Two Americas

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Azher Quader

Executive Director, Community Builders Chicago www.mycommunitybuilders.com azherquader@yahoo.com

The preamble to the US Constitution reads:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,  promote the general  Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Some 223 years later America is still searching for that perfect union as it struggles to find unity within its ever expanding diversity.

Senator John Edwards during his presidential campaign of 2004 alluded to this growing division in these words:

Today there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America that will do anything to leave its children a better life, another America that never has to do a thing because its children are already set for life.

One America — middle-class America – whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America – narrow-interest America – whose every wish is Washington’s command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a President.

We see the two faces of America frowning at each other more and more these days. Be it the fight to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, or to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act enacted recently, or to change the immigration law to accommodate the undocumented. The divide in the country is sadly much deeper than what might appear to be on the basis of partisan politics.

What started as a friendly encounter between the pilgrims and the natives when they first landed at Plymouth ended up a few years later in the horrific tragedy that came to be recorded in American history as the trail of tears. When slave owners in the south refused to give up their white privilege, we fought a bloody civil war that pitted family against family and neighbor against neighbor. Subsequently laws were passed against slavery. Civil rights for Afro Americans were later restored. Yet years later the racial divide still continues to haunt us. When nineteen terrorists brought down the twin towers in Manhattan killing over three thousand innocent Americans we went to war again, this time against terror. Although Muslim Americans had nothing to do with the attacks, a decade later over half the nation eyes them with suspicion, doubting their loyalty.

This goal for a more perfect union is obviously not so easy to reach.

In over two hundred years we have not learnt to let go our prejudices, overcome our phobias, and subdue our bigotry.

We clearly live in two Americas.

In one the Muslims are respected, in the other they are hated.

In one live the rich and powerful steeped in privilege. In the other are the poor and powerless living from paycheck to paycheck.

In one are the hardworking. In the other those that hardly work.

In one are the passionate whose passion is big business. In the other are the committed, whose commitment is big government.

In one are those who believe in the power of self. In the other are those who believe in the strength of the state.

In one are those who believe in the compassion of owners. In the other are those who believe in the bargaining rights of the workers.

In one are those who believe charity corrupts the soul, stunts its growth. In the other are those who believe charity elevates the spirit and renews hope.

In one live those who understand the power of Wall Street. In the other are those only familiar with the ways of Main Street.

One America believes in marriage. The other America believes in civil union.

One asks for condoms in schools. The other says let there be abstinence.

One wants abortion on demand. The other says stop the killings.

One wants drugs legalized. The other wants drugs outlawed.

One claims health care is a right. The other says no it is a privilege.

One believes Medicare is a mistake and needs to be ended. The other knows it is a blessing, needs preserved.

One seeks solutions for the 12 million undocumented. The other says no deal, deport all.

One asks for gun laws that save lives and curbs violence. The other quotes the constitution and refuses to budge.

One seeks energy options that are cleaner and greener for the future.

The other refuses to let go the polluting ways of the past.

How then can we bridge these many divides?  Whence will come about that more perfect union?

Perhaps our scriptures hold the secret. Where reason fails to show the way, why not give revelation a chance.

Revelation tells us to be humble not arrogant, to provide for the welfare of others, not remaining absorbed with the concerns of our self interests, that people are to be judged by the nobility of their deeds, that compassion freedom and justice are to be practiced as a lifestyle,  not transcribed on paper and  hung on a wall, that anger, hate and fear can be overcome by the power of belief, that compromise is not a sign of weakness or failure but a means to heal many a wounds of dissent and mistrust.

Our constitution bars the state from imposing any one religion on the people, but does not deny us the right to practice the guidance of our revealed truths. If our understanding of worship ever travels beyond the narrow confines of the rituals that bind it, then some day we can yet rise as a people of faith to bridge our divides. That more perfect union which eludes us can perhaps come within our grasp only through a life of faith. Not faith defined by dogmas and traditions, but faith inspired by reason and revelations anchored in universal principles that transcend our ideological divides.

For Muslim Americans in the midst of yet another blessed month of Ramadan, what better time than this, to go beyond the punishing schedule of praying and fasting each day, to practice their faith as it is meant to be. Letting go of arrogance to embrace humility, embracing love in place of hate, promoting justice in place of prejudice, showing courage in place of fear, adopting patience in times of adversity, demonstrating integrity in the face of temptations.

As a community of faith, maybe we can do our part in bringing the two Americas together. To do that would mean not only working on our inner dimension, but also on our outer. Our spiritual journey cannot take us to a mountain top where we find peace and tranquility away from the turmoil in the valley. Our faith is incomplete without engagement in the problems of the world we live in. It is not enough to write a check and go to sleep when we can do much more. For from those who are given much, much is expected. Our busy social calendars cannot excuse us from the demands of political engagement Our alluring love for travel to distant exotic destinations cannot exempt us from serving the needy within our backyards. There is much for us to do. The two Americas we live in are waiting for our involvement.

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Deji Karim Has Sights Set on New NFL Season

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

sf3Jacksonville Jaguars second-year running back Abdul Deji Karim has been sporting sunglasses in practice lately, but it is not an attempt by the humble football player to big-time anybody. He actually has a medical excuse. Karim told Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union that he underwent cataract surgery on his eye during the offseason, and as a result he is currently suffering from light-sensitivity.

