Ashcroft’s Law

When you’re the law, you don’t have to explain anything if you don’t want to. That seems to be Motto #1 for high-ranking members of the Bush Admin.

# Cheney insists there’s an Al Qaeda/Saddam connection even after the 9/11 Commission proves there isn’t. Why? Because he says so. What’s the evidence? He won’t say but it’s ‘overwhelming’.

# Bush says his Veep is right. Hussein had ‘terrorist connections’ to AQ. Why? Because he says so. What’s the evidence? He won’t say.

# Rumsfeld, caught breaking the law by agreeing to hide a prisoner from the Red Cross, says he didn’t have to report this prisoner because he was ‘in a different category’. Different how? ‘Just different,’ he says.

And now we come to Ashcroft, who took over the cameras personally yesterday in order to announce the arrest of the first private US contractor to be prosecuted for taking part in the torture at Abu Ghraib. In appropriately stentorian tones of official, not to say officious, disapproval of such a heinous crime, Ashcroft prattled on for some time about his Admin’s ‘respect for the rule of law’ and how this prosecution proved his ‘commitment to justice’, and it was all very impressive–or would have been except for three tiny little problems hardly worth mentioning:

1) It was Ashcroft and his DoJ who formulated the legal defense for using torture in the first place;

2) The contractor isn’t being charged with torture, primarily to prevent his lawyer from bringing up 1) in court as part of his defense;

3) Ashcroft’s ‘commitment to justice’ is right now being highlighted in a completely different case in which he is fighting to deport a Saudi man married to an American woman. Why does he want to deport him? Because, he says, the man knew a guy who knew a guy who may have known a guy who knew two of the 9/11 hijackers, or something almost as tenuous.

To understand how far the federal government will go to justify targeting individuals in its war on terror, look no further than the case of Hasan Saddiq Faseh Alddin.

Arrested outside the home of an elderly woman he takes care of, he was publicly linked in a press release from the Department of Homeland Security to the two San Diego hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar — albeit one step removed. In its release, the department said Alddin was believed to have roomed with a close friend of the hijackers. Department officials did not call Alddin a terrorist, but their largest investigative arm, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said it had been investigating Alddin ever since Sept. 11 and wanted him out of the U.S., citing two misdemeanor convictions for spousal battery in 1998 and 2000 as grounds for deportation.Now targeted for deportation, the married father of two is an example of how the government is unapologetically using whatever tools it can to deport foreigners it contends are a threat. And it is doing so without revealing what it says is secret evidence, citing minor crimes that would have gone unnoticed by federal officials before Sept. 11

Alddin is, they say, a ‘danger to America’, but they won’t say why.

“They’re not saying he’s a terrorist,” said Lauren Mack, ICE spokeswoman in San Diego. “They’re just saying they can’t say publicly why [the case] is a national security concern.”

Ah. Well, that clears it up. Off with his head. But wait–Alattas, the supposed connection between Alldin and the hijackers, left the US almost 2 years before the attacks, a year or so before the attack plans were even decided on.

A month after their arrival, Alhazmi and Almihdhar moved in with Alattas for about two weeks, maybe longer, the friends said. They said Alattas gave up his apartment that same month, when he returned to live in Saudi Arabia.The friends said it is unlikely that he had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks. They said he left the country in February 2000, more than 1 1/2 years before the attacks. They describe him as a Muslim who liked the Western lifestyle and was hardly a religious zealot. Ill-disciplined, they said, Alattas used his apartment as a gathering place for recently arrived young Muslim men who would join him in watching pornography and smoking marijuana — vices that made him an unlikely recruit for Al Qaeda.


But it doesn’t matter. The DoJ wants him gone and that’s that. Why?

Because they say so, that’s why. This is John Ashcroft’s America where people are guilty because he says they are and that’s all the explanation he has to give anybody. ‘National security’, you know.

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