Glenn Greenwald: Iraqi-American is imprisoned by US for saving his family from US sanctions
September 29, 2012
I’m currently traveling around the US on a speaking tour, and as I’vewritten before, one of the prime benefits of doing that is being able to meet people and their families whose lives have been severely harmed by the post-9/11 assault on basic liberties. Doing that prevents one from regarding these injustices as abstractions, and ensures that the very real human costs from these government abuses remain vivid.
Such is the case with the treatment of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi, an Iraqi-American nuclear engineer who just began a three-year prison sentence at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiary for the “crime” of sending sustenance money to his impoverished, sick, and suffering relatives inIraq - including his blind mother - during the years when US sanctions (which is what caused his family’s suffering) barred the sending of any money to Iraq.
Yesterday in Columbia, Missouri, I met with Hamoodi’s son, Owais, a medical student at the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine, and Hamoodi’s son-in-law, Amir Yehia, a Master’s student in MU’s School of Journalism. The travesty of this case - and the havoc it has wreaked on the entire family - is repellent and genuinely infuriating. But it is sadly common in post-9/11 America, especially for American Muslim communities.
Hamoodi came with his wife to the US in 1985 to work toward his PhD in nuclear engineering from MU and, not wanting to return to the oppression of Saddam’s regime, stayed in the US. He was offered a research professor position at the university, proceeded to have five American-born children, all of whom he and his wife raised in the Columbia community, and then himself became a US citizen in 2002.
But US-imposed sanctions after the First Gulf War had decimated the value of Iraqi currency and were causing extreme hardship for his large family who remained in Iraq. That sanctions regime caused the death ofat least hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including 500,000 Iraqi children. In 1991, the writer Chuck Sudetic visited Iraq, wrote in Mother Jonesabout the pervasive suffering, starvation and mass death he witnessed first-hand, and noted that the US-led sanctions regime “killed more civilians than all the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons used in human history”.
The sanctions regime decimated Hamoodi’s family. His elderly blind mother was unable to buy basic medication. His sister, one of 11 siblings back in Iraq, suffered a miscarriage because she was unable to buy $10 antibiotics. His brother, a surgeon, was earning the equivalent of $2 per month and literally unable to feed his family.
Hamoodi was earning a very modest salary at the time of roughly $35,000 per year from the university, but - as would be true for any decent person of conscience - could not ignore the extreme and growing suffering of his family back in Iraq. Because sending money into Iraq from the US was physically impossible, he set up a bank account in Jordan and proceeded to make small deposits into it. From that account, small amounts of money - between $20 and $100 - were dispersed each month to his family members.
When other Iraqi nationals in his Missouri community heard of his helping his family, they wanted to help theirs as well. So Hamoodi began accepting similar amounts of money from a small group of Iraqis and ensured those were disbursed to their family members suffering under the sanctions regime. From 1993 until 2003, when the sanctions regime was lifted after the US invasion, Hamoodi sent an average of $25,000 each year back to Iraq, totaling roughly $250,000 over the decade: an amount that fed and sustained the Iraqi relatives of 14 families in Columbia, Missouri, including his wife’s five siblings.
Nobody, including the US government, claims that these amounts were intended for anything other than humanitarian assistance for his family and those of others in his community. Everyone, including the US government, acknowledges that these funds were sent to and received only by the intended recipients - suffering Iraqi family members - and never got anywhere near Saddam’s regime, terrorist groups, or anything illicit. As a Newsweek article on the Hamoodi case made clear:

"The cash … was doled out mostly in dribs and drabs, even the authorities concede; $40 a month to the son of a friend trying to eat while attending medical school, $80 to Hamoodi’s blind mother. There was no suggestion that Hamoodi … aided terrorists, or that the money wound up in Saddam Hussein’s hands; his elaborate email trail served as receipts, as tidy as his bookkeeping at the store.
“‘I would get messages from my sisters, I have 11 siblings,’ he says, as he shares a somber meal - piquant red peppers from South Africa, French cheeses, crusty baklava - with his wife and sons at the long dining room table. ‘They would be starving. Starving. So I did what anyone, any American, would do.’”

