Patterico's Pontifications


PolitiFact Rates Obama’s Terrorist Prosecution Claim as “Barely True”

Filed under: Law,Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 5:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Over the years, both the Bush and Obama Administrations have pointed out that the government has successfully tried terrorism cases in civilian courts. Last week during a CBS interview, President Obama used the Bush prosecutions to bolster his claim that the U.S. could successfully prosecute the Guantanamo detainees in civilian court:

“The most important thing for the public to understand is we’re not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11,” Mr. Obama told CBS News on Sunday. “They prosecuted 190 folks in these Article Three courts,” he added, referring to civilian courts. “Got convictions. And those folks are in maximum security prisons right now. And there have been no escapes.”

Unfortunately for President Obama, PolitiFact concluded the point he was trying to make is Barely True because most prosecutions involved minor charges compared to the claims against the Guantanamo detainees:

Terrorism-related can be a broad definition, though, and can include immigration violations, giving false statements and other relatively minor charges. And so the [New York University’s Center on Law and Security] report breaks out cases in which defendants are charged under core terrorism or national security statutes. Those are bona fide, serious charges. Now you’re talking about 174 people convicted under those statutes; plus another 24 charged with those statutes, but convicted on lesser crimes. That also gets to the president’s figure.

But it’s misleading for Obama to cite that 190 number as if the cases are equivalent to those faced by Guantanamo detainees, said Greenberg, editor of the report. For one, most of those cases do not involve people affiliated with a radical Islamist organization, but rather with such groups as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a group of Marxist guerillas.

There are probably less than a dozen cases against people in the Islamic jihadist framework who have been convicted in federal court of serious terrorism-related crimes comparable to many of the Guantanamo detainees, Greenberg said.”

There have been successful terror prosecutions of Islamic terrorists:

“Nonetheless, there are some, she said, including Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber”; Bryant Neal Vinas, an American convicted of supporting al-Qaida plots in Afghanistan and the United States; Mohammed Jabarah, a Canadian who was active in al-Qaida and convicted of terrorism-related offenses; Shahawar Matin Siraj, a Pakistani-American who plotted to bomb Herald Square in New York; and Mohammed Junaid Babar, a Pakistani-American convicted of terrorist-related offenses in New York, and who testified in 2006 against a group of men accused of plotting bomb attacks in London.”

Maybe President Obama didn’t use the actual number because he and his staff prefer to read liberal websites that endorse their worldview, or maybe it’s because “less than a dozen” isn’t as impressive as 190. It could also be because those who have been convicted seem to be lower in the terror hierarchy than the remaining Guantanamo detainees.

Whatever the reason, “less than a dozen” makes it easier for reporters to check the details of the terror prosecutions to date — how difficult the prosecutions may have been, how long they took, and what trade-offs were made to get a plea or a sentence — and that’s something I doubt the Administration wants reporters to do.


6 Responses to “PolitiFact Rates Obama’s Terrorist Prosecution Claim as “Barely True””

  1. I’m with Joe Wilson.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  2. Can you imagine how utterly shocked and unprepared he and his handlers must be that people are actually checking his statements for accuracy these days? I mean, he got away with making stuff up and saying cool sounding pronouncements through the entire two years of his presidential campaign and they lapped it up–no questions asked.

    elissa (c7cd60)

  3. I battled Politifact for 2 months, with video evidence of Obama’s *signing statements* promise, and subsequent broken promise, only for it to be rated *compromise*. It’s all BS.

    sybilll (a49918)

  4. Well done DRJ. Which of course leads me to wonder is there ANY fact checking which has come out in Obama’s favor?

    GM Roper (6afe02)

  5. sybilll,

    PolitiFact does seem to lean left. So while it makes this rating even more surprising, I agree it’s not the last word on rating Obama.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  6. During Clinton’s presidency I used to amuse myself by identifying the blatant lies he told whenever he spoke. It got so I was more focused on listening for the lies than the substance of what he was saying. Obama has taken less than a year to reach that point with me. He has proven you can trust virtually nothing he has to say.

    daleyrocks (718861)

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