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Archive for March 5th, 2010

Column: There’s Hope Obama Might Get 9/11 Trial Right With Military Commission

Steven Levin, a defense  attorney with the law firm Levin & Gallagher, is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney. Prior to that, he served on active duty for seven years in the United States Army as a defense counsel, an appellate attorney and a trial attorney.

Steve Levin

Steve Levin

By Steven Levin

Finally, there is hope that the Obama Administration will get it right.

In overruling the Attorney General’s short-sighted and misguided decision to send Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) to a civilian court in New York City, the White House will have acknowledged at least two things that those of us with military and federal government experience have long known.

First, the US Armed Forces has a proven history of fairly and effectively conducting military commissions. Second, the federal courts are not the optimal venue for trying alien enemy combatants who are captured while committing acts of war against our country.

By now, many of us are familiar with the long tradition of military commissions, which dates back to the 1780 trial of Major John Andre, who conspired with Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War.

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There’s Hope Obama Admin. Could Get 9/11 Trial Right

Finally, there is hope that the Obama Administration will get it right. In overruling the Attorney General’s short-sighted and misguided decision to send Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) to a civilian court in New York City, the White House will have acknowledged at least two things that those of us with military and federal government experience have long known.

First, the US Armed Forces has a proven history of fairly and effectively conducting military commissions. Second, the federal courts are not the optimal venue for trying alien enemy combatants who are captured while committing acts of war against our country.

By now, many of us are familiar with the long tradition of military commissions, which dates back to the 1780 trial of Major John Andre, who conspired with Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War.

Interestingly, the Army’s Judge Advocate General commissioned artist Don Stivers to memorialize this event, then known as a Board of Inquiry or Board of Officers, in his 1998 Limited Edition Print, entitled, “You Sir, Are A Spy.” Both my copy of the print and Major Andre were promptly hanged.

Though he might still be executed today, MAJ Andre would have considerably more protections afforded him by the Military Commissions Act (MCA).

Notwithstanding the constant claims by various organizations that the MCA provides few procedural protections, the reality is just the opposite.

The accused has a host of rights, which include the right to counsel, the right to be informed of the charges sufficiently in advance of trial to prepare a defense, the right to be presumed innocent until determined to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the right not to testify at trial unless he so chooses, and the opportunity to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution, just to name a few. There are also several rights relating to sentencing, review, and appeal.

Proponents of federal criminal trials for terrorists, and only federal criminal trials for terrorists, point to the terrorism-related conviction rates for support of their position. By doing so, they miss the point.

The issue is not whether an Assistant U.S. Attorney can win a case in court; the issue is whether the federal government will lose more than it will gain. That is, will a federal court be required to turn over sensitive information to an alleged terrorist that a military commission might not, even though it may have no bearing on a terrorist’s guilt?

By doing so, will national security be threatened? Those are at least two of the questions that need to be asked, and if the trial is to be in a civilian courtroom, the answer to both had better be “no.”

A Sign of The Crimes in Detroit

A bus in downtown Detroit Next to the U.S. District Court is covered with an ad soliticting crime tips/ticklethewire.com photo

A bus in downtown Detroit next to the U.S. District Court building./ticklethewire.com photo

Brutal Murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena 25 Years Ago a Reminder of the Agency’s Priorities

“Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena’s vicious kidnapping, torture, and murder 25 years ago remains a burning reminder of the dangers and high stakes involved in drug law enforcement” Michele Leonhart, Acting Administrator for the DEA

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

By Jerry Seper
Washington Times

WASHINGTON –– Twenty-five years ago today, the brutally beaten body of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique S. “Kiki” Camarena was discovered wrapped in plastic bags and dumped along a road near a ranch 60 miles southwest of Guadalajara, Mexico – a death that continues to echo even now throughout the agency.

The veteran agent, along with his pilot, Capt. Alfredo Zavala Avelar, had been viciously tortured by the bosses of a Mexican drug cartel fearful that he had uncovered a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation tied to top officers in the Mexican army, along with Mexican police and government officials.

Over a 30-hour period, Camarena’s skull, jaw, nose, cheekbones and windpipe had been crushed. His ribs were broken; a hole was drilled into his head with a screwdriver. The agent had been injected with drugs to ensure he remained conscious during his torture.

For Full Story

Obama Advisers Plan to Recommend a Military Tribunal for 9/11 Trial

Bye Bye New York?

Bye Bye New York?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After insisting a federal court in New York was the place to be, the Obama administration appears to be  inching toward a reversal of all that.

The Washington Post reports that the presidents advisers “are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said.”

The move might make some folks on both sidesof the political isle happy. But it doesn’t look so great for Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. who was adamant about a New York trial.

For Full Story

Fed Judge Criticizes FBI Tactics During Sentencing in Holy Land Foundation Case

fox news photo

fox news photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge in Phoenix sharply criticized the FBI tactics Thursday as he sentenced an Arizona man to 18 months in prison for lying to agents investigating the Muslim charity the Holy Land Foundation, which raised money for the Palestinian group Hamas, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist group, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake said he gave Akram Musa Abdallah a low sentence because the defendant caused little harm to the government.

But he criticized the FBI agents who questioned Abdallah in 2007, saying it appeared they tried to get Abdallah of Mesa, Az.,  to change his story to help build the case, the AP reported.

Man Wounds Two Officers at Pentagon

NY Imam Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI in Subway Plot: Will Have to Leave Country

new-york-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A remorseful New York imam, as expected, pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to FBI agents in the subway bombing plot.

The Associated Press reported that a tearful Ahmad Afzali told the judge that he wanted to help authorities but lied under grilling by the FBI.

He had tipped off al Qaeda associate Najibullah Zazi that he was under surveillance by authorities in New York.  Zazi pleaded guilty to plotting to blow up the New York subway system.

AP said his guilty plea spares him serious jail time, but will force him to leave the country.

He also  told the judge  he was sorry for lying about his conversations with Zazi.

“In doing so, I failed to live up to my obligation to this country, my community, my family, and my religion,” he said, according to AP. “I am truly sorry.”

The plea agreement says that Afzali could get up to six months in jail and that he would have to leave the country within 90 days after serving his sentence.

To read more click here.