Monday, November 14, 2011

Between the Detroit Arab- American Study and TLC’s All American Muslims

TLC's All- American Muslim

Study based on the DAAS survey



Sunday was the debut of the much- awaited TLC show All American Muslims. Five Arab American Muslim families from the Detroit area were chosen for a reality show. Much has been written on the show and most of it is positive. This is good. There is national and international interest in Arab Americans and Muslim Americans- an interest that can be traced to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent mix of curiosity, paranoia, suspicion and enmity displayed toward Arab and Muslim Americans, in part due to the fact that the community “looked” like the enemy. The show was supposed to stimulate conversations and challenge the negative stereotypes about the Muslim American community.
No spelling bee queen, no Snooki
Blessed are those who do not expect too much for they shall not be disappointed. It’s good to keep this saying in mind when thinking of anything in life, this show included. This is reality TV. Some of the comments that I have seen online made by Arab and Muslim Americans are humorous- and to some extent troubling. One mother said that she wants to raise her children as good Muslims and she thought that exposing her kids to the show would help her do the job! Seriously? I wonder how many Italian Americans are encouraging their kids to embrace their Italian roots by watching Jersey Shore’s Chilean Snooki?
Ordinary Lives
The media hype over the show made some think it is a documentary or some scientific and rigorous representation of American “good Muslims”- those who are fully compliant with all the demands of the faith. I understand why some would have that impression. But it’s important to keep things in perspective. It’s TLC, the Teaching and learning Channel, but it’s not the Harvard Channel, Public TV or CNN for that matter. It’s a show about some interesting and likable members of the community. One key lesson one takes from the show is that the community is ordinary and includes a diverse group of people with varying degrees of religiosity and compliance with cultural norms and expectations. In that sense the show is an accurate representation of Muslim Americans. But if one is worried about their daughter’s future just because Nina Bazzi wants to open a club or Shadia Amen marries from outside the community I suggest that these parents need a reality check, not reality TV. If you are expecting a reality show to teach your children how to be Arab Americans or Muslim Americans then I suggest that Shadia Amen and Nina Bazzi are the least of your worries. Seek counseling.
A Part of Reality
Some say reality TV has “nothing” to do with reality. Not true. Reality TV is part of reality- but not “reality”. It is entertainment. The TLC show is not a documentary on Arab Americans or Muslim Americans. This is not a scientific study of Muslim Americans. The five families are not a representative sample of Muslim Americans or Arab Americans. The majority of Arab Americans are Christian and the majority of Muslim Americans are South Asian and African Americans. Some have loudly protested the fact that the show does not represent the Muslim community accurately. Some thought that some individuals have scandalized the community with their comments or dress. This is an interesting and mildly comical response from a Muslim community that has been seen nationally in the dim light of a Muslim man who tried to blow up an airline with hundreds of innocent human beings in it over Detroit and became known as the “underwear bomber.” Ten years after 9/11 and after all the mainstream media stories and scholarly studies we find that when many Americans think of Muslims they think of the “underwear bomber” and the 9/11 hijackers. Given this reality, Nina Bazzi’s reality TV comments are welcome entertainment- even fresh and enlightening.
The Detroit Arab American Study
Those interested in Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and the Detroit Arab and Muslim American community can access a number of scholarly studies on the community. How many are aware of or remember the Detroit Arab American Study (DAAS)? How many Americans, or Muslim and Arab Americans, have read the scholarly studies on our community? It would be great if there was a documentary on DAAS where its findings are presented and explained. The book Citizenship and Crisis –Arab Detroit After 9/11 by the Detroit Arab American Study Team presents findings based on DAAS. It’s a rigorous empirical study. Those interested in the community could go and read the book and the other studies that used the same dataset. In Chapter one Wayne baker and Andrew Shyrock write: “This book intervenes in the post-9/11 process of normalization, slowing it down to enable careful analysis and clear understanding. Through a careful analysis of systematic data collected on these communities and on the general population in the same region, we hope to make two contributions. First, we aim to insert accurate, objective information into the vigorous and often misinformed public discourse about Arab Americans. Our topics include basic demographic patterns, the 9/11 backlash, attitudes about civil liberties, social identities, religion and religious practices, values, social capital, political beliefs, and attitudes about US foreign policy.” And describing the Detroit Arab American community they write: “If Arab Detroit appears culturally distinctive to members of the larger American society, it seems even more peculiar in comparison to the Arab world. The broad range of lifestyles, national backgrounds, and levels of assimilation found among Detroit’s Arab and Arabic speaking population make it a difficult community to represent, both intellectually and politically.”
A Welcome Contribution
Reality TV has its clear and serious limitations in dealing with serious topics. But the other ways of dealing with serious topics also have their limitations. News articles and scholarly studies also have their limitations. A survey is a snapshot of reality that might not necessarily apply before or after. News stories also have their limitations. Go read mainstream articles and see whom they interview and quote when they write about the community and you will come up with a handful of names. Is that an accurate representation of the community? All American Muslims is a welcome contribution to the body of knowledge on Arab and Muslim Americans. The clear shortcomings on accuracy and representation are trumped by the positive message and the wide reach.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In Defense of the Ficano Administration and Azzam Elder

