August 8, 2008
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
2001 Anthrax Attacks Case "Solved"
U.S. officials announced this week that the FBI’s case involving the 2001 anthrax attacks has finally been "solved." According to The Associated Press:
"The case of the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people in 2001 and alarmed a nation already traumatized by the Sept. 11 terror attacks has been solved – but will remain open for now to wrap up legal and investigative loose ends, U.S. officials said.
"The government [was] to begin briefing victims and their survivors at FBI headquarters Wednesday – eight days after the top suspect, Army biowarfare scientist Bruce Ivins, killed himself as prosecutors prepared to charge him with murder."
Ivins committed suicide and died on the very day he was to meet with prosecutors to discuss a plea deal. On Wednesday of this week, Judge Royce C. Lamberth authorized the release of hundreds of pages of documents related to the FBI’s 7-year investigation, including search warrants involving Ivins. You can read them here.
The documents may settle the case for many, but the problem is the government’s theory of Ivins’ being the sole culprit will never be tested in court. I can’t help but question why the FBI and Department of Justice did not act more quickly to detain Ivins and perhaps prevent his untimely death.
Not only is his suicide a tragedy for his family and friends, but it is a tragedy for the victims of the anthrax attacks who deserved better justice from their government. Was Ivins not in custody because, despite all the rhetoric about "proof beyond a reasonable doubt," the government was lacking smoking-gun evidence? Now, some are suggesting the scientific evidence the FBI has been pushing in recent days may not have stood up in court.
While the U.S. government considers the case closed, Judicial Watch does not. You may recall that Judicial Watch represented hundreds of U.S. postal workers, and a postal worker support group "Brentwood Exposed," in a lawsuit against the U.S. government for its reprehensible treatment of the postal workers who processed the anthrax-contaminated letters at the Brentwood postal facility in Washington, DC.
Two Brentwood postal workers, Joseph Curseen, Jr. and Thomas Morris, Jr. died. Many others, to this day, suffer health complications related to anthrax exposure.
During the course of its investigation and lawsuit, Judicial Watch uncovered stunning information in a diary/log written by Brentwood Facility Plant Manager Timothy Haney revealing that USPS and U.S. government officials knew on Thursday, October 18, 2001 that "mail was leaking" anthrax spores into the environment of the Brentwood facility and that multiple anthrax spore swab tests "tested hot."
Despite this knowledge, USPS and U.S. government officials kept the Brentwood facility open until Sunday, October 21, 2001 – more than three days later – until news broke of the deaths of Mr. Curseen and Mr. Morris. Unaware that the Brentwood postal facility was contaminated, postal workers were denied the opportunity to protect themselves and were threatened when they tried to take protective measures.
Unfortunately, despite this evidence, an appellate court dismissed our lawsuit and the U.S. Supreme Court denied our petition to hear the case. Nonetheless, through its public education campaign, Judicial Watch made the American people aware of the government’s corrupt and shameless behavior in this case. You can read documents related to Judicial Watch’s anthrax investigation and lawsuit here.
Military Tribunal Convicts Bin Laden’s Driver, Accomplice
Osama bin Laden accomplice Salim Hamdan was convicted this week in a high profile military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay (the first since World War II).
According to The Washington Post:
"Osama bin Laden’s former driver was convicted on one charge and acquitted on another Wednesday, handing the Bush administration a partial victory in the first U.S. war crimes trial in a half-century but failing to settle the debate over whether the proceeding was just.
"A six-member military jury found Salim Ahmed Hamdan guilty of supporting al-Qaeda by driving and guarding the terrorist leader. The jurors found him not guilty of conspiring with bin Laden in terrorist attacks."
The press (the Post included) has attempted to dismiss Hamdan as a "low level al Quaeda foot soldier," but this is not the case. Hamdan was a close bin Laden ally who served as his bodyguard, his driver, and even helped transport weapons. After the conviction, he was sentenced to a little over 5 years by the military jury and could be out in 5 months (he gets credit for time served). Prosecutors had asked for 30 years.
This light verdict is a disastrous and unjust outcome. An admitted aide for a mass murderer receives this light of a sentence? The military judge, who was exceedingly fair to Hamdan, even sought "Allah’s" blessings in Arabic for Hamdan at the end of the trial.
This, from The New York Times account:
"Mr. Hamdan," Judge (Capt. Keith J.) Allred said, "I hope the day comes that you are able to return to your wife and daughters and your country."
"Inshallah," Mr. Hamdan said in Arabic, before an interpreter gave the English translation of "God willing."
"Inshallah," Judge Allred responded.
Frankly, I hope Hamdan is detained for the duration, which the military may very well try to do. But this effort will be hindered by this slap-on-the-wrist sentence.
Despite an outcome that I’m confident bin Laden is cheering, the liberal media has been sharply critical of the Bush administration’s military tribunal system, repeating ad nauseum comments by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that the system is, as The Washington Post suggested, "politicized and drawn up to ensure convictions."
You may recall Judicial Watch was selected by the Pentagon to monitor the proceedings of five 9/11 co-conspirators, providing a counterpoint to the ACLU and other radical groups supporting the terrorists. We sent our Director of Litigation, Paul Orfanedes, down to GITMO to record his observations. Here’s what Paul had to say on the subject of the integrity of the tribunal process:
"Some in the media have criticized the military commission process, leaving the impression that it is disorganized and lacks impartiality. What was striking to me during my trip was that I found the complete opposite to be true. I witnessed a deep commitment on the part of the military lawyers participating in the proceedings, especially the defense attorneys. They defended their clients vigorously and articulately. If anything, they seemed to have an even greater sense of commitment to their clients because they were military officers…" (You can read his full transcript of Paul’s comments here.)
A military commission process that is so "fair" that it may result in the release of a terrorist in 5 months will not mollify the Left — too many of whom will never recognize the right of the United States to bring these terrorists to justice.
Now that the Hamdan trial is completed, prosecutors can move on to the approximately 80 other terrorist detainees awaiting their turn, including top 9/11 conspirators. Let’s hope we can get some better justice. My concern is, that in the end, that this whole process may result in terrorists being released to kill Americans and innocents – again.
Judicial Watch Appeals Special Order 40 Lawsuit Against LAPD, ACLU
Judicial Watch has officially appealed the Los Angeles Superior Court ruling that our lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Order 40, an illegal alien sanctuary policy, cannot proceed to trial (Judicial Watch, Inc. v The Los Angeles Police Department et. al., Case No. BC349040). In addition to the LAPD, we’re also fighting the ACLU and other radical pro-illegal immigration activists. To see the official Notice of Appeal, click here.
Special Order 40 is a policy established in Los Angeles in 1979 that prohibits police officers from "initiat(ing) police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person." This prevents officers from inquiring about the immigration status of an individual and from contacting federal immigration officials about an individual’s immigration status. (If you want to read through related documents and court filings, please click here.)
Suffice to say it is our contention that Special Order 40 is a dangerous policy that prevents police officers from communicating freely with federal immigration authorities. It is in clear violation of federal immigration law. And we look forward to presenting our case before the appellate court.
As I mentioned last week, Judicial Watch is leading a nationwide campaign to end sanctuaries for illegal aliens. As part of this campaign, we’ve launched a brand new Internet site, www.sanctuarybusters.org. This is a big fight and we need your help.
Until next week…
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.