The American Police State (FWIW)

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Tue Oct 30 23:16:34 MDT 2007

Posted on Oct 29, 2007

redacted constitution

Original from

By <>Chris Hedges

A Dallas jury, a week ago, caused a mistrial in 
the government case against this country’s 
largest Islamic charity. The action raises a 
defiant fist on the sinking ship of American democracy.

If we lived in a state where due process and the 
rule of law could curb the despotism of the Bush 
administration, this mistrial might be counted a 
victory. But we do not. The jury may have 
rejected the federal government’s claim that the 
Land Foundation for Relief and Development 
funneled millions of dollars to Middle Eastern 
terrorists. It may have acquitted Mohammad 
el-Mezain, the former chairman of the foundation, 
of virtually all criminal charges related to 
funding terrorism (the jury deadlocked on one of 
the 32 charges against el-Mezain), and it may 
have deadlocked on the charges that had been 
lodged against four other former leaders of the 
charity, but don’t be fooled. This mistrial will 
do nothing to impede the administration’s ongoing 
contempt for the rule of law. It will do nothing 
to stop the curtailment of our civil liberties 
and rights. The grim march toward a police state continues.

Constitutional rights are minor inconveniences, 
noisome chatter, flies to be batted away on the 
steady road to despotism. And no one, not the 
courts, not the press, not the gutless Democratic 
opposition, not a compliant and passive citizenry 
hypnotized by tawdry television spectacles and 
celebrity gossip, seems capable of stopping the 
process. Those in power know this. We, too, might as well know it.

The Bush administration, which froze the 
foundation’s finances three months after the 
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and indicted 
its officials three years later on charges that 
they provided funds for the militant group Hamas, 
has ensured that the foundation and all other 
Palestinian charities will never reopen in the 
United States. Any organized support for 
Palestinians from within the U.S. has been 
rendered impossible. The goal of the Israeli 
government and the Bush administration­despite 
the charade of 
negotiations to be held at Annapolis­is to grind 
defiant Palestinians into the dirt. Israel, which 
has plunged the Gaza Strip into one of the 
world’s worst humanitarian crises, has now begun 
to ban fuel supplies and sever electrical 
service. The severe deprivation, the Israelis 
hope, will see the overthrow of the Hamas 
government in Gaza and the reinstatement of 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has 
become the 
Pétain of the Palestinian people.

The Dallas trial­like all of the major terrorism 
trials conducted by this administration, from the 
Florida case against the Palestinian activist 
<>Dr. Sami 
al-Arian, which also ended in a mistrial, to the 
recent decision by a jury in Chicago to acquit 
two men of charges of financing Hamas­has been a 
judicial failure. William Neal, a juror in the 
Dallas trial, told the Associated Press that the 
case “was strung together with macaroni noodles. 
There was so little evidence.”

Such trials, however, have been politically 
expedient. The accusations, true or untrue, serve 
the aims of the administration. A jury in Tampa, 
Chicago or Dallas can dismiss the government’s 
assaults on individual rights, but the draconian 
restrictions put in place because of the 
mendacious charges remain firmly implanted within 
the system. It is the charges, not the facts, which matter.

Dr. al-Arian, who was supposed to have been 
released and deported in April, is still in a 
Virginia prison because he will not testify in a 
separate case before a grand jury. The professor, 
broken by the long ordeal of his trial and unable 
to raise another million dollars in legal fees 
for a retrial, pleaded guilty to a minor charge 
in the hopes that his persecution would end. It 
has not. Or take the case of Canadian citizen 
<>Maher Arar, who in 2002 
was spirited away by Homeland Security from JFK 
Airport to Syria, where he spent 10 months being 
tortured in a coffin-like cell. He was, upon his 
release, exonerated of terrorism. Arar testified 
before a House panel this month about how he was 
abducted by the U.S. and interrogated, stripped 
of his legal rights and tortured. But he couldn’t 
testify in person. He spoke to the House members 
on a video link from Canada. He is forbidden by 
Homeland Security to enter the United States 
because he allegedly poses a threat to national security.

Those accused of being involved in conspiracies 
and terrorism plots, as in all police states, 
become nonpersons. There is no rehabilitation. There is no justice.

"He was never given a hearing nor did the 
Canadian consulate, his lawyer, or his family 
know of his fate,” Amnesty International wrote of 
Arar. “Expulsion in such circumstances, without a 
fair hearing, and to a country known for 
regularly torturing their prisoners, violates the 
U.S. Government’s obligations under international 
law, specifically the Convention against Torture 
and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

You can almost hear Dick Cheney yawn.

The Bush administration shut down the Holy Land 
Foundation for Relief and Development six years 
ago and froze its assets. There was no hearing or 
trial. It became a crime for anyone to engage in 
transactions with the foundation. The 
administration never produced evidence to support 
the charges. It did not have any. In the “war on 
terror,” evidence is unnecessary. An executive 
order is enough.  The foundation sued the 
government in a federal court in the District of 
Columbia. Behind closed doors, the government 
presented secret evidence that the charity had no 
opportunity to see or rebut. The charity’s case was dismissed.

The government has closed seven Muslim charities 
in the United States and frozen their assets. Not 
one of them, or any person associated with them, 
has been found guilty of financing terrorism. 
They will remain shut. George W. Bush can tar any 
organization or individual, here or abroad, as 
being part of a terrorist conspiracy and by fiat 
render them powerless. He does not need to make 
formal charges. He does not need to wait for a 
trial verdict.  Secret evidence, which these 
court cases have exposed as a sham, is enough. 
The juries in Tampa, Chicago and Dallas did their 
duty. They spoke for the rights of citizens. They 
spoke for the protection of due process and the 
rule of law. They threw small hurdles in front of 
the emergent police state. But the abuse rolls 
on. I fear terrorism. I know it is real. I am 
sure terrorists will strike again on American 
soil. But while terrorists can wound and disrupt 
our democracy, only we can kill it.

"Question authority?"  To hell with that - hang it up by its thumbs,
cut off its toes and let it drip dry.

L. Neil Smith

Those who sell their liberty for security are understandable, if
pitiable, creatures.  Those who sell the liberty of others for wealth,
power or even a moment's respite deserve only the end of a rope.

L. Neil Smith

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