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Hold on to your wallets! The Muslim American Bail-out

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Innalhamdolillah. Bismillah hir Rahman nir Raheem. Indeed, all praise is for Allah. In the Name of Allah, Whose Mercy transcends every comparison, Who is Always Merciful.

[written by abu abdAllah]

That’s right! I used that word: the Muslim American Bail-out.

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So am I going to fly a private jet to Washington as did the “Big-3” CEOs? Nope.
Am I hoping to press flesh with President-elect Hussein-is-my-middle-name as did the governors of most of the 50 states? Nope.
What do I want the government to pay for anyway? TDC? ISNA? MANA? Nope, nope, and nope.

Stumped?

I do want President-elect Obama to spend some capital, but since he’s going to have a hard time finding the money to pay for fixing all of the other problems caused by our current President, I’m not going to ask him to spend money on us.

It’s a little political capital I want — no, not capitol, I’m not asking for a miniature Washington, DC, a miniature US Capitol Building, etc.

Many Muslims join the rest of the world with baited breath for the closure of Guantanamo and the official prohibition of torture. Those things almost have to happen, folks. Even the oil companies have had to let the price of gasoline back to pre-9/11 prices just because President Bush is leaving office — and that really is the cause of the price drop, everything else is just a consequence of that fact. So America as a rogue-totalitarian-state just had to come to an end, too.

But many Muslims are still dreaming — along with too many liberals — that soon-to-be-President-Obama is going to bring all the Bush Administration evil-doers to justice for everything from war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, to CIA renditions and secret prisons, to not-so-secret abuses of power and justice at home in the US.

You’re dreaming if you believe it will come true in the first few years of an Obama Administration.

To accomplish your dream, then-President Obama would have to spend all his political capital. Forget health care reform. Forget public works and other infrastructure spending. Forget the appointment of decent judges without political axes to grind. The first criminal charges filed by anyone on Obama’s watch against anyone from the previous administration will end most of his hopes for bipartisanship — and President Obama literally has to keep that hope alive.

He does not have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate — and even if he had 60 votes, conservative Democrats are notorious for helping Republicans at the most inconvenient moments. And he does not have an absolute super-majority in the House either. And again, the whole country is a train wreck. The whole world needs us to get our act together.

So no one whose help President-elect Obama needs is going to be asking for criminal trials of the Bush Administration. (Assuming President Bush does not make the question moot by pardoning everyone including his dog…)

So, what am I asking for?

bail someone/something out: release someone or something from a difficulty; rescue

As much as I would like justice, what I want much more than that is for President Obama to do the following:

(1) Direct the Justice Department to review thoroughly all the terror-prosecutions that have taken place in the United States by the Bush Administration, including every secret case, every rendition, every pending case, every case not yet brought to indictment, and the case of each and every unindicted co-conspirator whose name has ever been revealed or leaked. And regardless of whether the cases are against US citizens, foreign nationals, or persons of undetermined nationality.

(2) In every instance of gross injustice or criminal mistreatment, that then-President Obama issue either (a) a full and unconditional pardon or (b) a commutation of sentence depending on the truth and appropriateness of the charges/sentences in an individual case.

So in the pending case of Syed “Fahad” Hashmi, the full year of 23-hour-maximum-security isolation that he has suffered, treatment designed to break the will of a violent-felon that is being applied to him before his trial has begun, that year would be weighed against any culpability for having let an informant stay at his home for two weeks accompanied by the informant’s baggage which included clothing brought by the informant and later delivered by the informant to Al Qaeda. And then Hashmi who has never been guilty of any other offense in his whole life would almost certainly be pardoned.

Why pardoned and not just exonerated? The President cannot interfere directly in a case and say “Dude, he’s innocent, or at least innocent of any crime that would justify what we’ve done to him already!”  But a full pardon would do nicely.

Compare that example to the case of Shaykh Dr. Ali Al-Timimi. He’s been in jail for a few years. Again, under tough conditions. And in his case, not for hosting someone for two weeks. Rather, he was a dinner guest after 9-11, and like a lot of Muslim Americans he expressed his fears that the government was going to make life miserable for all Muslims. You know what? He was right about what was going to happen, at least to him: charged with conspiracy because his hosts respected him.

A genius in his secular and religious life, mashaAllah, the only people who disrespected Dr. Al-Timimi served the Bush Administration.  I’d say again, a full and unconditional pardon. Since there was a conviction in the case, I can imagine a weak-stomached president only commuting the sentence.

