Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cops run amok in Nottingham too

[At the very least, here lies another story on the "Democracy in retrograde" theme. Further, it seems yet another theme, entertained intermittently in the aftermath of 911, is emerging as a strong contender. But first, today's story, from the Lenin's Tomb blog, posted by CopyLeft. -jlt]

A number of people have brought this shocking story to my attention. An MA student at the University of Nottingham named Rizwaan Sabir and a 30 year old academic, Hisham Yezza, were arrested by armed police under the Terrorism Act 2000, and held for six days without charge. The student downloaded a supposed 'Al Qaeda' training manual from a US government website as part of his dissertation on 'Islamic extremism'. I will just mention that there is some doubt as to the document's provenance, which is proliferating in different variations all over the internet. Rizwaan forwarded it to a friend in the Department of Engineering for printing because he couldn't afford the printing costs (1,500 pages at what I guess is 5 pence a page is seventy give quid). Someone, somehow, saw this material on Yezza's computer and, thanks to the culture of prying and snitching encouraged by the government and right-wing media, assumed the worst and told the University authorities. The authorities, instead of checking with the student or staff in question, or even making a roundabout preliminary investigation, called the police. The pair's homes were raided and their families harrassed during the six days of detention. The pair were released on 20 May, but Hisham Yezza was subsequently re-arrested on an unrelated immigration issue and is now at Colnbrook detention centre awaiting deportation to Algeria. The Guardian writes:

'Of his detention, Sabir said: 'I was absolutely broken. I didn't sleep. I'd close my eyes then hear the keys clanking and I would be up again. As I realised the severity I thought I'd end up in Belmarsh with the nutcases. It was psychological torture.

"'On Tuesday they read me a statement confirming it was an illegal document which shouldn't be used for research purposes. To this day no one has ever clarified that point. They released me. I was shaking violently, I fell against the wall, then on the floor and I just cried.'"

All of this because the student downloaded a publicly available document in the context of properly directed research. The University authorities had every reason to be aware of the nature of that research and could easily have checked all the relevant facts before ratting on one of their students. So, should this material be banned for the purposes of study? Why don't you have a look at it and tell me? If the US Department of Justice website removes the document for any reason, you can always see it here and here. In fact, the Pavilion Press have published a version which you can purchase via Amazon. If this is an illegal document, as the police appear to have told this student, the cops haven't done much to block access to it. It's probably one of the most easily obtainable documents in the world. I frankly suspect that they were [making shit up] relying on an excessively liberal interpretation of some law that would usually not be applied to retrospectively justify the arrest. And how dangerous is it? Not enough to stop the US government making it available for public consumption.

Read the rest, including a press release from students and staff, here =>

[Films like "Loose Change" and "Zeitgeist" acknowledge several "official" versions of the 911 events, one based on quotations from officials, another based on the findings of the federal investigative committee, the Kean/Hamilton Commission. If nothing else, the so-called 911-truth films establish that neither official version has any merit at all. However, the cherished notion that "911 was an inside job" is far from proven.

It always seemed to me that a proper investigation should have begun with a brainstorm to establish a broad map of possible interpretations, of which "inside job" would be just one.

To that brainstorm, I offer another version of events I call "shooting in the dark." In this version, clarity has taken time to emerge. But even before the dawn of September 12, the real danger would be clear, i.e., that the "war on terror" had already been lost. That was Jean Chretien's immediate concern.

The US government's response to the events of 911 would be stereotypical and altogether predictable in practically every way. There would be no debating or negotiating with bin Laden. There would be bloodshed in the grand Old Testament tradition, enough to create a story to eclipse the real story. The military would be mobilized at last.

The real story is that Afghanistan was small potatoes. Radical Muslims could go to Afghanistan for inspiration and contacts and a bit of training in how to handle an explosive. But the real training went on in Germany and the US. No one really wants to discuss what that implies.

US officials and everyone under the influence of their massive media reach would prefer believe that Osama bin Laden was "responsible." But the 911 attacks had been planned, coordinated and executed by a relatively independent cadre operating largely on a very small budget with money largely out of their own pockets. The low-budget, low-tech aspect of the operation is part of its genius.

The significance of the attacks is not the amount of physical damage that they did or the number of deaths. Their true significance has been in their power to create over time a lasting demonstration of democracy's weakness precisely within the city on the hill, and within the hearts and minds of those elected to use it for its own protection.

The reason Bush returned to the story about the goat with such a silly look on his face for such a long time was to let his pants dry. He knew immediately that the terrrists were after him. He was in their sights. Did he dare climb in an airplane? Where could he run to? He was terrified.

The eventual response, beginning with the American's but spreading rapidly to the NATO countries, was to begin shooting in the dark. They didn't know who the enemy was and still don't. But they know there's one out there, and they know that shooting first and asking questions later was something the good guys always did in the comics.

Would they sacrifice some human rights and some democracy to get shooting? You bet. Their response has been a very successful recruiting campaign for Al Qaeda and a vastly expanded arena for on the job training in the handling of explosive and other realistic skills.

I personally have no desire to get on an airplane and have it blow up before I get to my destination. I hope with all my heart that a strategy can be devised to bring the probability of such an event as close to zero as reasonably achievable. However, for nearly seven years, the probability in question has been going through the roof. Political leaders, whether on the right or on what remains of the left (or is left of the remains), can't sacrifice human rights and democracy fast enough. And they want more troops. They seem congenitally constrained by an inability to countenance the merits of talk and other forms of nonviolence though they firmly demand it from the enemies they have made and continue to make.

There are thousands of examples to support "shooting in the dark" as a hypothesis superior to "inside job." These events in Nottingham are the most recent in a long series. -jlt]Recommend this Post

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