Wayne county and a number of its officials are the news these days. A few media outlets are fixated on what they see as cozy political arrangements and are intent on bringing down the administration of Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano.

Defamatory and Unfounded Allegations
This is simply the media at its worst. The allegations of the county having improper relationship with political donors are defamatory and unfounded. One media outlet broke the news last year about the linkage between political donors and/or contractors and a fund that pays for overseas trips of county officials designed to bring business to the county. The media outlet brought this issue in an attempt to expose “government corruption.” The allegations are unfounded.
Now the media is following up this unholy crusade with this anti- Ficano campaign by attacking the administration for the severance pay of Turkia Awada, a woman known for competence and integrity. The media has jumped onto this issue as proof of alleged corruption and so-called cronyism.

These allegations and accusations are baseless and ill intentioned and are harmful to the interests of the county and its citizens. Is it possible that a bad decision was made? Yes it is possible. However, the media is creating the impression that there is some criminal behavior somewhere when there is not a shred of evidence of such. The allegations of criminality are outrageous in the very simple fact that they are unfounded and putting the competent administrators in a negative light is a disservice to the county and its citizens and unfair to these public servants.

Local Political Arrangements

The bottom line is that the media is attacking local political arrangements and asking the federal government to engage in a fishing expedition to create crimes out of thin air- to engage in creative prosecution of Wayne County government. We know that the federal government has an arsenal of vague laws that it can creatively use to indict a ham sandwich if it so wants. A call for such an expedition is outrageous and a waste of taxpayer money.

The Rise of Azzam Elder: The Success Story of Competence, Integrity and Hard Work

They are intent on destroying politicians who are known for competence and integrity. What explains the media’s running around following deputy county executive Azzam Elder and filming him talking in his car to a colleague? Or meeting another colleague? Are these crimes? What is the big deal about building a nice house for him and his family? Is it un-American? His wife is a judge and he is a high- ranking official. He spent the majority of his career living in a humble family-owned flat – eventually moving into his own home. He worked as a prosecutor for the county while his wife stayed at home. As an assistant county prosecutor he distinguished himself for his competence and integrity. One attorney who faced him in a criminal trial once told me that Azzam "kicked" his "ass all over the place.” With his competence, abilities and integrity he rose up the ladder to become the highest ranking Arab and/or Muslim American in the State of Michigan government today. To go after him, filming him, trying to make him look guilty is outrageous and disgusting. The man does not deserve that.

For this, these media outlets fixated on Wayne county deserve neither respect nor thanks. They are simply creating diversions for the Ficano administration when they need all the focus in the world on the real problems of Wayne County. We hope that the Arab- American community sees through this and supports the Ficano administration and its number two man, Azzam Elder, whose integrity and competence is beyond doubt.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The FBI training, Again and the Case of the Forgotten Muthanna

