By ABID ULLAH JAN
08/21/05 “ICH” — — The US introduced Patriot Acts and violated all international laws after 9/11 to fight “terrorism.” After 7/7, the British government went one step further to the extreme to fight “extremism.” It proposed many laws, contravening the established legal principles, human rights and all norms of moral decency.
The stress on the need for more and more laws gives us the impression as if it was the lack of laws that lead to “terrorism” in the first place.
These developments in the US and UK led to similar initiatives and debate in other Western capitals on whether to follow the suit. Puppet regimes in the Muslim world don’t even need such discussions about terror and law. Thanks to the unflinching, fully determined support of the Western leaders and the terrorist attacks abroad, which are good enough for the dictators to round up, torture and even kill hundreds of people without any reference to any law.
Because of 9/11 and 7/7, the legislatures now see a problem and attempt to solve it with new laws along with permitting the war lords to invade and occupy sovereign states on the basis of lies. The question is: would these laws and occupations address the root causes of the problem?
Even a cursory analysis reveals that the main target of the proposed terror laws is the basic principles that ensure justice and fairness. Principles such as “due process,” “no crime without intent,” “innocent until proven guilty,” “habeas corpus,” “no self-incrimination,” “no ex post facto laws,” “the right to counsel,” “the right to remain silent,” “the right to see the evidence that incriminates” and “the right to confront one’s accusers” are the first victims of these laws. These principles are the target because without doing away with them, acts such as racial profiling would be impossible and without that, singling out Muslims would not be easily legitimized in the public eyes.
The most basic understanding of law is that it provides the people with their most important safeguard against “predatory actions of government.” The understanding has been turned upside down. The purpose of law, “the greatest happiness for the greatest number,” has now been changed to the greatest happiness of the totalitarians, who want to silence their critics in the name of “greatest safety and security.”
The world needs not be deceived with the concept of terrorism used an excuse to consolidate tyranny at home and abroad after 9/11. Efforts were already underway in the US for controlling public opinion and curtailing freedoms. Roberts and Stratton argue in their book, “The Tyranny of Good Intentions,” that in “recent decades, both conservatives and liberals have cut swaths through the law as they pursued drug dealers, S&L crooks, environmental polluters, Wall Street inside traders, child abusers, and other undesirables.”
In fact, “with the exception of Benthamite ideology, the greatest damage to justice has been done by the unintended consequences of the conservatives’ war on crime.” The war on terrorism became the perfect excuse for consolidating what was already on the cards.
UK is now moving one step ahead with Blair’s plan to criminalize not just direct incitement to terrorism but anything the totalitarians may categorize as “condoning,” “glorifying” or “justifying” terrorism anywhere in the world. Words like that are far too vague, elastic and subject to selective use by the world mastering demi-gods. Worse still is the government’s plan to expand its list of deportable offenses to include the expression of “what the government considers to be extreme views.” The idea of making naturalized British citizens deportable for “extremism” means one has to believe and fully support every single word and deed of the government; otherwise the person will be considered an extremist, whose difference of opinion might “indirectly” lead to terrorism.
All these measures are based on the pre-determination that what the US and UK and their allies have done over the last many decades is absolutely correct. Only there was a lack of the proposed new laws. They didn’t violate any international law and norm. They didn’t assist tyrants and aggressors. They didn’t support occupations and tortures of innocent populations. They didn’t starve 1.8 millions to death. They did not fully legalized state terrorism. And they didn’t disregard any international law and even bypassed the UN after 9/11.
What is value of the terror-laws, when those formulating the laws are above the law and able to make a mockery of the Geneva Convention. What is value of terror laws from those, whose Office of Legal Council (under Justice Department), determines that the Geneva Conventions legally do not apply to the vague “war on terrorism.” The famous Gonzales’ memo says that the terrorist threat rendered ”obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners,” who are not even granted POW status.
Most importantly, the proposed changes in the existing laws and the new laws for terrorism are not at all about terrorism as such. They are mostly for harassing Muslims (Colbert King, Washington Post, 20-08-2005), to hold them from practicing Islam and change their school curriculum (Paul Watson, LA Times, 18-08-2005) and their way of life altogether. For non-Muslims these laws are meant to silent all critics of the illegal wars and occupations. These are the new targets of the proposed laws, which were so obvious from the beginning of the war on Islam under the label of war on terrorism.
As far terrorism is concerned, the US doesn’t have a legal definition of terrorism in the first place. There is no organized body of legislation one might call the law of terrorism, and there is no inherent crime of terrorism. Terrorists are charged with other offenses. There is a long-standing legal code called Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113B, Section 2331 which is entitled “Terrorism” and attempts to define it, but it is essentially all about international terrorism and represents America’s version of outlawing internecine conflict on its soil.
