John Negroponte Questioned



John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence questioned outside Fox studios in Washington, Sunday, September 17, by Sam Husseini.

Husseini: Ambassador, why did your office approve the Fleitz Report on Iran's nuclear program, even though according to the IAEA, the report contained 'erroneous, misleading, and unsubstantiated information' about Iran's nuclear program?

Negroponte: We did not -- of course, as you know, that report was written by a staff member of the House Intelligence Committee, we did not originate it, and we weren't commenting so much on the content, as we were -- we dealt with it from a declassification point of view, what could be published in an unclassified format, so I wouldn't associate us one way or another, we didn't comment one way or another on the conclusions that were drawn by that report.

Husseini: Ambassador, do you know that Israel has nuclear weapons?

Negroponte: I don't want to get into a discussion about Israel's nuclear powers.

Husseini: You can't comment on whether Israel has nuclear powers?

Negroponte takes questions from other journalists and then turns to leave.

Husseini: How can you expect to have any credibility on the Middle East if you can't say whether or not Israel has nuclear weapons?

Negroponte continues walking away.

Husseini: Mr. Ambassador, you are head of national intelligence and you can't say whether Israel has nuclear weapons?

Negroponte's Handler: He answered the question.

Husseini (following Negroponte): No, he didn't answer the question. If he'd answered the question I'd go away. Mr. Ambassador, I just want a simple answer to a simple question. Does, do you know that Israel has nuclear weapons? You've made all these statements about Iran and Iraq and so on. Everybody knows that Israel has nuclear weapons. You're director of national intelligence and you can't say whether Israel has nuclear weapons? It's ridiculous. How can you have any credibility on the Middle East? How can you have any credibility Mr. Ambassador?

Negroponte gets in his car and is driven away.

[originally published at husseini.org on Sep. 19, 2006]

Questioning McCain and Graham on Habeas Corpus and FISA



John McCain was outside ABC studios Sunday morning, September 17, 2006.

Sam Husseini: People have also criticized the Warner plan. For example, The Center for Constitutional Rights says that it, as well as the Bush plan, have provisions that would "prevent anyone taken into US custody anywhere in the world, past or present, innocent or not, from ever having their case heard in a court of law." Are you familiar with that provision of the Warner legislation?

Sen. John McCain: No, I'm not, I'm not familiar with that. I'm not familiar with that.

Sen. Lindsey Graham was outside CBS studios on Sunday, September 17, 2006.

Sam Husseini: There's been some speculation that the White House is going to try to tie the, addressing the FISA statute, to this type of legislation. What's your view on the FISA statute's being basically done away with -- I mean -- Wouldn't that be a case -- I'm sorry, just the substance of it, if you could address the substance as well as that speculation. Wouldn't that be basically rewriting the law to make legal the President's violations of the FISA statutes?

Sen. Lindsey Graham: The war on terror presents unique legal challenges, and we need to look at all of our laws to make sure they give us the tools we need to be safe. But in doing that, in redefining the law, my biggest fear is that we're going to redefine America. That if you have the torture statute defined in an absurd way, it no longer means anything. That if you have a trial where someone can go to jail and never see the evidence against them, you've redefined America, not protected the country against terrorism.

When it comes to the FISA statute, I think it has a role in the war on terror. I do not want to destroy the FISA statute. What does the FISA statute do that's necessary? It requires the government to get a warrant if it, the government believes an American is collaborating with the enemy. I want to follow the enemy and listen to the enemy, and if the enemy is talking to an American, I want to know what they are talking about. But if we believe that this American is helping the enemy, then I think we should have to get a warrant, because if we're wrong, we've destroyed people's personal freedom. If you can't and won't make it easy to get a warrant in terms of time periods, we're not going to have a three day, get a warrant or let 'em go. We'll have a statute that allows the government to pursue the evidence and go to court and get a warrant on reasonable terms.

But the day you say that an American suspected of collaborating with the nation's enemies can be followed without a warrant, then we've lost more than we've gained. It is not a burden on this government to get a warrant if they suspect an American of collaborating with the enemy. There is no requirement to get a warrant to surveil the enemy in a time of war.There must be a requirement to check the government when the government believes someone is committing treason.

Husseini: The Center for Constitutional Rights, on the facts, put out a statement criticizing both the Bush proposal as well as the Warner proposal. They said, "If either bill passes as currently written, it will prevent anyone taken into US custody, anywhere in the world, past, present, or future, innocent or not, from ever having their case heard in a court of law." Is that your understanding?

