April 18, 2006

Dr. Sami Al-Arian To Be Released Soon

After failing to convince a jury to convict him on any charge, the US government has decided not to re-try Dr. Sami-Alrian on the remaining charges (which the jury dead-locked on). An agreement was signed between the two parties that would allow Al-Arian to be released from jail and deported to another country. I wrote about Dr. Al-Arian's horrific ordeal with the US government in this post.

His wife Nahla spoke to Aljazeera today explaining that his plea was simply acknowledging that he was part of an organization which the US considers an illegal one, but that his involvement was strictly humanitarian in nature. The government wanted to save face after a stunning victory for Al-Arian where the jury did not find him nor any of 3 friends guilty in any of the more than 200 charges put forth by the government.
Douglas W. Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University in California and an assistant attorney general from 1985 to 1989, called the deal "a face-saving gesture" in a test case that was a serious disappointment to the government.
Al-Arian chose to sign this plea as it is the last and final way to put an end to this trial that has devastated his career and his family.
Moreno, al-Arian's lawyer, said that given his pending sentencing, scheduled for May 1, "this is not a time for any political statement to be made." But she said the former University of South Florida computer engineer was "at peace" with "a just resolution to bring about closure to a nightmare."

"Dr. al-Arian has been very sensitive to the suffering of his family and his five children, and in particular his two youngest children, who have been the most traumatized by having their father in prison for three years," Moreno said.

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8 Comments:

At 12:01 AM, Anonymous tommy said...

I have to say moi, your defense of al-Arian is pretty absurd!

His wife Nahla spoke to Aljazeera today explaining that his plea was simply acknowledging that he was part of an organization which the US considers an illegal one, but that his involvement was strictly humanitarian in nature.

OK. So he was full of crap after all and really is a member of Islamic Jihad. Will all the people who defended him, saying he had no ties to terrorism now apologize for standing up for somebody who aids and abets terrorism? Doubt it. That would require a degree of honesty and responsibility lacking from people who support a creep like this.

Also, what is all this nonsense about humanitarianism? It wouldn't matter to me if he was involved in the "softer side" of some terrorist organization but last I checked, PIJ wasn't exactly known for having a huge social services agenda like Hamas. Unlike killing men, women and children is humane.

From a previous article on al-Arian you wrote:

I came across this article which includes an interview with the not-yet-convicted-but-still-jailed-because-he's-Arab/Muslim/Palestinian professor Dr. Sami Al-Arian on the progress of his trial and what he's been through for the past 3 years.

No, moi. In practically every country in the world, when you are facing trial you can be jailed. This is doubly true if the charges are serious and the courts determine that you are a potential flight risk or danger to the community. No one is going to take chances with somebody accused of being tied to terrorism.

OJ Simpson had to sit in jail while awaiting trial for murder and it wasn't because he was an Arab. Like al-Arian, OJ got off easy. Also like OJ, al-Arian was probably guilty of all the charges originally brought against him even if a jury wouldn't convict or couldn't decide.

If you want to jump on the "Blame American" bandwagon, moi, you can always move to such lovely locations as Libya, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Vietnam, Sudan, Somalia or wherever else in the world you choose. No one is forcing you to stay and many of us would be happy to see an unpatriotic apologist for terrorism like yourself go. I promise, if you choose to leave, we won't miss you!

More seriously, I do enjoy your blog even if I totally disagree with you. I just wish people like you would realize that most human beings on this earth, including Israelis no doubt, don't have a great deal of choice of where they are or how they arrived.

It is horrendously cruel to snuff out somebody's life. Doubly so when you know nothing about what kind of person they are. I know you'll want to bring up dead Palestinians but I already realize that innocent Palestinians being killed is a tragedy. I would like to see violence between both sides stop altogether. It doesn't get anyone anywhere at this point.

I get the impression, so long as Israel has to continue to scrape corpses off the street you just really don't care. That is sad.

I just hope you realize that, somebody due to circumstances beyond your control, you could find yourself indiscriminately targeted by a terrorist just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time by somebody who doesn't know how you feel about the issue they are killing over and doesn't care what good you've done in your life. I wouldn't want that for you and I don't think you would want that for yourself.

Have a nice one, moi.

And have a little patriotism . . . whatever you think of the US, you have to admit there could be much worse places in the world to be. Why not be a little appreciative you have it better than billions of your other fellow human beings on the planet.

 
At 12:02 AM, Anonymous tommy said...

Sorry for the typos in my last post, it is late and I need to go to bed.

Enjoy your night, moi.

 
At 1:00 AM, Blogger moi said...

Tommy, thanks for stopping by my blog. I'll try to respond to your criticisms as best as I can.

I purposely referred to my earlier post about Al-Arian because this recent development should not be taken out of the whole context of the rest of the trial. You might know that such plea deals are almost always signed by thousands of suspects because they fear a worse outcome if they do not make a plea. Thankfully, Al-Arian didn't make the plea in the beginning, and his innocence was indeed proven as the jury could not find him guilty on any charge.

