Monday, September 24, 2007

Less Safe....Less Free

The book starts strong and finishes strong. The use of statistics and various studies is common throughout the book to make the authors’ points more clear The book cites that as of Feb 2005, the FBI has yet to identify a single al-Qaeda sleeper cell; they cite 400 terror cases, most of which are credit fraud, immigration fraud, or lying to an FBI agent. P 10
It is all the more critical that we develop close positive ties with Arab and Muslim communities here and abroad. We need their eyes and ears if we are going to find the small number of persons actually planning to use violence against us. P 14

Out of the 90,000 Muslims and Arab nationals asked to register with the special registration program, not a single person has been tried for terrorist activates. 160 people were rendered p 25 various story, Arar and khaled el-masri

P 35 the loophole, the bush administration used is that by ratifying CAT, they will not torture in the United States, or they will not torture American citizens, but they free to torture other non-Americans or torture outside the States. That was AG view on the matter, senator McCain and others worked to close the gap in denying foreign nationals the prevention from “cruel, inhumane, and degrading Treatment.” Since in these admin interpretations, the US constitution does not extend to foreign nationals.

The book also exposes the how the US President should not be above the law even during war time. The book cites a number of examples where presidents have abused their power. Nixon, and wire taps, President Truman’s seizure of a steel mill during the Korean War. However, the only president that approaches the authority President Bush has is Nixon, quoted saying “When the President does it, it is not illegal” However, President Bush made one modification, “when the Commander in Chief does it, it’s not illegal” p.63

The book exposes how the Bush preemptive strike is only used against the weakest of target. However, such principle cane lead to dangerous outcomes, what if other nations such as India and Pakistan used it, Iran and Israeli, Taiwan and China, all in their own minds justified to use this principle. The book authors call on the United States to maintain a relation of trust with the Arab and Muslims communities in the states instead of targeting an entire community, a policy that will only alienate Arabs and Muslims in America and make them not come forward with and information that might be useful. This administration’s zero-tolerance approach is making the US less free and less safe.

The book also cites two separate studies, an Israeli study found out that most of the foreign fighters in Iraq are new jihadist and not veteran of terrorism which goes to prove that the Bush argument that “we fight them there, so we do not have to fight them here” false. Another Saudi study, profiled foreign fighters in Iraq, only to find out that these fighters have been radicalized as a result of the Iraq war.

However, the book cites on page 199-200, Israel Supreme Court ruling on torture to be more morale type of torture and coercive action, which in away contradicts Israel’s declared policies on torture and their refusal to sign on anti torture conventions. If Israel a moral authority in coercive force, then the US must be in deep trouble

The book proposed a four part “alternative preventative strategy”
1. Erect safeguards that reduce the likelihood of future harm without controversial policies.
2. Reshape the US foreign policy to address the root causes rather than the symptoms
3. US should eschew unilateral assertions of power formulate alternative strategies.
4. When coercive force is necessary, US should treat the rule of law as an asset and not as an obstacle.

I found the book to be informative and detailed in its account of events and policies shaped as a result of 9/11. Written by two of the US most decorated constitutional scholars conclude great irony in the obvious compromise of civil liberties that are making the US less free and the failed policies of this administration in the war on terror that is making the US less safe and vulnerable to more attacks and bad PR around the world.
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dearborn: The Other Arabia

a group of my friends and I decided to leave for Dearborn, Michigan for the Labor Day weekend, it was a good call! We had a GPS system in the Car, a car is understatement, we had a huge truck, and if you call it a tank you might do it justice. The GPS system was set to toll avoidance, but we did not know this, so the trip that takes 9 hours, took us 12 hours. I was so sick of the riding in the truck that I said in the same amount of time, I could have been anywhere in Arabia, as appose to Dearborn the city of Arabs!

We have driven through DC, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and then Michigan. The weird thing was in West Virgina, where I saw a Burger King wherever one working there was white, no Latinos not Blacks in sight. We stopped in K-Mart to buy some supplies for the rood, we saw so many scary looking people with purple noses, little people, hair people, just odd looking people. I apologize if I am offending anyone, but there must have been some nuclear testing in this state. I have seen other part of West Virginia, that are just mind boggling. Not even funny, lots of hicks and strange looking people in that part of Virginia.

We arrived there at 2 PM, and we wanted nothing but to sleep, before we slept though, as we drove to my friend Abed's house, we saw Warren Avenue, where more than 80% of the signs and the stores had Arabic written on them. The morning we woke up to find that Abed's mom originally from Southern Lebanon has prepared us a nice breakfast, and I mean a nice one even in Arabic standards, all you can eat buffet of cheeses, Arabic pizza (manaqeesh) and other delights, I was so blasted! Abed's father is original from Syria and, they are a Shi'a family (Michigan has a large concentration of Shi'a Muslims) We went all over Dearborn and Detroit and it was great to see such concentration of folks of my background. We saw the museum, the Arab American museum; it had lot so cool things on display. We did see the largest mosque in America (according to Abed) it is a really nice place, nice is understatement; it is gigantic with many golden dooms! We ate tons of Arabic food, better Arabic food than from Gaza, I bet. We were stuffed that I thought our stomachs could turn around and sue us for damages. In between meals, we would have other meals. And Sweets, I mean Dearborn had it all, the best of Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese delights. I do not need to mention that I spend close to 200 in grocery shopping in preparation for Ramadan. Groceries up there are so fresh and so inexpensive! I cannot complain!

In my quest, for great food, I have also tried both Halal bacon and Halal pepperoni when i was up there. It is meat made out of non pig meat, and prepared on the Muslim way, I tell you I loved what I have tried that I apologize for talking trash about bacon the entire time. It was good to have the bacon on my burger and the pepperoni on my cheese roll!

So in Warren Avenue, Arabs had tons of places where you can stack up the calories, but the fun thing was that their nearest gym was 10 miles away, not that many opt out to go to the gym, people up there work hard in all walks of life. Not only did Dearborn have Arab owned business, it also had a fusion of Arabic houses and American ones, they build extensions to their homes and there is always ongoing construction in their homes, however it is a slow process. Thus, because there is so much construction going in the streets and the homes, Dearborn looks more like an Arab country. I guess, Home Owner Associations are not too popular in that part of the country.

I liked being able to sit in the street and being a stranger there, but have everyone greet me like they know me for ages. "Hey George" says our host, "hello om Hasan" "how are the kids?" "Send them to have some tea with us" we were sipping tea outside and enjoying the good life while greeting people going up the street. Also the folks up there love their satellite dishes, if a home has less than three dishes hanged on the house, they must be missing some channels. I heard of a guy who has three thousand channels, from all over the world and more. I bet he/she can get even these aliens channels from a parallel universe.

We did see the Ford factories, the GM commerce buildings in Detroit, Tigers stadium, the Pistons stadium and many other places such as the Water Walk which is cross the river from Canada, so we were looking at Canada the entire time we were there. A fun fact about Michigan is their love for big cars, even janitors in that state drive huge cars around. I guess they get better quotes up there on their leases. Every home owens at least three cars, and everyone is doing its part in polluting our planet.

Needless to say, the Arab people of Dearborn are like my type of Arabs, I felt like I was sitting downtown Gaza with people who speak like me and have the same opinions about various things in life. I mean, I have met many Arabs in the States, but the population of Dearborn are my kind of ARABS, they are patriot Americans, yet unapologetic for their Arabness.
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