Wednesday, April 25, 2012


A bag filled with violence inducing psychotropic drugs are not the answer for treating our returning veterans, especially since for every US soldier killed this year, 25 veterans commit suicide. The US military has lost more troops to suicide than to combat for the second year in a row and a better cause versus symptom based understanding of combat-related risk factors for suicide is now critical. Dr Allen L Roland

A new SFVA study strongly suggests that soldiers who experience killing experiences are twice as likely to attempt suicide ~ which strongly supports the reality of soul damage as a contributing factor for veteran’s suicide as well as the obvious need for a proven heart centered approach toward veteran rehabilitation.

An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan while Veterans kill themselves at the rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year ~ more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars and occupations began.
Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times rightfully calls it “The Nations Shame“  See article ~
Last year, General Peter Chiarelli,  the Army's No. 2 officer, acknowledged there are more effective ways to treat PTSD than just drugs ~ a fact that I have been proving for over two years with our heart centered Healing The Wounded Heart workshops for combat veterans with PTSD in Northern California.

Last year, Megan Sully, The national Journal, interviewed Gen. Peter Chiarelli , the Army's No. 2 officer, who has long been an advocate for soldiers suffering from the invisible wounds of war ~ such as PTSD and TBI. Here are some pertinent excerpts of General Chiarelli’s important interview with the National Journal (NJ);

NJ: Statistics show that more members of the military kill themselves than die in combat. Has the Army made progress in this area?

CHIARELLI:I definitely think that we have made progress, but we're fighting an uphill battle. The underlying causes, the stress on the force, the things that are causing the stress on the force, still remain when you have operational-tempo levels that are at what they are right now, especially after 10 years of conflict.”

NJ: The Army has long had a stigma about mental health.

CHIARELLI:Not the Army, not the military. It's everybody. I believe that the stigma associated with behavioral health issues is something that is shared by the general public. We're just admitting it. And what the Army's trying to do internal to itself is to change that culture. We have a lot of folks who are very focused on the mission who don't want to let their buddies down. Sometimes that gets in the way of seeking the help that they want and need.”

NJ: You have expressed concern about the level of research into post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. What worries you?

CHIARELLI:We do not know how to treat post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury with the same kind of assurance that we know how to treat what I call the mechanical injuries of this war. The science is just not there. There is a lot of wonderful, very important research going on. The problem is if you're an operator like me who likes to fix things quickly. It takes a long time.”

NJ: Is the military's medical culture changing to address these problems?

CHIARELLI:There's no doubt that we've changed. We've totally done a 180. But have we done enough? No. I want to do more, quicker. I want to have more of these secrets unlocked faster. I want to understand what drugs we should use to treat these symptoms, if we should use any drugs at all. I want to look into alternative pain management. We are finding there are other ways to handle pain that are more effective and allow a person to feel a lot better than throwing a bagful of drugs at them.”
See full article ~

In 2007, the US Department of Defense issued $3 billion in contracts for bulk pharmaceutical purchases, many of which are option periods from an original award and that number is significantly higher now ~ we’re talking big money here!

Here’s one of those drugs in that bag. After the recent massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, as well as scores of military and veteran suicides and homicides, more light is being shed on the military's zombie potion, Mefloquine (Lariam).

Mefloquine is an anti-malaria drug, invented by the military that has been known for sometime to have severe psychiatric side effects including psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military as well as Peace Corps. With so many other anti-malarial medications available, one has to wonder why the military continues to distribute Mefloquine (Lariam) at all.

A must see 13 minute Video: Democracy Now

So let’s take a closer look at the bagful of drugs (Care of big Pharma) that are currently being thrown at Veterans as well as their adverse effects.