The FBI counter- terrorism training is clearly a problem. There seems to be a theme in the training of the FBI agents- Islam is evil and adherents are a threat. The story from Seattle is that a community leader from that area who attended the 2011 FBI Citizens' Academy class in Seattle reported that the training included material equating Islam with Nazism, part of that documents read: "A careful comparison of Arab/Islamist propaganda and Nazi propaganda reveals the closeness of these links. . .I would suggest that the current conflicts are a continuation of Nazi policies carried out by Arabs. . ." The document was signed by an FBI agent.
Again, we have a problem. NPR reports that the FBI is reevaluating its whole counter- terrorism training that refers to culture or religion. This is a first step in the right direction. There is another problem. The NPR story posed the question: "The question that everyone is asking — and the FBI is trying to answer now — is how the Muslim bias crept into the training program in the first place." The NPR story gives three answers: "The counterterrorism training was, the officials said, given a low priority because the FBI didn't expect funding for that kind of training to get slashed." Second, "The recall suggests that the FBI is not entirely sure what it is teaching in its counterterrorism curriculum." Third, "[O]fficials close to the process say part of the problem is one of structure. The counterterrorism training division has a lot of autonomy."
Church Doctrine and Bias?
Is there another reason? The federal law enforcement agencies seek individuals with intelligence, education and with a history of conformity to America's law and expectations of moral behavior. After living in this country for almost twenty years, my impression is that those with religious background have the highest law abiding history. And as someone who has a hobby of listening to Christian religious sermons on AM radio while driving, I can relate that there seems to be a theme running in Christian sermons today- the focus on Israel and Islam is a common occurrence. And the focus is clearly negative. Are these law-abiding officers, who tend to be religious, prejudiced by their religious background and exposure to religious messages that keep hammering a negative view of Islam? I am not sure this is the case but if it is- then the problem is much deeper and makes the training ever more critical. There are major Christian figures in this country who have openly and unequivocally attacked Islam and its Prophet- doing so with no regard for anyone and in the most vulgar and vile manner . These are not the David Koresh types in this country. They are the Pat Robertsons, the Billy Grahams and others with millions of followers. They are leaders of millions of Americans- many of whom end up in law enforcement.
My point about the background issue of course only applies to some, perhaps many, in law enforcement, but clearly not all. But it is significant enough where it can make a difference in receptiveness to certain ideas. How could anyone, in a decision making position in the FBI hierarchy, with an above average intelligence and education and a law abiding background, accept the drivel of the pseudo training? I mean wasn't it obviously biased material or was accepted since it validated the former received messages from Hollywood, the media and many American religious leaders?
Agents Object to Biased Training
Again this is not everyone we are talking about. The NPR story reports that what brought this biased training to light is complaints from agents who were not happy with the training and saw through the bias and prejudice and voiced their objections. Of course, these objections were voiced due to the training being misleading and biased and not necessarily out of love of the religion of Islam or the culture- which is fine. Here is part of the NPR story: 'NPR has obtained real-time emails from agents who were attending that controversial class at Quantico this April. What the emails indicate is that at least some of those in that class objected to the biased information they were getting and they reached out both to experts and to supervisors to complain about the curriculum. One email said that the Prophet Muhammad was being portrayed as a warring military leader. It also cited an instructor as saying that a "true Muslim" had to support or take part in the killing of non-Muslims. The instructor also told the class, according to a handful of attendees, that Muhammad was an epileptic and the Quran didn't come to him in a series of heavenly visions, but instead was actually part of an epileptic fit.'
The Wall Street Journal recently had a series of articles about the expansion of federal criminal law prosecution and how prosecution under vague federal criminal law can ensnare the unwary, those who do not have the mens rea to commit criminal acts. In Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey Silverglate, Silverglate tells stories of how individuals from different walks of life were ensnared using vague statutes. Here we have a perfect storm for the Muslim activists and their organizations, mainly the American Muslim charities: Vague laws, aggressive federal prosecution and a prejudiced federal law enforcement. Then you magnify the outcome by a multiplier with the foreign conflict dimension an aggravating factor.
I am not arguing that the problem is a deeper societal bias that cannot be remedied. My argument is that there is already a deep reservoir of bias in American society. This is fed by Hollywood and the media. It is aggravated by religious sermons that see the Muslims and the Arabs as the modern day enemies of "the people of Israel," in the Biblical sense, a conflict between Good and Evil. The media, Hollywood and Churches can do their "thing" or number, on Arabs and Muslims but the least we could expect, given this background and reality, is that the country that has the Harvards and the Georgetowns, the John Espositos and Noah Feldmans, gives its law enforcement an accurate and unbiased training on Islam and Muslims? Is that too much to ask? Isn't that in the US national interest?
The case of the Forgotten Muthanna
One of the Muslim American victims of the post 9/11 big net cast in the War on Terror is Muthanna Alhanooti. I recently visited community activist and leader Muthanna al Hanooti. Muthanna who is serving time in federal prison in Milan, Michigan. He was sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty to transacting business with the former Iraqi regime without obtaining a license from the Treasury department. Harvey Silverglate in Three Felonies a Day writes about how the federal government exerts tremendous pressure to force defendants not only to sing but to compose as well. It does not seem that Muthanna composed- that is tell lies to save his skin. Now Muthanna serves time in a place about half an hour from Dearborn, the community where he lived and worked for a number of years and met and knew many people. Anyone who saw Muthanna at an event knew the extent of his friendships by the number of people going to him to shake his hand and hug him. Now Muthanna sits, feeling abandoned, by the community he loved and he served. He has no visitors. The community that he lived in, loved and served seems to have abandoned him. It is not a crime to visit a friend or anyone else in prison. Muthanna needs the support of his friends and the community. One does not have to be a family member to visit an inmate. More should be visiting him

