Sep 27, 2004
The U.S. military has dropped spy charges against Ahmad Al-Halabi, a Senior Airman in the Air Force, in exchange for his guilty plea to minor charges.
Al-Halabi was originally charged with being part of a spy ring along with three other men at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Charges have already been dropped for two of the other men, James Yee and Jackie Farr. The case of the fourth man, Ahmed Mehalba is still pending.
In exchange for dropping the spying charges, the government required Al-Halabi to plead guilty to carrying classified material without proper covers or locks. (If all the people who did the same thing at other government offices were prosecuted, there would be no one left working!)
The other charges against him stem from the fact that he kept some material showing the atrocious conditions at Guantanamo: two pictures he took of the prison camp; a list of prisoners, a sketch of the camp and the summary of an investigation of an argument between a translator and a guard when the translator protested the treatment of a prisoner.
Given what was going on in Guantanamo, there should have been more people keeping track of the atrocious behavior being meted out to prisoners. When investigators confronted Al-Halabi about the pictures, he panicked and lied to them – not very surprising when they told him they would charge him with offenses that carry the death penalty. Ironically, the government, which charged Al-Halabi with lying, attempted to introduce a falsified letter into the court proceedings against him!
In any case, it's obvious that Al-Halabi was not spying. The government itself admitted that, when it dropped all the serious charges before it ever went to trial, and agreed he would spend no more time in prison.
So the Justice Department has not gotten one single conviction on espionage or terrorism charges in all the cases it has brought over the last two years. But then, convictions were not the main point of the charges. Creating an atmosphere, trying to make the population believe that there are spies and terrorists everywhere – this was the aim of these cases announced with so much fanfare and publicity.
The real terrorists are those in the government who manufacture evidence and make up false charges against people – in order to terrify the U.S. population and intimidate opposition to government policies.