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CNN Overlooks Torture By Israeli Forces To Smear Women’s Rights Advocate Facing Deportation

Recognizing the United States government would probably deport her eventually whether she won or lost her case, Rasmea Odeh pled guilty to a charge that she “procured” U.S. citizenship by failing to disclose she was previously convicted of a crime by an Israeli military court in 1969.

The plea was anticipated. That did not make it any less difficult for the 69 year-old associate director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Chicago, who is well-known for her work advocating for women’s rights.

As Charlotte Silver reported for The Electronic Intifada, Odeh was “clearly emotional as she stood before” Judge Gershwin Drain. She was asked a number of times if she was guilty.

“I think to sign this, it makes me guilty,” Odeh said after a long pause, as she showed the court a copy of the plea agreement, which she signed in March.

Odeh will return to court in August for a sentencing hearing. Thereafter, she will be deported from the country.

This was a political case from the beginning, but one would not know that from reading CNN’s atrocious coverage of Odeh’s plea, which reads like something reporters put together after consulting far-right ideologue and Islamophobe David Horowitz’s “Discover the Networks” website.

In the lead of the story, CNN reports that a “Chicago-area resident who participated in two terror attacks in Israel” pled guilty. It adds Odeh admitted to being convicted “for her role in two bombings” and that she “had willingly omitted that information from her U.S. citizenship application.”

What CNN ignored was the torture Odeh experienced at the hands of the Israeli military. She was subjected to electric shocks. She was raped, and CNN could easily find this because it was described in vivid detail in the same court documents referenced in CNN’s report.

Dr. Mary Fabri, a psychologist who the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled was improperly blocked from giving testimony on torture at Odeh’s trial in 2014, wrote in her submitted affidavit about what Odeh endured.

It was Eid. Soldiers forced their way into her home and removed her. She was taken away separately from her father and sisters.

“Ms. Odeh described being forced into a vehicle by Israeli soldiers, who beat her, called her names, and threatened her. She was taken to a jail and interrogated. She reported that the beatings continued during the questioning, that wooden sticks and metal bars were used to hit her, as well as open hands and fists,” Fabri recalled.

Soldiers kicked her and threatened her with sexual violence. She was moved to a jail in Moscovia in Jersualem. There they put her in a room with her father. Soldiers told her father they would rape Odeh. The soldiers also named men who had sex with his daughter.

“Her body was covered with dark bruising, and her face was swollen and bruised as well,” Fabri added. “She said she often fainted or lost consciousness. She described feeling ‘broken, tired, and unable to move, like a dead body.” She also said she was left naked most of the time and tortured in front of the detained men and that this was a “big shame for everyone.”

Furthermore, Odeh recalled an experience where she was brought to a room naked. The soldiers chained her arms and legs so her legs were spread wide open. Detained men were brought into the room. She was told they would have sex with her. “She recognized one of the men as her fiancé. She stated that she does not know what happened because ‘I fainted.'”

The torture worsened. She was taken into one room at one point and had electric wires attached to her chest, abdomen, genitals, and legs and arms. She was told by interrogators she would be killed with electricity “if she did not tell them everything.” Other prisoners heard her as she was tortured by electricity, and they were told they would face the same treatment if they did not “provide information.”

None of this appears in the CNN report. The possibility that Israeli military forces tortured her to obtain a confession is not even contemplated.

It does, however, mirror the profile written on Horowitz’s website aimed at fueling hysteria toward Muslim and Arab immigrants. CNN even ties her to the Popular Front For the Liberation Of Palestine by referencing documents from prosecutors.

CNN claims it was unable to reach Michael Deutsch, Odeh’s defense attorney, for comment, but he was outside of the courthouse following the plea hearing.

As Deutsch previously contended, the government “took an immigration case, which was about allegedly lying on your naturalization application, and made it into a case about terrorism.”

“Even if we were successful in winning that case, which would be difficult, they could still move to de-naturalize her through the immigration law, which has a wholly lesser standard and gain the same result that she would be deported.”

While Odeh was granted a new trial, Deutsch believed the political climate was such that she would be convicted and then imprisoned for 18 months or more before deportation.

As difficult as it is for Odeh to take the deal, she will serve no jail time prior to deportation and have the opportunity to mostly move out of the cross-hairs of the U.S. Justice Department.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."