[Ppnews] LA 8 - Part 2 - Lives of Worry, Sadness, 'Why?'
PPnews at freedomarchives.org
PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 30 13:00:22 EDT 2005
Lives of Worry, Sadness, 'Why?'
The L.A. 8, arrested in 1987 for allegedly aiding terrorists, still express
bewilderment over it all. And the government still presses its case.
By Peter H. King
Times Staff Writer
June 30, 2005
Picture a tidy, two-story house on the far eastern fringe of metropolitan
Los Angeles, folded inconspicuously into the land of the tiled rooftop and
the two-hour commute. At the front window stands an Arab man, 47 years old,
with dark, brooding eyes and slumped shoulders. He stares out at the
street, watching, waiting.
This is on the morning after Sept. 11, 2001. The man's name is Khader Musa
Hamide. A Palestinian, he has lived in the United States for 30 years. He
is a coffee bean wholesaler, an Internet day trader and the father of three
boys. He is also, as he puts it, a "quote-unquote suspected terrorist."
For many years now, Hamide has fought off attempts by the United States
government to deport him for activities related to his visible, vocal
advocacy of Palestinian causes. He was arrested in early 1987, along with
his Kenyan wife and six other Palestinian immigrants.
They initially appeared destined for rapid deportation to the Middle East.
The proceedings stalled on legal challenges, however, and the L.A. 8, as
they came to be called, were allowed to carry on with their lives as best
they could while they waited for the litigation to run its course. They are
On this grim morning, the man at the front window barely resembles the
dashing young organizer captured years earlier in FBI surveillance
photographs. He attributes his aging more to his troubles than to the
passage of time. He has lost his hair. He has lost friends. And he has lost
his sense of trust: Behind every new face, he sees a potential FBI
More than anything, though, he has lost his political voice, which, certain
government documents suggest, was precisely the point of the investigation
in the first place. This is a man who once demonstrated defiantly in front
of the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, who once exhorted hundreds at a
1986 Glendale fundraiser to reach into their wallets, telling them,
"People, the revolution will not continue, and the march to Palestine will
not go on, with words alone."
Now he tries to keep his political views to himself. His weekends are
filled not with rallies for the revolution, but with suburban errands,
ferrying kids to basketball practice in his van. He worries that his
neighbors might discover he's a principal in a terrorism case. One man up
the block, in fact, did piece it together, and his children haven't come to
"I can see that," Hamide will concede. "If somebody thinks that there is a
quote-unquote suspected terrorist living in the neighborhood
"Well, you know."
Fretting about neighborhood gossip on this morning, of course, would seem
misplaced and maybe moot. Hamide has convinced himself that, given the
terrible events of the day before, the FBI will start at once to round up
every "Arab that has a brain."
Surely, he reasons, a Palestinian who already has been labeled a tool of
terrorism by the United States, who for nearly 15 years has resisted a
relentless government campaign to be rid of him, surely he will be among
the first swept up. This is why Hamide watches the street. He is waiting,
as he will recall years later in an interview, for the sedans with multiple
antennae, the agents in their windbreakers. In 1987 they had surprised him
at dawn, bursting into his apartment a dozen or so strong, guns drawn. This
time he is ready.
"OK," he mutters to himself. "Come and get me. I've got my shoes on. Come
and get me."
But the agents do not come, not on this day, not on any day since.
Instead, for Hamide and other members of the L.A. 8, the case simply will
stagger along as it has from the start, with more legal filings and
cross-filings, more revisions of the charges, more meetings with the
lawyers, more paperwork to add to the heaping pile. And also, more time to
ponder what they see as the central mystery of their peculiar legal
"Why? This is the biggest question," Hamide says. "Why us? And why is the
government so persistent in this case? We honestly don't understand."
The Los Angeles Herald Examiner announced the arrests with a headline
stripped across its front page: "War on Terrorism Hits L.A." When they
recall that headline today, 18 years later, members of the eight will make
a point of noting that the Herald Examiner no longer exists.
Their case has outlasted the paper along with five U.S. attorneys
general, the McCarthy-era anti-communism law under which they were
originally charged, the Soviet Union, numerous Middle East peace
initiatives, Yasser Arafat, the coming and going of numerous "marathon"
legal struggles, the Rodney King trial, the O.J. Simpson case, the Clinton
impeachment, and their youth.
