Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust

Throughout his tenure as Attorney General, John Ashcroft made press conferences announcing the arrest of a major terror group connected to al Qaeda....only to have the case falter and sputter out by the time it was over. He got some pleas from some bumbling holy warriors, like those in Buffalo and Portland, in exchange for not sending them to Guantanamo or removing them from federal court and charging them as enemy combatants, but that's about it. And, he inflated the Department's statistics.

Now, on the eve of his departure, it happens once again. Step back to March, 2003.

Attorney General John Ashcroft personally announced to Congress that federal prosecutors had filed terrorism-financing charges against a Yemeni sheik and his aide. Law enforcement officials indicated that the sheik, Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, had used a Brooklyn mosque to help funnel millions of dollars to Al Qaeda and had boasted that he had personally delivered $20 million to Osama bin Laden.

With jury selection underway, there is no longer any mention of Osama bin Laden or millions to al Qaeda. There is only that the defendant, a Yemeni Sheik, sent money to Hamas.

The allegations about Al Qaeda and ties to Mr. bin Laden have faded in importance to the case, the filings from lawyers on both sides have indicated. It now appears that the prosecutors will not even mention the supposed $20 million delivery to Mr. bin Laden.

The trial is expected to focus far more than had been expected on the sheik's ties to Hamas, a group that has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States government, but that also has charitable operations.

The Sheik's lawyer told Newsday:

"The government has acted outrageously and unethically by trumpeting charges that it was not prepared to prove," said al-Moayad's attorney, William Goodman. "Now they're hanging by their fingernails."

The charges relating to Osama were supported by a confidential informant who later set himself on fire outside the White House trying to kill himself because the believed the FBI had lied to him.

...as the trial approaches for Sheik Mohammed Ali Hasan al-Moayad, the jurors are unlikely to hear that spectacular allegation. Its sole source, an FBI informant from Yemen, set himself on fire in front of the White House late last year, and it is all but certain prosecutors will not put him on the stand.

The Washington Post reported all the details. Also, Ashcroft didn't tell the whole story. As the Newsday article reports:

The government's case depends largely on transcripts of recorded conversations in the hotel room. The transcripts support another of Ashcroft's allegations, that al-Moayad claimed to be bin Laden's spiritual adviser.

What Ashcroft did not say, however, was that al-Moayad said on the tapes that his relationship dated to the years when bin Laden was battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan, a cause he shared with the United States. The relationship ended before bin Laden turned against America, al-Moayad said.

Al-Moayad also was recorded boasting of his ties to Hamas militants, promising to give the group money and even handing over receipts for donations to Palestinian charities al-Moayad said helped battle Israel....In Yemen, however, it would not be unusual if al-Moayad, a hardline member of Yemen's Islamist Islah party who runs a charitable foundation in the capital city of Sana'a, was a Hamas supporter, said Abdul Hakim al-Eryani, deputy chief of mission in Yemen's Washington embassy. "If he did he wouldn't be breaking any laws in Yemen," al-Eryani said.

Goodbye, Mr. Ashcroft. Between the non-terror cases (here and here, for example), the overturned Detroit terror case, the Patriot Act and your (thankfully) mostly unsuccesful attempts to get more death verdicts in federal cases against the advice of your own prosecutors, you've left quite a legacy--one of a bumbling holy warrior.

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    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ray Radlein on Wed Jan 19, 2005 at 11:08:26 PM EST
    <comic_book_guy>Worst. AG. Ever.</comic_book_guy>

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#2)
    by ras on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 12:41:25 AM EST
    Ray, If I may repectfully disagree, I would say he ranks as one of the best. ... No major terrorist attacks since 9-11. ... No major infringements on civil liberties, propaganda notwithstanding. This website, for ex, could not have existed under any of Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Kim-Jong-Il or Saddam. And Ashcroft's accomplishments were done in the face of an enemy who was well funded, well-organized and well-positioned. Ashcroft is not the kinda guy, absent his accomplishments, that I'd normally sit down and quaff a beer with. For example, he covers up breasts even on statues. But as an AG he was brilliant. The accomplishments speak for themselves. Compared to most of his predecessors Ashcroft comes out well ahead. Now, I know that such an opinion will p off the Left, but reality bites, just like it p's off the right to ackonowledge FDR's many successes. But that's the way it is. One can rail aimlessly and reflexively, or one can acknowledge both the strengths (e.g. the lack of any major terrorist success since 9-11) and the weaknesses (e.g. the wooden disposition) of an individual such as Ashcroft. The current political fashion is for total demonization of one's opponent. But isn't that passť already? A more rational analysis allows for a proper and holistic assessment. Overall, Ashcroft did more than well. Why not just thank him & wish him luck? The current demonization approach ain't helped anyone, least of all the Dems, so there's no harm in a little appreciation for a job well done. Maybe it's time for a change.

    ras...please tell us how anything Ashcroft did was responsible for preventing any terrorist attacks after 9/11. And the fact that one of the reasons you listed for his greatness was that he wasn't as bad as Stalin, etc. brings me little relief. I would rate him 3rd worst...right after John Mitchell and Ed Meese.

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 12:52:01 AM EST
    The Government will just start making Terrorists now, as usual, If You can't buy one make one, normal government policy.