Killing Awlaki and the Lessons of the Israeli Counter- terror War model: Terror Increases, Democracy Compromised

The United States government killed Anwar Awlaki, an American citizen who joined, as a propagandist and cheerleader, the Al Qaeda's war against the U.S. This killing raises a number of constitutional questions regarding the seemingly summary execution of an American citizen. The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution reads: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." Was Awlaki "deprived of life" without due process of law? Due process has two dimensions- substantive and procedural. Substantive due process is the question whether the penalty is fair compared to the violation or crime and procedural due process is whether the punishment was imposed through a fair and just procedure. To constitutional scholars the killing of Awlaki raises valid fifth amendment questions.
Operational Threat versus Propaganda Threat/Hate Speech
Terror experts have a different focus- they focus on the impact of the killing on the counter- terror campaign. The questions asked are not constitutional or moral questions- they are utility questions. A number of terrorism analysts seem to think the killing of Awlaki is a victory in America's war on terror. In a Reuters story dated 9/30/2011 none of the experts interviewed took the constitutional approach. One terror expert, Michael Ryan ,stated: "Removing Awlaki is an important accomplishment because of his ability to speak on the internet in a familiar American accent. He sounded normal even as he was saying outrageous things. His importance relates almost entirely to what Abu Mus'ab al-Suri referred to as the third circle of jihad, what we call home-grown terrorism. (The first two circles are what we know as al-Qaeda Central and AQ affiliates.) He consistently delivered the message that terrorism against Americans was a laudable activity. He effusively praised Nidal Hassan for his shooting American soldiers on American soil. He could also deliver interviews in credible Arabic. In those, his message was generally that the United States was at war with Islam and that the United States tolerated only those Muslims that followed the American line. Muslims that followed the American line were actually no Muslims at all, according to Awlaki. So taking Awlaki out of battle was a good blow against this kind of hate speech that might appeal to troubled people inside the United States. On the other hand, Awlaki had no role in operations and his death will have no effect on the ability of AQAP to carry out transnational terrorist operations..."
Real Terrorism Experts: Martha Crenshaw, Pedahzur and Perliger
In post 9/11 era many claimed to be terrorism experts though they had dubious credentials as to language skills, expertise and training. Many touted the Israeli model as the right and only way for the U.S. to deal with the terror threat-claiming, despite real evidence to the contrary- that the Israeli approach is a workable and effective approach. The Bush administration declared a War on Terror, that is, it adopted the Israeli view of the terror threat as a war issue and not a law enforcement problem. One of the real terrorism experts is Martha Crenshaw. Crenshaw edited a volume, The Consequences of Counterterrorism, with a chapter on the Israeli counter- terror experience. "The consequences of counterterrorist policies in Israel" is a chapter written by Ami Pedahzur of the University of Texas and Arie Perliger of Israel's Hebrew University. In examining whether the Israeli experience is successful they use two criteria: "Effectiveness" in decreasing incidents of terror and "democratic accountability." They examine five Israeli counter- terrorism policies, one of which is targeted killings, and conclude that the Israeli measures increased acts of terror and exacted a price on Israel by eroding its democracy.
The Israel Experience: From Limited to Expanded use of Targeted Killings
From "Ticking Bombs to "Ticking Infrastructure"
Israel is a country that utilized targeted killings, a "war model" counter- terror tactic, extensively in its counter- terror campaign. It began as a narrow and limited tactic but ended up being expanded with the classes or categories of those eligible for the one- time extra ordinary measure broadening over time: 'These days, "targeted killings" have become almost synonymous with air strikes aimed at insurgents and their leaders. This measure has been utilized extensively by Israel since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. The initial aim of this method was to stop "ticking bombs." In other words, when all other measures had been exhausted, targeted killings were supposed to strike at terrorists who were dispatched on a deadly mission. However, as indicated by Yuval Diskin, head of the General Security Service (GSS) and the person responsible for developing this tactic, its use quickly expanded from "ticking bombs" to "ticking infrastructures." This vague term refers to dispatchers and local leaders of terrorist cells. By 2004 it had become obvious that the targets of this policy had expanded once more and now included political leaders of different Palestinian factions, such as Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al- Rantisi.'
The Utility and Cost of the Israeli Counter- Terror Approach
Steep Decline in "Public Trust in Political and Legal Institutions"
Pedahzur and Perliger characterize Israeli strategy as "the war model in its most extreme version." They evaluate the effort as a failure since Israel faced more acts of terrorism while eroding its democracy: "Israeli practices have generated poor outcomes, and generated Palestinian animosity toward Israel has only increased. These effects have played into the hands of the different insurgent groups and led to an escalation in terrorist campaigns. At the same time, the quality of Israeli democracy has declined, and Israel's standing as the only democracy in the Middle Eats has been compromised. For example, the ongoing adoption of the war model-type measures over the years has reduced the ability of a growing proportion of Israeli residents to exercise basic civil and political rights. The Palestinian population from the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli Arabs, and, in the last decade, left-wing activists have all suffered from a diminished ability to organize politically, to engage in effective political protests, and to sustain their civil rights. Other signs of the decline in the democratic foundations of the Israeli state have been the dramatic upsurge in administrative detentions, from several hundred during the early 1970s to more than ten thousand during the 1990s, the growing use of military force in security assignments in the interstate civilian arena, and a sharp drop in public trust in political and legal institutions."
Targeted killings raise important questions not only about the constitutionality of the controversial counter- terror tactic but about the Israel counter- terror war model itself as well.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Alhanooti case: An oil contract with Saddam’s G.O.I. without OFAC license

