The Magazine

John F. Burns, the New Republic, and more.

Dec 19, 2005, Vol. 11, No. 14 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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"When terrorists fight American civilians, as on September 11, they can leverage their own deaths to kill a great many of us. But when terrorists fight American soldiers, the odds tilt towards our side. Equally important, by bringing the fight to a Muslim land, by making that land the central front of the war on Islamic terrorism, the United States has effectively forced Muslim terrorists to kill Muslim civilians. That is why the so-called Arab street is rising--not against us but against the terrorists, as we saw in Jordan after Zarqawi's disastrous hotel bombing. The population of the Islamic world is choosing sides not between jihadists and Westerners, but between jihadists and people just like themselves. We are, slowly but surely, converting bin Laden's war into a civil war--and that is a war bin Laden and his followers cannot hope to win."

But How Do You Really Feel?

Baited by a fellow lefty for the thought crime of association with neocons at the group blog, Marc Cooper, a contributing editor to the Nation, offered the sort of pungent assessment of his colleagues that sometimes turns contributing editors into former contributing editors:

Perhaps you would like me to catalogue the . . . wingnuttiness that I bump into day-to-day at my more respectable job with The Nation: writers who believe that there's a burgeoning national Russ Feingold for President movement; that Castro's Cuba is really more democratic than Schwarzenegger's California; that it's a pity the Soviet Union collapsed; that a new book critical of Mao must be written by the CIA; that it's just fine and dandy to have an anti-war movement managed by acolytes of Kim-Il Sung; that we must provide material support to the armed resistance in Iraq, [and] so on and so on ad infinitum.

Arian Nation

In courtroom news, The Scrapbook admits to surprise last week when Tampa Bay jurors declined to convict former University of South Florida computer science professor and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian--or his three codefendants--on any of the 53 counts of conspiracy, membership in a terrorist cell, andrelated crimes that the federal government had charged them with in February 2003. Jurors acquitted Al-Arian of conspiracy to murder people overseas, but deadlocked on three other charges. Justice Department lawyers must now decide whether to push for a retrial of the deadlocked charges, or just deport Al-Arian and try to forget the whole thing ever happened.

We weren't the only ones surprised at this outcome. Writes New York Times Justice Department correspondent Eric Lichtblau: "Federal officials in Washington expressed surprise at the verdict in a case they had pursued for years." Maybe the feds should have tried reading blogger Debbie Schlussel, who predicted on October 28 that Al-Arian would walk.

"Yesterday, Al-Arian's defense lawyer rested without presenting a case in the ongoing trial against him," Schlussel wrote on her eponymous site, "Speculation is that he didn't have to." The problem was, she went on, "after months and months of testimony, media reports say jurors' eyes are glazing over daily. Clearly, prosecutors bored them. . . . It will be a travesty of justice if Al-Arian walks," Schlussel concluded. But "it will be no surprise." She turned out to be right on the money. What a shame.