Monday, November 30, 2009

More Arrests in America's War on Islam

More Arrests in America's War on Islam - by Stephen Lendman

A November 24 "hatemail" underscores the issue, titled "Muslims in America - violent clashing of cultures, basic incompatibility of Western thought and Muslim theocracy," then quoting Denver radio talk show host Peter Boyles (know.com) saying:

"Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."

Not Jews, not Christians, not Hindus, not Buddhists, or persons from any of the lesser known religions, just Muslims with no understanding that Islam teaches love, not hate; peace, not violence; charity, not selfishness; and tolerance, not terrorism; or that Islam, Christianity and Judaism have common roots.

Yet according to Pat Robertson, Monday, November 9 on his 700 Club:

"Islam is a violent - I was going to say religion - but it's not a religion. It's a political system. It's a violent political system bent on the overthrow of governments of the world and world domination."

After the Fort Hood tragedy, the American Family Association (the "family values" anti-gay, pro-life, Islamophobic group) called for a ban on Muslims in the military, saying:

"This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security."

Given America's war on Islam, the nation's 6.5 million Muslims wonder if their turn is next.

It never ends, and on November 23, New York Times writer Andrea Elliott headlined, "Charges Detail Road to Terror for 20 in US," then continued saying:

"Federal officials on Monday unsealed terrorism-related charges against men they say were key actors in a recruitment effort that led roughly 20 young Americans to join a violent insurgent group (Al-Shabaab) in Somalia with ties to Al Qaeda." More on Al-Shabaab below.

Eight new suspects were charged in "one of the most extensive domestic terrorism investigations since" 9/11. Some have been arrested. Others remain at large, including "several believed to be still fighting" against the US-backed government and African Union paramilitary peacekeepers in Somalia. More on that as well.

On November 23, a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release headlined, "Terror Charges Unsealed in Minneapolis Against Eight Men, Justice Department Announces," then continued saying:

Terrorism offenses were against eight defendants, charged with "providing financial support to those who traveled to Somalia to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization; attending terrorist training camps operated by al-Shabaab; and fighting on behalf of al-Shabaab."

Through indictments or criminal complaints, 14 so far have been charged "in connection with....the recruitment of persons from US communities to train with or fight on behalf of extremist groups in Somalia. Four....previously pleaded guilty and await sentencing."

According to court documents, from September 2007 - October 2009, about 20 young Somali Americans left Minneapolis for Somalia to train with Al-Shabaab, and many fought with it against Ethiopian forces, "African Union troops, and the internationally-supported Transitional Federal Government (TFG)."

After "raising money" in America and working with "alleged co-conspirators in Somalia, six men went there in December 2007." On arrival, they "allegedly stayed at safe-houses....and attended an al-Shabaab training camp (where they were instructed in) small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and military-style tactics. Allegedly, (they were also) indoctrinated with anti-Ethiopian, anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Western beliefs."

On October 29, 2008, one man, Shirwa Ahmed (known as Shirwa), "took part in one of five simultaneous suicide attacks on targets in northern Somalia. (He) drove an explosive-laden Toyota truck into an office of the Puntland Intelligence Service in Bossasso, Puntland. Other targets included a second (Puntland office), the Presidential Palace, the United Nations Development Program office and the Ethiopian Trade Mission in Hargeisa." About 20 people were killed.

On November 23, three charging documents included:

(1) a five-count indictment charging Mahamud Said Omar with terrorism, saying he's a Somali citizen who became a permanent US resident in 1994; that he "conspired with others to provide financial assistance as well as personnel to terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations;" and that he "allegedly visited an al-Shabaab safe-house and provided hundreds of dollars to fund the purchase of AK-47 rifles for men from Minneapolis." Omar is in custody in the Netherlands from where his extradition is sought.

(2) a "second superseding indictment charging Ahmed Ali Omar, Khalid Abshir, Zakaria Maruf, Mohammed Hassan and Mustafa Salat with terrorism-related offenses;" in summer 2009, "these men were charged with conspiracy to kill, kidnap, main and injure people outside the United States; possessing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence; and solicitation to commit a crime of violence;" none are in custody; all are believed to be living outside America.

(3) on October 9, 2009, "a criminal complaint was filed, charging Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax and Abdiweli Yassin Isse with conspiracy to kill, kidnap, main or injure persons outside the United States;" in three interrogations, Faarax denied all charges; Faarax and Isse aren't in custody and are believed to be living outside America.

The DOJ said four men pleaded guilty, including:

-- on February 18, 2009, Kamal Said Hassan to "one count of providing material support to terrorists and one count of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization;" on August 12, 2009 to "one count of making false statements to the FBI;" Hassan is in custody awaiting sentencing;

-- on April 24, 2009, Abdifatah Yusuf Isse "entered a guilty plea to one count of providing material support to terrorists;"

-- on July 28, 2009, Salah Osman Ahmed "entered a guilty plea to one count of providing material support to terrorists;" both men are in custody awaiting sentencing;

-- on November 2, 2009, Adarus Abdulle Ali "pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of perjury for making false statements to a federal grand jury in December 2008;" he was released pending a sentencing hearing;

-- on October 13, 2009, Abdow Munye Abdow was indicted on two counts of "making false statements to the FBI;" he's been released pending trial; and

-- on November 19, 2009, Omer Abdi Mohamed "was arrested on charges that he conspired to provide material support to terrorists; that he provided material support to terrorists; and that he conspired to kill, kidnap, maim and injure persons outside the United States."

The Philadelphia Five

On the same day, November 23, the Philadelphia Inquirer headlined, "5 accused of trying to buy Stinger missiles," then continuing saying:

"The FBI terrorism task force in Philadelphia has arrested five (Muslim) men of Lebanese origin, following an extensive international undercover sting in which one of the men allegedly tried to purchase 100 Stinger missiles designed to shoot down aircraft," meant for the "Resistance," implying Palestinians to be used against Israelis.

According to an affidavit by FBI Supervisory Agent Samuel Smemo Jr. of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, an undercover agent supposedly met Dani Nemr Tarraf, one of the accused, in Slovakia in May where he allegedly asked for missiles able to "take down an F-16" and 250 M4 Carbine machine guns.

A same day DOJ press release "announced arrests in a case involving a conspiracy to procure weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles."

Charged was Dani Nemr Tarraf "with conspiring to acquire anti-aircraft missiles (FIM-92 Stingers) and conspiring to possess machine guns (approximately 10,000 Colt M4 Carbines). In addition, Tarraf and other defendants - including Douri Nemr Tarraf, Hassan Mohamad Komeiha, and Hussein Ali Asfour - were charged with conspiring to transport stolen goods. Dani Nemr Tarraf and Ali Fadel Yahfoufi were (also) charged with conspiring to commit passport fraud."

Numerous previous articles by this writer exposed fraudulent DOJ charges against Muslim men and one woman. Paid informants entrapped them. Each time there was no plot, no crime, or an intention to commit one. Charges were baseless against innocent victims who were targeted, persecuted, arrested, imprisoned, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted on their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence and bogus charges, convicted by intimidated juries, then given long prison terms for their faith, ethnicity, activism, charity, prominence, and mostly for being Muslims in America at the wrong time.

Examples include:

-- the "Fort Dix Five," for planning to wage war against the US Army at the New Jersey base;

-- Yassin Aref and Mohammed Mosharref Hossain for seeking a missile to use against the Pakistani ambassador in New York;

-- the Newburgh, NY 4 for wanting stinger missiles to down New York-based Air National Guard jets and blow up New York synagogues;

-- the North Carolina 7 for plotting war against the Marines at Quantico, VA;

-- Najibullah Zazi for planning to bomb one or more major New York sites on or around September 11, 2009;

-- Miami's Liberty City Seven for plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and a Miami FBI building;

-- Tariq Mehanna charged with "conspiracy to provide support to terrorists" after he refused to be an FBI paid informant against other Muslim men in his community;

-- Aafia Siddiqui, called "Al Qaeda woman" for planning a mass casualty attack with radiological, chemical, and/or biological weapons against one of more of the following targets - the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, Wall Street, and the animal disease center on Plum Island; and

-- numerous other innocent victims falsely accused in America's war on Islam.

Later, look for evidence to exonerate the Minneapolis and Philadelphia suspects, manipulated by undercover or paid informants to look guilty when, in fact, they're innocent.

Al-Shabaab

On the Horn of Africa, Somalia is strategically adjacent to the Red Sea, Suez Canal, and vital commercial waterways, and with neighboring Sudan is valued for its potential oil and gas reserves that America, China, India and other nations covet. In December 2006, Washington-backed Ethiopian forces unseated the governing Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), installing a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in its place. Thousands were killed. Over a million became refugees.

The Ethopians withdrew in January 2009 following an agreement between the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) - a UIC coalition with other opposition forces - yet fighting continues with America backing TRG/African Union forces to keep Islamists from regaining power. UIC members aren't terrorists or connected to Al Qaeda. They're freedom fighters, struggling to liberate their country and end years of conflict, divisions and instability.

As James Petras explained:

"The UIC was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs.

The UIC is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation."

Mogadishu traders initially set it up to bring order to the city's insecurity and end clan divisions after years of instability, civil war, and no stable government in most parts of the country.

