Sami Al-Arian, the Rumpled Academic and media darling, has pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds to or for the benefit of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist” organization. Time Magazine has chosen to headline its story about this in this way: “How the U.S. Lost a Terror Deal.” The subtitle: “Federal prosecutors are hailing Florida professor Sami Al-Arian’s plea agreement as a victory in the war on terror. But as with so many triumphant government claims since 9/11, there’s a lot less to celebrate than meets the eye.”
The article quotes Al-Arian’s attorney Linda Moreno, who sounds as if she just came from Sami’s victory celebrations:
Because it couldn’t prove Al-Arian was “the most powerful man” in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as one prosecutor characterized him during the trial, or link him directly with any of the brutal killings perpetrated by PIJ, “this [was] a failed prosecution, period,” Al-Arian attorney Linda Moreno tells TIME. “[Former Attorney General] John Ashcroft announced the indictment three years ago on the steps of the Justice Department. Three years later, we have the Department of Justice recommending that Dr. Al-Arian be sentenced to the lowest term possible and agreeing that this is not a crime of violence that he’s pleading to. This is hardly a victory for the prosecution.”
Time retains enough vestiges of actual journalistic standards to include the following:
It’s not really, however, a victory for Al-Arian either. For decades, he’d insisted that he rejected the PIJ. But both his plea and wiretap evidence brought out in his indictment and trial severely undercut his image as nothing more than an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights, a First Amendment victim who had been made a handy political target for a government hungry for terrorism convictions.
But then it concludes:
Arthury [sic] Lowrie, a former longtime U.S. diplomat in the Middle East and adjunct professor of international studies at USF who worked closely with Al-Arian on U.S.-Muslim dialogue, told TIME after Al-Arian’s acquittal late last year, “I think the disgraceful, overzealous way the U.S. pursued this case has hurt its credibility [in the Arab world]. But Sami lied to me and his colleagues, and all the progress we made feels like it’s all gone down the drain.” Which is where the Feds and Al-Arian have both apparently decided to let the matter lie.
All gone down the drain, eh? Hardly a victory for the prosecution, eh? In reality, as I note in my FrontPage article on this today, the plea agreement is unambiguous:
“Defendant is pleading guilty because defendant is in fact guilty. The defendant certifies that the defendant does hereby admit that the facts set forth below [in the plea agreement] are true, and were this case to go to trial, the United States would be able to prove those specific facts and others beyond a reasonable doubt.” What’s more, Al-Arian acknowledged that he was “pleading guilty freely and voluntarily”¦and without threats, force, intimidation, or coercion of any kind.”
Pleading guilty to what? The plea agreement details various ways in which Al-Arian raised money for and otherwise aided Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and stipulates: “Defendant Al-Arian was aware that the PIJ achieved its objectives by, among other means, acts of violence.”
So here was a man engaged in the soft jihad: not committing acts of violence himself, but aiding others in doing so. And he admits it. And Time Magazine headlines that “How the U.S. Lost a Terror Deal.”
Why the shameful dhimmi spin? Probably it comes down to nothing more than rabid partisanship. The Time editors cannot concede even the smallest victory to the Bush Administration. National security? Defense against the global jihad? At Time Magazine, those things aren’t even on the radar screen.