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Dr. Al-Arian’s Third Strike

Posted on Mar 7, 2008
Dr. Al-Arian

On (hunger) strike: Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian.

By Chris Hedges

The Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian, imprisoned for five years despite a jury’s failure to return a single guilty verdict against him, has gone on a hunger strike in Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va. Al-Arian, who has abstained from food and water since March 3, began his hunger strike after being informed he would be called before a third grand jury. He has lost 15 pounds and has been moved to the jail’s medical unit.

“A great nation is ultimately defined and judged by its system of justice,” Al-Arian said in a statement released through his family. “When the system is manipulated by the powerful and tolerates abuses against the minorities or the weak members of society, the government not only loses its moral authority and betrays future generations, but will also be condemned by history.”

The hunger strike is the third by the Palestinian activist, who was to have been released in April and deported. During his first hunger strike, which lasted 140 days, he took liquid nutrients and lost 45 pounds. During his hunger strike last year, which lasted 60 days, he drank only water and lost 55 pounds. Al-Arian is a diabetic.

“We are very worried about his health, but we understand why he’s doing this,” said his daughter, Laila Al-Arian. “The U.S. government, through its vindictive and politically motivated behavior, has given our family no other option.”

The recent documentary “USA vs Al-Arian” detailed the absurdity of the show trial held in Florida and the hollowness of the government’s case against Al-Arian. When the film was awarded Best Nordic Documentary at the Nordic Panorama in Finland the jury wrote: “The film shows precisely how a common man becomes a victim of the situation in the contemporary world, where the Big Brother is watching you even when you´re ordering pizza.”


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The decision to call Al-Arian before the grand jury was made although Al-Arian had signed a “no-cooperation” agreement. The agreement stipulated that he would not be required to cooperate with the government in other cases. The government’s attempt to force him to testify, despite the agreement, came a month before his scheduled release. It is seen by his lawyers and his family as an effort by the government to keep the activist in jail indefinitely.

Al-Arian endured a six-month show trial in Florida that saw the government’s case collapse. The Justice Department spent an estimated $50 million and several years investigating and prosecuting Al-Arian. The government called 80 witnesses and subjected the jury to hundreds of hours of often absurd phone transcriptions and recordings made over a 10-year period, which the jury dismissed as “gossip.” Out of 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 disagreed on the remaining charges, with 10 of the 12 jurors favoring his full acquittal. Two others in the case, Ghassan Ballut and Sameeh Hammoudeh, were acquitted of all charges, dealing another body blow to the government’s case. 

Following the acquittal, a disaster for the government, especially because then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had announced the indictment, prosecutors threatened to retry Al-Arian. The Palestinian professor, under duress, accepted a plea bargain agreement that would spare him a second trial, saying in his agreement that he had helped people associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad with immigration matters. It was a tepid charge given the high profile of the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the counter-terrorism section of the Justice Department agreed to recommend to the judge the minimum sentence of 46 months. But U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. sentenced Dr. Al-Arian to the maximum 57 months. In referring to Al-Arian’s contention that he had only raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s charity for widows and orphans, the judge said acidly to the professor that “your only connection to orphans and widows is that you create them.”

Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, By Chris Hedges, Truthdig Columnist and Winner of the Pulitzer Prize -- Get Your Autographed Copy Today Also Available! Truthdig Exclusive DVD of Chris Hedges' Wages of Rebellion Lecture The World As It Is: 
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By rich, March 11, 2008 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

>>>What will it take to stop the arab, islamist, fundamentalist, terrorism? >>>

Justice will stop almost all of it. As always some people are just crazy, so criminal will have to be dealt with according to the law.

Now what about the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, secularist, Communist and other fundamentalists?

Yeah, the Romans of 2000 years ago were all about law and order—oh and uh empire.