What about the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui? Abducted with her young children and kept in secret for about five years. Then shot in what appears to have been a poorly staged attempt by the Bush Administration to pretend it (and its proxies) had never held her in custody. Even if one finds any truth in the government’s case, what I am asking for is a serious look at the torture-by-any-other-name that she has been subjected to. Her life and body, and perhaps her mental state too, naudhobillah, ruined by inhuman treatment at the hands of her captors, this woman who has not yet been judged in court has already suffered like one of the damned. Full and unconditional pardon.

Those are just three cases that the future Obama Administration needs to review fully. We literally do not know yet how many more cases there are because the Bush Administration has so thoroughly kept the extent of its atrocities and crimes against justice from public scrutiny. But those cases should all be exposed to the scrutiny of an Obama Administration.

Back to my bailout list…

(3) Declare unequivocally that the United States does not treat its citizens like suspects. That Muslim Americans are innocent until proven guilty. An emancipation proclamation of sorts for a people who have been shackled by the neocons, whose rights and dignity have been sold for a pittance only to further the political agenda of the Bush Administration.

Granting such pardons and commutations would be immensely embarrassing to President Bush and his cronies.  And while they would not by themselves restore the reputations, physical well-being, and mental health of the Bush Administration’s victims, they would (1) stop the injustices from continuing, (2) permit the victims to be reunited with their families who have suffered their absences, (3) and permit the media to finally interview all these people — so that the truth can get out.

It might be something that has to wait for a second term, but I would ask for one more item: giving the victims of the Bush Administration’s war on terror the right to sue former Bush Administration officials in federal court.

I am talking about suing for tort — a civil action — not criminal charges, which still-President-Bush may still erase with pardons before he leaves office.  True, money is not as vital as justice — but let’s face it: Dick Cheney (and every neocon like him) loves money more than he loves either justice or freedom anyway.  So establishing their financial liability by executive order or by a special act of Congress, that would be especially noxious to the neocons.  Not martyrs — make them paupers instead.

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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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Bismillah walhamdolillah. May Allah accept my repentance and yours. I am an attorney, a stepfather, a husband, a son, and a Muslim. Studying Islam is a means, reflecting what I have learned is a must, and to Allah is the inevitable return. If you would like my help, know that Allah is the source of all aid. If you would like to contact me, try tariqnisarahmed at Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, or add me as a friend on Facebook.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Sunie

    December 13, 2008 at 3:21 AM

    Wasn’t the whole ‘flying to Washington in corporate jets’ thing just a misleading result of a question asked of the CEOs. They actually drove there in cars. NO??? just curious. Don’t wanna bother going back and looking at the videos.

  2. abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    December 13, 2008 at 7:13 AM

    bismillah. Sunie — good question. :) i might have found myself quoting media hype — day after day, their trip was reported on MSNBC as having been via separate corporate jets.

    but then, day after day, most pundits misquoted the hourly wage of union workers, too. the real average hourly wage is about $25. pundits conflated that number by adding up all the costs of the automakers and dividing by the number of hours worked. that produced a cost of $75 per hour. that criticism of the $75/hr-lie courtesy of Keith Olbermann (MSNBC).

  3. abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    December 13, 2008 at 7:22 AM

    bismillah. one of my new favorite writers: Nat Hentoff.

    here are a selection of recent articles by Hentoff in the Village Voice. the first two discuss Fahad Hashmi’s case specifically and the rest are on the Bush Administration’s war on liberty, aka the “war on terror” (maybe because basic liberties must be “terrorible” to President Bush).

    Fahad Hashmi:

    Caged Citizen Will Test President Obama

    A Brooklyn College Grad Experiences the Constitution in a Cage

    Restoring civil liberty:

    Considering the War-Crimes Trial of the Bush Administration

    What Does Letting Our Own War Criminals Go Free Tell Us About Ourselves?

    The Next American Revolution: When It Becomes Necessary To Bring King George to Justice

    Obama’s First 100 Days

  4. SarahG

    December 13, 2008 at 10:51 PM

    Yeah, The United States is such a “rogue totalitarian state” under Bush that his critics have been allowed to harshly (and sometimes unfairly) criticize him (slander? Libel?) for the last eight years and the opposition party has been allowed to take nigh absolute power peacefully.

    But, I don’t expect this comment to be published, as we know the *real* intolerant totalitarians follow the Quran.

  5. abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    December 14, 2008 at 9:47 AM

    bismillah. Sarah, the best reason to permit your comment is to show how bankrupt it is of intellect. technically — as a matter of law — we live in a democracy. one with a great Constitution. but what respect has President Bush showed for the rule of law? your words: “nigh absolute power.”

  6. Farhan

    December 15, 2008 at 5:02 PM

    wow, intense, firm, and with justice
    i agree 100%

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