Newsday has a story up about Patrick Fitzgerald and his days as one of the “bomb boys” from the US attorney’s office in Manhattan who spent much of the 90’s crafting ways to prosecute terrorists following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing:
U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, who helped prosecute six men sentenced to life in prison for the attack, recalled prosecutors cobbling together laws about commerce, destruction of vehicles, assault on federal officers and immigration — anything to create long potential sentences.
“We were left with a big hole in the ground, six people dead, and there really was no crime, no terrorism statutes. We had to struggle to find crimes in the books that fit the conduct here,” Garcia said.
Hence the genesis of the GOP talking point regarding Fitzgerald getting “overly creative” with the law. Funny that the war party now looks back and wishes Mr. Fitzgerald had looked into that smoking hole, muttered “hmmm, no law broken here,” collected his marbles and gone about his business.
One of the people Fitzgerald put behind bars for the 1993 bombing was Sheikh Omar Abdel Raham, better known as “the Blind Sheikh.” Fitzgerald wound up writing a set of rules or Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) to hinder the Sheikh’s ability to communicate to his followers from jail. (It was the violation of the SAMS rules that got Lynn Stewart in hot water.)
The New Yorker has an interesting snippet from a surreptitiously taped conversation between Rahman, his translator Mohammed Yousry and Lynn Stewart from 2000, comparing Fitzgerald and Andrew McCarthy, another member of the anti-terrorism squad:
ABDEL RAHMAN: We thought that McCarthy was more dangerous.
YOUSRY: We thought that McCarthy was really a, a devil.
STEWART: A devil. Well, Fitzgerald I think is more so. He’s, uh . . . he’â€™s like a crusader.
YOUSRY: She says, sir, thatâ€” —
STEWART: He has it in the heart.
YOUSRY: Fitzgerald is different from McCarthy. Fitzgerald believes in all these things in his heart, he has the faith of doing them in the same way the crusaders did; crusader, I mean, same as the crusaders’â€™ battle. He is more dangerous this way.
ABDEL RAHMAN: Ah!
STEWART: “â€œThis will never happen again. There will never be a bomb [that] explodes [in] an American Embassy again!” You know.
YOUSRY: When he stands up to speak, he says, this will never happen again to any American Embassy. We have to exterminate them all, we have to defend ourselves. He believes in that.
ABDEL RAHMAN: Yeah.
YOUSRY: He is not saying it in the same way McCarthy did, to gain the support of the jury.
Too early to be talking about Time Magazine’s Man of the Year? Evidently not.