Friday, August 31, 2007

Holy Land Foundation Trial: TYRANNY BY INNUENDO

On Thursday, August 31, the prosecution rested its case in the Holy Land Foundation trial. As its final flourish of evidence, the government moved, and Judge Joe Fish allowed, into evidence the Department of the Treasury’s “Designation and Blocking Memorandum” dated December 3, 2001, and signed by Paul H. O’Neill, Secretary of the Treasury.

This memorandum is the legal declaration that the Holy Land Foundation was making “…Transactions With Terrorists Who Threaten to Commit Terrorism To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process” (and also with persons who “Commit, Threaten to Commit, or Support Terrorism”). The beginning of the document reads, “The Department of the Treasury, pursuant to…” two executive orders “…finds that there is reasonable cause to believe” that the Holy Land Foundation (with several other groups) is subject to this declaration “for the reasons set forth in the evidentiary memoranda.”

Reasonable cause to believe.” Reasonable cause is not proof. It is not hard evidence. It is speculation—even if it is based on “evidentiary memoranda.” Notice that Secretary O’Neill (or whoever wrote this Designation and Blocking Memorandum) does not say that the Treasury Department has proof of any so-called terrorist activity or even any connection with a “terrorist” group. “Cause to believe” means that, given a quantity of some kind of evidence, our government (encouraged—no, whipped to a frenzy—by the State of Israel) decided that what looked to the the rest of the world like charity work among people desperately clinging to the last vestiges of their society was support of “terrorism.” A “terrorism” that, by any reckoning other than the Israeli-American lobby, is, in reality, resistance to occupation, tyranny, and ethnic cleansing.

The United States Department of the Treasury, by capitulating to innuendo and unsubstantiated evidence in reports provided by the FBI participates in the same tyranny. Is anyone in this country safe if the government can convict persons on the basis of “reasonable cause to believe” rather than on hard evidence? You can read the evidence presented to the Treasury Department at The "evidence," as it has been developed in the trial, comes almost completely from events that took place before even HAMAS, much less HLF, was designated as a terrorist organization. The reasonableness of the government's conclusions depends not on the evidence but on presuppostions, that is, the tyranny of assuming guilt until proven innocent. A meeting, for example, that took place in 1993, is not proof of activity that continued until 2001.

Besides basing its entire case on “reasonable cause to believe” rather than on hard evidence, the government has twisted and falsely witnessed to what little evidence it has.

For example, the government has quoted the word “martyr” in reference to Palestinians who are deceased—used the word to imply by innuendo something that it does not mean. The government has never said so, but it relies on the American understanding of “martyr” to mean “suicide bomber.” If, by the government's innuendo, the Holy Land Foundation gave support to the orphaned children of “martyrs,” it gave support to “terrorists.” The Defense Attorneys were able to lead FBI agent Burns through documents kept by HLF that show that most of the “martyrs” whose families HLF supported (donations of about $40 per month to $200 per month for a family of eight or ten) were VICTIMS of violence they did not cause. One was, for example, an ambulance driver killed while trying to rescue a child caught in the middle of a gun battle. “The martyrs were victims,” said Attorney Linda Moreno.

That our judicial system has never been “perfect” is commonplace. But for the Federal Government to build a criminal case against American citizens based on “reasonable cause to believe,” rather than on hard “evidence,” and to compound that perversion of the legal system through distorting by innuendo what evidence the government does have, means that no American is safe. Those realities mean that the surreal and terrifying world of 1984 (or worse) has arrived just a few years later than George Orwell predicted, in our time.