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NYT Crows Over “Terror Prosecution Missteps”

From the New York Times:

Mistrial Is Latest Terror Prosecution Misstep for U.S.

October 24, 2007


There was a time when federal prosecutors would consistently win terrorism prosecutions.

From 1993 to 2001, prosecutors in Manhattan convicted some three dozen terrorists through guilty pleas and in six major trials.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the government’s track record has been decidedly spottier, and its failure to obtain a single conviction on Monday in its terrorism-financing prosecution of what was once the nation’s largest Islamic charity was another in a series of missteps and setbacks.

The comparisons are in some ways unfair, as the earlier prosecutions were for completed acts of violence — like the first World Trade Center attack or the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa — or for conspiracies that were relatively close to fruition.

The recent ones have often relied on the less colorful charge that the defendants had given “material support” to a terrorist organization. That shift is itself reflective of a conscious change in Washington’s law enforcement strategy, to prevention from punishment.

But some scholars and former prosecutors say the government should have known better than to bring some of its recent failed cases and that a lack of selectivity and judgment, along with a reliance on stale evidence and links to groups not at the core of the current threat, may be harming the effort to combat terrorism.

The pre-9/11 cases brought in Manhattan, said Peter S. Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, “reflected U.S. attorneys and federal prosecutors at their best, using their discretion, bringing cases when they had strong cases and declining to bring them when they were weak.”

How successful the more recent prosecutions have been depends on what is being counted. In cases trying to prove material support for terrorism, the government’s success rate is “pretty reasonable,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at Wake Forest University.

From the Sept. 11 attacks to last July, the government started 108 material-support prosecutions and completed 62, according to an article by Professor Chesney that is to appear in The Lewis & Clark Law Review. Juries convicted 9 defendants, 30 defendants pleaded guilty, and 11 pleaded guilty to other charges. There were eight acquittals and four dismissals.

“They do lose sometimes,” Professor Chesney said. “But they win more often than they lose. It’s not one loss after another.”

Material-support cases are just a small fraction of what the Justice Department counts as terrorism prosecutions, and in the larger picture the government is not doing nearly as well. According to the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law, the government has a 29 percent conviction rate in terrorism prosecutions overall, compared with 92 percent for felonies generally…

Has any organization done more than the New York Times to make it harder to prosecute these terrorists and their enablers?

The Times has done all it can to propagandize for groups like the Holy Land Foundation, and to poison the mind of potential jurors that those accused are merely the victims of Islamophobia.

And now the Quislings there pretend to be dismayed at the outcome.

Meanwhile even this “article” is really an argument that the Holy Land Foundation folks should be allowed to walk. The government won when it froze their assets.

Nevermind that many of the participants have already moved on to other front groups.

Of course they are one the same side as the New York Times, so it should be no surprise that the Solons there should be rooting for their release and hoping they can continue to flourish.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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