Global Research - March 9, 2012
The Criminalization of Protest:
Say Goodbye To Free Speech in America
By Devon DB
A new bill, HR 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, also known as the “Trespassing Bill,” is soon to be signed into law by President Obama. This bill effectively criminalizes protest and will hurt protest groups and movements such as Occupy quite hard.
The bill as states that anyone who knowingly “enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so” with the “intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in or [in] proximity to, any restricted building or grounds” or “impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions” will be punished with a fine or “or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.”
There are already many problems with the bill as it does not attempt to define what “imped[ing] or disrupt[ing] the orderly conduct of government business or official functions” is, nor does it specify what “government business” is or what an “official function” is. This vagueness will allow for the US government to effectively stifle protest and free speech, thus criminalizing such actions like the upcoming Occupy Chicago anti-NATO/G-8 protests. In addition to this, such a law will make it impossible for Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights when “government business” is being attended to or “official functions” are occurring.
Unsurprisingly, only three people voted against the measure: Paul Broun (R-GA-10), Justin Amash (R-MI-3) and Ron Paul (R-TX-14). This law would allow federal law enforcement “to bring these charges against Americans engaged in political protests anywhere in the country, and violators will face criminal penalties that include imprisonment for up to 10 years.” HR 347 will is ripe for abuse, as the NYPD has, as of recent, assumed the notion that taking photos and videotaping is a form of disorderly conduct.
The fact that only three people in the House, all Republicans oppose the bill and absolutely no Democrats, only shows just how both parties are just two sides of the same coin.
This law comes at the heels of the US government having debated over whether or not to indefinitely detain US citizens and Attorney General Eric Holder- the Obama administration’s version of John Yoo, arguing that the President can assassinate US citizens without providing any evidence whatsoever to anyone.
Free speech may very well soon be nothing but a distant relic of the past.
Devon DB is a 20 year old writer and researcher. He is currently majoring in political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The Record - March 12, 2012
North Jersey lawmaker withdraws bill at urging of Muslims
BY HANNAN ADELY
Responding to concerns it could vilify Muslims, a state lawmaker has withdrawn a bill that would have broadly outlawed foreign laws, including Islamic religious principles.
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale, had sponsored a bill to prohibit the application of foreign laws when they conflict with constitutional rights. But Muslim leaders said bills with similar language had been promoted in other states against Sharia or Islamic principles.
Schepisi met with Muslim and Arab community leaders Feb. 28 and again informally at a March 4 fundraiser for Sen. Gerry Cardinale, R-Demarest. Aref Assaf, president of the American Arab Forum, was among several leaders to call for the bill to be withdrawn.
“New Jersey need not follow other states that have either passed or attempted to pass similar legislation that has the principal objective of demonizing the faith of millions of American Muslims,” he said.
Schepisi said the intent of the bill was not to single out any religion. But, she said, “In the climate of what has been transpiring in the Muslim community in New Jersey, they were concerned it would further, in their view, portray Muslims in a negative light. After sitting and listening to their concerns, I agreed to withdraw it.”
The bill – which was originally introduced in 2010 by Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk – was assigned to the judiciary committee but was never heard, Schepisi said.
Schepisi said she would reconsider the bill and resubmit a revised version at some point. She said her intent was not to limit religious rights or to attack Muslims, but to protect constitutional rights.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has fought similar bills that have emerged across the country and released a guide for communities to oppose such legislation last month.
Think Progress – March 13, 2012
South Dakota Governor signs unconstitutional anti-Muslim bill
By Ian Millhiser
Yesterday, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) signed an unconstitutional law that purports to target courts applying religious law, but which is almost certainly part of a broader push by Islamophobic advocates to fight the imaginary problem of courts substituting Islamic law for American law. The brief bill Daugaard signed provides simply that “[n]o court, administrative agency, or other governmental agency may enforce any provisions of any religious code.”
Although this bill does not specifically call out any particular religion for ill treatment, it violates the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution. As the Supreme Court explained in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah, “the protections of the Free Exercise Clause pertain if the law at issue discriminates against some or all religious beliefs or regulates or prohibits conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons.”