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 05:47:32 AM EST
    "I would say he ranks as one of the best ... No major terrorist attacks since 9-11." Not only that, but there hasn't been a single elephant stampede in the country in the last 4 years. You've got to hand it to Ashcroft . . .

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 06:13:25 AM EST
    Ernie - Tell us how you wouldn't blame Ashcroft and Bush if there had been an attack. I'd like a good chuckle.

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 06:20:05 AM EST
    Dubya's policies and acts have guaranteed and greatly increased our risk from terrorist attacks in this country. With every one of the civilian Iraqi deaths, justifiable or not, we create another extended family who may find reason to justify an attack against American civilians. Bush himself said you can't really win the war on terrorism. The act of warring on it creates more terrorists. But Ashcroft did provide tragi-comic relief. "Let the Eagle Soar." Mission accomplished.

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 07:20:51 AM EST
    ras your defense of this man is sad. go join the rest of them today and cheer and party while we continue to disrupt world peace and unity.

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 08:44:59 AM EST
    al-qaeda didn't have enough suicidals to carry out 9/11 -- they had to ship them in and lie to them about the assignment. if there is a "terrorist" here now, the only reason an attack hasn't been carried out is because they have chosen not to. a machine gun or a car-bomb or a chemical attack are not so difficult to carry out that they wouldn't have tried by now. luck is no substitute for superior insight, intelligence, and imagination. and we're lacking egregiously in all three areas on a national leadership level. aschcroft has only served to make this nation more paranoid, more ignorant, and less inclined toward modern american justice of the evolved sort. the arrogant and thoughtless ms. rice should add more fire to this dismal blaze as secretary of a state of denial.

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 08:45:07 AM EST
    Every dead body in Iraq, whether an American or Iraqi, is a victim of terrorism ras. Your praise of Ashcroft is laughable. We haven't had an attack here because we sent our young overseas to draw the fire.

    So ras, would you like to comment on the actual posting and explain how Ashcrofts "wooden personality" causes him to call press conferences declaring victories in prosecuting terrorists without enough proof to proceed to trial? Also, why would anyone blame the AG for terrorist attacks? His job is to be a prosecutor and prosecute. Has he convicted anybody. Of course, if you think limiting personal freedom is smart or "conservative" then he's doing a GREAT job. Stalin would have found Mr. Ashcroft very useful.

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#12)
    by cp on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 09:47:49 AM EST
    ras, last time i checked, the attorney general has nothing to do with terrorism prevention, that would be the job of the cia, fbi, nsa, etc. since doj doesn't, by itself, initiate prosecutions, exactly what did mr. ashcroft, in his role as atty. general do to prevent terrorist activity since 9/11? before you go off, bear in mind, before doj can go after someone, there has to be a complaint, evidence of criminal activity and an arrest, none of which doj does. they come in after the fact.

    John Ashcroft - the poster boy for why these people are no longer being charged with crimes. These morons ultimately figured out that innuendo is a much better sword for their agenda than the law is. So long as you fail to charge a defendant, and claim him to be an enemy of the state, you get what you wanted in the first place - but without the imprimatur of the law. AND THAT IS THE POINT!!!!! This administration cannot win these cases on the law, so, they are subverting our system by extralegal means. These people have already been found guilty and if the law is going to find otherwise, then the hell with the law. Forget whether or not you think any of these people did what Big Brother claims they did. If our way of life is to continue - a nation under law - then we MUST insist that the law be followed and not subverted. Charge them or release them, there is no other alternative to the future of the integrity of the rule of law.

    cp - The`FBI is part of the Justice Department, and the head of it reports to the AG. Lavocat - What BS. You can not insist on the same rules of evidence on a battle field as you do for "normal" crimes in the US. For heaven's sake put your Bush hatred aside for 10 seconds and use a little bit of common sense. dadler writes - "al-qaeda didn't have enough suicidals to carry out 9/11 -- they had to ship them in and lie to them about the assignment." dadler, try really hard to focus. Now read what you wrote. Do you really believe this folks got on those planes NOT knowing they werem on a suicide mission?

    PPJ: Ever the shrill Republican shill, I see. You will note that 1) "battlefield" is a joke as most of these people were never captured on or in or even near any battlefield (even you can come up with better nonsense than this), 2) define "battlefield" broadly enough (as The Bush League has), and it becomes everything and nothing, and 3) please enlighten us as to what you deem to be "normal" crimes. Funny, I have yet to come across that novel distinction in all my years of criminal defense.

    PPJ: Let's face it: you and your fellow neocons will come up with anything that can be remotely passed off as an excuse to weasel out of the contraints imposed by the rule of law. It just kills your kind that you cannot control the outcome of the law (though you are trying dearly as you pack the courts in this second term). You will only accept the rule of law when it becomes so subverted by the neocons as to be nothing other than vengeance couched in hollow legal terminology. And then we will all be in very big trouble.

    Re: Ashcroft: Another Terror Case Bites the Dust (none / 0) (#17)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 21, 2005 at 10:12:06 AM EST
    jim, bin laden is QUOTED as saying some of the guys DID NOT know they were on a suicide mission. on the early videotape where he's having a get together with "friends" in afghanistan -- a tape that was pored over extensively. i remember this as clearly as anything. you lose this point, bud.