“You don’t have to waterboard me
I’ll tell you everything I know
I know that you lie
And I know every time you speak to me you lie
And I know
you don’t have to waterboard me
I’ll tell you everything I know
I know that waterboarding is torture and
torture is terrorism
Ill tell you everything I know
You don’t have to waterboard me,
I’ll tell you everything I know
I know that you’re greedy
For how else could we explain any of these lies.”
Andy Webb, singing, “You don’t have to waterboard me,” on Democracy Now, September 7, 2011.
The truth about terrorism is that there are a handful of people who commit criminal acts in an effort to damage governments, their own or others. These individuals should face a fair trial with all of the due process provided by the Constitution of the country where the crime was committed and fair punishment if convicted. The truth about terrorism is also that the United States government’s desire to remain in supreme control of the world has resulted in investigation and prosecution of innocent citizens and immigrants in a paranoid effort to ensure that anyone who might take some control from the United States is incapacitated by death or incarceration. Many of the people arrested or investigated have no idea that the charges lodged against them have anything to do with terrorism or that the investigation opened with their name as a person of interest has anything to do with terrorism. It may appear on the surface to be a simple narcotics case or financial fraud of some sort. In reality, the government is using some information on potential run of the mill criminal allegations to investigate its suspicions of terrorism.
The government garners its emotional support for this campaign to control its people from the deaths on 9/11. Violent hearts demanded violent action after these deaths, and some citizens said they were willing to sacrifice their Constitutional rights to permit the government intrusion of greater surveillance into our lives. But not all of the voices of the citizens of the United States are being heard. Shortly after 9/11, a large group of the family members of the victims walked from Washington DC to New York City proclaiming, “Not in Our Name.” A leader on this front is Rita Lazar. Rita Lazar’s brother was killed in the tower while he waited for the fire fighters to get to his parapalegic friend. With pain in her voice, Rita expressed on Democracy Now that she realized with horror that her government was going to use her brother’s death to kill innocent people. Rita knew that violence begets more violence and never achieves peace. The large majority of the world’s citizens are peaceful loving people wanting only to live and raise their families. People who happen to be from the same culture as the criminal or bear skin of the same color as the criminal or have the coincidence of being born in the same nation as the criminal should not live their lives in fear that the government of the United States might kill or persecute them or their family at any given time.
How do you know if the United States government thinks you’re a terrorist?
Have you been accused of a relatively minor crime (not related to terrorism) but the government is treating the case as though you are the most wanted criminal in the region? Have you been accused of a crime using several inchoate offenses such as attempting to conspire or conspiring to attempt which is essentially merely thinking about a crime? Then the United States government might think you are a terrorist.
Have you been accused of being a political dissident because you are teaching about diverse religious or political doctrines? Have you been accused of supporting a terrorist organization because you are advocating religious freedom for all religions? Have you been accused of domestic terrorism because you appeared at a rally denouncing animal cruelty? Then the United States government might think you are a terrorist.
The government calls these investigations domestic terrorism or environmental terrorism or material support for terrorism. Material support allegations could include sending money to your mom in Lebanon so that she can feed your siblings or sending money to a school so that the children can be educated to think for themselves and not blindly follow others. Environmental terrorism allegations could include standing outside of a manufacturing plant voicing your concern about the degradation of our air quality due to the manufacturing processes. Domestic terrorism allegations may include holding a vigil at the capital for peace or to protest corporate globalization.
Just like the United States’ war on drugs, the United States’ war on terror has become a war on the citizens and immigrants who live here: people who are just trying to earn a living and raise their families, people who are trying to make the country safer for animals, people who speak for the trees, because they cannot speak for themselves, and citizens who teach our children to think. The only way to stop this war on our people by our own government is for all of us to stand up and shout, “NO, NOT IN MY NAME.” No more violence in the name of protecting the American people. No more wrongful prosecutions in the name of protecting the American people. No more trampling on the Constitution in the name of protecting the American people. We have certain inalienable rights guaranteed by our Constitution, and we must demand that the Courts honor the principles in the Constitution by adhering to those rights.
When the government is unable to find evidence that a suspected individual provided material support to terrorists or committed terrorist acts, then the government uses other criminal charges to investigate and charge these people who it considers terrorists.
For example, in Miami, Florida, the government accused 27 Muslim Lebanese men of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, because they were selling substances that can be used to “cut” cocaine. The substances are sold in smoke shops and similar type stores along with other items that have more than one purpose. Prior to the federal prosecution, the state law enforcement in Florida had already evaluated the substance and determined that it was being bought and sold legally. The truth is that this case was really based upon the misperception of the government that these men were sending money to Lebanon to support terrorism. The truth is that Mr. Mokaddem is an innocent U.S. citizen who lived in the United States for twenty years, who owns his home and who just wants to live in peace caring for his sweet wife and beautiful children. Mr. Mokaddem was persecuted because of the nationality of his birth and because of paranoid fear. Mr. Silverman investigated, researched and drafted a motion to dismiss the charges based upon selective prosecution of Lebanese Muslims. After a hard fought battle, the United States ultimately dismissed the false charges against Mr. Mokaddem and 26 other similarly situated Lebanese Muslims.
