Archive for June, 2007

News and Analysis (6/10/07)

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Egyptian court ruling seeks to balance religious liberty and “security” interests by striking University’s attempt to ban the face veil on campus, but does require that women remove it temporarily in order to enter:

After being freed from Gitmo, Uighur Muslims receive asylum in Albania, but live under surveillance with little hope of social mobility and others due to be released have no where to go:

Military adventurism in Middle East and lackluster support for outcome of electoral results leads to loss of credibility on global democracy support and hurts development of local civil society:

Malaysian Islamists, distracted by foolhardy attempts to implement corporal punishment, instead of focusing on peoples’ economic welfare, have the party fighting for electoral viability and motivates the party to elect moderates over hardliners to lead itself:

News and Analysis (6/8/07)

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Grand Mufti of Egypt in op-ed denounces terrorism and argues that continued flexibility and adaptability in Islamic law is necessary to “provide solutions confronting the Muslim world”:  

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah makes call to stop internal fighting among Palestinian factions and muster the “political will to implement existing agreements”:  

Bowing down from intense international and domestic criticism, President Musharraf ends “misinterpreted” media censorship:  

Shi’a Iraqi cleric Moqtada As-Sadr appeals to Arab nations to bring stability in Iraq and rejects US, Iranian intervention in national affairs:  

Latest allegation of police torture is part of a greater trend of abuse that is causing people to lose trust in the police and judicial system:  

Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Michael Gerson finds that Turkey’s bid to enter into the EU and its interpretation of Islam based the Qur’anic verse “let there be no compulsion in religion” allow for greater religious liberty than many other Muslim-majority countries: 

News and Analysis (6/7/07)

Thursday, June 7th, 2007
Example of Middle East states shows that democracy requires liberty and separation of powers, not just elections:
Using “news media reports, interviews and government documents” human rights groups release list of 39 people believed to be secretly jailed by the US:
In massive corruption scandal, British government watchdog finds that Saudi Prince Bandar pockets $2 billion out of $80 billion arms deal with UK in 1985:
Ominous signs of continued deterioration in Iraq as “safe” Green Zone area in Baghdad comes under increased mortar attacks, mobilization of Turkish armed forces at Iraq border threatens to embroil Kurds and Turks in Iraq’s ethnic quagmire, two cars bombs detonate dangerously close to holy Shi’a mosque and the US military death toll passes 3,500:

News and Analysis (6/6/07)

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Egypt and other Muslim-majority countries among Amnesty International’s list of state-mandated Internet repression, which includes filtering, “‘politically motivated’ closures of websites and net cafes, as well as threats and imprisonment”: 

As the Gitmo ruling re-ignites bipartisan debate over legal reforms of the parallel courts system, including granting the right of habeas corpus… 

…a NY Times editorial slams the detention facility and calls for the repeal of the Military Commission Act, granting detainees and banning evidence based on torture or shutting down the facility altogether and transferring accused to civilian or military tribunal courts: 

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff meets with Muslim leaders and asks them for their aid to prevent radicalization of Muslim youth by debunking extremist ideology: 

Council on Foreign Relation Senior Fellow Michael Gerson sees the success of Turkey’s Islamic-oriented party as a litmus test for the compatibility between public expressions of Islam and a pluralistic and free democracy: 

Large humanitarian crisis looms over Afghanistan as Iran expels approximately 100,000 Afghan refugees from its territory, Kabul asking Tehran to halt expulsions, unable to “accommodate large numbers of people all at once”: 

News and Analysis (6/5/07)

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Latest public opinion poll finds almost 60% don’t think the surge will “help restore civil order” and 53% don’t believe the war has “contributed to the long-term security of the United States”:

Military judges drop charges against two Guantanamo detainees ruling that parallel legal system fails to follow its own procedures properly, and prompts speculation that Congress may “revisit” the idea suspending habeas corpus rights to detainees:

Clashes with militants in Palestinian camps having analysts worrying that the country will remain mired in constant instability:

While a military trial-shielded from public scrutiny-for Muslim Brotherhood members resumes, the government arrests 52 other Brothers because “they were caught hanging up posters with Islamic messages, which is unconstitutional”:

News and Analysis (6/4/07)

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Israel’s “security barrier” motivates Palestinian Muslims to move back to Jerusalem and maintain their ethnic and religious ties to the city:   

