Perhaps most outrageous finding: Almost every high-profile domestic terror case across America since the September 11 attacks featured the “direct involvement” of government agents or informants. In some cases, virtually the entire “terrorism” plot — from start to finish — was actually led and financed by government operatives.
Also alarming, the investigation found, are routine violations of constitutionally protected rights such as due process and fair treatment amid the never-ending and increasingly domestic-oriented terror war. From the use of "secret evidence" and anonymous juries to schemes that border on “entrapment,” the report suggests that U.S. terror policies are officially out of control. The authors of the report said the controversial tactics may even be putting national security at risk by diverting law enforcement and other resources from real threats.
The 214-page report, dubbed “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions,” focused specifically on more than two dozen federal terror cases. As part of the probe, the non-profit Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute examined all elements of the 27 cases, from initiation of the federal investigations to eventual sentencing and even the conditions of confinement after conviction. Their findings, unveiled last week, paint a troubling picture of the U.S. “terror” apparatus, its human-rights implications, and the direction in which it is all going.
The human rights-focused investigators found numerous concerns in all aspects of the process, including what they called “overly aggressive” sting operations and “unnecessarily restrictive” conditions in prison. Many of the examples highlighted in the report are truly shocking — even to the judges presiding over the cases. For example, in the “Newburgh Four” case, the judge slammed the government’s tactics, saying it “came up with the crime, provided the means, and removed all relevant obstacles.” Authorities made a terrorist out of a man “whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope,” the judge added in his stinging rebuke.
Since the September 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. soil, there have been some 500 terrorism-related cases in federal courts. “This is a number that sounds really big, and it makes it sound like Americans are being kept safe from terrorism attacks,” explained Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director for Human Rights Watch. “But we found that in a lot of these cases, people were prosecuted who never would have committed a terrorist attack in the first place, if it weren’t for the involvement of the FBI.”
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