As a policy the National Football League does not allow tinted visors, but they do grant exceptions for players with medical problems. One example of such a player is running back LaDainian Tomlinson of the New York Jets. Karim is currently seeking permission from the league office to wear such a visor during games.

Karim was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Jaguars. Las season he primarily handled kickoff duties, which would be difficult to perform with light-sensitivity due to having to look up into the sun in order to field the kickoffs. Jacksonville takes on the Atlanta Falcons this weekend in preseason football action. They open up the regular season on September 11th at home against division rivals the Tennessee Titans.

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Mohamed Sanu Ready to Ascend

August 11, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Sanu103806432The Rutgers University football team may have a new offensive coordinator, but they still have the same prized offensive weapon: wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Sanu will be making one change, however. He has been shifting between the wide receiver, running back, and even quarterback positions during his Rutgers career so far. This year, he will concentrate only on the wide receiver position.

“If football can be played with only one person on the field, he (Sanu) can probably play every position that is out there,” Rutgers wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck told NewBrunswick.com. “We really can do anything with him. He can play any position for us. He kind of already has (laughs).”

“It’s my job as offensive coordinator to put our playmakers in the best position to make plays,” Rutgers offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said. “We want to create the best matchups. (Sanu) is a wide receiver.”

“It’s a blessing to be able to do many things,” Sanu told NewBrunswick.com. “Right now, I’m pretty happy to be able to just focus on doing one thing. I get to see how good I can be at one thing.” His versatility helped him become well-rounded, but focusing only on receiving should preserve his health. “Being just a wide receiver should also help him health-wise,” Fleck said. “As a halfback, he got hit about twenty more times a game than he would as a receiver.”

Sanu’s football honors thus far have included Honorable Mention Freshman All-America by CollegeFootballNews.com and a Third Team All-Big East selection by Phil Steele.Sanu stands at an impressive 6’ 2” and 215 pounds. And, blessed with smarts, speed, and strength, he is rated as a possible first round draft pick in next spring’s NFL Draft by a number of scouting services. And while his experiences as a running back, quarterback, kick returner, and even punter have added to his skillset, it will be his specialization that should propel him to future National Football League success.
“We really can do anything with him,” Fleck noted. “From a selfish standpoint as the wide receivers coach, I’m glad I have him the whole time. There were times when we were working on things when he had to go be the quarterback or do the run game.”

“I think he’ll be even better this year,” Fleck said. “You have to rep technique. You have to do it over and over and over. He can take all of the mental capacity he has and focus it on being a receiver, with the routes and the concepts. I think he’ll be able to respond quicker, think faster.”

“First of all, he’s bigger than most receivers,” Rutgers sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd told NewBrunswick.com. “He’s very strong. He’s very fast. He’s able to catch the ball and make plays with it. His yards after the catch is one thing that really elevates his game. He catches the ball well and is a big target for me. I love throwing to a guy like that. The more reps we get, the more comfortable we’ll feel in the timing of the routes.”

“At this point, I can’t say anything is set,” Cignetti said. “As an offense, you always want to do what is best for us to represent problems for the defense we’re playing.

“If coach decides to go in that direction, we know we have him,” Fleck added. “He gives us the ability to create mismatches across the board.” “I never really thought of myself as being this or that position,” said Sanu, who spent his early childhood in Sierra Leone. “I’m a football player.”

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Omar Hassan Still a Star Skateboarder

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

skateboarding mag may 2010-4Omar Hassan remains one of the world’s best professional skateboarders, even at the ripe old age of 37. His specialty is the Park competition, and it was there that he was competitive once again this summer. In the recently completed X-Games Seventeen, in Los Angeles, California, he finished 4th in the Park competition. He also finished 4th in the Park in 2008 and 2009. The versatile skater has competed in six X Games disciplines since 1995.

Hassan hails from Costa Mesa, California. He has, interestingly, never held a job outside of the world of professional skateboarding. He still retains multiple sponsorships, including: Black Label, Independent Trucks, Vans, Quiksilver, Ford, and Black Flys. So, clearly, people are still willing to put money on his talent.

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Possible Amir Khan Opponents

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Floyd-Mayweather-01
File:  Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

WBA and IBF junior welterweight boxing champion Amir Khan is still basking in the glory of his knockout of Zab Judah last week. While Khan had previously sought to fight WBC and WBO champion Timothy Bradley, Bradley claimed that Khan was not enough of a draw and not enough of a challenger, so he sidestepped Khan. Now Bradley is being sued by his promoters due to his failure to take on Khan’s challenge.

Khan, meanwhile, has now set his sights even higher than Bradley, eyeing up a match with the great Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Mayweather has been doing some sidestepping of his own, avoiding Manny Pacquiao of the Phillipines. While the Khan-Mayweather may happen some time in the next 12 months, a more likely opponent for Khan in the short term is Lamont Peterson. Peterson disposed of Victor Cayo last week, putting him in line as a possible mandatory challenger to Khan’s titles.

Amir Khan found some time to have a little fun in the wake of his recent victory. In his attempt to gain popularity in the United States, Khan made an appearance on the George Lopez show on TBS. And by all accounts, Khan was well-spoken and polished and held his own with the comedian.

