Saturday, April 21, 2007

[wvns] The War on Freedom

The U.S. War Against Freedom
Nabila Harb
http://www.freearabvoice.org/issueWarAgainstFreedom.htm#p1


In November of 1997, I wrote an article for the Free Arab Voice on the
topic of the use of secret evidence and new legislation designed to
provide ammunition to support U.S. political definitions of 'terrorist
organisations'. This legislation, passed purportedly in response to
the Oklahoma City bombing, gave the government a means by which to
circumvent human rights supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution
as well as ordinary rules of evidence. Pursuant to this Act, a list
of supposed 'terrorist organisations' was created, and any one who was
perceived as 'supporting' the prescribed organisations in any fashion
(including humanitarian aid) could be punished for doing so.

The 1996 Act resurrected the policy of the McCarran-Walter Act
overturned in 1990. Any individual not a U.S. citizen could be denied
entry into the U.S., or if in the U.S. could be imprisoned
indefinitely or deported solely because of humanitarian support of a
group on the so-called 'list of terrorist organisations'. As for U.S.
citizens, they could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined for
providing humanitarian relief to institutions affiliated with the
groups on the list.

Basically, this legislation and list were designed to silence any
opposition to U.S. foreign or domestic policies. 'National security'
as defined in the Act, is not only 'national defence' but also
'foreign relations or economic interests of the U.S.'. This is a
sweeping definition giving the U.S. government power to punish any
individual or group daring to disagree with U.S. policies.

In other words, security is whatever the government wishes it to be,
and any organisation can be designated as a 'foreign terrorist
organisation' on this basis. It is clear that this is as arbitrary as
the old laws of treason, and the State here is declaring: 'you will be
punished if I do not agree with your aims, if your goals threaten my
friends, or the interests of my investors.'

The intent of this law is intimidation, pure and simple. "Here is a
list of our enemies, whom we intend to crush in any manner at our
disposal, whether overt or covert, legal or illegal.' The statute does
in fact encourage the President to 'use all necessary means, including
covert action and military force' in pursuit of this goal.

Many human rights activists as well as members of the legal community
alerted the public to the dangers inherent in this legislation. The
practical implications of this legislation were such that simple
donations to a charitable institution such as a hospital or orphanage,
if that institution had been founded or was otherwise said to be
connected to a group on the list, could be punishable by 10 years
imprisonment. The offence, as defined in the Act, consisted of giving
'material support or resources' to any group on the list, and
'material support or resources' is defined as any 'physical assets'
including, inter alia, 'lodging, communications equipment, personnel
and transportation'.

Thus, support or resources could be as simple a matter as the loan of
a car, a telephone, a bed for the night, or the offer to perform any
task, however innocent, for someone connected to one of these groups.
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this legislation, however, was
that it allowed the government to use secret evidence in taking
measures against individuals opposed to U.S. policies. Since the
passage of this legislation, a large number of individuals, the
majority of whom are Muslim and/or Arab, have been imprisoned on the
basis of secret evidence and held indefinitely. Neither they nor their
legal counsel have any right to see the evidence against them, and
ordinary rights to a writ of habeus corpus do not apply. The law was
challenged in the courts but still was in force on 11 September 2001.

Immediately after 11 September 2001, the U.S. government declared that
the legislation of 1996 did not go far enough, and that further
legislation would be required for an unconditional 'war against
terror'. The American people were told that the attacks against the
U.S. made such measures necessary. George Bush Jr., however,
originally assumed the Presidency with full determination to be a
'wartime President' like his father before him, and to increase the
powers of the Executive by any means possible. This President, who
barely won his position, and who indeed, arguably did not really win
the election, began his term as an unsuccessful supplicant begging the
American people for support of unpopular programmes that would require
extensive funding, among them a plan for 'shields' in space and a
proposal to use Social Security funds. After 11 September, Bush Jr.
was able to assume a new if spurious role as 'saviour of the Nation'
and in this guise, to fulfil all of his aims within the short space of
two months.