The Alhanooti case: An oil contract with Saddam’s G.OI. without OFAC license
The $40,000 potential, $0.00 realized

On Friday March 18 at 2 p.m. Judge Borman of the Eastern District of Michigan sentenced community leader and longtime activist Mr. Muthanna Alhanooti to a year and one day in federal prison. The personal saga of Muthanna ended on that day. There remains much confusion on the Muthanna case- what is it exactly that the government is charging he did? Is he a wealthy spy like the government charges seem to make him to be? Why was he sentenced to one year and a day in prison?
Government paints Muthanna as a spy, defense fails to counter
The confusion over Muthanna’s case is a result of the Bush administration’s presenting the case as a major case and the way that Muthanna’s attorney dealt with it. The government created the impression that Muthanna is a wealthy spy for Saddam. The government dealt Muthanna’s reputation a major blow by characterizing him as an agent/spy. Anyone who knows Muthanna knows that that cannot be true given the nature of Muthanna and his values. Muthanna is well known as a man who values friendship and freedom and hates betrayal and dictatorship. Such a man does not make a spy. The arrest of Muthanna made national and international news. In the U.S., the Wall Street Journal put his arrest as item one on its page one What’s News section. The international Arab media had a field day confusing the facts about the case and about Muthanna.

The five-count indictment
The initial indictment had five counts. Two counts were related to violations of the Iraq sanctions regime and three counts were making of false statements to FBI agents regarding the conduct in the first two charges. The first charge is conspiracy to “act as an agent of a foreign government,” “the second charge is the contract to purchase Iraqi oil in violation of the sanctions regime and three counts of false statement 18 USC 1001 (a)(2) to FBI agents. The conspiracy allegation is that Muthanna conspired with agents of Iraqi intelligence to form delegations to take to Iraq and work to undermine the sanctions regime. As compensation for his work, the government alleged that the government of Iraq allocated two million barrels of oil. It is a well- known fact that the government of Iraq rewarded its friends and those who advocated against the sanctions regime, whether independently or in coordination with Iraq, by awarding them contracts for oil that can be sold in the UN Oil for Food program. Many think that Muthanna actually received 2 million barrels of oil and is a millionaire. Far from it. In fact, the US government estimates that Muthanna would have made $100,000 out of the deal. Muthanna asserts that the contract would have resulted in $40,000 to him. Muthanna never received a penny from the deal- he merely accepted it and signed it off to LARU to take an allocation of Iraqi oil.

