Monday, March 30, 2009

Obstruction of Justice

Obstruction of Justice by Chris Hedges on

If you don't know about the case of Dr. Al-Arian, then you should read this article.

To try to give the short version, Dr. Al-Arian was a professor at Univ of South Florida who vocally supported Palestinian rights. After years of FBI surveillence, he was arrested and tried on terrorism charges. The jury acquitted him on most charges, and hung 10-2 in his favor on others.

Government lawyers made wild assertions that showed a profound ignorance of the Middle East and exposed a gross stereotyping of the Muslim world. It called on the FBI case agent, for example, who testified as an expert witness that Islamic terrorists were routinely smuggled over the border from Iran into Syria, apparently unaware that Syria is separated from Iran by a large land mass called Iraq. The transcripts of the case against Al-Arian—which read like a bad Gilbert and Sullivan opera—are stupefying in their idiocy. The government wiretaps picked up nothing of substance; taxpayer dollars were used to record and transcribe 21,000 hours of banal chatter, including members of the Al-Arian household ordering pizza delivery. During the trial the government called 80 witnesses and subjected the jury to inane phone transcriptions and recordings, made over a 10-year period, which the jury curtly dismissed as “gossip.” It would be comical if the consequences were not so dire for the defendant.

A jury, on Dec. 6, 2005, acquitted Dr. Al-Arian on eight of the counts in the superseding indictment after a six-month trial in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. On the 94 charges made against the four defendants, there were no convictions. Of the 17 charges against Al-Arian—including “conspiracy to murder and maim persons abroad”—the jury acquitted him of eight and was hung on the rest. The jurors, who voted 10 to 2 to acquit on the remaining charges, could not reach a unanimous decision calling for his full acquittal. Two others in the case, Ghassan Ballut and Sameeh Hammoudeh, were acquitted of all charges.

After losing before a jury, the federal government refused to drop the case. Instead they promised to move forward with another years-long trial on the charges on which the jury hung. In order to end the ordeal, Dr. Al-Arian agreed to a plea bargain where he would leave this country. A part of the deal was that he refused to testify in other cases. So, then a federal prosecutor had him hauled up to Virginia to force him to testify in other cases. When Dr. Al-Arian refused, citing his plea bargain deal, he was charged with contempt of court and kept in federal prisons.

Despite the refusal of a jury to convict him, he's been held in federal prisons for years.

PS ... note that while the author refers to the Bush Justice Dept and 'right-wing' prosecutors, the Obama Justice Dept is still pursuing the case. And note also that incredible amounts of extra jail time that they are asking for comes from the 'Patriot Act II', which was supported by Obama and the Democrats.

1 comment:

KDelphi said...

When will Holder indict the real war criminals? Or will he just become one.