” said McCain. “I’m pleased with the success of this very high-risk operation.”
No word on whether he got wind of the raid from the Bush administration before he planned his trip...
The WaPo, meanwhile, has a story on the Bush administration's shocking and entirely unexpected foreknowledge of a U.S. oil company's plans to do an end-run around the new Iraqi government, by cutting an oil deal with the Kurds:
Bush administration officials told Hunt Oil last summer that they did not object to its efforts to reach an oil deal with the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq, even while the State Department was publicly expressing concern that such contracts could undermine a national Iraqi petroleum law, according to documents obtained by a House committee.
Last fall, after the deal was announced, the State Department said that it had tried to dissuade Hunt Oil from signing the contract with Kurdish regional authorities but that the company had proceeded "regardless of our advice." Although Hunt Oil's chief executive has been a major fundraiser for President Bush, the president said he knew nothing about the deal.
Yesterday, however, Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released documents and e-mails showing that for nearly four months, State and Commerce department officials knew about Hunt Oil's negotiations and had told company officials that there were no objections. In one note, a Commerce Department official even wished them "a fruitful visit to Kurdistan" and invited them to contact him "in case you need any support."
That guidance contradicted the administration's public posture. The Bush administration made an Iraqi national petroleum law, which has still not been adopted, a top priority last year in the hope it would more tightly bind the country's regions together and open the way for international oil companies to invest in much larger oil fields south of Iraq's Kurdish region. The State Department said, and continues to assert, that it opposes any contract with a regional Iraqi authority in the absence of a national petroleum law.
The Bush administration dabbling in secret oil deals? Say it isn't so!
The Miami Herald has the update on former FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt's reunion with her family, after the Colombian government puts one over on the FARC guerrillas and frees several people who were held by them for more than five years, including the former presidential candidate, Betancourt, and three Florida contractors. The New York Times also offers its take on Betancourt's ordeal. [Betancourt is pictured at left after her rescue- AP]
BOGOTA -- The rescuers came wearing Che Guevara T-shirts and logos declaring them delegates of some obscure organization. They didn't look much like an international humanitarian brigade. And they weren't.
They were the Colombian intelligence agents who pulled off ''Operation Checkmate,'' one of the greatest military capers in Colombia's history -- a mission that would finally liberate the world's most famous hostage from the hands of leftist rebels in the jungle.
Without firing a single shot.
''Who are these people? What kind of international commission is this?'' former hostage and once-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt remembered thinking. ``Are we clowns in another circus? I didn't want any part of it.''
In a military operation described as ''unprecedented'' and ''perfect,'' the Colombian armed forces Wednesday infiltrated the top command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- Latin America's oldest insurgency -- and tricked rebels into handing over Betancourt, held hostage for six years, and three American defense contractors, held for five years.
It was an effort the White House says it knew about and helped support.
The hostages, the rebel group's most-prized possessions, were held in chains in jungle camps in the hopes the government would swap them for guerrilla prisoners. The three Americans -- Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes and Marc Gonsalves -- were scuttled out of the Andean nation and were set to arrive Wednesday night in San Antonio. ... Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said the ruse that also freed 11 Colombian soldiers and police officers was straight out of an action flick, and added that the mission garnered even more spoils: ''César,'' Betancourt's guerrilla warden all these years, was captured and placed under arrest. More details of the raid:
More details from the defense minister
He said the military infiltrated the FARC's top hierarchy and arranged for a transfer of hostages on the ruse that they were going to be handed over to Alfonso Cano, the rebel group's maximum leader.
... The government mole arranged for the hostages to be brought together from three different locations to one camp, and then taken in a helicopter the FARC believed belonged to a friendly aid group that would transport the hostages to Cano.
... The chopper was piloted by intelligence officers dressed as leftist sympathizers. Betancourt said the hostages thought they were being picked up by some kind of international humanitarian organization to be taken to the FARC high command.
''Our hearts broke. More captivity. Another transfer,'' Betancourt said in a dramatic press conference minutes after embracing her mother. ``Every time we heard helicopters my pulse would race. Run, hide, gather your things. But this helicopter was white. It was exciting.
''It was surreal,'' Betancourt said, describing the bizarre white helicopter and the strangely dressed men who came for her. ``They had logos that certified they were a delegation of who-knows-what.''
She and the others were handcuffed as they boarded the chopper, which she described as ''humiliating.'' Once aboard, something happened so fast Betancourt missed it.
But then she saw ''César'' -- the ''cruel despot'' who guarded her -- subdued on the floor of the helicopter. The pilots turned and said the words she and the others had waited so long for:
``We are from the army. You are free.''
''The helicopter almost crashed; we jumped, we screamed and we cried,'' she said, lavishing praise on the military, the defense minister and President Alvaro Uribe.
Betancourt was kidnapped in 2002, the contractors in 2003. OK, now for the conspiracy theories...
The raid was more than a year in the making, as the Colombian "mole" ingratiated himself with the rebels. And the Bush administration says it knew about the planning. And there was John McCain, just happening to be in town to dress up in his Navy cap and meet the victorious president of Colombia, Alvaro Urive, who has had his troubles lately, but who along with the Colombian Army was hailed by his countrymen yesterday. Too convenient? Maybe.
In Colombia, John McCain shows off his "Top Gun" look
The co-host of a recent top-dollar fundraiser for Sen. John McCain oversaw the payment of roughly $1.7 million to a Colombian paramilitary group that is today designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
Carl H. Lindner Jr., the billionaire Cincinnati businessman, was CEO of Chiquita Brands International from 1984 to 2001, and remained on the company's board of directors until May 2002. Beginning under his tenure, Chiquita executives paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by the Spanish acronym AUC), which is described by George Washington University's National Security Archive as an "illegal right-wing anti-guerrilla group tied to many of the country's most notorious civilian massacres."
Following a Justice Department indictment last year, Chiquita admitted to illegally funding the paramilitaries and agreed to pay a $25 million fine. Chiquita's payments to the AUC began in 1997 and lasted seven years; roughly half of the funds came after the group was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department in 2001.
But so far, there's not much more to the suspicion that McCain's trip was more than luckily timed, besides suspicion.
The New York Times is calling McCain's FARC convergence a "happy coincidence," but not everyone is so sure. The skeptics are lining up online, with many awaiting the gauzy photo-ops of McCain with Colombian president Uribe, and with the rescued hostages. Even many media types were scratching their heads this week over the McCain trip, just before the Fourth of July, to do what, push unpopular free trade? It's definitely a head scratcher, and given what we've witnessed over the last four years, one could easily see the Bush administration briefing their candidate on this being a great week to go to Colombia...
On national security McCain wins. We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy - this according to McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.
"I cannot imagine why he would say it; it's not true," the Arizona senator said. "I've worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent anther attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear."
Citing his work to establish a commission to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States, as well as his membership on the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain added: "I cannot imagine it, and so, if he said that _ and I don't know the context _ I strenuously disagree."
Black, interviewed by reporters as he stood outside McCain's fundraiser, said: "I deeply regret the comments. They were inappropriate. I recognize that John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to protecting his country and placing its security before every other consideration."
Will Black hang on? I suspect so. They've got pretty loose standards over there at Camp McCain...