A recent study published in the Public Library of Science online journal (PloS One @ by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP @ listed the top 31 prescription drugs that can cause violent or aggressive behavior in those consuming them. Note that Prozac, Paxil and the amphetamine drugs as well as Lariam are # 2, # 3 # 4 and #5 on the top-ten list:

10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) ~ Pfizer’s newest antidepressant (a knock-off of Effexor, note the similarity of the generic terms) that artificially stimulates both serotonin and noradrenaline. The drug is 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

9. Venlafaxine (Effexor) ~ An antidepressant that has marketing approval for both depression and anxiety. The drug is 8.3 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) - A so-called “selective” serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) A drug that is 8.4 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

7. Triazolam (Halcion) - A benzodiazepine (a so-called “minor” but highly addictive tranquilizer) drug for insomnia that is 8.7 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

6. Atomoxetine (Strattera) – A psychostimulant drug that is 9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

5. Mefoquine (Lariam
) – An anti-malaria drug that is 9.5 times more likely to be associated with violence (including homicide and suicide) than other drugs.

4. Amphetamines - This general class of dangerous and highly addictive psychostimulant drugs is 9.6 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

3. Paroxetine (Paxil) - An SSRI antidepressant, (with psychostimulating, mania-inducing effects) that is 10.3 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs. It is also linked to severe withdrawal symptoms and birth defects.

2. Fluoxetine (Prozac) - A popular SSRI antidepressant drug that is 10.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

1. Varenicline (Chantix)A dopaminergic anti-smoking drug that is a shocking 18 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

Are their lingering psychological or psychosocial effects on combat veterans with killing experiences in combat ~ particularly as relating to suicide?

In an important recent April 13, 2012 research study abstract entitled ~ KILLING IN COMBAT MAY BE INDEPENDENTLY ASSOCIATED WITH SUICIDAL IDEATION ~ the SFVA released the following abstract:


The United States military has lost more troops to suicide than to combat for the second year in a row and better understanding combat-related risk factors for suicide is critical. We examined the association of killing and suicide among war veterans after accounting for PTSD, depression, and substance use disorders.


We utilized a cross-sectional, retrospective, nationally representative sample of Vietnam veterans from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). In order to perform a more in depth analysis, we utilized a subsample of these data, the NVVRS Clinical Interview Sample (CIS), which is representative of 1.3 million veterans who were eligible for the clinical interview by virtue of living in proximity to an interview site, located within 28 standard metropolitan regions throughout the United States.


Veterans who had higher killing experiences had twice the odds of suicidal ideation, compared to those with lower or no killing experiences, and substance use disorders were each associated with higher odds of suicidal ideation. Endorsement of suicide attempts was most strongly associated with PTSD.


Killing experiences are not routinely examined when assessing suicide risk. Our findings have important implications for conducting suicide risk assessments in veterans of war. See Report:

These findings offer even more justification for our heart centered workshops for combat veterans as well as other heart centered therapy. We’re talking about soul damage here and only a heart centered intervention can effectively treat  that psychic despondency ~ as I have consistently demonstrated with combat veterans who have virtually all participated in killing experiences.
And therein lies my point ~ there are most definitely other effective and proven ways to handle PTSD other than throwing a bagful of drugs at them and one of them is the heart centered Healing The Wounded Heart workshops we are facilitating with Veterans with PTSD in Northern California.  

I have long felt and have now proved that PTSD is really Post Traumatic Heart Disorder for a common symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the inability to give or receive love ~ which can obviously apply to non veterans who have also suffered significant loss or emotional childhood and/or adult pain.

I have clearly demonstrated that only after the heart is touched can true self healing occur for only then does the client (veterans or otherwise) truly want to heal.  Using the premise that what is deepest within us is love (not anger) and utilizing an action oriented approach to face and go through their heart felt fears ~ these veterans, soon discover that beneath their pain, anger and shame is not only love and joy but most importantly their true authentic self.

The purpose then of the Healing the Wounded Heart Workshops is to penetrate the grey zone of guilt, aloneness and unworthiness, that many combat War Veterans diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experience, and this is done within a supportive group setting through heart centered self exploration, group sharing, guided visualization and action oriented homework ~ where love and joy eventually overcome fear and separation.

I call each one of these 8 week (once a week) workshops The Band of Brothers and nine of them have already been completed since early 2010 and Band of Brothers #10 will commence in early May 2012.