Significant information disparities and paid FBI informant with prior drug convictions as a crucial part of government’s case against alleged JFK bomber create skepticism among Guyanese Muslim and some terrorism experts:   

While national and international media coverage put Musharraf’s feet to the fire and the President responds by cracking down on independent stations, former PM Benazir Bhutto contemplates return to Pakistan as a part of possible power-sharing deal with the government:   

News and Analysis (6/3/07)

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Tens of thousands rally to support Pakistan’s former Chief Justice and his campaign for a separation of powers:   

By putting his actions and rhetoric into context, an op-ed in the New York Times argues that popularist Iraqi Shi’a cleric Moqtada As-Sadr is a rational political actor who can be dealt with:   

Iran expert draws on historical and contemporary examples to show that Bush’s current policy of regime change is counterproductive and that democracy “cannot be promoted from the top down; it must be reared from within”:   

Saudi Guantanamo detainee commits suicide, making him fourth individual to do so at the prison facilities:   

News and Analysis (6/1/07)

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Arabic language school in New York that attempts to bridge cultural/religious gaps is demonized by fears of religious extremism:

Yemeni government bars journalists and Red Cross stops shipments to volatile region:

Pakistani army threatens political opposition and shuts down two private television stations for their coverage of the sacked Chief Justice:

Al-Jazeera consultant opines that the conflict between in Iran and the US is not about “freeing Iraq” but carving their spheres of influence within the country:

Recent civilian deaths and violation of social taboos in campaign against Taliban uprising have created resentment among Afghans:

Breach of Law, Breach of Security – Torture

Friday, June 1st, 2007

By Alejandro J. Beutel
Minaret of Freedom Institute

Recently, the New York Times ran an article covering criticism from experts commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board (ISB) of current interrogation techniques. Although the article notes that, “The science board critique comes as ethical concerns about harsh interrogations are being voiced by current and former government officials…” the ISB’s concern has little to do with ethics.

Their concern, expected of professionals in their field, revolves around a single question: Does it help US national security? Their answer was a clear “no.” Not only does torture harm US security interests by allowing terrorists like Bin Laden to use it as a rallying cry, it is useless as an interrogation tool. The latter perspective was one of the central conclusions the ISB came to in a 372-page report, publicly released in January 2007, called, Educing Information (PDF).

However for those familiar with the basics of intelligence and torture, this conclusion is no shock. Both medical researchers and professional interrogators have repeatedly stressed the ineffectiveness of torture–in both its physical and psychological forms–as an interrogation technique and have the empirical evidence to prove it. The information gleaned from highly coercive measures is outdated or false. The most notoriously false piece of information based on torture was Ibn al-Shaykh Libi’s coerced confession of ties between Al-Qaeda and the then-regime of Saddam Hussein.

The only slightly plausible justification for using torture is the “ticking time bomb scenario” supported by academics like Bruce Hoffman and Alan Dershowitz. However the likelihood of such a scenario, full of unrealistic assumptions, is slim to none. Even if such a highly implausible situation were to occur, experts find that it is equally (PDF) unlikely torture would be quick or effective enough to elicit the correct and necessary amount of information to prevent the terrorist plot at the last moment.

Amid all of the security-based arguments we should not forget that torture is not only ineffective and counterproductive, it is also illegal. While certain Bush administration officials may believe torture is legally defensible, international law would dictate otherwise. Even if the Bush administration were to invoke national sovereignty to flout international legal frameworks, like the Geneva Conventions–which prohibits “mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” of detainees–the US Uniform Military Code of Justice and the War Crimes Act of 1996 make it a crime to violate the Geneva Conventions. A 1994 Federal anti-torture statute strengthens these positions by making it a crime for any US national who, “commits or attempts to commit” torture.

Torture, like other hair-brained countermeasures against terrorism is both ineffective and illegal. Rather than dismissing the rule of law as a weakness that restricts America’s ability to fight terrorists, it should be seen as its shield against terrorism. As the example of torture demonstrates, by not abiding by the rule of law, we lose significant tactical and strategic advantage in our ability to bring criminals like Bin Laden to justice. Victory against terrorists is not won solely through military/intelligence tactical means, but also through greater ethical conduct that is mandated by our laws prohibiting torture, spying on someone without a warrant, detaining someone on the basis of their skin color or religion, etc.

Wa Allahu ‘Alim.