But in 2002 and 2003, Hamoodi was not just a nuclear engineer. He was also a very outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s plan to attack Iraq. And his position as a nuclear engineer made him a particularly potent threat to the case for that invasion, as he continuously insisted that Saddam did not have an active nuclear weapons program and that the case for the war was grounded in lies. In his antiwar activism, he emphasized how much already-suffering Iraqi civilians would suffer more, and how the invasion would lead to mass instability.
Finish the article here

Glenn Greenwald: Iraqi-American is imprisoned by US for saving his family from US sanctions

September 29, 2012

I’m currently traveling around the US on a speaking tour, and as I’vewritten before, one of the prime benefits of doing that is being able to meet people and their families whose lives have been severely harmed by the post-9/11 assault on basic liberties. Doing that prevents one from regarding these injustices as abstractions, and ensures that the very real human costs from these government abuses remain vivid.

Such is the case with the treatment of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi, an Iraqi-American nuclear engineer who just began a three-year prison sentence at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiary for the “crime” of sending sustenance money to his impoverished, sick, and suffering relatives inIraq - including his blind mother - during the years when US sanctions (which is what caused his family’s suffering) barred the sending of any money to Iraq.

Yesterday in Columbia, Missouri, I met with Hamoodi’s son, Owais, a medical student at the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine, and Hamoodi’s son-in-law, Amir Yehia, a Master’s student in MU’s School of Journalism. The travesty of this case - and the havoc it has wreaked on the entire family - is repellent and genuinely infuriating. But it is sadly common in post-9/11 America, especially for American Muslim communities.

Hamoodi came with his wife to the US in 1985 to work toward his PhD in nuclear engineering from MU and, not wanting to return to the oppression of Saddam’s regime, stayed in the US. He was offered a research professor position at the university, proceeded to have five American-born children, all of whom he and his wife raised in the Columbia community, and then himself became a US citizen in 2002.

But US-imposed sanctions after the First Gulf War had decimated the value of Iraqi currency and were causing extreme hardship for his large family who remained in Iraq. That sanctions regime caused the death ofat least hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including 500,000 Iraqi children. In 1991, the writer Chuck Sudetic visited Iraq, wrote in Mother Jonesabout the pervasive suffering, starvation and mass death he witnessed first-hand, and noted that the US-led sanctions regime “killed more civilians than all the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons used in human history”.

The sanctions regime decimated Hamoodi’s family. His elderly blind mother was unable to buy basic medication. His sister, one of 11 siblings back in Iraq, suffered a miscarriage because she was unable to buy $10 antibiotics. His brother, a surgeon, was earning the equivalent of $2 per month and literally unable to feed his family.

Hamoodi was earning a very modest salary at the time of roughly $35,000 per year from the university, but - as would be true for any decent person of conscience - could not ignore the extreme and growing suffering of his family back in Iraq. Because sending money into Iraq from the US was physically impossible, he set up a bank account in Jordan and proceeded to make small deposits into it. From that account, small amounts of money - between $20 and $100 - were dispersed each month to his family members.

When other Iraqi nationals in his Missouri community heard of his helping his family, they wanted to help theirs as well. So Hamoodi began accepting similar amounts of money from a small group of Iraqis and ensured those were disbursed to their family members suffering under the sanctions regime. From 1993 until 2003, when the sanctions regime was lifted after the US invasion, Hamoodi sent an average of $25,000 each year back to Iraq, totaling roughly $250,000 over the decade: an amount that fed and sustained the Iraqi relatives of 14 families in Columbia, Missouri, including his wife’s five siblings.

Nobody, including the US government, claims that these amounts were intended for anything other than humanitarian assistance for his family and those of others in his community. Everyone, including the US government, acknowledges that these funds were sent to and received only by the intended recipients - suffering Iraqi family members - and never got anywhere near Saddam’s regime, terrorist groups, or anything illicit. As a Newsweek article on the Hamoodi case made clear:

"The cash … was doled out mostly in dribs and drabs, even the authorities concede; $40 a month to the son of a friend trying to eat while attending medical school, $80 to Hamoodi’s blind mother. There was no suggestion that Hamoodi … aided terrorists, or that the money wound up in Saddam Hussein’s hands; his elaborate email trail served as receipts, as tidy as his bookkeeping at the store.

