Sunday, December 23, 2012

James Hitselberger

James Hitselberger is the seventh person to be charged by the Obama Administration with violating the Espionage Act. On October 26 Hitselberger was charged with two counts of unlawful retention of national defense information.

Hitselberger was a translator at a US military base in Bahrain. According to the criminal complaint in the case, in April 2012 Hitselberger printed two classified documents and attempted to take the documents with him. He did not have the authority to print or transfer the documents, according to the complaint. One of those documents was SITREP 104 and Hitselberger’s handling of that document was the basis of the first count charged against him. The other document dealt with gaps in US intelligence on the political situation in Bahrain.

The complaint goes on to say that a search of Hitselberger’s residence found another classified document that had its header and footer removed.  That is where the markings showing that the document was classified would have been. The document was SITREP 72 and it is the basis for the second count charged against Hitselberger.

The Hoover Institution has a James F. Hitselberger Collection that began with a donation of primary source documents he had acquired relating to the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. The collection contained, according to the criminal complaint, 2 classified documents in an area open to the public and 2 classified documents in an area not open to the public. The complaint includes email exchanges between Hitselberger and the institution regarding the documents.

Afterward, James Hitselberger was fired and investigators expected him to return to the US. Instead, he went from Germany to Sweeden, Malta, Bulgaria, and Albania. A memorandum written by a judge in the case said that this posed a problem for prosecutors.  

Counsel for the government proffered that although the government was aware of Defendant’s whereabouts during that time, the countries would not extradite him because the offense charged was characterized as a “political offense.” When Defendant traveled to Kuwait to retrieve his belongings, the United States government took him into custody.”

 In a later memorandum, another judge concluded that Hitselberger’s travel was not in violation of the law.

To be a fugitive, one must flee from something. The government suggests that Mr. Hitselberger fled “a bad situation.” He clearly knew that an investigation was ongoing, and may well have hoped that it would all just blow over. But he was legally free to travel until the warrant for his arrest was issued, and the government made a calculated decision to keep the existence of that warrant a secret. There is, moreover, no evidence that Mr. Hitselberger understood that extradition treaties would not have covered the offense that he did not know he had been charged with. That he was willing to travel to a United States military base also strongly suggests that he was not attempting to evade American authority.”

 Secrecy News explains how Hitselberger was taken into custody.

“When it was learned that he was traveling to Kuwait, the Government of Kuwait agreed to expel him into U.S. custody if he arrived there without a valid passport. So the U.S. suspended his passport, and upon arrival placed him under arrest.”

Hitselberger’s case is ongoing.


POSTSCRIPT: The detailed nature of this post, and of my coverage of Espionage Act cases in general, has been made possible by the primary documents put online by the Federation of American Scientists. The Federation of American Scientists was created in 1945 by many of the scientists who had created the atomic bomb to make sure their creation didn’t end up killing us all.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Javed Iqbal

Javed Iqbal was a Staten Island businessman who sold satellite television services. One of the television stations he offered his customers was Al Manar. Al Manar is the Arabic-language television channel of Hezbollah, a militant organization that is considered a terrorist organization by the US government. For offering Al Manar to his customers, Javed Iqbal was sentenced in April 2009 to 5 years and 9 months in prison. The sentence resulted from a plea deal in December 2008 where Javed Iqbal pled guilty to one count of providing material support to a terrorist organization. Javed’s lawyer says that Javed also offered his customers access to Christian broadcasting and adult entertainment (porn) channels, hardly what you would expect of a Muslim extremist. 

A federal prosecutor in the case said that Hezbollah used the channel to recruit members and suicide bombers and raise money for weapons and operations. Al Manar has also been accused of inciting violence. If these claims are true, and I believe they are, then the US government has a legitimate reason to ban Al Manar. However, I don’t speak Arabic myself, so I cannot be completely sure.
Nonetheless, a satellite service provider should not be punished with jail time, let alone over 5 years, for offering the TV channel to his customers. The government should have asked Javed Iqbal to stop offering the channel and if he refused, he should have been fined. If he was still defiant, the government could have revoked his business license. But to take away 5 years of someone’s life for providing his customers access to Al Manar, a channel they wanted to watch, is inexcusable.

POSTSCRIPT: Decide for yourself if you think Al Manar should be banned. Here is an editorial arguing in favor of banning Al Manar. Here is an editorial arguing against banning Al Manar. NPR did a story on this case with a member of the ACLU and a person supporting the banning of Al Manar. Wikipedia has a entry on the TV channel. Here is a link to the English-language hompage of Al Manar News. The Arabic-language TV channel is available online.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holy Land 5

The Holy Land Foundation was once America’s largest Islamic charity. In December 2001 the Bush Administration shut down the Holy Land Foundation, claiming that it was a front to finance the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.

