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And The Days Dwindle Down To A Precious Few…

tmpphpbn4vmb.gifSadly, it’s anti-climactic. The defense rested its case yesterday. The case against the three conspirators is basically at an end, save for rebuttal witnesses and closing arguments. The government has alleged and theorized about its vague and shadowy conspiracy charges involving terrorists somewhere on the planet and the defense has insisted proof being proven and contending no such documentation exists. None.

Truth be told, it all seems so weary now if it weren’t for the fact that the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and some of the most critical Supreme Court decisions protecting those freedoms, hadn’t been grossly violated by this corrupt Bush-Gonzales regime. Can you find any non-ideologue in this nation who doesn’t believe the Attorney General is a liar, a perjurer?

As the trial comes to a close, it’s important to single out reporters from the often (and often deservedly) maligned Main Stream Media (MSM) who have been covering the Padilla trial from the very beginning and who, to their credit and to the credit of the profession of journalism, have not wearied in pointing out the gas in the government’s case.

I want to name names and then provide one sample of those who almost daily churn out responsible, fair stories about the trial.

Here’s my list and not in any particular order:

  • Carol J. Williams – Los Angles Times Staff Writer.
  • Laura Parker – USA Today
  • Curt Anderson – Associated Press Writer
  • Vanessa Blum – South Florida Sun-Sentinel
  • Warren Richey -Staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor

There have been others who’ve dipped in and out of the story, not as regularly as the above but they too deserve mention:

  • Deborah Sontag – The New York Times
  • Carrie Weimar – Saint Petersburg Times

What separates the above mentioned from others in the MSM has been there absolute and total dedication to the truth of the trial. These men and women when writing about Padilla and the trial, never failed to mention that there had been “dirty bomb” charges – which the government dropped, and other charges, which the government dropped, and/or that Padilla was folded into this “conspiracy” case, late, after it had been filed against two other men.

I went to the trial in person, mainly to see Padilla, and his lawyer who’d been with him five long years, Federal Public Defender Andrew Patel. I also wanted to get a feel for the reporters covering the trial because I knew I had to rely on them for my information, putting it into a context almost never permitted in the MSM.

So, as things draw to a close, I want to parse one story, by Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald because it is an example of how, given the right conditions and the right reporter, it is still possible to get a fix on the truth of a story. Weaver’s story, focusing on a witness called by the defense team, was published last Friday, August 3rd. (I will keep my notations to a minimum)

With the end of the trial near, a defense team in the Jose Padilla terror case put on its strongest witness Thursday, when he testified that a suspected front for terrorists was actually a legitimate Islamic relief group.

Erol Bulur testified that he used his New Jersey warehouse to store tens of thousands of pounds of used clothes, canned foods and medicine donated by American Worldwide Relief, an organization run by a defendant in the Padilla trial.

Bulur said in Miami federal court that the relief group’s efforts accounted for as much as twothirds of all the supplies that he shipped from his warehouse through Turkey to Chechnya’s embattled Muslims in 1995 and 1996.

”A lot more than two or three boxes were sent by American Worldwide Relief,” said the Turkishborn Bulur, rebutting a prosecutor’s attempt to downplay the group’s significant humanitarian role in the Chechen conflict. Indeed, jurors were shown video of Bulur’s warehouse and 40foot cargo containers.

His testimony was powerful because it called into question a central theme in the U.S. government’s case: that defendant Kifah Wael Jayyousi, a leader of American Worldwide Relief, used the group as a front to provide money, equipment and other supplies to Islamic terrorists overseas.

(Weaver has, rightfully with his experience with the entire trial, offered his evaluation of the strength of Erol Bulur’s words, rather that the inadequate and so misleading “he said.” Weaver continues with a recitation of why this testimony is taking place in this courtroom.)

He [Jayyousi] is accused of conspiring with former Sunrise computer programmer Adham Amin Hassoun and Padilla, also formerly of Broward County, to support terrorists such as al Qaeda between 1993 and 2001.

The highprofile trial, which began in early May, is expected to wrap up with closing arguments and jury deliberations in midAugust. If convicted, each of the defendants faces up to life in prison.

Prosecutors claim Jayyousi collaborated with Hassoun, a onetime vocal member of a Fort Lauderdale mosque, who in turn recruited Padilla and others to join ”violent jihad” abroad.

They accused the trio of conspiring to murder, kidnap and maim people in Chechnya and other theaters where ethnic Muslims were under siege.

(Since Padilla’s name was the most prominent of the three, Weaver brings him into the story. Weaver neither shys away from the truth of Padilla’s violent youth nor his jail-house conversation.)

Padilla himself traveled in 1998 to Egypt, where the former gang member turned Muslim studied the Koran and Islamic culture.

(Now comes the most critical and most responsible part of Weaver’s story.)

At trial, prosecutors produced what they claim was Padilla’s Mujahedin application form, which he allegedly filled out before training with al Qaeda in Afghanistan in fall 2000.

(This, you may recall, is the only “hard” evidence of Padilla’s alleged intentions in the entire trial. Weaver puts it in context stressing how weak the case is.)

But the government’s case built largely on FBI wiretaps of phone conversations offered scant evidence of any of the defendants’ direct involvement in any jihad theaters. [Emphasis added]

During trial, prosecutors introduced evidence showing Jayyousi raised almost $50,000 to buy satellite phones for Chechen rebels fighting Russian soldiers. His defense lawyers, William Swor and Marshall Dore Louis, argue that the phones were used for coordinating relief efforts in Chechnya.

Padilla has shrunk to insignificance during this four month trial, Jayyousi became a relief worker for the Chechen rebels – the same ones the United States supported with cash and military arms.

Of course, the 12 jurors who will decided the fate of Padilla, Jayyousi and Hassoun do not have access to Weaver’s fine analysis of the evidence or lack thereof, but such reporting will at least help the public make sense of the verdict when it is delivered.

That is Main Stream Media at its best.

(With Christopher Austin)

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Lewis Z. Koch

Lewis Z. Koch