“‘I would get messages from my sisters, I have 11 siblings,’ he says, as he shares a somber meal - piquant red peppers from South Africa, French cheeses, crusty baklava - with his wife and sons at the long dining room table. ‘They would be starving. Starving. So I did what anyone, any American, would do.’”


But in 2002 and 2003, Hamoodi was not just a nuclear engineer. He was also a very outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s plan to attack Iraq. And his position as a nuclear engineer made him a particularly potent threat to the case for that invasion, as he continuously insisted that Saddam did not have an active nuclear weapons program and that the case for the war was grounded in lies. In his antiwar activism, he emphasized how much already-suffering Iraqi civilians would suffer more, and how the invasion would lead to mass instability.

Finish the article here

Egyptian anger at US goes beyond one movieSeptember 15, 2012
I have been watching events in the Middle East unfold from the American heartland. The reaction among many of the people there was a mix of shock, anxiety, and fear. They also wanted to know why people are storming U.S. diplomatic compounds. Americans are in disbelief that this is happening over a movie that no one has ever heard of, much less seen. In that they are correct.; Events in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and now Malaysia are far more complicated than an offensive movie and the madness of those who sought to provoke this violence by making it as well as those who have capitalized on it to encourage violence.
Consider Egypt, the place in the Muslim world that I know best. Many Egyptians—including, I am sure, President Mohammed Morsi—are deeply offended by The Innocence of Muslims but the resentment of the United States runs deep in Egypt. This is not an excuse, but Americans must understand the context in which their embassies and diplomats are being attacked. Yes, Washington has helped Egypt through infrastructure development, agricultural reform, public health, and myriad other areas; but the United States has, according to Egyptians, weakened their country through an alliance that subordinates Cairo’s interests to those of Washington (and by association those of Jerusalem). This sense of subordination is manifest in the U.S. embassy itself. To the average American it may seem innocuous enough, though it sits in a miniature “Green Zone”—which is actually at the insistence of the Egyptian government—a few blocks from Tahrir Square. That is Liberation Square. The embassy is easily spotted by just looking up from Tahrir because, at thirteen stories, it is one of the tallest buildings in the area. It looms over a traffic circle that features newsstands, travel agencies, formerly the Cairo Hilton, the Egyptian national museum, and the dregs of American fast food outlets—KFC, Hardee’s, and Pizza Hut.  It would be hard for a proud Egyptian nationalist not to notice the irony of it all.
No, the protests are not just about a movie. They are about perceived insults on Egyptians’ national pride and collective dignity that the United States has perpetrated for the previous three decades. It ranges from everything such as support for President Mubarak and Anwar Sadat before him, to U.S. patronage of Israel at the expense of Egypt and Arab causes, to the invasion of Iraq, which the vast majority of Egyptians deeply opposed, though Mubarak provided important assistance in that effort, to little slights like Ambassador Ann Patterson’s visit to a polling station during parliamentary elections last fall/winter. The cognitive dissonance is hard to get over for Americans, however. Washington has sought to help Egypt to the tune of $65 billion. For Egyptians the mistrust runs so deep, there is no such thing as American altruism. Under these circumstances, President Obama was exactly right when he questioned the quality of the U.S.-Egypt alliance.
Source
The writer makes a great point that seems so obvious to everyone but Americans. Why are people the slightest bit surprised that countries we have torn apart with imperialistic policies, war, unmanned drones & military presence furious with the US impeding upon its sovereignty? 
This goes much further back than this offensive Islamophobic film. The US has a long history of trampling on countries’ independence for its own gain. It’s what the US does best & has done since it began. 

Egyptian anger at US goes beyond one movie
September 15, 2012

I have been watching events in the Middle East unfold from the American heartland. The reaction among many of the people there was a mix of shock, anxiety, and fear. They also wanted to know why people are storming U.S. diplomatic compounds. Americans are in disbelief that this is happening over a movie that no one has ever heard of, much less seen. In that they are correct.; Events in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and now Malaysia are far more complicated than an offensive movie and the madness of those who sought to provoke this violence by making it as well as those who have capitalized on it to encourage violence.

