But Castro’s regime has a problem with that. Since the Cuban government went on a dissident hunt in the last few weeks, several journalists and writers have been incarcerated, among them Raul Rivera. This is a letter he wrote a while back, which the New York Times is reprinting.
Link via Bookslut.
The April/May issue of the Boston Review came in the mail yesterday. Check it out online. The cover article is “Islam and the Challenge of Democracy” by UCLA Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, with responses from John Esposito, Nader Hashemi, Noah Feldman, William Quandt and many others. The issue also contains a short story titled “A Wrong Thing” by the amazing A.L. Kennedy.
For Shi’a Muslims, the commemoration of the death of Hussein (grandson of the Prophet) is a major holiday. Salam Pax had given some background on his blog about it. Under Saddam, those (often bloody) celebrations were all but outlawed. Now that he’s no longer in power Shi’a are flocking to the holy city of Kerbala for pilgrimages. Except they also seem to be organizing quickly, and are increasingly rejecting U.S. presence in Iraq. And since they form the majority of Iraq’s population, it’s certainly worrisome for Rumsfeld et al.’s plans for the country. If there were any plans beyond the removal of Saddam, that is.
The war in Iraq has been particularly bloody for journalists, whether they are embedded with U.S. troops or simply staying at their hotel in Baghdad. Two weeks ago, when U.S. troops fired on Reuters cameramen right in the Palestine Hotel, I was willing to believe that it was an unfortunate accident, and that the journalists were killed inadvertently. Until I came across this article, in which the tank commander claims that “he was unaware the building was packed with journalists.” How the hell can we, sitting here in our homes in the U.S., know that journalists were staying there, and not the tank commander across the bridge? And that’s the best he could come up with after two weeks of questions? (Earlier reasons for shooting on the journalists included that snipers had attacked from the hotel, a claim which was later dismissed when other reporters at the hotel reported that no snipers were present.)
“The banking industry has been actively assisting the government in post-9/11 efforts to find and block money directed to terrorists, using the same tools they’ve employed for years in the war on drugs. (…) Companies and banks check names against the 80-page-long list of names maintained by OFAC, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. It includes approximately 5,000 “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons” people and organizations with whom Americans are not supposed to do business, including terrorists, narcotics traffickers and money-launderers. Banks have used this list for about a decade (…) When new names are added, financial institutions check them against their own customer lists.”
So far so good. Here’s the problem:
“Just after September 11, the FBI drew up a list of names of people it wanted to question, giving the dossier out to private businesses, such as hotels and airlines, here and abroad, as a new experiment in information-sharing called Project Lookout. But the FBI soon lost control of the Project Lookout list, and bootleg copies with added names and even typos were passed around the private sector. As many as 50 different versions may now exist. “This thing took on a life of its own,” says FBI spokesperson Bill Carter, who says that from the very beginning, companies may have misinterpreted it as a list of people not to do business with. “It’s a defunct list that shouldn’t be used for that purpose.” ”
So, if your name is Muhammad or Khan, or whatever other surnames are likely to be on that list, you can say goodbye to your American Express credit card. That’s what happened to a few people in this story. Read it in full here.