In 2007, five leaders of the charity were tried for providing material support for terrorism and related charges in a case prosecuted by the Bush Administration. The trial ended in a mistrial. In 2008 a retrial ended with convictions on all 108 counts. The prosecution did not accuse the Holy Land Foundation of directly funding terrorist activity. Instead, it claimed, correctly, that the charity gave millions of dollars to “zakat” committees which build hospitals and feed the poor. The prosecution said that these committees were controlled by Hamas and helped Hamas spread its ideology and recruit supporters. The attorney of one of the defendants said in an appellate brief that the US government funded zakat committees through USAID as late as 2004.

Four of the five individuals convicted in the case appealed to the Supreme Court arguing that the prosecution’s use of an anonymous Israeli intelligence agent as a witness violated their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.

Michael Ratner discussed the Holy Land 5 on The Real News.

In May 2009 the Holy Land 5 received their sentences.

Ghassan Elashi was sentenced to 65 years in prison.

Shukri Abu Baker was sentenced to 65 years in prison.

Mufid Abdulqader was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Abdulrahman Odeh was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Mohammad El-Mezain was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

And all for helping the poor. But when the poor are Palestinians, helping them can be a crime.


POSTSCRIPT: A successor charity to the Holy Land Foundation, American Charities for Palestine, signed an agreement with USAID to only donate to institutions that have been approved by USAID.

Qatar’s Human Rights Record

On November 28 a Qatari poet was sentenced to life in prison for a poem criticizing the Qatari government. Muhammad al-Ajami was arrested in November 2011. He has been held in solitary confinement for the past year.

According to Democracy Now!, this is the text of Muhammad al-Ajami’s poem.

Knowing that those that satisfy themselves and upset their people tomorrow will have someone else sitting in their seat, knowing that those that satisfy themselves and upset their people tomorrow will have someone else sitting in their seat, for those that think the country is in your and your kids’ names, the country is for the people, and its glories are theirs. Repeat with one voice, for one faith: We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites. We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites. The Arab governments and who rules them are, without exception, thieves. Thieves! The question that frames the thoughts of those who wonder will not find an answer in any official channels. As long as it imports everything it has from the West, why can’t it import laws and freedoms? Why can’t it import laws and freedoms?

Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, interviewed al-Ajami’s lawyer. She also interviewed a member of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee who was chosen by the emir to talk about the case. (I am still amazed she was able to book that guest.)

This prosecution is especially noteworthy because Qatar is home to Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is a news channel that has done more than any other organization to spread human rights in the Middle East. Al Jazeera receives funding from the Qatari government. The member from Qatar’s Human Rights committee said that at the time of the interview Al Jazeera Arabic hadn’t covered Muhammad al-Ajami’s case. Al Jazeera English’s website does contain an article on the case which quotes Muhammad al-Ajami as saying, “This is wrong. You can’t have Al Jazeera in this country and put me in jail for being a poet.” That one article is the only coverage of the case on Al Jazeera’s English-language website.

Al Jazeera English has covered many stories critical of the human rights record of the United States, as well they should. I think it’s time we return the favor.

Qatar is a constitutional monarchy. It has a hereditary monarch and an elected legislature that is known as the al-Shoura council. Part 3 Article 47 of Qatar’s constitution states, “Freedom of expression of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed in accordance with the conditions and circumstances set forth in the law.” If Muhammad al-Ajami’s sentence is upheld, then this protection is meaningless.

Qatar has the highest ratio of migrants to citizens in the world and Human Rights Watch explains that migrant workers are often mistreated in the gulf nation.

Migrant workers reported extensive labor law violations. Common complaints included late or unpaid wages and employers’ failure to procure work permits that proved workers’ legal residence in the country. Many workers said they received false information about their jobs and salaries before arriving and signed contracts in Qatar under coercive circumstances. Some lived in overcrowded and unsanitary labor camps, and lacked access to potable water.

Unfortunately, the abuse of migrant workers is common throughout the Middle East, and is not a uniquely Qatari problem.

Human Rights Watch explains the how the laws defining Qatar’s sponsorship system encourage abuse.

A major barrier to redressing labor abuses is the kafala (sponsorship) system, which ties a migrant worker’s legal residence to his or her employer, or “sponsor.” Migrant workers cannot change jobs without their sponsoring employer’s consent, except in exceptional cases with permission from the Interior Ministry. If a worker leaves his or her sponsoring employer, even if fleeing abuse, the employer can report the worker as “absconding,” leading to detention and deportation. In order to leave Qatar, migrants must obtain an exit visa from their sponsor, and some said sponsors denied them these visas. Workers widely reported that sponsors confiscated their passports, in violation of the Sponsorship Law.

In June 2011 Qatar forcibly returned Eman al-Obeidi to Libya. Al-Obeidi feared for her safety after she claimed to international media, at great risk to herself, that she had been raped by forces loyal to the government of then Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Al-Obeidi was eventually granted asylum in the United States.

These are stories you are not likely to hear on Al Jazeera, whether it be on their Arabic or English channel.

I thought there was still one country in the world that respected human rights, but I was wrong.

