Dec 3, 2001
In recent weeks there have been increased criticism of the Bush Administration for holding thousands of men without charging them with criminal acts. Responding to this criticism, Attorney General John Ashcroft finally released on November 27 the names of 93 men who have been charged with various crimes. Of course, only four of them were tied in any way at all to the terrorist attacks. Two men are Hispanics who helped two hijackers obtain false Virginia ID. There is no reason to believe that these men knew that their customers were going to be hijackers. Then there were two Arabic men whose names were found in the car of one of the hijackers that was left at Dulles Airport. One man is being held for forging housing subsidy checks. The other, Osama Awadallah, was charged with lying to a grand jury about whether he knew one of the hijackers. A federal court judge just ruled that he had to be released on bail. She noted that he recanted his initial false testimony to the grand jury, and said, “this defendant is charged with making false declarations – not with terrorism, or aiding and abetting terrorism, or conspiring with terrorists.” None of the 93 men have been charged with terrorism or involvement in the September 11 attack.
What about the other 89 charged? Every single one of these charges were for the kind of things that happen everyday – usually without any notice paid to it: possession of child pornography, illegal possession of a firearm, buying drivers’ licenses, credit card fraud, lying on work or license applications. The other charges are the kinds of things which have existed in every immigrant community – starting with the Irish and the Italians: wrong addresses on papers, false papers, etc. What about the rest of the thousand or so now being held? There are no charges preferred against them. Apparently the government hasn’t been able to find any blots on their records!
The Bush Administration has announced that those who are charged with terrorism will be tried by secret military tribunals.
When we see what they’ve done with the 93 finally charged, we can see clearly why they want SECRET tribunals. The first reason is that with no real criminal acts committed by those arrested, the Administration prefers to dispatch their cases in secret before military officers. Anyone who’s been in the army can tell you what that means. There’s probably another reason. If they ever do arrest someone who was really tied into one of these terrorist networks, the U.S. authorities certainly don’t want a public trial. Think of all the government’s dirty linen that would be aired out. After all, bin Ladin worked with the CIA in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ali Mohamed, who was convicted in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania was trained in terrorist activities at Fort Bragg as a member of U.S. Special Forces. Several of the hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks were trained by armed forces and secret services in Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the U.S.
Prosecutors always say – if you did nothing wrong, then you’ve got nothing to hide. It appears by how much the U.S. government is trying to hide that it did a lot of wrong!