A federal witch-hunt

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by nakedwally, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. nakedwally

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    (Source Press TV http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=1426&sectionid=3510303 )

    One of the first big show trials here in the post-9/11 homeland was of a Muslim professor from Florida, now 49, Sami al-Arian. Pro-Israel hawks had resented this computer professor at the University of South Florida long before Atta and the hijackers flew their planes into the Trade towers, because they saw al-Arian, a Palestinian born in Kuwait of parents kicked out of their Homeland in 1948, as an effective agitator here for the Palestinian cause. As John Sugg, a fine journalist, then based in Tampa, who's followed al-Arian's tribulations for years, wrote in the spring of 2006 on this website:
    "When was al-Arian important? More than a decade ago, when Israel's Likudniks in the United States, such as [Steven] Emerson, were working feverishly to undermine the Oslo peace process. No Arab voice could be tolerated, and al-Arian was vigorously trying to communicate with our government and its leaders. He was being successful, making speeches to intelligence and military commanders at MacDill AFB's Central Command, inviting the FBI and other officials to attend meetings of his groups. People were beginning to listen and to wonder why only one side of the Middle East debate was heard here. That was the reason for Al-Arian's political prosecution."

    Now the United States is a country that is blessed by a constitution, a Bill of Rights and the rule of law, all of them upheld with degrees of enthusiasm that rise and fall according to sex, income and ethnicity. The fall is particularly drastic if your name is Arab, you publicly profess the justice of the Palestinian cause. Living in Florida doesn't help either.

    At the direct instigation of Attorney General Ashcroft, the feds threw the book at al-Arian in February 2003. He was arrested with much fanfare and charged in a bloated terrorism and conspiracy case. He spent two and a half years in prison, in solitary confinement under atrocious conditions. To confer with his lawyers, he had to hobble half a mile, shackled hand and foot, his law files balanced on his back.

    The six-month trial in U.S. District Court in Tampa featured 80 government witnesses (including 21 from Israel) and 400 intercepted phone calls (the results of a decade of surveillance and half a million recorded calls). The government's evidence against Al-Arian consisted of speeches he gave, magazines he edited, lectures he presented, articles he wrote, books he owned, conferences he organized, rallies he attended, news he heard and websites no one accessed. One bit of evidence consisted of a conversation a co-defendant had with al-Arian in his dream. The defense rested without calling a single witness or presenting any evidence since the government's case rested entirely on First Amendment­protected activities.

    The man presiding over al-Arian's trial was US District Court Judge James Moody, a creature from the dark lagoon of Floridian jurisprudence. Hospitable to all testimony from Israelis, Moody ruled that al-Arian and his associates could not say a single word about the military occupation or the plight of the Palestinian people. During closing arguments, the prosecution noted a document that mentioned UN Resolution 242. Moody nixed that on the grounds that it showed Palestinians in altogether too warm a light and therefore might tax the objectivity of the jurors. As Sugg wrote after that ruling, if MLK had been on trial in Judge Moody's courtroom for disturbing the peace, he wouldn't have been allowed to mention Jim Crow or lynching.

    In December 2005, despite Moody's diligence, the jury acquitted al-Arian of the most serious charges. On those remaining, the usual prosecutorial flailing under conspiracy statutes, jurors voted 10 to 2 for acquittal. Two co-defendants were acquitted completely. It was a terrible humiliation for the Justice Department, which had flung an estimated $50 million into the trial.

    A jury split 10-2 in a defendant's favor doesn't augur well for conviction in a retrial. Indeed in the spring of 2006 the government declined to retry a wealthy Tampa businessman (the founder of Hooters) on tax evasion charges because the jury was hung 6 to 6, and therefore the proportion was too high to realistically expect a conviction during a retrial.

    But the feds insisted they wanted to put al-Arian through the wringer again and -- prudently, given Moody's prejudice-al-Arian's lawyers urged him to make a plea and put an end to his ordeal and end the suffering of his family.

    The terms of the plea agreement were in line with Al-Arian's long-standing contention, despite the government's accusations, that he never contributed to the violent actions of any organization. The government settled for a watered-down version of a single count of providing services to people associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Statement of Facts in the agreement included only these innocuous activities:

    (1) hiring an attorney for his brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, during his deportation hearings in the late 1990s;

    (2) filling out immigration forms for a resident Palestinian scholar from Britain; and

    (3) not disclosing details of associations to a local reporter. (I remain completely baffled as to why it should be a crime to withhold information from a newspaper reporter.)