Al-Shabaab and other opposition forces continue the struggle. Stratfor, a leading online geopolitical intelligence publisher describes it as follows:

"After Ethiopian forces beat back the Supreme Islamic Courts Council (SICC) in 2007, (its) armed wings dissolved into the ungoverned savannah in the south, (and) the Mogadishu underground and safe zones in central Somalia. They eventually re-formed under the leadership of Aden Farah Ayro....and Sheikh Hassan Turki....assumed the name al Shabaab and sought to continue the fight against the new Somalian government and its Ethiopian backers with an insurgency-style approach. Portions of al Shabaab have also been known to call themselves the Mujahideen Youth Movement (MYM)."

"The group's core leadership comprises senior militants (some linked to Al Qaeda), while its rank-and-file membership is (made up) largely (of) untrained Somalian youths. Al Shabaab is estimated to have 6,000 to 7,000 members."

Operationally, it's fairly new, but as "the SICC's militant wing, it gained notoriety before the SICC took over Mogadishu in June 2006...."

The US National Counterrorism Center says that:

"Since the end of 2006, (Al-Shabaab) led a violent insurgency, using guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against the continued Ethiopian presence in Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and (NGOs)."

As a result, on February 29, 2008, the US State Department designated it a Foreign Terrorist Organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (as amended) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 (as amended).

On Al Jazeera, One Al-Shabaab leader, Sheikh Muktar Robow, welcomed the news, saying:

"Al-Shabaab feels honored to be included on the list. We are good Muslims and the Americans are infidels. We are on the right path." In their eyes, they're freedom fighters against foreign invaders and the western-backed government, loathed for its complicity, corruption, and warlord-committed massacres and other crimes.

The New York Times says Al-Shabaab:

"is nominally led by Sheikh Mohamed Mukhtar Abdirahman (Abu Zubeyr), though experts say a core group of senior leaders guide its actions. The group is divided into three geographical units: Bay and Bokool regions, led by Mukhtar Roobow (Abu Mansur), the group's spokesman; south-central Somalia and Mogadishu; and Puntland and Somaliland."

"A fourth unit, which controls the Juba Valley, is led by Hassan Abdillahi Hersi (Turki), who is not considered to be a (group) member, but is closely aligned with it. These regional units 'appear to operate independently of one another, and there is often evidence of friction between them,' according to a December 2008 UN Monitoring Group report."

"Experts strongly caution that there is little the United States can do to weaken Shabab." They say US-launched air strikes and support for a loathed government "only increased (its) popular support...."

Former UIC shura council leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys now heads his own group, Hisbul Islam, allied with Al-Shabaab and others against TRG/African Union Forces. On November 5, the independent news web site, Garowe Online (garowonline.com), reported him saying that:

"his group (and Al-Shabaab are) fighting to liberate the Somali people and impose Islamic Sharia law....We told (Mogadishu) businessmen to join the war....(urged them) to contribute in rebuilding the destroyed roads in Mogadishu," help restore stability in the country, and support its liberation.

Like the US-funded, armed and trained Afghan mujaheddin (Islamist guerrillas Ronald Reagan called "freedom fighters") and the country's current Taliban resistance, Al-Shabaab, Hisbul Islam, and other Islamist fighters want Somalia freed from the US-backed TFG government and African Union paramilitaries.

Insurgency defeated Soviet forces in Afghanistan, and let the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) consolidate power in 2006 before Ethiopian invaders ousted them. According to Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, non-Somali Islamic fighters have joined them. Washington calls them terrorists, the usual designation for anyone against imperial aggression and dominance.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Link to archived Radio Shows

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Lendman News Hour Guests for November 30 - December 4

The Lendman News Hour Guests for November 30 - December 4, 2009

Viera Scheibner, Elio Cequea, Ralph Poynter, and Catherine Austin Fitts are the featured guests on The Lendman News Hour

Dates:

Monday, November 30 - Viera Scheibner

Tuesday, December 1 - Elio Cequea

Wednesday, December 2 - Ralph Poynter

Thursday, December 3 - Monday's program repeated

Friday, December 4 - Catherine Austin Fitts

Time: 10AM US Central time

Viera Scheibner is the world's foremost vaccine expert who's done extensive research and warns about their dangers. Her seminal 1993 book is titled, "Vaccination: 100 Years of Orthodox Research Shows that Vaccines Represent a Medical Assault on the Immune System."

Scheibner is currently reviewing 100,000 pages of orthodox medical/scientific papers in preparing a new edition of her book.

Program topics will include dangerous vaccines and the fact that HIV is really SIV (simian immunodefficiency virus), spread by contaminated polio vaccines to humans.

Elio Cequea writes often about cutting-edge Venezuelan issues. The two-day 2002 coup ousting Hugo Chavez energized him to become activist and speak out.

He's now done it in a new book titled, "Venezuela: What Dictatorship? What Dictator?: A pragmatic view to the Chavez controversy."

His book and the Bolivarian Revolution will be discussed to set the record straight on Venezuelan democracy, the kind totally absent in America.

Ralph Poynter is a longtime civil/human rights activist and husband of Lynne Stewart, the heroic lawyer jailed on November 19 for defending a man Washington wanted convicted and to tell other lawyers "don't you dare" or you'll be targeted the same way.

Catherine Austin Fitts is an investment advisor, entrepreneur, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner under GHW Bush, and former Managing Director and board member of the Wall Street firm, Dillon Read & Co., Inc.

She's now editor of Solari.com and runs Solari, Inc as an "online media company focused on ethical investment and preserving family wealth. Long ago, (she) made a promise (never again to) act against the best interests (of her) own people (and to do her best) to leave a better world for generations to come."

The program will be a Let's Go to the Movies Special, focusing on the connection between Hollywood and real life important events.


Link to archived Radio Shows

Friday, November 27, 2009

Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim Denied Parole

Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim Denied Parole - by Stephen Lendman

On November 18, Jalil Muntaqim (formerly Anthony Bottom) was refused parole a day after his November 17 hearing. The board called his record exemplary, but still denied him. Muntaqim thanked everyone who wrote letters of support and said he'll appeal the decision. Failing that, his next scheduled hearing is in June 2010. His earlier 2002, 2004 and 2006 hearings were also unsuccessful.

In a November 19 letter to supporters, he wrote as follows:

"The parole board ignored the overwhelming support from the community for my release, and denied me parole. I have come to the conclusion after this, my fourth parole appearance....that the parole system is not a fair and impartial decision making body. It is a political institution with a law enforcement agenda....incapable of being fair and impartial in cases where a police officer's death is involved....The judiciary generally supports the law enforcement agenda of the parole board."

To rectify this "double standard," he urged his supporters to:

-- "organize a coalition of progressive folks willing and able to concentrate on this issue;"

-- get the "religious/faith based community" on board;

-- challenge elected officials "for their refusal and failure to intervene....;" and

-- New York's "Governor Patterson must be told his choice of parole chairman and commissioners must reflect the desires of the community."

Short of these actions, nothing will reverse the "institutional repression and racism endemic (in) the NYS prison and parole system." Muntaqim is its longest-punished example, an innocent man kept imprisoned since 1971.

The freejalil.com web site calls him a "political prisoner & prisoner of war." Some history and background follows.

At age 19, he and Albert Nuh Washington were arrested in San Francisco on August 28, 1971, charged with the May 21, 1971 killings of two New York City police officers (Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini). Washington died in prison on April 28, 2000. In 1973, Herman Bell was also arrested and charged along with Gabriel and Francisco Torres. The two brothers were later acquitted for lack of evidence. Muntaqim, Washington and Bell became known as the New York Three.

The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc. (odmp.org) said both patrolmen:

"were shot and killed in the 32nd Precinct when they were ambushed by members of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). (The) three suspects snuck up behind them and opened fire. Patrolman Jones was struck in the back of the head and killed instantly. Patrolman Piagentini was shot 13 times and succumbed to his injuries en route to the hospital. (The BLA) was a violent, radical group....responsible for the murders of more than 10 police officers around the country. They were also responsible for violent attacks....that left many police officers wounded."

In a secret White House May 26, 1971 meeting, Richard Nixon, John Erlichman, FBI Director Herbert Hoover, and others named the murders "NEWKILL," (for New York killings). It's believed they decided to blame them on Black Panther Party (BPP) members as part of the COINTELPRO conspiracy to destroy them.

The first trial against the New York Five, including the Torres brothers, ended in a mistrial. The brothers were acquitted in a second 1975 one, but the New York Three were convicted of first degree murder, weapons possession, and conspiracy despite evidence shown to be inconsistent, fraudulent, and based on perjured testimonies.

The FBI claimed a crime scene fingerprint was Herman Bell's. Not the NYPD, however, but the jury wasn't told. The defense argued that federal agents took the print from Muntaqim's San Francisco apartment, and together with the NYPD conspired to assure conviction in the second trial.

Two firearms were also seized when Muntaqim and Washington were arrested. The prosecution said one belonged to officer Jones. The FBI tested the second one, a .45 caliber automatic, compared its ballistics to crime scene evidence and found no link. The NYPD claimed its later tests matched the San Francisco weapon. Either the FBI or NYPD lied, but it didn't help. On May 12, 1975, Muntaqim, Washington and Bell (the New York Three) were convicted and sentenced to two concurrent terms of 25 years to life, the maximum penalty at the time.