How was this achieved? First, spokespeople for the government as well
as the media judiciously fostered a sense of terror and hysteria in
the minds of the public. Although it was clear to any objective
observer that the attacks of 11 September were timed to take place
simultaneously, the President of the U.S. informed the American people
that more attacks were expected. (No further attacks ever took place.)
He then unilaterally proceeded to declare a 'State of War'. Usually,
when a War is declared, there is another party involved. Wars are
declared only against 'Enemy States' and there is a proper procedure
for declaring war. George Bush Jr., however, managed to circumvent
ordinary rules for declaration of War, unilaterally proclaiming a
State of War against a nebulous, indefinite adversary. His war was to
be a 'War against Terror'. (The U.S. 'war' in Vietnam is a different
kind of an example of a war that did not exist, as war was never
declared. Instead, the war in Vietnam was called a 'police action'.)

A 'State of War' allows the Executive to assume powers not given
during times of peace. It allows human rights to be suspended in some
cases. The Zionists in Palestine have been using war measures enacted
by the British over half a century ago to carry out an ongoing
ruthless campaign of ethnic genocide against the Palestinian people.
Junior President Bush obviously was inspired by the Zionist example.
Furthermore, by declaring a War against 'Terror', Bush then would be
able to define 'Terror' as and whenever he pleased. At first, he
declared that the Enemy was Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Then he
declared that although the U.S. would not wage war against the nation
of Afghanistan, it would wage war against the government of
Afghanistan in the form of the Taliban. How could this distinction be
made and how did the Taliban become the target? The U.S. government
argued that because the Taliban would not surrender Usama bin Laden to
the kangaroo court of American Justice, it then became partly
'responsible' for the 11 September attacks against the U.S. With
this faulty logic, the U.S. then proceeded to devastate the nation of
Afghanistan with carpet bombing, saturation bombing and so forth,
destroying villages, killing civilians and incidentally bombing the
Red Cross FOUR times while continuing to protest that it was NOT
waging war against Afghanistan.

To further foster the illusion of friendship towards Afghanistan, the
U.S. bombarded the countryside with food packets while continuing to
send down lethal bombs as well.

In support of its foreign policy in its 'war against TERROR', the U.S.
declared to the international community that 'you are either for us or
against us. If you are not for us, then you will be considered fair
game in THE WAR AGAINST TERROR.' It was not surprising, then, to find
international opposition to this NOT-war against Afghanistan feeble
and hedged with obsequious declarations of condemnation of the attacks
of 11 September.

In the same oppressive manner, the U.S. government began to silence
internal opposition to its NOT-war against Afghanistan by bolstering
existing legislation and enacting new legislation. First on the
agenda was the removal of any protection of the U.S. Constitution from
non-citizens. Non-citizens now are considered to have no
constitutional rights whatsoever. They are in the U.S. simply upon
sufferance and if they show themselves to be less than fully
supportive of U.S. policies, they can be imprisoned and/or deported.
Moreover, their property can be seized and their assets frozen. Not
only is the use of secret evidence encouraged, but there now need be
NO evidence of any sort of support of 'terrorism'. It is enough if the
non-citizen has committed ANY bureaucratic offence, such as outstaying
a visa.

Pursuant to this, over 1200 individuals were taken into custody after
11 September, half of which were still being held by early December.
More than 5000 other individuals were in the process of being
questioned. The government has admitted that it has found NO
connections to 'terrorism' and yet the detention and the questioning
continue. Some individuals who are guilty of nothing more than
holding visas that have expired have begged to be deported, but in
vain. Moreover, it has been decided that military courts, rather
than ordinary civil courts, will have jurisdiction in such cases,
whenever this is deemed desirable. This decision effectively denies
the defendant any protection that remains under common law,
constitutional law or civil rules of evidence. The situation, in
effect, is as follows: Over 5,000 foreign nationals have been
subjected to intense questioning by the FBI. Included are
questions about the subject's feelings about the attacks of 11
September, which is an absurdity. How can emotions be actionable? Of
the foreign nationals rounded up in the federal government's
'anti-terrorism sweep', Boyd F. Campbell, a leading immigration lawyer
states: 'These foreign nationals have not been identified by the
Attorney General. Neither I, nor the general public, knows whether any
of these persons has violated any U.S. laws. We don't know whether
they are being well treated. We don't know whether they are being
housed with common criminals in federal prisons. We don't know whether
these persons are being allowed to contact family members or legal
counsel.

