November 7, 2013
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect seeking family testimony, immigration records
Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors should turn over all of the materials they have to give a full picture of Tsarnaev as Attorney General Eric Holder decides whether to seek the death penalty and possibly for a jury “to see Mr. Tsarnaev as a complete human being who should not be sentenced to death.”
In a memo filed in court last month, prosecutors said many of Tsarnaev’s requests for evidence are premature because a death penalty hearing in the case is not imminent. Prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz have not said whether they have recommended seeking the death penalty to Holder.
Tsarnaev is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and 29 other federal charges in the April 15 bombing. Authorities say Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, 26, built pressure cooker bombs and placed them near the finish line, killing three people and injured more than 260. Seventeen of the charges carry a possible death penalty.
The Tsarnaevs, ethnic Chechens from Russia, moved to the United States as children. Authorities have said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote about his motivation for the bombing on the inside of a boat he was found hiding in after the shootout with police.
“The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians” and “We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all,” he allegedly wrote.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors continue to withhold reports and testimony concerning Tsarnaev’s family, including immigration files they say contain information important to defend Tsarnaev and to argue mitigating factors during sentencing. They say that even after getting signed releases from certain Tsarnaev family members, immigration authorities have refused to release their files, citing the ongoing investigation.
His lawyers also said they believe numerous law enforcement interviews of teachers, neighbors, classmates and friends of Tsarnaev have not been turned over by prosecutors.
The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/lawyers-for-boston-marathon-bombing-suspect-seeking-family-testimony-to-give-full-picture/2013/11/07/c13e7114-47ee-11e3-95a9-3f15b5618ba8_story.html
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Thursday he’s disturbed by what he’s read about the New York Police Department conducting surveillance of mosques and Islamic student organizations in New Jersey.
Holder’s brief comments represented the most extensive public discussion of the topic to date by anyone in the Obama administration. The administration has repeatedly refused to endorse or repudiate the NYPD’s tactics, which include cataloging mosques and Muslim-owned businesses, recording the license plates of worshippers at mosques, infiltrating student groups and eavesdropping in Muslim neighborhoods.
WASHINGTON — Months after receiving complaints about the New York Police Department’s surveillance of entire American Muslim neighborhoods, the Justice Department is just beginning a review to decide whether to investigate civil rights violations.
Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress the status of the review Tuesday.
The announcement bothered some Democrats, who said they were under the impression the Justice Department had been reviewing the matter since last late last year.
Holder told Congress that police seeking to monitor activities by citizens “should only do so when there is a basis to believe that something inappropriate is occurring or potentially could occur.”
Holder responded under questioning by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who as an infant was sent with his parents to a Japanese internment camp during World War II and has compared that policy to the NYPD’s treatment of Muslims. The attorney general was on Capitol Hill to discuss the Justice Department’s federal budget.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to bring down a U.S. commercial flight on Christmas Day 2009 by detonating a bomb hidden in his underwear, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday in federal court in Detroit.
U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said life in prison is a “just punishment,” noting that “the defendant poses a significant ongoing threat to the safety of American citizens everywhere.”
Abdulmutallab’s lawyer had said that sentencing the Nigerian to mandatory life as required under federal law would be unconstitutional because no one was killed in the attempted bombing. But Edmunds was unmoved.
Government lawyers, who played video of the impact of detonating the equivalent amount of explosives as Abdulmutallab carried, essentially said that his failure to succeed in the attack did not lessen its seriousness. They described him as an “unrepentant would-be mass murderer who views his crimes as divinely inspired.”
“Today’s sentence once again underscores the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in both incapacitating terrorists and gathering valuable intelligence from them,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
LOS ANGELES — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked state secrets rules to prevent information from being released in a lawsuit filed by Southern California Muslims who claim the FBI monitored their activities solely because of their religion.
In a legal declaration filed late Monday, Holder makes a rare assertion of the state secrets privilege, arguing that it could cause significant harm to national security if the government is forced to reveal the subjects of a mosque-surveillance operation in 2006 and describe how the monitoring was carried out.