Prosecutorial charges were bogus as later exculpatory evidence showed. Linda Torres, Karen Parks and Jacqueline Tabb testified regarding matters relating to a Bronx, NY apartment the defendants shared. On October 14, 1971, Tabb and others were there when police raided it. Everyone was arrested. Tabb, Maria Torres Bailey and Stanley Bailey were subsequently indicted for hindering prosecution in the second degree, possession of a shotgun, and criminal possession of narcotics.

At trial, Tabb testified that from October 16 - October 28, 1971, the New York County district attorney (DA) questioned her but never mentioned the May 21 killings. Fearing imprisonment, however, she then became a prosecution witness, after which she was freed and given a DA-provided apartment.

Later, an FBI October 30, 1971 teletype showed her testimony was perjured, and the DA knew it. According to an NYPD inspector Jenkins, Tabb wanted her charges dropped in return for grand jury testimony. A deal was apparently struck.

At trial, she testified that on May 21, 1971, the five accused didn't leave the apartment until 8PM. Later they returned in two groups from 10:45 - 11PM. After news reports of the killings, Bell allegedly said "we hit the wrong ones" (because one of the officers was Black). She also swore seeing three weapons belonging to Muntaqim, Washington and Bell on a table.

However, a November 5, 1971 FBI teletype, undisclosed at trial, differed from her trial testimony. In it, she said the five men left about 3PM, returned later, left again at 7PM, returned after several hours, and Muntaqim, not Bell said "we hit the wrong ones." She also claimed seeing four weapons, not three.

Linda Torres, the estranged wife of Gabriel Torres, testified that on May 21, 1971 she was at the Bronx apartment with her husband, his brother Francisco, Muntaqim, Washington, Bell, Karen Parks, and Tabb. She said the defendants left together from 8 - 9PM, then returned from 11 - midnight." She also claimed hearing Muntaqim say "we just offed some pigs," and the Torres brothers placed guns on her table.

However, in her October 27, 1971 NYPD statement, she said the five men returned together "during the late hours of May 21 or the early hours of May 22." Contrary to her trial testimony, she mentioned no contact with the defendants prior to the shooting nor that guns were placed on a table.

Three days later on October 30, she changed her story, saying the men left at 7PM, returned from 11 - 11:30PM, and "one of the individuals place(d) three pistols on a table," contrary to at trial claiming each defendant placed a weapon there.

The prosecution also withheld a January 13, 1972 FBI teletype regarding an interview with Karen Parks, allegedly in the apartment on May 21, 1971.

At trial, Valerie Wall and Patricia Bryant identified Muntaqim as one of two shooters, but prosecutors didn't disclose material relating to a May 29, 1971 FBI interview with Bryant. Also withheld was evidence proving other individuals, not the defendants, committed the murders.

After the crime, NYPD detective David Gregory told the FBI that he interviewed a woman named Will Jean Davis who said her boyfriend, Michael Williams, told her that his brother, Reggie, fit the description eyewitnesses provided. She also identified photos of persons she knew as the Davis brothers, not Muntaqim and Washington, even though they resembled the individuals she knew. Neighbors identified them as well.

In sum, charges against the New York Three were inconsistent, fraudulent, aided by perjury, and based on a deal struck between the prosecution and a key witness. The defendants were denied due process and judicial fairness, never should have been convicted, and at minimum deserve a new trial.

Under New York State constitutional law, prosecutorial withheld evidence entitles a defendant to retrial if what's suppressed creates a "reasonable possibility" that the verdict might have been different. Clearly that's true. A new trial should be ordered, or charges dismissed altogether after decades of injustice.

The trial was a mockery of justice. Testimonies were riddled with inconsistencies and perjury:

-- from Jacqueline Tabb and Linda Torres;

-- from Willie Jean Davis, who identified two other men, not the defendants, as the killers;

-- undisclosed evidence that a suspected drugs trafficker, Adolph Porter, was the real target, and the killings were drugs related;

-- the suppressed exculpatory FBI ballistics test on the .45 caliber weapon seized after Muntaqim and Washington were arrested;

-- the perjured testimony of NYPD detective George Simmons concerning the test; and

-- the recanted testimony of one witness, Rubin Scott, who was intimidated to cooperate at trial.

In total, these violations create a "reasonable probability" that had jurors known the truth their verdict might have been different.

The three defendants were named in later revealed COINTELPRO documents as Black Liberation Army (BLA) and Panther Party (BPP) members, targeted to be "neutralized" by the FBI's war on dissent, political activism, and opposition to government injustice against society's most vulnerable - a war still raging against Muslims, Latinos, Blacks, activists, and heroic lawyers who defend them.

Some Background on Muntaqim

Born in Oakland, CA, he grew up in San Francisco and engaged in NAACP youth organizing during the civil rights movement. In high school, he was a leading Black Student Union member. After Martin Luther King's assassination, he joined the Black Panther Party for Self Defense to fight racism and injustice.

More on them below and the San Francisco Eight, that included Muntaqim and Herman Bell, targeted for their activism against racism, imperialism and injustice, not crimes they never committed, and prosecutors knew it.

When arrested in 1971, Muntaqim was a high school graduate, a social worker, an activist for social justice, and an FBI target to be "neutralized."

His Prison Achievements

Incarcerated since 1971, he's one of the nation's longest held political prisoners and one of the 10 longest held Black political prisoners in the world. He has a daughter, two grandchildren, one great grandchild, and states:

"I came to prison an expectant father and will leave prison a grandfather....The United States does not recognize the existence of political prisoners. To do so would give credence to the fact of the level of repression and oppression, and have to recognize the fact that people resist racist oppression in the United States, and therefore, legitimize the existence of not only the individuals who are incarcerated or have been captured, but also legitimize those movements of which they are apart."

His prison achievements are impressive:

-- from 1975 - 1977, he organized the first national prison petition campaign to the UN; the first revolutionary prisoners' national newspaper called Arm the Spirit, and wrote some of the first Black political booklets, essays, and an unpublished novel and teleplay;

-- in 1986, he drafted a legislative bill for New York State prisoners to receive good time off their sentence; former Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve submitted it to the NY State Assembly Committee on Corrections;

-- in 1994, he established the first Men's Council in the US prison system; Japanese television and The New York Times reported it;

-- during the same period, he graduated from SUNY (State Univ. of NY) New Paltz with a BS in psychology and a BA in sociology; he also taught African studies to other prisoners;

-- twice he got commendations from prison officials for quelling potential riots, once in the Great Meadow mess hall and again in the Greenhaven Correctional Facility auditorium;

-- from 1996 - 1999, he was Eastern Correctional Facility computer lab office manager, responsible for teaching prisoners computer skills; at the same time, he raised money from inmate accounts for charitable children's funds;

-- in 1999, he established Auburn Correctional Facility (ACF) sociology, poetry and legal research discussion classes under the auspices of the Lifers' Committee he chaired;

-- he co-sponsored the Victory Gardens Project, a program enlisting Maine farmers to distribute produce to poor urban New York, New Jersey, and Boston communities;

-- in 1997, he founded the Jericho Movement to gain US and UN "recognition of the fact that political prisoners and prisoners of war exist inside the United States despite the United States' government's continued denial (to win) amnesty and freedom for these political prisoners;" he's filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of other prisoners and advocated for humane treatment for everyone; as a result, he was punished, abused, formally disciplined, and transferred often to other prisons;

-- after 9/11 while still at ADF, he proposed raising inmate funds for the Red Cross and was acknowledged by the former deputy superintendent of programs for his efforts;

-- during the same period, he worked as a pre-GED teacher's assistant and earned a vocational certificate for architectural drafting; he proposed and got approval for a Life Skills Program for inmates; and

-- he once initiated a campaign to provide school supplies to AIDS orphans in Africa.

In addition, he's a published poet and essayist with writings found in several university sponsored books containing the works of prison writers. He says, "Remember, we are our own liberators!"

Muntaqim's Legal Challenges

Muntaqim v. Coombe challenged New York State's law disenfranchising convicted felons. He argued that the law disproportionately impacts Blacks in violation of Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act regarding the denial of the right to vote based on race.

-- in September 1994, he filed a pro se complaint in US District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging various constitutional and civil rights violations, one regarding the Voting Rights Act;

-- in October 1999, defendants in his complaint moved for summary judgment dismissal; the motion was referred to a magistrate judge;

-- in July 2000, the magistrate recommended that defendants' motion be granted and Muntaqim's complaint dismissed;

-- in January 2001, the District Court judge accepted the recommendation; Muntaqim appealed to the US Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit regarding the dismissal of the Voting Rights Act allegation alone;

-- in March 2003, the case was argued before a three-judge panel;

-- in April 2004, his appeal was denied; he applied to the US Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to have his case heard;

-- in November 2004, the High Court declined;

-- in December 2004, the Appeals Court agreed to a rehearing;

-- in March 2005, it ordered his case heard with a similar one, Hayden v. Pataki;

-- in June 2005, the case was argued;

-- in May 2006, it was dismissed on grounds that Muntaqim lacked standing as a convicted felon.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP)

As this writer earlier explained, they stood for ethnic justice, racial emancipation, and economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines - radical ideas once and more than ever now in a climate of fear and intimidation targeting anyone opposing state policies - ones waging global wars against humanity masquerading as a democratic crusade.

Founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the BPP's 10-point program stood for:

(1) freedom and "power to determine the destiny of our black community;"

(2) full employment for everyone, including Blacks;

(3) "an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our black community;"

(4) decent housing;

(5) education to expose "the true nature of this decadent American society (and teach) us our true history and our role in the present-day society;"

(6) for "all black men to be exempt from military service" at a time they were drafted for foreign wars;

(7) "an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people;"

(8) "freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails" as political prisoners;

(9) in court, for Blacks "to be tried....by a jury of their peer group or people from their black communities;" and

(10) "land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace."

Words echoing the Declaration of Independence's message that "all men are created equal (and) whenever any form of government (destroys democratic freedoms), it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and institute a new government."

Fifty signers endorsed it, including John Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Harrison (father of America's 9th president), Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.

The San Francisco Eight, Former BPP Members

On January 23, 2007, they were arrested in early morning raids in California, New York and Florida, charged with killing a San Francisco police officer and various conspiracy acts from 1968 - 1973. They were framed following decades of harassment, a ruthless vendetta against former Panthers, and anyone challenging imperial America. Included were:

-- Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Richard O'Neal, Harold Taylor and Francisco Torres;

-- Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell, imprisoned since 1971 and 1973 respectively; and

-- Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, believed still sought.

For decades, no new evidence was found against any of them. On February 7, 2008, the conspiracy charge against Boudreaux, Brown, Jones, Taylor, and O'Neal was dropped, the result of successful defense motions challenging it on grounds that the three-year California statute of limitations expired.

Similar motions for Muntaqim, Bell and Torres were heard by the California Appeals Court. Despite their innocence, Muntaqim pleaded to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter and Bell to voluntary manslaughter charges. Both men were sentenced to time served and probation. Torres is the last one still charged, but maintains his innocence. O'Neill is now cleared of all charges.

Nearly three years of struggle and mass support included resolutions from the San Francisco Central Labor Council, the Berkeley City Council, and several San Francisco Supervisors. As a result, they've nearly thwarted the racist, vindictive persecution by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and California prosecutors.

No matter. Muntaqim and Bell remain imprisoned for crimes they never committed, because of them activism for social justice.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Link to archived Radio Shows

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Study Shows Ten States Face Fiscal Crisis

New Study Shows Ten States Face Fiscal Crisis - by Stephen Lendman

The Pew Center on the States (PCS) "works to advance state policies that serve the public interest," through "credible research (to) advance nonpartisan, pragmatic solutions for pressing problems affecting Americans." Its new report titled, "Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril," says the following:

"Many economists are optimistic that America's Great Recession may be turning the corner. States, however, are not celebrating. Plagued by record-setting revenue losses, the housing bust and credit crisis, high unemployment and a host of other challenges, (they've) struggled through nearly two years of budgetary pain - and are bracing for more."

California is worst off, but hardly alone. Others include Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Pew's Managing Director on the States, Susan Urahn, says:

"America's economic recovery and prosperity hinge in key ways on how quickly and to what degree states emerge from the Great Recession." For many, their "fiscal health hangs in the balance."

Economic, money-management, and political factors "pushed California to the brink of insolvency," but other states face the same pressures. As a result, their residents can expect higher taxes, more layoffs, reduced social services, longer waits for them, over-crowded classrooms, fewer teachers, higher tuitions, and less help for the unemployed and most needy.

The above 10 states account for over one-third of the nation's population and output. Pressures on them portend new ones nationwide. Pew scored all 50 by six factors:

-- high foreclosure rates;

-- growing unemployment;

-- budget gaps;

-- legal obstacles to balanced budgets; and

-- poor money-management practices.

Excluded were issues of long-term debt and public employee pension liabilities that darken the outlook further.

The 10 worst off states are examined, but close behind are Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, New York and Hawaii. Only two, Montana and North Dakota, are fiscally solvent and expect to meet their 2010 budgets, the latter because it alone has what the others don't - its own bank able to create credit for state businesses and residents at an affordable cost. As a result, with the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 4%, it's created jobs at a time they're vanishing in the other 49 and the District of Columbia.

According to financial writer Ellen Brown, "In this dark firmament....one bright star shines" - in terms of GDP and personal income growth and the state's largest ever $1.3 billion budget surplus when other states face deficits.

For fiscal year 2010, some of them are coping with their largest ever budget shortfalls. Nationwide it's about $162 billion because of rising unemployment and lower tax revenues. More recently another $16 billion was added, but the numbers keep rising. Pew's data is based on the best available through July 31, 2009.

California

It's reeling from its biggest ever budget shortfall, in part from the housing bust. As it imploded, unemployment surged. Nationally it's 10.2%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) headline U-3 figure. The broader U-6 one is 17.5%.

BLS's September California U-6 measure is 19.6%, which includes:

-- "marginally attached workers" - those not actively looking but sought work sometime in the past 12 months without success;

-- "discouraged workers" who want jobs but gave up looking; and

-- part timers seeking full-time employment but can't find it.

U-6 calculations way understate the true picture because of BLS's so-called Birth/Death Model. In good or bad times, it regularly adds tens of thousands more small company phantom jobs, supposedly missed by monthly surveys. In the current environment, the National Federation of Independent Business reports these firms are actively cutting them. More on this below.

According to California Employment Development Department estimates through September, unemployment is 21.9% and rising. The true figure is likely higher given the gravity of current conditions.

The economic crisis took its toll on state revenues, falling by nearly one-sixth from Q 1 2008 - Q 2 2009. "California topped all states for the magnitude of its budget shortfall in fiscal year 2010...." Despite plugging a $45.5 billion hole in July, another $1.1 billion gap emerged, exacerbated by voter-imposed restrictions, including requiring all budgets be passed by two-thirds legislative majorities.

Beyond the Pew study timeline, a November 18 Los Angeles Times Shane Goldmacher article headlined, "California faces a projected deficit of $21 billion." After closing the earlier gap, new figures threaten "to send Sacramento back into budgetary gridlock and force more across-the-board cuts," but when does the process end, and what does it suggest for the other strapped states.

In 2008, Pew's Government Performance Project (GPP) rated California's money-management practices D+, lowest among the 50 states.

Arizona

Hard hit by the economic crisis, state lawmakers relied on one-time budget fixes over long-term solutions. They still haven't closed a $1 billion FY 2009 gap.

Rhode Island

With one of the nation's weakest unemployment picture, its 2008 home foreclosure rate was worst in New England. It's a problem-plague state hampered by high tax rates, chronic budget deficits, and few high-tech jobs.

Michigan

Heavily dependent on auto production, it never recovered from the 2001 recession. By Q 4 2010, it's on track to lose one-fourth of its jobs this decade, a shocking situation for its residents. The accelerated revenue shortfall forces the government to manage today with a 1960s-sized budget.

Nevada

Gambling and sales taxes provide 60% of its revenue. The economic crisis hampers both.

Oregon

Its timber, computer-chip manufacturing, and other key industries are hurting, resulting in state revenues dropping 19% from Q 1 2008 - Q 1 2009, a reflection of a heavy reliance on personal and corporate income taxes. Voters in January 2010 will decide whether to accept a $733 million tax increase.

Florida

For the first time since WW II, its population is shrinking, complicating a long-term budget strategy based on increases. In 2009, lawmakers raised $2 billion in new revenue, but face a similar shortfall in FY 2010.

New Jersey

For years, it's fiscally mismanaged what it collects and spends. "Growing debt payments and perennially underfunded pension systems will make (its) road to recovery even rougher."

Illinois

As a resident, it's a sore issue for this writer because of bipartisan irresponsible government. Notoriously corrupt politics complicates things at both state and local levels, especially in Chicago.

The result - the FY 2010 shortfall tops $13.2 billion, among the worst in the nation and unsustainable. But it's financial woes began long before the downturn. Most important is its lack of fiscal discipline, showing up in budget deficits every year since 2001. It's solutions - delay paying bills, skimp on state pension payments, borrow when other alternatives run out, and amass billions in deficits with no plan to reduce them.

Wisconsin

It's been hit harder than most states by revenue shortfalls and rising unemployment because it's dependent on manufacturing.

Other states are also in trouble because of four common vulnerabilities:

-- "unbalanced economies" heavily dependent on hard-hit industries; for Michigan, autos; Nevada, gambling; Oregon timber, and so forth;

-- "revenues and expenditures out of alignment" because of the recession's severity; many of the top 10 have persistent shortfalls; correcting them is key to their fiscal health;

-- "limited liability to act" because of constitutional restrictions and mandated spending on Medicaid and other programs; in California, property taxes are capped; and

-- "putting off tough decisions," including long-term fixes to correct fiscal problems; in Illinois, legislators rejected a $6 billion tax increase forcing the governor to make cuts; in 2010, 37 governors face re-election, and 46 states choose their legislators, so politics will decide upcoming tax and spend issues.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) Paints An Even Gloomier Picture

The CBPP conducts research and analysis on numerous vital issues, including state budget and tax policies. Its October 20 report titled, "Recession Continues to Batter State Budgets; State Responses Could Slow Recovery," says the following:

"The worst recession since the 1930s has caused the steepest decline in state tax receipts on record. As a result, even after making very deep cuts, states continue to face large budget gaps," including new ones in over half of them for FY 2010, and others "as big as or bigger than they faced this year in the upcoming 2011 fiscal year."

