Monday, November 5, 2007

Going Above And Beyond

In a stunning defeat for the US Government’s war on the financing of terrorism, a federal judge declared a mistrial when the jury could not reach a verdict in the case. The case began in 2001 when President Bush froze the assets of the Holy Land Foundation of Relief and Development for what he described as fundraising for Hamas. According to the government, the organization was a front for Hamas and that it was secretly controlled by Hamas which the US has declared a terrorist organization.

DALLAS, Oct. 22 — A federal judge declared a mistrial on Monday in what was widely seen as the government’s flagship terrorism-financing case after prosecutors failed to persuade a jury to convict five leaders of a Muslim charity on any charges, or even to reach a verdict on many of the 197 counts.

The case, involving the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its backers, is the government’s largest and most complex legal effort to shut down what it contends is American financing for terrorist organizations in the Middle East.

The case involved 197 counts, including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. It also involved years of investigation and preparation, almost two months of testimony and more than 1,000 exhibits, including documents, wiretaps, transcripts and videotapes dug up in a backyard in Virginia.[1]

The government’s case was primarily smoke and mirrors provided by the Israelis who had wanted the organization shut down for political reasons. After all, they were building hospitals and taking care of orphan Palestinian children for God’s sake. The government had accused the group of providing material support to Hamas and funding terrorism. As one juror stated the case was weak on facts and strong on innuendo. The government has gotten to the point where if they mention the word terrorists or terrorism they expect the US people to cower and assent to whatever the government wants.

While this is a victory for the defendants in this case, it is also a victory for the American public. It seems that we as a nation are starting to finally come out of the haze of 9/11 with its fear and unquestioned loyalty and are now saying enough is enough. The politics of fear and divisiveness has run its course. Anyone foolish enough to try to run on those terms in this election cycle is going to be sadly mistaken and I predict soundly defeated. It is time we as a nation moved past 9/11 and the era of Bush and his Neo-Con cronies and begin to rebuild our faith and trust in each other and in the world.

Despite popular belief everyone in the world does not hate America, they hate what we allowed America to become under these wing-nuts. I guarantee that if we are willing to move beyond 9/11, the world will once again embrace us with open arms. Does that mean that the terrorists will stop targeting America? Of course not, but we will begin to enlist the support of the world again which is important because we cannot win this fight alone. All people seeking true freedom must rely on each other to overcome the forces of tyranny that have hijacked the country after 9/11.

David D. Cole, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, said the jury’s verdict called into question the government’s tactics in freezing the assets of charities using secret evidence that the charities cannot see, much less rebut. When, at trial, prosecutors “have to put their evidence on the table, they can’t convict anyone of anything,” he said. “It suggests the government is really pushing beyond where the law justifies them going.”

And Jimmy Gurulé, who was an under secretary of the Treasury when that agency froze Holy Land’s assets, described the outcome as “the continuation of what I now see as a trend of disappointing legal defeats” in terror-financing cases. Two previous cases, in Illinois and in Florida, ended with hung juries and relatively minor plea deals, he said.[2]

The time has come for the American courts to begin curtailing the overreach in authority by the government that has occurred post 9/11. I would never want to see another terrorist attack anywhere and especially in America, but the thing I admire about other countries who live with the threat daily is they continue to function in spite of the threat. They accept the threat for what it is, but they continue to go about their business despite it. The threat to America is real; the response to the threat is not. Allowing the government to over step its boundaries under the pretext of national security is wrong, it was wrong in the past and it is wrong today.

I would expect the government to try and push beyond their scope, but what I didn’t expect was for so many Americans to give in without a fight. I guess the truth be told, we really don’t have a clue how democracy works. This is sad, that after 300 years one day, one event could cause so many to give up their freedoms so quickly. How could the voices of freedom go silent in the face of tyranny? I applaud the juries that are not allowing the government to railroad innocents and ruin lives. It’s funny that whenever a government case goes before a jury, the results are never what they expect. The average American has more courage and more common sense than those clowns on Capitol Hill, who are suppose to be protecting us and yet continue to kowtow to the bullies in the White House.

[2] Ibid.

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