Ahmed Omar Abu Ali Sentenced to 30-Year Term
Here in the United States, an Arab-American man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for joining al-Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted in November after spending nearly two years in a Saudi Arabian prison, where he says was tortured into making a confession. Two doctors who examined him corroborated his claim.
Today's Democracy Now! and I'm still shaking my head over it. We're allowing a confession obtained under torture to be 'evidence' in court. The judge refused to acknowledge that torture went on. Maybe that's supposed to make it okay?
"Well the judge didn't think he'd been tortured." Well who would know better, the judge or doctors examining the man? The judge knows that Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was tortured. And should know that confessions from torture are not reliable and that people will say anything, sign anything, just to make the torture stop.
That verdict should offend you. Right or left, it should offend you because it was reached by resorting to torture. That's not an American principle. The nation grew a little darker today as a result of the judicial malpractice.
And it's one more step in accustomizing the public to torture. (I've changed the word, Shirley says "accustoming" isn't a word. She wrote an emphatic e-mail saying this was "a wonderful post" and asked me to please fix that word.)
We have little moral ground, if any, left at this point. In six years, we've publicly trashed everything we supposedly believed in. When 9-11 happened, we were told we had to "fight" to save our way of life. Osama didn't run Abu Ghraib. Osama doesn't run Guantanamo. Go down a long list and you'll see that the things destroying our way of life, destroying our belief system, is not coming from outside the nation, it's coming from within.
Bully Boy's policies have done more to harm the long term of the country than anything else. He's certainly inspired world-wide hate and that will come back to bite us in the butts. He's also trashed our Constitution and our roots (which go back to the enlightenment). We're so far from where we were in the summer of 2000 (and we weren't perfect then) that it's hard to believe.
He tries to scare us and, like an easily led herd, people fall into panic mode and start questioning the very national identity that's supposed to bind us together. Instead of acting like citizens in a democratic society, we act like hostages. He's turned us into a nation of hostages.
And we let him do it. We didn't call out the jingo-istic haters when they started singing the backup to his lead vocals. We made them into media heroes. (I'd gone my whole life not knowing who Sean Hannity was -- and it was a very good life -- until after September 11th.)
(I've never watched his show -- or any Fox "News" programming -- but he's as inscapable as Rush was in the nineties. In fact, he and O'Reilly are probably more present than Rush was due to the fact that they're a little more photogenic and more apt to be invited elsewhere. I had to hear Hannity on The Majority Report, I had to see him in magazines.) We didn't scream, "Back off!" when they went after Susan Sontag.
In fact, Eric Alterman joined in the trashing of Sontag. (Which only proves, yet again, that he's not as smart as he likes to pretend.) C.I. had a thing on Alterman today which is must reading.
He is the wimpiest little nerd. When he's on The Majority Report, he makes people sick. And that may have something to do that he relates to Janeane Garofalo on a pre-adolescent level. He thinks it's cute to act like a fourth grader with a crush.
A lot of times, when people come over and look through whatever magazines are on my coffee table, they'll ask about The Nation and I always feel compelled to say, "I do not read Alterman." There's no one else that I feel the need to say about that. Or any other section and I really do not like their music coverage. But he's such an embarrasment. He seems to exist solely to make the weak-willed, non-Hannity on that show seem tough. There's nothing sadder than a Woody Allen who presents himself as though he's this tough talking, hard hitting man.
He's the guy at the bar who haunts your table and won't take no for an answer while it's all women present. But let a man show up and he disappears. He really has a low opinion of women, that comes through in the way he interacted with Janeane. I believe there was a time when Naomi Klein filled in for Janeane and he was on then trying to pull the same nonsense. But I may be remembering that wrong. I just know he is every pencil-necked geek hanging around until last call, just knowing that despite the fact that you've blown him off repeatedly, you're suddenly going to say, "Hey, I'll go home with you!" I believe he's married but I wonder how often that worked in his pre-marriage days? Not too often, I'd guess.
I really just got on to say thank you to everyone who wrote in to say they enjoyed the review. Jess and Ava passed those e-mails along if they went to The Common Ills. I read the ones that went to my own account, sent to my own account, as well. And to add two links to my blog roll.
While I'm online, I don't think I've noted Trina's "Mexican Rice in the Kitchen." It's a very simple recipe and if you're interested in cooking, you should have no trouble following it. And I want to note Elaine's "Peace comes from being able to contribute the best we have" because I don't think I note her often enough. (She always notes my reviews. She notes stuff from here as well, but I've never done a review that she hasn't noted.) And Cedric just posted so let me note his "Afghanistan the forgotten 'liberation'" which you should read right away.