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh is an Iranian human rights lawyer who defended political activists, opposition members, and juvenile suspects on death row. She was jailed in September 2010 on bogus charges of working against Iran’s national security and spreading propaganda against the regime. She was sentenced to 6 years in prison and prohibited from being a lawyer for 10 years. The government of Iran has a lengthy record of jailing, exiling, and silencing human rights lawyers.

Nasrin went on a hunger strike on October 17 to protest her prison conditions and the travel ban the Iranian government imposed on her family. She ended her hunger strike on December 4 after the Iranian government lifted the travel ban on her 12-year-old daughter. Nasrin Sotoudeh has been in prison for 2 years and 2 months.

Warren Weinstein

I covered the stories of three Americans imprisoned abroad in May. This is the story of another American imprisoned abroad.

Warren Weinstein was the director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a development consulting company. In Pakistan J.E. Austin Associates works to expand Pakistani businesses, including the dairy and gem industries. The company receives funding from the US government through USAID. Weinstein holds a PhD in International Law and Economics and is the author of several books on international relations.

On August 13, 2011 Warren Weinstein was kidnapped from a house he was staying at in Lahore, Pakistan.

On December 1, 2011 Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over the leadership of Al Qaeda after bin Laden’s death, claimed responsibility for Weinstein’s capture. Al-Zawahiri gave a list of demands that he said would be necessary in order for the US government to obtain Weinstein’s release. These demands included an end to US airstrikes in Pakistan, Afganistan, Yemen and Somalia and the release of various members of Al Qaeda held by the US government. These are demands that no US President would accept and demands that could never be met due to Congressional and public disapproval. So the odds don’t look good for Warren Weinstein.  

In May 2012 Al Qaeda released a video to show that Weinstein was still alive. Weinstein spoke in the video but everything said by hostages during hostage videos should be assumed to be forced under the threat of injury or death.

Warren Weinstein has been held captive for 16 months.


[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State,” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]

If you want someone to stop talking to you, give them a fair chance to do so before contacting the police.

Attempt to contact someone through a second method before launching legal proceedings against them.

If you are involved in administering a judicial system, respect defendants’ rights to be adequately informed of the charges against them, even if this means attempting to contact them a second way.

If you are involved in administering a judicial system, respect a defendant’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

And students, check your email.  


The following is information I learned after this account was originally written.

The Kansas State University Attorney General is appointed by the Student Body President. The Office of Student Life “administers and advises the student judicial program” at K-State. So a dean at the Office of Student Life launched a complaint against me in a court that was administered by her own office. I’m sure the court would have been totally fair and objective.

The Police

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State,” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]

Later that week I replied to the year-old emails from the police. When I didn’t hear back, I went to talk to the officer who tried to contact me, at the police station. He wasn’t there. I tried a few more times and missed him each time. After I provided the police with my phone number, he called me and left me a message requesting more information on the case; he didn’t remember the case by my name alone.

On Wednesday October 31, the Attorney General sent me this email.

“The complaint filed against you has been withdrawn. Therefore, your hearing has been cancelled. I would encourage you to follow the instructions of
university staff/Police in the future.”

He still believed that I had consciously avoided requests from administrators and the police. He still assumed I was guilty.  

On Friday I told my advisor what I had learned from the Dean.

On Monday November 5, I saw the reply sent two days earlier from the police officer who I had been attempting to contact.

“You can disregard the email request for contact [case number deleted] sent Monday 7 November 2011. This case was designated as "inactive" shortly after it was filed. A fellow student wanted to request that your attempts at conversation were "not requested due to her being engaged". I closed the case as inactive (close date of Wednesday 9 November 2011) due to the fact that you were never advised by her to cease attempts at conversation and that it ceased without prompting eight days after the report.”

The case was closed 4 days after I was sent the initial email.

I forwarded this email to the dean.  

So here is what happened to the best of my knowledge.

A year ago a woman I had classes with was bothered I was engaging in small talk with her and never told me about it. She then complained to at least one of our teachers who never told me about it. She then filed a complaint with the police and the police tried to contact me through an email account that I virtually never checked. The complaint was thrown out 4 days later because the woman admitted she had never told me to stop talking to her. A year later she files a complaint against me with the Office of Student Life even though I have no recollection of talking to her since fall 2011. A dean at the Office of Student Life attempts to contact me through my email account I virtually never check 3 times before filing a complaint against me with the Student Review Board. The Dean never attempted to contact me a second way before doing so. The Student Review Board tries to contact me through that same email address. I have no idea any of this is happening until I see the hold on my account two days after that email is sent. By this point the Attorney General is absolutely convinced I have harassed a female classmate and consciously avoided police and university administrators. And I spend the next 12 days wondering if I am going to be expelled and 7 more days before fully understanding what had been going on in my life for the past year without my knowledge.

Former teacher

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State,” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]

Later, I talked with my parents and my friends about what had happened. That night (October 29), I found two emails I had received from the campus police… from November 2011. The emails were sent on November 5 and November 7 of that year.