'My Arab-American clients are afraid -- afraid to go out to a movie,
afraid to go to work, afraid to go shopping, afraid to go to a
restaurant. And my clients who appear to be of Arab descent are afraid
-- afraid of being arrested, detained, questioned, harassed, or worse,
attacked.'

Other lawyers and human rights groups have challenged the new
legislation. On 5 December, the first lawsuit was filed by the ACLU
and other groups in the U.S. District Court or the District of
Columbia, claiming that the U.S. government is violating the
Constitution and federal law by withholding basic information about
some 1,000 people picked up by police since the terror attacks.
Although Attorney General John Ashcroft and other U.S. Justice
Department officials have released fragments of information they
refused to reveal names or locations of detainees.

The complaint further declares that 'This secrecy is unprecedented and
deprives the public of information it is lawfully entitled to
receive.' Immediate release of government documents that civil rights
groups requested in October is demanded.

'We will obviously review the suit,' Justice Department spokeswoman
Mindy Tucker said. 'The attorney general has been very clear about why
certain information will not be released.' With his usual penchant for
distorting the truth, Ashcroft claimed that he knew of no lawsuits
filed to challenge the government's arrest and detention of people,
mainly from Muslim countries, who 'might' have some connection with
'terrorism.'

A fundamental problem with mounting a court challenge is that so
little is known about those detained. Lawyers would have to know
basics about a case to claim that someone's civil rights were
violated. Although the lawsuit of 5 December seeks the kind of
information that lawyers would need to take individual cases to court,
it unfortunately does not challenge the government's right to arrest
or detain anyone. When the Executive Branch of the Government
unilaterally suspends the application of the rule of law in favour of
exercising authority at its sole discretion, this is the first step on
the path to a dictatorship. Secret evidence and the use of military
tribunals to judge civilians are frightening. More frightening still
is the recent suggestion, rather widely approved, to use torture in
interrogations of 'terror suspects'. Again, although the American
public as well as the international community have been told that
these 'extraordinary measures' are a necessary 'response' to the
attacks of 11 September, quite clearly, this is not the case. The
government began to attack the structure of basic human rights and
liberties long before 11 September.

In February 2001, the Terrorist Act 2001 took effect in England. This
act allows prosecution of people alleged to 'endanger lives through
the manipulation of public computer systems' under the anti-terrorism
law as would any other terrorist. "There isn't a specific section that
deals with cybercrime as such, it is covered within the various
sections, but anyone who seriously interferes with, or seriously
disrupts an electronic system will be dealt with under the
anti-terrorism law,' said a spokesman for the Home Office, the
government department that oversees immigration and crime.

The Terrorism Act was intended to extend the definition of what is
legally defined as a terrorist. The definition now includes, along
with resistance groups such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) or
Hizbullah, any U.K.-based group planning an attack outside of the U.K.
or any group threatening or planning 'serious violence' within the
U.K. That can include hackers or political protestors if their actions
or intentions 'turn violent,' declared a spokesman for the Government.

Under the new powers, the police now have the authority to determine
what they deem to be 'violent' and who they feel comes under the legal
definition of a 'terrorist.' The vague nature of the Terrorism Act
immediately came under criticism from the Government Opposition as
well as human rights activists. Since 11 September, unfortunately,
the scope of so-called 'anti-terrorist' legislation in the U.K. has
widened.

