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What Civil Rights?
April 7, 2011 4:43 AM   Subscribe

My Student, the 'Terrorist' If this were a movie, the story might end with a triumphal courtroom scene, or an intrepid Washington Post reporter breaking the story. It might have a sentimental ending, with a conservative Muslim family and community locking arms with Christians and Jews and atheists and turning the country back to its commitment to civil rights. The government, shamed, would reform its practices. But this is not a movie, and inhumane treatment is well protected in post-9/11 America.

posted by bardophile (56 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought this would be about a movie adaptation of John Updike's Terrorist.
posted by litnerd at 4:56 AM on April 7, 2011


Ugh. Just ugh.
posted by Bromius at 5:02 AM on April 7, 2011


I literally feel sick.
posted by orthogonality at 5:02 AM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


"If you see something, say something." Our duty, I believe, is different—to see in a terrorism suspect a person deserving of rights and humane treatment; to speak out against torture when it happens in a New York jail, not just when it occurs overseas; to insist that the Bill of Rights applies to all defendants all of the time. To take responsibility for the ways each of us has become complicit in the civil-rights violations of our era.

I really like her subversion of that slogan.
posted by knapah at 5:16 AM on April 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


litnerd: Even though it said "If this were a movie" and "But this is not a movie"?
posted by bardophile at 5:17 AM on April 7, 2011


bardophile:
Yes. My mind went on a "Hollywood misrepresents everything and some things aren't adaptable" offshoot. Quite the wrong way to go here.
posted by litnerd at 5:26 AM on April 7, 2011


I feel like I understand a little better now what "The object of torture is torture" really means. When I read how Fahad cried and apologized in court for what he'd done, I too felt sick.

The object of torture is not to find the truth, but to obliterate it. To replace the truth with its own narrative, and thereby to justify itself. We torture in order to show that we need to torture.
posted by cotterpin at 5:30 AM on April 7, 2011 [25 favorites]


If you see something, say something.

And, of course:

If your name's nothing like Syed, you've nothing to fear.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:48 AM on April 7, 2011



I really like her subversion of that slogan.


I'm not sure I'd call it subversion, but I agree and really like her reframing of it.
posted by Forktine at 5:54 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not a lot of mainstream coverage either about the trial of this fucker Dr John Leso who co-authored an interrogation policy memorandum that incorporated illegal techniques adapted from methods used by the Chinese and North Korean governments against US prisoners of war.. (more here)
Thank you bardophile. This just confirms that justice for all is a load of horse piss.
And as for this: While the British government did not ask for assurances of fair treatment for Fahad, it did require the United States to give a cursory account of the basis of the case.
Socks for the terrorists; off with his head.
posted by adamvasco at 5:57 AM on April 7, 2011


We need some hope and change.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:02 AM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure I'd call it subversion, but I agree and really like her reframing of it.

Fair point. I guess I should have said I really like the potential for subversion of that slogan highlighted by her reframing.
posted by knapah at 6:04 AM on April 7, 2011


Blacks -> Japanese -> Muslims

Korematsu -> Brown -> ???
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:27 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it weren't for the Islamic/Arab oil wars, we'd now be involved with the Chinese over water. Not to worry! Depending on the outcomes of the jasmine revolution(s), may yet happen.
posted by likeso at 6:42 AM on April 7, 2011


So fucking shameful.
posted by pwally at 6:46 AM on April 7, 2011


Shortly after 9/11, I wrote a rant and posted it to a chat board that I frequented at the time. In retrospect, it probably was badly timed. People were too emotional to be willing to hear what I had to say. I was warning them then that they ran the risk of doing to Muslims what the WW2 US government had done to the Japanese. At the time, they all seemed to think it was a far-fetched prediction. I wish they had been right and I had been wrong.
posted by bardophile at 6:46 AM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


If this were a movie, the story might end with a triumphal courtroom scene

The story doesn't have to be over yet.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:52 AM on April 7, 2011


Let me get this straight: This guy gets 15 years in prison for letting an al-Qaeda sympathizer stay in his apartment. Meanwhile, the al-Qaeda sympathizer in question is released after 4.5 years. I can't see how even the most vehemently anti-Islam crusader could call this justice.
posted by teraflop at 6:57 AM on April 7, 2011 [25 favorites]


I donated some money to the Muslim Justice Initiative mentioned in the article. Since they support a "terrorism supporter" I guess that makes me a terrorism supporter supporter supporter so nice knowing you guys.
posted by ghharr at 6:59 AM on April 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thanks for posting. Incredibly fucked up.
posted by josher71 at 7:16 AM on April 7, 2011


What disturbs me most is the hopelessness of the whole situation.