“I am officer [name deleted] with the KSU PD. Your name has been referred to me and would just like to follow up with you real quick. At your convenience I can either meet with you at your residence [address deleted] or at KSUPD in Edwards Hall [address deleted]. It will just take a few minutes and we can get everything squared away. Please either call [number deleted] and leave me a message or email me your phone and we can arrange a time.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.”

“I misstyped the address on the first request, [address deleted], please contact me as soon as possible to clear up this issue. We can meet at KSU Police Headquarters (Edwards Hall, [address deleted]) or at a location of your convenience. Please send a reply email with your phone number and preference of location and time.

Thank you for your cooperation,

[name deleted]”

On Tuesday, October 30, I went to meet with one of the teachers the complainant and I had had in common. While waiting for the teacher’s office hours, I ran into a friend from a club I was in who asked how I was doing. I replied, “I’m having the worst week of my life.” He said, “Come on, it can’t be that bad.” I told him, “I was almost expelled.” He said, “Apparently it can.” I would tell him the details at our club meeting that evening.

I told my former teacher everything that had happened. The teacher told me that the complainant had come to her with the same description as she gave to the dean. The teacher told me that she did not tell me about it because she thought I was possibly flirting with her and that was just a normal part of college. She also said she hadn’t witnessed anything suspect herself, noticed that the two of us sat in different parts of the classroom, and thought I was a good student. She said that in light of what had happened, she probably should have told me about the complaint at the time. I told her that if I ran into any more trouble with the Student Review Board I would have her write a note for me explaining all of this and she said she would. She then asked “Other than that, how are things going?” before adding, “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” I said, “I was going to say that.” At that point I broke down and almost cried, and it takes a lot for me to get to that point.

The Meeting

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State,” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]

Then I had my long awaited meeting with the dean.

She was very reasonable once I met with her. I apologized to the Dean for not replying earlier and again explained that I didn’t check my email very often.

The meeting wasn’t at all about what I thought it was about. Apparently a woman who had classes with me in fall 2011 thought that I was creeping her out and trying to hit on her which she didn’t want because she was engaged. I didn’t even recognize her by her name, I only remembered her when I was shown a picture of her by the dean. I wasn’t attracted to her at the time nor am I now.

All I had done was be friendly to her, “How do you think you did on the test?” “Where did you grow up?” “What do you want to do after college?” These are the kinds of things I discuss with all of my classmates. Apparently she thought those were the kinds of things you only discuss with your husband. I hadn’t talked to the woman since fall 2011.  

This woman had told the Dean that she had complained to some of the teachers we had in common, but none of those teachers had told me about it. The Dean asked if the police had tried to contact me, and I told her it was probably buried somewhere in my 1,000 unread emails.

The Dean told me not to contact the complainant and not to attempt third party contact with the complainant. The Dean also said that if I saw the complainant in the hallway I should walk the other way.

The Dean then dropped the complaint with the Student Review Board and told me to check my K-State email on a regular basis.

I had been only 3 days from being expelled. 


[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State,” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]

On Monday October 29 I told one of my teachers that I faced possible expulsion by the Student Review Board because I failed to check my email. I asked him to write me a note to present at my trial saying that I was a good student. He told me that he would but that I needed to start checking my email. I told him I had learned my lesson. He sent me the following note.

“To Whom it may Concern

I have had [Name Deleted] in two of my classes. He has always been attentive, and turns his work in on time. He interacts well with the instructor and other students and always comes to class prepared to discuss the topic at hand. He is a pleasure to have as a student and friend.

I strongly endorse him as the kind of student KSU should and in this case does have.”

The Next Week

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State,” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]

I came home that weekend and my Dad told me he couldn’t believe how absurd the whole situation was. He told me I’d have a great comedy sketch to tell once it was all over.

I told a friend what had happened to me and she told me that her advisor hadn’t replied to her email in a month. I doubt her advisor was threatened with being fired as a result.

On Wednesday, October 24, I meet with my new advisor, who I had personally requested to be my advisor. He told me that the Office of Student Life had told him they were attempting to contact me. I told him what had happened and he told me to not be afraid to talk to the Office of Student Life if I had any problems.

On Friday, October 26 I found that the Dean had attempted to contact me through my email on September 17, September 24, and has sent me an email on September 25 informing me that she would be filing a complaint against me with the Student Review Board.

“As I warned you in my email to you yesterday, I have placed a hold placed on your account that prevents you from enrolling. It will remain until you have made an appointment and met with me.

Because you have failed to follow repeated directives to schedule an appointment with me, I am also filing a code of conduct complaint for violating Kansas State University student code of conduct item 7. "Failure to comply with directions of University faculty, staff, or law enforcement officers acting in performance of their duties". You can expect the SGA Attorney General to contact you about your hearing options. I strongly encourage you to respond to his messages.”

That same day I went over to my friend’s house and told him the whole story. He couldn’t figure out why the dean wanted to meet with me either.