Using Band of Brothers #5 as an example ~ 21 PTSD symptoms were included on the evaluation survey and the veterans were asked to rate their level on the 1-10 scale ( with 1 being Very Poor “ and 10 being No Problem” for each of the PTSD conditions Before and After the workshop. Here are the after workshop results ~ with an average symptom improvement of 59%.

Symptoms / After workshop % Improvements

Sleep Problem              67%
Nightmares                    62%
Trouble breathing          15%
Avoidance                      63%
Isolation                        69%
Emotional Numbing       74%
Irritability/Anger          70%
Anxiety                            53%
Depression                     65%
Suicidal Ideations          41%
Intrusive Memories        58%
Super alert issues         58%
Concentration issues     55%
Energy                            57%
Feeling Joy                   75%
Fear of intimacy           63%
Physical pain                  36%
Emotional pain             65%
Love                               59%
Peace                             69%
Compassion                 41%
Gratitude                       75%

The figures speak for themselves but the one that leap out at me is the 75% improvement in Joy and gratitude. These combat veterans have not only survived the ultimate firefight of battling fear on the journey to their heart but are now experiencing the delight of not only being themselves but the joy and gratitude that they are truly healing themselves and can finally begin to give and receive love.

Here are two participants comments from their workshop evaluation;  "I have progressed farther in the workshop’s 8 weeks than I have in 25 years of on-and off private therapy. I've been given a very informative look at myself. I understand much more about my own experiences. So many answers to so many questions. I feel alive!  Gaining a different perspective on life helps me to see my true self. It's nice to feel love and a sense of self-worth"

"My quick temper and bouts with anger are gone. My dreams are no longer violent and I have not flown out of bed since the workshop. I am able to fall asleep and remain asleep. My relationships with my wife and family have improved immensely. The comradeship that grew with the other participants was wonderful. I feel very strongly that the “ Healing The wounded Heart “ workshop should be added to the VA’s inventory of most effective tools used in re-adjustment counseling to combat the life destroying effects of PTSD.”

There can be no more excuses for the VA to not fund a heart centered approach to working with Veterans with PTSD which is now being privately funded by the California Veterans Support foundation, legion Posts such as Jack London Post 489 in Sonoma, California and local Vietnam support groups like VVA Chapter 702 in Napa, California.

If combat veterans are responding positively to these once a week eight week action oriented heart centered workshops ~ it’s time for the VA to open the door to alternative healing methodologies which the rest of the country are already acknowledging, supporting and experiencing.

Sal Ueda, LSW, an Adjustment counselor at the Concord Vet Center commented on General Chiarelli’s article and the need for a heart centered approach ~ “Unless we finally realize that true peace is never solved by War and stop continuing to use young men to help resolve world differences, we will continue the consequences of the "rude awakening" of wars, with its wounding of the soul. Through the Healing of the Wounded Heart Workshops we are witnessing war veterans go through transformations in reconnecting with their true self (spirituality) and reclaiming inner compassion, Love and Peace. I express my gratefulness to you General Chiarelli for questioning our state of mental health affair and advocacy. I have great faith in our human capacity to heal, and the availability of complimentary heart centered modalities out-side current mainstream treatment boxes that assist the healing process. The system needs to look at these modalities seriously, incorporate or fund them, and make them readily accessible.”

Four star general Peter Chiarelli should be given a fifth star for finally publicly acknowledging that there are more effective ways of dealing with our emotionally wounded veterans than just throwing a bagful of drugs at them ~ and hopefully shift veteran’s treatment focus from just symptom management and coping toward the real impact of trauma experiences on the human soul - the detachment or quite often further disconnection from one's inner spirituality, well being and above all capacity to give and receive love.

Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them for it alone takes them and joins them to what is deepest within themselves ~ Teilhard de Chardin

Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his  weblog and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on

Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and psychotherapist Allen L Roland is also available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations ( )

Sunday, April 22, 2012


It’s the 100th year anniversary of Boston’s Fenway Park but to millions of fans it’s the celebration of the Green Monster ~ the popular nickname for the thirty-seven foot, two-inch (11.33 m) high left field wall and home to the Boston Red Sox ~ the heroes of my youth: Allen L Roland

The Red Sox opened Fenway Park with a 7-6 victory over the New York Highlanders on April 20, 1912. The Highlanders soon became the Yankees, and the rivalry between the two clubs blossomed into what some consider the best in sports ~but what makes Fenway Park truly special is the Green Monster situated only 310 feet from home plate and a constant alluring target for any right handed hitter.

By the way, on the recent centennial birthday of Fenway Park, a day filled with ceremony, tears and recollection, the Yankees hit five home runs to ruin the party and decisively beat the Red Sox 6 - 2 ~ a familiar story this year, but I digress.

I grew up just north of Boston in the resort village of Nahant but I was an avid Red Sox fan and daily re-created games with my twin brother in the open field of the Thompson club across the street from our home. Some days I’d be Vern Stephens or Ted Williams and my twin would be Mel Parnell or Denny Galehouse and we’d re-create Fenway Park using the high tennis court wall as the Green Monster.

John Smoltz describes what makes Fenway Park so special and how easy it actually is, even for pitchers, to conquer the Green Monster ~ two minute video

The 1950s were viewed as a time of tribulation for the Red Sox. After Ted Williams returned from the Korean War in 1953, many of the best players from the late 1940s had retired or been traded. The stark contrast in the team led critics to call the Red Sox' daily lineup "Ted Williams and the Seven Dwarfs." And get this ~ Jackie Robinson was worked out by the team at Fenway Park, however it appeared that owner Tom Yawkey did not want an African American player on his team at that time. Willie Mays also tried out for Boston and was highly praised by team scouts but once again Yawkey said no dice. Ted Williams hit .388 at the age of 38 in 1957, but there was little else for Boston fans to root for.

But in 1953, my childhood dream and constant fantasy of playing on the hallowed infield of Fenway Park and facing the inviting target of the Green Monster became a reality.

My High School Baseball team, Lynn English fighting Bulldogs ~ on which I played shortstop, had raced through the season and tenaciously fought our way into the state High School championship game ~ which was played at Fenway Park. My twin brother, Bob, played third base and together we anchored the left side of the infield.

Oh my God! I was going to play short stop where my idol Vern Stephens played every day for the Red Sox ~ I was going to have the chance to face the Green Monster and maybe, just maybe, launch one into the nets. Our manager, Dave Barry, was just as excited as we were and I’m sure couldn’t believe that this ragtag group of over achievers had made it this far.

I remember that game like it happened yesterday ~ but it actually happened 59 years ago!

As we took infield practice I noticed that the infield was slightly rounded, probably for drainage reasons, and it might effect my throws to first base ~ but that thought was quickly forgotten, to my consternation, in my moment of reverie ~ I’m playing shortstop at Fenway Park!

Jim Leonard was on the mound for us but he was pitching on a few days rest and obviously did not have his best stuff. Arlington was a powerhouse team and their pitcher threw lightning bolts ~ we were definitely the underdog but who cared ~ we were playing at Fenway!

My first groundball was an adventure ~ a slow roller which I swooped in on (ala Vern Stephens ) and promptly threw it, much to my chagrin, into the opposing dugout. I vividly remember looking out to right field where my best friend and our best hitter, Chico Barrasso, was laughing into his glove.

But now for my big moment versus the green Monster. I was an average hitter, batting about .333 with most of my hits being soft line drives or ground balls through the hole ~ but I could really run. I was batting fifth; the Arlington pitcher was throwing darts and obviously was over powering our Bulldog hitters when I stepped to the plate.

I never saw the first pitch before I heard it hit the catcher’s glove. Jesus, how am I going to hit this guy!

I just closed my eyes and swung as hard as I could at the next pitch ~ and then it happened ~ I heard the crack of the ball hitting the bat and as I ran toward first base, I glanced over my left shoulder and, lo and behold, there was my hit ball rising in an arc toward the Green Monster in left field ~ I couldn’t believe it, I literally stopped in my tracks as I watched the ball hit about 20 feet up the wall and bounce back towards the infield. A sure double became a single as I barely got to first base.