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Muslim Baseball Fans Lose Jersey to Hall of Famer

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

roberto-alomar-aids
File:  Roberto Alomar

Life-long Toronto Blue Jays fans Fiyaz Kanji and Owais Farooqui have moved away from Toronto, where they grew up, but they remain loyal. The pair even made the trip to Cooperstown from Boston over the weekend to see Roberto Alomar’s enshrinement as the team’s first Hall of Famer. But in an odd twist of fate, and clearly part of a misunderstanding, Alomar took a jersey from them during his parade procession and the pair have yet to retrieve it.

Kanji and his wife, Azra, now live in Boston. Farooqui, who lives in Los Angeles, had flown to Boston to see his friends after a stop in Seattle for work. The three of them left Boston at 6 a.m. Saturday to make the four-hour-plus drive to Cooperstown. Once they arrived, they wanted to get an Alomar T-shirt, but on this day, anyway, they were tough to find in the right size. “It was a shirt that everyone was buying,” Farooqui told Deadspin.com. “All day I was looking for that shirt.”

Farooqui finally bought a shirt to his liking for around $50. The group then lined up for the parade, which was held the day before Sunday’s induction ceremony. Farooqui held the shirt and waved it, hoping to get Alomar’s attention, while Kanji took video footage that has been placed on YouTube and has gone viral.

“He called me over,” said Farooqui. “I thought he was just going to shake my hand or give me a high-five. He took the shirt and waved it a little. I thought maybe he would autograph it or something. He just turned and kept going.”

After realizing they probably weren’t getting the shirt back, Farooqui and the Kanjis raced to the end of the parade route, hoping maybe to get Alomar’s attention. But Alomar ducked into the Hall before they could get to him.

“We were excited he took it at first,” Kanji told Deadspin. “Then we realized we weren’t going to get it back. I want the damn shirt back.” The latest word has the Toronto Blue Jays making contact with the two men, with the possibility of compensation in the form of other gifts. But there is no word yet as to whether the jersey in question makes it back into the hands of its rightful owners.

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The New Drogba Joins Tottenham

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

drogba_portraitDespite a wealth of soccer talent that has come from the Ivory Coast, including legendary Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba, the team disappointed at last summer’s World Cup, and has yet to bring home hardware worthy of its talent. And follow up last year’s disappointment with a horrific five month post-election crisis, and the mood in Cote D’Ivoire has been dour. But the country was uplifted by the recent Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. There, a 16-year-old striker, by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, dubbed “The New Didier Drogba”, scored nine goals in four games for Ivory Coast, including a hat-trick against Brazil and a four goal game against Denmark in consecutive matches. Coulibaly ended up tying the tournament goal-scoring record set by former Liverpool player Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but in three games fewer than the Frenchman. Souleymane in fact ended up scoring nine of his entire team’s tournament total of 11 goals. And for his efforts, Coulibaly was awarded the Golden Boot as the tournament’s best player.

Coulibaly currently lives with his father in Italy where he plays for Italian team Siena. But that is about to change, as Coulibaly was chased down by all of the big clubs after his record-setting tournament. After being courted by the likes of Real Madrid, Coulibaly settled on Tottenham of the English Premier League, where he is expected to move very quickly to the first team.

“I want to thank all those who said good things about me,” Coulibaly told Fifa.com after receiving the Golden Boot Award. “My team-mates and I had a wonderful moment in Mexico. The defenders ignored some spaces which I exploited to score those goals. But mostly, this recognition goes to my team-mates who assisted me.

Coulibaly himself humbly acknowledges Drogba’s clear physical advantage. “Drogba is taller than me, he’s more physically built than me and he’s better with air balls than me. If I can become a quarter of him I’d be so happy,” Coulibaly recently told Ivorian newspaper Frat Mat.

The Ivory Coast may not have brought home the Under-17 World Cup title. But Souleymane Coulibaly gave his country-people something to be proud of. And he should continue to do so in England.

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Eric Abidal Negotiating Contract Extension with Barcelona

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Eric_Abidal-4Barcelona have reopened  contract extension negotiations with Muslim left-back Eric Abidal. This was reported by Barcelona’s sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta earlier this week. Just four months ago, Abidal was fighting for his life after a tumor was discovered in his liver. He subsequently underwent surgery in March to have the tumor removed. And he was able to recover so remarkably quickly  that he was able to return to action on May 3rd. And he even made an appearance in Barcelona’s Champions League final win over Manchester United later that month.

Abidal was born in Lyon, France, but is of Martinique descent. Before joining Barcelona in 2007 he played for Lyon and Lille in France, and Monaco before that. He has 55 caps for the French national squad, having made his international debut in August of 2004. He most recently played center back for France in their disappointing 2010 World Cup campaign.

Currently, Abidal only has one year remaining on his current contract, and Barcelona appears eager to retain the 32-year-old defender’s services. “We made Abidal the offer of a new contract before his illness,” said Zubizarreta during a press conference. “Discussions have started again and we will try to come to an agreement. It will take time but we hope that we can conclude a deal and make an announcement soon.”

Reports in the Spanish press are that Barcelona had initially offered Abidal the two-year deal that he wanted, only to withdraw the offer and come back with a proposal to give him a rolling one-year contract instead. Such rumors could make for a contentious negotiating environment, but both sides seem to have avoided stirring controversy. “Eric has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to stay at Barcelona and finish his career at the club,” the player’s agent David Venditelli told Catalan television station TV3 last month.