The Plea
Muthanna plead guilty to the second count of the indictment, the contract to purchase Iraqi oil in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) (50 U.S.C. 1705). He plead to accepting to the contract for the oil from the government of Iraq without having the proper license from OFAC, Office of Foreign Asset Control.

The government sentencing memorandum
In its sentencing memorandum, the government asked the judge to impose a sentence of 46 months on Muthanna- four years. In the Nature and Circumstances of the offense part the government wrote: “In direct contravention of IEEPA and the Iraqi Sanctions Regulations, defendant chose to unlawfully accept a valuable allocation of oil from the Iraqi government that was subject to the sanctions regime described herein. More specifically, defendant caused a contract between SOMO [State Oil marketing Organization] and an oil trading company, Laru, to be procured on his behalf…Defendant chose to ignore the national emergency that had been declared with respect to Iraq and instead, consummate for his own benefit a significant financial transaction with the highest levels of the Saddam Hussein regime.” Under the History and Characteristics of the Defendant section, the government wrote “Rather than being the result of a single mistake or bad decision, defendant’s crime was the result of a protracted effort to secure the oil allocation; indeed, Defendant, has told the FBI that he first discussed the oil allocation with Al-Huadithi approximately one year before the 2002 Congressional delegation.”
Muthanna had asked for probation. The government report read: ‘In his objections to the Presentence investigation report, defendant has indicated that he considers himself eligible for a departure based on his “extraordinary service to the United states during the early months of its occupation of Iraq by serving as a liaison with local government and other officials and the Coalition Occupation Authority in the Baghdad area.” However, the facts do not bear out Defendant’s assertions…Defendant could only recall by name one U.S. official with whom he met and he told the FBI that no U.S. government entity instructed defendant to perform any tasks , nor did the U.S. government offer or pay anything for defendant or FAAIR.’
Not only did the government refuse to acknowledge Muthanna’s efforts in helping the US government when he could, efforts that were motivated by loyalty and patriotism on his part, performed while not receiving one cent from the US government, the prosecution asked for a maximum penalty. The prosecution claimed, with a straight face, that Muthanna’s case is similar to Najib Shemami’s case. Najib Shemami admitted that he spied for the government of Iraq, endangered American troops and American citizens, and got paid by the government of Iraq for his spying and endangering Americans. According to a news report on the Shemami conviction, Shemami “told Iraqi authorities about the activities of expatriates in the United States. He also reported on U.S. military movements in Turkey before the invasion, describing the location of 200 tanks as well as tents for refugees.” This is completely different from the charges in the indictment of Muthanna let alone the charge he plead into. It also raises a question about the morality and ethics of such a comparison in a court of law.

The sentencing
In the sentencing, Judge Borman’s behavior was exemplary. It was a sober, deliberate and respectful process for all who spoke before the court. The performance of Muthanna’s attorney, an attorney who was paid a princely amount to defend Muthanna, however, left a lot to be desired. I am referring only to what I saw and heard in the sentencing hearing and soon after. Linda Moreno quoted Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, the Russian novelist, on freedom and innocence. That was seen as pretentious and of no value in an American court sentencing a Muslim Arab American man. More importantly, there were a number of factors that she could have raised that could have only helped Muthanna get a lighter sentence. For example, Muthanna had inquired whether getting the gift contract from the government of Iraq is legal and was told by some who did the research that it is a U.N. program and is fine. This fact was not mentioned by Ms. Moreno. Most importantly, the government alleged in the sentencing that Muthanna “negotiated at the highest political echelons” the oil contract. Recall that in the prosecution sentencing memo the government used “protracted effort” and” discussed.” This assertion of a deliberative and willful process of “negotiation over a year” went unchallenged by the defense and was cited by the judge in imposing the one year sentence. When the government uttered the words of “negotiated” and “highest echelons” Muthanna nudged his attorney because it was not true and he wanted her to challenge that assertion. Ms. Moreno motioned to Muthanna to stay quiet and this single assertion was singularly mentioned by the judge in imposing a one- year term. I was in the courtroom at the time and Muthanna told me this outside the court room. He separately told attorney Shereef Akeel and Moreno about it and inquired why she did not challenge the government allegation. It was too late he was told. Looking back, the judge cared more about the untrue allegation of a deliberate “negotiation” with “upper echelons” than about the learned citation of Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn. The only solace of Muthanna is that he is not in Russia and he will not be serving time in the Gulag Archipelago.