Let It Cut Both Ways: US Foreign Aid and State-Sponsored Terrorism

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by Sibel Edmonds: The
Not So Gradual Degradation of aNation

Material Support to Dictators Who Inflict Terror

In June 2010 our rights and liberties suffered a major setback.
The United States Supreme Court upheld
the broad application of a federal law making it a crime to provide
“material support” to designated “foreign terrorist organizations”
(FTOs). Under this law individuals face up to 15 years in prison
for providing “material support” to FTOs, even if their work is
intended to promote peaceful, lawful objectives. “Material support”
is defined to include any “service,” “training,” “expert advice
or assistance” or “personnel.” This setback should cut both ways,
that is, if we had a bit more application of justice and a tad less
of hypocrisy, and of course, far more straightforward information
delivery. What do I mean by having this setback cut both ways? Terrorism
is not limited to individual(s), groups, organizations; it includes
nation states. A bunch of ego-driven scholars or a few anal-retentive
political analysts may want to split hairs as to whether or not
"state sponsored terrorism" constitutes terrorism, but
hey, since 2002 their elected presidents have been accusing nations
of being terrorists or axis of evil, and for this, for now, I am
going to go with that.

State terrorism refers to acts of terrorism conducted by a state
against a foreign state or people. It can also refer
to widespread acts of violence by a state against its own people.
Based on this definition and based on what the puppet court recently
ruled on what constitutes "material support" to terrorism,
our government, those who have sanctioned US Foreign Aid to dictators
inflicting violence against their own people, should be brought
to trial. I am talking about Egypt. I am talking about Uzbekistan.
I am talking about Jordan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Israel
…To be more accurate, I am talking about Billions of dollars being
continuously provided to dictators for half a century who in turn
are terrorizing their own people. Egypt and where our tax dollars,
US Foreign Aid, went is only one
example
. All you have to do is line check dozens of our foreign
aid recipients against their established human rights (terrorism)
record. Here are examples:

In September 2008, the U.S. and Jordanian governments reached
an agreement whereby the United States will provide a total of
$660 million in annual foreign assistance to Jordan over a 5-year
period.

Then, check the dictator's record
in Jordan:

Domestic and international NGOs reported cases of arbitrary
deprivation of life, torture, poor prison conditions, impunity,
arbitrary arrest and denial of due process through administrative
detention, prolonged detention, and external interference in judicial
decisions. Citizens continued to describe infringements on their
privacy rights. Restrictive legislation and regulations limited
freedom of speech and press, and government interference in the
media and threats of fines and detention led to self-censorship,
according to journalists and human rights organizations. The government
also continued to restrict freedoms of assembly and association.

Local human rights organizations reported widespread violence
against women and children. The government restricted labor rights,
and local and international human rights organizations reported
high levels of abuse of foreign domestic workers.

Shouldn't the persons in our government who have sanctioned and
provided financial and material support to the dictators of these
terrorist regimes who've been terrorizing their people be held liable?

Do I hear a whisper in the background…those who are saying,

"Well, the terror practices of those dictators do not
inflict or in any way affect our people here in the United States,
thus, the criminal liability does not apply to our government
officials who've been providing material and financial support
to those state terrorists. The victims are not Americans."

Let me respond to this point: Actually, yes, Americans do fall
victims to terrorism practiced by these dictators which is made
possible by our government's material and financial support. Here
is a fairly sound analysis
published in 2008 at Terrorism Monitor

A great deal of debate surrounds the factors driving the
brand of radical Islam in the Middle East that inspires some individuals
to commit acts of violence. A recurring theme in extremist discourse
is opposition to incumbent authoritarian regimes in the Middle
East. For radical Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda, unwavering
U.S. support for the autocracies that rule Egypt, Jordan, Saudi
Arabia and elsewhere in the region tops a list of grievances toward
what amounts to pillars of U.S. foreign policy in the region.
In addition to al-Qaeda, however, most Muslims in the Middle East
also see these regimes as oppressive, corrupt and illegitimate.
Authoritarian regimes in the region are also widely viewed as
compliant agents of a U.S.-led neo-colonial order as opposed to
being accountable to their own people.

And here is a real life example they present:

There is ample evidence that a number of prominent militants
– including al-Qaeda deputy commander Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri
and the late al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi –
endured systematic torture at the hands of the Egyptian and Jordanian
authorities, respectively (see Terrorism Monitor, May 4, 2006).
Many observers believe that their turn toward extreme radicalism
represented as much an attempt to exact revenge against their tormentors
and, by extension, the United States, as it was about fulfilling
an ideology. Those who knew Zawahiri and can relate to his experience
believe that his behavior today is greatly influenced by his pursuit
of personal redemption to compensate for divulging information about
his associates after breaking down amid brutal torture sessions
during his imprisonment in the early 1980s [3]. For radical Islamists
and their sympathizers, U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic
support for regimes that engage in this kind of activity against
their own citizens vindicates al-Qaeda's claims of the existence
of a U.S.-led plot to attack Muslims and undermine Islam. In al-Qaeda's
view, these circumstances require that Muslims organize and take
up arms in self-defense against the United States and its allies
in the region.

And this point:

Brutal and humiliating forms of torture are common instruments
of control and coercion by the security services in police states
intent on rooting out all forms of dissent. Previously the domain
of human rights activists, researchers investigating the many
pathways toward radicalization in the Middle East are increasingly
considering the impact of torture and other abuses at the hands
of the state during periods of incarceration in an effort to better
understand the psychology of the radicalization process. Many
researchers see these kinds of experiences as formative in the
path toward violent radicalization.