For the accused, the case long ago bolted the boundaries of mere
jurisprudence. They tend to speak of it today as something almost animate
a hulking, many-limbed beast that stomped into their lives one gray January
morning in 1987 and has refused to leave. The case, they say, has broken
apart marriages and disturbs the sleep of their children. It impedes their
concentration, and has cost them jobs. It dictates the terms of their lives.
They seem to recognize more readily in others the marks the case has left
on them all. They will shake their heads and confide how much a certain one
of them has aged, how another, beset by depression, could not leave his
couch for three years, how the child of still another required treatment
for psychological scarring caused by the case.
"You can see it in their eyes," said Aiad Khaled Barakat, a tall, gaunt
44-year-old. "Look at them and you see the case."
What do you see?
"Worried. Sadness. You see wonder. That's what you see."
This bewilderment at what has befallen them is accompanied by a detectable
wariness. Not all would agree to be interviewed, fearing repercussions.
Those who did talk frequently offered up, with a certain urgency, anecdotes
meant to demonstrate how ordinary their lives are, how thorough their
assimilation into American mainstream stories about the speeding ticket
they beat, or the money they donated to tsunami relief, or the homeless man
they set up in a successful window-washing business.
"I've been here for 33 years," said Hamide, now 51. "I eat like Americans.
I act like Americans. I dress like Americans. I talk like Americans. I
think like Americans. I do everything like Americans."
Indeed, from a distance, it would appear that the L.A. 8 have blended
seamlessly into the Southern California landscape. Walk down Monrovia's
main street in the middle of a workday afternoon and there, in front of the
bank he manages, is Ayman Obeid, dressed in a starched shirt and creased
trousers, cigarette dangling between his fingers as he discusses business
with two customers. From time to time he's invited into classrooms, where
he introduces youngsters to banking and the value of saving a dollar.
Drop in on Barakat's apartment in Arcadia, and on the family room coffee
table are rolled-up blueprints for a public school renovation.
After his arrest, a budding venture in home building failed. Barakat then
joined his brother in another construction firm, and they have made a
success of it, securing bids on schools, public libraries, recreation
halls, even winning a piece of the action on a Hollywood mogul's 45-room
Michel Ibrahim Shehadeh bought a pizza parlor a few miles from Disneyland
Pizza Town. Most days this spring he could be found amid the stainless
steel ovens; at the counter toiled his 21-year-old son, who as a 3-year-old
had watched with horror as his father was hauled away in handcuffs.
Hamide works out of his home, and eavesdropping government agents who once
strained to catch snatches of his conversations with supposed subversives
now would hear him haggling about the wholesale price of coffee beans while
trying to quiet a small child who had wandered into the room.
They would hear him explain why he couldn't meet this particular day to
talk about his terrorism case: "I have a nanny problem."
All in all, Hamide would observe on another day, "we've been pretty good
This was a sly reference to the initial charges filed against the eight,
allegations that their distribution of magazines published by the
Marxist-leaning Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine made them
subject to deportation under a provision of the McCarran-Walter Act, an
immigration bill passed amid the Red Scare of the early 1950s.
After their arrests, a federal lawsuit was filed on their behalf,
challenging the provision as a form of guilt by association. Before the
challenge reached a judge, the government dropped the Marxist-related
charges. Instead, it now sought to deport six of them on immigration
technicalities such things as violating the terms of a work permit or
taking fewer college courses than required on a student visa.
"To use a football analogy," William B. Odencrantz, then regional counsel
for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, told reporters at the time,
"we don't care how we score our touchdown, by pass or run. We just want to
get them out of the country."
Hamide and Shehadeh, alleged leaders of the group, had already gained
permanent-resident status, so the visa violations tactic was not applied to
them. Instead, they were recharged with other provisions of the immigration
act: first, for associating with an organization that advocates "the
destruction of property," and then for affiliating with a group that
advocates the assassination of government officials of "any organized country."
"In those days," said Odencrantz, now with the Department of Homeland
Security, "we really lacked the tools to properly deal with aliens involved
in terrorist activities, whether they were threatening our domestic
situation or engaged in activities that would foster terrorism around the
This would change over time. An immigration statute drafted in 1990 to
replace the McCarran-Walter Act after its constitutional flaws were
exposed by the L.A. 8 case allowed the deportation of aliens who had
provided material support to terrorist organizations. The 1995 Oklahoma
City bombing led to a further toughening of anti-terrorism law.
