Homeland Security

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  Terrorist Funding... That Wasn'tOctober 26, 2007 11:57 In the U.S. government's galaxy of post-9/11 terrorist prosecutions, one of the brightest stars fell to the ground this week.

Looking back, the Justice Department's claim that what was once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. financed Palestinian terrorists looks pretty lame.

A Texas jury didn't buy the notion that the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, based near Dallas, had funneled more than $12 million to the Palestinian group Hamas after the U.S. declared it a terrorist organization in 1995.

You never would have guessed the case was weak if you had listened to the highest officials in the country a while back.

``Hamas has obtained much of the money that it pays for murder abroad right here in the United States, money originally raised by the Holy Land Foundation,'' President George W. Bush declared in a December 2001 Rose Garden announcement.

The U.S. froze the foundation's assets, stripped its offices of documents and furnishings and pronounced it illegal to move money in or out without government approval. The charity shut down, but its problems didn't end.

A federal grand jury indicted Holy Land Foundation and its leaders in 2004 for aiding a terrorist group, prompting then- Attorney General John Ashcroft to trumpet the development and declare it a message for others.

``There is no distinction between those who carry out terrorist attacks and those who knowingly finance terrorist attacks,'' Ashcroft said.

Lack of Proof

At trial, prosecutors couldn't prove what administration officials had so confidently declared, that the foundation knowingly financed terrorist attacks. In fact, they couldn't prove they did so unknowingly, either.

 
  Gonzalez OK'd Torture, AgainOctober 04, 2007 08:27 The Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales's leadership issued a secret opinion in 2005 authorizing use of painful physical and psychological tactics against terror suspects, including simulated drownings and freezing temperatures, it was reported.

The secret opinion, which explicitly allowed using the painful methods in combination with each other, came a year after an opinion in which Justice publicly declared torture "abhorrent" and the Bush administration seemed to back away from claiming authority for such practices.

The opinion was followed later in 2005 with another opinion secretly declaring that none of the CIA's interrogation practices violated the standard in the new law, as Congress was moving to outlaw "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners, The New York Times said in Thursday's editions, citing interviews with unnamed current and former officials.

The legal opinions, approved by Gonzales, remain in effect, despite efforts by Congress and the courts to limit interrogation practices used by the government in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Gonzales resigned last month under withering criticism from congressional Democrats.

The authorizations came after the withdrawal of an earlier, secret Justice opinion, issued in 2002, that had allowed certain aggressive interrogation practices so long as they stopped short of producing pain equivalent to experiencing organ failure or death. But that controversial memo was withdrawn in June 2004.