Now, let me repeat again, our government, using our tax dollars,
is providing material and financial support to dictators who terrorize
their own people, and this terrorization plays a major role in creating
radicalism that justifiably directs its wrath towards the United
States responsible for sustaining these terrorist dictators by providing
material and financial support, aka US Foreign Aid. Thus,
with Americans becoming targets (since the money and consent originate
from them) and victims, those in our government who sanction and
execute these material and financial supports should be held criminally
liable. Well, the Supreme Court says so.

The around the clock US media's coverage of the uprising in Egypt
and its domino effect in the region is more and more resembling
the Hollywood-esque performance delivered to us during the Iraq
war. Remember "Operation Shock & Awe"? Very
similar.

Think-Tank experts are popping up at the rate of eight per hour;
never mind their agenda-driven foundations and bosses. Academic
experts thirsty to dump their 24 letter-per-word academic jargon
cache are competing with each other in making Americans dizzier
and more confused; never mind their ego-driven hypothesis-based
nonsense rarely put to use in real life. A few are talking about
"this" as a real opportunity for "that"
part of the world to take hold of their destiny and make their dream
of change come true. However, not many, if any, are talking about
"this" being a good opportunity for "our"
part of the world to grasp what has been exercised in "that"
part of the world on our behalf, in our name,
and with our money. By talk I mean "straight"
talk: free of all the agenda, twists, denials, jargons, mischaracterizations
and misinterpretations. If their intentions were noble, these analysts
and experts, we'd get the plain truth (however painful or ego-bruising
that may be) minus the bull sh..

Let me illustrate what I mean, and please chip in with your straight
talk to make this a real straight forward discussion. Let's
talk about US Foreign Aid, and I'll try to make it brief
("they" may try to persuade you otherwise but
trust me, it is not that complicated).

The majority of our people have this romantic notion of what's
called "US Foreign Aid." When they hear "US
Foreign Aid," they picture hungry naked children with
ribs showing, and bowls of Corn Flakes delivered to them by angelic
faced men and women wearing bright colored t-shirts with the "US
Department of State" logo.

When they read the phrase "US Foreign Aid,"
they envision groups of American men and women with rolled up sleeves
hammering away: building bridges, digging wells, paving roads…Helping
poor nations put infrastructure in place or fight diseases…
images similar to what they may have seen in posters and advertisements
for volunteer organizations such as the Peace Corp.

When they think of "US Foreign Aid," they imagine
money, their tax dollars, being sent to desperate and needy nations
to purchase primary survival ingredients, or, to help with their
primary Education… Basically, many Americans think of "US
Foreign Aid" as noble intentions and actions made possible
by their tax dollars and delivered by their government to help the
needy in some unfortunate part of the world.

Believing this false notion has been made easy for our people,
thanks to our government, media, and fairytale books subscribed
to by many academicians. And let's admit it, believing this makes
people feel good; real good. This unfounded notion of being the
good guys makes people feel proud and patriotic, and more importantly,
more nationalistic, even more importantly, more governable. This
false belief even satisfies our religious and spiritual sides; we,
the altruistic Americans, who help the world.

While holding on to this false and romantic notion of "US
Foreign Aid," complications, or, questions bringing on
complications, are consciously or subconsciously avoided. Questions
like,"hmmmm, let's see, we have over one trillion dollar
deficit, yet we give several billion dollars to Egypt, several billion
dollars to Israel, several billion dollars to Pakistan, hundreds
of millions of dollars to …then, how do we even afford giving these
billions of dollars every year?!" Or, "I don't
understand, nearly fifty percent of our people struggle to obtain
healthcare, our veterans can't get needed medical assistance, many
are finding it harder and harder to put aside college funds for
their kids, the conditions of our schools are worsening…and we are
giving billions of dollars to nations like Israel, Jordan, Pakistan,
Georgia, Turkmenistan?! Huh?!"

See, those kinds of questions would mess up this entire romantic
notion of "US Foreign Aid" held by the majority,
and that in turn would put our government in the position of having
to explain and present the public with some very basic justification.

Then, there are other questions; the kind that require a little
bit higher level of attention, critical thinking, and of course,
the ever absent information withheld by the culprit US media. The
questions of: Who gets those tax dollars? Why? Who benefits? Why?

Remember, unlike our irate minority group over here, the majority
is clueless when it comes to: where is Turkmenistan, and who gets
our tax dollars, aka "US Foreign Aid" there?
How was our $60 billion aid spent in Egypt? How come Israel gets
all these billions every year, when we are pondering about the rising
poverty rate in the US and many without healthcare? Why are we bombing
Pakistan every day, sending drones after drones to hit them, and
then, turning around and giving them billions of dollars every year?

So, with a little bit of common sense and a dash of inquisitiveness
we can get the majority to start questioning this entire notion
of "US Foreign Aid." Now imagine the opportunity
for some badly needed positive changes here in our country if we
had a real media who presented real facts in a straight forward
fashion, taking our majority to the next level of consciousness?

Reprinted
with permission from BoilingFrogsPost.com.

February 10, 2011

Sibel
Edmonds is the founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers
Coalition (NSWBC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding
national security whistleblowers. She has appeared on national radio
and TV as a commentator on matters related to whistleblowers, national
security, and excessive secrecy & classification, and has been featured
on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times,
Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The American Conservative, and
others. Her book, Shooting the Messenger, co-authored with
Professor William Weaver, is forthcoming from Kansas University
Press in the fall of 2010.

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