July 21, 2010

Justice in the land of the free

Prosecutors working for the Bush Administration accused the HLF of supporting Hamas by trying to "win hearts and minds" of the Palestinian population through humanitarian assistance, and that the charities HLF worked with were "front groups" for the political party. But after several years of wiretapping phone lines, seizing documents and following money trails, the prosecution couldn't support its allegations of an HLF-Hamas connection. Elashi said they then resorted to calling on an anonymous Israeli intelligence officer, who called himself "Avi," as a key witness who told the jury he was an expert who could "smell Hamas."

"It was the only time in the history of the United States that a witness inside a courtroom was allowed to remain anonymous, so the defense couldn't cross-examine him," Elashi said. "That in and of itself is huge grounds for appeal."

In fact, Israeli intelligence officers, in an unprecendented move, were allowed to testify in secret using pseudonyms and disguises and without the defense being given a full opportunity to cross-examine them during the 2006 federal trial in Chicago of American citizen Muhammad Salah and stateless Palestinian Abdelhaleem Ashqar. Accused of "racketeering" charges related to fundraising for Hamas, both men were acquitted of all the terrorism-related charges, but each was found guilty on single counts of obstruction of justice; Salah for lying on a form in a civil case and Ashqar for refusing to testify before a grand jury.


Meanwhile, private, US-based, pro-Israel groups are currently sending millions of dollars every year to support illegal settlement colonies and right-wing Zionist settlers in the occupied West Bank. The New York Times reported on 5 July that at least 40 US-based organizations are actively donating more than $200 million in tax-deductible "gifts" to build and sustain illegal settlements. According to the Times, some of the donations also pay for "legally questionable" items such as bulletproof vests, guard dogs, weapon accessories and armored security vehicles ("Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank"). (Electronic Intifada)

Of course, there is that arcane document called "the constitution," supposedly there to guide the application of justice, which says that
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right ... to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him..." But the legal system of the land of the free, which in practice means the land with the highest per capita number of people deprived of their liberty, always made an exception for people of less than white complexion, the exact boundaries of said complexion being amenable to change.

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