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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Driving while Arab.

Remember those three young Arab-American men who were arrested in rural Michigan for allegedly plotting to blow up the Mackinac Bridge? The ones whose apparent crime was really that they had the temerity to be driving through rural Michigan the day after the 'exploding sports drink' terror plot was revealed?

Despite being cleared by local authorities and the FBI, the three men are still being held by the feds, faced with an extremely dubious charge that probably has more to do with the egg on the Justice Department's face than with any terrorist threat.

Attorney Nabih Ayad drove two hours north from the Arab-American enclave of Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, to tiny Caro, Mich., last Wednesday in hopes of springing three of his clients from the Tuscola County jail.

The clients, three young Palestinian-Americans from Texas, had been arrested while driving their van from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart buying cheap cellphones. The county prosecutor had filed state terrorism charges against the trio, believing they were jihadis plotting to blow up the Mackinac Bridge. Though Ayad knew that the terrorism case was already collapsing, and expected his clients would soon be in the clear, he still wanted to get them out of jail on bond in the interim.

When Ayad reached Caro, however, his clients weren't there. Someone at the courthouse told him the men had been taken to Bay City by U.S. marshals. The state case had been dropped, but the men were facing new federal charges. Except they were no longer accused of being terrorists. They were charged with trafficking in cellphones -- a common practice of buying in bulk and reselling that Ayad insists isn't even illegal. "These are B.S. charges," he fumed via his own cellphone on Wednesday as he drove from Caro to Bay City in search of his clients. "We are going to fight them all the way."

Ayad said prosecutors are trying to save face by charging the men with anything they can, now that initial reports of a plot against the bridge have proved dubious. "To us, it's a way of doing damage control," Ayad said. "They want to come up with anything to get themselves out of this hole they are in."

Salon has the rest of the story here. [Paid sub or ad view req'd.]

| | Posted by Magpie at 9:07 AM | Get permalink




Liar, liar, pants on fire!


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