Around 50% of Americans seem to think that this is great, indeed that the guy probably should have been treated more harshly, that he should never have gotten a trial, and should simply rot in a cell forever merely on the accusation of terrorism.

The 50% of us who disagreed elected a guy, among other things, on the grounds that he promised to fix the problem. Instead he granted immunity to the torturers, has instigated a vicious campaign against the whistleblowers who let us know there was a problem, and has legitimized and regularized all the abuses we elected him to stop. And, of course, it isn't just Obama, it's the entire Congress. Half of them are Republicans bent on making the situation worse, and the Democratic half seem devoted to enabling them rather than fighting them. Those of us who want this shit to end, who want to see a return to rule of law are simply not represented by anyone.

Electing people who say they want to end the evil has been proven not to work. They say it to get votes and when they get into office they make the evil worse.

I don't know what to do. I don't think there is anything I, or anyone else, *can* do. And the hopelessness, the knowledge that things are getting worse and there doesn't appear to be any possibility of stopping them, is growing daily.
posted by sotonohito at 7:17 AM on April 7, 2011 [26 favorites]


Let me get this straight: This guy gets 15 years in prison for letting an al-Qaeda sympathizer stay in his apartment. Meanwhile, the al-Qaeda sympathizer in question is released after 4.5 years. I can't see how even the most vehemently anti-Islam crusader could call this justice.

This guy got fifteen years for resisting the system's urge to increment its Terrorism Prosecution Counter by one. The other guy only got four and a half, for cooperating, and allowing the system to increment its Terrorism Prosecution Counter by one with somewhat less effort.

This isn't about Islam. It's about an abusive system, finding a class of people it is safe to abuse.
posted by Vetinari at 7:21 AM on April 7, 2011 [27 favorites]


The federal government established SAMs [Special Administrative Measures, which restrict a prisoner's contact with the outside world] in 1996 for gang leaders and other crime bosses with demonstrated reach in cases of "substantial risk that an inmate's communication or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons." After September 11, the Justice Department began using SAMs pretrial, with wide latitude to wall off terrorism suspects before they had been convicted of anything.

It's pretty disgusting that a technique invented during one generation's war on a faceless enemy is standard procedure in the next generation's war on a faceless enemy. Who says we don't learn from our past? We not only remember, we enhance and perfect.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:23 AM on April 7, 2011


I donated some money to the Muslim Justice Initiative mentioned in the article. Since they support a "terrorism supporter" I guess that makes me a terrorism supporter supporter supporter so nice knowing you guys.

I support your support. They can't lock us all up, he chuckled nervously.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:27 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The 50% of us who disagreed elected a guy, among other things, on the grounds that he promised to fix the problem.

Shit like this (Obama Ag Eric Holder reauthorizing the punitive solitary confinement) makes me not want to give money to, or ring doorbells for, Democrats.

It even makes me think, "fuck it, let the Republicans win the White House".

Because then at least I won't feel like I helped put these people into office.
posted by orthogonality at 7:28 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I learned to like Dubya more over the last couple of years. He actually worked to further his supporter's goals, something Obama has shown he will never do.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:33 AM on April 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The object of torture is not to find the truth, but to obliterate it. To replace the truth with its own narrative, and thereby to justify itself. We torture in order to show that we need to torture.

What a horrible sentiment. How much more horrible that the context is not fiction.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:36 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]



It even makes me think, "fuck it, let the Republicans win the White House".
Because then at least I won't feel like I helped put these people into office.


I know, I know, I know. Though not forgetting the horrific legacy he has been/is still/will be/will be about to be dealing with and the laws of physics re immovable objects...

And until there is a viable third party option (and America's track record on this is laughable), it's the lesser of two evils meme all over again. Preaching to the choir here, but teapartiers are MORE EVIL.
posted by likeso at 7:40 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]



I learned to like Dubya more over the last couple of years. He actually worked to further his supporter's goals, something Obama has shown he will never do.

The other day I mentioned to friends that I actually liked the part of Bush that showed emotions and I said " At least you knew where he stood." My friend came back with a dead -pan reply " You could say the same thing about Hitler."
posted by Xurando at 7:43 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


They can't lock us all up, he chuckled nervously.

They don't do it the old way where they have to put you somewhere. You get to stay where you are but your environment quietly turns into a prison.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:44 AM on April 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


Xurando, I lol'd.
posted by likeso at 7:47 AM on April 7, 2011


Fortunately in these trying times CNN prints headlines to keep things in perspective for us
posted by shakespeherian at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2011


Two words: Room 101.
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:49 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't see how even the most vehemently anti-Islam crusader could call this justice.

