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U.S. Campaign Produces Few Convictions on Terrorism Charges

131 Views 2 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  RowansDad
Yawn...yet another Dubya Inc. fib:

"On Thursday, President Bush stepped to a lectern at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus to urge renewal of the USA Patriot Act and to boast of the government's success in prosecuting terrorists.

"Flanked by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush said that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted."

"Those statistics have been used repeatedly by Bush and other administration officials, including Gonzales and his predecessor, John D. Ashcroft, to characterize the government's efforts against terrorism.

"But the numbers are misleading at best.

"An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people -- not 200, as officials have implied -- were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.

"Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law -- and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows. For the entire list, the median sentence was just 11 months."

"Taken as a whole, the data indicate that the government's effort to identify terrorists in the United States has been less successful than authorities have often suggested."

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Second part in the Post's series:

Immigration Law as Anti-Terrorism Tool

"Soul Khalil woke with a start. Her split-level home in Burke was shuddering, and the oppressive hum of a helicopter filled the room. Then she heard the pounding on the front door. "Police!" the voices yelled. She shook her husband. "Hassan! You hear that banging?" she later recalled saying.

"Her husband, in his shorts, stumbled into the hallway. At the end of it was a masked agent, his gun drawn. "Get down!" he yelled, according to the husband's recollection. The Lebanese immigrant dropped onto his stomach, and the officers cuffed his hands behind his back.

"The charge: lying on his immigration documents.


"Khalil's arrest is part of a broad anti-terrorism effort being waged with a seemingly innocuous weapon: immigration law. In the past two years, officials have filed immigration charges against more than 500 people who have come under scrutiny in national security investigations, according to previously undisclosed government figures. Some are ultimately found to have no terrorism ties, officials acknowledge.

Whereas terrorism charges can be difficult to prosecute, Homeland Security officials say immigration laws can provide a quick, easy way to detain people who could be planning attacks. Authorities have also used routine charges such as overstaying a visa to deport suspected supporters of terrorist groups.

"It's an incredibly important piece of the terrorism response," said Michael J. Garcia, who heads Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. And although immigration violations might seem humdrum, he said, "They're legitimate charges."

"Muslim and civil liberties activists disagree. They argue that authorities are enforcing minor violations by Muslims and Arabs, while ignoring millions of other immigrants who flout the same laws.

"They note that many of those charged are not shown to be involved in terrorism, including Khalil, a cellular-telephone technician who was freed by a judge pending his immigration trial and denies any connection to terrorism. Federal officials said they could not discuss any national security aspects of the case because it involves an ongoing investigation.

"The approach is basically to target the Muslim and Arab community with a kind of zero-tolerance immigration policy. No other community in the U.S. is treated to zero-tolerance enforcement," said David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor and critic of the government's anti-terrorism policies."

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Good quick analysis of the Post's series and Dubya Inc.'s policies here:

"The government has increasingly taken a very hard line on immigration enforcement as a way to tighten up its anti-terrorism enforcement. There are some good arguments for doing so; had immigration and customs enforcement been tougher, perhaps some of the 9/11 hijackers might have been caught. Nonetheless, there is also great potential for blowback from these policies. The cliche is true - we are a nation of immigrants. Further, our security depends on our ability to develop networks within these Middle Eastern immigrant communities and cultivate them for intelligence and operational gain.

"There's a very difficult balance to be struck between hard-line immigration enforcement which will catch the bad guys - and enlightened immigration enforcement which will build us support in these communities."

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