Five accused terror suspects, including accused 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (who also murdered WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl) began their, well I don't think you can call it a trial ... today in Gitmo. Bloomberg sez:
elf-proclaimed al-Qaeda commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, he would welcome the martyrdom of execution for masterminding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.
``This is what I wish,'' Mohammed, speaking in English, told a judge who warned that he might be executed if convicted. ``I am looking to be martyred for a long time.'' Mohammed said he was rejecting legal representation and will defend himself. ``Nothing shall befall us, save for what Allah has ordained for us.''
Mohammed, 43, identified in the 9/11 Commission report as the ``principal architect'' of the strikes, is accused of murder with four co-defendants who also appeared in court. The charges carry the death penalty. Mohammed said he and his co-defendants were tortured following their capture by U.S. forces and now face a proceeding that ``is inquisition, it is not trial.''
``After torturing, they transferred us to inquisitionland in Guantanamo,'' said Mohammed. ``We don't have a right to anything.''
The five defendants are charged with conspiring to finance, train and direct the 19 hijackers who seized four airliners used in the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon outside Washington. They are charged in the deaths of 2,973 people killed in the attacks and the crash of one airliner in Pennsylvania.
Translated to Arabic
The men spoke to each other and laughed as they pointed to reporters seated in a glassed-in spectators' gallery. ``It seemed to be a reunion'' of the suspects, Navy Commander Suzanne Lachelier, who represents Ramzi Binalshibh, 36, told reporters during a break.
Lachelier said it was her ``impression'' that Mohammed was orchestrating his co-defendants to refuse counsel. Binalshibh was the only defendant to sit in court with his legs shackled to a bolt in the courtroom floor, a restraint Lachelier said is ``protocol'' for a detainee who is medicated. A court order forbids disclosure of the drug or why he is taking it, she said.
Trial judge Marine Colonel Ralph Kohlmann repeatedly warned civilian defense lawyers to be seated and admonished them for being argumentative.
``Don't ever interrupt me,'' he told one defense lawyer, Thomas A. Durkin, who also represents Binalshibh. ``You are way off point.''
A Miami judge let reason be her guide in the case of supposed "dirty bomber" ... oh no, wait, the government never actually charged him with that ... terrorist conspirator ... um, okay, not quite ... terrorist sympathiser-type ... guy ... Jose Padilla, sentencing the former Chicago gang member to 17 years in prison for his "material support" conviction. The Bush administration had wanted a life sentence for Padilla, although they never could quite articulate what for. The key points, courtesy of the Miami Herald:
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke gave Padilla, a man inextricably linked to the Bush administration's war on terror, a prison term of 17 years and four months for participating in a South Florida-based conspiracy to aid Muslims in ``violent jihad.''
The judge's decision to grant far below a life sentence was a blow to the government. Cooke reasoned that Padilla's crime was not tantamount to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
''There was never a plot to harm individuals in the United States,'' Cooke said. ``There was never a plot to overthrow the U.S. government.''
Padilla, 37, a U.S. citizen accused of training with the global terrorist group al Qaeda, stared blankly as Cooke condemned his ''harsh'' treatment as an ''enemy combatant'' in a Naval brig before his transfer to Miami to face terrorism charges. Cooke deducted the time Padilla spent in military custody -- 3 ½ years -- from his total sentence.
''I do find that the conditions were so harsh that they warrant consideration,'' Cooke told a crowded courtroom of lawyers, media and family members.
Padilla's mentor, Adham Amin Hassoun, a Palestinian who had met him at a Fort Lauderdale mosque in the 1990s, and Hassoun's colleague, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent, were sentenced to 15 years and eight months, and 12 years and 8 months, respectively.
Cooke essentially made the decision that Padilla was not involved in a specific enough plot to warrant life:
On Tuesday, she called the crimes committed by the three men ''very serious.'' Still, she stressed they caused no harm to anyone or anything in the United States.
Cooke further said that while they conspired to help Islamic extremists abroad, they also sent food, medicine and clothing to embattled Muslims. She also said that Hassoun, 45, and Jayyousi, 46, were educated men -- one was a computer programmer, the other an engineer -- who had no criminal history. On the other hand, she noted that Padilla had a violent criminal record as a Chicago gang member before moving to South Florida.
She said the government's proposed life terms were out of sync with past punishment for more serious domestic terrorists. She cited the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the ''20th hijacker'' in the Sept. 11 assaults, who was sentenced last year to life imprisonment. She also noted the case of Terry Nichols, who also received life for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. By comparison, Cooke cited the case of Yahya Goba, a Yemeni American who trained with al Qaeda and received 10 years after pleading guilty to providing ''material support'' for the terrorist group.
She also mentioned the case of David Hicks, who was released from an Australian prison in December after completing a U.S. sentence handed down at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He was caught fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in December 2001 and spent more than five years at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba, before agreeing to be transferred to Australia to serve out a nine-month sentence.
A good story overall, but you've got to love this little bit of stenography by the reporter, Jay Weaver:
That allegation, among other accusations, was not pursued by prosecutors at trial because of national security reasons.
Riiiight... that, or they didn't have any actual evidence... Previous:
Lyglenson Lemorin has been acquitted of terrorism charges. To repeat -- a jury heard the government's case against him, including allegations that he swore and oath to al-Qaida and plotted to blow up the Sears Tower along with Miami FBI headquarters, and found the government's case wanting. While the other six members of the so-called Liberty City Seven received mistrials on the same evidence, Lemorin was found NOT GUILTY.
So why is the Bush administration rushing to deport him?
MIAMI -- A federal judge warned the Bush administration Friday not to fast-track the deportation of a Haitian man acquitted of terrorism conspiracy charges because he may be called as a witness in the retrial of his six former co-defendants. "I have to protect the rights of these defendants, and I intend to do so," U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard said at a hearing.
Lenard also said the identities of the jury to be chosen next month for the second trial will be kept secret from prosecutors, defense lawyers and the public because of improper contacts and leaks in the first trial. The mother of one defendant was given a list with "X" marks next to the names of six jurors.
"This was a cause of great concern to me," the judge said. "At this point, it is unknown to the court what that list was about."
The retrial is set to begin Jan. 7 for six men accused of plotting with al-Qaida to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices in hopes of starting an anti-government insurrection. The first two-month trial resulted in a hung jury Dec. 13 for those six and an acquittal on all charges for 32-year-old Lyglenson Lemorin, a legal U.S. resident originally from Haiti.
A day after the trial ended, Lemorin was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and transported to a detention center in Lumpkin, Ga., where officials have begun deportation proceedings. An initial hearing in that case is set for Jan. 8.
Defense lawyers intending to call Lemorin as a witness asked Lenard to prevent ICE from whisking him out of the country quickly, and Lenard agreed.
Lenard is acting due to the pending retrial, but the fact of the Bush administration's keen desire to deport Lemorin in the first place raises alarms for me.
It sure looks like they're trying to have their trial and eat it too -- having lost in court, they are seeking to push him out of the country so that they can call him a terrorism threat anyway. Either that or they don't want him in the country talking about what has been done to him and his cohorts. From the Herald this past week:
Lemorin, 32, a lawful U.S. resident, [emphasis added] remains behind bars -- far from his Miami family -- in the tiny town of Lumpkin, Ga., a deportation center 150 miles south of Atlanta.
