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American Muslim tortured, jailed for talking about killing Bush

Read this story from CNN, then scroll down for a lesson in reading between the lines. Nothing is as it appears. I believe that nobody deserves to die, no matter their crime. But today, Americans live in the middle of an invisible information war. Every citizen must take it upon him or herself to recognize propaganda for what it is: the dumbing down of reason and the process that supports democracy.

This CNN story is a solid example of simple-minded propaganda that fails to measure up to the standards of objective journalism. See story below for the real story.

American sentenced for Bush plot
Virginia Muslim gets 30 years for assassination plan
Wednesday, March 29, 2006; Posted: 6:23 p.m. EST (23:23 GMT)

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) -- An American Muslim was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for joining al Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush.

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum -- a life sentence -- for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen who was born to a Jordanian father and raised in Falls Church, Virginia.

"The facts of this case are still astonishing," prosecutor David Laufman said. "Barely a year after September 11 the defendant joined the organization responsible for 3,000 deaths."

But U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said 30 years was sufficient punishment. He compared the Abu Ali case to "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, who received a 20-year sentence. (Full story)

Abu Ali's actions "did not result in one single actual victim. That fact must be taken into account," the judge said.

Abu Ali, wearing a green prison jumpsuit, declined to speak before his sentence was imposed. Defense lawyers said they plan to appeal.

Prosecutors said Abu Ali traveled to Saudi Arabia and joined al Qaeda out of hatred for the United States. The Saudis arrested Abu Ali in June 2003 as he was taking final exams at the Islamic University of Medina.

The rest of the story ...

And now, the ugly truth behind what seems to be a "cut and dry" conviction ...


The Strange Case of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali:
Troubling Questions about the Government's Motives and Tactics

FindLaw's Writ

The case is far from as open-and-shut as the FBI might suggest. Indeed, a number of aspects of the prosecution are deeply troubling.

The Early History of Abu Ali's Case: The Government Reverses Itself

At the end of the 2003 academic year at the Saudi university he was attending, Abu Ali failed to return home to the U.S. As a result, his family - Jordan-born, naturalized U.S. citizens living in Northern Virginia where I practice - contacted me to see if I could help.

In August 2004, attorneys filed suit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, on behalf of Abu Ali's parents, in order to obtain his release. Among the attorneys was renowned constitutional rights scholar and Georgetown University law professor David Cole.

The day the suit was filed, the State Department - which had previously refused to provide information to Abu Ali's parents - notified them that their son would be charged with crimes of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. But that never happened. Instead, the question of whether Abu Ali could be returned to the U.S. was litigated.

Before U.S. District Judge John Bates, the government took the position that Abu Ali was far too dangerous to ever be returned to the United States, and that the reason was so serious that it could not be disclosed even to the family's attorneys. In other words, the government sought to proceed on secret evidence.

Then, the government reversed itself dramatically. It transported Abu Ali to the United States itself - thus mooting the question before Judge Bates of whether the government could proceed upon secret evidence to block his return.

In 2004, when Abu Ali's parents had been begging the U.S. government to intervene, it had refused - claiming it was up to the Saudis whether he was released. With his return, however, it began to seem evident that the Saudis had been holding Abu Ali with U.S. consent - indeed, even at the U.S.'s behest. It now appears that FBI agents had the Saudis remove Abu Ali from his university class and take him to a Saudi facility for questioning in the summer of 2003.

It also became apparent that the U.S. could, all the time, have ensured Abu Ali's return to the U.S. whenever it felt like it. After all, federal prosecutors had, during this time, extradited from Saudi Arabia to Alexandria another man in Saudi custody who was alleged to be (and acquitted of being) a terrorist and involved in the case of the Alexandria 11.

Apparently, however, the U.S. had taken advantage of this U.S. citizen's choice to attend school abroad, to make sure he was held in prison there - where torture would be permitted, and counsel would not be provided. Indeed, unidentified sources have been quoted in the Washington Post and New York Times as saying that the government certainly would have preferred to have left Abu Ali in Saudi Arabia.

It was only Judge Bates's interest in Abu Ali's case that changed the government's mind. Laudably, Bates was concerned - as we all should be -- about the potentially indefinite imprisonment of a U.S. citizen, with the U.S.'s consent, in a foreign prison where due process is ignored and torture is common.

The rest of the story ...

Case in point: Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an American born in Houston, Texas, was arrested abroad for talking about ways to kill the president. But he is not charged with any conspiracy. The government tried to prosecute him before an independent judge with secret evidence that was so classified, not even the court was allowed to see it. They changed their minds after he was tortured in the hands of the Saudi's. His video-taped confession that came from agonizing coersion was admitted into court. He was held without charge or legal representation for three years.

This could happen to you.

Be careful what you say.

The thought police are on the march.

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