Besides current shortfalls in 48 of the 50 states, CBPP estimates the combined 2010 and 2011 gaps will be an additional $350 billion at a time of inadequate federal aid that will likely end before state budget crises are resolved. Worse still, tax hikes and spending cuts are undermining recovery when precisely the opposite policies are needed:

-- 34 states cut higher education aid;

-- 25 reduced it for K-12 schools and other educational programs;

-- 27 cut healthcare benefits for low-income children and families;

-- 26 have hiring freezes;

-- 22 lowered state workers' wages; and

-- 13 announced layoffs.

Given projected huge new shortfalls and reduced federal aid, even greater tax hikes and budget cuts are coming. They'll likely "trim nearly a full percentage point off GDP that), in turn, could cost the economy 900,000 jobs next year." According to the CBPP:

"The federal assistance that states received for (Medicaid) under this year's economic recovery legislation is scheduled to end with a 'cliff' on December 31, 2010, and (aid they got) for education and other services also will be largely exhausted by then."

Since Q 4 2008, state tax receipts have been declining. In the latest "critical April - June quarter, when a major portion of (their) tax revenues are collected, (they) dropped 16.6 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year."

In the current fiscal year, federal stimulus money made up 30 - 40% of the shortfall. When its reduced or ended, states will have to compensate with new cuts and tax hikes, stressing an already structurally weak economy even more. As a result, expect growing unemployment, lower incomes, fewer benefits, and less consumption, a prescription for long-term economic deterioration at a time militarism and Wall Street bailouts take precedence.

Structurally High Unemployment Impedes Recovery

David Rosenberg produces some of the best economic analysis around. On November 11, he addressed the "serious structural issues undermining the US labour market as companies continue to adjust their order books, production schedules and staffing requirements to a semi-permanently impaired credit backdrop."

The bottom line - "the level of credit per unit of GDP is going to be much, much lower in the future" than over the past two decades. Expect much higher rates of unemployment because of the following:

-- for the first time in six or more decades, "private sector employment is negative on a 10-year basis;

-- eight million jobs have been lost in the past two years, the most in percentage terms since the 1930s; 11 million full-time jobs were lost, three million of which shifted to lower-paying part-time ones;

-- a record 9.3 million Americans now work part-time; in past recessions, around six million was tops;

-- the workweek stands at a record low 33.0 hours; "the labour input equivalent is another 2.4 million jobs lost," or 10 million + jobs in total; "Remarkable;"

-- permanent job losses rose by a record 6.2 million; "well over half of the total unemployment pool of 15.7 million was generated just in this past recession alone;"

-- a record 5.6 million people have been unemployed for six months or longer;

-- "both the median (18.7 weeks) and average (26.9 weeks) duration of unemployment have risen to all-time highs;"

-- youth unemployment is approaching a record 20%; and

-- the longer unemployed workers can't find jobs, the harder it will be to retrain then when future demand picks up.

As mentioned above, so-called U-6 unemployment is 17.5%. For economist John Williams, it's, in fact, 22.1%, a shockingly high number and rising.

"Think about it," says Rosenberg. When economic recovery begins, what will employers do first? "Well, naturally they will begin to boost the workweek, and just getting back to pre-recession levels would be the" equivalent of adding two million jobs. Overall, business has a "vast pool of resources to draw from before" hiring again. As a result, unemployment will hit new highs "long after the recession is over - perhaps even years," and may stay structurally high like never before experienced.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs on Jobs and the Economy

How well is the administration handling the problem? According to economist Jeffrey Sachs in a Financial Times November 10 op-ed, "Obama has lost his way on jobs." Its "stimulus policies are not well-targeted. The Republican alternatives are even worse. Both sides" miss the key point - "the US economy needs structural change that requires a new set of economic tools."

Boosting consumer spending by near-zero interest rates and temporary incentives won't work. "During the previous bubble, (consumers were) encouraged to over-borrow. Recreating a new bubble is like offering one more drink, on the government's account, to overcome a mass hangover. With budget deficits of about 10 per cent of (GDP), government spending needs to be far more consequential than temporary boosts to consumer spending."

Republican strategy is even worse - tax cuts like they always propose for all problems and mostly where they're not needed. Sachs cites critical underfunded areas:

"roads, rail, clean energy, science and technology, diplomacy, international disease control, space, education, job training, water, transport, courts, poverty relief, homeland security, conservation, (and) climate adaptation." His long-term solution is three-fold:

-- "promote greater exports" through a cheap dollar and "expanded government support for export financing;"

-- massive education spending and job training, especially for youths and the less-skilled; and

-- spur investment "in areas of high social return that are currently blocked by the lack of clear policies;" one example - conversion to a low-carbon economy; numerous others as well going unaddressed.

Obama "has lost the economic initiative....Move now, Mr. President, or we will spend our time digging out of the next consumer bust and (end up) buying our technology from China."

Insights from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Optimism Index in Its November Small Business Economic Trends Report

An accompanying press release stated:

"Overall, the small business job machine is still in reverse, due to continued declines in reported sales, rising labor costs, and a need to cut costs. Reported capital spending is at historic low levels, owners are still, on balance, reducing inventory stocks....so orders to wholesale and manufacturing firms for new inventory are weak. Price cutting is rampant (though slowing) which combined with lower real sales continues to produce record reports of earnings declines, one reason capital spending remains low....Events in Washington are not supportive of more optimism about the future - another reason not to spend or hire."

Martin Weiss Warns of "Massive Revolutionary Changes" Ahead

Financial expert and investor safety advocate Martin Weiss explains that the global economic crisis brought the entire financial industry to its knees and caused the largest firms in commercial, investment and consumer banking, brokerage, mortgage lending, and insurance to fail or come close.

"Think about that: The world's largest companies in every single sector of the financial industry. Failed. Bankrupt."

Now we're led to believe:

"Suddenly and miraculously, the same economists who (said the) crisis could never happen are now (saying it's over.) And the same government officials who scoffed at the notion of giant financial failures are claiming they have the (right) solution" to fix everything.

Think again. The derivatives time bomb is still there. So are enormous bad debts on major banks' books. Most important, bad government and Fed policies responsible for the crisis persist and have accelerated. As a result, Wall Street's debt crisis is now Washington's. The crisis that bankrupted giant financial firms is doing it to America and other sovereign states.

"Worst of all," the debt crisis is now a dollar one because the Bernanke Fed "doubled the US monetary base in 112 days. Not in 5,012 days" under his predecessors. It's caused "a massive, revolutionary change in the entire structure of the US economy."

With the new millennium approaching and a potential Y2K bug, the Fed increased the monetary base by $73 billion in three months. After 9/11, it added $40 billion in less than two weeks. Bernanke created over $1 trillion in less than four months. Most important, after the Y2K and 9/11 crises passed, "the Fed promptly reversed its money infusions" (by withdrawing) the extra liquidity. Today, Bernanke has done the opposite by "throw(ing) still more money into the pot," so that in late October "the monetary base surged to new, all-time highs."

"This is the elephant in the room - the situation that everyone knows is there, but no one wants to admit" nor will acknowledge the dire consequences coming from reckless money creation. The federal deficit tripled in one year and keeps rising exponentially, something "totally unprecedented in history."

What's ahead:

-- massive liquidity created short-term stabilization and some growth, anemic compared to past recoveries because of deep structural problems;

-- a global rally in stocks through liquidity injections, short-covering, and market manipulation;

-- the US dollar decline against "virtually every major currency on the planet, and will probably continue to do so;"

-- the decline of paper money overall and parallel rise in gold; and

-- rising interest rates and a widening yield curve; the spread between two and 30 year Treasuries reached 359 basis points, six shy of the highest level in many years; it indicates inflation fears getting bond buyers to demand higher yields; gold as well is rising with credible predictions of much higher prices.

As a result, "Don't expect this recovery to last very long. A second recession could come quickly on its heels." Leg one of the downturn may be over, but America's "long-term depression" continues.

Bottom line - today's state fiscal crises promise extended hard times for America, but don't expect media pundits to explain it.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Targeting Muslim Charities in America

Targeting Muslim Charities in America - by Stephen Lendman

In a December 2008 article, this writer explained that the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) was the largest American Muslim charity until the Bush administration bogusly declared it an enemy of the state and shut it down.

On December 4, 2001, the Treasury Department declared HLF a terrorist group, froze its assets, and falsely claimed they were being used to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas. HLF's appeal was denied.

It provided vital relief to Palestinian refugees in Occupied Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan as well as aid for the needy in Bosnia, Albania, Chechnya, Turkey, America, and elsewhere.

Its activities included:

-- financial aid to needy and impoverished families;

-- a sponsorship program for orphaned children;

-- numerous social services;

-- educational ones;

-- medical and other emergency work; and

-- community development, including helping Palestinians rebuild homes that Israel maliciously destroyed.

HLF described its work as follows. "We gave:

-- books, not bombs;

-- bread, not bullets;

-- smiles, not scars;

-- toys, not tanks;

-- liberty, not poverty;

-- hope, not despair;

-- love, not hate; (and)

-- life, not death.

Yet a July 27, 2004 press release accompanying a Department of Justice (DOJ) indictment headlined: "HOLY LAND FOUNDATION, LEADERS, ACCUSED OF PROVIDING MATERIAL SUPPORT TO HAMAS TERRORIST ORGANIZATION."

