UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 4, 2009

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT HAS DIFFERENT RULES FOR BACKERS OF ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

James G Abourezk, Counterpunch - Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman had been charged in 2005 with the crime of espionage; specifically, handing over to Israel secret information they had retrieved from Larry Franklin, who was then a policy analyst in the U.S. Defense Department, working for Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. Franklin pleaded guilty to relaying top secret information on Iran to Rosen and Weissman, and was sentenced to 12 years and 7 months in prison, a term he is currently serving.

In the New York Times story detailing the Justice Department's decision to drop the charges against Rosen and Weissman, the prosecutors claimed that the presiding federal judge, T.S. Ellis III, had raised the bar for the prosecution to prove its case against the two to a level they did not believe they could meet. The judge said that the prosecutors could only prevail if they could prove that Rosen and Weissman "knew that their distribution of the information would harm U.S. national security." That was enough to make them dismiss the charges. . .

Turn now the case of Sami Al-Arian, who was a college professor in Florida. Sami is a Palestinian, born in Kuwait. And why wasn't he born in Palestine like a good Palestinian should be? Because, most likely, his parents were chased out of Palestine when Israel undertook its ethnic cleansing of that land in order to create an exclusive Jewish state.

Al Arian was charged in 2005 in a 50 count indictment essentially with a plethora of terrorism charges. The trial lasted six months, with some 80 witnesses and 400 transcripts of intercepted phone conversations and faxes.

At the end of the prosecution's case, Al Arian's lawyers rested without offering any evidence or witnesses in his defense. After 13 days of deliberation, the jury acquitted Al Arian on 8 of 17 counts, and deadlocked on the other with 10 to 2 favoring acquittal. Two of the co-defendants charged along with Al Arian were totally acquitted.

Undaunted, the Justice Department prosecutors said they were considering re-trying Al Arian on the deadlocked jury charges, one of which carried a life sentence.

Rather than fighting on, Al Arian agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to contribute services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (which is designated as a terrorist organization, but which the FBI admitted during trial had never carried out an attack outside of Israel. The United States has designated a number of Palestinian liberation groups as terrorists at the behest of Israel—groups that have never attacked the United States).

Al Arian had spent years in solitary confinement awaiting his trial. As part of his plea agreement the prosecution agreed not to charge Al Arian with any other crimes, and Al Arian agreed to expedited deportation.

He was, however, nearly re-charged when he refused to testify against another Palestinian organization. He went on a hunger strike, dangerous for a diabetic, but finally the prosecutors agreed that the agreement exempted him from testifying in other cases.

One would have thought that, following the jury's decision, the bar set by the jury in the Al Arian case would be so high that the prosecution would finally leave him alone. But there is apparently a difference between a Palestinian patriot and Americans spying for Israel. One group has a powerful lobby in Washington, and the other has nothing, except the urging of that powerful lobby to go after any Palestinian activist with criminal charges or anything else they can get their hands on.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Even by wikipedia's biased account you can see the immense injustice. said...

Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
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Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
Type Defunct
Founded 1989
Headquarters Richardson, Texas
Key people Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook
Ghassan Elashi
Shukri Abu Baker
Haitham Maghawri
Mohammad el-Mezain
Akram Mishal
Mufid Abdulqader
Abdulraham Odeh
The Holy Land Foundation was the largest Islamic charity in the United States. It was formerly known as Occupied Land Fund.[1] It had its assests frozen by the European Union[2] and U.S., and shut down by the U.S. government following accusations of funding Hamas. During a 2008 trial of the charity leaders, it was dubbed "largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history." [3]

The organization's web site stated, "Our mission is to find and implement practical solutions for human suffering through humanitarian programs that impact the lives of the disadvantaged, disinherited, and displaced peoples suffering from man-made and natural disasters." Their primary area of focus was with the Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. They have also provided support to victims after disasters and wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Turkey, and in the United States (Iowa floods, Texas tornadoes, and the Oklahoma City bombing).

