The Patriot Act has been woefully unsuccessful in producing convictions of real terrorists. The US Government has boasted over 200 convictions. However, a Washington Post investigation has found that there were only 39 convictions in which the convict had an actual tie to terrorists.
This is no surprise when a terrorist in John Ashcroft’s book may very well be a Pacifist. The US Government, as Russ Feingold foresaw when he voted against the Patriot Act, has used the Patriot Act as an excuse to expand its powers rather than find and prosecute the real terrorists.
Also, it is hardly surprising that the administration exaggerated its numbers when it lied about the extent of Saddam’s WMD programs and lied when it said it was doing all it could for peace when in fact, they had already made up their minds to go to Iraq. This is an administration which is incapable of telling the truth.
And 20 of the people convicted were actually scammers and had nothing to do with terrorist groups:
“For so many of these cases, there seems to be much less substance to them than we first assume or have first been told,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert who heads the Washington office of Rand Corp., a think tank that conducts national security research. “There’s an inherent deterrent effect in cracking down on any illicit activity. But the challenge is not exaggerating what they were up to — not portraying them as super-terrorists when they’re really the low end of the food chain.”
The problem is that there is some insidious racism going on: Our law enforcement personnel are assuming that just because people have Arabic-sounding names that there is a good chance they might be terrorists.
And this kind of racism leads to prosecutorial misconduct:
Not surprisingly, these minor crimes produced modest punishments. The median sentence for all cases adjudicated, whether or not they were terrorism-related, was 11 months. About three dozen other defendants were given probation or were deported. The most common convictions were on charges of fraud, making false statements, passport violations and conspiracy.
And most of the people who were convicted were sentenced to an average of 11 months. Only four have or will get life sentences. That means that the Patriot Act has become a massive bondoggle and a waste of taxpayer money. We have spent millions of dollars of your money and mine to capture people who were committing petty misdemeanors. Almost all of these people could have convicted using existing laws.
This suggests that the main motive of the administration is not really the capture and conviction of terrorists, but control over people’s lives. The administration’s version of foreign policy is to control the internal affairs of weaker countries. The right-to-lifers stop caring for the fetus once it becomes a baby; suggesting their prime motive is control of the woman. In the same way, the Patriot Act is not really meant for catching terrorists, but to make people afraid that if they oppose the government, they were somehow being unpatriotic.
That is one of the nice things about the British Parliament. Their debates are much more raucous than our House and Senate. The Tories, during Prime Minister’s Questions, make fun of Blair’s big black notebook that he quotes his facts fro, accuse him of gimmicks and broken promises, and howl in derision when they think he is giving an evasive answer. But nobody EVER questions the patriotism of the other party. In fact, the opposition party is known as the “Loyal Opposition.”
And the real terrorists in John Ashcroft’s book were Muslim immigrants. And Ashcroft arrogated to himself the right to play judge and jury in deciding who was guilty and innocent. To show the racism of Ashcroft’s Justice Department, they did a dragnet of hundreds of Muslims and charged them with minor immigration laws. Many of them were deported. How many of those went on to join Al-Qaeda or the Iraqi insurgency? The Patriot Act encourages terrorism by alienating Muslims from America.
Here is what a Clinton administration official said:
Bush was known to refer to Enron CEO Ken Lay as “Kenny Boy.” How many other book-cooking techniques did Ken Lay teach Bush? We have no accurate assessment of how effective the training of the Iraqis is going, either.
And how many sleeper cells are in the US?
Given the Justice Department’s poor record of catching terrorists, it seems they are straining at gnats and swallowing camels.
And many innocent people are falsely accused of being terrorists:
“That’s fine if you take it as a given that you have the devil here,” he continued. “The problem is that you end up with people like Sami Al-Hussayen. . . . Whenever you live in that realm, you’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to hurt innocent people.”
In the end, most cases on the Justice Department list turned out to have no connection to terrorism at all.
They include Hassan Nasrallah, a Dearborn, Mich., man convicted of credit-card fraud who has the same name as the leader of Hezbollah, or Party of God. Abdul Farid of High Point, N.C., was arrested on a false tip that he was sending money to the Taliban and was deported after admitting he lied on a loan application. Moeen Islam Butt, a Pakistani jewelry-kiosk employee in Pennsylvania, spent eight months in jail before being deported on marriage-fraud and immigration charges.
And there is the case of Francois Guagni, a French national who made the mistake of illegally crossing the Canadian border on Sept. 14, 2001, with box cutters in his possession. It turned out that Guagni used the knives in his job as a drywall installer. He was deported in March 2003 after pleading guilty to unlawfully entering the country.
“His case had nothing to do with terrorism, as far as I’ve ever been told,” said Guagni’s attorney, Christopher D. Smith.
I have a friend who is a Pacifist. He went to a University conference on peace; John Ashcroft’s Justice Department tried to subpoena the records. Luckily, the university successfully quashed it and no charges were ever filed. But part of the reason the Justice Department is so terrible at finding the real terrorists is because they are spending taxpayer money investigating Pacifists, who would never harm a flea, when they should be investigating the REAL terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center. And what about White Supremacist groups who advocate the violent overthrow of the government? Do we have to have another Oklahoma City bombing before the Justice Department comes to its senses?