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USA vs Al-Arian
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Civics 101: The USA v. Al Arian

December 4, 2007
Counterpunch

by Russell Mokhiber

Link:Click here or here

If it’s Sunday night, it’s Civics 101 at the Mokhiber household.

Last night, the home schooling Civics topic:

U.S. Constitution.

First Amendment.

Congress shall pass no law abridging freedom of speech.

Let’s go to the DVD.

USA v.Al-Arian.

Let’s see if a documentary about the U.S. Constitution can hold the attention of
a 13 year-old and a 10 year-old - for 90 minutes.

Sami Al-Arian is the University of South Florida Professor and Palestinian
activist.

Al-Arian advocates for the overthrow of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank
and Gaza.

As Nelson Mandela advocated for the overthrow of the apartheid regime in South
Africa.

As any of us would fight against occupation - if we were occupied.

Al-Arian was engaging in free speech.

But, lo and behold, Al-Arian became a target of the U.S. Department of Justice.

They said he supported Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

They accused him of being a terrorist.

They indicted him and others in Florida and put him on trial.

They tapped thousands of his family’s phone conversations.

Including those of his wife ordering pizza.

They used 400 of those phone conversations at trial.

Picking and choosing.

Slicing and dicing.

They flew Israeli victims of bus bombings from Tel Aviv to St. Petersburg,
Florida to testify against him.

They spent $50 million to prosecute Sami Al-Arian.

One problem - the government couldn’t establish a link between Al-Arian’s
advocacy and these violent acts.

Two years ago this week, on December 6, 2005, Sami Al-Arian was found not guilty
on eight counts.

The jury hung on the remaining nine counts.

The reporters wanted to know from the jurors - why didn’t you convict Sami
Al-Arian of being a terrorist?

What was missing from the government’s case?

“Evidence,” one juror responded wryly while leaving the courthouse.

“Guilty of what?” asked St. Petersburg Times reporter Meg Laughlin.

“Why is he still in jail?” asks my ten-year-old, Nicholas.

Good question.

Pause the DVD.

The jury acquitted Al-Arian of eight counts.

They were unanimous. 12 to 0.

But they deadlock in the remaining nine counts - 10 to 2.

That’s called a hung jury.

And when the jury hangs, the prosecutor can come back and try Al-Arian again on
those counts.

Which they threatened to do.

But they also held out the carrot.

Plead guilty to one count to non-violent support of Palestine Islamic Jihad.

And we’ll recommend time served.

And you’ll be deported.

One thing Al-Arian has to be proud of is - his family.

They are the stars of this movie.

His wife Nahla, and children Leila, Leena, Abdullah, Lama, and Ali - are strong,
sane, composed, articulate.

Not that they don’t have their moments of frustration. They do. Nahla blows a
gasket while cutting her son Ali’s hair. (Ali doesn’t help matters by resisting
the hair cut.) Nahla blows again while speaking to Sami - he’s on the speaker
phone from prison asking her to check some web site. She’s busy doing something
else. He hangs up on her. She reaches for a couple of unidentified pills.

But never do the Al-Arians blow up at the Norwegian film crew - which is camped
out at their home throughout the trial. If they did, the blow up didn’t make the
final cut.

When federal prosecutors offered Al-Arian the plea deal, he questioned whether
to take it.

He would have preferred to fight it.

He figured - hey, I beat the government once, I can beat them again.

But the family wanted none of it.

The family was fed up with our government’s harassment, trials, phone-tapping,
and right wing attacks.

They wanted out.

Give us our father back and let’s move to Egypt.

As Georgetown University Law Professor David Cole puts it - Al-Arian could have
fought through another six month trial, and even if he were found not guilty, he
would still be facing deportation.

So, Al-Arian pleads guilty to one count.

And the family all drives down to the courthouse for what they thought was one
last time to get their father.

But the Judge decides to reject the government’s proposed sentence - time served
- and hits Al-Arian with the maximum sentence.

Al-Arian stays in jail.

He was due out earlier this year, but then came Gordon Kromberg.

Kromberg is an assistant U.S. Attorney in Virginia.

Kromberg wants to put Al-Arian through a perjury trap.

He wants him to testify before a federal grand jury in Virginia investigating
Islamic charities.

This was in direct violation of the plea deal Al-Arian cut with the government.

So, Al-Arian refuses to testify.

Kromberg charges him with contempt and throws him in jail in Virginia.

When Al-Arian’s attorneys request a delay of the prison transfer during the holy
month, Kromberg shows his stripes when he responds:

“If they can kill each other during Ramadan, they can appear before the grand
jury. I am not going to put off Dr. Al- Arian’s grand jury appearance just to
assist in what is becoming the Islamization of America.”

The movie ends before Kromberg enters the picture.

Too bad.

He would have fit well into this little morality play.

Good v. Evil.

Civics 101.

Al-Arian remains in prison in Virginia on civil contempt charges.

As he appeals his case, the government is considering charging him again with
criminal contempt.

Earlier this year, Nahla and her two youngest children - Ali and Lama - left the
country for Egypt.

The movie - USA v. Al-Arian - will open in Washington, D.C. this Wednesday,
December 5, 2007 at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C.

After the movie, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman will moderate a roundtable
discussion with Georgetown Law Professor David Cole, GWU Law Professor Jonathan
Turley, one of Al-Arian’s trial attorneys - Linda Moreno - along with the
Norwegian director of the movie Line Halvorsen, and Sami’s son Abdullah.

If you live in the Washington, D.C. area and you have young children - take them
to see this movie.

If not, get a copy of the DVD and show it far and wide.

It’s a great crash course in Civics 101.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter.

