Al-Arian walk watch: will he walk because the very fact that he once had powerful friends indicates that he is not guilty? That would only be true if we could assume that those powerful friends had any real idea of the threat Al-Arian represented, and there is no clear evidence that they did. Al-Arian trial update from Haaretz:
The visual icing on Arian’s political cake is a photograph of him with George Bush from March 2000, eight months before Bush was elected president. Candidate Bush was then stumping in Florida and stopped to have his photo taken, along with his wife, Laura, with Arian at a local strawberry festival. It was not a chance meeting. Arian was a central actiivst for Bush’s election in 2000 and afterward said proudly that he himself had persuaded many Arab Americans to join the Republican Party at the time.
The secret of Bush’s charm in the eyes of the pro-Palestinian activist from Florida has to do with Arian’s brother-in-law, Mazen al-Najjar, who was arrested in 1997 on suspicion of supporting Islamic Jihad and held in custody until being deported to Lebanon in 2002. The exact suspicions against Najjar were classified and his lawyers were never allowed to see them. Arian made the case a symbol of the Arab-American struggle and found an attentive ear in Bush, who happened to be looking for support in Florida ahead of the election. Bush promised to help and even raised the subject at his initiative in one of the debates with Al Gore. Bush in fact did relatively well among the Arab and Muslim community in the 2000 election, but Arian derived less satisfaction from this friendship.
Attorney Moffitt explained that he does not intend to present his client’s political connections just to embarrass the high officials. For him, the logic is simple. All the meetings and conversations took place in the period when the state alleges that Arian was a dangerous terrorist involved in a plot to kill Americans, Moffitt noted in the letter. In other words, if the FBI knew all along that Arian was a local leader of a terrorist organization, why did the agency not warn the White House, the presidential candidates and the members of Congress against meeting with him?
It could be because he wasn’t in fact a local leader of a terrorist organization. Or it might be because they are short-sighted political ops whose value system is measured at the voting booth.