Claude Cartaginese

Democracy Now!: the Sound of One Hand Clapping

Posted on December 9 2009 1:00 am
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Democracy Now!’s habit of conveniently leaving out key elements of a story, which would, if included, either completely alter or negate entirely the point the network is trying to make is what makes their news program simultaneously amusing and pathetic.

Let’s take as an example a piece that Democracy Now!’s host Amy Goodman—Comrade No. 1 on that Marxist network—presented yesterday about a young man who is being held in solitary confinement pending trial for allegedly assisting al-Qaeda:

Amy Goodman: In New York, the trial of a young US citizen who has been held in twenty-three-hour solitary confinement for nearly three years has been delayed until next month. Syed Fahad Hashmi is charged with providing material support to al-Qaeda in a case that rests on the testimony and actions of an old acquaintance who turned government informant after his own arrest. Hashmi is being prosecuted for a two-week period when the informant stayed at his home carrying rain gear that was allegedly later delivered to al-Qaeda members in Pakistan. Hashmi’s period in solitary confinement is believed to be one of the longest ever for a prisoner before trial. Hashmi’s family and supporters continue to hold weekly rallies outside the Manhattan federal prison where he’s jailed.

Goodman piece then goes on to include an impassioned plea by one of Hashmi’s relatives, who goes on to describe how the U.S. Government is holding him strictly on a whim:

Faisal Hashmi: And from the court interactions where we see him in court, he looks like a shell of the person that he was before. He looks frail, and he looks jittery. As you can imagine, people cannot stand solitary confinement for a day or two days or three days. He’s been in solitary, straight solitary confinement, ahead of his trial for two-and-a-half years without having a conviction, because the government said so.

And that’s as far as the report goes. Goodman has presented her version of the events leading up to Hashmi’s arrest in such a way as to put Mr. Hashmi in the best possible light, while at the same time making the American system of justice appear arbitrary, oppressive, and unjust.

At this point, whether Mr. Hashmi is guilty or innocent is a matter for the Courts to decide. For our purposes, we must question whether or not Hashmi is, as reported, being held in solitary confinement for merely having been in the same room with some raincoats bound for al-Qaeda. Or, is there more that Goodman is not telling us?

Naturally, there’s quite a bit more.

Hashmi seems to have been more than an unwitting dupe taken into custody because of the testimony of an old acquaintance.

Hashmi was arrested June 6, 2006 in London’s Heathrow Airport while trying to board a plane for Pakistan. When he was apprehended, he was carrying large amounts of cash. An American citizen of Pakistani descent, he held a student visa and had spent the previous three years in England. He had been under surveillance for some time and the indictment against him alleges that he and one unnamed associate (believed to be Mohammed Junaid Babar, another U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent who was later convicted for aiding al-Qaeda), conspired to assist al-Qaeda in launching a series of devastating terror attacks in London.

Hashmi is suspected of having links to the radical al-Muhajiroun (The Emigrants), a now defunct radical militant Islamist organization formerly based in London. Hashmi emerged as one of the group’s top recruiters, and that is where he met Babar. According to Michael Sheehan, a terrorism expert:

Michael Sheehan: Hashmi was a jihadi. He was interested in fighting jihad in Pakistan. He had connections to serious terrorists in the U.K. He was an American citizen, a very troublesome character, and we’re glad that he’s been picked up.

The indictment alleges that since January of 2004, Hashmi has been providing military supplies to a contact that, in turn, delivered them to al-Qaida.

In the London plot, Hashmi and his associates had planned to attack half a dozen targets, including prominent buildings in the city’s financial center. That plan was broken up when British police made arrests and discovered half a ton of fertilizer that could be used to make bombs.

These details would certainly make the Hashmi story much more complete, and yet, inexplicably, Goodman chose to leave them out of her report.

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