Categorized | USA

Hold Land Case: War on Terror or War on Feeding the Poor?

“Prior to this case, an anonymous expert has never been permitted in a US criminal trial as there is no genuine way to cross examine someone whose identity is unknown.” The speaker is Michael Ratner. He is the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a public service law firm that fought for the Holy Land group and in dozens of other unrelated cases.The anonymous “experts” Ratner refers to were two Israelis who appeared at the trial as prosecution witnesses under assumed names. The appellants argued that the trial judge’s decision to permit the two Israeli witnesses to testify anonymously violated the Confrontation Clause of the Constitution. But in a unanimous decision, the Appeals Court ruled that, “while no trial is perfect, this one included, we conclude from our review of the record, briefs, and oral argument, that the defendants were fairly convicted.”
The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the righ … to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Generally, the right is to have a face-to-face confrontation with witnesses who are offering testimonial evidence against the accused in the form of cross-examination during a trial.But Ratner’s view is 180 degrees from the Government’s. He says, “As I look at history, Stalin’s show trials come to mind. The denial of the last appeal by the Supreme Court confirms that justice has fled America. 
If you’re Muslim and especially if you are involved with humanitarian aid for Palestinians do not expect justice; expect to be hounded, driven from your endeavors and jailed. This country is in the midst of a plague of Islamophobia
Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, CCR
Thus, it was in that depressing environment that the Supreme Court last week brought the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case to the end of its last appellate avenue. SCOTUS declined to hear their appeal.The Government had accused HLF – once the largest Muslim-oriented charity in the US — of providing material support in the Palestinian territories to Hamas, which the US had now designated as a terrorist organization.“It is a dark day for America when our nation’s highest court refuses to hear a case that is affecting everyone’s ability to get a fair trial in America,” said Khalil Meek, Executive Director of Muslim Legal Fund. “If judges are allowed to prevent defenders from challenging the credibility of expert witnesses, then our Sixth Amendment loses its teeth and our civil liberties suffer further erosion.
”The verdict and the harsh sentences outraged Holy Land supporters.Prof. David Cole told Prism, “In this case, the government made it a crime to engage in charity, without any evidence that a single penny went to further any violent, much less terrorist, act. The defendants now face decades in jail for having done nothing more than raising money to feed the hungry.”
The defendants now face decades in jail for having done nothing more than raising money to feed the hungry
David Cole, Professor of Law at Georgetown University
Francis E, Boyle, a law professor at the University of Illinois, pointed out that The Holy Land Foundation was well known as being the leading source in this country for providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. “For that very reason it was targeted for persecution and destruction by the pro-Israeli neoconservatives in the (George W.) Bush Administration. After a valiant Defense, the Holy Land Five lost their case in the same reactionary United States Supreme Court that gave the American people Bush Junior as President in 2000.”And Prof. Chip Pitts, Lecturer at Stanford Law School and Former Chair of Amnesty International USA, told Prism,
“When prosecutors single out Muslim charities and effectively shut down nearly all of them in the wake of 9/11, and when courts bend the rules to prevent suspects from confronting their accusers, it’s hard not to see prejudice at work distorting the right to equal justice under law.“The Supreme Court’s failure to review this case and correct its many procedural and substantive errors is yet another sign of the increasingly degraded rule of law in the United States. Similar prejudice is endangering sensible policies with respect to allies like Turkey and Egypt.“These are grave trends which jeopardize both domestic tranquility and authentic national security. They should not only concern us all, but must prompt concerted and strong demands for a return to principles of fairness, reason, and justice.”
[ed notes;click link for whole article,just citing few paragraphs..

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