Saturday, April 21, 2012

Glenn Greenwald bothers me in a really deep, genuine way...

...and I'm always a little shocked that a lot of people don't see it that way.

A facebook friend shared this post by Glenn on Tarek Mahenna's statement in court on facebook. I don't know the case, but I did read the statement. This was my response on their page:

"Four immediate reactions -
1. He has a surprisingly nationalistic/parochial view of the world
2. He seems unable to distinguish between acts we generally consider crimes (Haditha, Sept. 11, the gang rape, Malcom Xs assassination) and those that we don't (war against al Qaeda, revolt against the British), which is disturbing to say the least.
3. Minutemen the equivalent of jihadists??? Maybe some people who claimed the name "jihadist", but certainly not al Qaeda, who he referenced earlier in the statement.
4. The insinuation that one can't be whole without Islam is bothersome as well.

I don't know if he actually made these plots regarding a shopping mall or not. He seems to admit some connection to al Qaeda on his own, so I imagine they had good reason to pick him up. Whether he is guilty of the charges, though, is for the judge to decide. Based on the statement, it wouldn't surprise me either way. If he's just making claims like this - apologizing for terrible acts and analogizing purveyors of tyranny with champions of justice (like Mandela and King) - that's pretty sick, but he's within his rights. If he's guilty, then hopefully he gets what's coming to him.

Either way I don't quite understand why Greenwald is championing him. Greenwald has really disturbed me these last few years, and a lot of people have been taken in by him because he makes it sound like liberty and justice

I've made a habit of closing comments for anything about the war, because there's only so much of being accused of indifference towards the death of innocent people that a guy can take. I think I'll try an experiment and leave the comments open this time. Don't give me reason to close it.

I don't know this Mahenna guy. Maybe he's just crazy and not violent - I sure hope so. But this statement bothered me. And it also bothers me that doesn't seem to bother other people.


  1. "The insinuation that one can't be whole without Islam is bothersome as well."

    He's strongly religious, Daniel, do you actually expect him to become agnostic for the courtroom?

    1. I don't expect him to be agnostic anywhere. He's welcome to be religious. It just says something about the way he views other people.

    2. Apologies, Daniel, I was a bit cranky when I wrote that. Need to stop breaking my "don't engage in blog comments when overworked" rule.

      I agree.

    3. No problem - I didn't take it that way. Challenge and clarification is always good.

      It's funny - overworked our just outraged can bring out either the best or the worst in blogging. I was pretty frustrated when I wrote this post, actually. And I think I clarified my thoughts pretty well. Sometimes writing out of frustration has the opposite effect.

      That's life - you do what you can :)

  2. Decided to follow the link. A couple of immediate comments with due respect for the rules of civility.

    "He has a surprisingly nationalistic/parochial view of the world."

    He did come off as a bit nationalistic in worldview, but that's not really surprising given that the speech is by a Muslim being accused of a crime who plead not guilty.

    "Minutemen the equivalent of jihadists??? Maybe some people who claimed the name "jihadist",."

    I'm not saying I agree with his views at all, but don't you think this is a bit disingenuous?

    From *his* perspective countries he sympathizes with through religious ties have been invaded, bombed, and had tyrannical acts enforced upon them by the US/allies.

    So as I read him he views the current fighting around the world in places like Palestine as analogous to the struggle by the Mujahideen (who most certainly were "Jihadists") in the eighties. Again, not saying that's right, but its perfectly coherent given his premises.

    "but certainly not al Qaeda, who he referenced earlier in the statement."

    He never mentioned Al Qaeda by name he mentions the "mujahideen fighting the occupation of Muslim countries around the world" which I'm guessing is a far more expansive list of organizations.

    1. 1. Don't you think I agreed it was perfectly coherent on its premises when I wrote "Maybe some people who claimed the name "jihadist""? That was the whole point of throwing in that line, after all! My point is, he was analogizing minutemen to certain groups that are most definitely not freedom fighters.

      2. He doesn't mention al Qaeda by name, but he does mention the people who attacked on 9-11. And as you say, he seems to have a much broader view of what counts as "mujahideen fighting the occupation of Muslim countries".

  3. As in so many posts, Daniel reports on his emotions, but presents no argument.

  4. You really don't get why Greenwald--a staunch advocate of civil liberties--would champion a guy who is being sent to jail for exercising his right to speech?

    Also, for the record, this is the actual meat of his statement:

    All those videos and translations and childish bickering over ‘Oh, he translated this paragraph’ and ‘Oh, he edited that sentence,’ and all those exhibits revolved around a single issue: Muslims who were defending themselves against American soldiers doing to them exactly what the British did to America. It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to “kill Americans” at shopping malls or whatever the story was. The government’s own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word, who explained my beliefs. Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to prod me into one of their little “terror plots,” but I refused to participate. Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this.

    So, this trial was not about my position on Muslims killing American civilians. It was about my position on Americans killing Muslim civilians, which is that Muslims should defend their lands from foreign invaders – Soviets, Americans, or Martians. This is what I believe. It’s what I’ve always believed, and what I will always believe. This is not terrorism, and it’s not extremism. It’s what the arrows on that seal above your head represent: defense of the homeland. So, I disagree with my lawyers when they say that you don’t have to agree with my beliefs – no. Anyone with commonsense and humanity has no choice but to agree with me. If someone breaks into your home to rob you and harm your family, logic dictates that you do whatever it takes to expel that invader from your home.

    1. Andrew -
      I'm not convinced he's doing this because he's a staunch advocate of civil liberties, and Mehanna is not being sent to jail - he's being put on trial. Of course I would be opposed to a case where someone was being sent to jail for exercising his right to free speech. Of course. That's not the issue here at all, Andrew. The issue is whether Mehanna is guilty of cooperating with al Qaeda. It's Greenwald's consistent distortion of these sorts of questions that makes me seriously doubt he has much interest at all in civil liberties. Maybe he's convinced himself he does.

      This is just like Zimmerman. A frantic guy obsessed with "those people" uses the idea of self-defense and defense of community to justify terrible crimes. I don't know if Mehanna is actually guilty of working with al Qaeda. That's for the court to figure out. Like I said - I hope he's not. But it's the same damn problem as with Zimmerman where he apparently has lost the ability to distinguish between right and wrong - it all boils down to us vs. them. If Muslims are on one side, and non-Muslims are on the other side of any conflict he has decided the Muslim side is in the right. If black youths are on one side of the issue and non-blacks are on the other side of the issue Zimmerman (at least that evening) decided that the non-black side is in the right.

      This is not a good way to approach the world, Andrew. None of us here feel that way about the United States' actions, for example.

  5. Daniel

    This kind of case is very very hard for our legal system. It is a crime to aid, abet, counsel, or encourage. The last word is pretty damn broad.

    Translating Mein Kampf could well be a crime for one translater (who writes and intro---here are some great plans and ideas) and not for another (look at the evil in this man's writings that follow). The law does its best to distinguish being tripped over from being kicked.

    Whether these was evidence of aiding or encouraging--who knows. Who, today, can afford to have a reporter sit through a whole trial for the purpose of accurately reporting what the witnesses say.

    Overall, a compelling case for cameras in the Courtroom. Is it no surprise that our conservative judges oppose such a common sense solution?


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