While it is uncommon for American courts to apply religious law, it is not unheard of. Private parties sometimes enter into contracts where they agree to resolve their disputes under something other than U.S. law, and individuals sometimes write wills devising their property according to the tenets of their faith. Under the bill Daugaard signed, however, courts will be allowed to enforce contracts requiring disputes to be resolved under French law or ancient Roman law or under the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons second edition rules, but they won’t be allowed to enforce contracts requiring disputes to be resolved under the requirements of someone’s religious beliefs. This is discrimination “against some or all religious beliefs,” and is therefore unconstitutional.
Reesenews – March 13 2012
Students walked out of Horowitz lecture
in protest of ‘destructive’ remarks
By Isabelle Boehling
David Horowitz, a pro-Israel activist, spoke at UNC (University of North Carolina) Monday in a “Why Israel is the Victim in the Middle East” lecture. About 20 minutes into the lecture, nearly all the students in attendance walked out of Hamilton Hall.
The protest was in response to what participants referred to as “slanderous” remarks about Muslims and members of Arab nations. Horowitz has been noted for criticizing groups such as the Muslim Students Association, associating them with terrorist groups.
About 150 people attended the lecture, most of whom participated in the protest. Mariem Masmoudi, co-founder of UNC’s Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, said Horowitz’s remarks were “insulting and destructive.”
The Committee for a Better Carolina was granted $7,000 in student fees by Student Congress to bring Horowitz to speak at UNC.
Leaders of Muslim and Jewish student organizations said UNC is a very inclusive campus, a concept which was, in their belief, contravened by Horowitz’s remarks.
New York Times – March 18, 2012
Democratic Senators issue strong
warning about use of the Patriot Act
By Charlie Savage
WASHINGTON — For more than two years, a handful of Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee have warned that the government is secretly interpreting its surveillance powers under the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming if the public — or even others in Congress — knew about it.
On Thursday, two of those senators — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado — went further. They said a top-secret intelligence operation that is based on that secret legal theory is not as crucial to national security as executive branch officials have maintained.
The senators, who also said that Americans would be “stunned” to know what the government thought the Patriot Act allowed it to do, made their remarks in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. after a Justice Department official last month told a judge that disclosing anything about the program “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”
The Justice Department has argued that disclosing information about its interpretation of the Patriot Act could alert adversaries to how the government collects certain intelligence. It is seeking the dismissal of two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits — by The New York Times and by the American Civil Liberties Union — related to how the Patriot Act has been interpreted.
The senators wrote that it was appropriate to keep specific operations secret. But, they said, the government in a democracy must act within publicly understood law so that voters “can ratify or reject decisions made on their behalf” — even if that “obligation to be transparent with the public” creates other challenges.
“We would also note that in recent months we have grown increasingly skeptical about the actual value of the ‘intelligence collection operation,’ ” they added. “This has come as a surprise to us, as we were initially inclined to take the executive branch’s assertions about the importance of this ‘operation’ at face value.”
The dispute centers on what the government thinks it is allowed to do under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, under which agents may obtain a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing them to get access to any “tangible things” — like business records — that are deemed “relevant” to a terrorism or espionage investigation.
There appears to be both an ordinary use for Section 215 orders — akin to using a grand jury subpoena to get specific information in a traditional criminal investigation — and a separate, classified intelligence collection activity that also relies upon them.
The interpretation of Section 215 that authorizes this secret surveillance operation is apparently not obvious from a plain text reading of the provision, and was developed through a series of classified rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The letter from Mr. Wyden and Mr. Udall also complained that while the Obama administration told Congress in August 2009 that it would establish “a regular process for reviewing, redacting and releasing significant opinions” of the court, since then “not a single redacted opinion has been released.”
Orlando Sentinel - March 19, 2012
Florida Muslims could be pivotal in 2012 election
By Jeff Kunerth
Muslims have the potential to play a pivotal role in the 2012 election as Islamophobia and immigration issues galvanize the minority group into a voting bloc, according to a forum Sunday at the University of Central Florida.