I hit the Green Monster! The rest of the game was inconsequential, we lost 9 to 3, committed numerous errors and Dave Barry got thrown out for arguing a called strike ~ but made the most of his dream of managing at Fenway by kicking dirt on the umpire.

As such, the Green Monster forever lives in my memory of personal triumphs but it was soon replaced six years later after I graduated from College, Joined the Navy as an aviator and was busy living another childhood dream ~ flying supersonic jets off the deck of the USS Ranger on the South China Sea.

It’s all about dreams and having the courage to live them. I guess I’ve been luckier, in that regard, than most ~ but leaving a dent on the Green Monster, even with my eyes closed, started the ball rolling.

Allen L Roland

Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on

Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and psychotherapist Allen L Roland is also available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations ( )

Friday, April 20, 2012


"The sheer beauty of it just brought tears to my eyes. If people can see Earth from up here, see it without those borders, see it without any differences in race or religion, they would have a completely different perspective. Because when you see it from that angle, you cannot think of your home or your country. All you can see is one Earth." Anousheh Ansari, Iranian-American space tourist, describing planet Earth from space.

April 22 is Earth Day and a time to reflect on our magnificent planet ~ where we have all spent at least several lifetimes ~ and who patiently awaits our innate and collective need to unite as well as an inevitable evolutionary shift from ego to universal soul consciousness: Allen L Roland

To fully understand Earth, we must see her as fully human and capable of feelings; She’s alive, she’s breathing, and she’s beautiful, finite and hurting ~ and many have died for her. Five minute must see video

And here’s a great example of how we are now hurting the planet courtesy of BP, Deepwater Horizon and Halliburton ~ while the controlled press ignores this continuing catastrophe: "The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."

Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists / Dahl Jamail 3 minute video

In celebration of Earth Day 2012, here's a song I sang and recorded with composer Scott Deturk and Mel Martin in early 2002 which celebrates our eternal Mother Earth. Click on and enjoy ~

You are My Mother, Earth

As Robert C. Koehler writes in Common Dreams (When We Grow Up, We Will Fall in Love with Earth) We must fall in love with the Earth ~ this “dynamic system,” in the words of the Bolivian legislation acknowledging its rights, “made up of the undivided community of all living beings, who are all interconnected, interdependent and complementary, sharing a common destiny.”

Allen L Roland

Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on

Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and psychotherapist Allen L Roland is also available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations ( )

Monday, April 16, 2012


The War on Terror has become the Orwellian War of Terror and there is no better example than Tarek Mehanna, a 29-year old pharmacist and America citizen from Sudbury, Massachusetts, who was recently sentenced to 17 years in prison for emailing friends, downloaded videos, translating and posting documents on the web, traveling to and from Yemen in 2004 for eight weeks and, get this, refusing to be an FBI informant: Allen L Roland

"They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening." - George Orwell

The charade of the War On Terror continues unabated for the rest of the world but it has rightfully become the War of Terror to millions of increasingly concerned Americans who are seeing their constitution and civil liberties disintegrate under the Obama administration ~ with no better example than the recent unjust case and conviction of Tarek Mehanna. For background details on the case, see:

The clearest defense of Tarek Mehanna’s actions came from Mehanna himself, in the following statement which he read during his sentencing, and which I hope you take the time to read in full ~ for it is indeed a clear explanation of the principles of self-defense, from an American perspective, and understandably from the perspective of a Muslim American. It was those principles that motivated Mehanna, principles which he refused to disown, even when trapped and betrayed by the FBI for the "crime" of refusing to become an informant ~ as he explained in this key passage from his statement:

"This trial was not about my position on Muslims killing American civilians. It was about my position on Americans killing Muslim civilians, which is that Muslims should defend their lands from foreign invaders ~ Soviets, Americans, or Martians. This is what I believe. It’s what I’ve always believed, and what I will always believe. This is not terrorism, and it’s not extremism. It’s the simple logic of self-defense.”

