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Unable to Accept Defeat Graciously, O'Reilly Wants Florida to Retry Sami Al-Arian

Reported by Marie Therese - January 26, 2006

For years Bill O'Reilly has taken credit for "outing" Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian as a "terrorist-enabler." He ranted and raved about what how terrible Mr. Al-Arian, a Palestinian, was for supporting radical Palestinian terrorist organizations. Periodically, Bill would drag out some rabid right-wing talk show host for a nice little "burn, baby, burn" cat session, during which they would haul Mr. Al-Arian over the rhetorical coals. So, it came as quite a shock to O'Reilly when Al-Arian was acquitted of 8 of the nine charges brought against him. On the one remaining charge, the jury was hung, with 10 votes for acquittal and 2 for conviction. Currently, the prosecution is trying to decide whether or not to start a new trial on the undecided count.

Last night in an interview with Jonathan Katz, a member of ACLU and one of Al-Arian's civil attorneys, O'Reilly whined about the ACLU's entry into the case and even went so far as to say that Florida should retry Al-Arian because there were two jurors who agreed with him!

KATZ: The 12 citizens who decided the case were there everyday for six months. We need to really rely on their opinions a lot more than ours. And it's not a matter of being convinced beyond all doubt. The jury, as long as they find that there is reasonable doubt about guilt, he's not guilty. 10 to 2 says it.

O'REILLY: Alright. But 10 to 2 still leaves 2 Americans who thought he was guilty, so I'm not sure that we should walk away from this. ... What's the down side of having another trial and having the government prove its case, if it can?

KATZ: I'm not speaking in my role as an ACLU. I'm just an ACLU member right now but the fact of the matter is, there are First Amendment issues that I think concern the ACLU, as Mr. Al-Arian's lawyer said to the jury you cannot convict based on opinions and the jury agreed, at least on 8 of those counts and at least 10 to 2 jurors agreed on the remaining counts. ... Saying "death" to somebody is not the same thing as carrying out the action. It's not the same thing as paying someone to do it. We have First Amendment rights. The First Amendment has to be interpreted very broadly to protect all our rights, including your right to be on the air and say what you want to say.

At the end of the movie Trading Places, the bankrupt Duke brothers demand that the stock exchange be opened up just for them, so they don't have to face defeat at the hands of two lesser humans. Last night, Bill O'Reilly clearly wanted the same kind of consideration. In O'Reilly's mind the people of the state of Florida should just fork over millions of dollars so he can save face!

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