Mar 8, 2014
First They Come for the Muslims
Posted on Apr 16, 2012
By Chris Hedges
“Their support of MEK is far worse than any of the pre-emptive prosecution cases,” Downs said. “They are literally engaged in material support for terrorism. But of course they’re not being prosecuted. ... The whole thing is a game. It’s not serious law enforcement. It is political posturing. This will bring the law into contempt. It will bring the mechanisms of prosecution into contempt and eventually it will destroy the legal system.”
“Justice is now justice for corporations,” he went on. “Anybody who interferes with the corporations, who interferes with their profits, who interferes with their rights, will become labeled ‘terrorists.’ They become people we need to get rid of. Judges, politicians and lawyers all feed at the same corporate trough. And that is why their decisions increasingly are corporate decisions.”
Downs holds out a faint hope that it may be possible to force the Justice Department to turn over exculpatory evidence—evidence of a defendant’s innocence that by law the prosecution must disclose to the defendant but an obligation that the prosecutors frequently ignore. He said he is certain there is exculpatory evidence in government vaults that could free many of those pre-emptively prosecuted. Government prosecutors, however, do not willing sabotage their own cases by turning over evidence that would exonerate those they seek to condemn. Downs knows it is a quixotic fight, but he is working to get the undisclosed exculpatory evidence in pre-emptive prosecution cases released to defense lawyers.
“That’s my one hope of getting these guys out of jail—I don’t see any other way,” he said.
“I take comfort from organizations like the White Rose in Germany,” he said, referring to the anti-Nazi group that defied Hitler and saw most of its members arrested and executed. “They were doomed almost from the beginning. How long could you defy Hitler before you were rounded up and shot? It appeared to be a futile effort. And yet, after the war, when people went back and began to rebuild the German nation, they could look to the White Rose as an example of what German culture was really about. There were Germans who cared about peace, freedom and tolerance. I’m working now as much for the historical record as for those still in jail.”
“When I was 6,” Mehanna told the court Thursday at his sentencing, “I began putting together a massive collection of comic books. Batman implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors, there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the oppressed. This resonated with me so much that throughout the rest of my childhood I gravitated towards any book that reflected that paradigm—‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X,’ and I even saw an ethical dimension to ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ ”
“By the time I began high school and took a real history class, I was learning just how real that paradigm is in the world,” he went on. “I learned about the Native Americans and what befell them at the hands of European settlers. I learned about how the descendants of those European settlers were in turn oppressed under the tyranny of King George III. I read about Paul Revere, Tom Paine, and how Americans began an armed insurgency against British forces—an insurgency we now celebrate as the American Revolutionary War. As a kid I even went on school field trips just blocks away from where we sit now. I learned about Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown, and the fight against slavery in this country. I learned about Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs and the struggles of the labor unions, working class and poor. I learned about Anne Frank, the Nazis, and how they persecuted minorities and imprisoned dissidents. I learned about Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the civil rights struggle. I learned about Ho Chi Minh, and how the Vietnamese fought for decades to liberate themselves from one invader after another. I learned about Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Everything I learned in those years confirmed what I was beginning to learn when I was 6: that throughout history, there has been a constant struggle between the oppressed and their oppressors. With each struggle I learned about, I found myself consistently siding with the oppressed, and consistently respecting those who stepped up to defend them—regardless of nationality, regardless of religion. And I never threw my class notes away. As I stand here speaking, they are in a neat pile in my bedroom closet at home.”
“In your eyes, I’m a terrorist, and it’s perfectly reasonable that I be standing here in an orange jumpsuit,” he told the court at the end of his statement. “But one day, America will change and people will recognize this day for what it is. They will look at how hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed and maimed by the U.S. military in foreign countries, yet somehow I’m the one going to prison for ‘conspiring to kill and maim’ in those countries—because I support the mujahedeen defending those people. They will look back on how the government spent millions of dollars to imprison me as a ‘terrorist,’ yet if we were to somehow bring Abeer al-Janabi back to life in the moment she was being gang-raped by your soldiers, to put her on that witness stand and ask her who the ‘terrorists’ are, she sure wouldn’t be pointing at me.”
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