McCarthy: Bogus Stats Used to Defend Terror Trials

Monday, 01 Feb 2010 12:17 PM

By David A. Patten

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The assertion that 195 terror cases have been successfully handled in criminal courts since 2001 -- the administration's latest talking point in support of trying terrorists in criminal courts -- is bogus, according to author and national-security expert Andrew C. McCarthy.

In November, senior White House adviser David Axelrod said on CNN's State of the Union program: "We've had, you know, since 2001, have had 195 terrorism cases in the courts, and we've been successful 91 percent of the time. We're very confident about these cases, and we believe that this is the appropriate thing to do."

In recent weeks, the statistic has been widely cited. But only a handful of the 195 cases involved actual terror plots, McCarthy writes in National Review Online in a piece titled "Rigging the Numbers."

McCarthy says the statistic stems from a report published by Human Rights First, which included terror-related crimes that did not necessarily involve terror plots: Immigration fraud, financial fraud, and false statements cases, for example.

Comparing those cases to the Christmas Day bomber and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is "both false and an exercise in hypocrisy," McCarthy says.

McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, says many of the 195 prosecutions "involve people in the U.S. who are not themselves terrorists. Instead, they either contribute money and other assets to the jihadist cause (e.g., by contributing money to 'charities' that are actually fronts for al-Qaeda or Hamas), or else help terrorists surreptitiously move their funds from place to place."

Such crimes may be best tried in civilian courts, McCarthy says. But they are not comparable to international acts of terror such blowing up an airliner or destroying a skyscraper.

McCarthy adds that labeling a case a "successful" prosecution simply indicates the defendant was convicted. That doesn't mean valuable information was obtained to help deter future attacks.

McCarthy concedes that there have been "a handful" of genuine terror prosecutions in criminal court. But that shouldn't give terrorists "the same Bill of Rights protections no longer enjoyed by the nearly 3,000 Americans he slaughtered in a wartime attack."

Read the full story at the National Review Online.

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