The FBI has said it does not initiate counterterrorism operations based solely on a group’s religion.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has defended the use of sting operations orchestrated by government informers, telling advocates for the civil rights of American Muslims on Friday night that the tactic is an “essential law enforcement tool in uncovering and preventing terror attacks.”
Tensions escalated last year after revelations that an FBI informant had infiltrated a mosque in California, seeking to build a terrorism case that later collapsed. Citing that case and what it called a pattern of FBI surveillance, a coalition of leading national Muslim organizations has largely suspended contact with the bureau.
The trial of self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) is being protested by NYC residents, some of whom are family and friends of 9/11 victims.
Demonstrators held signs that read “no constitutional rights for enemy combatants”. Some booed the names of Attorney General Eric Holden and President Obama.
The trial has divided the families of victims. Some say the trial is an opportunity to face the perpetrators of 9/11, while others fear the former site of the World Trade Center will become a jihadist recruitment center and that KSM should be treated like a war criminal in a military tribunal.
The United States has asked Germany to accept some Guantanamo prisoners when the facility is closed, the Interior Ministry said Sunday, confirming German media reports. An Interior Ministry spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the ministry’s policy, confirmed a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. has provided a list of names of prisoners it would like Germany to accept. “There is a concrete request,” the spokesman said, saying he could not provide any further details. Der Spiegel reported, without citing sources, that the U.S. had asked Germany to accept 10 prisoners. Top-selling Bild newspaper, meanwhile, reported the 10 were Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs. It also did not cite sources. President Barack Obama has ordered the military prison in Cuba shuttered in the next nine months. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at the end of April that the U.S. Justice Department is still trying to determine how many of the 241 prisoners in Guantanamo will be taken by other countries. Also at the end of April, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spent several days privately asking European leaders in London, Prague and Berlin for help relocating prisoners the United States wants to set free. In Berlin, Holder said the United States had made decisions on a group of about 30 prisoners, but had not yet decided where it wants to send them. Torsten Holtz reports.
The US government has officially asked Germany to accept as many as 10 inmates from the Guantánamo Bay prison, handing over a list to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and the Foreign Ministry. The request was made last week during a visit by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who spent four days in Europe talking to top judicial and interior officials from the European Union about how President Barack Obama intended to close the prison within the year. “A specific request has been made,” a German Interior Ministry spokesman said Sunday. After his talks in Berlin, Mr. Holder said Wednesday that 30 inmates could be freed immediately if a host country would be willing to take them in. In all, about 50 of the 241 inmates cannot be sent back to their own countries because they may be tortured or face the death penalty there. In an apparent contradiction to the Interior Ministry, Mr. Holder had added that no “specific requests” or “specific promises” had been made. The German interior and foreign ministries said Daniel Fried, a senior diplomat and a member of Mr. Holder’s team, had presented the list. Mr. Fried, who has been the assistant secretary of state for European affairs and is a former ambassador to Poland, is now Washington’s top diplomat dealing with the closing of the Guantánamo prison. The issue has divided the German government. Mrs. Merkel’s conservatives are in no hurry to accept any former inmates, fearing that they could pose a security threat. The Social Democrats, Mrs. Merkel’s coalition partners, are more eager to accept them, for moral reasons but also because they want to give the Obama administration tangible help. Wolfgang Schäuble, the interior minister and a member of Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, discussed with Mr. Holder in detail the logistics of taking in any inmates. Mr. Schäuble has always made it clear that the United States has primary responsibility for the inmates, because it opened the camp after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But in recent weeks, Mr. Schäuble also said Germany might consider taking some detainees, under certain conditions.
The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan said that it is asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate complaints that the FBI is asking followers to spy on Islamic leaders and worshippers. The Michigan Muslim organization sent a letter to Holder after mosques and other groups reported that members of the community have been approached to monitor people coming to mosques, and what kinds of donations they make.
The FBI’s Detroit office has denied the allegations, and special agent Andrew Arena, in charge of the local office, said that no allegations of wrong had been brought to his attention. However, based on complaints by worshippers, the agency appears to be on a “fishing expedition,” said the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “If there was a specific imam who they felt was telling people to support Osama bin Laden, that’s a different story — we wouldn’t have a problem with that. Community members would be the first people to report to federal law enforcement if such things were being said,” said Dawud Walid.