On Thursday, Lemorin's wife learned from The Miami Herald that federal authorities have charged her husband with unspecified ''administrative immigration violations'' and that he has been placed in ''removal proceedings'' that could lead to his deportation to his native Haiti.
''He has kids here, and we really need him home,'' said Lemorin's wife, Charlene Mingo Lemorin. ``He can't do anything for us in Haiti. Everything was settled by the jury. He was found not guilty. It's like the nightmare is not over.''
Family members say they are upset and dumbfounded because Lemorin has lived in South Florida for more than two decades and has no criminal history.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials declined to discuss Lemorin's alleged immigration violations.
''He was detained by ICE, and for safety and security reasons, we can't say where he is,'' agency spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez told The Miami Herald.
... The day after he was acquitted [December 13], immigration agents whisked Lemorin away to Miami International Airport.
Lemorin -- born in Haiti, raised in Miami and the father of two children who live in Little Haiti -- told his family and attorneys that he feared the agents were going to put him on a plane to his native Haiti.
Instead, they drove him to the Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade County. Then came an overnight drive to the Stewart detention center in Lumpkin.
Leonard Fenn, who temporarily represented Lemorin in the immigration case, expressed outrage over the government's actions.
''We're presuming they're claiming there is reason to believe he was a supporter of terrorist activities or a terrorist himself,'' said Fenn, who got on the case through Lemorin's criminal attorney, Joel DeFabio.
''It's outrageous -- a complete misallocation of government resources,'' Fenn said.
Immigration experts said that under the USA Patriot Act, adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a lawful U.S. resident such as Lemorin may still be locked up and possibly deported on terrorism-related charges -- even if they cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in federal court.
Miami attorney Cheryl Little, who heads the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center, said Lemorin's arrest by ICE may be ''overreaching but not unprecedented'' in the post-9/11 era, in which non-U.S. citizens acquitted at trial on drug-trafficking or other charges are sometimes picked up and dumped into the immigration legal system. Her center agreed to represent Lemorin, whose first immigration court hearing is set for Jan. 8.
Lemorin's attorneys and family now fear he will be charged with the same terrorism-related conspiracy offenses in immigration court, where an administrative judge -- not a jury of his peers -- decides his fate.
There is no principle of double jeopardy barring his prosecution on the same charges, and the burden of proof is based on a weaker civil standard, the weight of the evidence tipping one way or the other.
And for that, you can thank the United States Congress.
Canadian prof Francois Furstenberg writes a brilliant op-ed on the origins of terrorism, and the Jacobins of the French Revolution -- the progenitors of today's modern-day Jacobins, the neoconservatives. A few highlights:
The Jacobins shared a defining ideological feature. They divided the world between pro- and anti-Revolutionaries — the defenders of liberty versus its enemies. The French Revolution, as they understood it, was the great event that would determine whether liberty was to prevail on the planet or whether the world would fall back into tyranny and despotism.
The stakes could not be higher, and on these matters there could be no nuance or hesitation. One was either for the Revolution or for tyranny. ...
... Confronted by a monarchical Europe united in opposition to revolutionary France — old Europe, they might have called it — the Jacobins rooted out domestic political dissent. It was the beginning of the period that would become infamous as the Terror. ...
...Among the Jacobins’ greatest triumphs was their ability to appropriate the rhetoric of patriotism — Le Patriote Français was the title of Brissot’s newspaper — and to promote their political program through a tightly coordinated network of newspapers, political hacks, pamphleteers and political clubs. ...
... Insisting that their partisan views were identical to the national will, believing that only they could save France from apocalyptic destruction, Jacobins could not conceive of legitimate dissent. Political opponents were treasonous, stabbing France and the Revolution in the back.
To defend the nation from its enemies, Jacobins expanded the government’s police powers at the expense of civil liberties, endowing the state with the power to detain, interrogate and imprison suspects without due process. Policies like the mass warrantless searches undertaken in 1792 — “domicilary visits,” they were called — were justified, according to Georges Danton, the Jacobin leader, “when the homeland is in danger.” ... If the French Terror had a slogan, it was that attributed to the great orator Louis de Saint-Just: “No liberty for the enemies of liberty.” Saint-Just’s pithy phrase (like President Bush’s variant, “We must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself”) could serve as the very antithesis of the Western liberal tradition.
On this principle, the Terror demonized its political opponents, imprisoned suspected enemies without trial and eventually sent thousands to the guillotine. All of these actions emerged from the Jacobin worldview that the enemies of liberty deserved no rights.
Though it has been a topic of much attention in recent years, the origin of the term “terrorist” has gone largely unnoticed by politicians and pundits alike. The word was an invention of the French Revolution, and it referred not to those who hate freedom, nor to non-state actors, nor of course to “Islamofascism.”
A terroriste was, in its original meaning, a Jacobin leader who ruled France during la Terreur.
Brilliantly done. One could draw many of the same parallels between todays angry wngers and the authoritarian Bolsheviks who founded the Soviet Union. ... Anyway, read the entire article here.
Six years after the worst terror attack on U.S. soil, we are, in my view, at a dark place in America. Our political fabric has never been so worn. Our president has been proved a liar at worst, and an incompetent fool at best. He twisted the collective rage that we all felt after those towers came down in New York, in order to service a paranoid neocon fantasy of Middle East domination. "Get the Arabs!" That's what the neocons have been shrieking since George H.W. Bush failed to take his oil war all the way to Baghdad. They begged Clinton to do it, but he wouldn't. They whined that the only way America would see the light is with a "galvanizing, Pearl Harbor style event." It took a fool like George W. Bush to do their bidding. And after 9/11 he found a way to twist America's outrage into a thirst for war, not just against Afghanistan, where al-Qaida is, but also against Iraq. In fact, Bush was talking about invading Iraq well before those towers came down, including allegedly, before he became president, and it's clear now that the attacks provided merely the excuse.
But even before that, George W. Bush shamed himself, utterly, when on September 11, 2001, a Tuesday, just like today, he hid from the American people for nine long hours, leaving the stage to New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who for once, behaved like a man, instead of a snake. By ceding his presidency to Giuliani, and then having his henchmen orchestrate the destruction of any journalist or writer who dared to call a coward a coward, George W. Bush became what he ultimately was destined to be shown to be: a small man, an arrogant man, a self-centered and inadequate man, in every possible way. And it is that man who is leading us into the quagmire of Iraq.
To paraphrase the Dixie Chicks: this man embarasses me. He is an embarassment to this country.
And as for Rudy, he pimped 9/11 for his own financial gain, and is now doing so in order to get himself into the White House. Meanwhile, the bodies of scores of firefighters and other victims of the Towers' attack are languishing in mounds of rubble at Fresh Kills Landfill in New York.
And on this day, like many Americans, I still have questions...
Did George H.W. Bush turn to his breakfast buddy, Safiq Bin Laden, on the morning of 9/11 and ask him where his younger brother Osama might be? (More on the Bush-Bin Laden ties here.)
Just where did George W. Bush disappear to for those nine, long hours on September 11, 2001?
