Members of the House Judiciary Committee on oversight on Thursday called on U.S. Attorney General to provide documents and evidence relating to the landmark Holy Land Foundation trial – the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history.
The committee made a nearly identical request more than a year ago, however, the documents were never made available by Holder or his department, lawmakers say.
Following court proceedings, the Holy Land Foundation was found guilty of providing millions of dollars in funding to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist organizations in 2008. Named as "unindicted co-conspirators" in the trial were the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Both have documented ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood...which then have ties to the Obama administration, but I digress.
Lawmakers, like Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), are again asking to see the evidence presented in that trial, a request that Holder does not seem to be in a hurry to fulfill. In an impassioned speech, the congressman challenged Holder to uphold his oath to "justice."
"When I hear an attorney general of the United States come before us and say, somewhat cavalierly, there is a political aspect to this office, it offends me beyond belief. Your job is justice, Mr. Attorney General, Gohmert told Holder.
He went on, "When we made a request a year ago – here – for the documents that your department has produced to people who were convicted of supporting terrorism. They are terrorists, and we wanted the documents you gave to the terrorists. We are a year later, and we still don't have them."
As he spoke, the cameras showed Holder looking away and down at a stack of papers, seemingly refusing to make eye contact with him.
Gohmert added that it made 'no sense" that the United States Attorney General would be more "considerate" to supporters of terrorism than to members of Congress.
"I am asking for the documents your department produced to the terrorist supporters convicted in the Holy Land Foundation trial. Can we get those documents?" he asked.
"Well, certainly you can have access to those things that are on the public record and that were used in the trial. I was also a judge I sat in this Washington, D.C. ..." Holder began.
"So, is that a yes or a no that we will get those documents?" Gohmert said, cutting him off.
Holder again ignored the question, and never got back around to providing a firm answer stating whether he would produce the requested documents.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) also pleaded with Holder to provide Congress with the documents from the Holy Land case. Once again, the attorney general would not budge or make a firm commitment.
"On April 27, 2011, members of this committee asked you to give us information surrounding the decision by a justice to forgo prosecution of the unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case. This is the largest terrorism finance case, of course, in U.S. history. You've refused to comply with this request," Franks said to Holder.
"You've still not prosecuted despite there being what many consider to be a mountain of evidence against these jihadist groups, at least one of which now says it is working inside your agency to help advise on the purge of counter-terrorism training materials," he continued, seemingly referring to CAIR and ISNA.
Franks argued that evidence outlines the jihadist network within the U.S. and amounts to roughly 80 "bankers boxes" full of documents. Just like his colleague, Franks informed Holder that the defense lawyers in the Holy Land Foundation trial were given access to the evidence, therefore Congress should be given the same courtesy.
"Members of this committee and other committees would like to review this evidence, whether it has to be on a classified basis or not," Franks said. He continued and asked that Holder give his word he would provide the documents to Congress.
"It's hard for me to answer that question – " Holder started.
"No it's not. It's not hard to answer. It's will you or will you not," Franks interrupted.
What was Holder's ultimate response? He eventually replied, "I can certainly take your request and we can check to see what the nature of the evidence is and make a determination about whether it's appropriate for that material to be reviewed. I just don't know."
It was later reiterated that it was seemingly appropriate for defense lawyers for convicted terrorism supporters to view the "material" but somehow not for members of United States Congress.
But Franks didn't stop there. He also formally requested the names of the outside groups that Holder admitted were working with his department and the FBI to remove certain information from counter-terrorism training material. While Franks called it "purging," Holder argued it was just the process of removing inaccurate information.
"It's been reported that multiple agencies including the FBI are now purging counter-terrorism material of information outside groups might fight offensive, including discussion of things as fundamental as that quote, 'al Qaeda is a group that endorses violent ideology that should be examined,'unquote," he said to Holder. "This strikes many as the sacrificing of vital national security... on the alter of political correctness."
Holder again confirmed later in the conversation that "outsiders" were coordinating with the federal government in the process of redrafting counter-terrorism training materials, but that the measure was only to remove information was was determined to be "simply not true," and not motivated by political correctness.
Franks then requested that Holder reveal who the outside groups were – Holder named none of them. This is the answer he got:
"This is something that is being run primarily out of the FBI. I mean, to the extent that there are outsiders who are involved that we are trying to interact with – we could perhaps try to get you those names," said Holder.
A few moments later, Franks told Holder point-blank that there was a specific jihadist group that claimed they were helping with the purging process – he declined to name that group.
"I don't think that's accurate, but I will relay that request to the FBI, Holder replied.
The Dallas Morning News provides more background on the Holy Land Foundation trial: