4 =- Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4 - uesayFebuary21,201 Th Miciga Daly micigadaiyco
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JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ANDREW WEINER JOSH HEALY
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditorwmichigandaily.com.
Trust the legal process
Civilian courts are effective in terrorist cases
mar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the convicted terrorist referred
to as the "Underwear Bomber," has been sentenced to life in a
U.S. federal prison. The 25-year-old Nigerian who attempted
to detonate explosives hidden in his undergarments on a flight from
Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 was sentenced to four
consecutive life sentences and an additional 50 years in prison by a
federal judge. The sentencing comes after Abdulmutallab pleaded
guilty in October to charges including conspiracy to commit an act of
terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions, and
therefore less care that has to be done.
- Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said about health care legislation mandating
insurance fully cover amniocentesis and other prenatal tests, according to CNN.
A warmer winter
T his winter's cloudless skies
and snowless sidewalks were
pleasant surprises for just
about every student on campus. I
cite a single time
this semester I
have heard some-
one say, "Man,
I hope it snows
soon. I'm so sick
of all this effort-
less walking to
class, not to men-
tion the warm
The processing and subsequent sentencing
of Abdulmutallab adds to the ever-growing
body of evidence indicating that the Ameri-
can legal system can be, and has been, an
effective way to prosecute accused terrorists.
The U.S. shouldn't have to resort to extrale-
gal or constitutionally questionable methods
such as indefinite detentions to combat ter-
rorism. Instead, individuals caught plan-
ning or executing domestic terrorist attacks
should be granted the full due process of law
on American soil.
Abdulmutallab's is one in a series of cases
that have seen similar outcomes. Other ter-
rorist suspects tried in civilian courts include
the would-be Times Square bomber Faisal
Shahzad, "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid, Jose
Padilla, Ali al-Marri and more than a dozen
others. As of April 2011, the conviction rate
in civilian courts for Jihadi-related crimes,
including those in which the government
dropped the charges or a judge dismissed
them, has been 87 percent, with an average
prison term of 14 years, according to The
Center on Law and Security at the New York
University School of Law. In the same time
frame, military tribunals had produced five
convictions and far more lenient sentences.
The argument that civilian courts don't
allow for effective intelligence gathering is
specious. In fact, the prosecution has more
tools at its disposal within a legal framework
to ensure that valuable information is gained
from terror suspects. For instance, prosecu-
tors may be able to offer plea deals in the form
of a shorter sentence or better living condi-
tions in exchange for intelligence that is veri-
In two major cases, Abdulmutallab and
Mansour Arbabsiar - the man accused of
plotting to assassinate the Saudi Arabian
ambassador to the U.S. in Washington, D.C.
on behalf of Iran - were read their Miranda
rights but still provided a wealth of infor-
mation about Al Qaeda and Iranian opera-
tions. Furthermore, American law permits a
"national security exception," which allows
law enforcement to withhold the reading of
Miranda rights until relevant information
is extracted from the suspect, ostensibly to
combat immediate threats to public safety.
The United States needs to combat terror-
ism with a strategy that reflects a moral back-
bone and coheres with what are often called
American values - freedom, integrity and
fairness. These values must be at the fore-
front of our discussion on national security,
not merely considered as an aside or evoked
when convenient. As cases like Abdulmutal-
lab's have shown, America does not have to
compromise human dignity or due process
sensation in my
hands. I mean, what is this? Florida?"
Aha! Al Gore's "Inconvenient
Truth" strikes again! Not quite.
To those proponents of global
warming who view this winter as
irrefutable evidence of the theory,
pump the brakes. Though a global
climate shift has certainly affected
the weather in recent months, it's not
the whole story.
The main reason behind this
year's balmy winter is related to
weather patterns in the North Pole.
The North Atlantic Oscillation is a
weather current that hasn't swooped
down into the U.S. like it normally
does. This current of arctic air typi-
cally reaches the U.S. during the win-
ter months and causes temperatures
to drop. It simply hasn't moved far
enough south to affect the weather
here, and therefore, the tempera-
ture's stayed warm.
Anyone who's been followingthe
weather trends in Europe over the
past month will have noted that the
country is experiencing one of the
worst winters in modern history.
Parts of Russia have actually record-
ed temperatures dropping to minus
63 degrees. The cold has caused the
deaths of more than 600 people in
the past weeks, msainly those without
homes. The root of Europe's record-
breakitg winterwis the diametric
opposite of the warm U.S. winter.
The Arctic Oscillation current has
turned to a negative phase, which
has forced frigid arctic air from the
North Pole into Europe.
