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How Paranoid Is America?

By       Message John Little       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   12 comments

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On September 11, 2001, the US entered a radically new and frightening era in its collective march through history. Gone were the days when Americans felt comfortable and safe and far from the fangs of world terrorism and violence. Throughout its history, the US had been able to distance itself from nearly every major international incident that had occurred regardless of its point of origin or who participated.

Through two world wars, countless border skirmishes, and regional political, social or economical conflicts, the US had managed to stay relatively clear of the violence and effects of each battle, even as it participated from afar in its inception, augmentation and outcome. Thus, as wars ravaged Europe, government capitulations sprang up from Russia to South America, and autonomous-seeking areas and regional disputes bogged down whole countries for decades at a time, America was always on the outside looking in, sometimes creating, sometimes joining and sometimes financing one or both sides of the conflict. Not since the war of 1812 has any single attack brought so much death and destruction on the cities and towns of its now 50 states.

But in the aftermath of 9/11, Americans have turned their country into a cesspool of suspicion and mistrust the likes of which have not been seen since the Stalin days of the former Soviet Union. Almost overnight Americans started accusing each other of terrorist activities, calling police and FBI agencies on a near-daily basis to report any type of suspicious activity fearing that global terrorists were about to strike again. Since the events that happened that fateful Tuesday morning in September, 2001, even the most banal activities have become reasons for frantic calling and finger pointing. And as in the days when Joseph Stalin ruled the USSR with an iron fist and quick hand to imprison thousands of innocent people throughout the 20s, 30s and 40s, anonymous callers were jamming phone lines accusing fellow Americans of illicit and terrorist activities for anything from the simple touristy snapshot of a friend unknowingly in front of a bank to the inadvertent use of chalk on the sidewalk to mark boundaries of a friendly game.

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Following the events from that fateful day, President Bush has ordered that all cases of reported terrorism be investigated to the fullest extent possible, thus ensuring that tens of thousands of otherwise illogical and improbable cases would be completely researched and documented with the obvious result that tens of thousands of innocent and normal citizens will be rounded up, detained, imprisoned and harassed for crimes they've never committed while their anonymous accusers watch from the sidelines either in internal glee from the unnecessary suffering of their targets, or in complete ignorance of the needless pain they've caused others. Not since the dark days of Stalinism in the Soviet Union has an entire nation of that size been subject to this level of false accusations and illegal harassment and imprisonment by authorities from the local to the national level.

In continuation, I will present a mere fraction of the false accusations that have caused countless tens of thousands across America untold pain and suffering at the hands of their fellow citizens.

One evening in late April, 2003, the F.B.I. chief in Indiana, Thomas V. Fuentes, went to a crowded basement in an Evansville mosque to ask for help in the fight against terrorism. Some 100 Muslims listened politely. Then the wife of a local restaurateur spoke up to tell him what had happened the last time agents came calling, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. On a tip, her husband, Tarek Albasti, and eight other men were rounded up, shackled, paraded in front of a newspaper photographer and jailed for a week. The tip turned out to be false. But four of the men were then listed in a national crime registry as having been accused of terrorism, even though they were never charged, as the F.B.I. later conceded. The branding prevented them from flying, renting apartments and landing jobs.

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"People were crying as she describes this," Mr. Fuentes recalled. "And at the end, she says, 'My husband was released, and in 19 months nobody has ever said, I'm sorry about what happened.'"

Also that year, In Michigan, Mohamed Alajji, a trucker born in Yemen, was jailed for seven days that December before agents interviewed his accuser, who turned out to be making false claims against him to press a family feud.

In May, 2007, American papers ran in almost complete unison the story of six New Jersey men who supposedly were looking to attack the Fort Dix Army base near Cherry Hill in New Jersey. According to an MSNBC article written on May 6, 2007:

"Six foreign-born Muslims were arrested and accused Tuesday of plotting to attack the Army's Fort Dix and massacre scores of U.S. soldiers - a plot the FBI says was foiled when the men took a video of themselves firing assault weapons to a store to have the footage put onto a DVD.

"The defendants, all men in their 20s from the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East, include a pizza deliveryman suspected of using his job to scout out the military base."

In other words, six young men, one of whom worked as a pizza delivery person to the base, were supposed to carry out a terror plot on the base to kill scores of soldiers. No one in the news media recognized the obvious absurdity of this supposed terror plot. The media did not once ask the simple questions such as, "How were these six, who had no terrorist training whatsoever, supposed to carry out such an intricate and complicated plot to enter an army base full of soldiers with weapons, without being uncovered and killed by just about any soldier they met along the way?"

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According to the website in an article entitled, U.S. settles in false terrorism arrest lawsuit, "The United States government formally apologized and will pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by an Oregon attorney who was mistakenly accused of involvement in the 2004 Madrid, Spain, train bombings." Brandon Mayfield had been arrested and jailed for two weeks as a "material witness" in May 2004 after FBI investigators mistakenly matched a partial fingerprint from the Madrid train bombing to him. The FBI's crime lab had matched the latent fingerprint, recovered from a bag of detonators, to Mayfield, while Spanish police pointed out repeatedly that the FBI had screwed up the match. The fingerprint was later matched to an Algerian man.

In July, 2007, Abukar Arman, a Somali immigrant living in Hilliard in central Ohio, was falsely accused of supporting suicide bomber attacks by Patrick Poole, a fellow resident of Hilliard, and a reporter for the conservative magazine Front Page. Patrick distorted and lied about Abukar's affiliation with terrorist organizations in Somalia. After the stories ran, many people called and emailed city and county officials asking for Abukar's arrest. The result of Mr. Poole's lies and the needless incitement to anger it caused have resulted in Mr. Arman's loss of his job with the county.

And just recently two Germans, one who was in the US visiting, wanted to enjoy their love of running but wound up falsely accused of bioterrorism and now face felony charges. According to MSNBC, "Two people who sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their offbeat running club inadvertently caused a bioterrorism scare and now face a felony charge. The sprinkled powder forced hundreds to evacuate an IKEA furniture store Thursday. New Haven ophthalmologist Daniel Salchow, 36, and his sister, Dorothee, 31, who is visiting from Hamburg, Germany, were both charged with first-degree breach of peace, a felony.

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60 year old Californian male - I've lived in four different countries, USA, Switzerland, Mexico, Venezuela - speak three languages fluently, English, French, Spanish - part-time journalist for Empower-Sport Magazine. I also write four (more...)

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