Updated w/ video below.
More details on the Rashad Hussain fib lie flip flop at the White House. Not only did Hussain make the comments the White House claimed he didn’t make, it was Hussain himself who requested the website be scrubbed of his own comments.
Hussain’s reversal came after POLITICO obtained a recording of his presentation to a Muslim students’ conference in Chicago during which he can be heard portraying the government’s cases towards professor Sami Al-Arian, as well as other Muslim terrorism suspects, as “politically motivated persecutions.” Al-Arian later pled guilty to aiding terrorists.
In the recording, Hussain’s indictment of the government’s legal practices toward Muslims goes further than Al-Arian’s case, leveling a detailed critique of more than a half-dozen prominent anti-terrorism cases and several key provisions of the Patriot Act.
During the panel discussion on civil rights at a Muslim Students Association conference in Chicago, Hussain asserted that Al-Arian’s prosecution involved significant abuses.
“The case that Laila just reminded us of is truly a sad commentary on our legal system. It is a travesty of justice, not just from the perspective of the allegations that are made against Dr. Al-Arian. Without passing any comment on those specific allegations or the statements [that] have been made against him, the process that has been used has been atrocious,” Hussain said, according to the recording.
Hussain refers to some provisions of the Patriot Act as “horrible” and called “dangerous” an aspect of that law that allows intelligence-related surveillance to be used in criminal cases. Most lawmakers, including many Democrats critical of the Patriot Act, have said the provision has proved valuable, because it removed a wall that made it difficult for those pursuing investigations of international terror or spying operations to share information with criminal investigators. Hussain did express support for other aspects of the law, including a provision permitting so-called roving wiretaps.
While the audio shows that Hussain did utter the phrase “politically motivated persecutions” in the midst of his discussion about Sami Al-Arian, another comment Kandil attributed to Hussain, describing Al-Arian as being “used politically to squash dissent,” is not audible in the recording POLITICO obtained, which cuts off before any question-and-answer period.
Hussain’s remarks about Al-Arian appear to have been extemporaneous, but he seemed to have prepared in advance his denunciation of the Bush administration’s handling of other terrorism-related detentions and prosecutions.
— The court martial of Capt. James Yee, a Guantanamo chaplain initially suspected of treason and later charged with adultery. All charges were eventually dropped.
— The case of Jose Padilla, who was held without charge for more than three years as an enemy combatant on suspicions of trying to detonate a radiation-laced “dirty bomb” in the U.S. In 2006, more than a year after Hussain spoke, Padilla was charged in a terrorist plot unrelated to the dirty bomb allegations. He was convicted by a jury in 2007 and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
— The imprisonment of Yaser Hamdi, who was captured in Afghanistan, held as an enemy combatant and released to Saudi Arabia weeks after Hussain spoke.
— The prosecution of an imam and a pizzeria owner in Albany, N.Y., for conspiring with an informant in a fictitious plot to use a missile launcher to attack a Pakistani diplomat. The men were convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 15 years in prison, though their lawyers claimed the pair were entrapped.
— The prosecution of a Somali man, Nuradin Abdi, in 2004 for plotting to blow up a shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio. He pled guilty in 2007 to conspiring to support terrorism and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
— The imprisonment of an Oregon lawyer, Brandon Mayfield, who was jailed for more than two weeks in 2004 as a material witness on suspicion of involvement in the Madrid train bombings that year. He was never charged with a crime, received an apology from the FBI, which said it misidentified his fingerprints, and brought a lawsuit that led to a reported $2 million settlement from the government in 2006.
— The prosecution of four men as alleged members of a Detroit-based Al Qaeda “sleeper cell” plotting an attack. Two of the men were convicted on terror charges in 2003 but the convictions were thrown out at the government’s request after evidence emerged of prosecutorial misconduct and an unreliable informant. The prosecutor was charged criminally with concealing exculpatory evidence but later acquitted.
Hussain went on to tell the audience at the event, held roughly two months before the 2004 election, that electing Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as president could stem the tide of such cases.
“The attorney general and the president have the complete discretion to bring these cases. If they decide that these cases shouldn’t be brought, these cases will not be brought,” Hussain said.
“When people ask me what is the difference between George Bush and John Kerry, John Kerry may not be the most popular candidate amongst Muslims but there’s a fairly strong possibility that the politically motivated prosecutions that are brought forth by the Justice Department” would cease, Hussain said.
In his speech, Hussain revealed another link that may have left him sympathetic to Al-Arian. Hussain indicated he was acquainted with Al-Arian’s son Abdullah while both were college students in North Carolina.
Hussain told the audience that he was on hand when Abdullah Al-Arian was abruptly removed by the Secret Service from a White House meeting in June 2001, prompting a walkout by Muslim leaders. President George W. Bush later apologized for the incident, which a spokesman called “wrong and inappropriate.”
“When I saw the article that attributed comments to me without context, leaving a misimpression, I contacted the publication to raise concerns about it. Eventually, of their own accord, they modified the article,” Hussain said of the article in the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs.
There’s more. Read it all.
Politico also reported that the author of the now deleted but admitted Hussain quotes, Shereen Kandil, also works for the Obama administration at the Environmental Protection Agency, where her focus is projects in the Middle East. Laila al Arian, as we noted in this post, is a “freelance journalist.”
Updated: Fox video courtesy TTBL blog
Megan Kelly should do her research on Bush’s envoy – whom we posted on numerous times – and yes, he lost his way too.