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First They Come for the Muslims

Posted on Apr 16, 2012
Illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

“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.


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The corruption in the judiciary, Downs argues, is so pervasive that it is probably irreversible in the short run. Already dissidents such as peace activists, environmentalists and outspoken intellectuals have been treated as terrorists. Downs expects soon to see labor organizers and those in Occupy encampments treated as terrorists, especially if domestic dissent spreads. Yet despite his pessimism he has no intention of surrendering.

“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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By Mad Angel on FB, April 16, 2012 at 7:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If this were anywhere but here ( in the US ) I would agree ....but there’s too much ‘creeping’ to ignore….I don’t want this country to become another Britain or France - or Belgium

Mad Angel on FB

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By mrfreeze, April 16, 2012 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

tony_opmoc - Thanks for that link. I really “enjoyed” it.

Actually, I’m not a conspiracy theory person. I grew up in UT where they invented “conspiracy theory.” There certainly are a lot of unanswered questions about 9/11. I’m not so much concerned about whether or not there were incendiary devices in the towers or any of that, but it’s pretty clear that our government knew something was up and was either too incompetent to act or….........................

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By balkas, April 16, 2012 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

please, note, CH shuns getting to the bottom or the FIRST CAUSE of it all:
infallible US ideology on whose altar even individuals like nixon is sacrificed.
so, anyone can become sacrificial lamb. it all depends on what the
TWENTYPERCENT, or the most privileged people think about any act by anyone.
if that act in its eyes undermines their paycheques, healthcare, powers. it’ll be
condemned as vitiating to AMERICANISM, and the perp will be dealt with.
so, a MSM columnist, army officer, et al have to be very careful not only about what
they do, but what they say/write.
even kucinich, gravel, nader, moore, et al stay away from evaluating the THOUGHT
on which US runs.
the holy of holies nobody dares touch!
this means that no change for better is possible. i hope OWS is aware of this fact.
if not, and only wants to patch the old pants just like most or all dissenters, i expect
only worsenings for at least 70% of americans and lots of ‘aleins’.

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By Wozzek, April 16, 2012 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

Albert Camus, The Plague (1947; trans. Stuart Gilbert)

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By katsteevns, April 16, 2012 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

“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,...”

You mean, like how the American people woke up to the genocide they carried out on their own continent against its native population 200 plus years ago at a cost of up to 15 million lives???.......................

Yeah, well, don’t hold your breath. We are still killing them off today, the only difference is that the gov’t doesn’t deal in scalps any more.

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By balkas, April 16, 2012 at 6:48 am Link to this comment

there is that other legal, tho unwritten, system in US that trumps all
other US laws: you’re with us or against us.
this spoken or wishing law—wished for at least 60% of american pop
led by the 1%, is the only valid one now.
and it fits or defends US ideology or THE THOUGHT much better than
any other written law. 
and who decides who’s of, with, and for the US THOUGHT [its
ideological infallibility] and who’s not for, of, or with it?
congress, most pious people/clergy, army echelons, cia/fbi agents,
police hierarchy, banksters, MSM, most teachers; in short, better paid

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By Devon J. Noll, MPA, April 16, 2012 at 6:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nice to see that Christopher Hedges has joined the party.  I warned of this kind of thing back in 2003 and yet I was told here and on other sites that I was being a conspiracy nut, and that it could never happen here. 

Well, it is and we are just as much to blame as the DOJ because we stood by for over 10 years allowing these kinds of things to happen without speaking out because we voted in the people who enacted the laws that are being used now against our own citizens.  I only hope that as people like Mr. Hedges finally stop aggrandizing themselves in the media they will stop and realize that they are as much at risk as any Muslim or Black in this nation to this kind of trial, lawsuits not withstanding at the moment. 

And the rest of us better start finding politicians who will repeal the laws that set this in motion and find presidents who will prosecute those who passed and enforced them.  Until then, this slide is now in full swing to a corporate/theocratic state, or what is better known as FASCISM, and anyone of us could be arrested who writes on this site and others who does not support the GOP/Tea Party/Religious Right way of thinking.

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By prisnersdilema, April 16, 2012 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

These people are thinking just like Stalin did. From the same irrational place. How many
millions of his own people did Stalin murder?

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By tony_opmoc, April 16, 2012 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges again demonstrates his honesty,
integrity and courage, but like John Pilger and many
others who I have tremendous respect for, there is
one subject he won’t touch.

I am still trying to work out, whether this is
because he studied theology rather than physics and
maths. Or is it a case of cognitive dissonance -
despite all the evidence that our culture really is
evil, its not quite that evil…

Or more likely, is it a case of, if you discuss that,
not only will you not earn anything again, but you
are in danger of appearing in an orange jump suit
yourself - or even worse.

