I published a column in USA Today on Friday with my friend & colleague, Vijay Das. March 18 marked the 8 year anniversary of the collapse of Bear Stearns, and to date, only one corporate executive has been successfully prosecuted for crimes relating to the 2008 Great Recession. Wall Street got a legal and financial bailout; Main Street never did.
There have always been institutions and individuals who look to profit from the suffering of others. Today is no different. In a new essay for Politico, I warn about the Treatment Industrial Complex, a growing network of facilities and companies who are capitalizing on the movement away from incarceration and towards treatment and rehabilitation. Their success depends not on being effective, but in keeping as many people as possible under supervision for as long as possible. The lengthier, deeper and more expansive the treatment, the greater the profit. I co-authored this essay with Cate Graziani from Grassroots Leadership.
I was disturbed to learn this week that the corporate headquarters of Al Jazeera blocked my article critiquing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record from viewers outside the United States. The article is still available in the U.S., but people attempting to open the article in other countries were given an error or “not found” page (see above).
This comes after I was incessantly trolled on twitter by what appeared to be an organized campaign intended to intimidate me; an article in the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz quoting a director of Al Jazeera apologizing for the article and saying that it would be removed; and a news story from a Bahraini website, profiling a tweet of my article from Al Jazeera America’s account, which was later deleted.
I will not submit to this act of censorship and hope this episode draws even greater attention to those persecuted by Saudi Arabia, with the implicit support of the U.S. The Intercept published an essay on the censorship. They also republished my original column so that it is once again available worldwide.
Saudi Arabia is a serial human rights violator and an authoritarian regime. The U.S. is complicit in their impunity, including the Kingdom’s recently announced decision to execute more than 50 people on a single day for alleged terrorist crimes. There’s also the war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has very likely committed war crimes by indiscriminately killing civilians and using cluster bombs in civilian populated areas.
Think of it this way: “Even before Paris, the U.S. used its ‘war on terrorism’ to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, engage in mass surveillance and develop an assassination program immune from judicial oversight. Is it any surprise that Saudi Arabia feels emboldened to intensify its own ‘war on terrorism’?”
Thanks to Al Jazeera America for asking me to write this piece.
“Principles aren’t tested during times of prosperity; they’re tested during times of uncertainty.” My thoughts on how the Paris attack will be used to punish law abiding Muslim Americans and Syrian refugees. More at CNN Opinion.
I usually only include my writing on this site, but this time I’ll make an exception. The New York Times interviewed me about a new FBI counterterrorism tool that I had the opportunity to preview earlier this year. The program, called “Don’t Be a Puppet,” leads teachers and students through a series of games intended to help identify persons at risk of turning to violent extremism. My concerns with the program were many, including that teachers and students should never become an extension of law enforcement, and that gun violence is the greatest threat facing America’s schoolchildren, not Muslim extremism. I’m happy to report that after the article, and additional grassroots advocacy nationwide, the FBI program has been temporarily suspended. Here’s the article.
In 2009, on the tenth anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard, Congress passed a bill bearing his name, intended to revitalize hate crime prevention and prosecution. But since then, the federal government has obtained only 29 hate crime convictions. That’s because a troubling legal interpretation has rewritten the federal hate crimes law and created a near insurmountable burden for federal prosecutors looking to obtain a hate crime conviction. More at CNN.