Why did Bush bother to talk to Robert Draper, and give away his secrets? (I'm definitely going to read the book...)
Is al-Qaida a trumped-up fantasy designed to perpetuate Bush's corporate wars? Or is it a real threat to the security of the United States that the administration is simply incapable of containing (or worse, inadvertently expanding...)?
Has it been resolved to most people's satisfaction that the Bush administration had nothing to do with 9/11? (I think the answer here is clearly, no.)
...and six years after the attacks, and the Iraq catastrophe that the Bush administration concocted from it, can the United States ever fully recover its good name?
Jose Padilla, an American from Brooklyn, by way of Chicago, who was designated as an enemy combatant by President Bush, and who once was accused, by John Ashcroft (pre-hospital heroism) of plotting to set off dirty bomb attacks in South Florida ... an accusation later retracted because the Bush administration had no actual evidence of such a plot ... was convicted yesterday, along with two other men of providing "material support to terrorists," apparently, mostly on the basis of his having filled out -- or at least handling -- an al-Qaida job application (who knew they had paperwork? And can you imagine what the interview is like? "What would you say was your worst failure ... your greatest success ...?)
I must admit that I remain dubious about the whole Padilla situation. As in the Hamdan case, it's built on vagueries and supposition, without much substance. And as with that case, it stands on the shaky legs of the Bush administration's outsized claims to executive power, including the power to detain American citizens (Padilla) without charging them with any crime, indefinitely if the president wishes. That's frightening, and un-American.
Worse, it seems the jury, which deliberated for less than 48 hours, was rather unconcerned with the lack of evidence in the Padilla case. Apparently, the fear haze that the American public was placed under by the Bushies after 9/11 hasn't entirely worn off, at least on everyone.
Padilla and his co-defendants will likely be put away for the better part of the rest of their lives. Padilla might actually be dangerous -- he is a former member of a notorious Chicago gang, and he has shown a propensity for violence (his first stint in prison was for kicking a rival gang banger in the head -- the victim later died.) But the government has not shown to my satisfaction that he is a terrorist.
And yet, he's going to prison as one. Go figure.
Worse, I suspect that the real reason the Bush administration has gone so hard after Padilla and other so-called homegrown terrorists -- the paintball guys in New York, the Liberty City Seven (who aren't even Muslims, but are supposedly al-Qaida ... go figure...) is because they need to demonstrate -- in contravention of the contrary evidence inherent in their own prosecutorial failures -- that there really is a war on terror going on , the better to justify the various outrages against the Constitution committed by this president -- from torture to domestic spying -- and to do so, they need to convince you that there is a continuous and ubiquitous domestic terror threat. It's important that it's domestic, because they want to spread the tentacles of their data mining and spying regime into this country, utilizing the tactics that by law, are supposed to be confined to overseas operations -- and even then, the connection to international law is often tenuous at best. The Bushies originally detained Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant under the guise of the Congressional authorization to use force in Afghanistan following the September 11 terror attacks. That justification was rejected by the Supreme Court, and should be rejected by the American people.
To paraphrase a Baptist preacher, I wish I had a Constitution loving church up in here.
What a strange thing it is to have a day off in the middle of the week ... it's enough to make Thursday feel like a Monday. Oh well ... here's what-a-gwan:
Al Gore to Tipper: "Well, at least the boy was in a Prius..." (after his son gets pinched for possession of marijuana, Xanax, Adderol, Soma and more. And just days before daddy's 7-7-07 global warming concert? Duuuude...
A man is arrested outside Barack Obama's hotel in Iowa holding an eight-inch knife. Scary, with shades of Bobby Kennedy, or a security detail overacting? I hope for the latter but fear the former is more on the money.
The British government says the idea that the eight doctors and others who were arrested in the recent attempts at creating 'splosions at Glasgow and London airports were al-Qaida isn't quite accurate... now THIS is al-Qaida, if you still believe they are the boogeyman the administration wants you to believe they are...
An E.U. report sheds new light on the CIA's secret prison system, which apparently had tentacles in the former Soviet bloc -- how appropriate is that -- including secret gulags in Poland and Romania, formerly home not only to Soviet detention facilities, but Nazi ones as well. The ironies are just too rich.
The Bush administration prepares to ask for a do-over on the military tribunals ruling, hoping to push the military judges to reverse their decision to throw out cases against Gitmo detainees who were misclassified as "enemy combatants," rather than "unlawful enemy combatants," making them ineligible for trial by Bushian kangaroo court. To whit:
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration won't dismantle the controversial war-crimes tribunals at Guantanamo Bay for alleged terrorists, including Canada's Omar Khadr, despite rulings by two military judges tossing out all charges, a senior U.S. official said yesterday.
"The government is looking at a number of different options," said John Bellinger, legal adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But scrapping the tribunals and putting the terrorist suspects on trial, either in federal court in the United States or in military courts martial, isn't among them.
Instead, the government has quickly assembled a court to hear an appeal of the dismissal of charges against Mr. Khadr, accused of killing for al-Qaeda, and Salim Ahmed Hamdan, alleged to have been a driver for Osama bin Laden.
"Judges have been appointed and the court is prepared to receive appeals," said Navy Commander Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman. But Cdr. Gordon said he couldn't provide the names of those named to the Court of Military Commission Review. It was created by Congress last year, but had no judges or staff until the government scrambled in the wake of Monday's surprise rulings by the military judges.
The story goes on to say that prosecutors may have actually missed the deadline to refile the charges, but that isn't stopping the Bushies, either.
Is it just me, or are our detentionos of prisoners in Gitmo somewhat analagous to the detention of Iranian-Americans in Tehran? In both cases, suspects are held incommunicado with no clear charges against them. And if so, on what basis to we demand our citizens back, let alone any U.S. G.I.s who may be captured on a battlefield? Now you're getting to the fundamental damage the Bush administration has done...
Meanwhile, on the homefront, the military is charging a National Guard soldier with desertion ... because she refuses to leave her 7-year-old daughter with her abusive ex-husband so she can go back to Iraq.
Oh, wait, finally! Some good news! Here come the subpoenas!!!
The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee strongly criticized the Justice Department for obstructing an investigation of the Bush administration's warrantless spying program. The statement came after the committee scheduled a hearing next week to authorize subpoenas related to the shadowy government program.
"The warrantless wiretapping program has operated for over five years outside of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and without the approval of the FISA Court. The Committee has continued to ask for the legal justification for this sweeping and secret program, and has continually been rebuffed by inadequate and at times, misleading, responses from this Justice Department," said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement sent to RAW STORY. "The information we have requested has been specific to the legal justification for this program and is firmly within the Committee’s oversight jurisdiction."
Leahy's statement came after his committee had announced earlier in the day that it planned to "authorize subpoenas in connection with investigation of legal basis for warrantless wiretap program," according to the committee's website. The meeting will occur on Thursday, June 14. ...
While his predecessor is barnstorming the country, fulminating about the myriad terror plots against us with bug-eyed, bald fury, current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a simple, common sense message: "get a life."
(CBS) NEW YORK While questions continue to arise about the alleged plot to blow up a fuel pipeline beneath JFK Airport and surrounding neighborhoods, some are questioning why New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hasn't had a louder voice since the plot was foiled on Saturday.