Hamas IS NOT a terrorist organization. It's the democratically elected Palestinian government that's been maliciously maligned, targeted, sanctioned, isolated, boycotted, attacked, and held under a devastating Gaza siege since mid-2007.

Five HLF leaders were arrested, indicted, tried, and on November 24, 2008 convicted on 108 counts, including supporting a terrorist organization, money laundering, and tax fraud - all bogus charges. On May 27, 2009, sentences ranged from 15 - 65 years for the two main principles, Ghassan Elashi and Shukri Abu Baker. Their crime - being Muslims at the wrong time in America and providing charity to the most needy.

An ACLU Report on Targeting Muslim Charities

In June 2009, the ACLU published a report titled, "Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity: Chilling Muslim Charitable Giving in the 'War on Terrorism Financing' "

It explained that:

"The government's actions have created a climate of fear that chills American Muslims' free and full exercise of their religion through charitable giving, or Zakat, one of the 'five pillars' of Islam and a religious obligation for all observant Muslims." Since 9/11, fulfilling it in America is a crime.

On September 24, 2001, George Bush announced the following:

"I have signed an Executive Order (EO 13224) that immediately freezes United States financial assets of and prohibits United States' transactions with 27 different entities. They include terrorist organizations, individual terrorist leaders, a corporation that serves as a front for terrorism and several nonprofit organizations."

In early December, the administration seized the assets of the nation's three largest Muslim charities and shut them down - the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), Global Relief Foundation (GRF), and Benevolence International Foundation (BIF). Earlier, HLF principles repeatedly asked government officials for help in complying with the law, but were rebuffed.

To date, the Treasury Department has closed six Muslim charities by designating them terrorist organizations or claiming they provided material support to terrorism. A seventh charity was also closed for being "under investigation." In addition, six others were raided and and have been gravely harmed by the publicity and intrusive surveillance. Two of them have since closed. In total since 9/11, nine Muslims charities have been shuttered on bogus charges in Texas, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, Oregon, Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York.

According to the ACLU:

"Today, the Treasury Department has virtually unchecked power to designate groups as terrorist organizations. Terrorism financing laws are overly broad and lack procedural safeguards that would protect American charities against government mistake(s) and abuse."

Yet independent counterterrorism policy and court case studies show troublesome flaws in the evidence the Treasury Department uses. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) one, found no accountability for Treasury designations and asset blocking. Treasury officials even acknowledged that:

"some of the evidentiary foundations for the early designations were quite weak (and) might (have) result(ed) in a high level of false designations."

Yet the damage was done, forcing innocent victims into federal prisons. The Bush administration hailed its successes, and effectively "create(d) a general climate in which law-abiding American Muslims fear making charitable donations in accordance with their religious beliefs."

In interviewing Muslim donors, the ACLU:

"documented a pervasive fear that they may be arrested, prosecuted, targeted for law enforcement interviews, subpoenaed, deported, or denied citizenship or a green card because of (legal) charitable donations" they feel obligated to give. Today it's impossible, and nothing under Obama has changed.

The ACLU conducted 120 total interviews, including 115 with prominent Muslims and others directly affected. It found that:

"US terrorism financing policies and practices (have) undermin(ed) American Muslims' protected constitutional liberties and violat(ed) their fundamental human rights to freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom from discrimination."

Terrorism Financing Laws Impose Guilt by Association and Punish Legitimate Humanitarian Aid

These laws cover the following:

-- alleged schemes letting the government administratively designate organizations as terrorist and shut them down - with or without criminal wrongdoing charges; and

-- criminally prosecuting targets on terrorist charges or for providing material support to a terrorist organization.

In both cases, guilt by association is imposed and fundamental due process safeguards are lacking. As a result, Muslim organizations and individuals "are unfairly targeted in violation (of their rights under the) First and Fifth Amendment rights and international law."

America's counterterrorism laws are seriously flawed. They:

"effectively impose guilt by association and do not provide guidance about what is and is not prohibited. (They) punish wholly innocent assistance to arbitrarily blacklisted individuals and organizations, undermine legitimate humanitarian efforts, and can be used to prosecute innocent donors who intend to support only lawful activity through (legitimate) religious practice, humanitarian aid, speech, or association."

The material support statute contains no exemption for humanitarian giving, so providing food, medicines and other vital relief to the wrong recipients can run innocent Muslims afoul of the law with no intent whatever to violate it. The statute provisions are so broad that even the ICRC and other agencies like it can be prosecuted.

Charities Denied Due Process Under the Terrorism Financing Legal Framework

It lets the Treasury Department seize assets "pending investigation" without charges or shutter organizations on the basis of secret evidence unavailable to defense attorneys on grounds of national security, so there's no way to contest it or obtain meaningful judicial review.

Following prosecutions, independent reviews have shown that evidence used to target Muslim charities have included "rank hearsay inadmissible in court, news articles that do not even mention the charity in question, or intelligence that has been inaccurately and prejudicially translated."

Independent reviews in the UK, Canada, Sweden, and Luxembourg cleared some targeted organizations. As a result, government officials and courts in these countries chastened US authorities for failing to show proof in cases under review - to no avail.

Discriminatory Counterterrorism Law Enforcement against Muslim Charities

Of the nine charities shuttered, three so far faced criminal prosecution, only one of which was convicted, HLF. These practices alienated US Muslims, undermined America's standing in the Muslim world, and contributed to charges that this country baselessly targets Muslims and Islam.

Besides the nine charities closed, at least six others were declared "under investigation" or raided. So far, they haven't been charged or had their assets seized, but have suffered measurably as as result. Two of them have closed, Help the Needy in New York and Care International in Massachusetts.

In one case, prosecutors named some of the country's largest, mainstream Muslim organizations as unindicted co-conspirators. Even though no crime was charged, they got no chance to defend themselves or reputations - in clear violation of their constitutional right to presumption of innocence.

Intimidation of Muslim Donors

Many of them said FBI agents came to their workplaces and homes for interrogations about their charitable giving. They also complained that when returning from abroad, Customs and Border Protection agents subjected them to detailed questioning about their legal contributions. Further, they were subpoenaed to testify in more than one charity-related grand jury investigation, contributing more to a climate of fear.

Community members were also asked to be informants at their mosques to monitor donations there. Those refusing risk being suspected of something to hide.

The Impact on Religious Freedom

For observant Muslims, charitable donations are a religious obligation, yet doing it in today's climate risks guilt by association charges or worse. The ACLU documented a pervasive fear of intimidating surveillance, potential arrests, subpoenas to testify in a criminal case against other Muslims, deportation, and being denied their constitutional rights.

The Chilling Effect on Association with Muslim Community and Religious Organizations

Mosques are central in the lives of observant Muslims. Besides places to pray, they serve as hubs for various religious and cultural practices, including schools, charitable giving, and youth centers. Yet in today's climate of fear, ongoing under Obama, Muslims are inhibited from freely practicing their religion, associations, charitable giving, and cultural beliefs.

Collateral Consequences Undermine Countertorrism Efforts

America's war on Islam fomented enough fear to broadly alienate Muslims, drive charitable giving underground, and fostered a profound distrust of government and law enforcement authorities. Rightfully, they believe fighting terrorism is a war against them.

Conclusion

Since 9/11, the Bush and Obama administrations have violated US and international laws that enshrine freedom of religion, expression, association, and from discrimination. America is a signatory to numerous laws, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Violating them is anathema, yet it's done repeatedly, especially against Muslims and Islam.

The ACLU wants it stopped and recommends policy changes to the President, Treasury Department, Justice Department, FBI, State Department, Congress, and against proposals to create a "white list" of approved charities. Some include:

-- repealing Executive Order (EO) 13224 - "Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions with Persons Who Commit, Threaten to Commit, or Support Terrorism;"

-- a new EO requiring watch list name verification by credible evidence of terrorist ties and quarterly reviews to keep current;

-- setting time limits on frozen funds, after which beneficiaries must receive them;

-- prohibiting racial profiling;

-- ending public raids on charities under investigation and intimidating Muslims;

-- ceasing intrusive investigations without substantive cause to conduct them;

-- assuring the rule of law is scrupulously followed at all times; and

-- avoid "white lists" of approved charities that could be biased in favor of some at the expense of others, based on religion, political affiliation, or other factors.

The ACLU also says that current laws:

"prohibiting material support for terrorism are in desperate need of re-evaluation and reform. (They) punish wholly innocent assistance to arbitrarily blacklisted individuals and organizations, undermine legitimate humanitarian efforts, and can be used to prosecute innocent donors who intend to support only lawful activity through religious practice, humanitarian aid, speech, or association."

Federal Prosecutors Seize Four US Mosques and a Fifth Ave. Office Tower

On November 12, the AP headlined, "US Moves to Seize 4 Mosques and Skyscraper Tied to Iran," saying, but not proving, they're "owned by a nonprofit Muslim organization long suspected of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government."

In its ongoing war against Islam and hostility toward Iran, federal prosecutors filed a civil complaint in federal court against the Alavi Foundation seeking forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets that include bank accounts, Islamic center schools and mosques in New York City, Maryland, California and Houston, over 100 acres in Virginia, and a 36-story New York office tower.

