Posted on May 04, 2012 in Countdown

Countdown Vol. 10, No. 46


Our Dearborn Adventure

On Sunday, more than a hundred people gathered at a town hall at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan to stand in solidarity with the Arab American and American Muslim communities against Islamophobia. The town hall, organized by AAI and local community groups, was held in response to an anti-Muslim conference at the Hyatt in Dearborn, organized by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and other leading Islamophobes. Our event was attended by Congressmen John Conyers and Hansen Clarke, and other public officials and community leaders. Our event succeeded in disrupting the anti-Muslim narrative Spencer and Geller hoped to spread throughout the media. After the conclusion of our event, two AAI staff members and Countdown writers headed to the Spencer/Geller event, only to be escorted out by police… but not before taping this amusing video (you have to watch it).

Where Credit Isn't Due

There is a fun fight going on in the media about whether President Obama’s recent ad touting his decision to green-light the operation that got bin-Laden is appropriate, because the ad suggests (based on a semi-relevant Romney quote) that Romney wouldn’t have made the same call. Interestingly enough, liberal Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington sided with Romney on this one, calling the ad “despicable,” while Jon Stewart blasted the Republicans for “hypocrisy.” But why have silly fights about things the President did when we can have them about things he had nothing to do with? While Romney is busy blaming the President of the Arab Spring and the so-called the destabilization of the Middle East, Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan is busy praising Obama for “presid[ing] over democratic revolutions in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain.” Incoming message to both the President’s supporters and opponents: the peoples of the region are responsible for the uprisings, not the President of the United States, ok? Good! Now let’s get back to silly fights over real things. 

Unmanned Rhetoric

We’re starting to get suspicious that John Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor, has secretly been replaced by a Kafka-bot, cleverly designed to speak only in ironies, and convoluted logic. In last week’s Countdown, we reported on his non-explanation to an earlier statement he made praising the NYPD’s balance of security and civil liberties concerns. On Monday, Brennan made the startling announcement that the administration has been using unmanned aerial vehicles – drones – for overseas military operations (and this is news to whom exactly?). Brennan defended the use of drones by claiming that the people using the drones have vouched for their legality, and the civilian casualties they cause are acceptable because the only alternative to using drones is using bigger bombs that cause even more casualties. The drone attacks also apparently “respect the sovereignty” of the countries they enter without permission, and any American citizen killed by the drones is of course protected by (top-secret, jury-less) due process.

Has This Not Been Dealt With Yet?

We’ve written in the past about the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which grants the government the ability to indefinitely detain American citizens. Since its passage, a number of members of Congress have put forward attempts to strip out that piece of the legislation, but some efforts have apparently been more meaningful than others. Take, for example, Congressman Scott Rigell’s “Right to Habeas Corpus Act” which ensures that no one can lose their habeas corpus rights under the NDAA. What it doesn’t do, however, is…well….anything about the whole indefinite detention thing. There are other bills, put forward by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) that actually do take aim at this attack on our civil liberties. This is the perfect pivot point for something more horrendous than indefinite detention…

Torture Update

Jose Rodriguez, the ex-CIA officer who oversaw the CIA’s once-secret interrogation and detention program, defended his order to destroy waterboarding tapes during the Bush administration, in a recent book. He also attacked the Obama administration for criticizing waterboarding and calling it torture. Yes, it’s so NOT torture that the tapes had better be destroyed (lest people see how gentle and loving it is and start trying it on loved ones at home). Oh, apparently he did acknowledge they were “some ugly visuals.” In related news, the Bush Administration lawyer who provided legal justification for torture, John Yoo, has been protected by a court decision from lawsuits for his role. Good news week for those who like torture; bad one for those of us with a conscience.

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