On Monday, Bloomberg finally weighed in, but his response was not what some would have expected.
"There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life," he said.
That "What, me worry?" attitude pretty much sums up Bloomberg's advice to New Yorkers on the terror plot. As far as he was concerned, the professionals were on it, so New Yorkers shouldn't let it tax their brains.
"You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist," he added.
Meanwhile, even more questions are being asked about the supposedly dastardly plot, which is growing less dastardly with every new detail (and every new arrest of an old fart supposed terrorist). Aside from the physical impossibility of blowing up the fuel lines under the airport and killing thousands of Queens residence, even if this group of four geriatric West Indians had the wherewithal to get their hands on explosives and fuel, there's the fact that the plotters were apparently being led by a homeless bookseller. Not exactly the al-Qaida A-team.
Rush, O'Reilly and the other bandleaders for the crazed are beside themselves that the media won't give the story more hyperventillation and front page space. But you know what? I think the first day of overwrought coverage, featuring a Bush appointed, totally incredible U.S. attorney, was about enough.
Back to the questions. This appeared in today's Newsday:
When U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf described the alleged terror plot to blow up Kennedy Airport as "one of the most chilling plots imaginable," which might have caused "unthinkable" devastation, one law enforcement official said he cringed.
The plot, he knew, was never operational. The public had never been at risk. And the notion of blowing up the airport, let alone the borough of Queens, by exploding a fuel tank was in all likelihood a technical impossibility.
And now, with a portrait emerging of alleged mastermind Russell Defreitas as hapless and episodically homeless, and of co-conspirator Abdel Nur as a drug addict, Mauskopf's initial characterizations seem more questionable -- some go so far as to say hyped.
"I think her comments were over the top," said Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. "It was a totally overstated characterization that doesn't comport with the facts."
Greenberger said he has no argument with police pursuing and stopping the alleged plotters.
"I think they were correct to take this seriously," he said. "... But there's a pattern here of Justice Department attorneys overstating what they have. I think they feel under tremendous pressure to vindicate the elaborate counterterrorism structure they've created since 9/11, including the Patriot Act."
And this from terrorism expert Peter Bergen:
"Obviously they're talking about stuff," he said. "But did they have the capabilities or training to do it? The answer is obviously not. It seems to me the reason the London plot worked is these guys had gone to an al-Qaida training camp. ... To become an effective terrorist, generally you have to go to a training camp. Timothy McVeigh was an effective terrorist because he could draw on his years of military background."
In this case, the alleged plotters had no money and never succeeded in hooking up with the head of an Islamist group in Trinidad called Jamaat al Muslimeen, according to the criminal complaint. While alleged mastermind Defreitas told the FBI informant that he learned to make bombs in Guyana, there is no other indication of technical expertise. Friends say he supported himself by selling incense on street corners and collecting welfare.
Steven Simon, a terrorism expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the government's hyperbolic descriptions -- whether of this case or of the alleged plot to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago -- could erode public confidence in law enforcement and lead to confusion about the terror threat.
"First, it creates the public impression that the adversary is just a bunch of losers who do not have to be feared," he said. "Second, the fact that these hapless people are angry enough to seek to attack the U.S. raises the issue of other more competent, well-organized groups that might be escaping police detection."...
And yet, those facts haven't stopped the right from attacking, not just the media, but Bloomberg, too. Here's Bloomberg publishing competitor Investors Business Daily:
Bloomberg's kind of thinking, compared by a local New York City TV news show to the "What, me worry?" attitude of Mad Magazine's jug-eared mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, was exactly the kind of smugness practiced by government officials in the pre-9/11 era — dangerously outdated as we wage a global war on terror.
America's founding fathers warned that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, but in the 21st century it may very well become the price of life, too. ...
blah blah blah blah, you get the picture.
Well I say, you GO Bloomberg! It's about time somebody made some damned sense.
1. You don't have any money to buy explosives 2. You don't have access to explosives (or to the facility you're trying to target) 3. And even if you had both 1 and 2 above, your plot is physically impossible:
US authorities said Saturday they had averted an attack that could have resulted in "unfathomable damage, deaths, and destruction," and charged four alleged Islamic radicals with conspiracy to cause an explosion at the airport.
But according to the experts, it would have been next to impossible to cause an explosion in the jet fuel tanks and pipeline. Furthermore, the plotters seem to have lacked the explosives and financial backing to carry out the attack.
John Goglia, a former member of National Transportation Safety Board, said that if the plot had ever been carried out, it would likely have sparked a fire but little else, and certainly not the mass carnage authorities described.
"You could definitely reach the tank, definitely start the fire, but to get the kind of explosion that they were thinking that they were going to get... this is virtually impossible to do," he told AFP.
The fuel pipelines around the airport would similarly burn, rather than explode, because they are a full of fuel and unable to mix with enough oxygen.
"We had a number of fires in the US. All that happens is a big fire," he said. "It won't blow up, it will only burn."
Even if the attackers had managed to blow up a fuel tank, the impact would be limited, he said, citing the example of North Vietnamese forces attacking US fuel dumps during the Vietnam war.
"They hit the fuel tanks with pretty big rockets. You would get a big fire but not a big explosion other than the rocket." ...
Stay tuned for more major terror arrests of poor, decrepit, elderly, non-al Qaida wannabes who pose a grave non-existent threat to the "honmeland" as we get closer to the 2008 election, or any time the Democrats are set to debate or otherwise get news coverage.
First off, Countdown's writers are stealing my headlines again... theirs (June 04, 2007 11:30 AM) ... mine (Saturday, June 02, 2007 8:46 p.m.) ... can I get an on-air credit, guys??? Jeez... second, Keith Olbermann is just as cynical as I am about the latest terr'rist plot. He points out on Countdown tonight the strange juxtaposition of the scary blow-up JFK somehow (without current knowledge of the airport and against the laws of physics, which would prevent even a successful fuel line explosion from causing the reported conflagration ... even if the rather sad, geriatric plotters could have gotten their hands on any explosives ... which they ... couldn't... but I digress:
Since last August, there had been a period of calm. The screaming hair-on-fire pronouncements about terror plots that may have had real plotters but no real conceivable chance of actually happening... ceased. That the period, spanned the time between the 2006 mid-term elections, and the week we reached exactly 18 months until the 2008 presidential election -- just a coincidence. Our third story on the Countdown...from the mind-bending idea that four guys dressed as Pizza Delivery men were going to out-gun all the soldiers at Fort Dix...to the not-too-thought-out plan to blow-up J-F-K Airport... here we go again.
Check the Countdown blog later tonight or tomorrow for the complete rundown.
The head of Jamaat al Muslimeen in Trinidad, who led the only Islamic coup attempt in the Western hemisphere's history back in 1990, denies knowledge of the JFK plot, though he's a bit squirly on whether he knows the plotters (though try and tell it to Newsweek). Meanwhile, two of the alleged plotters are fighting extradition to the United States ... the better to stay out of Gitmo, I suppose... And the LA Times profiles 63-year-old Russell Defreitas -- a pretty sad character for a terror mastermind, the story goes:
U.S. law enforcement officials said Defreitas was nowhere near being capable of mounting an attack. He didn't have explosives, money or an executable plan. But one of the most alarming aspects of the case is that a man of such meager means made as much progress as he did, authorities said.