Here in the U.S., passage of an outrageous statute known as the
Patriot Act has widened the U.S. government's powers of surveillance
considerably. Not only can the government punish individuals for
simply being sympathetic to resistance groups considered to be
'terrorist' by the U.S., but also it no longer needs to conform to
ordinary rules of conduct and evidence in gathering its secret
evidence. Use of internet surveillance and 'roving taps' will
allow the government to invade the privacy of any individual it deems
suspect. Section 216 [of the Patriot Act] amends the pen register
statute to make it clear that Internet communications are subject to
pen register authority. The enforcement agency may acquire 'routing
and addressing' information in addition to 'dialling and signalling'
information. The addressing information may include who is copied on
the message as well as its intended recipient. The pen register
amendment also allows federal law enforcement agencies to obtain a
single pen register order that may be implemented anywhere in the
country. No longer will the service provider need to be named
expressly in the order, nor will the carrier need to ensure that the
information acquired had been intended for delivery within a
particular federal court's jurisdiction.

Executive Order 13224, blocking property and prohibiting transactions
with persons who 'commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism' is
the final nail in the coffin of freedom. Junior George Bush,
purporting to act 'by the authority vested in me as President by the
Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including
the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the National
Emergencies Act,' etc. by this Order declared a State of Emergency and
gave the U.S. government the power to block property belonging to any
individual or entity that the U.S. government might consider to be
giving support of any kind to a 'terrorist organisation' as defined
solely by the U.S. government. The pertinent clauses of the Order
are copied at the end of this article because it is important that
every one be aware of its scope. Basically, the Order provides the
government with almost unlimited power to confiscate property
belonging to any one for purely political reasons, on the grounds that
the individual or entity has demonstrated support (whether material or
moral) to any group, organisation, or individual labelled as
'terrorist' by the U.S.

The fact of the matter is that the U.S. government now can do almost
anything it pleases where non-citizens are concerned and far more than
is constitutional in legal terms in its dealings with its citizens.
A 'State of War', prolonged indefinitely, will give Junior Bush, as
Executive, almost unlimited powers. The old 'balance of power'
envisioned by John Locke, upon which the U.S. government was founded,
is no longer a reality. The Executive Branch in time of war, is
allowed to operate independently and indeed is doing so.

Nor will this 'State of War' be allowed to end with the defeat of the
Taliban. With far-sighted determination, Junior Bush declared from the
very start that ANY nation or group that supported 'terrorism' or
'terrorists' would be fair game. Even before his campaign of terror
against the Taliban, Bush hinted that Iraq might be next. Terror,
like treason, is defined by politics. Junior Bush is not about to
relinquish the power he has taken as Commander in Chief, and thus, his
spurious 'State of War' is likely to be indefinite, allowing him to
usurp more and more power and to further weaken the balance
of power which is the foundation of American democracy. By
periodically issuing warnings of possible 'terrorist attacks', the
American public can be kept in a state of fear and insecurity,
increasingly dependent upon the strong arm of its President.
Frequent reminders in the form of graphic photographs and videos of
the wreckage of the World Trade Centre serve to revitalise the rage
and indignation of the American people against 'those folks', as
George Bush refers to perceived enemies of the American capitalist
society.