However, the US government wanted to try him on the remaining charges, which was absolutely ridiculous because they had a very slim chance of winning since they slapped more than 200 charges against the 4 defendants and not ONE charge was proven against them. Like I mentioned, the US government wanted to save face, and in doing that, it found that the only option was to bargain with Al-Arian about his future, ie: his ability to be released from prison and deported.

At this moment in time, Al-Arian has not openly and clearly discussed this plea bargain, which explains the vagueness in his wife's statement to Aljazeera. Once they are out of the US, I would imagine that they will elaborate on this development and be able to discuss this openly. In the aftermath of 9/11, many individuals facing frivolous charges have been forced to accept plea bargains in the interest of securing lesser sentences, even if they in fact are legally not guilty. A 100-level law class would inform you that plea bargains do not always indicate that the defendant is guilty. I do not question Dr. Al-Arian's innocence, and I do not question the brutality with which he was treated (discussed in detail in my previous post), and I strongly believe that many 3rd world countries do not treat prisoners with such inhumanity.

You said...
No, moi. In practically every country in the world, when you are facing trial you can be jailed. This is doubly true if the charges are serious and the courts determine that you are a potential flight risk or danger to the community. No one is going to take chances with somebody accused of being tied to terrorism.

Again, if you would refer to my previous post on this topic, you would see that Al-Arian was not simply "jailed." He was clearly discriminated against as he was the only pre-trial suspect to be held in a maximum security prison, one specifically designed for convicts with disciplinary problems. I don't care how dangerous you think he is, he is innocent until proven guilty, and he as a prisoner has rights that should be respected.

Tommy, I'm not the only who is constructively criticizing some of the actions of my government. Army generals are asking for Rumsfeld to resign because they believe that he has failed in his position. I am obviously here in America for a reason, and I do appreciate the fact that I can openly criticize my own government.

More seriously, I do enjoy your blog even if I totally disagree with you.

Thank you Tommy, and I hope you do come back because I do not think we can overcome these issues without serious dialogue.

Nowhere on this blog have I condoned any form of violence against any group of people. Please do not accuse me of belittling the life of any individual, Israeli or otherwise. I value human life and I think that is clear through my various posts that address some of the most serious humanitarian crises of our time, including but not limited to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Whether human life is compromised by poverty, bad policies, or simply acts of terror, I condemn all preventable deaths and speak out against it and hope that my voice is heard somewhere and is not muffled by individuals who would question my patriotism.

Maybe you want me to write a post entitled "the million reasons why I love the US" to show my patriotism or simply support every decision that this government makes, but I do not think that is necessary. I think my words are clear, and my criticism of any government (American, Israeli, Arab, whatever) is done with the sole intention of raising awareness about any abuses in which many governments tend to be complicit. I'm not saying that my blog will make this world a better place, but I hope that it will have an impact on my visitors.

Take care.

 
At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You might know that such plea deals are almost always signed by thousands of suspects because they fear a worse outcome if they do not make a plea."

The problem is that in this case, his wife has admitted (after his own previous denials) that he is in fact tied to PIJ.

"and his innocence was indeed proven as the jury could not find him guilty on any charge."

From a legal perspective, they found him not guilt on most of the charges. A few of the charges they were deadlocked on. The jury members themselves cited a "lack of evidence" on all the charges. However, of course, people can be acquitted for lack of evidence for charges that are, indeed, true. His wife's comments leave little doubt that he has been dishonest with the public in this affair.

"than 200 charges against the 4 defendants and not ONE charge was proven against them."

This really is a lot less impressive than you make it sound. If somebody stood trial for direct involvement in the 9/11 attacks, for instance, they would probably be facing thousands of counts of murder. The jury would still only be considering a single major event, however. In the case of al-Arian, they had to consider a single pattern of behavior. If they could find no evidence of a certain pattern, most of the charges would go away.

"At this moment in time, Al-Arian has not openly and clearly discussed this plea bargain, which explains the vagueness in his wife's statement to Aljazeera."

His wife said that her husband was involved with a group currently considered illegal by the United States, that seems a pretty clear indication that he is, indeed, tied to PIJ.

"In the aftermath of 9/11, many individuals facing frivolous charges have been forced to accept plea bargains in the interest of securing lesser sentences, even if they in fact are legally not guilty."

I'm intrigued. What individuals are you referring to, moi?

"I do not question Dr. Al-Arian's innocence, and I do not question the brutality with which he was treated (discussed in detail in my previous post), and I strongly believe that many 3rd world countries do not treat prisoners with such inhumanity."

Maybe you should question some of the "brutality." Most of everything else this individual says has went unquestioned by supporters such as yourself, including claims that al-Arian didn't know anything about any terrorist organization and certainly wasn't involved in any such organization. Also, you'd be wrong about them not treating people in the 3rd world with this level of inhumanity. In many countries, believe me, they do far worse.

"I don't care how dangerous you think he is, he is innocent until proven guilty, and he as a prisoner has rights that should be respected."

Please then, with specific detail, elucidate the rights that pretrial detainees are supposed to have, regardless of the nature of the accusations.

"Army generals are asking for Rumsfeld to resign because they believe that he has failed in his position."

