Hung Jury in Terror Finance Case

The government's most celebrated effort to prosecute a Muslim charity for financing terrorism ended in a bust.

A federal judge declared a mistrial on Monday in what was widely seen as the government’s flagship terrorism-financing case after prosecutors failed to persuade a jury to convict five leaders of a Muslim charity on any charges, or even to reach a verdict on many of the 197 counts. ...

The case involved 197 counts, including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. It also involved years of investigation and preparation, almost two months of testimony and more than 1,000 exhibits, including documents, wiretaps, transcripts and videotapes dug up in a backyard in Virginia.

The only verdicts returned were acquittals. Prosecutors are vowing to present their (mostly nonexistent) case to a second jury, apparently hoping that new jurors will be cowed by the words "terrorism" and "Muslim" and will overlook the absence of evidence that the charity financed anything other than charitable works.

The implications of the government's strategy for dealing with Muslim charities are stunning:

David D. Cole, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, said the jury’s verdict called into question the government’s tactics in freezing the assets of charities using secret evidence that the charities cannot see, much less rebut. When, at trial, prosecutors “have to put their evidence on the table, they can’t convict anyone of anything,” he said. “It suggests the government is really pushing beyond where the law justifies them going.”

More background to the trial here.

(Update (TL): I have a long post on the verdict today over at Firedoglake.)
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    by cpinva on Tue Oct 23, 2007 at 03:09:11 PM EST
    it proves the authors of the constitution were no fools; they explicitly disavowed the use of secret trials and evidence, as being antithetical to a free and open society.

    this was a case based, not on actual evidence, but on the govt's hope that a scared jury would convict the ham sandwich, if they called it a "terrorist" often enough. that the jury couldn't agree on any of 197 charges says something about the weakness of the entire case.

    as a taxpayer, i don't appreciate some egomaniac prosecuter squandering my money on a lost cause. if it's such a great case, they can fund a second trial themselves, and then sue for compensation if they win.