Possibly the most sinister implication of all of this is the
realisation that Bush's actions are NOT a response to the attacks of
11 September but were a pre-conceived aim. Economic contracts with
the Zionists dealing with the construction of a pipeline for natural
gas in Afghanistan signed 10 years ago necessitated the eventual
defeat of the Taliban who had no interest in facilitating
American/Zionist economic success. With respect to the 'special
relationship' between the U.S. and the Zionist entity, the attacks of
11 September have been used to strengthen the bonds between the two.
In September, immediately after the hijackings in the States, Butcher
Sharon announced to the world that the Zionists and the Americans now
were both victims of 'terrorism', and that the U.S. now would
understand that ALL actions could be justified when dealing with
'terrorists'. Much of the world was outraged by Sharon's statement at
the time, and yet, three months later, Bush has incorporated all of
the Zionist policies of State-sponsored terrorism in his own programme
and has thrown the full weight of U.S. support to the Zionist
Terrorist entity. No longer is there even an appearance of fairness in
U.S. policy where Palestine is concerned. Hamas, the P.F.L.P. and
Hizbullah, all legitimate resistance groups, are all on the list of
'terrorist organisations' published by the U.S. By using the same
techniques against resistance organisations as the U.S. has been
utilising in its 'war against drugs' for years, the scope of
government power to silence or destroy all opposition to its policies
and interests has become greater. By treating legitimate charitable
organisations like drug dealers, the U.S. has frozen assets of groups
that did nothing more than help oppressed people. Any individual or
charitable group NOT on the list, if accused of 'supporting' any of
the listed organisations, is in danger of having all assets seized or
frozen as well. Unfortunately, the American public, incited to
hysteria by its own government after the hijackings of 11 September,
blindly supports Bush's programme of 'security', not realising that
the real attacks upon freedom are being mounted by its own leaders.
Muslims and Arabs in this country, instead of loudly protesting these
outrages, are intimidated by threats to their own security, and
foolishly and cravenly continue to publish declarations of support for
Bush's 'war against TERROR'.

Junior Bush explains that he is not waging war either against Islam or
against the Arab Nation, but only against 'TERRORISM' when in fact he
clearly is waging a war against both. Unfortunately, if the Arab
Nation and Ummah internationally do not show any real unity in
opposition to the nefarious policies of the U.S., then there is no
reason to expect that Arabs and Muslims living within the U.S. will
demonstrate any courage either. By threatening the financial
interests of Arabs and Muslims, the U.S. government evidently has
found an effective weapon to use against anyone who dares to challenge
U.S. policies either in the U.S. or abroad. A threat to financial
security is probably the most potent means by which to divide and
conquer opposition. In the past, the U.S. managed to weaken Arab
opposition to the Zionist entity by buying the leaders of the Arab
Nation. Now, it has found a way to cut costs dramatically simply by
threatening assets held by States, organisations and individuals. Any
money saved can be put towards Bush's cherished aim to increase
'defence' capabilities, an ambition decried before 11 September by the
public but now considered vital to the health and well-being of the
United States.

Moreover, the American government has created another tool by which to
divide and conquer the Arab and Muslim Nations in the form of a bribe
or 'inducement' for foreign nationals. Attorney General John Ashcroft
has recommended use of the 'S' non-immigrant visa for persons who may
provide information or assistance as witnesses in connection with the
'fight against terrorism.' He announced that the INS may ignore the
visa problems of foreign nationals who offer information about
'terrorists' to the FBI. He declared that: 'The people who have the
courage to make the right choice deserve to be welcomed as guests into
our country and perhaps to one day become fellow citizens'.

The 'right choice' obviously is defined as unconditional acceptance of
U.S./Zionist interests and propaganda. Sadly, such offers will be
tempting to those who place personal security above any consideration
of morals and ethics. Again, if the Arab Nation and Muslim Ummah do
not demonstrate unity to challenge the U.S./Zionist alliance, its
power will increase until challenge no longer will be a viable option
and the only reality will be the dark reality of the American/Zionist
'dream'.

There remains a glimmer of hope, however, as Bush's 'war on terror' is
being challenged by a few Americans with courage and integrity.
Although the American public misguidedly has confidence in Bush and
his government, Boyd F. Campbell does not. With respect to the
attacks of 11 September, he declared: 'The events of September 11 were
evidence that there was a tragic intelligence failure at the top
levels of the federal government. There can be no argument on this
point. It was the worst U.S. intelligence failure in more than 60
years. It will be a long, long time before I have any confidence in
the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
the Immigration and Naturalization Service enforcement division and
the Border Patrol, the National Security Agency, the National
Reconnaisance Office, the Defense Intelligence Agency, or any other
federal government intelligence-gathering or law enforcement
organisation.'