I don't know whether this is a good idea or not. However, the generals calling for his resignation are former generals. There are thousands of such individuals in the United States, many of them, such as former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark, highly partisan. So, one must take care in considering the motives of such individuals. I wouldn't surprised if Rumsfeld could easily find himself many former generals who would defend him, as well. We must look at the substance of people's arguments to decide what is best on this matter. In any event, I don't see what Rumsfeld has to do with any of this.

Maybe you want me to write a post entitled "the million reasons why I love the US" to show my patriotism or simply support every decision that this government makes, but I do not think that is necessary.

No, I don't want a specific post detail why you love the United States. Patriotism isn't supporting every decision the government makes, either. I'm sorry you feel that mindless conformity is the same as patriotism. What I'm getting at is the fact that the United States comes in for criticism in countless posts from people such as yourself and I hardly hear of word of praise for anything it does right. To read such posts, you might think that the United States was the most repressive, unjust and evil nation ever to exist.

When critics cannot make a valid point about something they hate about the modern US, they resort to bringing up the negatives in its history. They fail to comprehend the fact that America has done a far greater job than most countries in overcoming such things as racism, discrimination and religious intolerance. They don't comprehend the tremendous rights that women in the United States enjoy over so many of their sisters elsewhere in the world. They don't appreciate the diversity of opinion that exists in the United States that wouldn't be tolerated in so many other countries. Not to mention such "little things" as the fact, while we have poverty, we don't have mass starvation. That we enjoy a standard of living (even most of our people living below the "poverty line") that so many in the world can only dream of.

The funny thing is that in many countries if you posted the sort of nonstop criticism of a nation we see directed towards the US by leftist and Islamic bloggers, you would probably be censored by the government for having done so. Here you can say practically anything, sort of an open threat of violence, and no one will stop you.

The United States isn't a perfect country: no country is. However, it is a country where its citizens in enjoy far more freedom (and material success) than most people in the world do. A moment to reflect on that, once in an occasional while, wouldn't hurt.

Have a nice one, moi.

 
At 9:38 AM, Anonymous trommy said...

Sorry, I didn't post my name.

 
At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then I posted it wrong. Whoops.
I'm going back to bed.

 
At 4:24 PM, Blogger moi said...

Tommy, you sleep a lot don't you ;)

I'm not denying that Al-Arian's plea deal casts doubt on his previous claims. However, I do not like to jump to conclusions and would rather hear it from him directly. What I attributed to his wife was my own understanding/interpretation of what she said on Aljazeera (which is not immune to mistakes). In the future, I will try to find a direct quotation just to be clear.

I definitely do not like the idea of plea bargains and guilty pleas, it's one of things that I strongly disagree with in the US legal system because I do not believe that anything can make up for a fair trial. (You can read more about guilty pleas here).

You claim that not being convicted on a single count out of a total of 200 for 3 defendants is not impressive. I must disagree. The US government had an enormous amount of power and claimed to have much evidence to prove this case, yet they could not even convice 12 jurors to make the connection between Al-Arian and PIJ activities.

I used the example of the army generals attacking Rumsfeld because you seemed to indicate that I had no right to criticize the US government. I wanted to point out that I am not the first nor the last nor individual to do so, that even individuals with high level positions have done so throughout history. You cannot tell me that all of them had "agendas." We're not just talking about the GWB era...all the way back to GW, TJ, and others. I only brought Rumsfeld into this because you accused me of "jumping on the 'Blame America' bandwagon" because I offered my criticism of a certain government policy.

I never said or alluded to the idea that US is the most unjust or repressive nation. I only point to these bad policies by certain politicians, and focus on the US, because as the most powerful nation on earth, our country is held to higher standards. We cannot be compared with Libya or Cuba. We cannot champion human rights and cover abuses at home. I speak out in the interest of erasing these black spots on our nation's image that have been used by many around the world to ridicule us, and some psychopathic terrorists as an excuse to attack us.

I do not need to be reminded of the freedoms I enjoy in this country, as this blog is an expression of some of those freedoms which I hold in high esteem. I hope that one day the rest of the world can enjoy them similarly.

Take care.

 
At 10:15 PM, Anonymous tommy said...

Alright, that is all fine. I disagree with you on some of what you wrote, but I will limit myself to just a few points:

I used the example of the army generals attacking Rumsfeld because you seemed to indicate that I had no right to criticize the US government.

I never disputed any of your democratic rights. You certainly have the right to express yourself. I'm saying that people should simply take into consideration the fact that a few retired generals attacking somebody doesn't mean much in light of all the circumstances. I don't know why you construed something I said earlier as indicating that you didn't have a right to say something. I don't agree with very much of Bush's domestic agenda and criticize him frequently on things ranging from environmental protection to illegal immigration and I say so frequently. I don't believe in censoring anybody even if they disagree with me.

and some psychopathic terrorists as an excuse to attack us.

Islamic terrorists don't need excuses. The lack of a pan-Islamic caliphate, the fact that Islamic nations are not the world's most powerful, and the fact that we Americans (and westerners in general) are infidels in their eyes is all the excuse they need.

I hope that one day the rest of the world can enjoy them similarly.

Amen.

Have a nice one, Moi.

 

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