Of course, the Main Stream Media would not touch this story but Russia Today, to their credit, did with this short video. Seven minute video ~

Tarek Mehanna’s full statement, read to Judge O’Toole during his sentencing, April 12, 2012 (With my bolded emphasis)

“ In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful,

Exactly four years ago this month I was finishing my work shift at a local hospital. As I was walking to my car I was approached by two federal agents. They said that I had a choice to make: I could do things the easy way, or I could do them the hard way. The "easy" way, as they explained, was that I would become an informant for the government, and if I did so I would never see the inside of a courtroom or a prison cell. As for the hard way, this is it. Here I am, having spent the majority of the four years since then in a solitary cell the size of a small closet, in which I am locked down for 23 hours each day. The FBI and these prosecutors worked very hard ~ and the government spent millions of tax dollars ~ to put me in that cell, keep me there, put me on trial, and finally to have me stand here before you today to be sentenced to even more time in a cell.

In the weeks leading up to this moment, many people have offered suggestions as to what I should say to you. Some said I should plead for mercy in hopes of a light sentence, while others suggested I would be hit hard either way. But what I want to do is just talk about myself for a few minutes.

When I refused to become an informant, the government responded by charging me with the "crime" of supporting the mujahideen fighting the occupation of Muslim countries around the world. Or as they like to call them, "terrorists." I wasn’t born in a Muslim country, though. I was born and raised right here in America and this angers many people: how is it that I can be an American and believe the things I believe, take the positions I take? Everything a man is exposed to in his environment becomes an ingredient that shapes his outlook, and I’m no different. So, in more ways than one, it’s because of America that I am who I am.

When I was six, I began putting together a massive collection of comic books. Batman implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors, there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the oppressed. This resonated with me so much that throughout the rest of my childhood, I gravitated towards any book that reflected that paradigm ~ Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I even saw an ethical dimension to The Catcher in the Rye.

By the time I began high school and took a real history class, I was learning just how real that paradigm is in the world. I learned about the Native Americans and what befell them at the hands of European settlers. I learned about how the descendants of those European settlers were in turn oppressed under the tyranny of King George III. I read about Paul Revere, Tom Paine, and how Americans began an armed insurgency against British forces ~ an insurgency we now celebrate as the American revolutionary war. As a kid I even went on school field trips just blocks away from where we sit now. I learned about Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown, and the fight against slavery in this country. I learned about Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, and the struggles of the labor unions, working class, and poor. I learned about Anne Frank, the Nazis, and how they persecuted minorities and imprisoned dissidents. I learned about Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and the civil rights struggle. I learned about Ho Chi Minh, and how the Vietnamese fought for decades to liberate themselves from one invader after another. I learned about Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Everything I learned in those years confirmed what I was beginning to learn when I was six: that throughout history, there has been a constant struggle between the oppressed and their oppressors. With each struggle I learned about, I found myself consistently siding with the oppressed, and consistently respecting those who stepped up to defend them ~ regardless of nationality, regardless of religion. And I never threw my class notes away. As I stand here speaking, they are in a neat pile in my bedroom closet at home.

From all the historical figures I learned about, one stood out above the rest. I was impressed by many things about Malcolm X, but above all, I was fascinated by the idea of transformation, his transformation. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie "X" by Spike Lee, it’s over three and a half hours long, and the Malcolm at the beginning is different from the Malcolm at the end. He starts off as an illiterate criminal, but ends up a husband, a father, a protective and eloquent leader for his people, a disciplined Muslim performing the Hajj in Makkah, and finally, a martyr.

Malcolm’s life taught me that Islam is not something inherited; it’s not a culture or ethnicity. It’s a way of life, a state of mind anyone can choose no matter where they come from or how they were raised. This led me to look deeper into Islam, and I was hooked. I was just a teenager, but Islam answered the question that the greatest scientific minds were clueless about, the question that drives the rich & famous to depression and suicide from being unable to answer: what is the purpose of life? Why do we exist in this Universe? But it also answered the question of how we’re supposed to exist. And since there’s no hierarchy or priesthood, I could directly and immediately begin digging into the texts of the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, to begin the journey of understanding what this was all about, the implications of Islam for me as a human being, as an individual, for the people around me, for the world; and the more I learned, the more I valued Islam like a piece of gold. This was when I was a teen, but even today, despite the pressures of the last few years, I stand here before you, and everyone else in this courtroom, as a very proud Muslim.