After attempting to contact me through only one method, the Dean had filed the equivalent of a criminal complaint against me. I faced expulsion simply because I had failed to check my email. The dean had access through Isis to my phone number, permanent and local addresses, class schedule, and my advisor. The Student Review Board had only attempted to contact me one way as well (the same way, I might add) and my friend and I came to the conclusion that the Board had failed to adequately inform me of the charges against me and thus had violated my Habeas Corpus rights.

My friend said he kind of wanted me to be expelled so this story could take its logically absurd end. He also thought it would be funny for me to go on a media tour explaining what had happened and to sue the school for violating my Habeas Corpus rights. If I was expelled, I decided that I would talk to the news media and become the biggest PR disaster that Kansas State University has ever seen.

That weekend I came to the conclusion that the Dean wanted to talk to me about some problems my family had been facing. That explanation fit the timeline quite well. I also prepared evidence for my trial. I printed off a document that showed my 3.68 GPA and a screenshot showing my 1,290 unread emails.

The Next Day

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State,” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]

The following morning I talked to my parents about what had happened and they were as stunned as I was. My mother told me it would have been OK to call at 2 AM considering the circumstances. She also told me to check my email again before I went to class and I found this email from the Attorney General.   

“As you failed to respond to both KSU Police Department requests to meet and those requests sent to you by Dean [Last Name Deleted], you will be charged with failing to comply with directions from university faculty, staff , and law enforcement officers.

It is an expectation that students check their email on a regular basis. As
almost an entire month has elapsed since Dean [Last Name Deleted] first tried to contact you, and even more time than that has elapsed since KSUPD attempts failed to elicit a response, your excuse does not seem plausible. If you indeed did not check your email for a month, that choice, and the consequences that it may carry, are entirely of your own making. You are expected to appear at the aforementioned hearing.”

So much for the principal of innocent until proven guilty.  The Attorney-General assumed I was guilty before I was given a chance to defend myself in court. I was incredibly angry at him.

I also received this reply from the Dean.

“I am out of the office until October 29, 2012. Please call my office to schedule an appointment for when I return. ”

I sent the Attorney General this reply.

“And what are the possible punishments?”

He replied immediately.

“That is up to the board to decide. Sanctions can range from a warning to a suspension or expulsion from the university. ”

I set up a meeting with the Office of Student Life on October 29, the first day the Dean would be back. Then I went to class.

My Inbox

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State,” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]

I had transferred to Kansas State University in Spring 2011. I first learned of my K-State email when my Psychology teacher told the class late in that semester that he had sent something to our K-State email. I thought to myself, “I have a K-State email account?”

Before this incident I had only checked my email once this semester, when no one showed up to one of my classes on October 3. I called two of my friends in the class and did not get a reply. When I checked my k-state email I found that my teacher was having us meet somewhere else that day. I was 20 minutes late to the class. 

I knew that checking my k-state email was something I was supposed to do. But I thought it was comparable to how you’re supposed to brush your teeth twice a day, supposed to drive the speed limit on the interstate, or supposed to buckle your seat belt. I viewed it as something you were supposed to do but wasn’t that big of a deal if you didn’t.

Thursday night (October 18) I finished a paper for one of my courses. I submitted the paper to an online drop box around 2 AM Friday morning. Then I checked my K-State email. There were monsters living there.

On October 15 (although the first time I saw it I was under the impression it had been sent long before then) I was sent the following email from the Kansas State University Attorney-General:

[Name Deleted],

My name is [Name Deleted] and I'm the current Kansas State Attorney General. I am a student, just like you, and am in charge of all of the judicial branch operations of the Kansas State Student Governing Association.

I received notice that you have failed to follow the directions of [Name Deleted], Assistant Dean of Student Life, to schedule a meeting with her. Because this incident occurred on University property, you may be in violation of Article VI, Section 3.a of the KSU SGA By-laws, specifically Items:

7. Failure to comply with the directions of University faculty, staff, or law enforcement officers acting in performance of their duties or failure to identify oneself to these persons when requested to do so.

As a result, you are now subject to adjudication from the Kansas State judicial system. Any student receiving an on-campus violation that breaks the Student Conduct Code ( is subject to this process.

You must have a hearing in front of the Student Review Board- a 5 member student panel. Your hearing will be on Thursday, November 1st, 2012 at 7:200 pm in Union room 208. Please arrive 15 minutes early and wait in the seating area until I call you into the conference room.

The hearing script may be found online at During this process your violation will be read, a discussion will be initiated, and, if applicable, a sanction will be delivered. If you choose not to participate in the hearing, the board will assume that you have plead "not guilty" and will continue with the hearing and render a decision without the benefit of your input. As a result, I encourage you to attend your hearing and present your case and any witnesses that you feel will help.

