Monday, 16 April 2012 12:52 By Chris Hedges, Truthdig | News Analysis
Tarek Mehanna, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced Thursday in Worcester,
Mass., to 17½ years in prison. It was another of the tawdry show trials
held against Muslim activists since 9/11 as a result of the government's
criminalization of what people say and believe. These trials, where
secrecy rules permit federal lawyers to prosecute people on "evidence"
the defendants are not allowed to examine, are the harbinger of a
corporate totalitarian state in which any form of dissent can be
declared illegal. What the government did to Mehanna, and what it has
done to hundreds of other innocent Muslims in this country over the last
decade, it will eventually do to the rest of us.
Mehanna, a teacher at Alhuda Academy in Worcester, was convicted
after an eight-week jury trial of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers in
Iraq and providing material support to al-Qaida, as well as making false
statements to officials investigating terrorism. His real "crime,"
however, seems to be viewing and translating jihadi videos online,
speaking out against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and refusing
to become a government informant.
Stephen F. Downs, a lawyer in Albany, N.Y., a founder of Project Salam
and the author of "Victims of America's Dirty War," a booklet posted on
the website, has defended Muslim activists since 2006. He has
methodically documented the mendacious charges used to incarcerate many
Muslim activists as terrorists. Because of "terrorism enhancement"
provisions, any sentence can be quadrupled—even minor charges can leave
prisoners incarcerated for years. READ MORE