Sunday :: Aug 8, 2004

Bush/Ashcroft Good At Exposing Agents While They Let Terror Suspects Go Free


by Steve

There has been much concern of late about the effectiveness of our domestic war against terrorism, and whether or not there are political motivations behind the use of terror threat warnings issued by the Bush Administration. Tom Ridge has fanned these concerns with his announcement of a heightened terror threat last weekend, when he announced that the actions taken were as a result of President Bush’s leadership. It was subsequently revealed that the information that led to the increased terror alert warnings was based on allegedly recently-obtained photo evidence of landmark buildings being surveyed by Al Qaeda sleeper cells here in the US as far back as 1999. It was also revealed that in their haste to claim credit for this recent terror warning, the US exposed a double-agent who had infiltrated Al Qaeda’s communications network.

Yet what is overlooked many times here at home is the ineptitude of the Bush Administration and specifically Attorney General John Ashcroft in tracking down and successfully prosecuting alleged terrorists. We can argue all we want about whether or not the Bush Administration was lax in defending the country against known threats in the days leading up to 9/11. But we can fairly hold the administration accountable to their rhetoric and actions since 9/11, wherein we are told constantly by the Bushies that as a result of them being on the job, they are protecting us from terrorists here at home. But are they?

A troubling story from the AP surfaced this afternoon, in which Ashcroft’s own staff in his Detroit office are accusing their superiors in Washington of political meddling in their case against known terror suspects. Richard Convertino, the lead prosecutor in a trial of four suspected terrorists in Detroit, has alleged that obstructions from Washington cost him a chance to convict all four defendants of terrorism charges, when he was able to only convict two. Convertino claims that he was unable to present damning evidence to the jury about the connections of the four defendants to Nabil al Marabh, who was Number 27 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List and widely known inside the FBI as a major Al Qaeda asset in the US. Convertino himself is under investigation by the Justice Department for not turning over evidence in the case to defense counsel. But a close look at the case damns not only Convertino and his DOJ bosses, but the White House as well, because even though al Marabh has quite a history of questionable activities, the Bush Administration subsequently dropped terrorism charges against him.

Worse yet, even though he had a long history questionable contacts with Al Qaeda and associations with known Al Qaeda leaders in this country, the Bushies not only dropped the terrorism charges against him, they deported him to Syria earlier this year, to a country that we accuse of being supportive of terrorism. This deportation caught the attention of Senators Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, and Patrick Leahy, who want Ashcroft to answer questions about why a man who was known to the FBI to have direct connections to Al Qaeda here in the US was allowed to escape a military tribunal and be sent to a country we accuse of supporting terrorism.

Complicating al Marabh’s case is that the Justice Department held him as a material witness for months after his arrest in September 2001 without bringing him before a judge or providing him an attorney, leading to complaints from civil libertarians that he was denied basic rights, even under the Patriot Act. Responding to the pressure, the Ashcroft Justice Department rushed through a plea agreement whereby al Marabh would plead to a lesser charge for time served and then be deported eventually to Syria. This was obviously a case that was mishandled initially and then botched by the Justice Department, against the wishes of both the FBI and career prosecutors at the Detroit office, who say the political interference and bureaucratic roadblocks from Washington sunk a case of theirs.

And now months later, after we clumsily expose the identity of an undercover agent inside Al Qaeda and come across photos of cased buildings here at home, the Bush Administration is suddenly concerned about renewed terrorism. I’ll bet the White House is hoping that Nabil al Marabh has nothing to do with the recent and renewed threat. Because if he does, coming seven months after the Bush Administration deported him to a country they accuse of aiding terrorists, the responsibility for this threat will rest solely upon Bush and Ashcroft.

Steve :: 4:48 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!