Consider Egypt, the place in the Muslim world that I know best. Many Egyptians—including, I am sure, President Mohammed Morsi—are deeply offended by The Innocence of Muslims but the resentment of the United States runs deep in Egypt. This is not an excuse, but Americans must understand the context in which their embassies and diplomats are being attacked. Yes, Washington has helped Egypt through infrastructure development, agricultural reform, public health, and myriad other areas; but the United States has, according to Egyptians, weakened their country through an alliance that subordinates Cairo’s interests to those of Washington (and by association those of Jerusalem). This sense of subordination is manifest in the U.S. embassy itself. To the average American it may seem innocuous enough, though it sits in a miniature “Green Zone”—which is actually at the insistence of the Egyptian government—a few blocks from Tahrir Square. That is Liberation Square. The embassy is easily spotted by just looking up from Tahrir because, at thirteen stories, it is one of the tallest buildings in the area. It looms over a traffic circle that features newsstands, travel agencies, formerly the Cairo Hilton, the Egyptian national museum, and the dregs of American fast food outlets—KFC, Hardee’s, and Pizza Hut.  It would be hard for a proud Egyptian nationalist not to notice the irony of it all.

No, the protests are not just about a movie. They are about perceived insults on Egyptians’ national pride and collective dignity that the United States has perpetrated for the previous three decades. It ranges from everything such as support for President Mubarak and Anwar Sadat before him, to U.S. patronage of Israel at the expense of Egypt and Arab causes, to the invasion of Iraq, which the vast majority of Egyptians deeply opposed, though Mubarak provided important assistance in that effort, to little slights like Ambassador Ann Patterson’s visit to a polling station during parliamentary elections last fall/winter. The cognitive dissonance is hard to get over for Americans, however. Washington has sought to help Egypt to the tune of $65 billion. For Egyptians the mistrust runs so deep, there is no such thing as American altruism. Under these circumstances, President Obama was exactly right when he questioned the quality of the U.S.-Egypt alliance.

Source

The writer makes a great point that seems so obvious to everyone but Americans. Why are people the slightest bit surprised that countries we have torn apart with imperialistic policies, war, unmanned drones & military presence furious with the US impeding upon its sovereignty? 

This goes much further back than this offensive Islamophobic film. The US has a long history of trampling on countries’ independence for its own gain. It’s what the US does best & has done since it began. 

Chief Minister speaks out about racist media drawing negative conclusions about the totality of Assamese society from heinous crime
July 18, 2012
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday lambasted a section of the  media for allegedly trying to paint a “negative picture” of the greater Assamese society in the wake of molestation of a girl in the city on July 9.
"I am unhappy and angry and this is most condemnable. The media (national) wanted to blame and project a negative picture of the Assamese society by giving the impression that women are not safe here”, Gogoi told reporters in Guwahati.
"This is the reason why the people of the North Eastern region feel alienated…I want to make it clear that the entire Assamese society is not responsible for this heinous crime. The government is firm to bring the culprits to book”, a visibly angry chief minister said at the end of the second day of the monsoon session of the assembly.
Declaring that 12 of the 14 identified as being involved in the incident had been arrested, Gogoi said, “I take the responsibility and have taken action against erring police officials. The entire episode is disgusting.”
Source

Chief Minister speaks out about racist media drawing negative conclusions about the totality of Assamese society from heinous crime

July 18, 2012

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday lambasted a section of the  media for allegedly trying to paint a “negative picture” of the greater Assamese society in the wake of molestation of a girl in the city on July 9.

"I am unhappy and angry and this is most condemnable. The media (national) wanted to blame and project a negative picture of the Assamese society by giving the impression that women are not safe here”, Gogoi told reporters in Guwahati.

"This is the reason why the people of the North Eastern region feel alienated…I want to make it clear that the entire Assamese society is not responsible for this heinous crime. The government is firm to bring the culprits to book”, a visibly angry chief minister said at the end of the second day of the monsoon session of the assembly.

Declaring that 12 of the 14 identified as being involved in the incident had been arrested, Gogoi said, “I take the responsibility and have taken action against erring police officials. The entire episode is disgusting.”

Source