It all depends on how you frame it:

Right winger 1: "Hmmm, you know this does seem like the act of zealous government bureaucrats and another example of the encroachment of big government on personal liberty."

Right winger 2: "What are you? Some kind of liberal? We are at war with the terror. The terror people want to kill us and impose their Sharia law on our homeland. Wouldn't it be worse to live under Sharia law?"

Right winger 1: "."
posted by three blind mice at 7:51 AM on April 7, 2011


I learned to like Dubya more over the last couple of years. He actually worked to further his supporter's goals, something Obama has shown he will never do.

A comment I saw on the NYTimes site:

"At least George Bush thought enough of the American people to lie to them."
posted by three blind mice at 7:53 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Right winger 2 then leaves the room to drop a dime on Right winger 1. Whose neighbors and gym buddies will then be interrogated as to his "terrorist sympathies".
posted by likeso at 7:54 AM on April 7, 2011


You know, shit like this has been happening in the 'justice system' for years: anyone linked tenuously to drug crimes can have their assets seized and people are often locked up on the flimisiest of tales, for the most trivial of actions, with little-to-no-recourse

-I read a story about how someone whose friend came back from an armed robbery (unbeknownst to the person), the perp smoked a joint in the person's living room and now the non-involved person is serving 10+ years for an accomplice to violent, 'drug influenced' crime. Wish I could find the cite. Needless to say this kind of prosecution affects brown people more than white people-

That being said, this story truly sickens me. It has such orwellian overtones. It's another front for control: another step towards fascism.

Find an organzation that supports civil rights: give them time, money and whetever you can.


http://www.aclu.org/
http://www.splcenter.org/
http://www.innocenceproject.org/


Find senators or congresspeople that have balls and stand up for cvil rights : give them time, money and whetever you can.
posted by lalochezia at 8:11 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


justice for all is a load of horse piss.

Horse piss has more value - you can put it in compost or dilute it and use it for crops.

Believe in the slogan 'justice for all' has been shown to cause active harm.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:13 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Those of us who want this shit to end"
posted by sotonohito at 3:17 PM on April 7

There are those on both sides who don't want this to end, as they are doing very well off of it, thank you very much...

even the tories don't want it to end

with apols for fail/NI links

also: Evaluation report on the community cohesion project : (page 4) "Children as young as 11 of both sexes did not think as muslims they should obey british law." Radicalisation suits some on both sides...
posted by marienbad at 8:16 AM on April 7, 2011


. for civil liberties. My country, right or wrong; when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right. I hope I live to see us put this right.
posted by immlass at 8:16 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bush ... Hitler ... Fascist ... blah blah blah

George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:16 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm so conflicted as to whether to join the Obama derail, the Bush derail, the drugs derail, or the 'but Muslims are often terrible' derail. I'm like the prettiest girl at the prom.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:18 AM on April 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I can't see how even the most vehemently anti-Islam crusader could call this justice

He had a fair* trial and that was the decision - 15 years.

*All trials are fair. They are balanced too. Fair and balanced.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:19 AM on April 7, 2011


shakespeherian? We have cookies.
posted by likeso at 8:42 AM on April 7, 2011


Ugh, there have been so many stories like this going around in the past decade.
posted by delmoi at 9:07 AM on April 7, 2011


Spoiler alert.
In August, Fahad was transferred to the federal high-security prison in Florence, Colo., and in March moved into its Supermax ADX facility, the most draconian prison in the federal system, criticized by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for its inhumane conditions. He remains in solitary confinement, still under SAMs, which was renewed again by Attorney General Holder in October.
Assuming they don't find additional reasons to keep him in for longer than his sentence, it sounds like this guy isn't going to have even the briefest meaningful contact with another human being for the next 15 years of his life.

Jesus fucking christ, I don't even know how to process that.
posted by treepour at 9:52 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


This isn't just a Muslim/Arab thing. This is what they want to do to Manning, at the very minimum.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:17 AM on April 7, 2011


In 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing the internment of more than 110,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans (more than two-thirds of whom were American citizens). Upheld as constitutional in a series of Supreme Court cases on the grounds of national security, internment hardly raised an eyebrow with journalists during World War II. Those who objected were pilloried, with the complicity of many civil libertarians and the silence of many Americans.

U.S. Citizen? Doesn't really mean anything, when "national security" is concerned, and especially if you are a non-white person. If the government feels that they have reason to distrust you, or if they think that you are a threat to "national security"...as my dad used to say, "your ass is grass".