Graham: That is a complete false statement. That is a representation of the bill just as inaccurate as saying that we put the CIA at risk. In the legislation, there is a procedure for every detainee at Guantanamo Bay held as an enemy combatant, to appeal that decision to the US Circuit Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia. Every person tried as a war criminal will now be able to appeal their conviction if there is one through our federal court system. We have created legal rights of review for every person at Guantanamo Bay that is historic in terms of law of armed conflict. So, those who say that people in Guantanamo Bay are being held with legal review, or being tried without legal review, are flat wrong.

Husseini: Does this apply to anybody detained, I mean can't they detain people --

Graham: Anybody detained. Every person held down there as a enemy combatant,

Husseini: Anywhere. I'm not just saying Guantanamo.

Graham: Guantemo Bay. They're all held at Guan -- In Iraq, there are people held in Iraq that have their own procedures to appeal their status. Everywhere we hold someone there are rules in place to appeal their status as enemy combatants. People held in Afghanistan and Iraq are turned over to those countries. The people we have at Guantanamo Bay, we don't have a country to turn them over to, so we're taking care of them.

[originally published at husseini.org on Sep. 17, 2006]

Excerpt from O'Reilly 9/13/01

HERMAN [Former FBI official]: Yes. And he considers himself a comrade, a warrior in the war against America, and that's what he stands for, and he feels that he's a soldier carrying out this message.

O'REILLY: A soldier who kills little children and women. There are no soldiers like that. ...

O'REILLY: While most Americans are united in their support of President Bush and the desire to bring Osama bin Laden and other terrorists to justice, there are some differing voices.

Joining us now from Washington is Sam Husseini, the former spokesman for the Arab Anti -- American Anti-Discrimination Committee, and from Urbana, Illinois, is Francis Boyle, an international law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

All right, Sam. You've been on the program before. I'm just going to give you a chance to tell us how you're feeling tonight about all of this.

SAM HUSSEINI, INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC ACCURACY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Sure. Well, the former group that I was with, the American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee, and when I -- when I -- you know, Tuesday, I think, was hard for a hell of a lot of us.

And, you know, I remember I sold perfume door to door in the World Trade Center, the complex that they have -- that they had down there. And I went to school in Pittsburgh, and I was busy e-mailing friends in New York, trying to make sure that people were safe. And now I live in D.C. And those are the three places that got hit.

I think that -- I think that we have to look at what -- what -- where are we going with this? I mean, just a minute ago, Bill, you were saying that soldiers don't kill women and children.

O'REILLY: Correct.

HUSSEINI: But yet -- I mean, what sickened me was the act of what happened and that people would kill so many innocent people. But now I hear a drum beat of having our soldiers kill women and children.

O'REILLY: Well, wait a minute. Now...

HUSSEINI: I feel...

O'REILLY: ... that hasn't happened. That hasn't happened, and people...

HUSSEINI: Bill, I've heard – Bill --

O'REILLY: People overreact and -- you know, if there is bombing, of course, maybe other innocent people might get killed, and I don't believe we're going to -- we're going to have indiscriminate bombing. We might have targeted bombing at military places.

HUSSEINI: Well --

O'REILLY: But, look --

HUSSEINI: Bill – Bill --

O'REILLY: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

HUSSEINI: Please, Bill. Can I -- Bill, we have a history of this. I mean, Colin Powell advocated, apparently, during the build-up of the Gulf War flooding Baghdad and killing possibly four-million people. Papers are now coming out in a magazine called "The Progressive" that we intentionally took out their pharm -- their water and their electrical facilities and --

O'REILLY: I'm not getting your point here, Mr. Husseini. I'm not getting your point at all.

HUSSEINI: May -- please. Please, Bill.

O'REILLY: All right. I mean, if you're going to say -- if you're going to try to justify this kind of an atrocity with past atrocities...

HUSSEINI: Excuse me?

O'REILLY: ... I'm going to...

HUSSEINI: I'm just...

O'REILLY: I'm going to pull the plug on you.

HUSSEINI: Bill -- Bill, I'm doing the exact opposite. I'm saying that -- are you doing that? Are you saying that some atrocities are good and some are bad? I'm saying all atrocities are bad. I'm saying...

O'REILLY: All right, but I'm saying to you that...

HUSSEINI: ... I'm tired of coming on and condemning atrocities. I want the atrocities to stop.

O'REILLY: But they won't stop.

HUSSEINI: Will you join me in -- in stopping all the atrocities?

O'REILLY: Mr. -- now -- look, Mr. Husseini, let's be -- let's be unemotional here...

