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Charley Reese: The Un-American Treatment of Sami al-Arian (4/26)

antiwar.com, April 26, 2008
By Charley Reese, syndicated columnist

Link:Click here

When our government acts, it acts in our name. If its acts are lawful and honorable, all's well and good. When they are dishonorable, we have a choice: Either we dissent or assent, even if by our silence.

In the case of Dr. Sami al-Arian, the Bush Justice Department has acted in a most disgraceful manner. Al-Arian was arrested in February 2003 with great fanfare (U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the arrest). The voluminous indictment in general terms accused al-Arian of supporting terrorism by being the U.S. leader of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian pro-independence group the U.S. government chooses to call a terrorist organization.

The first dishonorable act was to deny him bail. He was held in prison, innocent in the eyes of our law, for two years before they got around to a trial. That lasted five months. The government's case was so nonsensical that his lawyers did not even present one witness. They rested their case as soon as the prosecution rested its case.

The jury saw it the same way. It voted not guilty on practically all of the counts and reported that it was deadlocked, 10 to 2, in favor of acquittal, on the others. Al-Arian's reaction to the verdict: "God bless America." The government should have released al-Arian while it made up its mind whether to retry him on the remaining counts. Instead, he was kept in prison.
By this time, al-Arian was broke, his family distraught, so he negotiated a plea bargain. In the plea bargain, the Justice Department agreed that what he was pleading guilty to (helping some immigrants) involved no violence, no victims and no support for a forbidden organization. The Justice Department also agreed to a minimum sentence.

Then U.S. District Judge James Moody disgraced himself by acting as if al-Arian had been convicted instead of acquitted, and, after berating him in the courtroom, sentenced him to 57 months. Judges have the authority to ignore plea bargains, but there was no justification, other than this judge's bias, in this case.

Then another U.S. attorney, who likes to publicly boast of his ardent support for Israel, found another way to persecute al-Arian. He subpoenaed him to testify before a grand jury in Virginia, even though as part of his plea bargain, al-Arian had said he would not testify against anyone else. Al-Arian was then found in contempt of the grand jury so that he could be held up to 18 months before he could resume serving his original sentence. This is a ploy that can be used repeatedly.

Al-Arian has gone on a hunger strike to protest this shoddy treatment and is now approaching a danger point. I have no doubt the federal authorities would be happy if he dies. They have shuffled him around from one prison to another, held him in solitary confinement and denied him medical care and access to his family and his lawyers. In short, they have acted more like the former KGB than Americans.
Dr. Arian was a tenured professor of computer science at the University of South Florida. He was well thought of by his students and had won a couple of awards. What got him in trouble was that he was an outspoken advocate of civil rights and of Palestinian independence. I met him some years ago when he was trying to free his brother-in-law from federal prison, where he was being held on "secret evidence." That effort was eventually successful.

Sami al-Arian is an intelligent, well-educated man. In our conversations, I never heard him say anything radical and certainly nothing anti-American. He loves this country. His wife is an American citizen. His children are Americans by birth. He's been here since 1975. He should be an American citizen, but even though he passed the test, his citizenship was denied. It should not be a crime for a Palestinian to want Palestinian independence. It should not be a crime for a Palestinian in America to speak out on behalf of the Palestinian people.

He has had some harsh things to say about Israel, but Israelis have had harsh things to say about Palestinians. The Justice Department is charged with protecting Americans, not with acting as an auxiliary of the Mossad or the Shin Bet.

This is just one more case of the Bush administration trashing the Constitution and making bad appointments to the bench and to the U.S. attorney's offices.

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

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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