The Justice Department lost another major terror trial today when a federal jury refused to convict any of the five Holy Land Foundation defendants charged by the government with promoting terror by raising funds to support Hamas social service projects:
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.
David D. Cole, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, said the jury’s verdict called into question the government’s tactics in freezing the assets of charities using secret evidence that the charities cannot see, much less rebut. When, at trial, prosecutors “have to put their evidence on the table, they can’t convict anyone of anything,” he said. “It suggests the government is really pushing beyond where the law justifies them going.”
And Jimmy Gurulé , who was an undersecretary of the Treasury when that agency froze Holy Land’s assets, described the outcome as “the continuation of what I now see as a trend of disappointing legal defeats” in terror-financing cases. Two previous cases, in Illinois and in Florida, ended with hung juries and relatively minor plea deals, he said.
… “I thought they were not guilty across the board,” said…juror William Neal, a 33-year-old art director from Dallas. The case “was strung together with macaroni noodles,” Mr. Neal said. “There was so little evidence.”
He said the government should not retry the case…
And those bright lights at Justice apparently haven’t had enough of this case because they immediately announced they’ll appeal. You can’t imagine Dick Cheney, who sees Hamas as evil personified, allowing Arab-American supporters of that group to get off scot free, can you? No, we’ll waste a few more millions of taxpayer money prosecuting them again and see if we can get a “better” result for the home team. Will he? Given the savage comments above by an attorney who you’d think would actually be supportive of this prosecution along with the juror’s contemptuous statement–what do you think?
Lest anyone claim I support Hamas in the statements above–I don’t. I just don’t believe in criminalizing the support of charities to which it was entirely legal to donate under U.S. law when these individuals did so. I also don’t believe in secret evidence and don’t believe in allowing Israeli intelligence operatives to dictate to U.S. juries who is or is not a terrorist.