Saturday, October 14, 2006

US law experts question timing of Qaeda treason charge

The first treason charge against an American since the World War II era has puzzled some law experts who suspect that political motives were behind the move less than a month before congressional elections.

Adam Gadahn, 28, was charged with treason Wednesday for appearing in Al-Qaeda propaganda videos, putting him in a small club of less than 40 people who have been prosecuted for betraying the United States.

Two other Americans who have faced justice in the "war on terror" since the September 11, 2001 attacks, "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh and suspected Al-Qaeda operative Jose Padilla, were never charged with treason, which can carry the death penalty.

The Justice Department announcement of the federal grand jury indictment against Gadahn, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, came weeks before the November 7 election in which President George W. Bush's Republicans hope to keep control of Congress.

"There's a real effort in the (Bush) administration to keep fear alive in the country," said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University Law School professor.

"The timing of this case and the use of this charge seems to be a bit too coincidental with the election cycle," Turley said.



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