Documents & Releases

Statement of Chairs of American Muslim Task-Force on Civil Rights and Elections  (AMT) and  Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Howard Zinn Statement on Professor Al-Arian

SITE SEARCH

SPOTLIGHT

March 2000

December 2005alarian.jpg

January 2009

To be patriotic is to be able to question government policy in times of crisis.
To be patriotic is to stand up for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in times of uncertainty and insecurity.
To be patriotic is to  speak up against the powerful in defense of the weak and the voiceless.
To be patriotic is to be willing to pay the price to preserve our freedoms, dignity, and rights.
To be patriotic is to
challenge the abuses of the PATRIOT Act.
From a speech by Dr. Al-Arian
9/1/2002

Biography---

UFF Summary: Al-Arian and USF

Poetry

Announcement of Book: The Al-Arian Reader

A new compilation of all relevant articles to be released soon by the National Liberty Fund

Selected Poems
by Sami Al-Arian

We Shall Rise

To Maya Angelou
Like the dream of the slave
You rise
And with the scream of the brave
I shall rise
In honoring the memory of your ancestors
You rise
With my stateless brothers and sisters
I shall rise
Like dust in the sunlight
You rise
And as ashes in a fiery night
I shall rise
You offend
Because of your existence
And I
For my resistance
You upset them
Recalling their past
And I
By holding steadfast
They may trod you in dirt
May cause me all the hurt
Inflict upon you excruciating pain
While they shut me up and detain
By they won't see you broken
Neither would my faith be forsaken
As you've never bowed your head
And never lowered your eyes
I'll continue to raise my fist
And hide my mother's cries
They may shoot you with their words
Cut me up with their swords
They may insult you with their eyes
Denigrate me with their lies
Trying to kill you with their hate
Bury me alive to seal my fate
But they'd certainly
Be shamed and fail
As the free chant and sing
On their march to prevail
So keep your head held high
As I follow you and try
And keep your beautiful smile
As I walk my first mile
They'll pressure and blame
Throw us in prison to control and tame
They'll exile and defame
Lynch us all or shoot and maim
Burn crosses with no shame
Target our children in a dirty game
By why is that a surprise?
Despite their evil and terror
Their falsehood and lies
You shall rise
And I shall rise
You're the black ocean
Leaping and wide
I'm the Mediterranean
With a stormy tide
Staying together
Side by side
It's no surprise
We shall rise
Surely shall rise
We together shall rise
No Longer Afraid
For us to feel "secure"
What price is being paid?
If living in freedom
Why are we afraid?
Fear is everywhere
All around
Perhaps irrational
But without any bound
You can see it on our faces
Sense it in our eyes
You can hear it in our whispers
Feel it in our cries
More>>No Longer Afraid
The Bird and The Vulture
The bird was chirping
In a house on a tree
But the vulture was angry
Because it was free
When the bird is singing
The vulture ain't safe
More>>The Bird and The Vulture
The Smile of Freedom
He looked like
A body-builder
Tall, tough, and full
All muscles and no fat
His mind was simple
Suited to follow orders
No questions asked
Acting mean and mechanical
Like any bureaucrat
More>>The Smile ...
In the Name of Freedom
In the name of freedom
We shall rule the world
To spread democracy
And set you free
In the name of freedom
We’ll descend on you
To make you civilized
Modern and orderly
More>>In the Name ...
The Accused: Franz Kafka Meets George Orwell in 21st Century America
Act I: The Mother of all Evidence
Act II- Weapons of Mass Deception
Act III: Silencing of the Lambs
Act IV: Attacks of the Wolves
Act V: Occupied Territory
Act VI: Police State
Act VII: Official Obituary
Act VIII: A Close Encounter of the Scariest Kind
Act IX: The Inquisition
Act X- Conspiracy Theory
Act XI- Secret Trials
Act XII- Silent Pain and Teary Eyes
Act XIII- True Patriot Acts
Do Not Sign
Rights are not for sale
History is not kind
On those who sell their people out,
Betray their cause,
Surrender their land
To tow the line
Do not sign
More>>Do Not Sign
Rachel Corrie: Daughter of Palestine
The most gentle
Amongst all honorable
Women
Had a spirit
As dazzling as
The garden of
Eden
More>>Daughter of Palestine
Ole Jerusalem
O Ole Jerusalem
I feel your pain
I hear your cries
The light thunder
In the darkness
And the heavy rain
I see the steady bleeding
Of your wound
With its mark and stain
More>>Ole Jerusalem
Patrick Henry
A revolutionary
At heart
A patriot
From the start
Loved by his country
To the core
Defended freedom
Even more
Hated arrogance
In shape and tone
Fought tyranny
With every bone
He was the conscience
Of his people
Striking fear in the enemy
And made it feeble
More>> Patrick Henry
Injustice
An overwhelming feeling
Of bitterness
Emptiness
Hopelessness
Helplessness
Sadness
Madness
Of hatred and rage
Trapped in a cage
Disappointment and anger
Continuing to linger
Wounding of dignity
Violating your virginity
More>> Injustice
Political Riddles
He sees the world as black and white
His solution to every quandary is fight with might
The economy will not stimulate
Because he can’t articulate
While jobs are gone
He says, “bring ‘em on.”
Who is he?
He likes to be called the General
The head of an agency that’s federal
If you spit on the sidewalk
He’ll send the Incredible Hulk
He hates to cite truth or fact
Because he’s busy promoting his unpatriotic act
He frequents TV cameras with a smash
The first part of his last name sounds like trash
Who is he?
He is the ideal dutiful poodle they say
From an empire where the sun did not set one day
He adores his cowboy friend and considers him a fan
And insists: I’m nobody’s yes-man
When the cowboy says no, I say no
Who is he?
More>>Political Riddles