Law and Disorder Radio – Yassin Araf Case – George W. Bush, War Criminal? – Hosts: Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio









Steve Downs: The Yassin Aref Story and Muslim Database, Project Salam

Imam Yassin Aref is among numerous Muslim men in the United States who were targeted by the FBI framed and wrongly convicted. Aref is an Iraqi Kurd who came to Albany, New York in 1999 as refugee from Kurdistan. He later became the leader at a local mosque. After 9/11 the FBI began to illegally wiretap and eavesdrop on the mosque and Yassin. It was later reported in the New York Times that these wiretaps were conducted without court approval.  As retired attorney Stephen Downs explains, Yassin is one of 400 in a database site, Project Salam, that keeps track of Muslim men in United States prison.




Stephen Downs:

  • Whatever it was that triggered suspicion, the FBI decided they wanted to convict Yassin
  • So, they set up sting operation, it was run by a guy who was convicted of a number of felonies.
  • Yassin was convicted and sentence to 15 years in communication management units at Terra Haute Prison, Indiana,
  • They’re trying to seal them off from the prison population and society at large.
  • They’re being treated like they have some horrible disease and would infect anyone that they’d come in contact with.
  • I have a suspicion that the Bush Administration was thinking of closing Guantanamo and I can’t help thinking that because the size of this place is about right, that they’d consider transferring prisoners there, but that didn’t happen.
  • There is room for 400 prisoners, there are 50 or 60.
  • We began to realize that all over the country there were groups that were forming around certain people in their communities that had been simply, locked away.
  • So, we got together at Albany Law School and decided to set up a database of all the Muslims in the country who had been improperly gone after. They were under suspicion from the government for some reason.
  • We just wrote to President Obama and Attorney General Holder regarding what has happened under the Bush Administration in that we change the paradigm in how we prosecute people.
  • Now we’re going to be writing letters about specific cases.  We got 900 people to sign the first letter.
  • We are asking people to adopt a defendant.
  • We have about 400 Muslims in the database. We can’t say that all 400 are innocent. Some people are overcharged.
  • We appealed and lost. There was a secret appeal and a top secret brief that even the prosecutor wasn’t allowed to see.
  • The appellate decision was harsh, it either mischaracterized what we had to say or brushed them aside immediately.
  • We thought it was a victory because the standard is a 30 year prison sentence, based on the all the “enhancements” that they added.

Guest – Stephen Downs, a retired New York State attorney and a volunteer attorney for the Yassin Aref case

George W. Bush, War Criminal? by Michael Haas

In the book titled George W. Bush, War Criminal? author Michael Haas counts 269 war crimes that the Bush Administration are liable to be prosecuted for. He itemizes each war crime into a specific category of four classes, such 36 war crimes committed in the conduct of war, 175 war crimes committed in the treatment of prisoners and so on. This book carefully documents the war crime  evidence, making it quick work to investigate how George W. Bush, the military officers under his command and the staff in his administration can be brought to justice.





Michael Haas:

Types Of War Crimes:

  1. The illegality of the war.
  2. The misconduct during war, militarily, the mistreatment of prisoner.
  3. The misgovernment of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • The decision to indiscriminately bomb without giving proper notice to the civilian population and then the use of illegal weapons such as Daisy Cutters, White Phosphorous and Depleted Uranium Weapons which not only affected the civilian population in Iraq, but the American soldiers who came in to occupy.
  • I have a table in the book indicating 40 international agreements that are war crimes treaties.
  • The most prominent to begin with is the Red Cross Convention of 1864 and then going on to the Hague Conventions, the Geneva Conventions before and after WWII and then the subsequent conventions against torture and forced disappearances.
  • Any kind of torture is illegal involving prisoners of war.
  • When they couldn’t get information out of Guantanamo prisoners, the Geneva Convention orders to not torture prisoners was countermanded to try other techniques by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld – by executive order through George Bush.
  • Most of the war crimes are from the mistreatment of prisoners, because the Geneva Convention is very detailed and specific about what cannot be done.
  • The Bush executive order details what had happened and in fact is an admission of abuse.
  • Extraordinary renditions, to send someone to another country to be tortured is itself a war crime.
  • War crimes are ongoing now, they’re happening under the Obama Administration.
  • If we can’t focus on now, which apparently isn’t happening, then we can’t learn lessons from the past.
  • At Guantanamo, the following war crimes are taking place: Failure to transmit legal documents to prisoners, secret judicial proceedings, refusal to cooperate in investigations and prosecution of torturers. The reckless endangerment of health in prison, the violation of medical ethics, that is the force feeding. Indefinite imprisonment of children, cruel treatment, that is the beatings after force feedings.
  • These are what I’ve counted to be 22 war crimes since the inauguration of President Obama.
  • The thesis of the book is to have a truth commission on the war crimes published in this book so that people know, the public what is a war crime, what is not a war crime.
  • Some of the war crimes are only heresay right now, so we need sworn testimony, though some of the war crimes are signed by George W Bush.
  • I was writing a textbook on human rights, I’m a scholar, political scientist, while I was reading the Geneva Conventions to summarize them for the purpose of a chapter, I was also reading the newspaper, I realized that the violations of the Geneva Conventions, and reading them item by item – its very dry reading, but I can make it much more interesting.
  • I quit my job as a professor, and relentlessly began getting up at 5 AM and going to bed at 1 AM day after day to finish this book, so it would be coming out just a few days before the inauguration of the new president.

Guest –  Michael Haas has written more than 30 books on human rights. He is currently Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii and the Chairman of the International Academic Advisory Board of the University of Cambodia. He played a role in stopping the secret funding of the Khmer Rouge by the administration of President George H. W. Bush. He has taught political science at the University of London, Northwestern University, Purdue University, and the University of California, Riverside. The argument is that all 4 types of war crimes were violated with great impunity by George W. Bush and members of his administration.