Day We’ll All Be Terrorists
By Chris Hedges
by Chris Hedges: The
American Empire Is Bankrupt
Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that
our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus
no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such
as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo
Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC)
in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned
on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support
and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of
goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his
plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic
extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny
Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be
a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.
of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved
by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans.
In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to
silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi
endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later.
Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear,
sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements who are already
being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims
charged with terrorism have discovered that his fate is their
fate. Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils
outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found at www.educatorsforcivilliberties.org
or www.freefahad.com. On
Martin Luther King Day, this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will
hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower
Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join
them if you can.
The case against
Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration,
is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence.
This may be the reason the state has set up parallel legal and penal
codes to railroad those it charges with links to terrorism. If it
were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused
of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably
never be brought to trial.
if convicted could face up to 70 years in prison, has been held
in solitary confinement for more than 2½ years. Special administrative
measures, known as SAMs, have been imposed by the attorney general
to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners,
attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. He also
is denied access to the news and other reading material. Hashmi
is not allowed to attend group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour
electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. He must shower and go
to the bathroom on camera. He can write one letter a week to a single
member of his family, but he cannot use more than three pieces of
paper. He has no access to fresh air and must take his one hour
of daily recreation in a cage. His proclivity for violence
is cited as the reason for these measures although he has never
been charged or convicted with committing an act of violence.
was an activist, Hashmis brother, Faisal, told me by
phone from his home in Queens. He spoke out on Muslim issues,
especially those dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His arrest and torture have nothing to do with providing ponchos
and socks to al-Qaida, as has been charged, but the manipulation
of the law to suppress activists and scare the Muslim American community.
My brother is an example. His treatment is meant to show Muslims
what will happen to them if they speak about the plight of Muslims.
We have lost every single motion to preserve my brothers humanity
and remove the special administrative measures. These measures are
designed solely to break the psyche of prisoners and terrorize the
Muslim community. These measures exemplify the malice towards Muslims
at home and the malice towards the millions of Muslims who are considered
as non-humans in Iraq and Afghanistan.
sensory deprivation used on Hashmi is a form of psychological torture,
far more effective in breaking and disorienting detainees. It is
torture as science. In Germany, the Gestapo broke bones while its
successor, the communist East German Stasi, broke souls. We are
like the Stasi. We have refined the art of psychological disintegration
and drag bewildered suspects into secretive courts when they no
longer have the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves.
the rest of the article
Hedges has been a war reporter for 19 years, most recently for the
New York Times. He is author of What
Every Person Should Know About War a book that offers a critical
lesson in the dangerous realities of war. He's also author of War
is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. He writes a weekly column
© 2009 TruthDig