Contents [hide]
1 Terrorism charges
2 Chronology of events
3 July 2007 trial
3.1 Testimony and evidence in the trial against the Holy Land Foundation
3.2 Mistrial
3.3 Jurors' allegations of bullying
3.4 Convictions upon retrial
4 Related groups
5 Notes
6 See also
7 External links



[edit] Terrorism charges
In December 2001, the United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control designated Holy Land Foundation as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.[1] while the European Union froze its European Assets.[citation needed] Among the founders of the Holy Land Foundation is Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a political leader of Hamas, who provided substantial funds to the Holy Land Foundation in the early 1990s. In 1994, Marzook (who was named a Specially Designated Terrorist by the Treasury Department in 1995) designated HLF as the primary fund-raising entity for Hamas in the United States. He was deported from the United States to Jordan in 1997. Marzook was indicted on August 20, [2004 by a United States federal grand jury in Chicago, Illinois. He and two other individuals have been charged with a 15 year conspiracy to raise funds for terrorist attacks against Israel.

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was designated (December 4, 2001 and re-designated on May 31, 2002) under Executive Orders 13224(Bush) [4] and 12947 (Clinton)[5] as a charity that provided millions of dollars of material and logistical support to Hamas. HLF, originally known as the Occupied Land Fund, was established in California in 1989 as a tax-exempt charity. In 1992, HLF relocated to Richardson, Texas. It had offices in California, New Jersey, and Illinois, and individual representatives scattered throughout the United States, the West Bank, and Gaza. In the year 2000 alone, HLF raised over $13 million. According to the United States Department of Treasury, HLF had supported Hamas activities through direct fund transfers to its offices in the West Bank and Gaza that are affiliated with Hamas and transfers of funds to Islamic charity committees ("zakat committees") and other charitable organizations that are part of Hamas or controlled by Hamas members. The Department of Treasury also reported that HLF funds were used by Hamas to support schools that served Hamas ends by encouraging children to become suicide bombers and to recruit suicide bombers by offering support to their families.[6]


[edit] Chronology of events
In December 2001, the assets of the organization were frozen by the FBI and Treasury agents. Treasury officials conceded that a "substantial amount" of the money raised goes to worthy causes, but insisted that Holy Land's primary purpose has been to subsidize Hamas. Repeated appeals to the courts by the Holy Land Foundation to have the freeze lifted have failed.

On July 27, 2004, a federal grand jury in Dallas, Texas, returned a 42 count indictment against the Holy Land Foundation. [7] Charges include: conspiracy, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, tax evasion and money laundering. The indictment alleges that the Holy Land Foundation provided more than $12.4 million to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas from 1995 to 2001, when their asset were frozen. The indictment also names specific officers of the Holy Land Foundation: president Shukri Abu Baker; chairman, Ghassan Elashi; and executive director, Haitham Maghawri and four others: Mohammad el-Mezain, Akram Mishal, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulraham Odeh. Five of the seven have been arrested. Maghawri and Mishal have not been found and are considered fugitives.

In December 2004, a federal judge in the U.S. city of Chicago ruled that the Holy Land Foundation (along with the Islamic Association of Palestine and the Quranic Literacy Institute) was liable for a $156 million dollar lawsuit for aiding and abetting the militant group Hamas in the death of a 17-year-old American citizen called David Boim.[8]


[edit] July 2007 trial
A Holy Land Foundation criminal trial began on Monday, July 23, 2007, at the Earl Cabell Federal Building in Dallas, Texas. On Monday, October 22, 2007, Judge Joe Fish declared a mistrial for the government's case against the charity because jurors were deadlocked. Although 200 combined charges were filed against the defendants, the jurors had acquitted on some counts and were deadlocked on charges ranging from tax violations to providing material support for terrorists. One defendant was acquitted of most of the 32 charges against him. The New York Times reported: " The decision today is “a stunning setback for the government, there’s no other way of looking at it,” said Matthew D. Orwig, a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal here who was, until recently, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

