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But Muntasser and Al-Monla had a lot of firepower in their corner, including Susan Estrich, Dukakis’ campaign manager, former Massachusetts ACLU President Harvey Silverglate, and Kathleen Sullivan, a former dean of Stanford, and a partner at Quinn Emanuel, who had reportedly been under consideration by the Obama Administration as a Supreme Court nominee.
Estrich and Silverglate had argued that the calls to Jihad fell under free speech and freedom of religion. Al-Hussam’s bloodthirsty ravings were described by the duo as “taking positions and reporting on developments in foreign battles” and the Jihadist texts, including one by Abdullah Azzam, as, “publishing and distributing books that discuss and espouse controversial ideas about religious conflict in the contemporary world.”
“Care was set up to advance religious goals,” Estrich and Silverglate wrote. “Jihad is a religious concept; Zakat is a religious obligation; support for the Mujahideen is, according to certain interpretations of the Koran, a religious command.”
The defense of religious freedom was all the more repulsive, considering the racist turn that the case had taken at one point, when a defense lawyer badgered a prosecution witness over whether he had learned Torah.
But Sullivan, Estrich and Silverglate were not the only ones fighting the good Jihadi fight. Also stepping up to Muntasser and Al-Monla’s defense was Libya’s ambassador to the United States.
Ali Suleiman Aujali had been Gaddafi’s ambassador, before making a timely leap to the rebels. This made him a hero in the eyes of some naïve and foolish people. In 2009 however, Aujali had authored a piece in the Wall Street Journal, defending the Libyan celebrations of the return of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.
After defending Meghari, Aujali’s credibility should have been particularly low. Nevertheless the ambassador penned a letter claiming that the Libyan government was closely following the case because Muntasser’s uncle, Mohammed Muntasser, had been a former prime minister of Libya, and that Care’s work had taken place when the Jihad had been a popular cause in Libya. Libyan political influence had helped set the Lockerbie bomber free, no doubt it also played its part in Muntasser’s case.
But the dominant factor in the Muntasser/Al-Monla case, as in so many others was the unwillingness of an entrenched legal system to come to grips with a new reality in which it was on the front lines of a covert war against the United States. For many lawyers and judges, freeing guilty men had been a way of making a statement about the government trespassing on their turf. That practice continued even as they were no longer dealing with drug kingpins, but with members in a secret army dedicated to mass murder and world domination.
The adversarial system is an effective way of protecting Americans in criminal cases, but it’s also an effective tool for dividing the system and exploiting those divisions to successfully pursue a war against America.
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