Thank you to the Post-Standard for publishing five letters in response to Mr. Sanders’ letter about John Pilger’s article:

Government purposely complicated Dhafir case

To the Editor:

John Pilger is a veteran investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker of some 40 years. He has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have gained awards in Britain and worldwide. His coverage of the Rafil Dhafir case has given the Syracuse public an opportunity to view the case from a viewpoint other than the government’s. 

I have had a passion for the defense of civil liberties since seeing a documentary of the Allies going into Bergen-Belsen as a teenager almost 40 years ago, and although I did not know Dhafir before the trial, I attended almost every day because I was alarmed at the demonization of Muslims in the post-9/11 United States. Before attending the 14-week trial of Dr. Dhafir, I felt completely secure in my civil liberties; I now know this was naive in the extreme. 

The government made this case very complicated by design and the magnitude of information is overwhelming. Fortunately I took notes for five hours each day and, after eight years of working on the case, I was finally able to write an article that lays out the government’s game plan and execution of the Dhafir prosecution. ”Anatomy of a ‘Terrorism’ Prosecution” is available for free download as an e-book. So please give another citizen 30 minutes of your time and read it because it is information that the Syracuse public has never had access to:

Katherine Hughes


Imprisonment a huge miscarriage of justice

To the Editor: 

Thank you for publishing John Pilger’s outstanding piece last Sunday. It is long overdue. 

I, too, have followed this case for over eight years and have concluded that a huge travesty of justice has taken place in Dr. Rafil Dhafir’s case. He has already served nearly 10 years in confinement, often in terrible conditions – yet Judge Norman Mordue ”resentenced” Dhafir to 22 years, unmoved by the evidence of the miscarriage of justice he presided over, and by the dozens of letters of support for Dr. Dhafir written by upstanding members of our community. 

Remember that Dhafir was originally offered a lesser sentence. What is being accomplished by keeping this man in jail? What was accomplished in the first place? And in the name of what? 

Dhafir has suffered unjustly. Even if he were guilty of a legitimate crime, how long would have been a just sentence for said ”crime”? What would be a just sentence for the principals who led us into unjust and unwarranted wars?

Fred Karpoff


Doctor’s only crime was acting as humanitarian

To the Editor: 

This is in response to the Dec. 11 letter by S. Douglas Saunders, ”Journalist’s defense of Dhafir overlooks extent of his crime.” 

The key point is that Dr. Rafil Dhafir is a humanitarian. He acted only to alleviate the starvation, particularly among children, resulting from the sanctions on Iraq that caused 1.5 million deaths by donating, by our government’s own admission, over $1.4 million of his own money. He did not plea bargain because he knew he was innocent of all charges. Nevertheless, he is serving a 22-year sentence. 

Let’s compare his case to that of Oscar Wyatt, the Texas oil billionaire. He got to spend just one year in jail by plea bargaining and pleading guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with paying kickbacks to the Iraqi government to steer the oil to his company. The actual amount of the illegal kickbacks in the original indictment that was funneled was at least $3.9 million. Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said, ”When Oscar Wyatt agreed to defraud the oil-for-food program by making illegal payments to the Hussein regime, he traded the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people for the satisfaction of his own greed.” 

A doctor gives his own money away to help starving children and gets 22 years. An oilman pays kickbacks to enrich himself and gets one year. This is justice? 

To find out how compassionate a physician Dr. Dhafir was, I suggest that people, in addition to talking with federal agents, speak with his former patients. 

Bob Elmendorf
Malden Bridge


Trial criminalized an innocent, kind person

To the Editor: 

What an irony when an ininformed person pretends to be an informed and responsible commentator on facts of life. 

S. Douglas Saunders did exactly that. But it will not change the facts on the ground. 

Dr. Rafil Dhafir is a reputable person, very dedicated to the cause of humanitarian help to others, as I have known him for a long time. John Pilger tried to reflect on the issues that are real, not superficial. How convenient it is for the United States’ so-called justice system to criminalize innocent citizens and humanitarian workers. Undoubtedly, Dhafir was victimized because of political reasons. 

Mahboob A. Khawaja


Letter-writer resorts to innuendo about Dhafir

To the Editor: 

S. Douglas Saunders’ letter plays the oldest and least ethical trick in the journalistic book. He hints darkly that ”all the facts haven’t been presented,” that those facts (in his sole possession) would change everything – but somehow neglects to mention just what those facts are. This is called innuendo – hardly a basis for anything other than one’s own unsupported opinion and evident bias. 

And it doesn’t matter if federal agents or the Messiah himself told Saunders about these supposed ”facts”: Simple hearsay is disallowed in any court in this country. Saunders should state his facts, and back them up – as John Pilger did, and as hundreds of supporters and national advocacy organizations who have indeed reviewed the facts of Dhafir’s case have done, concluding that a terrible miscarriage of justice occurred. Only then can the court of public opinion be asked to judge. 

Jeanne Finley


To the Editor from S.Douglas Saunders:

John Pilger’s essay in his support of Dr. Rafil Dhafir on Sunday’s Readers’ Page is nothing short of ridiculous.

As a journalist, he has no idea of the criminal investigation that went on to support Dhafir’s prosecution and conviction. When he was sentenced and all his patients and friends cried out in protest, I shook my head in disbelief, as I did reading Pilger’s piece. I know several federal agents based here in Syracuse who worked this case and were involved with it to the end. They told me that Dhafir is right where he belongs: in federal prison. If all the facts were presented in a newspaper article showing where Dhafir funneled money to, the extent of his involvement and his Middle East connections, the ignorant people who still support Dhafir would see how foolish they are.

S. Douglas Saunders