If you wish, you may bring an advisor or witnesses to your hearing. Witnesses will be brought in one at a time and questioned by you, myself and the Student Review Board. Your advisor may be present throughout the hearing but will not be granted speaking privileges to the board. If your advisor is an attorney then you must let me know by Friday, October 19th so that the University may notify its own general counsel to be present at the hearing. Failure to notify me of an attorney being present will result in your hearing being delayed until a later date.

If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to contact me via email or the number listed below. I’m here to help.

Thank you,

-[Name Deleted]
Attorney General”

I also saw the following email from a dean from the Office of Student Life that was sent September 24.

“Please contact my office at [number redacted] to schedule an appointment to meet with me this week. If you do not schedule this appointment by noon tomorrow, an enrollment hold will be placed on your account.

I look forward to meeting with you soon. ”

I sent the Dean this reply:

“I apologize for not replying to you sooner, I do not check my k-state email on a regular basis. I did not hear about your request until I saw the hold on my enrollment for next semester. I would be glad to meet with you next week on Monday between 1 and 2 or Tuesday anytime after 1:30. If neither of those days work, I can provide you with the times for other days.

What exactly is this meeting about?”

I sent the Attorney-General the following reply explaining my situation.

“I did not respond to the Dean because I do not check my e-mail on a regular basis. I have now contacted her and will soon schedule an appointment with her office. Do I still have to come to the proceedings?”

After seeing the email from the Attorney General, I had an emotional breakdown. I thought about calling my parents, but I didn’t want to wake them up at 2 in the morning. Then I went to bed.

Injustice at K-State:

How the Kansas State University Judicial System Almost Expelled an Innocent Man


[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is part of the 9 post story “Injustice at K-State” that documents my interactions with the K-State judicial system. It was originally written November 19, 2012 and was edited over Thanksgiving Break. I published it during Winter Break.]


This semester I found myself in the middle of the Kansas State University Judicial System and learned firsthand how miserably it fails to protect the rights of students.

Until fairly recently, I didn’t check my K-State e-mail account virtually at all. I was under the impression that all I would receive were the unimportant “here’s what’s going on at K-State” emails. And that got me into a lot of trouble.

On Wednesday, October 17, I finally paid my tuition for the semester. The payment had incurred late fees because I forgot to fill out the income verification forms that needed to be submitted in addition to the FAFSA form. I waited for those forms to go through before realizing that my father needed to use an IRS Data Retrieval Tool to collect more information before I could be awarded Pell Grants. When I paid my tuition, I saw that I had other holds on my account that would prevent me from enrolling in my next semester classes, including one from the Office of Student Life. I had no idea what that was about. I decided to ask my advisor about it at my advising meeting with him the next day.

On Thursday October 18, I had my advising meeting at 1:30 PM. Everything seemed to go well. I was on track to have the classes I needed to graduate. However, he told me that he was no longer my advisor because I had been accepted into my major and that I had a new advisor. He said that I should have been notified of this through a letter or by email. I told him that I probably received it through my email, but that I don’t check my email very often. I asked him about the hold from the Office of Student Life and he said he didn’t know what it was about and gave me the office’s phone number.

After the meeting I called the Office of Student Life and asked them what the hold was about. The woman on the phone told me that a Dean at the Office of Student Life had attempted to set up a meeting with me through email and did not receive a reply. I asked what the meeting request was about and she told me it was confidential. I asked her what the Office of Student Life did and that didn’t give me any hint as to what the Dean would want to talk to me about. I told the person on the phone that I would check my email.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nabeel Rajab Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

On August 16, Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was sentenced to 3 years in prison based on 3 convictions for “participating in illegal gatherings and assemblies.” This is just the latest case of the Bahraini government’s unjust prosecutions of human rights defenders.

Abdulhadi Alkhwaja remains in prison. Zaineb Alkhawaja is in prison while she is being prosecuted on charges related to her activism. Maryam Alkhawaja, the head of the International Office of the BCHR who resides in Copenhagen, Denmark, is once again its Acting President.

In June a Bahraini court upheld the convictions of 9 Salmoniya doctors and overturned the convictions of 9 other Salmoniya doctors.

Also in June the New York Times published an article quoting a Bahraini protest sign that read, “U.S.A. Stop arming the killers.” The sign referred to the US government’s sale of weapons to Bahrain, a topic that was discussed on AJE’s Inside Story.

UPDATE (9/7/12): On September 4 a Bahrain civilian appeals court upheld the life sentence of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shamai Leibowitz Breaks his Silence

Initial reporting on issues of national security is often wrong. This was the case when John Kiriakou inaccurately described the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah to ABC News in 2007. This was also the case when CBS initially described the Fast and Furious operation. Fortune magazine conducted a 6 month investigation on the operation and has alleged that the ATF wasn’t purposely letting guns walk, Fortune says that they were instead prevented from stopping the guns as a result of weak gun laws in Arizona. The Fortune piece has its critics as well.

The public and the press don’t know much about most classified programs, so when a source comes forward with claims about those programs, the press often has no ability to compare those claims with known information.

I wasn’t quite sure how to describe this post; it is something between a correction and a follow-up.

