TCS Daily

Tenured Radical No More

By J. Peter Pham & Michael I. Krauss - May 12, 2006 12:00 AM

As university professors, we value academic freedom, acknowledging -- as did the authors of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)'s influential 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure -- that liberty has meaning only in relation to its being "fundamental to the advancement of truth."

Alas, the reaction of many of our colleagues when confronted with the uncomfortable truth of Sami Al-Arian causes us to wonder if they have not lost sight of the raison d'ĂȘtre of our privileges.

On February 28, Al-Arian -- formerly a tenured associate professor of computer engineering at the University of South Florida -- entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to procuring "funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist [Organization], in violation of 18 U.S.C. §371." On May 1st, Al-Arian, 48, was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison, though he will get credit for the three years and three months he already has served. His attorney had asked U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. to release Al-Arian now for immediate deportation, as was made possible by the plea agreement, but the judge refused.

After Al-Arian was arrested in 2003, his university did something it should have done long before (more on this later): it revoked his tenure and terminated him. The firing earned USF president Judy Genshaft and her colleagues a resolution from the AAUP's annual meeting, condemning them for "grave departures from association-supported standards that resulted in serious professional injury to the professor." The righteous dons further determined that USF's actions were "based on political issues entirely apart from any legitimate academic concerns."

Now that al-Arian has entered a plea "freely and voluntarily," some of our colleagues stubbornly refuse to acknowledge its full significance. Two months after al-Arian signed his agreement with prosecutors, and over two weeks after its details were published, the Chronicle of Higher Education laments the former professor's "three-year ordeal behind bars" and reports on a range of people who found his additional prison sentence "very disappointing" and "really devastating." What happened to our duty to "advance the truth?" Does this duty not include the truth about Sami Al-Arian?

The really "devastating" truth about Sami Al-Arian is that in his plea agreement he concedes the key element in the government's charge: that he conspired to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), even after the Clinton administration issued Executive Order 12947 on January 23, 1995, declaring PIJ a "specially designated terrorist" organization. That Order outlawed all support for PIJ by anyone subject to US jurisdiction.

PIJ is considered by many counterterrorism experts to be the single most radical terrorist group operating among Palestinians. It blends nationalism with the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and the revolutionary ideas of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini. According to the teachings of the group's "spiritual" guide, Sheikh 'Abd al-'Aziz 'Awda -- named in the Al-Arian plea -- the Holy Land is currently the locus of an epic confrontation between Muslim forces (haq) and Jews and Christians who embody the forces of apostasy (batil). To annihilate batil, PIJ not only sends suicide bombers after civilian targets but also indiscriminately launches Qassam rockets into Israel from Gaza -- sending 56 onto civilian lands in April 2006 alone, despite Israel's voluntary withdrawal from that territory.

Al-Arian now admits not only that he was associated with PIJ during "the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s, but that he continued to perform services for the terrorist group" in 1995 and thereafter. Indeed, one of Al-Arian's co-defendants, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, enjoys -- thanks to a November 1995 determination by the Clinton administration -- the dubious distinction of being a "specially designated terrorist." [It emerged that he was no less than secretary-general of PIJ, his cover in the US being executive director of the World and Islamic Studies Enterprise (WISE), a "think tank" at USF founded by Al-Arian.]

Al-Arian's services for the terrorist group included "filing for immigration benefits for individuals associated with PIJ, hiding the identities of individuals associated with PIJ, and providing assistance for an individual associated with PIJ." Buried in the legalese, a disturbing series of facts emerge about what these "services" entailed. For example, Al-Arian and co-defendant Mazen Al-Najjar deposited funds into WISE's account to create a salary required to renew co-defendant Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi's visa. So much for the AAUP's claim that the activities of Al-Arian and WISE created no "legitimate academic concerns" for USF administrators...

Al-Arian's jury trial ended in disarray last December -- the jury, clearly confused by the defense's legal obfuscations and possibly inclined toward nullification, found the former professor not guilty on eight counts while deadlocking on nine others. But his plea agreement stipulated that the defendant "is pleading guilty because [he] is in fact guilty. The defendant certifies that the facts set forth below are true, and were this case to go to trial, the United States would be able to prove those facts and others beyond a reasonable doubt."

Judge Moody should be applauded for his moral and legal clarity in rejecting the request by Al-Arian's lawyer that the court consider letting the defendant off with "time served." Instead, the judge imposed the maximum allowable sentence under federal sentencing guidelines, and delivered a stinging rebuke to Al-Arian from the bench. It deserves to be quoted at length:

Dr. Al-Arian, as usual, you speak very eloquently. I find it interesting that here in public in front of everyone you praised this country, the same country that in private you referred to as "the great Satan." ...You are a master manipulator.