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Badr Hari Alive and Kicking

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

badr_hariBadr “The Golden Boy” Hari made his triumphant return to the world of kickboxing after approximately one year away from the sport. This past May, Hari took on Tony Gregory on the It’s Showtime card in Lyon, France in the Super Heavyweight division. The crowd enthusiastically welcomed Hari from an exile that he claims was self-imposed. However, his return came in the wake of his infamous disqualification in a fight against Hesdy Gerges in May of 2010 in Amsterdam, in which Hari was disqualified after kicking Hesdy in the face.

Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and of Moroccan descent, Hari is a former K-1 heavyweight kick-boxing champion. As of May of this year, the 26-year-old Hari was ranked as the number two kick-boxer in the world by LiverKick.com. He has also been officially praised by the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, for his outstanding accomplishments in the sport.

On this day in May, in France, however, Gregory never truly posed a threat to the great Badr Hari. Despite being booed out of the ring at the end of his last fight, Hari was this time welcomed openly by a raucous crowd that was eager to get re-acquainted with the exploits of kick-boxing’s bad boy. Despite being one of the greatest kick-boxers in the world, Hari has unfortunately has been involved in a number of controversies involving unsportsmanlike conduct in the ring and alleged violent assaults outside of the ring.

Nonetheless, Hari has side-stepped the controversy, and on this day in Lyon, he brushed aside yet another challenger, as Gregory went down and went down hard. Though many have called for a rematch with Hesdy Gerges for the It’s Showtime heavyweight title, it has been announced that Bari’s next fight will be against Romanian Daniel Ghita in September. Ghita has been ranked as one of the top five kick-boxers in the world. Ghita lost a controversial decision to Gerges earlier in the year and should provide stiff competition for Hari. But Badr Hari has been through plenty and should be ready for the challenge.

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“Some Will Call Me a Torturer”: CIA Man Reveals

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Spencer Ackerman

handcuffsAdmitting that “some will call me a torturer” is a surefire way to cut yourself off from anyone’s sympathy. But Glenn Carle, a former CIA operative, isn’t sure whether he’s the hero or the villain of his own story.

Distilled, that story, told in Carle’s new memoir The Interrogator, is this: In the months after 9/11, the CIA kidnaps a suspected senior member of al-Qaida and takes him to a Mideast country for interrogation. It assigns Carle — like nearly all his colleagues then, an inexperienced interrogator — to pry information out of him. Uneasy with the CIA’s new, relaxed rules for questioning, which allow him to torture, Carle instead tries to build a rapport with the man he calls CAPTUS.

But CAPTUS doesn’t divulge the al-Qaida plans the CIA suspects him of knowing. So the agency sends him to “Hotel California” — an unacknowledged prison, beyond the reach of the Red Cross or international law.

Carle goes with him. Though heavily censored by the CIA, Carle provides the first detailed description of a so-called “black site.” At an isolated “discretely guarded, unremarkable” facility in an undisclosed foreign country (though one where the Soviets once operated), hidden CIA interrogators work endless hours while heavy metal blasts captives’ eardrums and disrupts their sleep schedules.

Afterward, the operatives drive to a fortified compound to munch Oreos and drink somberly to Grand Funk Railroad at the “Jihadi Bar.” Any visitor to Guantanamo Bay’s Irish pub — O’Kellys, home of the fried pickle — will recognize the surreality.

But Carle — codename: REDEMPTOR — comes to believe CAPTUS is innocent.

“We had destroyed the man’s life based on an error,” he writes. But the black site is a bureaucratic hell: CAPTUS’ reluctance to tell CIA what it wants to hear makes the far-off agency headquarters more determined to torture him. Carle’s resistance, shared by some at Hotel California, makes him suspect. He leaves CAPTUS in the black site after 10 intense days, questioning whether his psychological manipulation of CAPTUS made him, ultimately, a torturer himself.

Eight years later, the CIA unceremoniously released CAPTUS. (The agency declined to comment for this story.) Whether that means CAPTUS was innocent or merely no longer useful as a source of information, we may never know. Carle spoke to Danger Room about what it’s like to interrogate a man in a place too dark for the law to find.

Wired.com: Do you consider yourself a torturer? At the end of the book, you wrestle with the question.

Glenn Carle: According to Justice Department lawyer John Yoo’s August 2002 memo on interrogation, the answer is no. As one can see from the entire book, I opposed all these practices and this approach. I was involved in it, although I tried to stop what I considered wrong. I feel I acted honorably throughout my involvement in the CAPTUS operation, and tried to have him treated properly, but much of it was disturbing and wrong.

Wired.com: You’re maybe the only CIA officer to publicly describe a “black site” prison, your Hotel California. What was it like to be inside a place completely off the books from any legal accountability? Did it make you feel like you could act with impunity? How did you restrain yourself?

Glenn Carle: No, I never, never felt like I could or should act with impunity. No one I know felt that way. We all felt we were involved in an extraordinary, sensitive operation that required very careful behavior. What was acceptable was often unclear, despite the formal guidance that eventually was developed.

“How did I restrain myself” implies perhaps that I was inclined to act in unrestrained ways. I never, ever was; nor were, in my experience, my colleagues. From literally the first second I was briefed on the operation, I was acutely aware that I would have to weigh every step I took, and decide what was morally, legally acceptable. There was never the slightest thought that I or anyone could act with impunity. We were acting clandestinely; but never beyond obligations to act correctly and honorably. The dilemma comes in identifying where those lines are, in a situation in which much was murky.

