At the meeting Al-Arian who also had his picture taken with then-candidate Bush in Florida during the 2000 presidential campaign sat in the front row basking in his good fortune. Vice-President Dick Cheney who was supposed to host the briefing canceled after that morning’s Jerusalem Post ran a cover story condemning his involvement.
In fact there was plenty of negative buzz surrounding the AMC’s extremist bent prior to the event which makes the White House’s careless inclusion of Al-Arian even more puzzling. But according to Steven Emerson the Bush administration had little say in the matter thanks to a familiar culprit.
‘[Al-Arian’s 2001 White House visit] happened because Bill Clinton legitimized militant Islam while he was in office ‘ says Emerson. ‘In 1996 Hillary [Clinton] met with a few militant Islamic groups. By 1997 CAIR [the Council for American-Islamic Relations] and the AMC were regulars at the White House. Clinton opened the door to these groups — Bush inherited this tradition. And unless there is a direct threat to people the Secret Service has no authority to block access to the White House.’
This was apparent just six days after the briefing Sami Al-Arian attended when his son Abdullah a student at Duke University was escorted off the White House grounds during a visit by Muslim community activists. Upon hearing the name ‘Al-Arian’ a few alert Secret Service agents quickly ejected Abdullah from the event an action that prompted the rest of the Muslim delegation to storm out in protest.
Responding to the ensuing backlash President Bush sent the deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service to personally apologize to the 20-year-old Abdullah and actually invite him back to the White House. At the time the younger Al-Arian was serving as an intern for former Rep. David Bonior the Michigan Democrat whose failed gubernatorial run last November marked an end (hopefully) to his wretched political career.
Now a teacher at Wayne State University in Detroit ‘Baghdad Bonior’ (as he became known after his treasonous trip to Iraq last fall with Washington Rep. Jim McDermott) was a leading opponent of anti-terrorist legislation during his tenure as Democratic House Whip. Bonior’s response to Abdullah Al-Arian’s White House dismissal was unsurprising due to his tradition of coddling Muslims (with votes in mind no doubt as his constituency included one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in the country).
Said Bonior ‘There have been too many instances where Muslims have been stopped harassed or discriminated against for no apparent reason. This happens in airports on our highways and now we see it happens in the [George W.] Bush White House.’
It was later revealed that Bonior had received a $3 200 campaign donation from none other than Sami Al-Arian. Criticized roundly for his intimate relationships with suspected terrorists Bonior (who also received a $1 000 donation from noted Hamas sympathizer Abdurahman Alamoudi) became downright indignant even refusing to return the $3 200 to Al-Arian.
Of all Al-Arian’s cheerleaders this group is least surprising. It’s an oft-stated fact that American college campuses are controlled by leftist administrators and professors. A few months after Al-Arian’s suspension from USF in 2001 the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) a 45 000 member-strong organization that claims to ‘promote academic freedom by supporting tenure academic due process and standards of quality in higher education ‘ released a report vigorously defending him. It read in part:
‘Dr. Al-Arian a tenured associate professor of computer science had for decades expressed an active extramural interest in Palestinian and Islamic developments. Allegations against him in the 1990’s of ties with terrorists were investigated by the FBI and others and there were no findings of any wrongdoing on his part….Other currently pending charges against Professor Al-Arian have been characterized by the [AAUP] investigating committee as too insubstantial to warrant serious consideration as adequate cause for dismissal.’