“This is a message, a two-by-four in the middle of the forehead,” Mr. Orwig said. “If this doesn’t get their attention, they are just in complete denial,” he said of Justice Department officials, whom he said may not have recognized how difficult such cases are to prosecute."[9]

The Justice Department will retry the case on the charges where the jury reached no verdict.[10][11]


[edit] Testimony and evidence in the trial against the Holy Land Foundation
Critics faulted much of the evidence given during the trial. The New York Times journalist Leslie Eaton stated Israeli agents using pseudonyms testified for the prosecution. The government did not allege that the foundation paid directly for suicide bombings, but instead alleged that the foundation supported terrorism by sending more than $12 million to charitable groups, known as zakat committees, which build hospitals and feed the poor. The prosecution said the committees were controlled by Hamas and contributed to terrorism by helping Hamas spread its ideology and recruit supporters.[9]


[edit] Mistrial
After 19 days of deliberations, a jury in 2007 were unable to come to a definitive conclusion and the case ended in a mistrial. On November 4, 2007 the LA Times reported: "The nation's biggest terrorism finance case ended so badly for the government that it has thrown into question the Bush administration's original order to shut down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development six years ago."

Experts found the jury's inability to come to a definitive conclusion evidence of weakness in the government's ability to provide clear enough evidence against the charity.

The LA Times reported: "If the government can shut them down and then not convince a jury the group is guilty of any wrongdoing, then there is something wrong with the process," Georgetown University law professor David Cole said.[12]

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said the criminal trial derailed the government's long-publicized assertions about Holy Land. "From the beginning, the allegations were highly suspect and only got worse," said Turley, who has handled a number of national security cases.

"Indeed, Turley said, if the government had begun with the troubled criminal case, it might never have succeeded in closing down the foundation administratively because its disputed evidence would have come to light years ago."

Some jurors were skeptical of the government's case. The LA Times reported: "The government's allegations not only proved unpersuasive but engendered skepticism among some jurors.

"The whole case was based on assumptions that were based on suspicions," said juror Scroggins, who added: "If they had been a Christian or Jewish group, I don't think [prosecutors] would have brought charges against them."[12]

The federal government went through a retrial, beginning August 18, 2008.


[edit] Jurors' allegations of bullying
At least three jurors have complained publicly about one juror, William Neal, citing bullying tactics. There have been complaints that he cursed at and belittled fellow jurors for taking any positions that were in favor of conviction.[13]


[edit] Convictions upon retrial
On November 24, 2008, the government obtained guilty verdicts against the Holy Land Foundation and individual defendants. Because of the potential lengthy sentences for the criminal convictions, the individual defendants were remanded into custody without bail pending any appeal.[14]


[edit] Related groups
Mr. Ghassan Elashi, HLF chairman, is among the founders of the Texas branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Texas). Mr. Elashi was also vice president of InfoCom Corporation of Richardson, Texas, indicted along with Hamas' Marzook.[15] InfoCom, an Internet company shared personnel, office space, and board members with the HLF. The two organizations were formed in California around the same time, and both received seed money from Hamas leader Marzook.[16] InfoCom also maintained the web sites for HLF and IAP.[17]