HUSSEINI: The last...

O'REILLY: ... and rational. We just heard the FBI...

HUSSEINI: Let's.

O'REILLY: ... agent who arrested the first World Trade Center bomber say you can't reason with them, you can't convince them, you can't do anything to stop them other than kill them or incarcerate them for life. That's...

HUSSEINI: But that's "them." Who -- we want to get the perpetrators. Of course, we want to get the perpetrators, the people who did this...

O'REILLY: And we want to get the people -- and we want to get the people who harboured them. Who harboured them.

HUSSEINI: Of course. Of course. There's no argument about that. But look at the last time we went through this. The last time our embassies, people took out our embassies in the, in East Africa. What did we do? We bombed the Sudan. What did we hit in the Sudan? We hit a pharmaceutical plant that was supplying the pharmacies for an impoverished African country and probably...

O'REILLY: Now, that was an -- that was a mistake. That was a mistake.

HUSSEINI: Well, are we going to do the same thing here?

O'REILLY: I hope not.

HUSSEINI: Are we just going to reflexively quote/unquote "retaliate" and kill innocent civilians...

O'REILLY: Here's what we're going to do, Mr. Husseini.

HUSSEINI: ... and not the perpetrators.

O'REILLY: All right, here's what we're going to do...

HUSSEINI: We have to look at the cycle of violence.

O'REILLY: Mr. Husseini. Mr. Husseini. Calm down. Calm down. All right?

HUSSEINI: Bill...

O'REILLY: Here's what we're going to do, and I'll let you react to it, then we'll get to Professor Boyle to get his reaction to it. What we're going to do is, we're going to take out this Osama bin Laden. Now, whether we go in with air power or whether we go in with a Delta force, he's a dead man walking. He's through. He should have been through long before this. He's been wanted for eight years.

Now, they're going to go in and they're going to get him. If the Taliban government of Afghanistan does not cooperate, then we will damage that government with air power, probably. All right? We will blast them, because...

HUSSEINI: Who will you kill in the process?

O'REILLY: Doesn't make any difference.

HUSSEINI: Bill...

O'REILLY: They -- it was an act of war.

HUSSEINI: No, no. It does make a difference. I don't want more civilians dead. We've had civilians dead in New York and now you're saying maybe it's OK to have civilians dead in Afghanistan.

O'REILLY: Mr. Husseini, this is war.

HUSSEINI: Stop it.

O'REILLY: This is war.

HUSSEINI: Let's just stop it.

O'REILLY: This is war.

HUSSEINI: Yeah, exactly. And in war you don't kill civilians. You don't kill women and children. Those are your words, Bill.

O'REILLY: Oh, stop it.

HUSSEINI: Let's stick to those words.

O'REILLY: All right, let's go to Professor Boyle, because this is ridiculous.

HUSSEINI: Bill...

O'REILLY: Mr. Husseini, I don't want to insult you, Mr. Husseini, but this is...

HUSSEINI: Bill, that's so sad...

O'REILLY: This is -- this is -- you are just made the most absurd statement in the world. That means we wouldn't have bombed the Nazis or the Japanese. We wouldn't have done any of that, because you don't want somebody who has declared war on us to be punished. Come on.

HUSSEINI: Whose declared war on us?

O'REILLY: The terrorists states have declared war, Mr. Husseini.

HUSSEINI: Get them. Get the terrorists.

O'REILLY: Cut his mike. All right, now, Mr. Boyle, Professor Boyle ...

[originally published at husseini.org on Sep. 13, 2006]

The Loud Silencing After 9/11: Five Years On

Conspiracies abound about 9/11. Raed Jarrar is detained for wearing "We Will Not Be Silent" in Arabic on a T-shirt.

What's the real conspiracy? What will we not be silent about?

The real conspiracy is a conspiracy of silence about the horrors of U.S. foreign policy globally for over 50 years. The real conspiracy is that virtually anyone seeking some justice in the Mideast -- including Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. -- have been intimidated into not addressing central questions. The real conspiracy is that Bush and his cohorts -- in front of everyone -- could justify the killing of civilians in the name of the killing of civilians.

The open conspiracy is that our political culture allows this exchange between O'Reilly and me on Sept. 13, 2001:

Neil Herman, a former FBI official tells O'Reilly that Bin Laden "considers himself a comrade, a warrior in the war against America, and that's what he stands for, and he feels that he's a soldier carrying out this message." To which O'Reilly replied: "A soldier who kills little children and women. There are no soldiers like that."

