Police state : The Dhafir case : cyberjournal exclusive


Richard Moore

Date: Tue, 01 Nov 2005 21:31:28 -0500
Subject: Attn: Richard K. Moore
From: Katherine Hughes <>
To: <•••@••.•••>


United States of America v Rafil A.Dhafir:
Individual Responsibility and Complicity

Katherine Hughes

Are we a society that now calls this justice?  Dr. Rafil
A. Dhafir was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison on
Thursday, October 27th, 2005 for sending humanitarian aid
to starving Iraqi civilians through his charity Help the
Needy.  Dr. Dhafir is an esteemed member of the Muslim
community here in Syracuse, New York, and he is respected
nationally and internationally.  His sentencing follows 31
months of detention without bail and a 17-week trial.  The
government presented its case in minutia - 7 government
agencies investigated Rafil Dhafir for 5 years.  The
defense called one witness for 15 minutes.  One of Dr.
Dhafir's lawyers commented in summation that the only
government agency not represented was the Fish and
Wildlife Service.   The 60-count indictment included
International Emergency Economic Powers Act, IEEPA,
violation, money laundering, wire fraud and Medicare
fraud, and the government won conviction on every count
except one where they had mistakenly listed the wrong

I believe it is impossible to overstate the message that
has been sent to the Muslim community via this detention,
prosecution and sentencing.  It says, in no uncertain
terms: "If we can get Rafil Dhafir, we can get anyone". 
It also lets them know that a pillar of their society can
be felled without so much as a call for equal justice from
the non-Muslim community.  Even as a person who is not
Arab or Muslim, these messages frighten me.  I have spent
my entire life secure in the knowledge that my civil
rights would be respected, as a consequence of attending
this trial I no longer believe that to be true.

Attorney General Ashcroft announced on the day of Dr.
Dhafir's arrest, February 26, 2003, that supporters of
terrorism had been apprehended.  And in August 2004, just
before the trial started, New York Governor Pataki
reiterated this charge.  Yet local prosecutors
successfully lobbied the judge to deny Dr. Dhafir the
right to defend himself against this charge at trial, but
they then brought it back into his sentencing.

I attended virtually all of the 17-week trial and took
notes for 5 hours each day.  I am extremely troubled by
Dr. Dhafir's detention, the presentation of the
government's case during the trial, and the fact that a
jury gave the government a unanimous verdict, on what I
perceived as an extremely weak case.  I believe other
people should have grave concern for what is happening,
not only in this case, but also in similar cases across
this country.  I am presently going through the 60-Count
indictment to show why I do not believe the government
proved their case.

I did not know Dr. Dhafir before attending his trial. 
Everything I know about this man comes directly from the
proceedings. I thought my sharply different experience of
the proceedings would be cause for discussion in the
press, at least, if not concern.  The trial struck me as
similar to the show trials of the former Soviet Union in
the 1930s that I have seen.  There were days when I
literally cringed because the evidence of the government
was so weak.  One small example of this weakness was a bar
chart that the government had made about Dr. Dhafir's
billing practices to Medicare, as compared to some other
physicians.  The bar graph showed Dr. Dhafir's bar as
being about 7 inches tall and the other 6 or 7 physicians
as having bars of between approximately 1 and 3 inches
(people should check the transcript for exact details of
the bar graph).  The woman who presented the bar chart as
evidence, Nina Carousella, did not know the area that the
bar graph covered, or what types of physicians the other
physicians were.  Given that Dr. Dhafir was the only
oncologist in Rome, New York, it's unlikely that many, if
any, of these other physicians were Oncologists using
expensive chemotherapy drugs.

My concern for civil liberties and equal justice
originates from my upbringing, and from a British
documentary series "World at War", that I watched as a 14
years old.   I usually watched this with my family, but I
was alone on a night the Allies were shown entering the
concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen.  Footage in the
documentary showed bulldozers pushing heaps of skeletal
bodies into pits and people who were walking cadavers.
This left an indelible impression on me and spurred a
lifelong search for understanding of how ordinary people
could let something like this happen.

