[Pnews] Rasmea Odeh Case: USA vs. Arab-Americans

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 8 10:52:08 EDT 2014

    Rasmea Odeh Case: USA vs. Arab-Americans

October 7, 2014

*By Bill Chambers <http://chicagomonitor.com/?s=Bill+Chambers>*

In a strange turn of events, prosecutors have accused the Rasmea Defense 
Committee, all of Odeh supporters, and the leader of a prominent 
Arab-American social services group of "jury tampering" and "almost 
certainly criminal" behavior by showing their support for a leader in 
the Chicago Palestinian community who has come under discriminatory 
indictment. The prosecution's solution? Tamper with any jury that might 
be selected by demanding the jury remain "anonymous" so that they can be 
prejudiced to believe Odeh is a dangerous terrorist.

On October 3, federal prosecutors in the case of Palestinian-American 
leader Rasmea Odeh filed a motion 
<http://images.politico.com/global/2014/10/05/odehanonjury.pdf> in the 
U.S. District Court in Detroit to "Empanel an Anonymous Jury and to Take 
Other Measures Necessary to Ensure an Untainted Jury". These "measures" 
include keeping the names of the jurors secret from the defense 
attorneys and "partial sequestration, in which instead of arriving at 
the Courthouse on their own each morning, the jurors will be directed to 
meet at an off-site location to be determined by the Marshal and driven 
to the Courthouse garage, thereby not requiring jurors to cross through 
*/a protesting mob/* [bold italics added] which is seeking to influence 
the proceedings." These procedures would be more appropriate for the 
trial of a Mafia boss and communicate to the jury that their lives may 
be in danger by a "protesting mob" supporting Odeh. The description of 
peacefully protesting Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim majority supporters 
of Odeh as a "mob" not only suggests her supporters are threatening, but 
is also an example of racist profiling against Arabs and Muslims. Also 
implied is that there is something wrong about First Amendment protected 
actions outside a courthouse to support someone only charged with a 
crime.  Later in the document, the prosecutors call these actions 
including supporters attendng the hearings and trial, and making phone 
calls to the prosecutor's office "almost certainly criminal". Using the 
prosecutor's logic, this would criminalize any group who protested 
outside a courthouse, attended a trial, or called the prosecutors office 
to show support for a defendant.

The motion also singles out Hatem Abudayyeh, Executive Director of the 
Arab American Action Network (AAAN) and a number of community groups for 
organizing opposition to Odeh's indictment.

    "Since defendant's indictment, Hatem Abudayyeh has engaged in a
    concerted effort to improperly influence the criminal proceedings
    before the Court. Specifically, through the aid of the AAAN
    (www.aaan.org), as well as the Committee to Stop FBI Repression
    (CSFR) (www.stopfbi.net) and the U.S. Palestine Community Network
    (USPCN) (www.USPCN.org), Hatem Abudayyeh has organized a campaign
    designed to improperly sway the jury that will be empaneled to hear
    this case."

The prosecutors are also trying to criminalize individuals and 
organizations who work together to defend a community leader unfairly 
targeted for prosecution. This is typically what is called "community 

So why is this happening to Odeh and her supporters?

First, we can get some clues by the harassment of Odeh's supporters 
by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials during the last two 
court appearances. All of Odeh's earlier court appearances showed a 
great deal of cooperation between Odeh's supporters and the DHS security 
detail. But on September 2 
DHS security pressured the protesters to move themselves and their 
bullhorn across the street from the courthouse. Even though they could 
not produce any legal document showing that was required, the Odeh 
supporters did move the bullhorn across the street. At the last hearing 
on October 2, DHS security once again pressured the supporters to take 
their bullhorn across the street and after the hearing refused to allow 
the defense attorneys to speak to supporters even without a bullhorn on 
the public sidewalk in front of the courthouse. For both of these 
hearings, Odeh's supporters were cooperative with security and have 
attended all of the open hearings with no disruption whatsoever.  A 
potential reason for this change toward Odeh's supporters would be the 
level of attention the Odeh case has attracted. Phone lines of the U.S. 
Attorney and prosecutors have been flooded with calls and Judge Borman 
reclusing himself from the case point to the prosecution being rattled 
by a "simple" case becoming a significant media issue.