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By Devlin Buckley, March 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is from The Washington Post:

“Former Florida professor Sami al-Arian declined to answer questions before a federal grand jury in Alexandria last month, according to documents unsealed in federal court in Tampa. Arian, who was acquitted in one of the nation’s highest-profile terrorism cases but then pleaded guilty to a single charge, believes his life would be in danger if he testified, his attorneys told a judge.”

What exactly is Sami al-Arian afraid of?


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By rich, March 10, 2008 at 3:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I feel sorry about the wrong against Sami Al-Arian, but are Muslims not supposed to kill themselves, even by starvation?

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By cyrena, March 9, 2008 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment

This is a great comment nrobi. Sounds like you’ve learned more than ONE thing.

You’re right of course, that the US hasn’t been a democracy for many years now. I don’t remember the original date of the ‘case’ against Dr. Al-Arian, but if my ballpark sort of memory helps, it was in conjunction with this very same thing being practiced on a wide scale, in Guantanamo, and against other’s that were also designated as ‘terrorists’ even though they were US citizens.

Those at Guantanamo of course, were primary guilty of nothing more than the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sheep herders, village merchants, whomever happened to be around, who could be easily enough ‘plucked off the battlefields” or kidnapped by thugs in Pakistan, to be sold to the US for bounty and eventual shipment to Gitmo.

They of course, have been even LONELIER than Dr. Al-Arian, because their loved ones don’t even KNOW WHERE THEY ARE. I mean eventually, some human rights activists have been able to get to some of them, and it’s been a long struggle we know. But, imagine for a moment, that Dr. al-Arian had no family, and had been ‘disappeared’ like so many others have been.

Others like American citizens wrongfully detained and DEPORTED, just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as well. Check the link below, for just one of these bizarre tales.

Immigration Officials Detaining, Deporting American Citizens
  By Marisa Taylor
  McClatchy Newspapers
  Thursday 24 January 2008
“  Florence, Ariz. - Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.”

So, Dr. Sami al-Arian is not alone in this PROOF of what the US has become. It’s not simply fascist, totalitarian, or authoritarian in ‘nature’ but in the totality now of it’s practice and ideology.

So you’re correct of course, that the Constitution has been delegitimized. Many have claimed that they expect the declaration of martial law any time. In reality though, we’ve been existing under martial law for years now…since the Coup of 2000, that highjacked the government as we knew it, or presumed it to be.
The actual ‘declaration’ of martial law is just a formality. It other coups or totalitarian take-overs, it’s referred to as a “State of Exception”. It is the dismissal of the rule of law, (the constitution) even when it is not formally announced as such.

Oddly enough, (or maybe not – just depends on one’s perspective I guess) even Hitler and his Nazis never actually abolished the Weimar Constitution, but actually launched his brutal dictatorship in spite of it. And with that, the once Democratic Germany became a fascist, totalitarian, authoritarian regime that murdered many, and destroyed a nation.

The same has taken place here, and has been in progress for some time. Here’s a link to some very obvious comparisons.

How Hitler Became a Dictator

So yes…that’s where we’re at, and still falling.

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By troublesum, March 9, 2008 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

And most of you can’t wait to get out there and vote for democrats who are complicit in the destruction of the constitution.

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By jackpine savage, March 9, 2008 at 6:09 am Link to this comment

Ok, i get it…material support to a terrorist organization is enough to land you in jail.  Any statute of limitations on that?

Under these rules, Charlie Wilson goes to jail for providing material support for the mujahadin in Afghanistan…along with a good many others.

Under these rules (and using the Bush II/Clinton I assumption that Saddam was helping terrorists), Donald Rumsfeld, et al. who supplied Saddam Hussein with weapons go to jail for their material support of terrorists.

They don’t arrest the Saudi royalty that comes to visit, even though the Saudi royal family funds terrorists all the time.

Hell, since a fair amount of our support for terrorists has been taxpayer funded, we could all go to jail. 

Oh, i’m sorry, i forgot, terrorists are called “freedom fighters” when they fight for us.