[edit] Notes
^ a b (PDF) Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. United States Department of the Treasury. 2008-11-20. http://www.ustreas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/sdn/t11sdn.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ (PDF) 2005 EU list of banned individuals and groups. Official Journal of the European Union. 2005-12-23. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2005/l_340/l_34020051223en00800084.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ Agence France-PresseNovember 24, 2008
^ President George W. Bush (2001-09-25) (PDF). Executive Order 13224. United States Department of the Treasury. http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/legal/eo/13224.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ President Bill Clinton (1995-01-25) (PDF). Executive Order 12947. United States Department of the Treasury. http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/legal/eo/12947.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ Additional Background Information on Charities Designated Under Executive Order 13224
^ Attorney General John Ashcroft (2004-07-27). Prepared Remarks re: Holy Land Foundation Indictment. United States Department of Justice. http://www.justice.gov/archive/ag/speeches/2004/72704ag.htm. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ "Hamas victim's family get $156m". BBC. 2004-12-08. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4080499.stm. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ a b Eaton, Leslie (2007-10-22). "No Convictions in Trial Against Muslim Charity" (in English). The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/us/22cnd-holyland.htm. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ Trahan, Jason; Michael Grabell (2007-10-22). "Judge declares mistrial in Holy Land Foundation case". The Dallas Morning News (The Dallas Morning News, Inc.). http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/102207dnmetholyland.1878fd716.html. Retrieved on 2007-10-22.
^ Trahan, Jason; Michael Grabell (2007-10-22). "Holy Land Foundation mistrial another misstep for U.S. government". The Dallas Morning News (The Dallas Morning News, Inc.). http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/102207dnmetholylandanalysis.197291827.html. Retrieved on 2007-10-22.
^ a b "Weak case seen in failed trial of charity; Muslim relief group was shut based on charges that ended in mistrial.", by Greg Krikorian, Los Angeles Times, November 4, 2007, page A22.
^ Fechter, Michael (2007-12-10). "HLF JURY ROOM BULLYING". IPT News Service. http://www.investigativeproject.org/article/569.
^ "Guilty Verdicts in Holy Land Foundation Retrial". CBS 11 / TXA 21 Dallas Fort-Worth (CBS 11 / TXA 21 Dallas Fort-Worth). 2008-11-24. http://cbs11tv.com/local/holy.land.retrial.2.872727.html. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ United Stated Department of Justice (2002-12-18). Senior Leader of Hamas and Texas Computer Company Indicted for Conspiracy to Violate U.S. Ban on Financial Dealings with Terrorists. Press release. http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2002/December/02_crm_734.htm. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ Matthew A. Levitt (2002-08-01). Hearing on "The Role of Charities and NGOs in the Financing of Terrorist Activities.". Washington Institute for Near East Policy. http://banking.senate.gov/02_08hrg/080102/levitt.htm. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
^ Fact Sheet on the Elashi Brothers and InfoCom. SITE Intelligence Group. 2002-12-18. http://siteintelgroup.org/bin/articles.cgi?ID=news1902&Category=news&Subcategory=0. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.

[edit] See also
Sami Al-Arian
Hamas
Council on American-Islamic Relations

[edit] External links
Investigative report by Jordan C. Hirsch regarding the Holy Land Foundation trial The Current, a Columbia University journal
Selected Government Exhibits & Documents from U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation
Hungry for Justice
HLF.org archived by Library of Congress
Case Against Islamic Charity Opens The Washington Post July 25, 2007
Feeding Children is NOT a Crime!
Holy Land Foundation Shut Down islam.about.com
U.S. targets assets of suspected Hamas financiers CNN
September 11, 2001 Attack on America Shutting Down the Terrorist Financial Network December 4, 2001 Avalon Project at Yale Law School
U.S. Indicts Muslim Charity in Texas Associated Press
Muslim Charity Charged in U.S. with Funding Hamas Reuters
Bush Freezes Suspected Terror Assets Washington Post
The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development Anti-Defamation League
US pulls the plug on Muslim websites The Guardian
Weak case seen in failed trial of charity, LA Times, Nov. 4, 2007
Islamic Charity Says F.B.I. Falsified Evidence Against It The New York Times
"Jury awards $156M to family of teen in slain in West Bank"
"Supreme Court urged not to intervene in Times case - telephone records of Judith Miller and Philip Shenon"
The Holy Land Foundation Trial: The Family's Perspective
[1] Darling-Brekhus, Keith (2008) MA Thesis. Internal Colonialism and Social Control in the age of Terror: The FBI's War on Islamic Charities Following the September 11th Attacks of 2001

May 4, 2009 5:39 PM  
Anonymous stealing our country said...