Florida has an estimated 124,000 registered Muslim voters, and Orange and Osceola counties rank high in registered Muslim voters, said Daniel Hummel, a research associate with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, based in Washington, D.C. In the swing state of Florida, Muslims helped elect George Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008.
"If they vote as a bloc, they can have a huge influence on the election," Hummel said.
Yet the Muslims in Florida are anything but unified. They belong to many different nationalities, races, and countries.
"Some come from countries where getting involved with government means you disappear the next day," Hummel said.
On the other hand, high-profile prejudice against Muslims — ranging from Qur'an-burring Gainesville pastor Terry Jones to Congressman Allen West, who condemned Islam as a threat to America — tends to unite a people who perceive themselves as under attack, said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.
And the anti-immigration fervor, while aimed largely at Hispanics, also has alienated Muslims from the Republican Party, said Imran Siddiqui, a board member of Emerge USA, a Muslim organization based in South Florida.
A study by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that Muslims in Florida are concerned about the same thing as most Americans. Forty-eight percent say jobs and the economy are the most important issues, followed by education and health care…..
Politicker – March 19, 2012
Advocacy groups send letter to Eric Holder asking him
to investigate NYPD’s Muslim surveillance
By Hunter Walker
A group of 110 advocacy and activist organizations teamed together to send a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today asking him to investigate whether the NYPD violated the constitutional rights of American Muslims with its widespread Muslim surveillance program. Signatories of the letter included; the New York Chapter of the NAACP, Occupy Wall Street, Muslim Advocates, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the Muslim Bar Associations of New York, D.C., Florida, Southern California and Chicago.
“The NYPD appears to have targeted individuals and communities for surveillance based upon nothing more than their faith. Such measures are just the latest manifestation of the NYPD’s discriminatory practices against racial, religious, and ethnic minorities,” the letter said. “In light of the breadth of information now available, we strongly urge the Department of Justice to commence a prompt investigation into NYPD surveillance of Muslims in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, including determining whether potentially unlawful surveillance continues.”
The NYPD Muslim surveillance program gained widespread attention following the publication of a series of articles in the Associated Press. In the letter to Mr. Holder, the signatories also criticized the department for airing a controversial allegedly Islamophobic film, “The Third Jihad,” which featured an interview with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“The NYPD’s improper targeting of innocent Muslims is compounded by its use of a film entitled The Third Jihad. This offensive film falsely depicts Muslims as violent people seeking world domination and was shown continuously at police headquarters, and viewed by an estimated 1,500 officers. Moreover, the producers of the bigoted film conducted a ninety-minute interview with Commissioner Raymond Kelly,” the letter said.
Earlier this month, Mr. Holder said he found the reports of the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance “disturbing” and was reviewing them at the Justice Department. “At least what I’ve read publicly, and again, just what I’ve read in the newspapers, is disturbing,” Mr. Holder said. “And these are things that are under review at the Justice Department.”
Mr. Holder has also been contacted by 34 members of the House of Representatives asking him to investigate the matter. In the letter to Mr. Holder today, the signatories said they had been unable to get officials at the local level to take action.
“Attempts at seeking accountability for the NYPD at the state level have been unsuccessful. With Governor Cuomo’s support, New York State Attorney General Schneiderman recently declined to pursue an investigation, and Mayor Bloomberg has repeatedly defended the NYPD’s monitoring of Muslims as legal and constitutional,” the letter said. “It is deeply disturbing that these officials, who are charged with protecting our civil rights and liberties, appear unwilling to hold the NYPD accountable for its abusive policing practices.”
Mr. Kelly was grilled on the surveillance program and the “Third Jihad” movie during a tense City Council hearing last Thursday. Some Muslim groups have spoken out in support of the NYPD. Earlier this month, Congressman Peter King held a rally with a handful of representatives from Muslim organizations in favor of the police department’s surveillance efforts.
Click here to read the full letter to Mr. Holder.
New America Media - March 19, 2012
Community leaders call for transparency
in SFPD-FBI collaboration
By Zaineb Mohammed
SAN FRANCISCO – Arab American, Muslim and South Asian community leaders are urging Mayor Ed Lee to approve an ordinance that they believe could re-establish trust between their communities and the San Francisco Police Department.
Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors narrowly passed the Safe San Francisco Civil Rights Ordinance, intended to prevent civil rights abuses in SFPD-FBI collaboration. The measure, proposed by Supervisor Jane Kim and supported by about 80 civil rights, legal and community groups, aims to increase transparency and restore local control over the actions of San Francisco police officers operating as members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
The ordinance is up for a final Board of Supervisors vote this week, and if it passes, it will head to the desk of Mayor Ed Lee.
Lee, however, said he would follow the recommendations of Police Chief Greg Suhr, who has publicly expressed his disapproval of the ordinance.
Community leaders are hoping that Lee, who has a long history of advocating for civil rights, will take their concerns into consideration when making his decision.
“These issues are not new to him,” said Nasrina Bargzie, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, where the mayor used to work, “and we hope that we will have the opportunity to discuss them with him.”
Lily Haskell, program director at the Arab Resource and Organizing Committee, added, “Instead of looking to testimony about harassment and racial profiling, he is strictly looking to the police chief. We understand that he needs to take police protocol into account, but we believe it’s equally important to listen to community experiences with FBI intimidation and to make a decision out of those experiences.”
Civil rights advocates argue that this ordinance is necessary to repair and restore trust between community members and law enforcement.
“The American Muslim community has a difficult time trusting law enforcement in light of what various agencies, most recently the NYPD, have been doing to their friends, neighbors, and religious leaders,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in the Bay Area.
CAIR has heard complaints in San Francisco from individuals who were visited by law enforcement agents and questioned about activity that did not appear to be criminal, such as their religious and political beliefs, Billoo said. The ordinance, she said, would “build a layer of protection and accountability at the local level to ensure that San Francisco police officers aren’t engaging in this problematic behavior.”
Thus far, more than 500 people have contacted the Mayor’s office asking him to approve the legislation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California. Bargzie of the Asian Law Caucus said more than 50 people showed up to the Board of Supervisors’ vote last week.
But community leaders were disappointed that last week’s vote was so close: the Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance in a 6-5 vote.
Supervisor Cohen, who voted against the ordinance, said she had concerns that it could prevent the SFPD from accessing necessary intelligence information, and pointed out that because existing police departmental guidelines protect the interests of all San Franciscans, there was no need for duplicative legislation.
However, advocates said the current guidelines conflict with the 2007 agreement between the FBI and SFPD, creating confusion about which should be followed.
The agreement between the SFPD and the FBI states that when police officers are assigned to participate in the JTTF, they are under the control of the FBI’s rules, and are not held accountable to the same civilian oversight measures as the SFPD. The general order issued by the police chief in May 2011 attempted to address this by stipulating that those officers must report to the police department and are subject to oversight from the Office of Civilian Complaints.
But community leaders worry that this order could order easily be reversed by the next police chief.
Unlike the police chief’s order, an ordinance approved by the Board of Supervisors and signed by the mayor would be binding. “An ordinance can’t just be changed when the police chief changes,” Billoo explained.
The Safe San Francisco Civil Rights Ordinance would require that any police officers participating in the JTTF must act in a way that is consistent with state, not federal, constitutional privacy standards, and avoid profiling. Any investigations into First Amendment activities (such as a person's religious or political beliefs) must be based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, subject to civilian oversight through the Police Commission and Office of Civilian Complaints, and authorized in writing by the chief of police.
The ordinance would only apply to future agreements between the SFPD and FBI. (A clause recommending that the current memorandum of understanding between the FBI and the SFPD be terminated was removed from the ordinance before it went up for a vote.)
If approved, the next time a memorandum of understanding comes down the pipeline from the FBI -- which advocates expect to happen soon -- it would be subject to civilian oversight and accountability.
“In the end, civil rights are protected by laws, not by vague assurances,” noted John Crew, police practices specialist with the ACLU of Northern California.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, whose lead the mayor is likely to follow, has expressed concern that if the ordinance passes, the SFPD will have to opt out of participating in the JTTF entirely -- a resource he considers to be extremely valuable in intelligence gathering.
