All humans make mistakes. No one can be free from doing it. For me, mistakes are not a sin or a crime as long as the person said or did it unintentionally and unknowingly, and as soon as the person discovers the mistake he stops it, acknowledges his mistake, and agrees to correct what he has done. He should feel sorry and promise that the mistake will not be repeated. Nothing should stop us from acknowledging our mistakes. It is not a shame to make mistakes, but it is a shame to be arrogant and to refuse to recognize your error and accept the truth.
Of course not all mistakes are the same. Many mistakes by ordinary persons like myself do not harm anyone but the maker. But the mistakes of a leader or a decision maker may cost the lives of millions of people and billions of dollars. Those leaders must be very careful and think deeply, and obtain counsel and advice before making any decision, and whenever they find that some mistake has been made they must stop it before bringing a disaster on the people and destruction on the land. Tricky secrete plots, fabricating evidence, mistranslating documents, lying and intentional wrong doing, never bring any good, and in no way count as “mistakes”.
Serving the people and building a country demands honesty and a clear strategy so that everyone can understanding and support it from their heart. The nature of human beings is to love people and to raise up their good deeds . When a leader does right and truth is on his side he wants everyone to know it. In the East many leaders do not respect their people and lead them like animals without explaining what they are doing and why. In Iraq, the policy of the government required people to follow orders and not ask why. No one could ask them about it. Of course they claimed it was done under a national security threat. Saddam sent the Iraqi army to occupy Kuwait and 85% of the soldiers did not know where they were going until they found themselves in Kuwait. Iraq fought a 10 year war with Iran and even until now 90% of the Iraqi people still do not know why the war started and how it stopped. Even I do not know whether it was an honest mistake or a dirty plot.
Today many Westerners are proud that they have the right to ask their leader what the leader is doing. They can criticize their leaders, and challenge them, and even judge their actions. When many of their leaders realize that they did something wrong, they resign, and apologize to their people. One of the most important principles in America is called checks and balances, with an independent judicial system. No one can be above the law. No doubt this is a real security for the country and a big reason for the development of the West. In the East we are paying for not having checks and balances, and the law is not applied equally to everyone including the leaders. The leaders, their families and close friends are all above the law.
For decades in the East many communist leaders and dictators fooled their people in the name of “national security”, and “war crisis” and “emergency situation”, and accused anyone who criticized or even questioned their policies, as being unpatriotic. In the West in general, and especially in America, this should not be allowed to happen. Americans must realize when they allow this to happen it will begin the loss of their civil rights and of their civilization. It is really sad to see and hear many stories about what happened in America in the name of the “War on Terror”. It is sad that the American people paid such a high price for that “war”. Today every one knows that the reasons given for stating the war were untrue. The Iraqi war had no clear strategic value and there was no real reason or justification for it. It was not an honest mistake but rather a tricky plot that was based on secret and fabricated evidence. It has cost this nation till now more than 4,000 lives and 30,000 injured and $400 billion dollars, and still there is no real hope for democratic rule in Iraq or a good end to the war. Above all people have lost faith in America and America almost lost its place among other nations. It is hard for any country now to trust American policy or depend on American friendship.
Inside America this tricky policy has divided communities and many people live in fear and do not believe that they have a private life or any protections of their rights just because of their religion or color or ethnic back ground even if they are born and raised in this country. Many examples prove that what is happening here is not an honest mistake. Hundred of Muslims have been prosecuted and thousand of others deported without justification. I myself am just one example and victim.
An honest mistake is one that was made unknowingly and unintentionally. When the mistake is discovered it is acknowledged and stopped. The one who did it must repair the damage and make sure the mistake will not be repeated. The mistake is not covered up. If you study any sting/entrapment case against Muslims in the last 5 years you will see that the government began by holding press conferences to announce the capture of “dangerous terrorists”, to inflate its case and destroy community support for the defendant. Then, after they built their case and destroyed the defendant’s personality and scare people, they charged the defendant with something less because the big press conference was based on an “honest mistake”.
We all heard about Jose Padella who was said to be making a “dirty bomb”. Then he was charged with much less serious charges. In Florida, in Sami Al-Arian’s case, many government translation mistakes were discovered when the defendant brought in his own translator. For example, when a friend of Sami invited him for a “Qataif” (pancake) meeting, the government translated it as “Kataib” (brigade) meeting. Then in court, the government acknowledged in front of the jury the error and the translator apologized for an “honest mistake”. But the government built their case on this error and the judge at first denied bail to Sami for being invited to a “brigade” meeting, when in fact he had been charged $10 to eat pancakes.
I myself was accused at the beginning of being a “Commander” of a terrorist group. Of course the government’s plot was to claim that I was a commander of terrorists (because of a document found in Northern Iraq) and then claim that they could not produce the document since it was classified because of security concerns. When the judge ordered them to produce the document showing that I was a commander without any other details, then they suddenly claimed the word commander was wrong (it was “Brother”, or the equivalent of Mr.) and they claimed the mistranslation was an “honest mistake” – the translator made it.
The government had that document for more than a year and yet they did not realize that it was mistranslated until the judge ordered them to produce it? Can you imagine what would have happened to me if the judge had not ordered that document produced? And if the mistake was not done purposely, why did the government not stop their plot and acknowledge that they had targeted the wrong person. How after that could the judge accept the government’s other classified evidence in secret? Who was to guarantee that other translations of classified documents were not “honest mistakes”? But the government got what they wanted by such “honest mistakes”. Mr. Bush won a second term. Then they dropped the claim that I was a commander of a terrorist group and did not even bring it up at the trial. I believed that this “honest mistake” would cause the judge to distrust their other claims and evidence and would cause him to disallow their “secret evidence”, but it did not happen that way.
I want to assure all Americans that in all my entire life I did nothing against this country. I was never a member of any terrorist group and I never supported terrorism, or sent one penny to any terrorist group, and never supported any terrorist act. I challenge the government to produce any evidence secret or otherwise that I was involved in terrorism. Then I will accept jail and even the death penalty. But the government does not have any evidence because I did nothing in my life to be a danger to anyone. So I am asking all the American people, especially those who believe in freedom and justice to ask the government to acknowledge the truth and to stop the waste of tax money and the destruction of the constitution. Everyone should know that the “honest mistakes” of the government have brought disaster upon this nation and has cost them dearly. It is time to stop them from continuing more of it. The government’s duty is to protect all of its citizens and legal residents here, and to protect their rights and dignity, protect their money and property, and protect the justice system – not to demolish all of this for a political agenda. Fabricating evidence, mistranslations, buying witnesses, targeting innocent persons because they are Muslim is not the right way to protect this country. This country is based on the Constitution and the best way to protect it is to protect the law and the diversity of this nation.
by Yassin Aref, posted 5/5/08