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