Los Angeles Police Department had launched a “Muslim community mapping” initiative to plot the locations of Muslim populations around Los Angeles. LASPD plans to examine the histories, demographics and socioeconomic standing of the Muslims. The department hopes to identify communities susceptible to extremism and prevent violent ideologies from taking root. (Los Angeles Times, 10/31/07)
BUSH’S US IMAGE ADVISER RESIGNS
Karen Hughes is a close aide to US President George Bush. As the head of Public Diplomacy for the US State Department she was in-charge of improving the US image around the world. She has announced that she will resign in mid-December.
Hughes was sworn in as Undersecretary of State in September 2005, and had sought to combat negative opinions about the US following the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and its chaotic aftermath. But opinion polls around the world have continued to show an increase in negative perceptions of America. “Attitudes have grown much more negative in many parts of the world,” said Richard Wike, senior researcher with the Pew Global Attitudes Project in Washington.
Public support for the United States has even declined among allies such as Germany and Britain. Wike’s said the strongest negative view of the US was in the Muslim world.
Hughes was known for her fast-talking, exuberant style. She set up rapid-response units to respond to negative articles and gave ambassadors and other senior officials the authority to speak out to change public views about the US.
US ATTORNEYS GENERAL CAN’T DEFINE “TORTURE’
Consider how President Bush has degraded the office of attorney general. His first choice, John Ashcroft,helped railroad undue restrictions on civil liberties through Congress after the 9/11 attacks though later refused to endorse illegal wiretapping. Then came Alberto Gonzales, who, as the White House counsel, redefined torture, repudiate the Geneva Conventions and create illegal detention camps. As attorney general, Gonzales helped cover up the administration’s lawless behaviour in anti-terrorist operations, helped revoke fundamental human rights for foreigners and turned the Justice Department into a branch of the Republican National Committee.
Now Mr. Bush wants Michael Mukasey, a well-known trial judge in New York who has stunned many during his confirmation process by saying he believes the president has the power to negate laws. He has refused to commit himself to enforcing Congressional subpoenas and has suggested that he will not uphold standards of decency during wartime recognized by the civilized world for generations.
Mukasey refused to detail his views on torture, and has submitted written answers to senators’ questions that were worse than his testimony. They suggest that he, like Mr. Gonzales, would enable Mr. Bush’s lawless behaviour and his imperial attitude toward Congress and the courts.
In a letter to the 10 Democrats on the committee, Mr. Mukasey refused to say whether he considered waterboarding (a method of extracting information by making a prisoner believe he is about to be drowned) to be torture. Mr. Bush authorised waterboarding at C.I.A. prisons.
Jack L. Goldsmith, who served in the Justice Department in 2003 and 2004, wrote in his recent memoir, The Terror Presidency, that the possibility of future prosecution for aggressive actions against terrorism was a constant worry inside the Bush administration.
Scott L. Silliman, an expert on national security law at Duke University School of Law, said any statement by Mr. Mukasey that waterboarding was illegal torture “would open up Pandora’s box,” even in the United States. Such a statement from an attorney general would override existing Justice Department legal opinions and create intense pressure from human rights groups to open a criminal investigation of interrogation practices, Mr. Silliman said. “You would ask not just who carried it out, but who specifically approved it,” said Mr. Silliman, director of the Centre on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke. “Theoretically, it could go all the way up to the president of the United States; that’s why he’ll never say it’s torture,” Mr. Silliman said of Mr. Mukasey.
Robert M. Chesney, of Wake Forest University School of Law, said Mr. Mukasey’s statements could influence the climate in which prosecution decisions are made.
Mr. Specter, who was briefed on the interrogation issue by the C.I.A. director, noted that human rights groups had filed a criminal complaint on torture against Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defence secretary, while he was visiting France this month. Such cases, based on the legal concept of “universal jurisdiction” for torture and certain other crimes, have proliferated in recent years, though they have often posed more of an aggravation than a serious threat.
MR. PRESIDENT SHRUNK THE CONGRESS
President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, was asked an important question about Congress’s power at his confirmation hearing. If witnesses claim executive privilege and refuse to respond to Congressional subpoenas in the United States attorneys scandal – as Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have done – and Congress holds them in contempt, would his Justice Department refer the matter to a grand jury for criminal prosecution, as federal law requires? Mr. Mukasey suggested the answer would be no.
That was hardly his only slap-down of Congress. He made the startling claim that a president can defy laws if he or she is acting within the authority “to defend the country.” That is a mighty large exception to the rule that Congress’s laws are supreme.
The founders wanted the “people’s branch” to be strong, but the Bush administration has usurped a frightening number of Congress’s powers – with very little resistance. The question is whether members of Congress of both parties will do anything about it.
