Wednesday’s New York Times reports on another Bush administration failure in its politicization of dissent in the “War on Terror.”
Let me write it like a football lead.
The Bush Justice Department was trounced Tuesday by Alleged Terrorist, 51 not guilty verdicts to nil (a nod to European football fans, here). The shocking loss may result in the sacking of Head Coach, Batshit Loopy Prez.
Here is the NYT lead:
In a major defeat for law enforcement officials, a jury in Florida failed to return guilty verdicts Tuesday on any of 51 criminal counts against a former Florida professor and three co-defendants accused of operating a North American front for Palestinian terrorists.
If you haven’t been following along at home, the Justice Department game plan after 9/11 seems to be lock everyone with remotely shaded skin in prison. Hold them for as long as possible. Call them “Terrorists” in pre-trial press conferences. And then hope bullshit charges supported by USA Patriot Act expanded investigations work. And then, well, get your ass handed to you in court, further crushing any legitimacy the U.S. government once had.
Here are some of the items from the post game press conference. As predictable as the sports quotes that Crash Davis was teaching that funky rookie pitcher in “Bull Durham.”
“We remain focused on the important task at hand, which is to protect our country through our ongoing vigorous prosecution of terrorism cases,” said Tasia Scolinos, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department. “While we respect the jury’s verdict, we stand by the evidence we presented in court against Sami al-Arian and his co-defendants.”
In bringing the case against Mr. Arian in 2003, the department relied on the easing of legal restrictions under the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act to present years of wiretaps on the defendants in a criminal context.
“I think the government’s case was somewhat stale because a lot of these events dated back 10 years, and the case was so complex that it was all over the board,” said Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island who has studied terrorism prosecutions.
For the prosecutors, Professor Margulies said, “this is clearly embarrassing, and they were clearly outmaneuvered by some very good defense attorneys.”
David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University who represented Mr. Arian’s brother-in-law in an earlier deportation case that also gained wide exposure, said the verdict amounted to a rejection of the government’s “sweeping guilt by association theory.”
Family members of Mr. Arian and the other three defendants – Sameeh T. Hammoudeh, Ghassan Ballut and Hatim Fariz – wept in court on Tuesday as the verdicts were read, and Muslims in the Tampa area planned a prayer service and celebration on Tuesday night at the local mosque Mr. Arian helped found.
Mr. Arian “loves America, and he believes in the system, and thank God the system did not fail him,” his wife, Nahla al-Arian, said outside the federal courthouse as throngs of family members, supporters and lawyers celebrated the results.
“Not a single guilty verdict,” said Ms. Moreno, one of Mr. Arian’s two defense lawyers. “I have to say, that was more ‘not guilty’ verdicts in those 20 minutes than I’ve heard in my 25 years as a defense attorney.”
For the local Muslim community, the verdicts are “a huge relief, and people are just jubilant,” said Ahmed Bedier, director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Mr. Bedier, who attended much of the trial, said he had doubted whether Mr. Arian could receive a fair trial in Tampa, especially in light of the publicity his case had generated, but “the jury proved us wrong,” he said in a telephone interview.
“This was a very important case for us in that it tested both the Patriot Act and the right to political activity,” Mr. Bedier said. “The jury is sending a statement that even in post-9/11 America, the justice system works, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and political association – while it may be unpopular to associate oneself with controversial views – is still not illegal in this country.”
Ever go to a game and root for the referees. Way to go jury. The “War on Terror” and the USA Patriot Act need to get tossed by twelve common sense jurors. One hundred Senators sure didn’t have the stones to even debate the act. You remember the vote. 99 Senators who wouldn’t even read the Bill, and wouldn’t vote against the Spanish Inquisition if it had cleverly included the label “Patriot” in the title. One senator, Russ Feingold, who was the lone voice of reason and is fast becoming my choice for the ’08 nomination for his good efforts to try to stop the law from being re-enacted in its present and abominable form.
Have a great day. Don’t you feel safer.