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             Last March, Sami Al-Arian was given a choice: 1) damned if you do; and 2) damned if you don't; he chose "damned if you don't". Finally, a full three months after making that decision, he was formally charged last Thursday with contempt of court, a crime which has no maximum penalty. In other words, Dr. Al-Arian - a man whose innocence has been grudgingly admitted by even his worst enemies* - is now facing the possibility of life in jail all because he had the guts to stand up for what he believes in.

To recap what happened: Dr. Al-Arian was scheduled to be released and deported on April 11th, but on March 3rd, out of the blue, a federal judge ordered him to testify before a third grand jury. Dr. Al-Arian was brought to the grand jury on March 20th, but refused to testify for two reasons:

  1. The plea agreement he concluded with government prosecutors in 2006 clearly and unambiguously exempts him from having to testify;
  1. The government attorney seeking his testimony, Assistant US Attorney (AUSA)  Gordon Kromberg, is a blatant Islamophobe whose contempt of Muslims is surpassed only by his contempt for the rule of law (Kromberg has publicly claimed that it is his right to use "other means" to "punish" people he cannot convict of any real crime in a court of law).

(For a more detailed discussion of these two points, please read my earlier post about this case)

             It is not that Dr. Al-Arian has anything to hide; indeed, he has submitted two detailed affidavits explaining how he does not have any knowledge of unlawful activities regarding the defendant in this case; he has furthermore offered - repeatedly, I might add - to undergo a polygraph test. On top of that, Dr. Al-Arian was under constant surveillance (including wire tap) for a full decade before his arrest in 2003. It is utterly inconceivable that the government could not simply get whatever information they need straight from the FBI. And indeed, the government has admitted that Dr. Al-Arian is only a minor witness in the current case they are investigating.

            Despite being charged only with contempt of court - not supporting terrorism - Dr. Al-Arian will likely not be offered bail, even though he has no passport. Even though his children live in the area. Even though he is willing to live under house-arrest. You would think the government would allow him to get out and just be able to hug his kids for a little bit before trying to lock him up for another long stretch.

            Just how long of a stretch? That's a good question. The problem is that criminal contempt has no maximum penalty. If convicted, Dr. Al-Arian could be put in jail for the rest of his life. A similar case involving another Palestinian-American professor ended with him being sentenced to eleven years, a sentence longer than what even Hitler's successor Karl Doenitz was given.

[Did I ever mention that the government has never actually proven that Sami Al-Arian has ever committed any sort of a crime?]

            In any case, we will find out soon. Dr. Al-Arian's one- to three-day trial will be held in mid-August.

            Knowing that they have only a few months left to wreak their havoc, right-wing extremists in the Justice Department are waging an all-out war, not just against individuals like Sami Al-Arian, but against the civil liberties of all of us. There is good reason for the rest of us to hope that Barack Obama will come to power and halt this disgusting assault on our most basic American values; unfortunately for Sami, time is running out, and his fate will be decided before then.

To stand up for your civil liberties, you can do the following:

1. Call Senator Patrick Leahy (202-224- 4242) and Congressman John Conyers (202-225-5126) - the Judicial Committee chairmen of the Senate and House respectively - and ask them to meet with the Attorney General and have him stop Assistant US Attorney Gordon Kromberg from going forward with this unlawful indictment. When talking to their staffers, mention that the Senator/Congressman is already well-aware of the case, so that you don't have to provide background information. [Also, be aware that, even if you are not their constituent, they are obliged to listen to your opinion since their duties extend to all Americans.]
2. Fax a letter to the Office of Professional Responsibility at the US Department of Justice: (202) 514-5050. Click here for a letter template

* Stephen Flatow - who constantly attacks Sami Al-Arian - nevertheless admitted that "there was no smoking gun or direct evidence to [prove Sami Al-Arian's connection to] the violence".
Similarly, the chief prosecutor in Dr. Al-Arian's original trial admitted that "Mr. al-Arian was not directly linked to any of the violent acts that we showed during the trial." (See frames 3:49-3:59 of this YouTube video.

Originally posted to John Halliwell on Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:11 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Excellent diary, as usual. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, imabluemerkin

      I heard Seymour Hersch last night on Fresh Air and he said that he believes this administration, right up until 11:59 p.m., January 19, 2009, will continue to break the law, ignore constitutional rights and more than likely attempt to declare war on Iran.

      I fear Al-Arian will never receive justice, not under the current atmosphere of fear and revenge.

      Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. Edward R. Murrow

      by Pager on Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:19:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  More reason why we need change, FISA, Clark not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  He's A Victim (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Of the last acceptable religio-cultural bigotry in the Democratic Party.

    That isn't to say that the Republicans aren't worse, but it is to say that on this issue, the Democrats wee have right now are no better.

  •  rec'd and tipped (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rasbobbo, Limelite, esquimaux

    the degree to which a person can be deprived of life, liberty and property in this country on the whim of the government should shock and offend every single person who claims to have a patriotic bone somewhere in their body.

    The link you furnished on Gordon Kromberg was well worth reading.  Kromberg is the embodiment of the mundane evil that now inhabits to halls of justice in this debased country of ours.

    Thanks for taking the time to point out this bit of injustice that most people would rather not talk about.

    Bush repealed Godwin's Law with a Signing Statement.

    by Mad Kossack on Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:31:01 AM PDT

  •  Most Important Daily Kos Diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    El Zmuenga, esquimaux, Dude1701

    I've read yet today.  

    This expose is precisely why I remain incensed by attempts to curtail the Constituion and more than a little disturbed by politicians who are not as incensed as I am.

    To me, it would be un-American not to be incensed at Al-Arian's misfortune at the hands of so-called justice and the Bush raid on our justice system and its appointment of attorneys general of ASUA Gordon Kromberg's -- uh -- "stature."

    His tirade. . .

    "If they can kill each other during Ramadan, they can appear before the grand jury — all they can’t do is eat before sunset. I believe Mr. Al-Arian’s request is part of the attempted Islamization of the American Justice System. I am not going to put off Dr. Al-Arian’s grand jury appearance just to assist in what is becoming the Islamization of America."

    . . .proves him mentally impaired and unfit for his office.

    Who appointed/hired him?

    They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

    by Limelite on Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:43:35 AM PDT

    •  Kromberg's History (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Here's a nugget:
      (pdf file)

      Persons Associated with the
      Office of the Independent Counsel
      In Re: Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association
      1994–2002*  (the Monica Lewinsky business)

      Gordon Kromberg . . . . . . . . . Associate Independent Counsel . . 05/15/00–09/12/00

      Long history of being a right wing attack dog.

      They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

      by Limelite on Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:54:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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