Finally, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, there would come that sling blade of
counter-terrorism laws, the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing
Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001,
more commonly known as the Patriot Act.
All of these legislative changes contained language that allowed their
retroactive application to the L.A. 8 case. Indeed, it is under the Patriot
Act that the government next month will again attempt to deport Hamide and
"This is the horrendous thing about being an immigrant," Hamide said.
"There is no double jeopardy. They can arrest you in '87 and charge you
with a law that was enacted in 2001. It is just never-ending."
The legal dexterity that allows the government to bring new charges for
past activities is what concerns others in the L.A. 8. Technically the July
proceedings in immigration court will not involve them, but one enduring
lesson of their experience has been to never underestimate the government's
resolve to see them removed, be it by pass, run or dropkick.
If Hamide and Shehadeh win, Barakat said, "I will feel comfortable. If they
He paused here and completed the thought wordlessly, with a drag on his
cigarette, a shrug and a certain look in his eyes, a look of worry and
sadness and wonder.
The law offices of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano and Nightingale occupy the
fifth floor of a box of a building in the heart of San Francisco. A cabinet
that runs along an interior wall is stuffed with files generated by the
L.A. 8 case and its numerous side skirmishes, litigation that explored the
boundaries of free-speech rights for noncitizen residents.
Inviting a reporter to plunge into these archives one afternoon, a legal
aide apologized that they were not yet fully organized. She said she was
working on it is always working on it. Apparently, maintenance of the
L.A. 8 files is akin to the repainting of the Golden Gate Bridge, a
perpetual work in progress.
For all the legal churning the case has created, the basic forensic facts
have not changed over the years. The case revolves, now as then, around the
results of FBI Special Agent Frank H. Knight's stakeouts of a handful of
events in the mid-1980s translated transcripts of fiery speeches,
surveillance photos of the eight setting up the hall at the fundraiser in
Glendale, dancing a folk dance known as the dabka.
As the facts have remained the same, so have the fundamental legal positions.
Prosecutors have continually maintained that the money raised through the
efforts of Hamide and the others made its way to the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine. And even if the PFLP ran kindergartens and clinics
in Palestinian refugee camps, this did not mitigate the terrorist acts it
also claimed to have committed. As one Justice Department attorney pointed
out, "The Nazis built the autobahn."
The L.A. 8 and their lawyers, meanwhile, have framed the case as an assault
on inalienable freedoms: the right to speak freely, to express even
unpopular political viewpoints, to be protected from selective prosecution
and guilt by association. They insist, in short, that the Palestinians were
targeted because they stood, loudly, on the wrong side of U.S. policy on
the Middle East.
"That's really what this case has been about," said L.A. 8 lawyer Marc Van
Der Hout, "trying to stifle political dissent and political activity. It's
about the government trying to stop political support in this country for
groups abroad that it doesn't like, and that's the bottom line."
There have been several times in the run of litigation when it appeared the
case might be resolved in the eight's favor. Their most satisfying victory
came in April 1996. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, a Reagan
appointee, moved to block the deportation process, ruling that the eight
had been unfairly singled out because of their political viewpoints and
that their affiliation with the PFLP was protected free speech.
The decision had added significance in that Wilson was the first judge
and to this point the only one to weigh all of the government's evidence,
a previously classified 10,000-page monument to the persistence and
investigative ingenuity of FBI agent Knight. The judge found it less than
"The government," he wrote, "has submitted book-length tracts published by
the PFLP explaining its interpretation of Marxist-Leninist ideology. It has
submitted dozens of issues of Al Hadaf, the PFLP's official newspaper, none
of which mention any of the plaintiffs. It has also submitted extensive
hearsay compilations of the acts of terrorism linked to the PFLP over the
years, in none of which any of the plaintiffs are in any way implicated."
Wilson turned to Knight's stakeout of the 1986 Glendale fundraiser,
scoffing at the agent's conclusion that khaki clothes and posters depicting
AK-47 assault rifles were proof of support for terrorism.
"Instead of following the trail of the money collected at the Glendale
dinner," Wilson wrote, "the government simply advances the bald assertion
that because the event had a militant tone, it must have been intended to
support exclusively the PFLP's terrorist activities. There is no basis in
logic or in the proffered evidence for this assertion."
Three years later, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his decision,
determining that the eight had gone prematurely to the federal courts for
relief, before the deportation process had played out. However, the
opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, went beyond the technical
issues the lawyers had been asked to brief.
