The initial salvo from my exclusive Pajamas Media article last week revealing that Obama’s Department of Justice dropped the prosecution of some of its Muslim allies is just starting to be fired.
Last Thursday I reported on an interview I conducted with a top DOJ official who said that the pending indictments of several prominent leaders of Islamic organizations close to the Obama administration, including one of the co-founders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Omar Ahmad, on charges of material support for the terrorist group Hamas were scuttled to avoid embarrassing the Obama administration and to avoid inflaming the Muslim community. My source cited a March 31, 2010, internal DOJ memo from Assistant Attorney General David Kris to Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler effectively dropping the prosecution of Ahmad.
When I contacted the Department of Justice National Security Division, public affairs representative Dean Boyd refused to provide me a copy of the memo and declined to comment on the matter. Boyd directed me to submit a FOIA for the information.
But now House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder inquiring about the details of our report. In the letter dated Friday, April 15, King asks for Holder’s reasons for dropping these terror finance prosecutions.
In his letter, he goes beyond my own reporting and states that the DOJ decision was made:
…over the vehement and stated objections of special agents and supervisors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, who had investigated and successfully prosecuted the Holy Land Foundation case.
But now we’re starting to get wind of the Obama administration’s response. Fearful that this could easily turn into “Holdergate,” the administration is trying to spin its way out of this potential morass by returning to an old standard: WE BLAME BUSH!!
That’s right. The excuse they are currently floating to their friends in the establishment media to explain the decision not to prosecute CAIR officials and the other Islamic leaders implicated in the Holy Land Foundation case (all of whom had been named unindicted co-conspirators) is that the Bush administration chose not to prosecute them in 2004 and they were just reaffirming what John Ashcroft had decided way back when.
In one sense, having the DOJ making that claim tacitly vindicates our reporting that Holder’s DOJ had scuttled the pending prosecutions. Our concern was that they would try to deny it altogether and stonewall. Kind of hard to do that now, eh?
There are considerable problems with Holder’s fallback position — though admittedly it will be enough of a bone for the administration’s lapdogs in the establishment media to chew on to attack my “vast right-wing” reporting.
The first obstacle with blaming Bush for this decision is that according to my high-ranking DOJ source, the decision made by Ashcroft and his Bush administration successors was not to never prosecute the CAIR officials and other Islamic leaders, but that they would not go after them now, choosing to prosecute the case systematically as they do in many other federal prosecutions.
Here’s what my source said:
It was always the plan to initially go after the [Holy Land Foundation] leaders first and then go after the rest of the accomplices in a second round of prosecutions. From a purely legal point of view, the case was solid. Jim Jacks [the U.S. attorney in Dallas who prosecuted the Holy Land Foundation executives] and his team were ready to go. There’s a mountain of evidence against all of these groups that was never introduced during the Holy Land trial and it is damning. We’ve got them on wiretaps. That’s exactly why many of these leaders and groups were named unindicted co-conspirators in the first round of prosecutions. [emphasis added]
That’s quite different from what the Obama administration is now trying to float. They’re now claiming that the Bush administration never intended to prosecute any of the co-conspirators. But there’s a considerable gap between “not now” and “not ever.” Hopefully members of Congress won’t be so quick to fall for the bait and will demand proof that this was the Bush administration’s plan all along.
But my DOJ source also later added:
We tried to do what we could during the Bush administration. After 9/11, we had to do something and [the Holy Land Foundation] was the biggest target. If the mistrial hadn’t have happened, we probably would have gone through the second round of prosecutions before the change in administrations.
If the Bush administration would have conducted the second round of prosecutions against some of the other co-conspirators during their term, except for the mistrial in the first round that delayed that plan (the second trial concluded with convictions on all 108 counts in late November 2008 – after Obama had already been elected), then it seems difficult for the Obama administration to claim almost the exact opposite: that their predecessors never intended to do so. Which is it? Someone on the House Judiciary Committee should ask Eric Holder that question when he comes before them on May 3.
Secondly, it seems a little odd that the Obama administration, which, mind you, was elected after campaigning vigorously that the Bush administration had been guilty of politicizing the Department of Justice, would fall back on the alleged decisions of that same administration.
Is the Obama administration now prepared to renew the convictions in the Black Panther case that the Bush administration had already secured (and which my PJM colleague and former DOJ election attorney J. Christian Adams has done the yeoman’s reporting on)? Yeah, doubtful.
But there’s even a greater problem than that. A July 2009 order by the federal judge in the original Holy Land Foundation case, Judge Jorge Solis, on the matter of naming CAIR and other Islamic groups as unindicted co-conspirators in the case, and unsealed by the court in November 2010, goes to great length explaining the evidence presented at trial implicating CAIR and its co-founder:
The Government identifies four portions of the record from the first trail that purportedly established that CAIR was a “joint venturer and co-conspirator”: (1) a Government exhibit showing the objective of the Palestine Committee is to support Hamas; (2) a Government exhibit showing CAIR founder Omar Ahmad is part of the Palestine Committee and Mousa Abu Marzook is its head; (3) a Government exhibit listing CAIR as part of the Palestine Committee; and (4) the testimony of Special Agent Lara Burns and accompanying exhibits placing the CAIR founder at the 1993 Philadelphia conference and describing the CAIR founder’s mediation of a dispute between HLF and Ashqar over Hamas fundraising . (Resp. at 12-13.) The Government does not mention any occasion where it used the 801(d)(2)(E) hearsay exception to introduce a statement of CAIR. The four pieces of evidence the government relies on, as discussed below, do create at least a prima facie case as to CAIR’s involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas. (p. 6-7)
But Judge Solis goes even further, saying that during the Holy Land Foundation trial, “the government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (‘IAP’), and with Hamas.” (p. 15)
So why would Holder and the DOJ ignore the “ample evidence” and “prima facie case” cited by a federal judge in July 2009 that CAIR had supported Hamas (nearly a year before deciding to shut down the prosecution of Omar Ahmad in March 2010) and reach all the way back to 2004 and the alleged decisions of the Bush administration for their justification to shut down these indictments?
Please raise your hand if you smell something fishy.
And if Holder’s DOJ was merely upholding what the Bush administration had already decided in the case, why did they have to make this decision “over the vehement and stated objections of special agents and supervisors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas,” as Rep. King suggested in his letter on Friday?
Apparently the FBI agents and federal prosecutors who were actually working the case were never informed during the Bush administration (allegedly) or subsequently by Holder’s DOJ that there would be no further prosecutions in the case. That, too, seems an odd position to take.
Understandably, the Obama administration doesn’t appreciate Pajamas Media and my DOJ source airing their dirty laundry. They rightfully fear the potential political implications of this news. But their spin doesn’t pass a basic smell test. Meanwhile, the establishment media, who are eager to discredit upstarts like PJM, will no doubt be willing to carry their water regardless of the facts. Does anyone think for a moment that the establishment media would have ever reported this matter if we hadn’t brought it up here at PJM first?
Fortunately, however, it doesn’t seem that Congress is going to be so quick to let the matter drop. According to a few sources on the Hill I spoke with late Monday, they believe that this attempt to pin the blame on Bush in this looming “Holdergate” scandal reeks of desperation. So they don’t intend to back down. Let’s hope that’s the case.