The weather patterns in the U.S.
and Europe are naturally occurring
phenomena, and coupled with other
weather currents, they're respon-
sible for the extreme climates this
winter. Though both can be viewed
as anomalous situations, there does
seem to be a correlation with global
warming here. Some scientists think
that glacial melt has released warmer
air in the Arctic, causing a shift in the
aforementioned weather patterns
which led to the extreme climates.
Whatever the cause is, certain
parts of the country must cope with
the after-effects of the warm tem-
peratures. The obvious casualties
of such a mild winter are those who
rely on the snow to do business. Ski
resorts are struggling to tread snow
right now because the warm tem-
peratures are affecting their ability
to draw customers and even main-
tain man-made snow. In Michigan,
about $4 billion in tourism revenue
depends on the winter months to
flourish. The warm temperatures
and lack of snow have put a serious
strain on the more than 40 ski slopes
and resorts in the state and have hurt
their profits during their short time-
frame of operation.
Snow-related businesses may be
suffering right now, and come har-
vest season,.consumers will be in for
a rude awakening. The warm weath-
er has prematurely launched blos-
soming fruit trees into spring mode.
The blossoms of these trees are
temperature-sensitive and a few cold
weeks toward the end of the winter
could spell disaster for the industry.
The early bloom may even cause food
shortages across the country and
drive up prices.
C'onsum ers might be able to make
up for these increased food prices
with the money they're currently
saving onsheating bills. Natural gas
futures are currently trading at about
$2.50 per million British thermal
units and are expected to achieve a
low of at about $1.80 per share. Com-
pare this to the $15 per share seen
back in 2005, and it's clear that hives-
tors may be a little distraught by such
a stark decrease in price. But inves-
tors aside, the low trading values are
good news on two fronts: the cost of
heating a home is cheaper and less
natural gas is burned, which means
less carbon emission.
is only part
of the story.
Perhaps the best news to come out
of this whole ordeal is the direct, pos-
itive impact that the warmer weather"'
has on students. I don't know about
you, but I sure can enjoy a winter
dusting a little bit more knowing it'll
be gone in a couple days. Last week,
I went to the Nichols Arboretum in
shorts and sneakers, for God's sake.
This winter is a reminder that the
climate of the earth is shifting and
extreme conditions, whether balmy
or frigid, are inevitable. So enjoy it
while it lasts - who's to say that our
situation won't be flip-flopped with
Europe's next winter?
- Joe Sugiyama can be reached at
jmsugi aiumich.edu. Follow him on
Twitter at .JoeSugiyama.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne
Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONVERSATION
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POUYA ALIMAGHAM I
.Stop false depictions of Iran
@Midterms Really? Really?
NOAH HALPERN, ALEX KULICK AND CASSIE STANZLER I
Ban the box
The Michigan Daily published a viewpoint
by Caroline Syms on Jan. 31. "Do the crime,
pay the time" argued against banning the
box, or removing the box on job applications
that requires an applicant to check whether
or not they have been convicted of a crime.
The author argues that those who've already
served their sentences should continue to face
penalties after doing so. We see this as blatant
employment discrimination that perpetuates
social and economic inequality and does noth-
ing to make our communities safer. Syms mis-
represents an already marginalized group and
misstates important facts about the objectives
of the Ban the Box campaign.
The Fair Chance Coalition's Ban the Box
campaign seeks to remove inquiries into fel-
ony and misdemeanor conviction status from
public job applications. The previous article
suggested that banning the box would limit
employers' access to applicants' criminal his-
tory, but this is untrue. Banning the box won't
bar employers from asking about applicants'
conviction statuses or performing background
checks. Rather, it would allow applicants to
be judged on their qualifications before their
criminal history is taken into account. This
will allow former convicts to obtain employ-
ment and thereby mitigate what has become
a revolving door in and out of the prison sys-
tem. Michigan currently has a recidivism rate
of about 31 percent, according to Pew Center
on the States, largely due to a lack of legitimate
opportunities for ex-offenders.
Syms also overlooks the racial and class
implications of the box. Since the 1980s, the
ongoing War on Drugs and "tough on crime"
rhetoric has created a system that dispropor-
tionately targets African American and His-
panic communities. In a recent report, the
Justice Policy Institute found "while African
Americans and whites use and sell drugs at
similar rates, African Americans are ten times
more likely than whites to be imprisoned for
drug offenses." The systematic racism sur-
rounding criminal justice policies contributes
not only to a de facto caste system, but also one
that is distinctly racial.
Those who oppose the ban claim that the
box safeguards our workplaces against the
threat of ex-offenders and that these individu-
als still pose a threat to society, even after com-
pleting their prison sentences. There are major
flaws in our criminal justice system as it exists
today, but we must respond to this ineffective-
ness proactively by organizing communities
and legislation around the root causes of crime.