Unfortunately, an ongoing 'war' will allow George Bush to surf the
wave of popularity, continuing to divert the attention of the American
public away from the reality of a recession with job cuts that affect
a large percentage of families in the U.S. War makes good business,
especially for those who profit from the manufacture and sale of
'weapons of mass destruction' in the United States. Paradoxically,
while ranting against 'those folks' who are driven by desperate
circumstances to armed resistance, George Bush is doing everything
possible to promote the increase in U.S. weapons of mass destruction
and to facilitate their use abroad. One need only look at the recent
anthrax 'attack' in order to understand that the real threat to
the American people comes from its own government, rather than from
any 'foreign agents'. The real villain in this drama is not Usama bin
Laden but the home-grown terrorist named George Bush Jr. The American
public as well as the international community have to reject his
vision of reality or face consequences that ultimately will be far
worse than the hijackings of 11 September. The worst kind of
terrorism is State-sponsored terrorism, and the U.S. as well as the
Zionist entity funded by the U.S. are at the top of the list. It is
they who are the true enemies of freedom and justice. The American
public and international community must be willing to expose the
illusions promoted by these entities and reject their terrorist
programmes or else be held responsible for the atrocities they commit.
The fact is that the hijackings of 11 September were motivated by
desperation and a sense of anger at the U.S. for its arrogant,
irresponsible, even criminal foreign policies and frustration with the
American people for their ignorance and lack of intelligent interest
in world affairs. Instead of taking the attacks of 11 September as a
warning, Americans have chosen to support a President who is
determined to outdo his predecessors in acts of aggression and
interference abroad. Murdering resistance leaders and their followers
will not end resistance to oppression. The only way to end resistance
is by dealing with the causes of that resistance. Real security for
the people of the United States will be possible only when the U.S.
begins to support the cause of justice instead of giving its support
to criminal regimes such as the Zionist regime in Palestine.

Moreover, even if Bush, in his capacity as U.S. Executive, has
provided that foreign nationals shall not have the protection and
rights given in the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. remains bound by the
United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was
passed, signed and ratified by Congress. The Covenant is
constitutional as it has been signed and ratified and can be amended;
moreover, unlike a treaty, it cannot be denounced.

Article 14 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that a
person has a right to a fair and public hearing by a competent,
independent and impartial tribunal. This is pertinent not only to the
prisoners taken by the U.S. in its 'not-war' in Afghanistan, but is
applicable to any foreign nationals taken into custody under the
so-called 'anti-terrorist' legislation and Bush's intention to give
military tribunals jurisdiction over them.

The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is international law, and
was enacted precisely in order to give foreign nationals the same
inalienable constitutional rights that are delineated by the U.S.
Constitution. Even if the rights and protections provided by the U.S.
Constitution are abrogated by the U.S. Executive in the case of
foreign nationals, Bush remains bound by the Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. The sort of military tribunals which he is
determined to create clearly contravene the provisions of the
Covenant, as a military tribunal is neither independent nor impartial
and thus, contravenes international constitutional law.

In the same way in which Bush had predetermined his campaign against
the Taliban in Afghanistan from the very start, even when he insisted
that his target was Al Qaeda, he envisions the use of military
tribunals in all cases where his 'anti-terrorist' legislation is
invoked. Although the military tribunals will be created ostensibly to
deal with the prisoners of his 'not-war' in Afghanistan, he proposes
that individuals taken into custody pursuant to 'anti-terrorist'
legislation be tried by the same tribunals. Such tribunals clearly
contravene international constitutional law, however, and cannot be
used legitimately either against individuals taken prisoner in
Afghanistan or those who are taken into custody in the United States.

To see the attachments to this piece:
a) Executive Order 13224, blocking property and prohibiting
transactions with persons who 'commit, threaten to commit, or support
terrorism',
b) Questions for FBI interviews, and
c) Article 14, Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

please follow this link:
http://www.freearabvoice.org/theUsWarAgainstFreedom.htm#notes

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