Now this subject really bores me, as I proved to
myself early in 2003, that the offical story was
impossible. I told everyone I knew at the time, and
they all thought I was mad, so I too kept quiet about
it. Its tough, and you feel very alone, when everyone
thinks you are insane. It doesn’t however alter the
facts. The fundamental laws of physics and maths just
are. An Orwellian Government can’t change these
facts. All it can do is change people’s beliefs using
very well understood methods of psychological
terrorism and tribal loyalty. It can’t have been our
tribe that did 9/11. It must have been another tribe
that is even more evil than we are.

Now, sit back and relax and allow your brain to be
exposed for 5 minutes. Just like being at the

“9/11: A Conspiracy Theory”


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By eatcaketoo, April 16, 2012 at 6:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


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By thecrow, April 16, 2012 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

“At the start on Tuesday, Mr. Obama got a big burst of applause when he donned the FBI cap given to him by the bureau’s director, Robert Mueller.

On a more sober note, the president warned of a long struggle against al Qaeda terrorists.

He repeatedly said the FBI protects both U.S. security and ideals, rejecting what he called a “false choice” between preserving one or the other.

‘We know that al Qaeda is not constrained by a constitution or by allegiance to anything other than a hateful ideology and a determination to kill as many innocents as possible,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘But what makes the United States of America so special is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals, not just when it’s easy but when it’s hard.’”

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By heterochromatic, April 16, 2012 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

such wonderful bullshit. the guy wasn’t taken off because he’s a Muslim but
because he thought that being a Muslim meant he should kill American
soldiers….and he attempted to act on that fick sucking idea.

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By David J. Cyr, April 16, 2012 at 6:09 am Link to this comment

QUOTE, of Project Salam’s Stephen F. Downs:

“Justice is now justice for corporations… 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.”

This is among the mounting many terrible consequences of corporatism’s consumers obediently providing 99% popular vote mandates for the corporate party’s money manufactured Republicans and Democrats, who work together in perfect solidarity relentlessly representing the sociopathic desires of corporate persons, while destroying the life nurturing capacity of Nature and neglecting the needs of natural persons.

The global corporatism that Republican and Democrat voters flock together to vote for is a malignant cancer that will not be satisfied until it consumes all of its hosts.

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

Jill Stein for President:

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By SoTexGuy, April 16, 2012 at 5:26 am Link to this comment

.. after the statements of the accused about how his education and early experiences framed his sense of conscience are shared in the halls of power we’ll see an end to all that history and civics education for sure.


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By Lisa Simeone, April 16, 2012 at 5:18 am Link to this comment

Meh, Niemöller Schmiemöller.

That’s the attitude of countless Americans, including so-called
liberals, who, if Bush were in power, would be screaming bloody
murder.  But now that Obama is, are curiously silent. 

The hypocrisy is off the charts.

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By Dadster, April 16, 2012 at 5:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If one doesn’t agree with gov views ,then that doesn’t mean that one goes for the help
of external powers .That is akin to treason and treachery and no self- respecting nation
would tolerate such wanton behavior from the citizens of a country.those who don’t like
a country or the culture of a country then they. Should leave that country and go to
another country where they are more compatible , muslim or non-muslim. Just as
citizens expect justice from the country, the country also expects justice from their
citizenry.  Justice is not a one way transaction . Rights are based on responsibilities
and duties . When people fail in responsibile behavior and fail in their duties to the
nation ,they forfeit their rights too. There are no rights without duties and some loyalty
to the nation . One cant expect mercy or protection from the nation if one works with
the enemies of the nation . There are no absolute rights . Even human rights are for
those who live as a human being but not to those who live like animals or ith animalistic
attitudes . It’s society that is the dispenser of these rights and it’s not god- given .the
society that has given certain rights expecting the enjoyer of such rights would also do
their duties to the society , has the right to abbreviate or deny individual rights enjoyed
by an individual if that society decides that an individual has misbehaved or has failed
in her / his duties. There is no free lunch, in a civilized society !

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By vector56, April 16, 2012 at 5:06 am Link to this comment

Senator Harry Reid a few weeks ago on CNN declared that Anwar Awlaki, his 16 year old son and the other US citizen killed without trial by drone attack “deserved what they got!” Reid saw no need to offer any details or proof of their guilt after the fact.

What is being done to Mehanna was also done to the Black Panther Party in the 60’s. The thing that “breaks my heart” is that many in the Jewish community are leading the slide toward Muslim “Concentration camps” and the Black civil rights leaders are “cowering, incontinent in a Conner” glad it is not them. These are two groups that should know that eventually, when the brutes are done with the Muslims, they will be next.

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By vector56, April 16, 2012 at 4:28 am Link to this comment

Bravo Chris Hedges for broaching this subject the media chooses to over look. Other then Alyona Minkovski (TR’s “Alyona Show”) few in the Corporate Media want to go near this story important.

Again, Bravo!

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