    A central aspect of the plea agreement was an understanding that al-Arian would not be subject to further prosecution or called to cooperate with the government on any matter. The government recommended the shortest possible sentence.

    On May 1, 2006, al-Arian came before Judge Moody for sentencing. Watching the proceedings Sugg, as he reported on the CounterPunch website, noted a smug air among the prosecutors. He also noted that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez had arrived in the Tampa area five days earlier. Under the plea, al-Arian's sentence amounted to little more than time served, followed by his departure from the United States. But Judge Moody sentenced al-Arian to the maximum, using inflamed language about al-Arian having blood on his hands, a charge one juror said the jury emphatically rejected.

    Now al-Arian faced eleven months more in prison, with release and deportation scheduled for April 2007. But the feds' appetite was far from slaked. In October, Gordon Kromberg, an assistant federal prosecutor in Virginia notorious as an Islamophobe, called al-Arian to testify before a grand jury investigating an Islamic think tank. The subpoena was a outright violation of al-Arian's April plea agreement and his attorneys filed a motion to quash it. The motion included affidavits by attorneys who participated in the negotiations attesting to the fact that "the overarching purpose of the parties' plea agreement was to conclude, once and for all, all business between the government and Dr. al-Arian." The defense lawyers insisted that al-Arian would never have entered a plea that left him vulnerable to government fishing expeditions.

    Al-Arian's lawyers feared that their client was being set up for a perjury trap. Up in Virginia, Kromberg ranted to al-Arian's attorney about "the Islamization of America," while down in Tampa, Judge Moody ruled that federal marshals could drag al-Arian to Virginia to testify. On November 16, al-Arian was brought before the grand jury and placed in civil contempt for refusing to testify.

    One month after al-Arian was placed in civil contempt, the grand jury term expired, so Kromberg promptly impaneled a new one. Al-Arian was again subpoenaed and again expressed his ethical stance against testifying. This judge also held him in contempt, which could prolong his imprisonment by up to 18 months.
    Al-Arian, who is diabetic, then went on a hunger strike. February 26 marked the sixth week of his water-only hunger strike, in which he has lost 40 pounds and has grown considerably weaker. On the 23rd day of his hunger strike, Al-Arian collapsed and hit his head; he has since been moved to a federal prison medical facility in Butner, North Carolina.

     
  2. nakedwally

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    On January 22, when Al-Arian appeared before Judge Lee on the charge of contempt, he had this to say about his recent treatment:

    "In the past three weeks, I have been to four prisons. I spent fourteen days in the Atlanta penitentiary under 23-hour lockdown, in a roach and rat infested environment. On two occasions, rats shared my diabetic snack. When I was transported from Atlanta to Petersburg (Virginia) and from Petersburg to Alexandria, they allowed me only to wear a t-shirt in subfreezing weather during long walks. In the early morning, the Atlanta guard took my thermal undershirt which I purchased from the prison and threw it in the garbage and when I complained, he threatened to use a lockbox on my handcuffs which would make them extremely uncomfortable. In Petersburg, the guard asked me to take off my clean t-shirt and boxers and gave me dirty and worn out ones. When I complained, he told me to 'shut the f up.' And when I asked why he was treating me like that, he said 'because you're a terrorist.' When I further complained to the lieutenant in charge, he shrugged it off and said if I don't like it, I should write a grievance to the Bureau of Prisons. When I said he had the authority to give me clean clothes, he refused and said if I don't like it I should write a grievance to the Bureau of Prisons. During one of the airlifts, an air marshal further tightened my already tightened handcuffs, and asked me 'Why do you hate us?' I told him, 'I don't hate you.' He said, 'I know who you are, I've read your s-h-i-t.' These are examples of the government's harassment campaign against me that's been taking place for years because of my political beliefs."

    Measured against José Padilla, a man driven insane on Rumsfeld's orders, I guess al-Arian is lucky. He's alive, and still sane, though getting weaker by the day. He needs all the support we can muster. Across the globe, where al-Arian's case has aroused much outrage, respect for the U.S. commitment to Constitutional freedoms sinks lower still.


    AVA
     
  3. D_Humper E Bogart

    D_Humper E Bogart New Member

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    Terrorism is the new Communism. Aren't I glad that niggers keep guns!
     