Liberty and justice for all? Yeah, right.
posted by KillaSeal at 10:31 AM on April 7, 2011


Liberty and Justice for all those sitting quietly in front of their televisions with manicured lawns.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:42 AM on April 7, 2011


If the government feels that they have reason to distrust you, or if they think that you are a threat to "national security"...as my dad used to say, "your ass is grass".

The same could apply to Joe Kennedy when FDR made that phone call.
posted by clavdivs at 1:46 PM on April 7, 2011



Find senators or congresspeople that have balls and stand up for cvil rights : give them time, money and whetever you can.

Would Kucinich qualify?
posted by notreally at 2:22 PM on April 7, 2011


FYI: I decided to print the article and read it later. It's in a huge font. The article itself runs 20 pages. Another 41 pages of comments follow. *You have been warned.*
posted by Carol Anne at 2:34 PM on April 7, 2011


A good read, thanks. It certainly sounds like he got railroaded. And I liked the angle a lot.

On the other hand it's a little troubling that the guy was a member of Al Muhajiroun though. They are, frankly, a bunch of jihadi nutcases, the lot of them.

Another interesting note/question for those better informed than I. Doesn't his first name (Syed) suggest that, as a Pakistani, his family his Shi'ite? 'Cause Shi'ite jihadis are pretty few and far between. I guess living in the racist west could do that to ya though...
posted by jackbrown at 3:57 PM on April 7, 2011


Doesn't his first name (Syed) suggest that, as a Pakistani, his family his Shi'ite?

Not necessarily. A lot of Sunnis are Syeds, as well. Although the combination of Syed and Hashmi is often Shia, so it's hard to say. Certainly Fahad and Faisal (the brother) are not particularly common Shia names. Hard to tell for sure.

I don't know much about Al Muhajiroun, and everything I know about Syed Fahad Hashmi is from the article posted here, so please take that disclaimer into account when reading what I say next.

An awful lot of young, educated, Muslim men, at least in Pakistan, go through a period of being sympathetic to, and at least verbally supportive of, some pretty shockingly nutty things. It seems to be almost a developmental stage. Kind of like the numbers of college students who get totally wasted awfully frequently. The vast, VAST majority of those young Muslim men outgrow that stage, and that thinking (Why they go through it would make an extremely interesting sociological study, I think.). Can you imagine if people assumed that most college students would continue to behave throughout their lives as they did in college? Or a closer parallel, that we should assume that they would continue on the most extreme possible trajectory of the things that they said and did during their undergrad years? I know that I am grateful that people don't make that assumption about me, or, God forbid, let that assumption dictate what they think my rights should be.
posted by bardophile at 12:59 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


@bardophile- That's an interesting way of describing the issue. It kind of puts a finger on why I often seem to have such a divided reaction when I read about the latest FBI entrapment operation to catch some jihadi teenager, like the Somali kid in Oregon last year who wanted to blow up a christmas crowd in Portland.

Because of course on one hand, my reaction is 'well now that little bastard will get what he deserves'.

But when I read the details of cases like this, and see how much of the conception and planning and direction came from the FBI operatives, I get this vague feeling that it's too bad this little guy was surrounded by all of these people telling him he should go blow up a crowd of people, instead of people telling him that blowing up crowds of people is disgusting.

I mean, we've all read about how social pressure can make us do things we might otherwise find reprehensible.
posted by jackbrown at 1:03 AM on April 10, 2011


jackbrown: Thanks for taking my comment further than I had managed to articulate.

I've increasingly felt that moderate Muslims need to speak up more vocally, especially within our own communities, so that the public discourse has a critical mass of voices from within that are critical of those who espouse violence. I really feel like a lot of kids aren't exposed to enough ideas counter to the radical ideologies. Not because the majority agrees, but because the majority is a lot less vocal than the radicals are.

More discussion of what ways ARE appropriate in dealing with the sense of disenfranchisement and powerlessness that are what drive so many young people who get caught up in the jihadi movement. Hardly anyone is telling them what they COULD do, legitimately, to seek redress for their grievances. Some of the grievances are imagined; others are painfully real. For now, the public discourse is limited to arguing over the legitimacy vs illegitimacy of violence as a means to an end. Viable alternatives to violence, alternatives that might have some hope of tackling the real issues, are in pitifully short supply. And that is the direction in which the conversation needs to go.

It won't work for outsiders to say this, because that just starts another cycle of reactionary knee-jerk responses. I think it really is a question of simply increasing the sheer volume of opinions that weigh in on the side of non-violent alternatives.

These are difficult problems, that Muslims have to deal with, if we are to have any hope of becoming a part of the global community that is not regarded as inherently problematic.
posted by bardophile at 3:51 AM on April 13, 2011


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