You looked your neighbors in the eyes and said you had nothing to do with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This trial exposed that as a lie.... The evidence was clear in this case that you were a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad...

When Iran, the major funding source of the PIJ, became upset because the PIJ could not account for how it was spending its money, it was to your board of directors that it went to demand changes. Iran wanted its representative to have a say in how its money was spent. To stop that, you leaped into action. You offered to rewrite the bylaws of the organization...

But when it came to blowing up women and children on buses, did you leap into action then? ... No. You lifted not one finger, made not one phone call. To the contrary, you laughed when you heard about the bombings, what you euphemistically call "operations"...

And yet, still in the face of your own words, you continue to lie to your friends and supporters, claiming to abhor violence and to seek only aid for widows and orphans. Your only connection to widows and orphans is that you create them, even among the Palestinians; and you create them, not by sending your children to blow themselves out of existence. No. You exhort others to send their children... You are indeed a master manipulator.

If AAUP and Al-Arian's academic fellow travelers were as concerned about "the advancement of truth" as they profess to be, they might reflect on the judge's words. In 2002, Salon Magazine wrote that the only question raised by Al-Arian's firing was whether a university could "punish controversial speech by one of its professors." No, Salon, that's not quite it. The only question raised by the Al-Arian firing is whether the academics once duped by this dangerous terrorist will have the courage to admit the truth. If they don't, what good is their tenure?

Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Both are academic fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.


"Radical American thinker and MIT professor Noam Chomsky met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut today and branded the U.S. a terrorist state. "

How does MIT toleate such traitors? How can it maintain any security clearance arrangements with the government when it allows people like this on their staff?

Now you know where MIT's mainstream political thought is!
This makes people like you dangerous rightwing radicals. They don't call them ivory towers for nothing. Nice comment.

I believe the AAUP was upset with the firing upon arrest.
It is one thing to dismiss someone because they are guilty, and quite another to do so becuae they were accused.

In this case, it seems the Florida university dismissed this person because they were accused (in 1993 was it?). The person did not plea guilty until 1996. So the university applied bias by thier action. The prejudged the case.

And that is the issue brought up by the AAUP.

In America, a person is innocent until proven guilty. I guess things are different in Florida.

The US is a terrorist stte by its own definition
So what do you call it?

What's a terrorist stte Steve?
Is that Leftist shorthand for something or did you just copy down the wrong talking points at the WWP meeting?

Duh, Steve must abe a lawyer
You obviously have no understanding of the law nor hasve the education of a gerbil to make such a ridiculous statement. Pray tell us what community college it is that you aspire to attend.

When I grow up I want to be
just like you.


Leftist shorthand
No! WWP talking point. No, leftist shorthand. No, talking point. No, shorthand. Talking point. Shorthand. No! WWP talking point. No, leftist shorthand. No! WWP talking point. No, leftist shorthand. No! WWP talking point. No, leftist shorthand. No! WWP talking point. No, leftist shorthand.

Oh my gosh! It's just like Chinatown.

I had better just walk away. See ya.

Good example of Leftist shorthand
Almost as coherent as Roy or Hampton.

When you wish upon a star
Do let us know when you do grow up.

I'll never
I'll never grow up, or at least, not to your expectations.

Not me.

But back to the point, don't you think it was a bit immature and premature of Southern Florida to dismiss thier faculty before he wasn't found guilty? It was three years before, in fact., So they had pre-judged him to be quilty of a crime that even the jury didn't find him guilty of.

So they were clearly prejudiced, exactly one of the things that tenure is supposed to guard faculty against.

The author of this article fail to point that fact out.

Why do you think it is that law professors could have missed so obvious a point in the time line of events?

Hum. Food for thought.

Then again, I would bet things are exactly as they appear to be. LOL

Or may "abe" your typing is perfect
I don't know about you, but I have trouble typing on a laptop. They keyboard just doesn't keep up with my fingers. So letters drop out. So words like "stte" appear when I type "state" too fast.

Interesting how a simple keybord problem can cuase someone like you to assume that someone is a left wing communist, or was that a right-wing terrorist?

Or just what was it you were implying in your post to me?

Please do explain your position.

As is often the case, ridicule is a cop out for meaning discussion. My subsequent post was simply a sarcastic way of pointing that out, while simultaneously making you "wrong" for being obtuse.

But somehow I'd bet it went right over your head, just like the time-line in the article in question went right over your head.

You zeroed in on the terrorist and the 'let's rip down the academic establishment" anti-intellectualism that this propaganda article played into. And you light up like a color organ. You've been played.

Pulling Steve's strings
The reflexive parroting of WWP talking points only dulls an all ready pathetic and tired tirade. Anyone who uses tired phrases like "anti-intellectualism" only displays his absurb prejudices and lack of self awareness.

