Law and Disorder Radio – Verdict Against Holy Land Charity – Legislation to Stop Preemptive Pardons – Harper’s Magazine Panel: Justice After Bush (Part 1) – Hosts: Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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Verdict Against Holy Land Charity Could Have a Chilling Effect on the Muslim Community

Last month, a jury in Dallas, Texas found five Palestinian men guilty of more than 100 charges in the nation’s largest terrorism financing trial since 9/11. We talk with Laila Al-Arian, a Washington-based journalist, who recently wrote a powerful Alternet article about this case and its impact on Muslim charities.

As many listeners may know, Holy Land was the largest Muslim charity in the United States, the the Bush administration shut it down after the September 11th attacks, and arrested five officials from the charity. In her article Al-Arian describes how the prosecution use unrelated video of suicide bombers to emotionally sway the jury. We’re later joined by Linda Moreno, a defense attorney in the case.

Laila Al-Arian:

  • One of the witnesses (in this recent case) was an expert witness, he was a Shin Bet agent.
  • The way the US government is trying to prove that these Zakat Committees are funding Hamas is through the testimony of this Israeli witness. The testimony can’t be authenticated.
  • The first time in a US court room that an expert witness, not a fact witness, testified under a pseudonym.
  • How do you detect perjury, or how does the defense cross-examine without background.
  • Expert witness lied to the jury about the Zakat committees being tied to Hamas
  • What you’re really doing is prosecuting an Israeli Palestinian conflict in an American courtroom.
  • For Muslims giving charity is a religious obligation.
  • There will be an appeal on the grounds of the expert witness Shin Bet agent.
  • Joe Lieberman and George Bush commented on the verdict of this case.
  • All this does is punish people who are suffering, and punishing those who want to help them.

Linda Moreno:

  • The government began its exhibit with a photograph of a bombed out bus, which had nothing to do with the accused in the Holy Land case.
  • They also showed video of children doing skits, an art form that is a result of culture under occupation.
  • Children in the US get to play violent video games, but they get to turn that off and go back to the safety of their home, go into your bedroom and shut the door. When you’re a Palestinian child, you don’t have that luxury.
  • We know because we proved in both trials, that the US Government through USAID and other organizations was giving to the exact same Zakat Committees that were at issue in the indictment of this case.
  • And the notion that you have to vet the recipient of charitable donations, I believe is un-American.
  • There’s just something wrong about criminalizing humanitarian aid. Charities under fire.

Guests – Laila Al-Arian, a Washington DC based journalist. Linda Moreno, high profile defense attorney.

Legislation To Stop Preemptive Pardons

So far George W Bush has issued nearly 170 pardons; they include a Missouri farmer who unintentionally poisoned three bald eagles. Pardons give the recipients greater leeway to find jobs, live in public housing and vote. Many expect that President Bush will pardon himself and other high officials as a shelter from criminal charges and that’s what New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler is trying to prevent. Nadler is the Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, and he’s recently introduced House Resolution 1531 demanding that Bush refrain from issuing pre-emptive pardons of senior officials in his Administration during the final 90 days of office.

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler:

  • No pre-emptive pardons, the president should not do it, it’s a dangerous abuse of pardon power.
  • HR 1531 also says that we believe an attorney general should appoint an independent counsel to investigate alleged various crimes, such as warrantless wiretapping, torture, renditions and so forth committed during the Bush administration.
  • Preemptive Pardons: President Ford pardoned Nixon, for any crimes that he might have committed.
  • President H W Bush pardoned Casper Weinberger and various other people for any crimes they might have made. President Carter pardoned anyone who violated the draft laws in evading the draft during the Vietnam War.
  • My feeling is the reason for pardons or give the pardon power in the first place is you want to temper justice with mercy.
  • It would be an abuse of power before they get convicted of a crime. If he pardoned all the people well, then how do you develop a case.
  • I think there should be a commission with subpoena power, that can get at the facts, that can have people testify, that can develop more information for prosecutors to use.
  • Right now the narrative will be: Nobody did anything wrong, we protected the American people from terrorism.
  • We need to educate the American people about why these prosecutions must be done.
  • It’s very important for the people in a democratic country to know what was done in their name.
  • One of the problems we have in this country today is that everything is secret.
  • The resolution will not be passed in this Congress. If Bush exercises pardons, then there’s very little we can do about those pardons. I’m going to introduce a constitutional amendment to restrict the pardon power in the future.

Guest – Congressman Jerrold Nadler – He represents New York’s Eighth Congressional district. The Eighth, one of the most diverse districts in the nation, includes Manhattan’s West Side below 89th Street, Lower Manhattan, and areas of Brooklyn including Borough Park, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sea Gate, Bay Ridge, and Bensonhurst.

Harper’s Magazine Panel: Justice After Bush: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration

We hears excerpts from 2 speakers in the panel. Our own Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights and Burt Neuborne, Legal Director, Brennan Center for Justice, New York University. The event discussed methods available to a democracy to prosecute high officials in the Bush Administration and responded to Scott Horton’s Harper’s Magazine cover story called “Justice After Bush: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration.” We will hear more from the other speakers in the coming weeks.

  • Elizabeth Holtzman, Author, The Impeachment of George W. Bush
  • Scott Horton, Contributing Editor, Harper’s Magazine
  • Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, House Subcommittee on the Constitution
  • Antonio Taguba, Major General (U.S. Army Ret.)