“Good” Muslims and Dangerous Whistleblowers

Writing in the September 19, 2011 The Nation, Arun Kundnani says of the FBI’s “good” Muslims: “Local authorities have worked in concert with intelligence agencies to establish widespread networks of informants to place mosques under surveillance and to launch “pre-emptive” prosecutions, frequently involving schemes that, critics charge, have been more successful in trapping disaffected individuals than in netting actual terrorists.”

Kundnani quotes Birmingham (Alabama) City Council member Salma Yagoob, as follows: “By promoting and recognizing only those Muslims who toe the line on government policy is serving to strenghten the hands of the genuine extremists, those who say that our engagement in the democratic process is pointless or wrong… .”

Yagoob continues: “Muslim organizations that take a civil rights stand and are then rejected as partners and vilified as conveyors of the ‘extremist’ ideas that supposedly make people into terrorists.” Yagoob contends that Muslims who very aggressively assert their civil liberties run the risk of being labeled “bad” Muslims.

The FBI is not the only law enforcement agency targeting Muslims, as the New York City police force has assigned undercover agents to infiltrate Muslim groups, primarily student groups. The infiltrated agents even go along on social outings. 

The campaigning Barack Obama said he would rein in the sprawling intelligence complex. Having failed to do that, President Obama may have had more success in using his bully pulpit to rein in law enforcement targeting of Muslims.

Government Whistleblowers Transformed From Good to Bad

Candidate Obama said: “Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.” As in so many other cases in which Barack Obama has said one thing and has done another after becoming president, the Obama administration prosecuted the National Security Agency official, Thomas Drake, in a weak case that eventually collasped and targeted Wikileaks, creating a potential threat to journalists and others who might expose governmental corruption and abuse.

PFC Bradley Manning, who exposed a helicopter-led assault in Iraq, which had the earmarks of an attack on civilians, was held in solitary confinement and treated as an “enemy combatant.” He was alone in a cell for 23 hours a day, and forbidden to exercise and deprived of sleep. When asked about the widespread reports of horrible abuse committed on Manning, President Obama said he had checked with the Pentagon and had been assured that Manning had been treated in a lawful manner.

Jane Meyer of the New Yorker wrote in May 2011 that Obama had pursued leak prosecution with “a surprising relentlessness.” Political scientist Gabriel Schoverfeld has said that Obama ” has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history — even more so than Nixon.”


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