In Tampa, Florida, the government lodged the same charges against about 5 other Muslim Lebanese men. We were not hired to represent any of these men. These men plead guilty instead of demanding a trial. Their decision to plead guilty was probably based upon their own fear of the power and control of the United States government.
Government Created Terrorists
The government reads emails. The government watches homes. The government examines trash. The government sends paid informants into religious institutions to listen to conversations and make friends with the members. This surveillance alone is not in keeping with the tenets set forth by our founding fathers. But, the government takes this surveillance to another level. If the government gets any idea from any of these surveillance techniques that anything you think or say or do might give you some inclination to become a terrorist, then the government might step in and try to make you a terrorist. Government agents pretend to be from a terrorist organization and communicate with you as though they are members of a terrorist organization. The government might use psychological tactics to convince you to take some step towards participating in some action with an organization that has terrorist ties. The government might actually work to convince you that your participation will be honorable and contribute to justice in the world. The government has used psychological tactics successfully to secure confessions for years. Recently, studies have shown that such psychological tactics can produce false confessions. Certainly, it is an easy step to recognize that if psychological tactics can produce false confessions, similar tactics could induce someone to send money or other support to a terrorist organization. Certainly, when employing these tactics, the government agents will not label themselves as a terrorist organization. They will likely claim they are pursuing religious freedom or justice for all persons, words that will assist in the cultivation of support.
Barry Bujol was charged in Texas with attempting to provide material support. On June 23, 2011, The Houston Chronicle reported that, “Bujol contends that federal agents knew long before he was arrested that he was not the man they were seeking, based on an email tip that he contends started the probe. And if it were not for the government coercing and harassing him, including enlisting a confidential informant posing as an al-Qaida member, events leading to his arrest never would have happened, he contends.” The Houston Chronicle reports in the same article that Bujol is not the only one concerned about the government techniques. Former FBI agent Jim Wedlick says that the U.S. government has used rogue informants in various parts of the country to bust people in exchange for cash. “Guys with criminal records are going around suggesting this and that.” An agent certainly has the intimate knowledge with the tactics to know exactly what the FBI is doing and the effect it is having on the credibility of the criminal justice system.
The Surveillance State
“The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation’s greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable…for they determine whether we use power or power uses us.” John F. Kennedy
The government is abusing its power in an effort to control its people. The Patriot Act was passed by Congress only 7 weeks after 9/11/2001, and it definitely expanded the government’s surveillance powers and the scope of some criminal laws. But the truth is that the real change is how law enforcement conceives its mission, that is the government’s use of those powers. On the 9/11 ten year anniversary, the New York Times’ journalist Adam Liptak printed John Ashcroft’s words from almost immediately after the attack. Ashcroft announced a new paradigm: “Preventing terrorist acts, he said, was now more important than punishing crimes after the fact.” Liptak points out that this paradigm is an echo of “Minority Report,” the 1956 Philip K. Dick story (and 2002 movie) that depicted a world in which the police catch criminals before they can act, based on their thoughts rather than their actions. As Kennedy noted, it is incumbent upon us to question the government’s use of this power, so that we are in control of our destiny rather than being overpowered by government.
Stand up for yourself
The United States is a big bully. Bullies can be defeated. Not with violence, but in peace with words, the words in the Constitution shared with Judges who have sworn to defend that Constitution. At Silverman Law Group, we are committed to the Constitution and to the values that define our nation.
While serving in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, one of Mrs. Silverman’s duties was to review potential security breaches. She was stationed as a reservist at Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska. The mission of United States Strategic Command is stated as “integrates and coordinates the necessary command and control capability to provide support with the most accurate and timely information for the President, the Secretary of Defense, other National Leadership and regional combatant commanders. USSTRATCOM combines the synergy of the U.S. legacy nuclear command and control mission with responsibility for space operations; global strike; Defense Department information operations; global missile defense; and global command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), and combating weapons of mass destruction. This dynamic command gives National Leadership a unified resource for greater understanding of specific threats around the world and the means to respond to those threats rapidly.” USSTRATCOM website.
In order to perform her duty of reviewing security breaches and consulting with the base attorney on other legal matters, Mrs. Silverman was determined to be eligible for Sensitive Compartmented Information and DCID 6/4 which includes the simultaneous granting of Top Secret collateral clearance. This background gives Mrs. Silverman the knowledge necessary to effectively represent someone facing charges related to the United States security and other related concerns. In addition, having passed the relevant background checks previously will make it easier for Mrs. Silverman to secure the clearance necessary to handle cases involving information that the government deems sensitive.
If you are facing persecution, please call us. Do not live in fear. Ensure that you are afforded the due process guaranteed by the Constitution. Live in peace.
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