The Corner

A ‘Political’ Agenda Isn’t Necessarily a ‘Partisan’ Agenda

At Politico this morning, Josh Gerstein picks up on the story I’ve been talking about for a few days here — based on Patrick Poole’s reporting — that political appointees in the Obama administration intervened to prevent prosecution of Islamist organizations and some of their members (like CAIR’s Omar Ahmad) after those organizations/members had been shown to be coconspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case. Josh reports that the Bush Justice Department similarly intervened in 2004, when at least some of the prosecutors (in Dallas) wanted to include some of these organizations in the HLF indictment. He says the disclosure of the Bush DOJ’s decision is 

noteworthy because some conservatives have alleged in recent days that a Justice Department decision last year to decline prosecution of CAIR, co-founder Omar Ahmad, and others was motivated by politics and a desire to preserve outreach efforts to U.S. Muslim groups. [Emphasis added.]

I was interviewed at some length for the Politico report, and I think it is well done. But here, I think, Josh is being redundant and, consequently, confusing the meaning of “politics” in this context.

Coddling Islamists is not a political issue in the sense of Republican administrations having one position on it and Democratic administrations another. What makes a decision not to prosecute someone “political” is that it is done for reasons extraneous to the evidence and the law. The political goal in this instance was precisely “to preserve outreach efforts to U.S. Muslim groups.” Both parties are guilty of it, and I never said otherwise — in fact, as Gerstein notes, I have been a “withering” critic of the Bush and Clinton administrations when it comes to coddling Islamists.

 In any event, more on this in tomorrow’s column.

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