Ninety percent of the time, suspected terrorists do nothing wrong until they commit an indictable act. Indicted terrorists are charged with other crimes — planning for violence, raising funds illegally, and carrying out a violent act. The most common criminal charges against terrorists include bombing, arson, hijacking, assault, kidnapping, murder, theft, and sabotage. For terrorists who are captured before completing an act, the most common charges are illegal possession of explosives and weapons, illegal raising of funds, and conspiracy. All the new additions are only and only concerned with racial profiling and justifications for discrimination against the particular group: Muslims.
According to the proposed terror laws, the right to freedom of speech only applies to discussion or explanations of doctrines or ideologies that urge the overthrow of government declared evil by the United States. Speech that urge overthrow of the most favored, pro-West dictators and kings is not protected.
To qualify as an indictable enemy of the West, a person must not necessarily take some concrete steps toward harmful action. Merely criticism of the policy of the US and UK in particular is good enough. Most of the intelligence agents and other security officials consider themselves as one with the US and one does not necessarily condemn the rest of the Western countries directly. Mere criticism of the US and UK is good enough to charge someone under the twisted definition of extremism.
The most absurd new laws put the burden of proof on the alleged “terrorists” and “extremists.” They have to prove it in a situation, in which they are indefinitely detained, have no right to know the charges against them and have absolutely no access to evidence of their alleged crime. Yet they have to prove themselves innocent from their cold, claustrophobic prison cells.
States can effectively violate all international laws and treaties and kill as many people as they may like for achieving their ever changing objectives according to the gradual exposure of their lies. Powerful states are no longer bound by any law. However, when it comes to dealing with the perceived terrorists, states are allowed to pass anti-terrorism laws which are extensions of international treaties to consider whole populations as potential terrorists.
Immigrants or students can be deported for their alleged engagement in “suspicious” activities, where evidence supporting such claims is presented in secret, or not presented at all. It shows, there might be no evidence at all. But mere suspicion is good enough to treat any one (read Muslims) the way any allied government may like.
According to the new laws, states can be providing billions of dollars and full military support annually to the regimes involved in oppression, occupation and terrorizing millions of people. Yet, any moral or financial support to the oppressed, resisting these illegal occupations would be instantly labeled as terrorist fund raising.
These measures must be “laws” and legislation for those who propose mass deportations of Muslims in the New York Times. But for those who may not even have a lion’s share of commonsense, these steps are reflective of the pervasive tyranny. How can one justify indefinite detention of a person on the basis of mere suspicion, without any right to see the evidence or due process of law?
Washington Post’s reporter Dana Priest reported on January 02, 2005 that US administration is “preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries, according to intelligence,” (See full report: Long-Term Plan Sought For Terror Suspects). Even mass murderers are not be punished like that, let alone mere suspects.
Tyranny is too mild a world for such life time detentions in violation to all the legal principles and processes known to human beings so far. In this drama of law and terror, it seems that justice, fairness or law is not the objective at all. Dana Priest reports that the CIA “has been scurrying since Sept. 11, 2001, to find secure locations abroad where it could detain and interrogate captives without risk of discovery, and without having to give them access to legal proceedings.” According to the report, the suspect held in these facilities include high profile terrorist in Washington’s view: ” Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Abu Zubaida and the lead Southeast Asia terrorist, Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali.” It shows the leading terrorists are kept away even even from the shadows of law. So, for whom do we need all these new laws?
These so-called laws are for the ordinary citizens to make them toe the line, to stop questioning the official stories about the terrorist acts, the logic and reason for going to wars and all associated policies. Andrew M. Greeley, a Roman Catholic priest, equated such measures to a “whiff of fascism American style in the air” (Daily Southtown, Chicago, November 25, 2001). He wrote it long before the real face of the new laws regarding terrorism was exposed. Mr. Greeley concluded: “The closet fascists among us, however well-intentioned they may be, are far more serious threats to us than the followers of bin Laden. They would, given half a chance, destroy the American soul.”
The bottom-line is that law has become a mean in the post 9/11 world to consummate and exercise tyranny. That is not fault of the law. It is fault of the law-makers and practitioners who are exploiting the law by hiding behind it for justifying their crimes against humanity.
Abid Ullah Jan
 See, for example, Colbert I. King’s article, “Muslim Converts, Meet the FBI,” in Washington Post, August 20, 2005.
 See The Nation Pakistan, August 20, 2005, lead story: “US concerned over ‘inciteful’ material in Pak textbooks,” or Paul Watson’s front page story on the same subject in LA Times, August 18, 2005.
 See Blair’s statement that if Muslims have to live in UK, they have to live by our values and way of life.