Shamai Leibowitz pled guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking information to the press and has served his sentence. While Shamai was still in prison, Richard Silverstein came forward and alleged that Shamai had provided him with transcripts showing that the FBI had wiretapped the Israeli Embassy. Silverstein said that the transcripts showed that the Israeli Embassy was lobbying members of Congress to support a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Silverstein said that this troubled both Leibowitz and himself because they feared that a military strike on Iran could lead to a war with Iran.

At the time Leibowitz did not comment on the allegations. Thus, in the absence of any contradictory evidence, I stated Silverstein’s claims as fact.

But now, Shamai has broken his silence. In June he published a post on his blog, Pursuing Justice, where he alleged that Silverstein made up the story and that he had never communicated with Silverstein. Leibowitz claims that he shared documents with a Journalist that showed the FBI was engaged in illegal and unconstitutional acts. Leibowitz said that he had no problem with Israelis lobbying members of Congress. His post is worth reading.

Either Silverstein or Leibowitz is lying. I do not pretend to know which is the case. Only the Justice Department knows. Unfortunately, it appears that this dispute will remain clouded by the veil of secrecy that Leibowitz’s prosecution was designed to protect.

Where do People turn for News?
New NPR Data

I received an email from NPR with updated audience numbers several months ago, but only realized fairly recently that I had received it. In order to alert my readers to the new information, I decided to repost the 2012 ratings comparison with the new NPR data.

The following numbers represent the average circulation of weekly opinion news magazines in 2010. These statistics old because State of the News Media included them last year, but not this year. Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations. Accessed through State of the News Media 2011.

1. National Review                         203,085
2. The Nation                                   146,602
3. The Weekly Standard                   99,033

The following number represents the average viewership of PBS Newshour, PBS’s evening news program, for the month of March 2011. This statistic is older than the others because PBS’s lack of traditional commercials means that it doesn’t subscribe to Nielson’s ratings service. Source: PBS. Accessed through the Huffington Post.

 PBS Newshour                                            1,100,000


I received an email from NPR in May with their audience data from Fall 2011. They obtained their numbers from Arbitron. Morning Edition is carried on 713 AM/FM stations and All Things Considered is carried on 708 stations. The daily value is known as the Average Quarter Hour and the weekly value is known as the cume.

                                                             Daily                                       Weekly

Morning Edition                                 1,490,200                            12,940,900
All Things Considered                        1,284,700                            12,780,100

The following numbers are the average daily circulation for the 26 most widely read newspapers from October 2011 through March 2012. Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations.  Accessed through the Huffington Post.

1. Wall Street Journal                                           2,118,315
2. USA Today                                                           1,817,446
3. New York Times                                                 1,586,757
4. Los Angeles Times                                             616,575
5. New York Daily News                                       579,636
6. San Jose Mercury News                                  575,786
7. New York Post                                                    555,327
8. Washington Post                                               507,615
9. Chicago Sun-Times                                            422,335
10. Chicago Tribune                                              414,590
11. Dallas Morning News                                     405,349
12. Denver Post                                                      401,120
13. Newsday                                                           397,973
14. Houston Chronicle                                          384,007
15. Philadelphia Inquirer                                     325,291
16. Phoenix Republic                                            321,600
17. Minneapolis Star-Tribune                             300,330
18. Tampa Bay Times                                            299,497
19. Orange County Register                                280,812
20. Newark Star-Ledger                                       278,940
21. Oregonian                                                         247,833
22. Cleveland Plain Dealer                                   246,571
23. Seattle Times                                                    236,929
24. San Diego Union-Tribune                             230,742
25. Detroit Free Press                                           230,739
26. San Francisco Chronicle                                 220,515

The following numbers represent the average daily audience of Comedy Central’s satirical news programs for the second quarter (April-June) of 2011. This statistic is old because I have to wait on Comedy Central to release press releases to obtain audience numbers. Source: Comedy Central Press Release. Accessed through TV by the Numbers.

The Daily Show with John Stewart        2,200,000
The Colbert Report                                  1,500,000

These are the average daily viewership values for the top 30 cable news shows for the month of April 2012. Source: Nielson. Accessed through the Huffington Post.

1. The O’Reilly Factor                                            2,870,000
2. Hannity                                                                2,075,000
3. Special Report with Bret Baier                         1,778,000
4. On the Record with Greta Van Susteren       1,722,000
5. Fox Report with Shepard Smith                      1,688,000
6. The Five                                                                1,674,000
7. America’s Newsroom                                       1,272,000
8. Your World with Neil Cavuto                         1,252,000
9. The O’Reilly Factor (replay)                            1,220,000
10. America Live                                                     1,191,000
11. Studio B                                                             1,113,000
12. Fox and Friends                                               1,082,000
13. Happening Now                                              1,029,000
14. The Rachel Maddow Show                              985,000
15. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell           931,000
16. The Ed Show                                                        875,000
17. Hardball with Chris Matthews                        744,000
18. Politics Nation                                                       712,000
19. Piers Morgan Tonight                                                567,000
20. The Situation Room                                            548,000
21. The Ed Show (replay)                                               537,000
22. Anderson Cooper 360 (10 PM East Coast)    522,000
23. Anderson Cooper 360 (8 PM East Coast)       504,000
24. Red Eye                                                                  466,000
25. Fox and Friends First                                           458,000
26. Dylan Ratigan Show                                            455,000
27. Martin Bashir                                                        449,000
28. John King USA                                                       435,000
29. Morning Joe                                                          412,000
30. Erin Burnett                                                           409,000