With that, my attention turned to what was happening to other Muslims in different parts of the world. And everywhere I looked, I saw the powers that be trying to destroy what I loved. I learned what the Soviets had done to the Muslims of Afghanistan. I learned what the Serbs had done to the Muslims of Bosnia. I learned what the Russians were doing to the Muslims of Chechnya. I learned what Israel had done in Lebanon ~ and what it continues to do in Palestine ~ with the full backing of the United States. And I learned what America itself was doing to Muslims.

I learned about the Gulf War and the depleted uranium bombs that killed thousands and caused cancer rates to skyrocket across Iraq. I learned about the American-led sanctions that prevented food, medicine, and medical equipment from entering Iraq, and how ~ according to the United Nations ~ over half a million children perished as a result. I remember a clip from a '60 Minutes’ interview of Madeline Albright where she expressed her view that these dead children were "worth it." I watched on September 11th as a group of people felt driven to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings from their outrage at the deaths of these children. I watched as America then attacked and invaded Iraq directly. I saw the effects of 'Shock & Awe’ in the opening day of the invasion — the children in hospital wards with shrapnel from American missiles sticking out of their foreheads (of course, none of this was shown on CNN). I learned about the town of Haditha, where 24 Muslims ~ including a 76-year old man in a wheelchair, women, and even toddlers ~ were shot up and blown up in their bedclothes as they slept by US Marines. I learned about Abeer al-Janabi, a fourteen-year old Iraqi girl gang-raped by five American soldiers, who then shot her and her family in the head, then set fire to their corpses.

I just want to point out, as you can see; Muslim women don’t even show their hair to unrelated men. So try to imagine this young girl from a conservative village with her dress torn off, being sexually assaulted by not one, not two, not three, not four, but five soldiers. Even today, as I sit in my jail cell, I read about the drone strikes which continue to kill Muslims daily in places like Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Just last month, we all heard about the seventeen Afghan Muslims ~ mostly mothers and their kids ~ shot to death by an American soldier, who also set fire to their corpses. These are just the stories that make it to the headlines, but one of the first concepts I learned in Islam is that of loyalty, of brotherhood ~ that each Muslim woman is my sister, each man is my brother, and together, we are one large body who must protect each other. In other words, I couldn’t see these things beings done to my brothers & sisters ~ including by America ~ and remain neutral. My sympathy for the oppressed continued, but was now more personal, as was my respect for those defending them.

I mentioned Paul Revere ~ when he went on his midnight ride, it was for the purpose of warning the people that the British were marching to Lexington to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock, then on to Concord to confiscate the weapons stored there by the Minuteman. By the time they got to Concord, they found the Minuteman waiting for them, weapons in hand. They fired at the British, fought them, and beat them. From that battle came the American Revolution. There’s an Arabic word to describe what those Minutemen did that day. That word is: JIHAD, and this is what my trial was about.

All those videos and translations and childish bickering over 'Oh, he translated this paragraph’ and 'Oh, he edited that sentence,’ and all those exhibits revolved around a single issue: Muslims who were defending themselves against American soldiers doing to them exactly what the British did to America. It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to "kill Americans" at shopping malls or whatever the story was. The government’s own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word, who explained my beliefs. Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to prod me into one of their little "terror plots," but I refused to participate. Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this.

So, this trial was not about my position on Muslims killing American civilians. It was about my position on Americans killing Muslim civilians, which is that Muslims should defend their lands from foreign invaders ~ Soviets, Americans, or Martians. This is what I believe. It’s what I’ve always believed, and what I will always believe. This is not terrorism, and it’s not extremism. It’s the simple logic of self-defense. It’s what the arrows on that seal above your head represent: defense of the homeland. So, I disagree with my lawyers when they say that you don’t have to agree with my beliefs ~ no. Anyone with common sense and humanity has no choice but to agree with me. If someone breaks into your home to rob you and harm your family, logic dictates that you do whatever it takes to expel that invader from your home. But when that home is a Muslim land and that invader is the US military, for some reason the standards suddenly change. Common sense is renamed "terrorism" and the people defending themselves against those who come to kill them from across the ocean become "the terrorists" who are "killing Americans."