Shortly I was brought on and noted that "The last time our embassies, people took out our embassies in the, in East Africa. What did we do? We bombed the Sudan. What did we hit in the Sudan? We hit a pharmaceutical plant that was supplying the pharmacies for an impoverished African country." Adding: "Are we just going to reflexively quote/unquote 'retaliate' and kill innocent civilians and not the perpetrators?"

O'Reilly responded: "Here's what we're going to do, and I'll let you react to it, then we'll get to Professor Boyle to get his reaction to it. What we're going to do is, we're going to take out this Osama bin Laden. Now, whether we go in with air power or whether we go in with a Delta force, he's a dead man walking. He's through. He should have been through long before this. He's been wanted for eight years.

"Now, they're going to go in and they're going to get him. If the Taliban government of Afghanistan does not cooperate, then we will damage that government with air power, probably. All right? We will blast them, because --"

Husseini: Who will you kill in the process?

O'Reilly: Doesn't make any difference.

Husseini: No, no. It does make a difference. I don't want more civilians dead. We've had civilians dead in New York and now you're saying maybe it's OK to have civilians dead in Afghanistan.

O'Reilly: Mr. Husseini, this is war.

Husseini: Stop it.

O'Reilly: This is war.

Husseini: Let's just stop it.

O'reilly: This is war.

Husseini: Yeah, exactly. And in war you don't kill civilians. You don't kill women and children. Those are your words, Bill.

O'reilly: Oh, stop it.

Husseini: Let's stick to those words.

O'reilly: All right, let's go to Professor Boyle, because this is ridiculous.

Husseini: Bill --

O'Reilly: Mr. Husseini, I don't want to insult you, Mr. Husseini, but this is --

Husseini: Bill, that's so sad --

O'Reilly: This is -- this is -- you are just made the most absurd statement in the world. That means we wouldn't have bombed the Nazis or the Japanese. We wouldn't have done any of that, because you don't want somebody who has declared war on us to be punished. Come on.

Husseini: Whose declared war on us?

O'Reilly: The terrorists states have declared war, Mr. Husseini.

Husseini: Get them. Get the terrorists.

O'Reilly: Cut his mic.

Just as amazing as my getting my mic cut for saying "Get the terrorists" is that O'Reilly would go on to even cut the mic of Jeremy Glick, whose father was killed on 9/11. We need to be more than not be silent, we need to speak out about that which matters most.

[originally published at husseini.org on Sep. 13, 2006]

U.S. Policy: "Putting out the fire with gasoline"?

I took the opportunity to question Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff and the Co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean.

You can find the trancript here, and also on DC Indymedia, with audio files attached.

With the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, outside the studios of ABC News this morning:

Sam Husseini: Sir, does U.S. policy like the invasion of Lebanon--backing the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, like the invasion of Iraq, does that cause resentment in the region, that makes your problem harder and that Al Qaeda types feed into?

Secretary Michael Chertoff: In 1994 Khalid Sheikh Muhammad put together a plot that is very similar to this plot and is in some ways a model for this kind of plot, the one we saw this week. Now, in 1994 there wasn't any war in Iraq, there wasn't any invasion of Lebanon. I mean the fact of the matter is history teaches us we do not provoke terrorism. What tends to foster terrorism is when the terrorists think we're weak or when we try to appease them.

Sam Husseini: But Secretary, Israel invaded Lebanon and occupied it for 20 years beginning in the 1980s and was still occupying it when what you're talking about, the Gulf War -- the first Gulf War -- which Bin Laden rhetorically uses to gain following was just a few years before the 1994 attempted hideous terrorist attack.

Isn't U.S. policy pouring -- trying to put out the fire with gasoline?

Secretary Michael Chertoff: See, what my observation of the history of this is that no matter what we do or don't do terrorists are going to carry out their acts, but the thing that is most likely to inspire terrorism is weakness. When terrorists saw us withdrawal from Somalia that actually inspired them to believe they could win against us. When we fight back and when we take the war to them that actually sets them back. There's no doubt in my mind that the war against terror is won through strength and not through weakness, by taking the war to the enemy and not by retreating.

###

With 9/11 Commissioners Hamilton and Keane outside the NBC studios in Upper Northwest Washington this morning:

Sam Husseini: I'd like to ask a foreign policy thing, gentlemen. You spoke about the motivation of the terrorists and how to decipher them. This is Bin Laden's statement from October 2004, and he's talking about his--what he says his initial motivation is -- in seeing the Israeli bombing of Lebanon back in 1982. To quote: "When I saw those destroyed towers in Lebanon it sparked in my mind that the oppressors should be punished in the same way and that we should destroy towers in America so that they can taste what we tasted and so they will stop killing our women and children." Now, now, his stated and his real goals -- just like other politicians stated goals and real goals -- might be different. But those are his stated motivations, that he says to the people of the region and to us...