According to Sergeant Michael Andraychak, “The SFPD obtained over 200 tips/items of information from the JTTF on criminal activity NOT related to First Amendment [activity] and the SFPD conducts investigations accordingly.”
But advocates note that a similar resolution that passed in Portland, Ore. – which the San Francisco ordinance is modeled after – did not stop police from working with the FBI. Portland continues to work with the JTTF after the city restored local control and transparency to its police officers participating in the task force.
In a Feb. 28 memo to the Portland City Council, Portland Police Chief Mike Reese explained how this worked. In order to provide proper oversight, he said, the Portland Criminal Investigations Unit Lieutenant is involved in the day-to-day management of the activities of the Portland police officers participating in the JTTF. Reese also continues to receive regular briefings on the work of the JTTF and attends JTTF Executive Committee meetings…..
Mother Jones – March 19, 2012
Meet the right's favorite Islamic activist
By Adam Serwer
In early March, members of a Muslim group gathered for a press conference at Manhattan's One Police Plaza to send a clear message to the New York City Police Department about its controversial surveillance program targeting Muslim Americans.
That message was: "We are not here to criticize the NYPD," declared Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), who was joined by House Homeland Security chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.), "but rather to thank them for doing the work that we as Muslims should be doing, which is monitoring extremism, following extremism, and helping counter the ideologies that create radicalization in our communities."
Jasser later said in an interview that he wanted to provide an alternative voice to the criticism of the NYPD coming from Muslim and civil liberties groups. "We just wanted the media reports to finally show balance, that there's diversity, that some Muslims don't have a problem with this." Several news reports described attendance at the event as light.
An Arizona physician and Navy veteran, Jasser has lately become the right's go-to guy when it comes to providing cover for policies or positions that many Muslim Americans contend are discriminatory. When controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque erupted, Jasser, a frequent guest on Fox News, accused the builders of trying to "diminish what happened" on September 11, 2001. He has supported statewide bans on Shariah law in American courts and has helped bolster conservative warnings that American Muslims seek to replace the Constitution with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law. "America is at war with theocratic Muslim despots who seek the imposition of Shariah and don't believe in the equality of all before the law, blind to faith," Jasser testified during hearings held by King's committee last year on homegrown terrorism. There he also supported conservative allegations that many American Muslim organizations—and particularly the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)—are Islamists seeking to "advance political Islam in the West." Jasser sometimes refers to other Muslim organizations as "Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups."
Many American Muslim groups, meanwhile, view Jasser as a reliable apologist for Republicans and anti-Muslim figures—one with little grassroots support in the American Muslim community. "He actually plays into the whole narrative that comes from the Islamophobia industry—that it's not the extremists that are the problem, or Al Qaeda that's the problem," says Haris Tarin, director of the Washington, DC, office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "Mr. Jasser says that the Muslim American community, its institutions, and establishments are the problem. He might bring up some issues that are valid in terms of reform, but his approach is throwing the whole community under the bus."
That assessment is shared by Jasser's father-in-law, Dr. Ahmad Banna, who is the president of the Cleveland, Ohio chapter of CAIR—one of Jasser's prime targets. "He thinks he's speaking the truth, but he's really attacking everybody," Banna says. Jasser has been especially critical of CAIR for accepting donations from foreign sources.
Some critics of Islam on the right see Jasser as the great hope for Islamic reform. Glenn Beck has called him the "one Muslim that we were all searching for after 9/11." Others say his views are unrepresentative. "Jasser's Islam does not exist," anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller has opined.
Still, his politics have made him one of the few Muslim figures to whom conservatives are willing to extend the benefit of the doubt. Last year, Jasser spent an hour debating anti-Muslim writer Robert Spencer over whether Islam is inherently extremist at a retreat hosted by David Horowitz's Freedom Center, whose websites are regular sources of anti-Muslim invective.