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 9, 2008 at 12:01 am Link to this comment

By Non Credo, March 8: “Yep. Israel can now reach directly into our sovereign affairs and alter our basic constitutional rights to suit itself…”

As well as bombing Christians in Lebanon (last year) and hunting Christians out of Palestine (last 60 years), they have done exactly that, Non Credo. It will be hard to get your freedom back…...

Are you going to fight for it or not???? Nothing else is worth living for. That IS the one lesson you can learn from the Arab Palestinians, uhh…..

Another ‘achievement’ for AIPAC…...

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 8, 2008 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment

As well as bombing Christians in Lebanon (last year) and hunting Christians out of Palestine (last 60 years), they have done exactly that, Non Credo. It will be hard to get your freedom back…...

Are you going to fight for it or not???? Nothing else is worth living for. That IS the one lesson you can learn from the Arab Palestinians, uhh…..

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By desertdude, March 8, 2008 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment


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By Joe, March 8, 2008 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Of all places to abuse freedom: the Commonwealth of Virginia—- a country unto itself for many years after breaking free of English bondage.

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By nrobi, March 8, 2008 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

During the years that I have followed the injustice that is the “case” against Dr. Sami Al-Arian, I have learned one thing; that there is no more a dept. of justice, that the process of finding guilt or innocence once done is never done and that there is no more a Constitution or Bill of Rights, operating in the United States. 
We the American people should be up in arms about the injustice that is happening to this one lonely and determined man, who stood up against the system, won his case at trial yet is still incarcerated by a Dept. of Injustice which seeks to vilify an innocent man. We, the American people, have lost most if not all of the rights that were guaranteed to us under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, yet as lambs to the slaughter we go merrily along “shopping” and trying to go about our daily business.
Are we so blinded now by the fear-mongering and hatred that the Far Right of the Republican Party has caused in this country that we will not stand up and be counted when an injustice such as this is happening under our noses?  If, this is the case, G-d, help us, for we are now truly living in a country that is totally fascist and truly autocratic and authoritarian in nature. We are not America any more, nor will I refer to our country as such, it has become and will remain so until many things change, AMERIKKKA!  And I cannot say, G-d, bless this fascistic and authoritarian regime any longer.
Look out for the same thing that Pervez Musharraff, tried to do in his take-over of the Pakistani government,  the shrub, will find some way of declaring martial law and do away with the elections, for our own good of course and set himself up as President for life and bye-bye and hope of freedom and dissent against the immoral and illegal acts of a nation that was founded on dissent against immoral and illegal acts.

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By whyzowl1, March 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

We’re still in the grip of a right-wing resurgence in this country that feeds on fear, hatred and greed and which is leaving a characteristic trail of devastation in its wake. The answer is the same as it has been since the dawn of civilization: take courage and RESIST. Power only yields to countervailing power; they have the money power, we have the people power, and so we must organize ourselves and fight back. 

IMO, we’re clearly at a turning point in history that marks “the end of capitalism as we know it,” and the right, the cruelest defenders of the status quo, have mobilized to save the monstrous, over-militarized death machine that provides them with their heretofore undreamed of privileges. In the end, men do not fight for rights, they fight for privileges.

The system as it is currently constituted doesn’t have a future, it’s unsustainable. The only way it can be maintained, for a time, is through endless wars that threaten the survival of the planet and the human race. That’s one possible path before us, the one the bipartisan right is attempting to herd us along as we speak.

The visionaries and seers of the good path that we must choose and fight to take are in the ecology movement, guys like Lester Brown and James Howard Kunstler. Peak oil is a fact, and there’s no going back. The watchwords of the present and future are green and sustainability.

If you want an example of the courage and commitment it’ll take to forge a liveable world system, you don’t have to look any further than the author of this article: Chris Hedges. He’s an exemplary person in every way, IMHO. The antidote to the decadence and soul-destruction being visited upon us by men imbued with the will to power is, in its most elemental form, love. Chris knows that. Do we?

