Sunday, 23 February 2003

Sami Al-Arian

Tacitus reports on Florida's reaction to the indictment of Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor who was suspended by USF while he was under investigation (see USF's archives on the Al-Arian case).

On a seemingly unrelated note (at least, at first glance), InstaPundit links to this New York Post piece by Byron York looking at the financial underpinnings of “Not in Our Name”, the celebrity-driven anti-war movement, seemingly written before the weekend's events. Dig down and you'll find this astounding revelation:

FOR its fund raising, the Not In Our Name Project is allied with another foundation, this one called the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization. Founded by several New Left leaders in 1967 to "advance the struggles of oppressed people for justice and self-determination," IFCO was originally created to serve as the fundraising arm of a variety of activist organizations that lacked the resources to raise money for themselves.

In recent years, IFCO served as fiscal sponsor for an organization called the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (their partnership ended when the coalition formed its own tax-exempt foundation). Founded in 1997 as a reaction to the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act, the coalition says its function is to oppose the use of secret evidence in terrorism prosecutions.

Until recently, the group's president was Sami Al-Arian, a University of South Florida computer-science professor who has been suspended for alleged ties to terrorism. (He is still a member of the coalition's board.) According to a New York Times report last year, Al-Arian is accused of having sent hundreds of thousands of dollars, raised by another charity he runs, to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Times also reported that FBI investigators "suspected Mr. Al-Arian operated 'a fund-raising front' for the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine from the late 1980s to 1995." Al-Arian also brought a man named Ramadan Abdullah Shallah to the University of South Florida to raise money for one of Al-Arian's foundations - a job Shallah held until he later became the head of Islamic Jihad.

Of course, the conspiracy theorists will argue that Al-Arian was indicted to silence and discredit the anti-war movement (never mind that large chunks of it have managed to do that on their own, with no help from the government). But it's an interesting development nonetheless, and one that shouldn't be lost on those who ignored the underpinnings of ANSWER.

Meanwhile, you can read the indictment for yourself (via Martin Kramer, who has some pointed commentary on the academic community's past defense of Al-Arian).

Can Alberta go it alone?

Christopher Johnson of the Midwest Conservative Journal notes the recent use of the “S word” — secession — by Alberta premier Ralph Klein. Christopher's analysis seems spot-on:

Assuming British Columbia decided to stay put, could Alberta go it alone? It would be difficult; Alberta would have no port facilities and would have to arrange something with Vancouver or get real chummy with Seattle. But independence would not be impossible. Money would not be a problem; the United States would quite happily buy as much Albertan oil as Edmonton was willing to sell and its transport south could be facilitated with as much American capital as Alberta desired.

Would Alberta become the 51st American state? It probably wouldn't have to. Relations between Alberta and states like Montana and Idaho would be extremely intimate regardless of what Washington thought about it. Indeed, an independent Alberta or Western Canada would be a powerful attraction to many western American states during their periodic outbreaks of anti-Washingtonism. Theoretically, Edmonton could have all the benefits of close association with the United States without the burden of bureaucratic oversight from Washington.

As a practical matter, an independent Western Canada (or just Alberta on its own) would probably be a more functional solution for post-breakup Alberta: there would be no need to conform legal systems, or interminable debate about whether a parliamentary legislature is compatible with the Constitution's guarantee of a republican form of government. Unlike Québec, Alberta is a net financial contributor to Canada's federal government, so financing the needs fulfilled by Ottawa would not be difficult (although disentanglement with the rump Canada might lead to some short-term problems).

Should they do it? Beats me. But it would probably be less painful than even the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, generally regarded as the most amicable national divorce on record, and clearly a lot of Albertans are fed up with their isolation from, and lack of input to, federal decision-making.