"It is a bit worrisome when someone like this, who is a bit washed up, is able to go out and solicit funding and the blessing of others who are more organized and experienced," said a Justice Department official familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It is a bit frightening."
A bit more:
Defreitas was portrayed in news accounts Sunday as a lonely figure, a man who made money selling books on street corners and shipping broken air-conditioning parts to Guyana. He is divorced and estranged from his two children, according to the reports.
"People around here never see that man," said a Trinidadian woman who runs a 99-cent store next to his apartment building on Rockaway Avenue in Brooklyn. "I'm right here 15 years…. The people in the building never see the man, so where did he come from?"
Her shop caters to people in the neighborhood who stop by for toothpaste, toy water guns and hair gel. The woman, who did not want to be named, said the local Caribbean community was close-knit so it was strange that no one she knew remembered Defreitas, not even residents in his building.
The neighborhood is largely populated by African Americans, Latinos and immigrants from the West Indies.
On Rockaway Avenue, employees at four grocery stores, a check-cashing business and Jay's West Indian Restaurant, which serves oxtail and curried goat dishes, said they had no idea who he was. One screamed at a reporter: "This is harassment. I tell everyone, I did not know that man!"
Defreitas' building is a faded four-story row house with a broken intercom that buzzes incessantly. Neighbors said the building was known to house drug addicts. Knocks on his door and others in the building went unanswered Sunday.
These guys are the worst thing for Trinidad and Guyana since . Adnan Shukrijuma, and yet it's hard to take them entirely seriously, given their lack of means and capability to carry out such an ambitious plot as exploding the fuel lines under an entire airport, plus parts of the borough of Queens...
These appear to be rather sad old men who turned to this plot as a way to feel important. Hardly the crack terrorist cell Rudy Giuliani would have you believe so that you'll be terrified enough to vote for him.
Neocon wackos frequently invoke the anti-Democrat cudgel that "Democrats fail to understand the war on terror because they don't get that it's a war." or, in the words of the less-than-great Daniel Pipes back in January 2004:
Nearly all the Democratic presidential contenders as well as other heavyweight Democrats have spoken out against the war on terror, preferring it to be a police action against terror.
Since 2001, the U.S. has engaged in the neocons' long-desired "war" to end the threat of terror, fighting militarily on two major fronts: Afghanistan and Iraq, and on several smaller ones, with military actions in Colombia, Somalia, and by proxy, in Lebanon. The results? Terror attacks around the world haven't declined, they've increased:
On a global scale: terrorist activity and violence has grown worse, not better since 11 September 2001. Average levels of terrorist violence that would have been considered extreme in the period prior to 9/11 have become the norm in the years since. And there is no sign that this trend is abating. This much is evident from a review of the terrorism incident database maintained by the Rand Corporation for the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), which is funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. Surveying incidents for the period January 1998 through 11 August 2006 shows that:
- The rate of terrorism fatalities for the 59 month period following 11 September 2001 is 250 percent that of the 44.5 month period preceding and including the 9/11 attacks. This figure has been adjusted to account for the different length of the two periods and it implies an increase in average monthly fatalities of 150 percent. (Only in January 1998 did the database begin to include both national and international terrorism incidents.)
- The rate of terrorist incidents for the post-9/11 period is 268 percent that of the period prior to and including 11 September 2001. This implies a 167 percent increase in what might be called the average monthly rate of incidents.
- A fair portion of the increased activity is related to the war in Iraq -- but not all. Removing Iraq from the picture shows an increase in the average monthly rate of terrorism fatalities of more than 10 percent for the post-9/11 period. The increase in the rate of incidents not counting Iraq is 75 percent.
In other words, if the aim of Pipes' "war" is to make the world safe from terrorism, like World War I "made the world safe for democracy," it has utterly failed. And then there are Iraq and Afghanistan, which have become, respectively, a killing field and a violent narco-state, thanks again to the neocons' anti-terror war machine.
Meanwhile, as terrorism and Islamic militantcy have metastasized into Western Europe and the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S., what has been the most effective at stopping what are mostly amateurish or unrealizable terror plots, by Tim McVeigh types who heppen to derive their militantcy from anti-U.S. sentiments based on "jihadism" rather than from anger over Waco or Ruby Ridge? Not illegal NSA wiretapping or illegal Pentagon spying on American citizens ... not the constitutional outrages of the Patriot Act and "breaking down the wall between law enforcement and the intelligence agencies" as Pipes and others have called for ... nope.
It's been good old fashioned law enforcement -- starting with the lowly criminal informant.
Exhibit A: the recent plot against JFK airport by Caribbean nationals and U.S. citizens of West Indian descent. WNBC reports:
The question was simple: "Would you like to die as a martyr?" The putative terrorist unhesitatingly replied yes -- there was no greater way to die in Islam.
The right answer put the man in the midst of a terrorist plot conceived as more devastating than the 9/11 attacks. He was soon making surveillance trips around John F. Kennedy International Airport -- the "chicken farm," as the planners dubbed their target -- and visiting the Trinidad compound of a radical Muslim group.
On Saturday, the insider -- a twice-convicted drug dealer -- was revealed as a government informant whose surreptitious work undermined a plot to destroy the Queens airport by exploding a jet fuel pipeline. The case demonstrated the growing importance of informants in the war on terrorism, particularly as smaller radical groups become more aggressive ...
...The four Muslim men accused in the JFK plot didn't turn to Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan for support after targeting the airport, home to an average 1,000 daily flights and 45 million passengers annually.
Instead, according to a federal complaint, the informant and defendants Kareem Ibrahim and Defreitas visited a compound belonging to the Jamaat al Muslimeen, a radical Muslim group based in Trinidad. When Defreitas discussed his radical "brothers" with the informant, he made it clear they were not Arabs, but from Trinidad and Guyana.
The complaint also made clear how deeply the informant had infiltrated the small band of would-be terrorists. While Defreitas, a retired JFK airport cargo worker, made four reconnaissance missions to the airport with the informant, federal authorities captured each one on audio and video equipment.
Sounds more like an episode of "The Shield" than of "Band of Brothers."
Last year, informants played a major role in two other terror cases. In June 2006, an informant posing as an al-Qaida operative helped bring down a plot to blow up the Sears Tower. Five of the seven men arrested in that alleged terrorist group were U.S. citizens.
And in May 2006, an NYPD informant's testimony led to the conviction of a man plotting to blow up the busy Herald Square subway station in midtown Manhattan.
Stipulating that the Liberty City Seven -- the Sears Tower plotters -- didn't even have shoes, let alone explosives -- these cases do point out that in our society, as in any, there are disgruntled, criminally minded people, whose outlet for anger ultimately turns destructive and violent. In the present age, many of them turn to jihadism to find meaning for themselves and to feel important, and their criminal intent is best broken up by good old fashioned law enforcement.
Ditto in Britain, where the 7/7 plotters were sussed out by security videos and beat police.