On November 12, a Justice Department (DOJ) press release headlined, "Manhattan US Attorney Files Civil Action Seeking Forfeiture of Alavi Foundation's Interest in Fifth Avenue Office Tower Controlled by Iran." It continued saying:

"The Building is owned by 650 Fifth Avenue Company, a partnership between the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corporation." An earlier December 2008 complaint was filed. Today's amended it seeking forfeiture of Assa's interest in the building.

"The amended Complaint alleges that the Alavi Foundation has been providing numerous services to the Iranian Government and transferring funds from 650 Fifth Avenue Company to Bank Melli, a bank wholly owned and controlled by (Iran)."

The property forfeitures mentioned above were also listed "as the proceeds of violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)....together with Executive Orders (12957, 12959, 13059, 12938, and 13382, Treasury) regulations, and as property involved in and the proceeds of money laundering offenses."

Alavi was charged with managing the building for Iran and running a charitable organization for its government. Assa was accused of "providing numerous services to Bank Melli in contravention of IEEPA and the Iranian Transactions Regulations promulgated thereunder...."

For 36 years, the Alavi Foundation has been an independent charitable organization promoting better understanding of Islamic culture "by financially supporting charitable and philanthropic causes through educational, religious, and cultural programs."

Its eight core programs include:

-- "grants to colleges and universities;

-- donations to Persian schools;

-- donations and loans to Islamic organizations;

-- free distribution of Islamic books;

-- donations for disaster relief funds;

-- support of the arts;

-- scholarly research; (and)

-- student loans."

It's no accident that the Obama administration renewed Iranian sanctions on the same day Alavi was targeted, just days after the Fort Hood tragedy, and two weeks after Iran rejected a proposal to hand over up to 80% of its low-enriched uranium in return for a promise for 120 km of highly-enriched fissionable material more than a year later.

Iran's Press TV reported the announcement as follows:

"The seizure of the places of worship is seen as a blow to the very first amendment to the United States Constitution in which freedom of worship is enshrined and guaranteed as an inalienable right of all its citizens. On (November 12), US President, Barack Obama, renewed Washington's economic sanctions against Iran for another year despite talks of trying to seek a 'new beginning' with the Islamic Republic....Iran has been under US sanction since the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled the country US-backed monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi."

On November 15, AP headlined that "Iran Condemns US Mosque Seizure" calling the act "disgraceful." Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said it showed Obama is the same as George Bush. He told parliament:

"Extension of sanctions and restrictions against Iran for another year by the American president and the blocking the accounts and assets of the Alavi Foundation in America is a real disgrace."

In a later radio broadcast he added:

"After a year of empty speeches and slogans, the behavior and conduct of this president in practice is no better than the actions of his predecessor. The recent actions of this country (America), presenting unimportant and irrational proposals in the nuclear issue which they have called just and fair, all indicate that the alleged change was nothing but a deceitful symbol aimed at deceiving naive politicians."

John Winter, Alavi lawyer, said he'll contest the seizure and expects to prevail because it's blatantly illegal. He explained that the foundation has been cooperating with the government's investigation for nearly a year and added:

"Obviously the foundation is disappointed that the government has decided to bring this action." Doing so will further alienate Muslims globally and fuel more anti-American sentiment.

On November 13, Houston Chronicle writers Moises Mendoza, Mary Flood and Lindsay Wise headlined, "Muslims decry move to seize Houston mosque," referring to the Islamic Education Center (IEC) of Houston where the city's Shia Muslims worship and send their children to an Islamic school.

Board chairman Faheem Kazimi said IEC leases the building from the Alavi Foundation, but has no other connection. "The Islamic Education Center is a nonprofit independent organization, not affiliated with any other (one)." John Floyd, IEC's lawyer, said he spoke to New York prosecutors who apologized for the timing so close to the Fort Hood tragedy. He added that:

"The government said they are not interested in any of the leaseholders or tenants and they see the (IEC) as another lease holder."

Nonetheless, distraught worshippers milled around the Center on November 12 avoiding reporters and guarding the gated entrance. Others were concerned about a community backlash and possibility they'll lose their mosque and school. And according to Hussein Abdi who's worshipped at IEC for two decades:

"It makes me furious. We're under attack" for being Muslims.

IEC's web site says the following:

It "serves the community as a center for the Friday congregation, Islamic celebrations, community programs, and above all - a center for imparting knowledge about Islam and promoting Islamic values. (It tries) to inform and educate non-Muslims and Muslims about Islam, and to provide information about Islam on varying levels of inquiry...." It preaches love, not hate, and is has no connection to terrorism.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for the Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group, Council on American Islamic Relation (CAIR), told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales that seizing four mosques and other US properties has First Amendment and religious freedom implications. With special concern got the mosques he said:

"And whenever you're having the government seize houses of worship, whether it's mosques or churches or synagogues, I think that has a chilling effect on the First Amendment freedom of religion, and I think it'll send a very negative message to the Muslim world....I'm already seeing (online) headlines in Muslim media around the world, in the Arab world (saying): "US Government Seizes Mosques in America."

He expressed concern about US headlines like a Sacramento, CA one saying: "Local Mosque Tied to Terror." It has about 50 families that "have nothing to do with terrorism....they just go to the mosque (to) pray."

We've also "seen charity after charity shut down, the assets seized. You know, there's really not a lot left in terms of institutions for charitable giving in the United States, given the eight years of the Bush administration. And, you know, quite frankly, we haven't seen a great improvement under the Obama administration."

After Fort Hood, Muslims have felt a backlash nationwide. "We had the police at our headquarters last night taking a report about death threats we've received." They've been many other reports about intimidation, Muslims called terrorists, and a "lot of hate emails, a lot of threats around the country," and anti-Muslim rhetoric on right-wing talk radio, what's been ongoing since 9/11.

9/11 Suspects to Get New York Civil Court Trial with No Prospect for Due Process or Judicial Fairness

On November 13, Reuters reported that:

"The accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks and four co-conspirators will be sent to New York for trial in a court near the site of the World Trade Centre. (Civil liberties) advocates hailed the decision....but Republicans lashed out, arguing that bringing them to US soil could make New York a magnet for new attacks and that the men deserved military trials." Senator John McCain condemned the decision saying they're "war criminals, who committed acts of war against our citizens and those of dozens of other nations."

Some New Yorkers were also "angry at the prospect of the men coming to a city traumatized by the hijacked-plane attacks eight years ago, but others voiced relief that justice may soon be done." They'll arrive in January, be held at a federal detention facility, and be tried on confessions obtained under torture that the Supreme Court ruled constitutionally inadmissible in Brown v. Mississippi (February 1936), saying:

"The rack and torture chamber may not be substituted for the witness stand."

It cited an earlier Fisher v. State (November 1926) High Court decision, stating:

"Coercing the supposed state's criminals into confessions and using such confessions so coerced from them against them in trials has been the curse of all countries. It was the chief iniquity, the crowning infamy of the Star Chamber (the nororious 15th - 17th century English court), and the Inquisition, and other similar institutions. The Constitution recognized the evils that lay behind these practices and prohibited them in this country....wherever the court is clearly satisfied that such violations exist, it will refuse to sanction such violation and will apply the corrective."

The alleged guilt of these men is very suspect given that they confessed under torture. More evidence also raises doubts. According to Mark Denebeaux and other Seton Hall University Law professors, unclassified government data obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests revealed evidentiary summaries from 2004 military hearings on whether 517 Guantanamo detainees were enemy combatants. They showed that:

-- at most, few Afghan Guantanamo prisoners committed violent acts;

-- 95% were seized by bounty hunters paid $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for alleged Al Queda members; and

-- 20 were children, some as young as 13, but all were brutally tortured as later revealed.

Serious questions thus remain regarding the claimed guilt of these suspects, including the alleged mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He had:

-- no lawyer;

-- was isolated at black sites for over two years, including the secret "Dark Prison" near Kabul International Airport, infamous for its absolute lack of light combined with brutalizing torture;

-- another north of Kabul called the "Salt Pit," where in 2002, a detainee was stripped naked and left chained to the floor in freezing temperatures until he died;

-- while in Afghanistan, Mohammed was hog-tied, stripped naked, hooded, and abused repeatedly in numerous ways, including being:

-- kept in a prolonged state of sensory deprivation for months;

-- waterboarded numerous times;

-- chained naked to a metal ring in his cell in a painful crouch in intense heat and extreme cold;

-- bombarded with deafening sounds round the clock for weeks;

-- thrown against walls forcefully, a procedure called walling;

-- suspended from the ceiling by his arms so his toes barely touched the ground;

-- beaten with electric cables;

-- given electric shocks; and

-- forced to endure a variety of stress positions for extended periods, causing excruciating pain until;

-- in 2006, he was sent to Guantanamo where his torture continued, included being waterboarded over 180 times. The other four suspects received similar treatment.

An ICRC report said high-level Al Queda prisoners were repeatedly tortured, especially Mohammed for his alleged mastermind role. To exact a confession he was told: "We're not going to kill you. But we're going to take you to the brink of your death and back."

Whether he and the others plotted 9/11 must seriously be questioned given that international law is clear and unequivocal. Torture is prohibited at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions. Evidence so obtained is unreliable and inadmissible as explained above. Yet, it will be used making a proper defense impossible, especially from court-appointed lawyers, picked to give prosecutors an open field to convict.

