Sunday, November 4, 2007

NYT: End to a Shabby Prosecution

Full Editorial here, excerpts below:

The federal government agreed this week to terminate 20-year-old deportation proceedings against two Palestinian men who were wrongly targeted for their political beliefs and activities. Better late than never, but we fear that there is little hope that the Bush administration will learn any lesson from this shockingly mishandled prosecution.

The key allegation was that they had distributed a magazine published by the Popular Front and raised funds for lawful charitable organizations somehow linked to the group. Yet, fairly early on, the government conceded that it had no evidence that the two defendants had ever been involved in any criminal or terrorist activity — and that had they been citizens, there would have been no grounds for their arrest.

Unfortunately, that did not stop the government from obsessively pursuing the case under four presidents.

In January, Bruce Einhorn, an immigration judge, issued a ruling denouncing the long and winding prosecution as “an embarrassment to the rule of law.” He also castigated the government’s “gross failure” to produce potentially exculpatory and other relevant information.

It’s easy to see this case as a tragic anachronism, a relic from the bad old days of the Red Scare and cold war. But the Bush administration continues to risk injuring innocent people and deflecting resources from real terrorist threats with cases built on weak allegations of guilt by association.

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