Wired.com: You came to believe that the man you call CAPTUS “was not a jihadist or a member of al-Qaida.” Well, even so, was he still dangerous? Did you ever feel he duped you? You write that he lied to you, after all.

Glenn Carle: CAPTUS himself was not a terrorist, or a dangerous man. He had been involved in activities of legitimate concern to the CIA, because they did touch upon al-Qaida activities. That’s a fact. But he was not a willing member of, believer in, or supporter of, al-Qaida. He was not a terrorist, had committed no crimes, had not intentionally supported jihad or terrorist actions.

Did he dupe me? He evaded and lied on occasion, yes. And I always wrestled with the question of whether he was duping me. In the end, I had to decide, though, and I decided he was, fundamentally, straight with me. Never totally, but fundamentally, yes. This is not a black and white-hat situation. I try to make that as clear as can be in the book. Little was simple — thus, my descriptions of the “gray world” in which knowledge is imperfect, motivations and actions are sometimes contradictory — in which CAPTUS, perhaps, was truthful, innocent, disingenuous, and complicit simultaneously.

Wired.com: Did you ever feel, at Hotel California or before, that interrogating CAPTUS put you in legal jeopardy down the road?

Glenn Carle: I think everyone was concerned with this, at every level, and at every second of one’s involvement in interrogation operations. We all worked very hard to act legally.The challenges are how to reconcile contradictory laws, which are morally repugnant, perhaps, and which leave room for broad interpretation and abuse.

No one consciously broke the law, ever, in my experience or knowledge. But what should one do? How could one follow one’s orders and accomplish one’s mission, when it was flawed, objectionable, and perhaps itself legally, albeit “legally” ordered. That’s the supreme dilemma I wrestled with, and others did, too.

Wired.com: When you first interrogate CAPTUS, you write that you tried to establish a rapport with him — even as you kept him fearful that you controlled his fate. When that didn’t get the intelligence CIA HQ wanted, they shipped the both of you to Hotel California. Did CIA consider the possibility that he wasn’t who they thought he was?

Glenn Carle: I had slow, partial, success during my time of involvement in bringing colleagues and the institution to see him more as I did. But I failed, ultimately. The view that he was a senior al-Qaida member or fellow-traveler remained decisive for a long, long time. The agency or U.S. government didn’t change its views for eight years. Perhaps it never did.

Wired.com: Run me through how CAPTUS was treated at the Hotel.

Glenn Carle: The objectives are to “dislocate psychologically” a detainee. This is done through psychological and physical measures, primarily intended to disrupt Circadian rhythms and an individual’s perceptions. So, noise, temperature, one’s sense of time, sleep, diet, light, darkness, physical freedom — the normal reference points for one’s senses are all distorted. Reality disappears, and so do one’s reference points. It is shockingly easy to disorient someone.

But that is not the same as making someone more willing to cooperate. The opposite is true — as the CIA’s KUBARK interrogation manual cautions will occur, as I predicted and forewarned and as occurred in my and other officers’ experiences.

Wired.com: In 2003, according to declassified documents, your old boss, George Tenet approved the following “enhanced interrogation techniques” for use on high-value detainees: “the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap (insult slap), the abdominal slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation beyond 72 hours, the use of diapers for prolonged periods, the use of harmless insects, the water board.” Were any of these used on CAPTUS? Did you take part in any of their use?

Glenn Carle: No. These measures were formally set out, I believe, after my involvement in interrogation. And in any event, from my first second of involvement in the CAPTUS operation I simply would not allow or have anything to do with any physical coercive measure. I would not do it. That point I was certain of instantaneously. I also had literally never heard of waterboarding until the story about it broke in the media.

Wired.com: Did you get any useful intelligence out of CAPTUS? If so, what interrogation techniques “worked”?

Glenn Carle: Oh, yes, CAPTUS definitely provided useful intelligence. The methods that worked were the same ones that work in classic intelligence operations: establishing a rapport with the individual, understanding his fears, hopes, interests, quirks. It is a psychological task, very similar to what one should do when establishing any human relationship.

The plan was to be a perceptive, and sometimes manipulative, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and purposeful individual who understood the man sitting opposite him, and earn his trust.

Wired.com: You came to question whether even the mild psychological disorientation you induced on CAPTUS was too severe an interrogation method. Why? Did you sympathize with CAPTUS too much?

Glenn Carle: There is always a danger for a case officer to “fall in love” with his “target.” That’s the term we use. Any good officer guards against that, and always questions his own perceptions. Always. But I was the one who looked in CAPTUS’ eyes for hours and hours and days and days. It was I who knew the man, literally. I’m confident in my assessment of him.

And yes, I at first accepted my training: that psychological dislocation induced cooperation, and would not be lasting or severe, therefore could be acceptable in certain circumstances. I came quickly to conclude that this was founded on erroneous conclusions — nonsense, actually — about human psyche and motivation. [It] did not work, was counterproductive and was, simply, wrong in every way. So, I came to oppose it.

Wired.com: How did the CIA react to you publishing this book? Huge sections of it are blacked out.