  4. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    I checked that news site to see if maybe Jews were responsible for all those clouds obscuring the lunar eclipse here. But it only has weather for London and Tehran. What a disappointment!

    The article "Discovering Iranian civilization through basketball" looked promising. Not sufficiently promising to read, but still promising.
     
  5. zgrog2000

    zgrog2000 New Member

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    So what's your point?
     
  6. SC111

    SC111 New Member

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    B.f.d.
     
  7. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    Certainly not an objective report.
     
  8. madame_zora

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    Geez, from the sound of it, I'd think you're insinuating the even Muslims deserve human rights! What's wrong with you? /sarcasm.

    Anyone claiming this is not impartial have any evidence, or just wishful thinking? Seems pretty clear that the feds did everything they could to railroad the guy, but came up with only very impotent charges. But no, that couldn't possibly be a witch hunt.:rolleyes:

    Doesn't sound a bit like the professor's being harassed for speaking his mind. How many of US would take kindly to suddenly finding ourselves on the wrong side of the prison bars for our opinions? Sad state of affairs.

    Seems his crime might have been that he was too damned articulate for a fucking Muslim. How can we paint them all as disturbing, violent creatures when they go and make sense? How dare he suggest that both sides of an argument should be heard?
     
  9. Gillette

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    "first they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I was not a communist;
    then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up, because I was not a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I was not a Jew; then they came for the Catholics and I did’t speak up because I was Protestant. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up”
    Martin Niemoeller on the German descent into fascism.


    Would it really kill anyone to drop the apathy to simply do some searching?
    More articles from both POVs

    Truthdig - Reports - The Road Map to Despotism

    Sami Al-Arian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    CNN.com - FBI charges Florida professor with terrorist activities - Feb. 20, 2003

    SITE Institute: News Archive - Sami Al-Arian Fact Sheet

    Democracy Now! | EXCLUSIVE: Hunger-Striking Palestinian Professor Sami Al-Arian Speaks Out In First Broadcast Interview of His Four-Year Imprisonment
     
  10. dong20

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    What's yours?
     
  11. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Well, when this was first posted I did enough searching to find the Tehran street address of the owner of the domain name, and to find a good deal of material on presstv.ir - more than enough to give me complete confidence that it's as reliable, accurate, fair-minded and balanced as Pravda ever was.

    The agency has a radio station which broadcasts Arabic-language stuff into Iraq, just possibly with the goal of getting some freelancers to plant a few car bombs. Though it must have some sort of bona-fides as a news agency, as its Baghdad office hasn't been shut down. Or, for that matter, bombed.

    Offhand, I'd guess that its commentary on Middle Eastern, Iranian, Kurdish, or Arabic affairs is, at best, no more reliable than anything coming out of Tel Aviv.

    Or did you have a different sort of search in mind?
     
  12. Gillette

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    I did.

    Just because the event was spun by this particular source doesn't mean the event didn't happen. If you don't trust the first source you read it's prudent to read a few others. I actually think this is good practice regardless of the initial source.

    bfd strikes me as a pretty offensive response.
     
  13. D_Humper E Bogart

    D_Humper E Bogart New Member

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    Has to be the dumbest used quote in recent history.

    Modern translation:

    "First they came for the communists, but hey, I'm not a commie pinko, if they like communism so much, they can go back to Russia!

    Then they came for the trade unionists and about time too! Those lazy slackers work 20 hours a week then complain about the loss of their dental plan!

    Then they came for the Jews and I fully support the millitary attacks in retaliation, gooddamn pakis should stay on their side of the line.

    Then they came for the Catholics and I was pissed off with those goddamn liberals and their homosexuality, they're a perversion to God's creation and should all go to hell.

    Then they came for me, and as a white 50 year old male I was fully protected under the laws and constitutional rights and so have nothing to worry about. God Bless America.”

    I thank the almight every day that my skin colour is too dark to be called 'Arabic'.

    On the topic, one thing that people should get into their thick skulls is that there is NO SHAME in running. If there's one thing that I've learnt from WW2 history is that waiting for divine intervention to prevent you or your friends being sent to the slaughterhouse doesn't work!

    As a message to any muslim. Ask yourself, do YOU feel safe at work, at home, at school or college or whatever, if a government spy watched you at home, read your emails and bugged your phone, what would he think of you? Is it frightening?

    If so, then one really has to ask oneself if where you are is the best and safest place to be.

    Don't wait to be rounded up.
     
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