Turning to the substance of the case, Scalia disagreed with a lower court
ruling that a defense claiming selective prosecution that is, the
targeting of certain groups by law enforcement because of race, gender,
political associations could be applied to the L.A. 8 case.
"An alien unlawfully in this country," he declared, "has no constitutional
right to assert selective enforcement as a defense against his
deportation." Moreover, the government "should not have to disclose its
'real' reasons for deeming nationals of a particular country a special
threat or indeed for simply wishing to antagonize a particular foreign
country by focusing on that country's nationals."
In the aftermath of 9/11, this has meant that federal investigators can
target specific immigrant communities, detaining or deporting anyone found
to have overstayed a visa or otherwise run afoul of immigration fine print
without fear of facing a selective-prosecution challenge in court. "As a
result," warns David D. Cole, another L.A. 8 lawyer who came to the case,
pro bono, through the Center for Constitutional Rights, "Arab and Muslim
foreign nationals with any possible immigration problem are well advised to
do nothing such as speaking out, demonstrating or joining political
associations that might bring them to the attention of the federal
In other words, hunker down, lie low, which is pretty much what the L.A. 8
have been doing for the last 18 years.
They no longer see much of one another. They don't subscribe to Palestinian
magazines. Few of them attend Palestinian events, and only one, Shehadeh,
has remained politically active. They would not be surprised to discover
that their telephones were still tapped. Most try to avoid political
discussions with strangers.
None dance the dabka anymore.
"No, not since '86, that infamous year," Ayman Obeid said. "I have just
kind of isolated myself from the whole thing. I do not dance. I can dance
now, I taught it. But do I dance? No."
In fact, he went on, "I don't even want to be in the vicinity of somebody
who says, 'I love Palestine,' because I don't know. I know what I thought,
and I know what I wanted for my life, for Palestine. But I don't know your
background. So I don't want to be in the same set as you are, because I
don't know what they think of you."
By "they" he meant the FBI.
From beneath his banker's dress shirt, Obeid produced a medallion that
hung from a chain around his neck.
"It says 'Palestine' in Arabic," he said. "I've never taken it off. I love
where I come from. If you don't, then you're not a man, or a woman, of
heritage and background. Did I want to be an Arab? I don't know. Did I want
to be a Palestinian? I don't know. But I am, so it is who I am
"I mean, why can't I sing and dance for my country? I mean, everybody does
it. Arabs, Italians, Armenians, Greeks. Greek movies we go to, and we pay
money to see them. I bet you if I have a Palestinian movie, not only are we
not going to have people going there, but probably they will shut down the
movie theater. I mean, I hope I'm wrong, but why cannot I say what I feel
as long as it is at a peaceful gathering?"
Then he stuffed the medallion back inside his shirt.
The early government decision to go after six of the eight on technical
visa violations in effect scattered their individual cases through the
system, and as a result their current immigration statuses vary.
Basher Amer, pulled from his chemistry finals by the arresting officers,
beat the charge that he had failed to take the minimum course load required
by his student visa: He'd received bum advice from a college counselor. He
has since returned to Bethlehem, in the West Bank, the only one of the
eight to have left Southern California.
Hamide's wife, Julie Mungai, received permanent-resident status in
December, a decision that came after the immigration judge noted how dated
the case was: "I think we have had enough time to deliberate
. Time has
been favorable to the respondent. They have a good family, good jobs."
As the family rose to leave the courtroom, the judge had words of
encouragement for one of Hamide's young sons. Maybe, the judge said, the
boy would become president of the United States one day, or at least
Amjad Obeid, Ayman's brother, also has won permanent-resident status. Told
that this terrorism suspect was now employed as a state transportation
engineer, the immigration judge only laughed.
Ayman is awaiting a decision on his permanent-residency application; until
then he must renew his work permit regularly if he is to continue as a bank
Barakat and Naim Sharif at first were denied permanent-resident status
after an immigration judge heard the FBI's secret evidence against them.
This led to a successful challenge in federal court.
Over the last year, Barakat has sought in vain to gain citizenship. In
immigration hearings, the case workers have peppered him with questions
about the PFLP and his pro-Palestinian activities in the 1980s.
"Do you agree with the methods of the PFLP, their terrorist activities?" he
is asked at one hearing, according to a transcript.
