Posted on December 10, 2010 in Viewpoint with James Zogby

Michael German, former FBI Agent, and current Policy Counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), discussed cases in which the FBI used questionable tactics to catch suspected terrorists. Mr. German responded to news reports highlighting the use of informants to infiltrate Muslim religious communities with what he said was “a broad mandate” to seek out potential violent extremists. In some cases, individuals suspected of harboring radical sentiments where targeted by informants who then perpetuated the behavior and at times, even enabled suspects to carry out attacks before ultimately turning them in. Mr. German also described the legal parameters of entrapment, a legal argument he said was a common defense in these sorts of cases. “It's actually a legal defense that requires that the defendant to show the idea of the crime originated with the government and it was the government that created the criminality rather than the individual.” He added, “If the defendant shows that, the government then has to come back and show that the defendant was predisposed to have committed that crime.”


Amal Mudallali, Adviser to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, discussed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The U.N.-backed tribunal is aimed at bringing those responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Haari to justice. “This is the first time that anybody will be indicted for political assassination in Lebanon”, stated Ms. Mudallali. “For 30 years, Lebanese prime ministers and presidents have been assassinated and nobody ever was brought to trial. Nobody was discovered”, she added. The tribunal and its findings will most certainly have a profound affect on the region. Ms. Mudallali also discussed Syrian and Saudi Arabian roles during the tribunal process stating that they [Syria and Saudi Arabia] share some of the same “principles” as the Lebanese when it comes to stability in the country. Mudallali did state that current Prime Minister Saad Hariri was in a tough situation and explained the difficulty he faces in creating any momentum around change in the country.


Geneive Abdo, Fellow and Director of the Iran program at the Century Foundation and editor of, discussed the recent U.N. meeting of the P5 plus 1 in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program. Ms. Abdo commented on what ultimately resulted from the meeting, concluding the deal reached “apparently is they [Iran] can continue enrichment [of Uranium] if they agree to close monitoring by the IAEA.” Ms. Abdo explained that though this was an E.U. deal, that it also had backing of the U.S. and additionally for president Obama, “solves a lot of problems, at least in the short term.” She added, “It allows him [Obama] to sort of for the moment delay calls for military attack on Iran, which the drumbeat in Washington has intensified, particularly since the recent election.” Ms. Abdo explained that this deal was the most “realistic solution” to the Iranian nuclear issue saying that “Iran is never going to stop its nuclear program.”