The mentality that America was victimized with when British soldiers walked these streets 2 ½ centuries ago is the same mentality Muslims are victimized by as American soldiers walk their streets today. It’s the mentality of colonialism. When Sgt. Bales shot those Afghans to death last month, all of the focus in the media was on him ~ his life, his stress, his PTSD, the mortgage on his home ~ as if he was the victim. Very little sympathy was expressed for the people he actually killed, as if they’re not real, they’re not humans. Unfortunately, this mentality trickles down to everyone in society, whether or not they realize it. Even with my lawyers, it took nearly two years of discussing, explaining, and clarifying before they were finally able to think outside the box and at least ostensibly accept the logic in what I was saying. Two years! If it took that long for people so intelligent, whose job it is to defend me, to de-program themselves, then to throw me in front of a randomly selected jury under the premise that they’re my "impartial peers," I mean, come on. I wasn’t tried before a jury of my peers because with the mentality gripping America today, I have no peers. Counting on this fact, the government prosecuted me ~ not because they needed to, but simply because they could.

I learned one more thing in history class: America has historically supported the most unjust policies against its minorities ~ practices that were even protected by the law ~ only to look back later and ask: 'what were we thinking?’ Slavery, Jim Crow, the internment of the Japanese during World War II ~ each was widely accepted by American society, each was defended by the Supreme Court. But as time passed and America changed, both people and courts looked back and asked 'What were we thinking?’ Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist by the South African government, and given a life sentence. But time passed, the world changed, they realized how oppressive their policies were, that it was not he who was the terrorist, and they released him from prison. He even became president. So, everything is subjective ~ even this whole business of "terrorism" and who is a "terrorist." It all depends on the time and place and who the superpower happens to be at the moment.

In your eyes, I’m a terrorist, I’m the only one standing here in an orange jumpsuit and it’s perfectly reasonable that I be standing here in an orange jumpsuit. But one day, America will change and people will recognize this day for what it is. They will look at how hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed and maimed by the US military in foreign countries, yet somehow I’m the one going to prison for "conspiring to kill and maim" in those countries ~ because I support the Mujahidin defending those people. They will look back on how the government spent millions of dollars to imprison me as a "terrorist," yet if we were to somehow bring Abeer al-Janabi back to life in the moment she was being gang-raped by your soldiers, to put her on that witness stand and ask her who the "terrorists" are, she sure wouldn’t be pointing at me.

The government says that I was obsessed with violence, obsessed with "killing Americans." But, as a Muslim living in these times, I can think of a lie no more ironic.”

Tarek Mehanna

The incredible fact about Tarek Mehanna’s statement of truth is that it could have been written, almost word for word, by many American online columnists, including me, who have been saying virtually the same thing about America’s illegal War Of Terror for several years ~ but who are now in danger, with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), of experiencing the same fate as Mehanna and most likely without due process. It is increasingly apparent that Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Obama will eventually go down in US history as the first American president to enshrine indefinite detention without legal due process.

Finally, as Roqayah Chamseddine writes in ICH ~ The Tarek Mehanna case confirms that Muslims remain the chief targets of the U.S. government’s ongoing, farcical “war on terror” but even more, the verdict in the Mehanna case threatens web surfers, writers, teachers, students, journalists and even academic researchers.” This case has made it possible for citizens of the United States of America, from all walks of life, to be charged with thought-crimes. As such, Orwellian conditions, described as being hallmarks of an oppressive State, are now right here at our front door.

Truth has no special time of its own. It’s hour is now ~ always and indeed then most truly when it seems unsuitable to actual circumstances: Albert Schweitzer


Allen L Roland

Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on

Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and psychotherapist Allen L Roland is also available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations ( )