Thursday, February 5, 2009

St. Petersburg Times Sacrifices Accuracy - Once Again

Reporter Meg Laughlin has been covering the twisted case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian for many years. Al-Arian first came to the public eye in 1995 when his computers and other records were seized in a November raid in connection with terrorism allegations.

After years of seeming government disinterest, Al-Arian was put on trial. Acquitted of most counts, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to "conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Dedicated Terrorist..." (Read the full Plea Agreement.)

Called to testify before a grand jury in a non-related terrorism case, Al-Arian refused and standing trial for contempt. Among the issues to be resolved is whether his plea agreement exempted him from further cooperation with the government. Demonstrations on behalf of Al-Arian have been frequent. He draws his supporters from the far left fringes of society. Under the guise of protecting Al-Arian's rights, his supporters quickly turn to the Palestinian cause and Israel's "occupation of Palestine." Nonetheless, the trial has begun.

While reporting on the case today, Ms. Laughlin writes, "in May 2006, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to helping associates of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad with immigration issues." I think the language of the plea agreement disproves that statement.

One of the purposes of this blog is to seek honesty in reporting. It's a never ending challenge. I wish it weren't.

Read Laughlin's report here.

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