Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Politico's Josh Gerstein has the real breaking news on CAIR

In "Despite ban, Holder to speak to CAIR-linked group" Politico's Josh Gerstein reports:
Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to give a keynote speech next week to a Michigan group which includes the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations even though the FBI has formally severed contacts with the controversial Muslim civil rights organization.
Stop the presses! I mean, really. This is news? This what the right wing can come up with these days on CAIR and the Obama Administration?

With CAIR - a favorite target of the right wing - I've always though the absence of evidence principle is appropriate. In other words, there are so many right wing organizations and blogs trying to find criminal connections to CAIR, and that they've come up with so little ought to say at least something. The NYT's useful review of the matters from 2007 is here.

After federal prosecutors named CAIR "unindicted co-conspirators" in the Holy Land Foundation case later in 2007, it was Gerstein -- writing in the New York Sun, actually -- who noted:

The practice of publicly naming unindicted co-conspirators is frowned on by some in the legal community, chiefly because there is no trial or other mechanism for those named to challenge their designation. Justice Department guidelines discourage the public identification of unindicted co-conspirators by the government.

"In all public filings and proceedings, federal prosecutors should remain sensitive to the privacy and reputation interests of uncharged third-parties," the Justice Department's manual for prosecutors says. When co-conspirator lists have to be filed in court, prosecutors should seek to file them under seal, the guidelines say.

And in the Politico piece this week, he notes:
CAIR officials have denied any connection to terrorism and have complained bitterly about being named as co-conspirators in the Holy Land case. They note that since the group was never charged it had no forum to challenge the documents prosecutors said linked CAIR to the Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR officials have also noted that aspects of the documents are not consistent with CAIR’s activities.
Good for Gerstein.

But the point remains: this piece isn't news in the first place.

It's gotten picked up in the right-wing blogs, of course, but otherwise hasn't gone mainstream. It will be interesting to see if any of the majors pick it up.


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