The New York Sun cuts ($link) to the chase:
One wonders where was President Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno. It was in the mid—1990s, when the pick—up—truck driving Floridian was attorney general, that the activities for which Mr. Al—Arian was eventually brought up on charges first were in the news. Federal agents raided the professor's so—called think tank and home in 1995. Mr. Al—Arian notes that Ms. Reno failed to act on the evidence. Kind of like Mr. Clinton and Osama bin Laden. It wasn't until after 9/11, when Mr. Ashcroft was at the helm of the Justice Department, that the authorities finally acted. General Reno's failure to act when the evidence was fresh no doubt hampered the government's ability to bring this case home.
More broadly, the case against Mr. Al—Arian illuminates nothing so much as the difficulties of fighting a war with the tools of the criminal justice system. Imagine if all the detainees in Guantanamo or other overseas locations were given a full criminal trial with the standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt." Some might find juries as lenient as the one that failed to convict Mr. Al—Arian. The Supreme Court last year recognized in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Rasul et al. v. Bush that the detainees should have access to some type of process by which innocent or mistakenly detained individuals can seek their own release. But it has stopped short of giving all the detainees full access to the American criminal justice system. Often the evidence lies outside of jurisdictions where America can compel its production.
Joe Kauffman in Front Page Magazine adds:
Until we hear from the jurors, it's hard to say how this could possibly have happened. The judge in the trial, James S. Moody, had stipulated to the jury that the prosecution needed to prove that the money allegedly going from Tampa to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was sent for the purpose of violence. Is it possible that anything related to PIJ can be disassociated with violence? It is a terrorist organization. Did the defense convince the jurors that this was all one big political demonstration against the 'Zionists' based on the Israeli—Palestinian situation?
Hat tips: Ed Lasky and Dennis Sevakis 12 07 05