Be rure to write for Sami. Wishing you well,

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By Bubba, March 8, 2008 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Thanks for the link.  I’ve just been there and gotten off my e-mails to the government officials Norman listed. 

Also sent another e-mail—but it keeps bouncing—to National Liberty Fund to ask if they can organise their site to take donations by credit card and/or Paypal.  Do you have another address for them than the one they give on their site (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))?

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 8, 2008 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

Another win for AIPAC…...

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By Expat, March 8, 2008 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

^ know better I’d think this was about human rights; pre soviet collapse, Chinese dissidents; anywhere except the good old USA.  So, coming soon to a state near you!  Amerika, home of the brave and land of the suppressed!

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By Bruce W. Cain, March 8, 2008 at 9:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Though the doctor may, in fact, be innocent I am suspect of the lack of criticism toward the Cultural Jihad that is going on in this country.  UofM Dearborn allows footbaths.  Harvard gives in to Muslim women’s exercize program . . . which excludes everyone else.  Islamofacism is real and we need to deal with it before it becomes a serious problem.  No more Immigration: Legal or Illegal.  No more chain migration, anchor babies etc.

Time to reclaim America from the corporate elite which includes a lot of Chinese and Saudi money.

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By KISS, March 8, 2008 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

O Reilly beat the drum against Dr. Al-Arian for so long that the Bush’s Administration started to believe the lies and innuendos to the point that Ashcroft and Gonzales started the crusade to punish the professor, even if the facts did not substantiate the case. Just simple deportation could have solved this situation, but like Abby Hoffman, once the government fanatics come into play all intelligence disappears.
In fact his only crime might be that he led the Muslims to vote from Bush the first time around.

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By Bubba, March 8, 2008 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

This entire story, from start to never-finishes, and in particular, but by no means limited to, the conduct of Judge James S. Moody Jr., is beyond contempt.

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By Fadel Abdallah, March 8, 2008 at 7:47 am Link to this comment


Thank you for being the first to lead what I hope to be a movement for righting the wrong against Sami Al-Arian. Keep up the good work of being a warrior for the cause of justice.

And thank you Cyrena for being the first to respond to whyzowl1 leading initiative.

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By weather, March 8, 2008 at 4:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is the one thing that will get greed’s attention. 1st order, cancel cable, newswpapers and do the next right thing in your very zipcode, its about the most effective gesture.

The best way to double your money? Take it out of your pocket fold it and put it back in your pocket.

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By cyrena, March 8, 2008 at 3:20 am Link to this comment

Whyzowl1…this I can do, and I will.

One can legitimately expect at this point, that it will do nothing more than to prove that if we can in fact live through the destruction of our government, where ALL THREE BRANCHES of it have been totally corrupted, and the rule of law has been totally destroyed, there are still a few of us to hopefully put the pieces back together.

I mean, if a jury in a court of law has already determined that this man is guilty of NOTHING, and should have been acquitted of these bogus crimes, and this horrible ‘representative’ of the dept of injustice actually gave him an additional 11 months to the recommended sentence, and NOTHING has been able to overturn the structure of democracy that we believe we have, then it is fair to wonder what the letters might do.

We see this now, every time anyone attempts to protest these crimes. The people arrested at the Capitol not long ago, for peacefully protesting the ultimate crime of TORTURE and the violations of international and domestic law being carried out at Guantanamo..who would have ever thought it could happen?

These criminals who hijacked our country over 7 years ago, and have since destroyed us, simply continue to do it.

What will it take to stop the destruction?

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By whyzowl1, March 8, 2008 at 1:01 am Link to this comment

The persecution of Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian by the rogue, criminal administration of George W. Bush via the U. S. Dept. of Injustice must end now so that Dr. Al-Arian may finally return to the loving arms of his family and friends. Please put your typing and composition skills to work in a good cause, the cause of justice, by writing to the pertinent officials in support of Dr. Al-Arian’s release. Thank you.

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