We must not respond reactively with further
barriers for ex-offenders as they attempt to re-
enter society by'impairing their ability to find
secure employment.We agree with Syms when
she writes, "Convicted felons should have a fair
chance to explain themselves and their history
in greater detail." However, we also believe
that banning the box is the first step in provid-
ing ex-offenders that opportunity.
To learn more about on-campus efforts to
support the Ban the Box campaign and other
prison-related issues, contact soap.lead@
umich.edu to get involved with Students Orga-
nizing Against Prisons.
Noah Halpern is an LSA sophomore. Alex
Kulick and Cassie Stanzler are LSA juniors.
As the ideological groundwork for military strikes on
Iran is laid by certain media outlets and hawks in Wash-
ington, D.C. and Tel Aviv, there are a wide array of par-
allels to be drawn between the disastrous past and the
contentious present. One underlying presumption that
constantly recurs, however, warrants special attention as
it's a key impetus for intervention - that leaders in much
of the developing world, particularly in Iran, are emo-
tional, unpredictable and, most importantly, do not cal-
culate in the same rational manner that Western leaders
do. Consequently, they can't be left to their own devices.
In the 1950s, Time magazine, one of the most influen-
tial publications in the United States at the time, did not
merely parrot the arguments uttered in the corridors of
power in Washington, D.C. to overthrow Iran's nascent
but burgeoning democracy, but seriously affected the
contours of the debate. Indeed, Time made the case for
intervention and lobbied for it by effectively, yet errone-
ously, portrayingIranian Premier Mohammad Mossadeq
as a "demagogic, emotional, child-like fanatic" who can
easily be duped by communism. The central idea was that
Iran's leaders could not be trusted to govern their own
country simply because they were too immature to be
trusted'during the Cold War to safeguard vital Western
interests - access to the resources that fueled the capi-
talist West's economic superiority, namely oil and gas.
Thus, such portrayals and logic rendered Iran an accept-
able area for the exercise of U.S. power and that the Unit-
ed States knew better than Iran how the Middle Eastern
country should be governed.
This racism was not limited to Western depictions
of Iran's leadership. During the Cold War, much of the
developing world was targeted for intervention under a
similar rubric of rationality, or lack thereof. In the case of
the Congo, for instance, Congolese independence leader
Patrice Lumumba was depicted much in-the same vein
as Iran's leadership had been cast, according to historian
Odd Arn Westad.
"While most U.S. political leaders up to the early 1960s
"had thought of Africans as children who were destined
to remain children, the Kennedy administration began
seeing Africans as adolescents, in the process of growing
up, as witnessed by the creation of new states and politi-
cal movements. The anti-Communist argument was no
longer that socialism did not fit 'the African tribal men-
tality'... but the fear that Communists might seduce ado-
lescent African leaders."
Like Iran's Mossadeq, Lumumba was judged to
be fickle and immature, and thus unfit to rule such. a
resource-rich country vital to Western Cold War strate-
gic interests. As a result, armed right-wing allies backed
by the West overthrew and summarily executed him.
Unfortunately, after decades of interaction with Iran,
this arrogant demeanor has not only persisted, but wors-
ened. More than 20 years after the end of the Cold War
and almost 60 years after the U.S.-British overthrow of
Iran's "child-like fanatic" Mossadeq, Iran continues to
be portrayed as emotional, irrational and, worse yet,
is also presumed to be "suicidal" because of its Islamic
culture. Expatriate Iranians are equally guilty of such
depictions. Last year, a journalist of Iranian descent at
The Los Angeles Times referred to Iran, a country of
more than 75 million, as "steeped in a culture of Shiite
Such labels erroneously cast Iran and its leadership as
unpredictable irrational, and, consequently, unfit to be
,trusted with affairs such as developing its own nuclear
energy - a legal right to all signatories of the Nucle-
ar Non-Proliferation Treaty that Iran joined in 1968.
Should "child-like" Iran be "allowed" to continue to
develop nuclear technology, the anachronistic argument
goes, the world would be threatened with the possibil-
ity of a nuclear-armed Iran that would not be governed
with the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine that
kept the "peace" between the U.S. and the Soviet Union
during the Cold War. Iran would not abide by the doc-
trine because it is seemingly "suicidal" and "steeped in
a culture of Shiite Muslim martyrdom," and could use
a nuclear device on its adversaries even if it guaranteed
its own destruction. Thus, Iran, scrutinized under such
racist and grossly inaccurate categorizations, warrants
intervention in 2012, as it did in 1953.
Until the media and Western leaders break with such
depictions that justified, indeed demanded, ruinous
intervention in the developing world in general, and Iran
in 1953 in particular, the contours of the debate will con-
tinue to be guided in a direction that will make future
military conflict unavoidable, and possibly even more
disastrous than in the past.
Pouya Alimagham is a Ph.D. student in the
Rackham School of Graduate Studies.