Hamilton: Osama bin Laden is a very skillful propagandist. He weaves all kinds of possible appeals to the radicalized muslim world. Some of it is religious, theological, philosophical. Some of it relates to American policy. The original thing that set off Osama bin Laden was the presence of American forces in Saudi Arabia--

Sam Husseini: Which have been removed --

Hamilton: Which have now been removed, that's correct, but --

Sam Husseini: So he [inaudible]

Hamilton: I think it is, I think it is -- well -- we withdrew those I think for our own interests. You can argue whether he would claim it's a victory, we would not, of course. But the point is that he cleverly weaves a lot of different appeals to get this radicalized muslim world--

Sam Husseini: But don't make matters worse? Now we're backing another Israeli invasion of Lebanon -- aren't we planting the seeds of further terrorism? Aren't we putting out the fire with gasoline here? And you can do all the security measures, all the law enforcement, but if that continues isn't that a fundamental argument--

Hamilton: Foreign policy gets very complicated. When you take certain actions to support a friend, the security of Israel, as we did, it has consequences. No question about it.

Sam Husseini: Are you aware gentlemen --

Hamilton: Look, look -- I don't want to get into an argument about Middle East policy--

Sam Husseini: No, no, different issue -- different issue. I'm broadening it out.

Hamilton: Yeah?

Sam Husseini: Sibel Edmonds is a whistle blower, who i believe came -- Sibel Edmonds, are you familiar with her, she was a translator for the FBI, --

Hamilton: Yes.

Sam Husseini: -- I believe she came to the Commission, --

Hamilton: Yes.

Sam Husseini: -- I don't think that you folks considered her work, and her saying that part of the FBI had been infiltrated by foreign -- presumably Turkish elements -- and her case is now under seal. Are you continuing to consider that, have you had second thoughts about taking up what she brought to the Commission, which I don't -- I believe was not included in the Commission report.

Hamilton: There were thousands and thousands of things brought to the attention of the Commission. When you have a commission investigation with a deadline, as we did, you have to make many many judgments about what evidence is most credible and what evidence is less credible. I don't know that we made 100% -- were 100% right in all of our judgments. We did invest her particular charge --

Sam Husseini: Have you had second thoughts?

Hamilton: -- and we thought it was less credible than a lot of other things. But that's, look, the 9/11 Commission Report is not a final report.

Sam Husseini: I understand, I mean have you had second thoughts since then?

Hamilton: I have not.

Sam Husseini: On the democracy question, you both have said US is to help democracy in the Middle East. But Israel is bombing lebanon which was a function democracy, it had a parliament, with the backing of Saudi Arabia. So is that the actual motivation of US Policy when it gives the backhand to the Palestinians when they have a democratic election and to the Lebanese, getting their infrastructure pummeled, when they're a democracy and we're doing this in conjunction with the Saudis -- perhaps the most autocratic regime in the region. It doesn't add up and it doesn't add up to the people who... does it add up to you?

Keane: Well, There's no-- there's no question that we've got to look hard at the autocratic regimes in the Middle East, and the ones we support and why, and I think we've got to work with those leaders to make those regimes less autocratic. There's no question about it. I think we've gotta--not only that, we've gotta help some of them in education systems because these madrassas, which we know teach hate in a lot of cases, are there for a reason. They're there because there aren't schools that are alternatives. These young people in the Middle East cannot go to the kind of school we talk about and learn trades or skills that'll enable them to support a family. So they go and learn about religion, that's all they learn about, and then they can't support a family--they're destitute and therefore they're liable to look at ideologies, look at other things.

Hamilton: Ok, thank you very much.

Sam Husseini: ...That's not being done by Hezbollah, what about...

[originally published at husseini.org on August 13, 2006]

Sound and Vision

On August 6 I joined the media stake-out in front of Fox studios at the C-Span building and asked Israeli Ambassador Ayalon and former Speaker Gingrich some questions. Audio and partial transcript are posted to DC Indymedia. (Thanks to Matt Bradley for audio and pics.)

On August 1 I was on a panel at the Palestine Center. Video from this event is available on the C-Span web site (link requires RealPlayer), and what appears to be quite a "cleaned up transcript" from the Palestine Center is on the Jerusalem Fund's web site.

[originally published at husseini.org on August 6, 2006]