Founded in 2007, Jasser's group is not a membership organization, but he says that 2,500 people have signed up to receive AIFD's literature. The group's modest operating budget has grown steadily since its creation, reaching $200,000, according to its 2010 tax forms. In 2007, according to the Washington Post, Jasser received a $100,000 donation from Christian conservative financier Foster Friess, who is now bankrolling the super-PAC supporting Rick Santorum's presidential bid. Jasser declined to elaborate on exactly how much Friess had given AIFD, though he said the financier contributed $70,000 to his organization in 2010 for a Muslim youth retreat hosted by the group. (Friess told MSNBC that he was backing Santorum because he is "incredibly versed in one of the number one issues of our time—and that is violent Islamic extremism.")
Jasser says he is reluctant to discuss his group's funding sources. "Many people donate anonymously because they get targeted," he said. "I don't want to publicly discuss with you things that are not public." But he confirmed that his organization has received funding from groups often considered to have an anti-Muslim bent.
Jasser told Mother Jones that the AIFD had accepted $5,000 from the Center for Security Policy, which gave Jasser its "defender of the home front" award in 2008, to cover "security" costs for its recent New York event. Headed by Frank Gaffney, a Reagan-era Pentagon official, the center published a report in 2010 warning that American Muslims are seeking to replace the Constitution with a strict interpretation of Islamic law. The "expert" in Islamic religious law cited in the report, an attorney named David Yerushalmi, is responsible for authoring draft anti-Shariah legislation that has served as a blueprint for anti-Shariah laws across the US. Yerushalmi has suggested that "acting in furtherance of Islam" should be a felony.
According to a 2011 report by the Center for American Progress, Jasser's group also received funding from the William Rosenwald Family Fund, which has given millions to organizations CAP describes as Islamophobic.
Jasser said his group has also received a one-time, unsolicited donation of $10,000 from the Clarion Fund, which is associated with Aish HaTorah, a right-wing Israeli group described by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic as "just about the most fundamentalist movement in Judaism today."
The Clarion Fund has released several films that warn of Muslim conspiracies to reestablish a global caliphate. Jasser is a Clarion board member and in 2008 narrated a documentary bankrolled by the group called The Third Jihad, which darkly warns that Muslim extremists are attempting to "infiltrate and dominate America," a conspiracy implicating most prominent American Muslim organizations. The New York Times reported that the film was shown to thousands of NYPD officers as part of their counterterrorism training, which the police department later apologized for. Jasser says that while he agrees with the message of The Third Jihad, "if I had done the film, I would have obviously spent more time on positive images of Islam and alternatives to political Islam."……
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 19, 2012
Former PA Governor acting as boosters for terror group
By Trudy Rubin
PHILADELPHIA -- The Treasury Department is investigating the speaking fees received by the former Pennsylvania governor on behalf of an Iranian exile group that's on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Mr. Rendell told The New York Times he had received about $150,000 for seven or eight speeches that called for taking the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, off the list (even though he clearly knew little about the organization).
But why is Treasury targeting only Mr. Rendell? There's an astonishing list of high-level former officials -- from both parties -- who've embraced the MEK cause, for which they've collected big bucks, along with trips to pro-MEK conferences in Brussels, London, Berlin and Paris.
And why have so many prominent men linked their names to an outfit with such a shady, and cultish, reputation -- a group that has killed Americans and done dirty work for Saddam Hussein?
The MEK is lobbying hard for the State Department to take it off the terrorist list. (A decision is supposed to be made by the end of March.) It has won support, on the Democratic side, from former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli and retired Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's first national security adviser. And of course, Mr. Rendell.
As for Republicans, boosters include former CIA directors James Woolsey (a big backer of the Iraq War) and Porter J. Goss; former FBI director Louis Freeh; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; and President George W. Bush’s first homeland security chief, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. Never mind that Mr. Bush renewed the MEK's terrorist designation four times.
Add to the list a number of retired generals, along with John Bolton, foreign policy adviser to Newt Gingrich, and Mitchell Reiss, who advises Mitt Romney.
What were they all thinking?
Maybe it was the money. Or perhaps they were conned by an incredible MEK lobbying effort carried out through a series of front groups. That effort lavished money on prime-time TV and full-page newspaper ads, which portray the MEK as a democratic group leading the fight for Iran regime change.
