Remember Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose 3000 terrorism arrests resulted in not one conviction?
It seems it was an indication of a general trend: That the Bush Administration's Justice Department is declining to charge most of the terrorism suspects arrested.
Despite a sharp increase in the prosecution of terrorism cases just after Sept. 11, 2001, only 14 of the defendants have been sentenced to 20 years or more in prison, according to a study based on Justice Department data.
Of the 1,329 convicted defendants, only 625 received any prison sentence, said the study, released Sunday by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research group at Syracuse University. More than half of those convicted got no prison time or no more than they had already served awaiting their verdict.
The analysis of data from Justice's Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys also found that in the eight months ending last May, Justice attorneys declined to prosecute more than nine out of every 10 terrorism cases sent to them by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies. Nearly 4 in 10 of the rejected cases were scrapped because prosecutors found weak or insufficient evidence, no evidence of criminal intent or no evident federal crime.
Just a friendly reminder, folks, why we have a justice system, the right to a fair trial and the fundamental tenet that people are innocent until proven guilty.
Suspicion is not enough. Presidential posing is not enough.
The small number of long prison sentences shouldn't be a surprise because "terrorism is actually very rare â€” far more people are killed in ordinary street crime," said James Dempsey, policy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Nevertheless, terrorism poses a risk of catastrophic loss of life, "so agencies must pursue a lot of leads that do not pan out," Dempsey added. "We can't blame the FBI for pursuing those leads, but we can blame them and the Justice Department for arresting people and making a big media splash when things don't pan out."
We can also take to heart just how wrong wrong wrong the Bush government and its dittohead apologists and fans are when it comes to civil rights.
This is a problem when it comes to the non-prisoners in Guantanamo.
At the penalty trial of al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, the government acknowledged that it has captured most of the Sept. 11 ringleaders including mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and operations coordinator Ramzi Binalshibh. Although prosecutors suggested they might be charged somewhere someday, the government has never disproved persistent allegations they were tortured during interrogations overseas and thus cannot be tried in U.S. courts.
If prosecutions "have been compromised by unlawful interrogation or surveillance, that would be worse than ironic," Aftergood said. "It would mean the government has performed in a self-defeating manner."You think?
This is a land ruled by laws, not by men. But the men in charge have really messed up. Now what? That's the question of this upcoming election.