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Airbrushing Terrorism from a Terrorism Indictment

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I previously noted how frivolity beat sobriety in deciding to treat the terrorist murderer in the Benghazi case, Ahmed Abu Khattala, as a defendant to be tried in civilian court rather than as an enemy combatant.  But it's worse than I thought. Andy McCarthy, the former AUSA who convicted the Blind Sheikh, explains why as only a sharp-eyed and experienced prosecutor could.  The basic problem is that  -- for reasons that cannot be other than political  --  the indictment omits essential background information needed to get the whole truth before the jury:

Khatallah has been identified by the State Department as a "senior leader" of Ansar al-Sharia, one of the al-Qaeda-tied franchises in Libya. Yet there is no mention of Ansar al-Sharia in the indictment, much less of al-Qaeda or the Islamic-supremacist ideology that ties jihadist affiliates together. In fact, the indictment does not even accuse Khatallah of being a terrorist.

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Nothing about a long-running, ongoing jihadist war against the United States.

Instead, the indictment is written to portray a sudden, spontaneous eruption of violence, without much planning or warning, in which Khatallah -- who knows . . . perhaps inspired by a video -- abruptly joined a disgruntled group of protesters that turned out to include some shady terrorists motivated by . . . well, who can really say? All we know is the violence started without warning and, before you could scramble a fighter-jet or fuel up Air Force One for a Vegas campaign junket, it was all over.

There are a lot of downsides to giving enemy-combatant terrorists all the majesty of American due process. But at least it used to mean that, by the end, you'd have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Now, it's starting to look like what you get on the Sunday shows.

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So Obama and Holder's grand design to bring enemy battlefield combatants to justice in our federal court system was more than a desire to provide "gold-plated" due process to the military enemies of our country. The ridiculously sparse two page indictment in this case is a total whitewash of the gravamen of the true offense conduct of this terrorist who undoubtedly did more than "provide material support" to others more responsible.

Another dangerous and reckless precedent from an administration that has no respect for settled law.

The defendant acted outside the territorial confines of the United States. They can only indict under such US laws as may be applicable outside the USA. Maybe the indictment also reflects what evidence they have and more importantly, what they can prove to a jury. The only question that is relevant is, if the jury convicts, what will be the punishment?

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