Glenn Carle: The agency redacted about 40 percent of the initial manuscript, deleting entire chapters, almost none of which had anything to do with protecting sources or methods. Much of it was so the agency could protect itself from embarrassment, or from allowing any description of the interrogation program to come out. One would infer, obviously, that large segments of the agency would have preferred to leave CAPTUS’ story in the dark, where it took place.

Wired.com: David Petraeus, the incoming CIA director, suggested to Congress that there might be circumstances where a return to “enhanced interrogation” is appropriate. What would you say to him?

Glenn Carle: That there is almost no conceivable circumstance in which the enhanced interrogation practices are acceptable or work. This belief is a red herring, wrong, and undoes us a bit. We are better than that. Enhanced interrogation does not work, and is wrong. End of story.

Wired.com: The Justice Department decided on June 30 to seek criminal inquiries in two cases of detainee abuses — out of 101. Was that justice, a whitewash or something in between?

Glenn Carle: It wasn’t a whitewash. It’s in general better not to seek retribution, but to seek to inculcate correct values and behavior going forward.

Wired.com: Did you ever learn what happened to CAPTUS’ treatment after you left at Hotel California? Why was he was released? Have you tried to find him? What would you tell him if you saw one another?

Glenn Carle: No. I left the case and knew nothing about him for years. I presume he was released because the institution, at last, accepted what I had argued as strongly as I had been able to do so. He was ultimately let go, I hope, because the institution and U.S. government, at last, came to accept my view of CAPTUS. His release validates — substantiates — everything I argued.

I came to respect CAPTUS. We are from such different worlds, and his and my circumstances — he a detainee and I one of his interrogators — are so radically different that conversation would be awkward if we ever met again. It is natural that he feel resentment. And little was ever clear in the entire operation. That’s the nature of intelligence work. He is not a total innocent, I don’t think. But his rendition was not justified by the facts as I came to learn them, which was at odds with the agency’s assessment of him.

Wired.com: Finally, how many CAPTUSes — people you believe to be innocent men swept up in the CIA “enhanced interrogation” system — are there?

Glenn Carle: I do not know.

Note: For more on secret prisons, see my articles transcribing the sections dealing with US secret detention after 9/11, which were part of a UN report on secret detention that was published last year: UN Secret Detention Report (Part One): The CIA’s “High-Value Detainee” Program and Secret Prisons, UN Secret Detention Report (Part Two): CIA Prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq and UN Secret Detention Report (Part Three): Proxy Detention, Other Countries’ Complicity, and Obama’s Record.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.                  Wired

13-29

Ukrainian Boxer Turning Heads

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

sillakh-584“Bernard Hopkins, here we come!” That is the cry from the camp of light heavyweight up-and-comer Ismayl Sillakh, the Ukrainian with the curious nickname “The Black Russian.” The six foot three inch Ukraine is cruising through the light heavyweight ranks with an eye toward the big boys. At 26 years of age, Sillakh is already 16-0 with 13 knockouts. Most recently he took out Hamza Wandera Ouma in Russia in three rounds. Sillakh is managed by Ivaylo Gotzev and trained by Shadeed Suluki. “If [Hopkins] is not available, a guy who always has something to say is Jean Pascal. We would love to take him on,” Gotzev told PhilBoxing.com.

Sillakh has traveled the world to fight, from Ukraine, where he had a phenomenal amateur record of 302-16, to Moscow, to the United States. He has made Southern California his unofficial new home, training in the northern Los Angeles area of Van Nuys at the new International Fight Center (IFC). So, other top light heavyweights cannot say that that haven’t heard of him or cannot find him. He’s right in their backyard. “…It’s no coincidence the division’s champions or their promoters never bring Sillakh’s name up. It’s because they’re all afraid to fight him, it’s that simple,” states Gotzev.

13-26

Samir Nasri in Demand

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-06-03T211419Z_1327019765_GM1E7640EMI01_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-EURO

France’s Samir Nasri controls the ball during their Euro 2012 Group D qualifying soccer match against Belarus at Dinamo stadium in Minsk June 3, 2011.

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

The agent of Arsenal scoring sensation Samir Nasri indicates that talks between the player and Arsenal are still ongoing, despite reports to the contrary. There have been rumors of interest on the part of Manchester United amidst reports of Nasri’s displeasure with Arsenal’s attempts, or lack thereof, to improve thus far in the offseason.

“I want to clarify that there has been no break with the Gunners over the contract’s renewal and we should meet again soon with Arsene Wenger,” Nasri’s agent Alain Migliaccio told calciomercatoweb. “There are a few clubs interested in Samir, but it is useless to name them. Before listening to other teams, we need and we want to talk with Arsenal.”
Nasri had a prolific season with Arsenal, making for a nice bounce-back after having been left off of the French World Cup team last summer amidst politics and infighting. However, much of the mayhem has since tied to outgoing French coach Raymond Domenech, so Nasri’s reputation has been rehabilitated sufficiently with his play for Arsenal this past English season. And with his value at an all time high, Arsenal owner, American Stan Kroenke, is reportedly set to break the bank to keep him.

13-25

Bernard Hopkins Title Defense Looks Set

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

00027848-SPF-001
File: Bernard Hopkins rests during practice in Los Angeles, 2008.

