(Article changed on October 11, 2013 at 16:58)
The arrest and conviction of Muslims on flimsy conspiracy charges often instigated by FBI informants reveals spreading corruption in the American legal system.
"After 9/11/2001 the Bush/Obama administrations have constructed an American Police State using Arabs and Muslims as their pretexts and scapegoats," says Francis Boyle, distinguished international legal authority and professor of law at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "It is reminiscent of the Nazi government's persecution of the German Jews before the outbreak of World War II. Arabs and Muslims have become the New Jews in Police State America that is now slouching towards a military dictatorship and World War III."
The unlucky Muslim prisoners can be held illegally for years, denying them their constitutional right to a speedy trial. During this detention period, they may be the victims of sophisticated torture techniques such as isolation. And they may be convicted by compliant judges who mete out severe sentences utterly at variance with the alleged conspiracies plotted, much less any less crimes committed.
Those who endeavored to defend the Muslim scapegoats "faced judges who allowed the use of classified evidence, inflammatory 'experts' and stings in which government informants masterminded and supplied the 'plots,'" according to Jeanne Theoharis in the October 14 issue of "The Nation."
Theoharis is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College, New York. She writes that in the 12 years since 9/ll there have been more than 500 federal terrorism prosecutions such as Miami's "Liberty City Seven," accused of plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower when, in reality, they had not even the money to purchase travel tickets to Chicago. And did the group not have the money to buy a camera to take pictures of the targets? No matter. They got one from a friendly FBI informant who helped cook up the case against them. And the conviction rate of these defendants is every bit as high as that of Communist China, a country not known for its civil liberties record.
Theoharis titles her article "Gitmo in NYC," referring to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. "Alongside the inhumanities occurring at Guantanamo, Bagram or Abu Ghraib are the inhumanities that happen right here, in Lower Manhattan and Minneapolis, in Virginia and Colorado, which follow from a long history of using the criminal justice system to punish dissent and contain unwanted or 'dangerous' populations," she writes.
Close scrutiny of these cases shows "a pattern of intrusive surveillance, entrapment and government-instigated plots; overreaching 'material support' charges; the use of prolonged solitary confinement and so-called special administrative measures; classified evidence; and the criminalization of Islamic speech and association," Theoharis says.
Speaking of surveillance overkill, the FBI is said to have 15,00 regular informants and 45,000 unofficial ones, who are told to listen and probe for anti-American sentiments. So much for political dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy.
Theoharis calls on the public to examine the targeting of dissent "as well as harsh sentencing and inhumane conditions for so-called domestic terrorists---environmentalists, animal rights activists, Muslims, (and) black radicals""
Almost without exception, government imprisonment has led to pleas and convictions carrying long, sometimes lifetime sentences, Theoharis writes---"often under deeply inhumane conditions at the federal supermax in Florence, (Colo.) or the Communication Management Units in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Marion, Ill."
It is time, she believes, for a concerned public to shift its focus from U.S. mistreatment of suspects abroad to the deference accorded by the Federal courts to government assertions of national security that results in the mistreatment of Muslim prisoners at home. You may have thought, "It couldn't happen here." But it has.
(Sherwood Ross, who formerly reported for major dailies and wire services, now runs a public relations firm "for good causes" based in Miami." )
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