Since you lack the self awareness to understand what your comments reveal about yourself I suggest you seek help from someone who is not adverse to performing frontal lobotomies. Perhaps this will reduce the amount of misinformation you have gathered at the feet of your mentors.

You are in short nutty than a squirrel turd.

When the facts interfere with Steve's theories...
lets discard reason? Don't think so ace. The man should never have been teaching there in the first place which posits the question who constitutes the hiring committee that they could have hired such a man. That he lied repeatedly prior to hiring, which is grounds for immediate termination, during his investigation, and until and after his conviction. Now I am sure you are a staunch defender of Mumia too, and are as willing to disregard the facts as you are in this case but the only question one needs ask is why was this man hired in the first place?

Keep up your comments, they are so interesting to someone interested in arrested development.

American universities
American universities must be doing something right. They are the finest in the world and are the only thing keeping our economy growing. Universities product all those technologies (laser, microwave, semiconductor, voice recognition, ...). And all those professors, well 80% of them, are Democrats. Why, because an educated person can see through Bushes. Even engineers, business school faculty, and scientists all know what makes sense from obvious malarky from right wign noise machines. Their reputations depend on judgements of right and wrong. Those that guess right get prize professorships at top places training tomorrows leaders. Those who fall for right wing spin (like ghobal warming denier Roy Spencer) wind up in second rate backwarers.

Vapors from the academic swamp
American universities produce ten lawyers for each engineer. This reverses the ratio in Asia.

Political affiliatiuons in professional and technical schools are fairly balanced perhaps reflecting that PC credentials won't cut it in schools requring real knowledge.

Having disposed of these two little pieces of trivia we are faced with Liberal Goodman's bold assertion that 80% of all progress isd the result of universities. This is so laughable that one doubts any reasonable and sane individual could utter it.

Now to call out little troll:
Name three drugs university researchers have developed in the past three years.

C'mon ace, I can name twenty intrials with a major pharmaceutical, just name three that have been filed by a university and have the sole rights to.

Another sad e3xample of the Goebbels school, no lie to large, no untruth too small courtesy of the Left.

only in your fevered imagination
The best hope of mankind

as usual LG gets confused
The colleges where the faculty is 80% Democratic (actually more than 90%) are not the same ones where technology is being generated.

LiberalGoodman must have never attended any college or university. If he had, he would realize that the 80% of professors that are liberal democrats are the ones teaching sociology, humanities, art, philosophy, English, women's studies, law, etc. They are NOT the ones actually doing technological research, who are mostly represented by the 20% that are NOT democrats.


These things you mention are not in the article
You state "That he lied repeatedly prior to hiring, which is grounds for immediate termination, during his investigation, and until and after his conviction."

So how do you know that? Why should anyone believe you?

And as for me, I am not discarding any facts, as you put it. I do not have these facts.

Do you? If so, show us.

And as for your brash rhetoric, get a life, ace.

You're way out there.
Anti-intellectualism is well defined. Web sites loike TCS are good candidates being memebers of the larger Town-Hall dot com umbrella of neoconservative web sites and think tanks.

So if you want prejudice, well this web site is it.

Thanks Steve
Criticism from people like you is always welcomed. Its sort of like being attacked by Stalin. Pretensions of grandeur are always asscoiated with mental illness. Certainly those who proclaim to be intellectuals can be relied upon to never develop an original thought nor have the capability of understanding complex situations. Thats why one doesn't find most Noble Prize Winners in Science proclaiming themselves to be "intellectuals."

So party on Sir Intellectual. Till they put the straitjacket on.

Well now Steve its good to know you have never worked
If you had ever worked you couldn't have made such a stupid statement since every position screens prospective applicants, and the more responsible the position and the higher paying the greater the detail and the more intense the scrutiny. If you do not believe this man lied on his applications that is your affair. One never likes to tell children there is no Santa Claus.

every Nobel winner I'm ever met has claimed to be an "intellectual". On the other hand they were not pretencious nor did they claim to be overly intellegent. Those are your two most obvious traits, by the way.

But Nobel Prize winners I have met had other attributes that you apparently lack, those being a sense of humor and humility.

You do not get of the hook so easily. Put up or shut up.
You said that the university had every right to fire him becuase he lied on his application.

Please do supply the informationthat shows that the university knew that he lied on his applicaiton.

Excuse me, but your word ain't going to cut it. You start with zero credibility and move on from there. At this point of the discussion, your credibility is in negative territory.

So put up, or shut up and go away.

Tell us about meeting Goofy and Donald Duck
Actually all the Noble Prize winners I have met had two attributres you don't have. They were hallucination free and they were truthful.

I do love your sense of humor. Tell us about the time you had a 6tag team match with Harpo Marx.

Steve you've never held a job
Or else you'd know better. My credibility with you is about as important to me as the number of hairs on a rats ass. Why would I care what a cretin who can't think for himself nor has ever worked thinks?

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