Apparently none of these pooh-bahs ever asked about the source of their honoraria. "Nobody has ever been able to figure out where the money comes from," says Iran expert Barbara Slavin, the Washington correspondent for al-Monitor.com, a new website on the Mideast. Rumors abound that funds come from Gulf countries opposed to Iran, or from Israel, which reportedly has close contacts with the MEK, or from Iranian exiles.
Nor do MEK boosters appear to have researched the group's violent history, which should have been well-known to many of them.
The group began as a Marxist-Islamist group supporting Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei; it killed six Americans in the 1970s. In the 1980s, having broken with the Tehran regime, it sought refuge in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The Iraqi leader used MEK forces to attack Iran in a brutal war that lasted a decade, and to kill rebellious Kurds and Shiites.
For that reason, the MEK is despised inside Iraq, where U.S. officials are trying to resettle 2,800 remaining MEK fighters. The Iraqis want to evict them from their base at Camp Ashraf.
More critically, the group is also despised inside Iran. "In the eyes of the Iranians, they embedded with the enemy. They were traitors," says Iran expert Vali Nasr. They are regarded likewise across the Iranian political spectrum, including by leaders of the Green Movement. The idea that the group has vast support inside Iran is simply untrue.
When Mr. Ridge labeled the MEK the "most effective opposition movement" of the Iranian people, he was talking nonsense, a sad commentary on what he didn't learn as homeland security chief. Moreover, the MEK reportedly operates like a cult, forcing members into celibacy and exacting total obedience to the MEK's leader, the Paris-based Maryam Rajavi.
All that may not matter to some MEK boosters, like Mr. Giuliani. He recently declared on Fox News that the MEK should be named Time Magazine "person of the year." His reason: According to an NBC News report, the group was trained by Israel's Mossad to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists. The MEK was also reportedly used by Israel to leak intelligence about a secret Iranian nuclear facility.
What Mr. Giuliani and other advocates ignore is that -- whatever the MEK's role in covert activities -- the group does not have the support of the Iranian people. Delisting it may permit it to lobby more openly for support from gullible backers. It may help those who are seeking an exile group to tout as the vehicle for Iran regime change. (Does no one remember the saga of the Pentagon's favorite Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi?)……..
Little Green Footballs – March 19, 2012
Pamela Geller quietly deletes Obama assassination
comment, doesn’t ban commenter
Today, anti-Muslim hate group leader Pamela Geller has quietly deleted the comment by “Brian_R_Allen” calling for the assassination of President Obama, with no statement about it on her blog. But she didn’t ban this hateful freak, and he promptly re-posted the comment — with the direct advocation “Kill him” edited into something a bit less direct.
This was the comment as it appeared yesterday:
Goes to prove the psychopathological hesperophobics, product of fourteen-hundred years of the manifestation of evil that calls itself both “submission” and a “religion,” are not gunna provide fierce competition for the sub-Saharan Africans (mean-IQ: 67) in the ‘If Brains Were Dynamite Would Yours Even Blow Off Your Bloody Kufiya On A windy Day? Stakes!’
Unless it was Missus Billy-Bubbah Blythe (“Cli’ton”) - no-one - not even Plugs, the one-time most dangerous dullard in the senate, who at least - best I can tell - doesn’t loath us all - could be less competent that the mobbed-up marijuana-mumbling murtadd-Muslim modified Marxist mother’s milquetoast presently pretending to what his perilously-pernicious predatory pack passes off as the “presidency.”
Kill him and kill any chance to - this century or so, anyway - inflict any further serious harm upon America.
- Posted by: Brian_R_Allen | Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 07:39 AM
The re-posted comment is just as full of racism and insanity, but the last sentence has been edited — and he refers to the “meat-locker-IQ’d LGF-Cyber-Terrorist Gang,” so very obviously, Geller and her commenter are aware of our whistle-blowing post:
Goes to prove that - just like the meat-locker-IQ’d LGF-Cyber-Terrorist Gang - the psychopathological hesperophobics, product of fourteen-hundred years of the manifestation of evil that calls itself both “submission” and a “religion,” are not gunna provide fierce competition for the sub-Saharan Africans (mean-IQ: 67) in the:
“If Brains Were Dynamite Would Yours Even Blow Off Your Bloody Kufiya On A windy Day? Stakes!”