Newly-crowned light-heavyweight champion of the world Bernard Hopkins is all but finalized to take on Chad Dawson this fall, likely in September, for his first title defense. Hopkins has a record of 52 wins, 5 losses, and 2 draws, while Dawson has 30 wins, one loss, and no draws. Dawson has reportedly been aiming to take on Hopkins for a couple of years now, but has been brushed aside until now. Hopkins instead took on Jean Pascal, whom he drew in December of 2010 before defeating him on May 21st of this year. The victory gave Hopkins the WBC, IBO, and The Ring magazine light heavyweight title belts.

Dawson’s only loss of his career came in fact to Pascal in August of 2010 in a technical decision. Therefore, Hopkins reportedly claimed that a fight with Dawson would be a waste of his time, and instead he wanted to “just beat the man who beat the man.” And that he did by dispatching of Pascal last month. But now Hopkins, who recently had a ceremony in his honor in his home town of Philadelphia, sees Dawson as his best match.

13-25

Kareem Abdul Jabbar Feels Wronged by Lakers

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

kareem_abdul-jabbar-797Only in LA, can a basketball great like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar feel that he isn’t recognized like he should be. The form of recognition that Abdul-Jabbar is looking for is a statue of himself in front of the Staples Center. Today, the current collection of statues include Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya and broadcaster Chick Hearn.  Abdul-Jabbar told The Sporting News, “I don’t understand. It’s either an oversight or they’re taking me for granted. I’m not going to try to read people’s minds, but it doesn’t make me happy. It’s definitely a slight. I feel slighted.”  And in a statement he added:  “I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgment of my contribution to Laker success. I guess being the linchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history.”

It seems like things have not been good between Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers, since he feels slighted when asked by the Lakers to take a salary cut while the team was paying Phil Jackson more than $10 million to coach and was also offended by getting seats on Lakers flights in the back of the plane when spacious seats were available up front.1106-GQ-PF09.01

“It’s just about a whole lot of smaller incidents that, as they pile up on you, you get the feeling you don’t mean anything to them,” he said.”I’ve never been this vocal about anything,” he said. “I’ve always tried to stay out of the fray and not be an object of controversy.”

And Kareem made it clear he feels the Lakers have taken care of Magic Johnson, but not him. Asked about his relationship with Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, he answered: “It’s okay . . . When you look at what he did for Earvin and what he did for me, big disparity there.”

13-22

Muslims at the 2011 French Open

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

TENNIS-OPEN/It has been a mixed bag so far for Muslim tennis players at the 2011 French Open Tennis Tournament. Although, there has been a preponderance of sour ingredients in that bag so far. First with the bad, Uzbeki female tennis player Akgul Amanmuradova succumbed in the first round of the ladies’ singles competition to German Sabine Lisicki 6-0, 6-4. French Muslima Aravane Rezai was also a first round loser in her home tournament to Romanian Irina Camelia-Begu 6-3, 6-3, also in the first round.

Indian Sania Mirza was a first round winner in the ladies’ singles over Kristina Barrois of Germany 6-3, 6-3. Mirza was also a first round winner in the ladies doubles with Russian partner Elena Vesnina. Speaking of doubles, the team of Pakistani Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Indian Rohan Bopanna is seeded fifth in the men’s doubles as they wait to play their first match.

13-22

Georgia Hoopster Gets His First College Letter

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

ScreenShot146Atlanta area boys’ high school basketball player Tahj Shamsid Deen won’t be graduating until 2013. But he can already rest assured that he is wanted. This week received his first college scholarship offer, and it was from the prestigious academic institution Northwestern University in Chicago. Not bad for a 15-year-old kid who stands at only 5 foot 8 inches and 160 pounds. And Northwestern is not alone, as basketball powerhouse programs Connecticut, Florida, and Memphis are reportedly also interested in the young man.

“He’s a 50-year-old midget,” says his high school coach, Columbia High’s Phil McCrary, “It speaks to his maturity level. He thinks way beyond his age,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s a compliment, not at all meant in a derogatory way. It’s just that most kids his age make simple and minor mistakes on the floor. It’s rare for Tahj because he’s more mature than most of the point guards he plays against.”

He added, “How many 15-year-olds do you know that are constantly looking up at the clock, knowing the situation they are in? How many always know where to go with the basketball? Know when to shoot? When to slow it down? And when to take over a game? All that stuff, Tahj has already learned. That’s why I call him a ‘50-year-old midget’ because his knowledge is way beyond his age.”

ESPN.com rates Tahj as the 37th best point guard in the nation in the class of 2013 and offers the following scouting report: Tahj pushes the ball with good pace in transition and displays the ability to hit the stop and pop mid range pull up around the foul line. Shamsid-Deen is a lefty with a smooth stroke. He can hit the open three and runner in the lane as well. Shamsid-Deen has a tight handle and does a good job of drive, drawing and kicking to open teammates when he draws a second defender. He can pressure the ball with his excellent lateral foot speed and quick hands as well. Tahj must add strength and continue to develop his game but Shamsid-Deen is definitely on to keep a close eye on this spring and summer.This young lead guard had some very impressive possessions. He competes and plays with confidence. He also does a nice job of running the offense and keeping the team organized.

And to top it off, Tahj is a stellar student as well. He already posted a qualifying SAT score for college while only in the seventh grade. He has nearly a 4.0 GPA in high school and is a finalist for the Governor’s Cup in math. Inshallah there are big things in store for this little fellow.

