Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A break in my series: TWO ITEMS OF (on the surface) GOOD NEWS: A move to drop charges (HLF) and a pro forma release (Sami Al-Arian)

Yesterday, news of developments not widely reported by national media (see below for details) in two cases should have brought satisfaction and relief. However, the two developments are limited in scope. Each would be, if the justice system were operating freely rather than as a political entity, a matter of course that did not deserve attention from the media.

The first: the prosecution has admitted 1) that it never had a strong case in the Holy Land Foundation debacle, and 2) that the ending of the trial last summer was a clear violation of the rights of the defendants. That the government has chosen to drop charges is proof that Mr. Jacks and company feared having the entire case thrown out (as it should be) for violation of the principle of “double jeopardy.” Both Mr. Abdulqader and Mr. Odeh were, in fact, acquitted on the charges, and it was only because of Judge Fish’s incompetence and obvious bias that they were about to be tried a second time on the same charges. This is no victory.

The second, the release of Sami Al-Arian from his inhumane and illegal imprisonment is simply the right action of a court system that has stumbled along making a series of wrong decisions for years. That anyone (especially an immigrant in this country legally) should be subjected to persecution first by the courts, and then by the Immigration Service simply because he was active in efforts to promote the Palestinian cause over and against the enormous Israeli lobby in this country is unconscionable. Trial by jury of one’s peers, habeas corpus, double jeopardy, the right to free speech and free assembly are among the American principles of Constitutional law violated by the government in its frenzy to fight the so-called “war on terror.” If the judicial system had not made itself an arm of the politicized Department of Justice, Al-Arian’s release would not be newsworthy. Only because it is a victory of law and order and human rights over persecution, is it newsworthy.

From the Dallas Morning News
"Federal prosecutors seek to drop some charges against 2 Holy Land defendants"
12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, September 3, 2008
By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

Federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation case have asked a judge to drop the bulk of the charges against two of the defendants, who still face conspiracy charges alleging they lent support to the terrorist group Hamas.

The 29 counts each that prosecutors want to dismiss against Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh are ones jurors largely acquitted both men on last year, following a two month-long trial and nearly a month of deliberations. Those acquittals were tossed after the judge declared a last-minute mistrial Oct. 22. . . .

From the website Free Sami Al-Arian
“Fairfax, VA - September 2, 2008 - After five-and-a-half years of harsh and gratuitous detention, former Florida professor and civil rights activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian was released on bond, reuniting with his family for the first time since his ordeal began in 2003. Earlier today (Tuesday), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed an order for the release of Dr. Al-Arian from their custody. Judge Brinkema originally granted Dr. Al-Arian bail on July 10 and reaffirmed that decision last month, but the ICE continued to detain him until today on the pretext that they were completing deportation procedures. . . .”