I have read for 30 years, hundreds of first hand accounts
of what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.  The
similarities I see in this country at the present time are
alarming.  I could not understand how it had happened in
Germany until this last year of trying to tell people
about Dr. Dhafir's case.   I took a year out from my
studies at school because I believe passionately in the
need to preserve civil liberties for all.  I also wanted
to alert others to the danger I perceived and worked at
this like a full time job.  I put in many 60 hour weeks,
contacting individuals, religious groups, local
institutions of higher education and media outlets about
Dr. Dhafir's detention and trial, as well as keeping up my
website about the case.  I believed that if I alerted
people they would want to find out more, but this belief
proved to be totally naïve.  Knowledge is a terrible
thing; it throws you out of the Garden of Eden.

Three of the defendants in the Help the Needy case have
graduated from Syracuse University with advanced degrees,
and many of the 150 mainly Muslim families interrogated
between 6am and 10am on the morning of Dr. Dhafir's
arrest, have ties to Syracuse University.  I was present
when one of the men told how the government agents had
gone back 20 years in his bank records because he had
donated $150.00 to Help the Needy.  And because he pays
principal on his mortgage as well as interest each month,
one agent asked him if his children had enough to eat.  In
a year of trying, I found a total lack of willingness to
move anyone in the University community to even have
forums on what was happening in front of our noses.

Dr. Dhafir's case is one that sets legal precedents, right
here on our doorstep.   And it also raises questions about
selective prosecution and freedom of speech - Dr. Dhafir
was a vociferous critic of the US policy in Iraq, as I
witnessed in a fund raising video during the court
proceedings. I believe this extreme outspokenness was a
major contributing factor to Dr. Dhafir's present
situation.   Barrie Gewanter, Director of the ACLU-CNY,
has stated that her organization has concerns about
selective prosecution because comparable violations have
been addressed with civil fines.    This case is a
remarkable teaching tool to have for law students,
students of journalism, or any students.  However, the
faculty that I contacted at Syracuse University's Law
School, Maxwell School of Citizenship and the Newhouse
School of Journalism, had no interest in finding out
anything about this case, or in making their students
aware of the case.

Dr. Dhafir wrote a 46-page pamphlet that was handed out to
the media after he was sentenced.   In one paragraph
toward the end of the piece Dr. Dhafir says:

"What was the result of Feb 26, 2003 besides imprisoning
of innocent people? Scores of innocent elderly American
cancer patients died needlessly, innumerable tens of
thousands of Iraqi needy (children, women and men) died,
and more than that suffered malnutrition and the
humiliation of poverty.  An entire segment of our society
here was treated as criminals, intimidated, interrogated
and threatened.  Never in the history of the Islamic
Society of Central New York had we had so many cases of
depression and suicide that the mosque had to engage the
services of a psychiatrist to help out.  The dream of this
Republic being a sanctuary for the oppressed was shattered
on that day and a new sad reality was erected in it's
place."  P.36

Last year, in France, two novels from a Jewish writer who
was killed in Auschwitz were posthumously published to
wide acclaim.  Talking about the second book, one reviewer
says: "The second, Dolce, is a more studied and literary
portrait of a small village, Bussy, at the very beginning
of the occupation, and of the first tentative complicities
of collaboration." The words, "first tentative
complicities of collaboration" have stayed powerfully with
me since I read them.  Unfortunately over the last year, I
have seen these complicities all around me.

We express concern about journalists being embedded in war
zones like Iraq, but we should be every bit as concerned
about journalists being embedded in local Federal
Buildings.  My experience of the newspaper articles was
that the prosecutors could not have written the articles
better themselves.  The media has also been unwilling to
address any of the burning questions raised by the
government's duplicitous approach to this case.  I now
believe I know exactly how the Holocaust likely happened
in Germany.  A complicit media and a willfully ignorant
public are all that is needed and we have both.

If you care about freedom of speech and civil liberties
and would like to find out more about this case, please
visit:  www.dhafirtrial.net

Katherine Hughes is a concerned citizen, a potter and a
voracious reader of history and current events.


"Apocalypse Now and the Brave New World"

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