US CONGRESS COW TOWS
Congress is often described as one of three coequal branches, but that is not entirely true. As a Yale law professor observed in “America’s Constitution: a Biography,” Article I actually makes Congress “first among equals, with wide power to structure the second-mentioned executive and third-mentioned judicial branches.”
Article I, which describes Congress’s powers, is the Constitution’s first, longest and most generously worded article. It gives Congress a wide array of specific powers, but also broad authority to pass laws that bring to life “all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”
It would be hard to recognise that powerful Congress today. In part, that is because Congress has been unwilling or unable to enact laws on the most important issues facing the nation – Iraq, immigration reform, health care.
Just as troubling, though, is how it has allowed its institutional power to erode. President Bush has regularly issued signing statements – including on critical issues like the ban on torture – that assert his right to ignore new laws at the same time as he signs them. These signing statements are not just talk. A report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office states that in nearly one-third of the cases it looked at, after President Bush issued a signing statement objecting to a provision of a new law, his administration did not implement it as written.
BRITAIN’S FIRST MUSLIM MINISTER DETAINED
Shahid Malik, Britain’s first Muslim minister, says he is “deeply disappointed” that he was detained by airport security officials in America. After a series of meetings with the US officials on tackling terrorism the international development minister was stopped and searched at Washington DC’s Dulles airport.
Mr Malik, an MP for Dewsbury, West Yorks, had his hand luggage checked for explosives when returning to London. He said the same thing happened to him at JFK airport in New York last year.
“The abusive attitude I endured last November I forgot about and I forgave. But I really do believe that British ministers and parliamentarians should be afforded the same respect and dignity at USA airports that we would bestow upon our colleagues in the US Senate and Congress. “Obviously, there was no malice involved but it has to be said that the USA system does not inspire confidence.”
US BANKS WARNED AGAINST SHARI’AH INVESTMENT
Many New York investment houses, banks and hedge funds have indicated their interest in expanding their services to include Shari’ah-compliant investments. These organisations are warned that they should carefully consider the likely moral and criminal implications of enabling Shari’ah advisors associated with radical Islamic theologians and a foreign body on record for supporting terror, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism to determine both the composition of their investments and the utilization of 2.5 per cent of the revenues stemming from those investments.
It may work out that by bringing what is essentially a cartel sympathetic to jihad into their institutions, they will inadvertently be picking up the slack caused by the shuttering of non-profits like the Holyland Foundation. Like the heads of Islamic charities, these banks also will be held accountable for their actions.
NO LIBERTY FOR THE ENEMIES OF LIBERTY
Though it has been a topic of much attention in recent years, the origin of the term “terrorist” has gone largely unnoticed. The word was an invention of the French Revolution, and it referred not to those who hate freedom, nor to non-state actors, nor of course to “Islamofascism.” A terrorist was, in its original meaning, a Jacobin leader who ruled France during la Terreur.
If the French Terror had a slogan, it was that attributed to Louis de Saint-Just: “No liberty for the enemies of liberty.” Saint-Just’s pithy phrase (like President Bush’s variant, “We must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself”) could serve as the very antithesis of the Western liberal tradition.
On this principle, the Terror demonised its political opponents, imprisoned suspected enemies without trial and eventually sent thousands to the guillotine. All of these actions emerged from the Jacobin worldview that the enemies of liberty deserved no rights.
ISLAM SPARKS FIERY
There was a woman who feared that Quebec would be overrun by Muslims. There were anecdotes about Muslims unwilling to integrate. Mentions of massacres in Muslim countries.
For an area where Muslims make up less than 0.7 per cent of the local population, Islam repeatedly comes up as a source of anxiety and fear.
When Canadian Public Commission looking at religious accommodations stopped in the Mauricie area, midway between Montreal and Quebec City it was shocked. It was in this region that the village of Hérouxville made headlines last year with its “code of conduct” warning prospective newcomers that practices such as wearing face veils or stoning women would not be tolerated. While the code was decried as a mean-spirited caricature of Islam, its initiators say they have been flooded with supportive mail from across Quebec.
OKLAHOMA LAWMAKERS RETURN QUR’AN
Saying he had no “spiritual or scholarly need” for it, Norman state Rep. Scott Martin confirmed that he refused a copy of the Qur’an.
A “Centennial” copy of the Qur’an was offered to all 149 members of the Oklahoma Legislature from the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council. Many lawmakers accepted the book. But at least eight legislators refused the gift, citing religious reasons. Another 17 legislators have notified the panel they will return the gift. “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology,” Duncan said. Duncan, a Republican, expressed his feelings Monday in a letter to colleagues.