Friday, May 29, 2009

Justification Isn't Justice

When the trial of the Holy Land Foundation was held in Dallas Federal Court, I had the opportunity to attend. It was something I wanted to do since what I had seen reported - that prosecution included witnesses who were unidentified, a practice contrary to our Constitution - had made me uncomfortable with what our Justice Department was doing.

The several times I did attend the trial showed that I had only had a dim idea of the extent to which the trial violated our laws. As I have written here previously, procedures were allowed that had jurors supposed to come to judgment on the charges by such illegal practices as hearing witnesses that had been encouraged to give their views on what people of Palestine thought and felt, and claims by a witness, an Israeli agent, that he could "smell" terrorism. A major witness admitted that his testimony would be factored into his own sentencing on unrelated charges. In his closing remarks, the prosecuting attorney from the U.S. Department of Justice claimed that Freedom of Speech did not obtain in this trial, for these defendants.

Today's editorial in the Dallas Morning News bases much of its finding that heavy sentences the defendants received were justified because most of the defense was about causes for support of the charities - charities that in Palestine are associated sometimes with groups whose members are sometimes terrorists. The defense showed abuse of the people of Palestine, something that the editorial was uncomfortable about, so condemned.

Regardless of the rationale behind the Richardson-based group's actions, anyone who helps fund groups that make bombs to blow people up deserves stiff punishment...
His (Shukri Abu Baker of Garland) statement was an appalling attempt to distract the public from the true effect of his crime: to collect money that helped Hamas kill, maim and fulfill its goal of wiping Israel off the face of the earth.

Have Israelis done their own share of killing and maiming? Absolutely. It is painfully obvious to the entire world that this cycle of retaliatory bloodshed must stop. To reach a peaceful solution, each side must acknowledge publicly and without equivocation that its militants have committed wrongs. Contrition seems absent from their vocabulary.

It's appalling enough that our constitution should be thrown out in the conduct of a trial, but being incensed by expressing an appeal to common humanity is as twisted as it gets. Being made to feel guilty is justifiable; the judgment was against acknowledged charitable activities. The connection with terrorism was made only by distant association.

Being mad about feeling guilty is a character flaw. That the News insists the defendants ought to be apologizing is a projection by those whose consciences would be assuaged if they could get some reassurance that this judgment is not deeply flawed.

That assurance would be admission of guilt, and the defendants do not admit that supporting charities is the same as terrorism. The admission the editors want is like the ex-Veep seeking to extract information contrary to fact, from detainees, by torture. The connection used to drag this country into war, that al Qaeda was associated with Saddam Hussein, was one that was not true.

Would the News want to suggest to their jailers that it would be much appreciated, that their consciences will be easier, if they get confessions, please, and waterboarding is known to produce this kind of result? Wanting the facts to conform - when they don't - is not a desire for justice, but for justification.

This case will be appealed, and hopefully the violations of law that occurred will be enough to show it was not conducted under our constitutional system.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Amy Goodman did about half her show today on this case.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Thanks for the heads up, good coverage, the prospects for a successful appeal look good after the violations of law that went on to get the conviction.

1:04 PM  

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