But additional attention paid to Odeh's case is not enough for 
prosecutors to take such a drastic action of asking for an anonymous jury.

The prosecutors are doing everything they can to paint Odeh as a 
"convicted terrorist" and all those who protest her arrest as dangerous 
supporters of terrorism who cannot even be trusted to know the names of 
the jurors. At the October 2 hearing, the court considered the defense 
motion to dismiss the charges against Odeh based upon her being singled 
out and selectively indicted for First Amendment activity. In court, 
Michael Deutsche, one of Odeh's defense attorneys, argued that Odeh's 
years as Deputy Director of the AAAN, providing services for immigrants, 
Arab women, and youth in the community; living an award-winning, 
exemplary life with no arrests in the U.S. for over twenty years gave 
the government no reason to single her out for prosecution. The 
prosecution's response was "all we have here are allegations of 
discriminatory prosecution, but no evidence. The defense has to show a 
similarly situated person -- someone /*jailed for terrorism*/ [bold 
italics added] able to obtain their citizenship in the same way." 
Deutsche's rebuttal was that "the government is fond of mentioning 
terrorism. The defendant was not convicted of terrorism, but was jailed 
by a military occupation court based on a confession coerced through 
torture and rape." The motion was denied by the court as it "did not 
meet the evidentiary requirement."

The prosecution in this case wants to continue to portray a 67 year-old, 
Palestinian-American community leader as a dangerous terrorist who can't 
be allowed to remain in this country, a story supported by the media 
coverage. The Associated Press coverage of the October 2 hearing was 
widely picked up by the media. Today's story in The Washington Times 
"Trial set for immigrant convicted in Israel deaths" is a good example. 
  The focus of the headline, as well as the article is on Odeh being an 
immigrant (she has been a U.S. citizen for 20 years) and her conviction 
for killing Israelis. The first portion of the article states "A federal 
judge refused Thursday to dismiss charges against an Arab activist 
accused of failing to tell U.S. immigration officials in Michigan that 
she'd been convicted in a fatal terrorist bombing in Jerusalem." Any 
discussion of the conviction taking place 45 years ago in a military 
court and based on a confession obtained through torture and rape is 
mentioned far below in a single quote from a lawyer.

Just as the media doesn't want to discuss the evidence of Odeh's 
conviction using torture in an Israeli military court, it seems the 
judge in the Odeh case also doesn't want this issue discussed at any 
length.  During the October 2 hearing, Judge Drain acknowledged that 
this is a "complex issue",  but still only granted  ten minutes to each 
side to discuss the defense motion to admit expert testimony to Odeh's 
suffering from PTSD as a result of her experience in the Israeli prison. 
Judge Drain stated he would rule on this motion within ten days.

In the Odeh case, it seems to be the federal prosecutors who are 
tampering with the jury by wanting to make them anonymous and enter the 
courtroom through the courthouse basement to avoid the "protesting mob" 
of mainly Arab and Palestinian women supporting a community leader 
unjustly targeted by the U.S. government. With this motion, the 
prosecutors are clearly attempting to prejudice any jury selected to 
believe Odeh is a dangerous terrorist who doesn't belong in this country 
instead of a Arab and Palestinian community leader who has survived a 
military court conviction through torture and rape forty years ago. It 
is useful to remember that this is the same U.S. government who just 
last week was reported to have spied on Palestinian-Americans since 2009 
and passed their personal data to an Israeli spy unit who used the data 
against their relatives in Israel and the occupied territories.

The Rasmea Defense Committee issued a statement 
that said in part:

    "We see these threats as a sign that our campaign to defend Rasmea
    Odeh is working...There are now thousands of people across the
    country engaged in organizing for Rasmea. We will not allow the
    government to intimidate us. This attack will bring more supporters
    and strengthen our work further. We will redouble our efforts to
    make sure the charges against Rasmea are dropped!'

There is another hearing in Detroit scheduled for October 21 with the 
trial set for November 4.

/The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not 
necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor's editorial policy./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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