What chance then have these men (or Major Malik Nadal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter) for due process and judicial fairness when prosecutors have pre-determined their guilt. The media-driven court of public opinion already convicted them, and responsible attorneys are now intimidated by the incarceration of human rights lawyer Lynne Stewart for defending an unpopular client, at the request of former US Attorney General Ramzy Clark.

Yet due process is enshrined in US constitutional law. The Fifth Amendment (applied to the federal government) says:

"No person shall....be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law....;" and

The Fourteenth Amendment (applied to the states) reads:

No "State (may) deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

In 1770, a future US president, John Adams, applied the principle by defending eight British soldiers charged with killing five Americans on March 5, 1770, the so-called Boston Massacre, even though he knew it might jeopardize his law practice. Initially it suffered, but over time his reputation grew enough to make him George Washington's Vice President, then the second President of the United States.

Adams later called his effort "one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country." The jury acquitted six of the eight soldiers, convicting the other two for manslaughter. Juries today are intimidated to convict anyone charged with terrorism or conspiracy to commit it. It means no one so charged has a chance, even with expert counsel these suspects won't have.

They'll get subservient court-appointed ones, but either way, who'll put their careers on the line for them, try explaining why they're defending "jidahists," be willing to deal with the torrent of media abuse, besides risk possible future targeting and incarceration like Lynne Stewart.

Who'll take on the government full-force, demand due process and judicial fairness, that witch-hunt prosecutions stop, and that no one be pre-determined guilty like these men. Who understands that, in a climate of fear and intimidation, we're all as vulnerable as they are for being Muslims at the wrong time in America.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://republicbroadcasting.org/Global%20Research/index.php?cmd=archives.year&ProgramID=33&year=9

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lynne Stewart: Heroic Human Rights Lawyer Jailed

Lynne Stewart: Heroic Human Rights Lawyer Jailed - by Stephen Lendman

On November 20, New York Times writer Colin Moynihan broke the news headlining:

"Radical Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Terrorist Is Jailed," then saying:

"Defiant to the end as she embraced supporters outside the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Lynne F. Stewart, the radical lawyer known for defending unpopular clients, surrendered on Thursday to begin serving her 28-month sentence for assisting terrorism."

Fact check:

Stewart did what all attorneys should, but few, in fact, do - observe the American Bar Association's Model Rules saying all lawyers are obligated to:

"devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel."

Also to practice law ethically, morally and responsibly to assure everyone is afforded due process and judicial fairness in American courts. Sadly and disturbingly, Stewart was denied what she did for others heroically, unselfishly, and proudly. More on that below.

Stewart (prison number 53504-054) is now jailed at:

MCC-NY
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Betrayed by American Justice

For 30 years, Stewart worked heroically to defend America's poor, underprivileged, and unwanted, never afforded due process and judicial fairness without an advocate like her. Where others wouldn't go, she defended controversial figures like David Gilbert of the Weather Underground, Richard Williams of the United Freedom Front, Sekou Odinga and Nasser Ahmed of the Black Liberation Army, and many more like them. She knew the risk, but did it fearlessly and courageously until bogusly indicted on April 9, 2002 for:

-- "conspiring to defraud the United States;

-- conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity;

-- providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity; and

-- two counts of making false statements."

She was also accused of violating US Bureau of Prisons Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that included a gag order on her client, Sheik Abdel Rahman. When imposed, they prohibit discussion on topics the Justice Department (DOJ) rules outside of "legal representation," so lawyers can't discuss them with clients, thus inhibiting their defense.

At former US Attorney General Ramzy Clark's request, she joined him as part of Rahman's court-appointed defense team. In his 1995 show trial, he was convicted and is now serving a life sentence for seditious conspiracy, solicitation of murder, solicitation of an attack on American military installations, conspiracy to murder, and conspiracy to bomb in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center attack despite evidence proving his innocence on all charges.

The DOJ's case wasn't about alleged crimes. It reflected his affiliations and anti-western views. Rahman was connected to the Egyptian-based Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya - a 1997 US State Department-designated "foreign terrorist organization." In the 1980s, however, he helped the CIA recruit Mujahadeen fighters against the Soviets in Afghanistan. For his work, he got a US visa, green card, and State Department-CIA protection as long as he was valued. When no longer, he was targeted along with Stewart.

Her case was precedent-setting, chilling, and according to the Center of Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner:

sent "a message to lawyers who represent alleged terrorists that it's dangerous to do so."

Her attorney, Michael Tigar, called it:

"an attack on a gallant, charismatic and effective fighter for justice (with) at least three fundamental faults:

-- (it) attack(ed) the First Amendment right of free speech, free press and petition;

-- the right to effective assistance of counsel (by) chill(ing) the defense; (and)

-- the 'evidence' in this case was gathered by wholesale invasion of private conversations, private-attorney-client meetings, faxes, letters and e-mails; I have never seen such an abuse of government power."

Her 2004 - 2005 show trial was a mockery of justice with echoes of the worst McCarthy-like tactics. Inflammatory terrorist images were displayed in court to prejudice the jury, and prosecutors vilified Stewart as a traitor with "radical" political views. In addition, days before the verdict, the militant pro-Israeli Jewish Defense Organization put up flyers near the courthouse displaying her address. It threatened to "drive her out of her home and out of the state," and said she "needs to be put out of business legally and effectively."

It was part of the orchestrated scheme inside and outside the courtroom to heighten fear, convict Stewart, and intimidate other lawyers to expect the same treatment if they dare represent unpopular clients effectively.

On February 10, 2005 (after a seven month trial and 13 days of deliberation) she was convicted on all five counts. Under New York state law, she was automatically disbarred, and the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division denied her petition to resign voluntarily. On October 17, 2006, she was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment, but remained free on bond pending appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Stewart Ordered to Prison

The Justice for Lynne Stewart web site (lynnestewart.org) announced the news. On November 17, the Appeals Court revoked her bond, upheld the verdict, ordered her surrender forthwith, but stayed it until November 19 at 5PM to let her attorney file a motion for reconsideration. It was denied, so she must report to federal marshals as directed. A November 19 conversation with Lynne and her husband Ralph confirmed it.

The situation remains fluid, dire, and complicated by Stewart's battle with breast cancer. She has surgery scheduled for December 7, unlikely now, but if done in prison or where authorities direct, it won't be the quality she deserves.

In its ruling, the three judge panel (John Walker, Guido Calebresi and Robert Sack) was firm, hostile and belligerent in upholding the lower court's conviction. Judge Sack accused Stewart of lying and called for a longer sentence. "We think that whether (she) lied under oath at her trial is directly relevant to whether her sentence was appropriate," he wrote, and directed District Court Judge John Koeltl to re-sentence her "so as to reflect that finding." Judge Walker was even harsher, calling the original sentence "breathtakingly low." Judge Calabrese said: "I am at a loss for any rationale upon this record that could reasonably justify a sentence of 28 months' imprisonment for this defendant."

They all said Stewart was "convicted principally with respect to (her violating) measures by which (she) had agreed to abide," namely SAMs. They rejected her "argument that, as a lawyer, she was not bound by (them), and her belated argument collaterally attacking their constitutionality." They also:

"affirm(ed her conviction) of providing and concealing material support to the conspiracy to murder persons in a foreign country (and) of conspiring to provide and conceal such support....We conclude that the charges were valid (and) the evidence was sufficient to sustain the convictions. We also reject Stewart's claims that her purported attempt to serve as a 'zealous advocate' for her client provides her with immunity from the convictions...."

"Finally, we affirm Stewart's convictions for knowingly and willfully making false statements....when she affirmed that she intended to, and would, abide by the SAMs. In light of her repeated and flagrant violation of (them), a reasonable factfinder could conclude that (her) representations that she intended to and would abide by the SAMs were knowingly false when made. We reject the remaining challenges to the convictions. (We) affirm the district court's rejection of Stewart's claim that she was selectively prosecuted on account of her gender or political beliefs....We therefore affirm the convictions in their entirety."

They redirected her case to District Court Judge Koeltl for re-sentencing. The DOJ wants 30 years. Koeltl originally imposed 28 months, let Stewart remain free on bond pending appeal, implied his decision might be overturned because of a gross miscarriage of justice, effectively rebuked the Bush administration at the time, and handed it a major defeat. Her fate is now in his hands, but justice has already been denied at a time we're all as vulnerable as she if we dare resist state policies, unchanged under an administration no different from its predecessor.

In a November 17 news conference, Stewart said:

"I'm too old to cry, but it hurts too much not to." In criticizing the Court's decision, she said its timing "on the eve of the arrival of the tortured men from offshore prison in Guantanamo" suggests that lawyers appointed to represent them may face the same fate as she. "If you're going to lawyer for these people, you'd better toe very close to the line that the government has set out (because they'll) be watching you every inch of the way, (so those who don't) will end up like Lynne Stewart. This is a case that is bigger than just me personally (but she added that she'll) go on fighting."

So will her lawyer, Joshua Dratel, who said he'll pursue it "as far and as long as we can," including a possible Supreme Court review. The Obama US attorney's office was silent, effectively affirming a gross injustice at a time the due process and judicial fairness thresholds are so low that all Americans risk the same fate as Lynne.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://republicbroadcasting.org/Global%20Research/index.php?cmd=archives.year&ProgramID=33&year=9