On June 8, 1967, US Navy intelligence ship USS Liberty was suddenly and brutally attacked on the high seas in international waters by the air and naval forces of Israel. The Israeli forces attacked with full knowledge that this was an American ship and lied about it. Survivors have been forbidden for 40 years to tell their story under oath to the American public. The USS Liberty Memorial web site tells their story and is dedicated to the memory of the 34 brave men who died.




The Attack


After surveilling USS Liberty for more than nine hours with almost hourly aircraft overflights and radar tracking, the air and naval forces of Israel attacked our ship in international waters without warning. USS Liberty was identified as a US naval ship by Israeli reconnaissance aircraft nine hours before the attack and continuously tracked by Israeli radar and aircraft thereafter. Sailing in international waters at less than five knots, with no offensive armament, our ship was not a military threat to anyone.

The Israeli forces attacked without warning and without attempting to contact us. Thirty four Americans were killed in the attack and another 174 were wounded. The ship, a $40-million dollar state-of-the-art signals intelligence platform, was later declared unsalvageable and sold for scrap.





The Cover Up


Despite a near-universal consensus that the Israeli attack was made with full knowledge that USS Liberty was a US Navy ship, the Johnson administration began an immediate cover-up of this fact. Though administration officers continued individually to characterize the attack as deliberate, the Johnson administration never sought the prosecution of the guilty parties or otherwise attempted to seek justice for the victims. They concealed and altered evidence in their effort to downplay the attack. Though they never formally accepted the Israeli explanation that it was an accident, they never pressed for a full investigation either. They simply allowed those responsible literally to get away with murder.

In an ongoing effort to reveal the truth about the attack, the USS Liberty Veterans Association has filed with the Secretary of the Army in the manner prescribed by law a detailed, fully documented Report of War Crimes describing the circumstances of the attack on our ship and evidence that it was a crime under international law. In accordance with international law and treaties, the United States is obligated to investigate the allegations. So far, the United States has declined even to acknowledge that the report has been filed. The full text of the report can be found at http://www.gtr5.com/evidence/warcrimes.pdf




Anti-Semitism and the Anti-American Apologists


The USS Liberty Memorial web site abhors the racist and extreme positions taken by antiSemitic, Holocaust denial, conspiracy theorist and other such groups which often seek to identify with us and to usurp our story as their own. We have no connection with and do not support or encourage support from any of these groups including National Alliance, National Vanguard, The New Order, National Socialists, The French Connection, Liberty Lobby, American Free Press, Republic Broadcasting, AFP's Liberty Radio Hour, or other such groups. We wish harm to no one and encourage social justice and equality for everyone; we seek only accountability for the criminal acts perpetrated against us and can do that without help from hate-mongers.

On the Israeli side, the group of pro-Israel, anti-American critics of our story, while small, persists in launching loud, vicious ad hominem attacks on anyone who attempts to discuss the deliberateness of the attack. These anti-American apologists refuse to discuss the facts of the case. Instead, they rely on propaganda and charge anyone who questions the Israeli position with being antiSemitic.

For detailed and authoritative accounts of the power and influence of the pro-Israel lobby, please see The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy by Mearsheimer and Walt and The Pro-Israel Lobby by Edward Herman.



The Betrayal of American Veterans
.
Americans who volunteer for military service effectively write a blank check, payable to the United States of America for an amount "up to and including my life." The United States, in turn, promises to spend these checks responsibly. That bargain implicitly includes a promise by the United States to protect them and to seek retribution against anyone who harms them. In the case of USS Liberty, the United States has failed to keep its end of the bargain.






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** To visit the original USS Liberty memorial web site and database, please CLICK HERE.

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May 4, 2009 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dudes: ever heard of "links?"

May 4, 2009 11:30 PM  

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