See also:Obama’s personal role in a journalist’s imprisonment
Jeremy Scahill, The Nation‘s national security correspondent, is easily one of America’s best and most intrepid journalists. He spends his time in dangerous places in order to uncover what the U.S. Government is doing around the world. He often produces vital scoops that, during the Obama presidency, are — for reasons often recounted here — largely ignored by the American establishment media and both political parties. In July of last year, he returned from Mogadishu and documented the Obama administration’s maintenance and proxy operation of secret CIA-run prisons in Somalia of the type that caused so much controversy during the Bush administration and which Obama supporters like to claim the President ended, and last month he returned from tribal regions in Yemen and detailed how U.S. civilian-killing drone strikes (along with its support for Yemeni despots) are the single most important cause fueling Al Qaeda’s growth in that country. But his newest article – describing President Obama’s personal, direct role in ensuring the ongoing imprisonment of a Yemeni journalist – may be his most important one yet; even for those inured to the abuses of the Obama administration, it’s nothing short of infuriating.
As we now know, on December 17, 2009, President Obama ordered an air attack — using Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs — on the village of al Majala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province; the strike ended the lives of 14 women and 21 children. At the time, the Yemeni government outright lied about the attack, falsely claiming that it was Yemen’s air force which was responsible.
The Pentagon helped bolster this misleading claim of responsibility by issuing a statement that “Yemen should be congratulated for actions against al-Qaeda.” Meanwhile, leading American media outlets, such as The New York Times, reported — falsely — that “Yemeni security forces carried out airstrikes and ground raids against suspected Qaeda hide-outs last week with what American officials described as ‘intelligence and firepower’ supplied by the United States.” Those U.S. media reports vaguely mentioned civilian deaths only in passing or not at all, opting instead for ledes such as: “Yemeni security forces carried out airstrikes and ground raids against suspected hide-outs of Al Qaeda on Thursday, killing at least 34 militants in the broadest attack on the terrorist group here in years, Yemeni officials said.” While it is certain that dozens of civilians were killed, Scahill notes that “whether anyone actually active in Al Qaeda was killed remains hotly contested.”
This is a case study in the complete destruction of due process in this country and the annihilation of individual rights as declared in the Constitution. Effectively this is a great example of two points:Jeremy Scahill: Why is President Obama Keeping Yemeni Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in Prison?
The Obama administration is facing scrutiny for its role in the imprisonment of a Yemeni journalist who exposed how the United States was behind a 2009 bombing in Yemen that killed 14 women and 21 children. In January 2011, a Yemeni state security court gave the journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a five-year jail sentence on terrorism-related charges following a disputed trial that was condemned by several human rights and press freedom groups. Within a month of Shaye’s sentencing, then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced he was going to pardon the journalist. But Saleh changed his mind after a phone call from President Obama. Thirteen months later, Shaye remains behind bars. We speak to Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists and award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. "Abdulelah Haider Shaye [is] a brave journalist. He just happened to be on the wrong side of history in the eyes of the U.S.," Scahill says. "His crime seems to be interviewing the wrong people and having the audacity to publish another side of the story." [includes rush transcript]
First, that Obama has continued Bush-era policies and even furthered them in an effort to circumvent the judicial system and an individual's rights to due process. This is seen in various anti-terrorism legislation as well as executive orders (for example, the idea that the executive branch can order the extra-judicial killing of American citizens abroad and maybe even within national borders? FBI director Robert Mueller certainly was unsure on that last one!; or, even more pronounced, the idea that the US can deem any individual an "enemy combatant" and therefore circumvent their rights to hold them indefinitely without any access to the American legal system, a la Gitmo). This goes hand in hand with the massive increase in government secrecy and classification which Panetta himself publicly lambasted (another great example is the inhumane treatment of Breanna - better known Bradley - Manning, an individual put in absolutely repulsive conditions on the basis of the testimony of a single hacker who has been known to lie and despite no physical evidence supporting his/her conviction).
Second, that the media itself in this country has become so corporatized that it has been absorbed into the plutocratic-bureaucratic American state apparatus. Major media outlets have been centralized into a small handful of giant corporations that take marching orders from their very raison d'etre; there is no need for government coercion or government directives to the corporate media because of this. However, dissent - meaningful, substantive dissent - must still be dealt with, and we see it here in the state involvement of the arrest and detainment of this journalist under anti-terror laws to silence what he has discovered. There are numerous examples of this. The major media outlets in this country are effectively identical to the state media of any bureaucratic dictatorship.
A third point, though not directly related, is the increasing militarization of the police force domestically as well as the transition toward a doctrine of endless warfare - under which we already live. All of these policies are designed by the plutocratic-undemocratic American state to more explicitly and efficiently control avenues of information flow and silence dissent.