• Saudis to Crucify Kid Arrested When He was 17-Years-Old

    September 19, 2015 // 10 Comments »

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    Wow, remember all those horrible things we read about how Islamic State crucifies people? Those barbarians, good thing we are at war with them.


    So it must be OK then that groovey American bestie allies the Saudis are planning to crucify someone, because they had like a trial and everything. And is the victim going to die a most horrible death for child murder? No. For building a WMD to use against innocent people? No. For participating in 9/11 like many other Saudis did? Nope.

    He is going to die on the cross for protesting illegally against the Saudi regime.

    Saudi Arabia dismissed the final appeal of a juvenile prisoner set to be crucified. Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr was arrested when he was only age 17 after participating in anti-government protests in 2012, the hilarious Arab Spring democracy and free love festival the United States turned a blind eye toward in favor of maintaining the status quo of thug dictatorships across the Middle East who sell us oil and buy our weapons, for freedoming. The boy was accused of protesting illegally.

    Ali was initially held at a juvenile offender’s facility which in Saudi must be a hoot, like Spring Break. Oops, no, because human rights reporting indicated that he was tortured and forced to sign a confession under duress. His for sure fully-legal appeal was held in secret and dismissed without comment, with no remaining legal routes of objection to his sentence of “death by crucifixion” remaining.

    Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve, said: “No one should have to go through the ordeal Ali has suffered – torture, forced ‘confession’, and an unfair, secret trial process, resulting in a sentence of death by ‘crucifixion.’”

    “But worse still, Ali was a vulnerable child when he was arrested and this ordeal began. His execution – based apparently on the authorities’ dislike for his uncle, and his involvement in anti-government protests – would violate international law and the most basic standards of decency. It must be stopped.”

    The government of the United States has issued no statement. Nobody on Twitter has started a feel-good hashtag campaign.



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Free Speech is for Others

    November 3, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    Reporters without Borders, the watchdog organization, has a sad but scathing article echoing what is becoming increasingly obvious: the freedoms of expression the US government demands for bloggers and journalists in places like China and Iran are now routinely punished within the United States.

    Reporters states:

    The US government has reiterated its commitment to online free speech several times since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in particular, affirmed US support for freedom of expression and opinion very clearly in a speech in Washington on January 21st, 2010.

    Urging American companies to take a “principled stand” against online censorship, Clinton said defense of the Internet should be one of the cornerstones of US diplomacy. As the “birthplace” of so many online technologies, the United States had a “responsibility” to protect the Internet as a tool for economic and social development and promoting democracy, as well as a place for the free exchange of ideas. “We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas,” Clinton added.

    Nonetheless, although the US government has defended Iranian bloggers, Chinese activists and Arab Spring netizens, it has also been responsible for initiatives that have harmed online free speech and has displayed a hostile attitude to online activities. Reporters Without Borders has followed several cases that run counter to the US government’s professed commitment to fundamental Internet freedoms.



    In addition to the well-known cases of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, Reporters also features my own struggle against the State Department:

    The free flow of information about WikiLeaks is also being threatened in blogs. Peter Van Buren, a US Foreign Service Officer for the past 23 years, was accused in September of divulging classified information for posting a link in his blog to a 2009 WikiLeaks cable about the sale of US military spare parts to Muammar Gaddafi’s armed forces.

    The article goes on to chronicle several other episodes of US government crackdowns on domestic online freedom of expression, as well as far too many new laws pending in Congress that would further increase the government’s ability to spy on and then punish people within the United States simply exercising their most basic rights.

    TomDispatch features another side in the US Government’s war against its own citizens, the use of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) to shut down or seize funds that it believes are supporting terrorism. While no one disputes the value in choking off terror money, writer Ann Jones discusses how, while on a US Government Fulbright grant in Norway, OFAC has shut down her bank accounts and left her unable to pay the rent. Her story details her attempts to find out why she was targeted and her frustrations in trying to find someone in the USG to help her resolve the crisis.

    In her article Ann mentions “So I call the American Embassy in Oslo and speak to a nice young woman in the section devoted to ‘American Citizen Services.’”

    That was my old office before the US Government designated me as a security threat and took away my job in the State Department– American Citizen Services. Had a nice ring to it, echoes of better times when the government actually saw some responsibility to help its own citizens, not suspect and punish them without recourse.



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    Posted in Embassy/State