The war on terror, as John Edwards has said, is a bumper sticker -- and a convenient one at that, as it's allowed the military industry and private contract firms to make a killing off the blood of our military personnel, and at the expense of the infrastructure and people of Iraq. But beyond their naked profits, the "war on terror" has gotten us nothing.
Given the choice, I'm with the police action. It comes with all sorts of goodies, like warrants and oversight, it doesn't infringe on my Constitutional right to privacy, and most important, it doesn't have to be run by George W. Bush and his incompetent friends. The closest we get to trouble is those tainted, Alberto Gonzales U.S. attorneys, who I'm sure will be prosecuting suspicious looking hobos by the time we get to the election, in order to help Alberto's party stay in the White House...
After the initial, alarming reports about West Indian terrrorist plotting to pull of a horror worse than 9/11, which would have sent a blazing fireball from JFK airport, underneath the city, possibly sinking the entire boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens ... okay, Team Bush et Gonzales hadn't quite gotten there yet:
The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable," U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf said at a news conference, calling it "one of the most chilling plots imaginable."
In an indictment charging the four men, one of them is quoted as saying the foiled plot would "cause greater destruction than in the Sept. 11 attacks," destroying the airport, killing several thousand people and destroying parts of New York's borough of Queens, where the line runs underground.
Yes, well a mere few hours later, after all that bluster, we have this:
Despite their efforts, the men never obtained any explosives, authorities said.
"Pulling off any bombing of this magnitude would not be easy in today's environment," former U.S. State Department counterterrorism expert Fred Burton said, but added it was difficult to determine without knowing all the facts of the case.
Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline expert and president of Accufacts Inc., an energy consulting firm that focuses on pipelines and tank farms, said the force of explosion would depend on the amount of fuel under pressure, but it would not travel up and down the line.
"That doesn't mean wackos out there can't do damage and cause a fire, but those explosions and fires are going to be fairly restricted," he said.
Since Defreitas retired from his job at the airport, security has significantly tightened and his knowledge of the operation was severely outdated.
Damnit, and I was all prepared to lock myself in Rudy Giuliani's broom closet for safety from the Islamofascists! ... sigh... anyway, at least we can still look upon the faces of EVIL, starting with that Mayor of Guyanese horror: Adul Kadir:
(shudder) and next, 63-year-old do-baddy, Russell Defreitas:
Makes you want to run out and vote Republican, doesn't it?
Isn't it a shame that the first thing my husband asked me this afternoon when we heard about the four Trinidadian and Guyanese men charged with plotting a terrorist attack on JFK airport in New York, was: "does Guyana have oil?" Damn. Are we that cynical after six years of the Bushes? Actually, yes. And guess what? Guyana does:
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- While high oil prices spur exploration for new fields around the world, a potentially rich deposit off the marshy northeast coast of South America remains untapped.
The largely unexplored zone is caught in a no-man's-land because Guyana and Suriname can't agree on their maritime boundary. Guyana says the line runs toward the north-northwest; Suriname says it runs more northward.
Last June, the two came close to war when Suriname enforced its line with two gunboats, forcing a Canadian company's oil rig to withdraw from the disputed area before it could drill under a license granted by Guyana.
The disagreement has prompted both countries to strengthen their small militaries. And it is stalling oil exploration off the entire coasts of both nations, which are among the region's poorest.
"This is one of the few areas left in the world that is underexplored and that has perceived potential," said Newell Dennison, manager of the petroleum division of Guyana's Geology and Mines Commission.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the entire coastal area off the two countries -- called the Guyana-Suriname Basin -- could contain as much as 15 billion barrels of oil, or about 1 percent of the estimated world total.
"So, since offshore oil potential is ruled out for the time being, you can imagine how excited the Guyanese are by the possibility that they may find oil onshore instead and that is where the resumed effort to discover hydrocarbons in one of the region's poorest countries is now to be concentrated.“
One could not blame the Guyanese for thinking that someone up there does not like them when constant rainfall, disastrous flooding and the evacuation of thousands of people all combine to smother what should be the real focus of attention in that luckless Caricom country these days-the resumption of the 89-year-long search for commercial oil deposits.
This was due to kick off any time now and it would not be at all surprising if the unfavourable weather situation had delayed the eagerly-awaited event.
As my three or four readers will know, Guyana, Caricom's headquarters territory, suffered a major setback when it tried to sink an exploratory oil well in June, 2000. This was to target a prospect called Eagle in the Corentyne block, 135 km offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. But before the CE Thornton jack-up rig could go into action, a gunboat from fellow Caricom state Suriname, appeared on the horizon and ordered the rig to depart, on the grounds that the waters in which it was operating were really part of Suriname's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), not Guyana's.
Suriname contended then, and is still contending, that the maritime boundary line between the two countries extends from the Corentyne River at an angle of ten degrees to the east, not 33 degrees, as Georgetown insists. That dispute is now before Unclos, to which it was referred by Guyana after it had apparently reached the limit of its patience with the non-existent pace of bilateral discussions.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) _ Officials from the U.N.'s maritime body will travel to Guyana and Suriname next week to determine the boundaries of a potentially oil- and gas-rich basin off the two small South American nations' coasts, a government statement said Friday.
Using a survey vessel to scan the sea bottom, researchers from the Hamburg, Germany-based International Law of the Sea Tribunal will examine the maritime border as the U.N. body prepares to make its final ruling on a long-running dispute between the two neighbors, according to a statement from Guyana's foreign ministry.
The dispute once brought Guyana and Suriname close to war and has blocked fuel exploration in the area.
The two South American nations have been locked in the disagreement over ownership of hundreds of square miles (square kilometers) of untapped territory running from the nations' land border at the coast out to the limit of their territorial waters.
Industry experts have estimated that the Guyana-Suriname Basin may hold as much as 15 billion barrels of oil along with huge deposits of natural gas.
In 2000, Suriname sent two gunboats to the region and expelled Toronto-based CGX Energy Inc., halting its oil exploration there under a Guyanese license. In recent months, Spanish-Argentine company Repsol YPF and CGX Energy have met with Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo to discuss exploring parts of the basin. Jagdeo has said he is eager to launch surveys after a ruling is issued under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which local officials expect to be announced in August.
-Russell Defreitas, a Guyananese-born American citizen and former JFK cargo worker who is said to have made damning statements to an FBI informant about hitting JFK in order to shake the American public by, in effect, killing John F. Kennedy a second time...
- Abdul Kadir, said to be a former guyanese parliament member and onetime mayor of Linden, in Guyana, who is said to have passed crucial information on to the plotters.
- Kareem Ibrahim, a native of Trinidad.
- Abdel Nur, of Guyana, who is still on the lam, possibly in Trinidad.
So who are these guys?
Apparently, the group is linked to the Trinidad-based group Jaamat Al Muslimeen, a militant group that in 1990 was accused of an attempted coup against the Trinidadian government including the kidnapping of the prime minister. More about the group:
The Jamaat al Muslimeen is a Muslim organisation within the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago with a membership of predominantly Afro-Trinidadians. The appeal of its doctrines to the poor and displaced classes of society have seen its membership and popularity increase.
It was the organisation's leader, Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, who led members of the Jamaat in an attempted coup d'état against the elected Government of Trinidad and Tobago in July 1990. Over a six-day period members of the government including then-Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson were held hostage at gun point while chaos and looting broke out in the streets of the capital Port of Spain.