13-21

Houston Baller Commits to Duke

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

17USulaimon1AAU201020Houston, Texas boys’ high school basketball player Rashad Sulaimon has committed to Duke University, a school known both for its top-tier men’s basketball and for its top-notch academics. Sulaimon is a shooting guard, and is rated by Rivals.com as the 24th best player in the nation in the class of 2012. The 6 foot 4 inch Sulaimon plays for Strake Jesuit high school.

ESPN.com offers the following scouting report on Sulaimon: Sulaimon is a high energy shooting guard the can score in a variety of ways. He can get to the rim in transition or stop and knock down a pull up jumper. He has three point range and although he is streaky the defense must respect the fact that he can go on roll and knock down two or three in a row. From the wing Sulaimon probes the defense looking for an opening to attack to score or draw and kick to an open teammate. Sulaimon has a great first step and uses a quick catch and go move as well. If the player defending him does not match his energy level Sulaimon will have a big game. This young guard is versatile enough to help at the point because he is a smart player that can handle and pass the ball. Sulaimon is capable of defending both guard positions and could develop into a lock down defender in the future because of his size attacking style of play. Sulaimon is a capable defender but tends to loose focus at times which gets him out of position or he will gamble and pick up a cheap foul. He also has the ability to be more of a factor on the glass on both ends of the floor because of his consistent energy and effort. Sulaimon can make threes but must work for consistency. He can be streaky bad or good. From time to time Sulaimon will rush or get into a hurry which may result in a turnover. Sulaimon is a long and very skilled wing. He has tremendous upside with his skills, athleticism and great energy and effort that he plays with on a consistent basis. He is a natural wing guard that can get on a roll from behind the arc or off the bounce. Sulaimon has all the tools to be a special college player.

Sulaimon also had college offers from other big schools, including Baylor, Indiana, Georgetown, and Georgia Tech. He also had an offer to play for President Obama’s brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, the head men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University. However, in the end, Rasheed chose to play for one of the most revered men’s basketball coaches of all time, Mike Kryzewski.

13-21

All Eyes on Shabbazz Muhammad

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

SHABAZZ-MUHAMMADSmall forward Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman high school in Las Vegas, Nevada is virtually a unanimous national top-5 recruit in the boys’ basketball class of 2012. That makes for a nice subjective analysis of his talent. But how about an objective measure of his abilities: he has no less than 16 big-time college scholarship offers, including offers from such elite programs as Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA, UNLV, and USC.

It was originally thought that the home town UNLV team would have long odds in securing Muhammad’s services amongst the big boys that are after him. But those odds improved after Dave Rice was hired as UNLV’s new men’s basketball coach last month. Rice just happens to be the brother of Shabbazz’s high school coach, Grant Rice. Shabbazz’s father, Ron Holmes, heard the new coach speak and was impressed, and he told the Las Vegas Sun this his son will indeed take a recruiting trip to UNLV. “Without a doubt, UNLV will be right there,” Holmes said of UNLV’s chances to sign his son.

Muhammad averaged 25 points per game this past winter and was named the Sunset Region’s Player of the Year. The 6 foot 6 inch wing player just may be the biggest recruit in Southern Nevada history, and that is saying something.

13-21

Bacary Sagna Donates World Cup Bonuses

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Bacary-Sagna-1Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna has declared his intention to donate his €100,000 bonus earned from the disappointing French 2010 World Cup campaign to football clubs in France and Senegal – his ancestral homeland, according to the newspaper France Football.

The 28-year-old former Auxerre player has earmarked two teams from Yonne (a French department) – Saint-Florentin and Franco-Maghrébins de Sens; and another from Paris – Bernard Diomède Academy, to receive part of the donation. The remainder will be offered to two Senegalese clubs to be named later, the French paper said.

France had a horrendous tournament in South Africa and crashed out in the group stages amid player revolt against coach Raymond Domenech, and public feuds. Sagna was born in Bourgogne, France to Senegalese parents. He began his international career with the French Under-21 team in 2004, before making it to the senior team three years later.

A source at the Senegal Football Federation told the website Goal.com that the gesture will encourage other foreign players of African descent to “look back to where they hail from and give a helping hand to those in need.”

13-19

Qureshi and Bopanna Star in Monte Carlo

April 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-04-17T125153Z_1458469648_GM1E74H1M0Z01_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-MEN-MONTECARLO

Prince Albert II of Monaco next to his fiancee Charlene Wittstock as they attend the final of the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament in Monaco April 16, 2011.                    

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Pakistani tennis player Aisam Qureshi and his doubles partner Rohan Bopanna continue to be a wrecking ball on the ATP tour. The IndoPak Express, as they are called, are now ranked sixth in the world as a men’s doubles team, a rise of two spots from their pre-tournament ranking of eight.

Most recently, they made it to the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters, and along the way they ousted tournament second-seeds and multiple grand-slam winners Daniel Nestor and Max Mirny in the quarter-finals. They were, however, handed a surprise loss by the unseeded Juan Ignacio Chela and Bruno Soares in the semi-finals.

Qureshi is now ranked 11th, one up from his previous position of 12 in the individual doubles players rankings. Qureshi’s Indian partner Bopanna also improved his individual doubles ranking from 15 to 14. This week the two are in Spain participating in the Barcelona Open.

13-17

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