8/21/2005

Recent News -The Ninth Week

The Ninth Week

The prosection now moved into the more sensitive issue of Al-Arian's activities in 1995. Last week, the prosecution presented a lot of evidence that Al-Arian engaged in the sort of activities that ... Oliver North engaged in, handling funds and other logistics for terrorist organizations. (The defense has yet to cross-examine, so all that can be said at the moment is that the prosecution's evidence in the eighth week was inconsistent with Al-Arian's past descriptions of his activity, but consistent with the PIJ's own description of Al-Arian's activity, but at any rate, not illegal, which is admittedly a low bar for behavior, but the only one a court should use.) But as of early 1995, providing logistical support for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad became (probably) illegal, so the trial is apparently finally moving from background to actionable material. There were two substantial items this week.

* Back in 1995, Al-Arian wrote a letter to a donor praising the (terrorist) efforts of the PIJ, and asking for money to support more of the same. Al-Arian contended that the letter, seized in 1995, was never sent (we all write letters we decide, on second thought, not to send), and the letter's status was problematic. Nevertheless, the prosecution introduced the letter on Monday, claiming that it was evidence of Al-Arian's activity, and then on Tuesday, contended that the letter had been hand delivered. See the August 10 St. Petersburg Times story on how Report jolts Al-Arian's attorneys, the jolt being that the prosecution was actually supposed to tell the defense that it had evidence of delivery before presenting it to the court, which led to the usual technical squabble.
* Then the prosecution moved to October, 1995, when Ramadan Abdalla, one of WISE's directors, surfaced as the new secretary-general (with a new name, Ramadan Shallah) of the PIJ after Secretary-General Fathi Shikaki was assassinated. According to the prosecution, when St. Petersburg Times reporter Jim Harper asked Al-Arian after the appointment, Al-Arian expressed incredulity, which the prosecution contended was evidence of ... misleading the press. See the August 12 St. Petersburg Times story Al-Arian's discussions with reporter examined.

Meanwhile the gentle webmaster is increasingly irritated with the inability or unwillingness of the Middle District Court to post transcripts on the docket, which as of this moment has 1,283 items, including cover pages of transcripts. I was informed over the phone that members of the public are permitted to request copies, at 50 cents a page, but the conversation got hazy when I asked if I could look at transcripts. And this site is slipping, to fourth out of "about 97,700" hits on Google, after (in order) Free Sami Al-Arian, The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian, and Tampa Bay On-Line's Al-Arian page.

The Seventh Week

On July 26, the e-magazine FrontPage, which is part of David Horowitz's campaign to impose governmental restrictions on academic freedom, ran a column by Joe Kaufman on the trial, where he grumpily reports in his account of What I Saw at al-Arian's Trial that the Defense is defending the case, and that Al-Arian has sympathizers. Kaufman is also concerned about the amount of technical detail, as is the July 26 St. Petersburg Times, as reported in Ponderous translating wearies Al-Arian jurors. For whatever reason, the prosecution decided opted for more videos on Tuesday, as the July 27 St. Petersburg Times reported in FBI agent testifies on video of Al-Arian. But alas, there is nothing for it: the case is complex and there is no avoiding the technical details -- for whatever the pundits may say, the truth often can best be found in the details -- and the trial returned to the details, as reported in the July 28 St. Petersburg Times story Is it the language of terrorism? ... with the headline referring to the alleged encryption of messages. On July 29, the trial got down to brass tacks as the prosecution went into salaries, as reported in the St. Petersburg Times story Court told PIJ pay sent to 4 at think tank.

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