Last Friday, I spoke with former Senator Mike Gravel at an event here in Washington aimed at drawing attention to the case of Sami al-Arian. While some comments that Gravel made at the event seem to have attracted some of the wrong kind of attention, I thought I’d share the transcript of a brief interview I had with Gravel following Friday’s event at Busboys and Poets about al-Arian’s case and the upcoming presidential election:
DAVIS: I was just wondering how you got involved in this case?
GRAVEL: It started at the beginning of the year, I was in New York and I met Leila [al-Arian]. I was on TV being interviewed and she was being interviewed also and I listened to the case and I couldn’t believe it. And so I got more involved, and then so I cut a couple spots… and then I got more and more involved, so now I’m absolutely outraged over the injustice. Outraged, I think you can tell.
DAVIS: I talked to Senator Leahy’s office earlier this week, and the person I was speaking with on the phone was immediately familiar with the case, but they wouldn’t say anything about what Senator Leahy was doing…
GRAVEL: So they are familiar with the case?
DAVIS: They are very familiar — they said they’re still getting calls on it. But what do you make of the fact that they haven’t really done anything about it?
GRAVEL: Gutless. This is a great injustice. This a great, great injustice. And they’re afraid to get tagged with respect to the jewish community, AIPAC, you know. This all stems from AIPAC. This guy is just speaking out very effectively for the Palestinian cause, that’s what’s the root of this. And they’re trying to stifle that.
DAVIS: You know, coming in here you see people with Obama shirts out front and they’re selling Obama merchandise, and I’m sure a lot of people here think that if there’s a President Obama that injustices like this may not happen, or that he’ll fix them. Are you as confident as some people?
GRAVEL: No, no. There’ll be some improvement. I don’t think the Justice Department will as bad as it is right now, but don’t hold your breath for big change.
DAVIS: And just unrelated, who are you voting for?
GRAVEL: Well first off, not McCain, he’s a nutcase… It’s very difficult, very difficult.
DAVIS: What do you make of Bob Barr? I know you were running for the Libertarian nomination…
GRAVEL: Don’t ask me about that (laughing).