                                  Sunday News Shows       

The following numbers represent the viewership of the Sunday News Shows on May 13. Sadly, CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley was not included by TV Newser. Source: Nielson. Accessed through TV Newser.

1. Face the Nation              CBS                             3,010,000
2. Meet the Press               NBC                            2,720,000
3. This Week                        ABC                            2,150,000
4. Fox News Sunday          Fox News                    1,050,000
5. Al Punto                           Univision                      553,000

The following numbers represent the average circulation for the US weekly news magazines for the year of 2011. Data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Accessed via State of the News Media 2012, a report created by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

1. Time                                  3,337,308
2. Newsweek                       1,524,989
3. The New Yorker             1,041,420
4. The Economist                844,577
5. The Week                              528,406
6. The Atlantic                     463,625

These numbers represent the average daily audience for the network morning shows. Data from Nielson. Accessed through State of the Media 2012.

1. Today Show                                NBC    5,400,000
2. Good Morning America           ABC    4,800,000
3. Early Show                                  CBS     2,900,000

These numbers represent the average daily audience for the network evening news broadcasts. Data from Nielson. Accessed through State of the Media 2012.

1. NBC Nightly News                                 8,750,000
2. ABC World News                                   7,820,000
3. CBS Evening News                                5,650,000

Several network television programs imitate the style of magazines with longer, more detailed stories.  The shows have varying focuses and styles. 60 Minutes is a high quality news program. Dateline covers crime stories. 48 Hours also covers crime stories. 20/20 is a weekly news program that often covers human interest stories. Nightline is a nightly news program. Rock Center is a weekly news magazine on NBC that wasn’t listed in State of the Media 2012. These numbers represent the average audience per show throughout 2011. All are weekly shows except Nightline. Source: Nielson. Accessed through State of the Media 2012.

1. 60 Minutes                      CBS                 11,600,000
2. Dateline Friday               NBC                5,700,000
3. 48 Hours Mystery         ABC                5,400,000
4. 20/20                               ABC                4,900,000
5. Dateline Sunday                NBC                4,700,000
6. Nightline                         ABC                3,900,000

The following numbers represent the average weekly audience for the top Talk Radio hosts. As these are weekly (cume) audience values, as opposed to daily or per show values, these numbers are not directly comparable to the other categories in this post. They can, however, be compared to NPR’s weekly values. Source: Arbitron, among others. Accessed through Talkers Magazine.

Rush Limbaugh                               15,000,000
Sean Hannity                                   14,000,000
Michael Savage                                  9,000,000

Glenn Beck                                          8,500,000
Mark Levin                                          8,500,000
Dave Ramsey                                      8, 500,000

Neal Boortz                                         6,000,000
Laura Ingraham                                 6,000,000

Jim Bohannon                                    3,750,000
Jerry Doyle                                          3,750,000
Mike Gallagher                                  3,750,000
Michael Medved                               3,750,000
Doug Stephan                                    3,750,000

Bill Bennett                                          3,500,000
Clark Howard                                      3,500,000
George Noory                                     3,500,000

Thom Hartmann                                3,000,000
Alan Colmes                                        3,000,000
Stephanie Miller                                3,000,000
Ed Schultz                                            3,000,000
Rusty Humphries                               3,000,000

Kim Komando                                    2,250,000
Dennis Miller                                      2,250,000
Don Imus                                             2,250,000

Hugh Hewitt                                              1,750,000
Mancow                                              1,750,000

Lars Larson                                          1,500,000
Dennis Prager                                    1,500,000

Dr. Joy Browne                                  1,000,000
Gordon Deal                                            1,000,000
Lou Dobbs                                           1,000,000
Bill Handel                                           1,000,000
Roger Hedgecock                              1,000,000
G. Gordon Liddy                                1,000,000

These are the average per issue circulation of select monthly magazines in 2011. National Geographic and Smithsonian are high quality educational magazines. The rest are listed primarily for comparative purposes. It is a partial list, a longer one can be found by clicking the subheading above. Data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Accessed via State of the News Media 2012.

1. AARP The Magaine                               22,407,421
2. AARP The Bulletin                                  22,171,632
3. Better Homes and Gardens                  7,617,844
4. Game Informer Magazine                     7,514,460
5. Reader’s Digest                                         5,560,046
6. National Geographic                              4,480,788
25. Smithsonian                                            2,113,637