Wednesday, May 18, 2005


What a farce!

I'll be the first to admit that my knowledge of the Sami al-Arian case is pretty minimal. I know that al-Arian was a computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida and that he set up an Islamic think-tank type operation and that he is accused of using this think-tank to fundraise for Islamic Jihad. I don't know much more than that, so this has nothing to do with whether I think al-Arian is guilty or innocent. This is about turning a trial that should ideally be dispassionate and thoughtful into a circus. According to Ha'aretz:
Some 100 survivors of terror attacks, relatives of those killed, police investigators, Magen David Adom paramedics, and ZAKA volunteers will testify in what American authorities regard as the most important terrorist trial in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The group will be flown to Tampa, Florida early next month to serve as prosecution witnesses in the trial of four Arab-Americans accused of belonging to Islamic Jihad and raising funds to finance terror attacks, including some that took place in Israel. . . .

The Israeli witnesses, flying to Florida at the expense of the U.S. government, include survivors of terror attacks going back to 1989, as well as relatives of some of those killed, eyewitnesses, doctors from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in South Tel Aviv and police officers.
I hate to sound all Republican on you all, but allow me to emphasize the following phrase: at the expense of the U.S. government. And what are these "witnesses" going to add to the trial? Sensational accounts of blood splattering and bombs exploding and yelling and screaming and "Oh the humanity!" essentially turning this into a trial about suicide bombings. And let me just remind everyone that being in favor of suicide bombings, though not necessarily something you would put on your resume, is not a crime (yet). Unless these witnesses are going to place al-Arian (or one of the other three being accused in this case) at the scene of the crime, which I do not think they are going to do, what exactly is the need for them being there? Here's what should be there:
Dozens of boxes of documents in Hebrew are also being flown to the trial, for the prosecution's use.
That's something worthwhile. That's evidence that is material to the case at hand here. Somehow I'm not sure what testimony "about their experiences" from 100 witnesses to attacks is really going to add, other than a heightened emotional atmosphere that is going to turn this trial into a farcical referendum on one's political opinions rather than on building a strong case linking al-Arian and the other accused directly to terror attacks. I'd like my tax dollars to go toward putting together a fair trial, not a circus.

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