pageok
pageok
pageok
Acquittals, Hung Jury in Al-Arian Case: I noted a long time ago that the Justice Department was developing a decidedly mixed record in its anti-terrorism prosecutions. As of today, there's another important case to add to the list:
  In a major defeat for law enforcement officials, a jury in Florida failed to return guilty verdicts Tuesday on any of 51 criminal counts against a former Florida professor and three co-defendants accused of operating a North American front for Palestinian terrorists.
  The former professor, Sami al-Arian, a fiery advocate for Palestinian causes who became a lightning rod for criticism nationwide over his vocal anti-Israeli stances, was found not guilty on eight criminal counts related to terrorist support, perjury and immigration violations.
  The jury deadlocked on the remaining nine counts against him after deliberating for 13 days, and it did not return any guilty verdicts against the three other defendants in the case.
  DOJ has had some recent successes in anti-terrorism cases, but the al-Arian case was considered a very important prosecution. No word yet on whether al-Arian will be recharged on the 9 counts that didn't result in a verdict.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Analyzing the al-Arian Verdict:
  2. The Al-Arian Verdict and the Patriot Act:
  3. Acquittals, Hung Jury in Al-Arian Case:
32 Comments
The Al-Arian Verdict and the Patriot Act: Reading over some of the press coverage of the Al-Arian terrorism case, I find myself somewhat puzzled by descriptions of the verdicts as a setback for the Patriot Act (as opposed to the prosecution and DOJ more generally). Consider the first two paragraphs of Wednesday's front-page Washington Post story by Spencer Hsu and Dan Eggen:
  A federal jury acquitted former Florida professor Sami al-Arian yesterday of conspiring to aid a Palestinian group in killing Israelis through suicide bombings, dealing the U.S. government a setback in its efforts to use secretly gathered intelligence in criminal cases against terrorism suspects.
  The trial was a crucial test of government power under the USA Patriot Act, which lowered barriers that had prevented intelligence agencies from sharing secretly monitored communications with prosecutors. The case was the first criminal terrorism prosecution to rely mainly on vast amounts of materials gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), whose standards for searches and surveillance are less restrictive than those set by criminal courts.
  Am I missing something, or is this desciption of the case rather odd? To be sure, the al-Arian prosecution was a major test case for the Patriot Act; much of the evidence the jury saw was admitted thanks to the Patriot Act. But as I understand it, the jury's verdict didn't have any thing to do with the admissibility of evidence. According to one juror interviewed in the article, the jury acquitted because they didn't think that the evidence proved the case, not because they disagreed with or questioned something in the Patriot Act. They had reasonable doubt about the facts, not the law.

  There was at least one count (and perhaps more) in the indictment that involved substantive crimes amended by the Patriot Act — I'm thinking about the charge of conspiracy to provide material support — and there were legal rulings on the meaning of those crimes. But the al-Arian case was considered a major Patriot Act test case because of the heavy use of foreign intelligence information at trial, and whether such evidence could be used doesn't have an obvious connection to the acquittals. There's a vague connection, but it strikes me as a reach to describe the verdict as a setback for the Patriot Act.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Analyzing the al-Arian Verdict:
  2. The Al-Arian Verdict and the Patriot Act:
  3. Acquittals, Hung Jury in Al-Arian Case:
49 Comments
Analyzing the al-Arian Verdict: The St. Petersburg Times has a fascinating article on what went on inside the jury room in the al-Arian terrorism case. Link via BashBlog, which has lots of other good links about the case.
1 Comments