"I don't agree with any terrorist act," Barakat responds.
"At the time, you weren't in support of the PFLP?"
"I am not in support of any terrorist act. I support the PLO, and the PFLP
is part of it. I support that we want an independent state for the
The hearing officer keeps pressing. He asks Barakat about his participation
in events that were promoted as a celebration of the PFLP's founding.
"When you went to these events, did you know they were PFLP events?"
"They were not PFLP events. They were celebrations of that date."
"So you were celebrating the PFLP?"
"The people, yes."
"If you weren't in support of the PFLP, why were you attending a
celebration of it?"
Even in the cold type of the transcript, Barakat's mounting exasperation
"I have no ideology," he says at last. "I don't not like this guy because
of his beliefs." He went to PFLP parties, he says. He went to Fatah
parties. He went to Egyptian parties, Iranian parties, Armenian parties. "I
go to any party that has dance, cultural, Middle Eastern food. I love to
meet people, especially women, and dance. I was a young guy."
The stakes for the eight have risen as the years have piled up. The L.A. 8,
they often say, have become more like the L.A. 28, with the children and
spouses who have come aboard since the arrests.
Asked if he had ever considered just giving up, Hamide's response was
emphatic: "No. Absolutely not. And for a very good reason. Because it is my
life, for one thing. And my family's life. I have nowhere else to go."
As their children have grown older, the parents have confronted the dilemma
of what and how to tell them about Dad's terrorism problem. For Amjad
Obeid, that moment came last Christmas Eve. His 14-year-old daughter had
been bombarding him with questions. Why didn't he travel with them to
Mexico when they went to see her mom's family? Why, if he was Arab, did he
not visit the Middle East? Why did he need a lawyer?
"So Christmas Eve, I was just driving with her. I said: 'You know what? I
think you're old enough to know. You're entitled. Here's the story.'
"She was shocked and surprised and then, knowing her intelligence, she went
on the computer and she read the whole Supreme Court brief and very much
understood the case."
Because of their immigration status and the repercussions of the case, most
of the eight have not managed to visit the Middle East, even as their now
elderly parents begin to pass away. It's not clear that Israel would permit
them to enter the occupied Palestinian territories; it's also not clear
that they would be allowed back into the United States. In essence, they
have become detainees of the country that wants to deport them.
At a later immigration hearing, Barakat tries to explain the urgency behind
his effort to become a U.S. citizen.
"This has been over 16 years, 17 years," he says. "I need to go visit my
. My father passed away. When he was sick I couldn't go see
him. And my mom, she is about 80 years now, and she is sick."
The hearing officer asks if formal travel restrictions are in place: With a
green card, he should be able to fly overseas.
"Israel won't let me in," Barakat explains.
"I see," the hearing officer says.
"I need an American passport so I can get in. We get problems there, we
come to the freedom country, we start getting problem. I don't know where
In December 2004, Barakat learned that his bid for citizenship had been
denied: He lacked "good moral character." The 14-page rejection leaned
heavily on the works of FBI agent Knight: "You were observed rehearsing for
the entrance ceremony of the event. The FBI declassified records of the
investigation indicate that you participated in setting up the event."
When they contemplate the case, as they seem to do constantly, what baffles
the Palestinians most is the government's persistence. Their early victory
in the bail hearing, the many federal court rulings in their favor, the
enormity of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks all of these, to them, would
have provided the government a natural opening to drop a difficult and even
They have developed many theories to explain why, instead, the case was
kept alive. There is the legal guinea pig theory that the case was
designed to establish precedent for removing immigrants who support
disfavored foreign groups. There is the bureaucratic inertia theory that
in time the case became something of a self-justifying institution.
There is the theory that the case has been driven by some mysterious order
from on high that someone in the top tier of government has it out for
them. And there is the theory that it was rooted in their fledgling success
in the early 1980s as proponents of Palestinian statehood.
The government lawyer Odencrantz did not necessarily reject all of these
theories. Yes, he said, the case has provided a vehicle to test "very
important" legal issues and to accumulate the "tools" needed to proactively
deal with terrorism threats. As for bureaucratic inertia, yes, "the case
has its own momentum. As they have bitterly resisted the decision to remove
them, we see no reason that their resistance should cause us to simply say:
'Well, we'll forget it. It has gone on too long.' "
As for 9/11, the ramming of hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center
and Pentagon did not suggest to the government that circulating PFLP
magazines and participating in folk dances perhaps no longer met the
terrorism bar. From a brief filed in the L.A. 8 case after 9/11:
"This case involves an issue of critical importance to the nation's ability
to deport aliens who have provided financial and material support to a
foreign terrorist organization. In light of the tragic events of September
11, 2001, the importance of this issue cannot be overstated."