A court ruling, questioned by many as patently absurd on the facts, upheld an amnesty agreement obtained during the incarceration of parliament by the group. This led to the non-prosecution of its members for this crime despite the contention that the fact that guns and force were used to obtain said amnesty constituted duress. Subsequent to the attempted coup, it aligned itself publicly first with the United National Congress (in the run-up to the 1995 General Elections) and later with the People's National Movement (PNM), the party which forms the current Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Before and since those elections, however, present and past members have been connected or prosecuted for serious violent crimes. These crimes include drug and gang related killings, rape and a current spree of kidnappings for ransom of members of the local upper and middle class. The organization and its leader have the reputation of antagonism to Trinidadians of Indian origin, that many consider racist. The Jamaat's alleged crimes of kidnapping have mainly targeted Indian-Trinidadians. The organisation's leader is currently being prosecuted with conspiracy to murder several of the group's former members who had spoken out publicly against the Jamaat al Muslimeen and its practices, and who were suspected of becoming witnesses in legal proceedings against its members.
As of March 2007, three members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen have confessed to their role in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of an Indo-Trinidadian businesswoman; Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.
Currently they are under surveillance by the local National Security Agency as well as the United States Central Intelligence Agency for suspected terrorist relations with the Middle East, as are two other Muslim factions.
So we combined disgruntled, angry Afro-Caribbeans from countries with increasing Muslim populations and new discoveries of oil that, once exploited, will likely benefit the East Indian population (Suriname is mostly East Indian, Guyana is increasingly controlled by same), leaving the Afro-Carib population even more angry, disgruntled and displaced. And here these guys are, in the U.S., under the surveillance of the NSA and FBI.
What's worrisome about these developments (this is the third time Guyanese nationals have been linked to terrorist plots inside the U.S. -- would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid of Jamaica being the first and Adnan Shukrijuma being the second,) is that it fits a narrative that U.S. officials are trying to build, not about al-Qaida plots against the U.S. (as Bill Richardson prematurely tossed out on CNN this afternoon in response to the arrests) but about supposed Hezbollah-linked plots that trace back to Iran, the country Dick Cheney and his neocon friends would desperately like to bomb (one major neocon is even praying about it.) Of course, there are those analysts who see almost a competitive growth, between Shiite-type terrorist groups in Latin America, and more al-Qaida style Sunni groups in the Caribbean:
The region’s small Muslim population is comprised mostly of South and Southeast Asians with deep roots stemming back to the Colonial period, as well as Arabs. The region has also experienced an increase of migrants from the Middle East in recent decades. Some of the largest Muslim communities are found in Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Adherence to Islam varies dramatically from country to country. In general, it reflects the diverse ethnic and cultural traditions that comprise the region and is often infused with distinctly “Caribbean” features. This is best evidenced by the Shi’a Muharram rituals known locally as Hosay, (derived from the regional transliteration of Husayn) performed by East Indian Shi’a Muslims in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica, that commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn.
Recent Arab migrants from the Middle East tend to be more pious and traditional relative to their second and third generation Arab and Muslim counterparts. Moreover, there are a growing number of locals converting to Islam, especially among impoverished minorities such as the indigenous peoples of the Mexican state of Chiapas and marginalized populations of African descent in the Caribbean islands.
So increasingly, in this hemisphere, the face that will be stamped onto the "threat of terrorism" will be a black, Caribbean one.
The Caribbean Basin will remain a region of concern in the war on terrorism. Despite a lack of hard evidence to date, international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda in theory can potentially feed off of the institutional weakness, political and economic instability, poverty, and lawlessness that characterize the Caribbean Basin to further their aims. But as the case of Trinidad and Tobago demonstrates, the mere presence of Islamist activist groups (or Muslims in general) does not necessarily equate to links to al-Qaeda. Therefore, in addressing the threat (or perceived threat) of radical Islam in the region effectively, it is imperative that policymakers consider the nexus between deep-seated social, political, and economic grievances and international terrorism, and not simply settle for shortsighted solutions.
Yeah, tell it to the Bushies. And there's oil involved? Oy, vey. At the end of the day, groups like Jamaat Al Muslimeen have more to do with inter-ethnic conflict and economic displacement than with al-Qaida, and this group hasn't been linked in any way to either Sunni Qaida or Shiite Hezbollah. But I'll bet that won't stop the U.S. government and their friends in the media from making that case, the better to intervene in the affairs of a country with burgeoning supplies of black gold.
Update: Read the official complaint against the suspects here.
Adam Gadahn, the first American in generations to be charged with treason, is back on the TV. I don't know, but somehow I just don't believe this guy. He strikes me as a put up job. But then again, maybe I'm just getting way too cynical for my own good...
Exhibit A: The Duka brothers, who along with three of their closest friends planned to purchase rocket launchers, various assault weapons and such-like, and "light up" Fort Dix with unholy terror. Unfortunately for the Duka brothers and their friends, who in their "Clark Kent" lives, were disguised as a cabbie, three roofers, a 7-Eleven clerk and a supermarket checkout guy, it often doesn't pay to take your motivational tape to the local video store for a dubbing. And the video clerk gave them up to the feds, thwarting their goal of becoming super-terrorists.
...then why is he set to serve just nine months in prison back in his home country of Australia? Perhaps this is a clue:
As part of the plea bargain, Hicks also withdrew claims he was abused in US detention.
The Australian had previously alleged he was beaten by US forces after his capture in Afghanistan and that he had been sedated before learning of the charges against him.
Addressing the tribunal, he affirmed he had "never been illegally treated by any persons in the control or custody of the United States" before or after his transfer to Guantanamo in 2002.
But wait, there's more:
As part of his plea deal, Hicks has agreed not to speak to the media for a year, not to receive any money for his story and not to sue the US government.
At Friday's hearing, he had to convince the military judge that his guilty plea was genuine and not just a tactic to return home to Adelaide.
However his father, Terry, said that was the only reason he had agreed to make the plea.
The Australian government will be relieved that the David Hicks saga is coming to an end, says the BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney.
While the conservative government is a supporter of the US military justice system, it has come under a great deal of pressure from Australians disturbed by Hicks' treatment, and will be glad to put the issue behind it with elections due later in the year, our correspondent says.
Two governments, one giant cover-up, but at the end of the day, at least David Hicks is out of Gitmo. Who can blame him for pleading out?
"When I saw those talking french fries under the bridge there in Boston, the first thing I thought was, thank God George Bush is the one in the White House..." -- Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, speaking from his dust covered bunker under neath the Boston common, where he survived the Aqua Teen Hunger Force attack, becoming America's Mayor Once Over, in the process...
They came, they saw, they freaked out the feds and the Boston police. Now, the human weapons of mass destruction behind the Aqua Teen Hunger Force will face justice ... Dubya-style. Watch, as these menaces mock the global war on terror!
Burn, Hollywood ... buuuuurrrrnnnn......
And now, see for yourself as the terrorists create their evil master plan to terrorize the citizens of Boston with their insurgent talking fries, Shakesama bin Laden, and the axis of spicy meatball. Watch if you dare...
Damn you, Aqua Teen Hunger Force ... damn you all to hell...