Unless it was Missus Billy-Bubbah Blythe (“Cli’ton”) - no-one - not even Plugs, the one-time most dangerous dullard in the senate, who at least - best I can tell - doesn’t loath us all - could be less competent that the mobbed-up marijuana-mumbling murtadd-Muslim modified Marxist mother’s milquetoast presently pretending to what his perilously-pernicious predatory pack passes off as the “presidency.”
If the Osamaniacs had killed him, they would have killed, with him, any chance, in this century or so, anyway, of the followers of the mass-murdering Muhummud inflicting any further serious harm upon America. Buraq Hussayn Zero is their best ever ally!
Posted by: Brian_R_Allen | Monday, March 19, 2012 at 06:01 AM
It shouldn’t be surprising that comments advocating the assassination of public officials appear at Geller’s blog; after all, she was one of the main inspirations for Norwegian anti-Muslim mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik — and it’s not the first time such comments have been posted at Atlas Shrugs.
Montreal Gazette – March 19, 2012
The PQ plays its anti-immigrant card, again
The Parti Québécois's recent launching of a false J'accuse at the Quebec Muslim community over halal meat epitomizes a time-tested tactic in the pursuit of political support that Hollywood and citizens alike have long lampooned.
Like the characters in Wag the Dog, a film about a Washington spin doctor who distracts the electorate from a presidential scandal by hiring a Hollywood producer to create a fake war, the PQ finds itself attempting to distract the Quebec public with seemingly parochial issues under the aegis of "values" debates while trying to avoid substantive issues of greater import.
In doing so the PQ leadership, like other politicians around the world, including Nicolas Sarkozy of France, seems to have settled upon Muslim citizens as the easily identifiable "other" when trying to shore up support among the electorate. (Side note: Even Sarkozy has now backed away from his previous position on halal meat and tried to make nice with French Muslims.)
The PQ's alarmist rhetoric over the Muslim halal methodology of ritual animal slaughter reached the absurd when the party declared that it "slams directly against Québécois values." Precisely which values it does not divulge; nor does it give any reason for singling out the Muslim method of halal slaughter vs. the very similar Jewish kosher practice.
When looking into the actual science of both halal and kosher methodologies, one finds that both are, contrary to the misinformation, in fact more humane than the standard industry practice of captive bolt pistol stunning, as demonstrated by an intensive research study at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Hanover University, Germany.
The study found, through the use of an electroencephalograph, that animal slaughter done by the conventional industry method registered pain in the animals, whereas halal and kosher methods resulted in no detected pain.
Leaving the science aside, it is not surprising that the proverbial fear card is being played by the Parti Québécois, which has not missed the opportunity to make anti-immigrant statements and take positions against those deemed as "other." Former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau blamed his party's defeat in the 1995 sovereignty referendum on "ethnic vote," which alienated many of the province's foreign-born population. More recently, PQ MNA Louise Beaudoin hailed the decision to bar Sikhs from entering the National Assembly with their kirpans.
On the face of it, the PQ is arguing that Quebec should interfere with religious freedom - the right of Canadian Muslims to slaughter meat according to their tradition, and by implication, the right of Canadian Jews to do the same. The PQ's bizarre position does not hold water even within the paradigm of laïcité, which holds that religion should be absent from government affairs and government should not be involved in religious matters.
To its credit, the Quebec government has come out strongly against the PQ's public messaging on this issue by bluntly calling it "alarmist." However, neither the provincial government nor the PQ publicly condemned the repeated vandalism of the Gatineau Mosque this past January. If anything, elected officials should denounce that kind of sordid intolerance. But having seen the performance of provincial politicians, Quebec Muslims are not holding their breath.
Despite its capacity for divisive politics, I for one am delighted the PQ is taking such an interest in halal meat. I view it as an opportunity for dialogue and discussion. Perhaps, after the cameras and microphones are shut off in this latest tempest in a teapot, we will get closer again to the realization that we are not as different as some would have us believe.
Ihsaan Gardee is acting executive director of CAIR-CAN, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations