Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Anser Mehmood, Uzma Mehmood & the Mehmood Children, living in Pakistan

Here is the first letter I've decided to write.

Mr. and Mrs. Anser and Uzma Mehmood and the Mehmood Children living in Pakistan,

Forgive me for my delaying in responding, I have recently come across your letter dated 8.23.02 to PBS and thought you deserved a public response to your questions.

You asked:

Are there any same elements amongst American people reading this?

Does this not reflect the prevailing conditions in the USA?

I believe you deserve to know that many in America have read this quote, but your question asks an important question: Are any sane elements reading it and using it to guide their actions?

I believe that Attorney Fitzgerald may have read the quote, but I do not know for sure.

Your question springs from, I believe, how you were treated while in New Jersey. I cannot speak for those who treated you the way that you were treated.

I do know that Americans have been silent, as have I, when we should have spoken out.

Our leaders did threaten many with jail time if we spoke out. But this is no excuse, given what has happened to you.

Given what has happened since 2002, and the unfolding litigation against the Vice President's chief of staff, it appears as though the tide has turned.

There are now forces at work to find out exactly what happened not only in the United States, but also at the hands of military personnel and CIA officers around the globe, not just in Iraq or Pakistan.

I am sorry that it has taken me this long to respond, and I am still unsure what to say or do.

All I can offer you is what I originally wrote in late 2001: The words about being wary of what leaders can do. We are looking for ways to strengthen our constitution and ensure this does not happen again.

But those are hollow promises.

In my view, America ignored the lessons of the Nazis in Germany, and willingly went along with the charades. We did let this happen again.

Yet, people like Ambassador Wilson, Valerie Plame, Scott Ritter, LtCol Schaeffer, Barbra Steisand and others spoke out despite the threats.

Unfortunately, talking alone does not put tyranny where it belongs: Accountable to the rule of law, in jail, and sanctioned.

We've seen the outrage over the photos and torture in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Afghanistan. It will be a matter for the courts to adjudicate what is to happen.

I share your frustration that it appears as though many people appear to have thrown up their hands and let "whatever happen" happen. It doesn't give one much inspiration in America.

Also, despite the world speaking out, the US remains somewhat reluctant to put itself under the rule of law. In my view, rather than taking a break after the non-sense in Iraq, the US is doing the same in Syria: Making up non-sense to justify lawless pressure. It is striking, given you live in Pakistan, that nobody would presume that the Pakistanis would cause harm in India, but this same presumption is not given to Syria in re Lebanon.

I agree with the sentiments of your letter than the Caesar quote would describe what George Bush has done after 9-11. And the nation allowed him to do so.

How do I know? Because I wrote the quote you are referring to.

So, to restate your questions and respond to them:

Are there any same elements amongst American people reading this?

Sane people recognized the quote as a commentary on 2001-era America. The problem was that the decision makers and "leaders" put themselves above the law, lied about what was going on in Iraq, and then made up things.

In turn, the Congress, relying on those lies, granted the President the authority to engage in combat operations.

In short, it was the very problem in the quote which precipitated the problems: The citizenry, fearful of some nebulous risk, refused to assert its rights against tyranny; and went along with unlawful action in Iraq.

But this excuse doesn't do anything to address your concerns or how you were treated. I am sorry that I didn't do anything until now. Perhaps if you or others have thoughts on "what might be done" I'd be willing to listen.

Does this not reflect the prevailing conditions in the USA?

As of 2005, I would answer your question: "Yes, the quote still reflects what is going on, although things are starting to improve."

The greatest consolation has been that the US citizenry has been given access to the Downing Street Memo, and the Fitzgerald indictment against Mr. Libby, the Vice President's Chief of Staff, appears to be holding some to account.

However, there is a far larger problem, which I must confess has been rather baffling. Despite the change in public perception of the events in Iraq, the US Department of Defense continues to create excuses to not look into issues.

We continue to have threats against military personnel for speaking out about what has happened.

DoD also has a larger problem: Why did it's military officers, despite the laws of war, not refuse to obey what appear to be unlawful orders?

I have no answer, but suspect that the same pressure put on Valerie Plame was put on other officers. This needs to be correct.

We also have another problem: That of local law enforcement that willingly going along with this non-sense, and they too, not asserting the rule of law over tyrants.

But, the problem is more fundamental, because the Congress passed laws permitting this abuse to occur without swift sanctions. Here we are in 2005 still "not sure" what happened in Abu Ghraib, and still having not accountability for the abuse committed on people like you.

It is unfortunate that despite the lessons of WWII and the Holocaust, the American Department of Defense wasn't willing to stand up to unlawful orders and refuse to go along with what, I argue, are unlawful orders. In turn, despite the SS in Germany under Hitler, the world, as many Americans do, can only sit with stunning disbelief as the local law enforcement justified intrusions, intimidation, and threats against those who dared to use their mind.

What is most absurd is that at a time when this nation's leadership claimed "they want to know if the public finds problems," the same leadership actively rebuffed information about their own violations of the law, and were quick to threaten those like Ambassador Wilson for daring to interject sanity.

Just as you were held on the basis of suspicion, so too is the Syrian government being held to standards of intrusion based on suspicion. It is ironic that despite the lesson of Iraq, the US continues to be able to wave a magic wand and get the world to impose sanctions on the basis of accusations, not evidence. If only American leaders were as willing to subject themselves to the same levels of intrusion that they might wish to impose on Syria.

You were treated harshly for something that is regularly selectively enforced. The arrogant law enforcement in America are all too happy to rebuff information, and make up stories to justify "whatever they want to do," and they will lie to avoid the consequences for misconduct.

It is unfortunate that you have lost much for something we might consider a rather technical violation that could have easily have been resolved in another way.

I am not one to condone violations of the law; at the same time I am frustrated that this Congress has passed absurd laws which do more to inspire contempt and hatred of America than anything else. We do not inspire confidence in the rule of law when we ignore those laws abroad, and pass laws to undermine our liberties at home.

What is most absurd about your situation is that members of Congress are now being indicted for committing far greater crimes: Money laundering and insider stock trading. And the indictments have reached the Vice President's office. Hopefully, the accountability will not end.

It is unfortunate that the Congress wasn't willing to first subject its own members to the same intrusions and abuses you were subjected before permitting these measures to be imposed on you and others.

I am comforted that not all is lost. In light of the tragic events in Pakistan, it is comforting to know that India and Pakistan appear to have put down their differences to focus on larger issues. This is a great lesson.

I would hope that the United States recognize there will be similar opportunities in the future and would hope that there is something America can do to make Amends to you and others in your position who have been abused.

That will take time. Right now, America is somewhat lost for leadership. Despite the clear laws, we have a sense of "Not being all that clear what to do next." Our President appears to be rather confused, quite a change from the days of 2001 when it was very clear which drums he was beating.

Please know that there are people who have read your letter, share your sentiments, and are working to ensure that Attorney Fitzgerald is given the support he needs to make things right.

But it will take time, and we hope that those of you have been harmed might offer some encouragement to those who are attempting to resolve these matters.

I do not speak for the United States, and my comments should not be considered official US policy. However, know that there are people who do recognize your sentiments, and are doing what they can to turn things around.

Unfortunately, it takes time. Sadly, until things are remedied, there will be others who will be abused as you were. It is not right.

I wish I had a magic wand, or could simply write a comment in a blog and make it all stop. I wrote a comment a few years ago, and the world did change.

Perhaps with perseverance things can be fixed and put right.

Your sentiments are well stated, and I am sorry that there was not something that I could have done or said in a more timely matter. I am glad that you and your family are together safe in Pakistan, and wish you well and peace.

Rest assured that I will look for your name and read your letter from time to time as a reminder of what you said and what happened. I will not forget your remarks or comments.

With thoughts of you and your family,