Within weeks of the Sept. 11 attacks, L.A. 8 attorney Cole received a call
in his Washington office from a congressional aide. The lead Justice
Department attorneys on the case, he was told, were in the conference room
where the bill that would become the Patriot Act was being drafted. Perhaps
Cole should come over. He did, but the Justice Department lawyers protested.
"The compromise was that I got to sit outside," Cole said. "It was like
being a lawyer in a grand jury proceeding. I sat outside and the
[congressional] folks would come out and say, 'What do you think of this?
What are the implications of this?' And then they'd go back in."
The questions convinced Cole that the government lawyers "were definitely
in there trying to write a law that would basically knock these guys out of
In its final form, the Patriot Act did render moot many of the legal issues
in the L.A. 8 case.
As a result, the coming trial of Hamide and Shehadeh will revolve around
two questions: Did the money raised at the fundraisers actually go to the
PFLP, and, if so, did the two know, or should they have known, that it
would be used to underwrite terrorist activities?
Asked whether, if the government prevails, deportation charges will be
brought against other members of the L.A. 8, Odencrantz replied:
"Probably not. Obviously, if we get information that suggests one of the
others did something
One day in late May, six weeks before the scheduled start of the trial,
Shehadeh and his wife were scrubbing the kitchen at Pizza Town one final
time. The next day they were to turn over the keys to new owners.
"This way," Maxine Shehadeh said, "whatever they dish out, we will be able
to deal with it."
Michel Shehadeh expressed confidence, as had Hamide, that they would win.
If they did not, he said, there would be the opportunity to appeal again
through the federal courts. That the case might come to provide a
constitutional test of the Patriot Act is not out of the question and, in
an odd way, might even be fitting.
"The lawyers," Shehadeh said, "have been saying it may be another 20 years."
It was not clear if he was joking.
The talk turned to the topic of Frank Knight. They all seem to have Knight
stories how he would appear at seemingly every court hearing over the
years, how he would look coldly beyond them whenever they tried to make eye
contact or engage him in small talk during recesses, his palpable fury when
rulings went their way, his intimidation tactics, his threats to flick them
from the country, like flies.
They wonder what drove him. Was he out, as Barakat put it, "to win a star"?
They question his methods. They mimic his gait and mock his performance in
deposition, four days of sometimes combative, sometimes stammering
testimony about the fungible nature of money, about the "statement" one
makes by moving the American flag off a stage, about how to connect the
dots between a folk dance performance in Glendale and an assassination in
the West Bank.
"He always struck me as professorial, always deep in thought," Shehadeh
said. "Who knew he was just deeply unthoughtful?"
And now, here he was, Frank Knight himself, standing in the doorway of his
San Diego condominium. He was 3 inches shorter and substantially thinner
than the hulking 6-foot-5 linebacker of a man the Palestinians had
described. He was wearing jeans, a polo shirt, running shoes.
He smiled almost shyly as he congratulated his unexpected visitor for
tracking him down. Unfortunately, Knight said, government policy prohibited
him and any other agents who worked the L.A. 8 case from discussing it.
"It's not that we don't want to talk," he said. "We can't. We would end up
He fairly beamed when it was suggested that he and the New York agent who
had conceived of the plan to go after the eight with immigration laws had
been, it turned out, many years ahead of their time.
"We were two Lone Rangers," he recalled.
As he remained in the doorway, Knight was given a rushed update on the
lives the Palestinians had carved for themselves in the years since he
first began to track them running a bank branch, opening a pizza parlor
near Disneyland, building public schools, selling coffee beans, buying
houses, raising families, all of it.
"Well," he said, smile quickly fading, "if you have read my reports, if you
have done your homework, you should know they shouldn't be in those
positions. But I really can't talk."
Come back, he suggested, when the case is over. He would be happy to
discuss it then, he said, for hours, for days, "for as long as you want."
It was a polite offer, delivered with one last winning smile, but of course
it ran counter to the one incontrovertible rule that has governed the case
of the L.A. 8 for 18 years now: For whatever reason, it is never over.
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