Murtaza Hussain in The Intercept:
In 1999, Wadie Said was finishing his graduate studies at Columbia Law School, unsure of the direction he wanted his career to take.
A year earlier, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by a little-known terrorist group called al Qaeda. The lawyer for Muhammad al-Owhali, accused of organizing the bombings, reached out to Palestinian-American academic Edward Said for help in communicating with his Arabic-speaking client, as well as in understanding the politics of the region. Said suggested that his son might provide assistance.
“Sure, I guess,” was Wadie’s somewhat nervous reply at the time.
The experience was formative, setting Wadie, now a law professor at the University of South Carolina, down a path of legal practice and activism in the field of post-9/11 terror cases.
“I really absorbed from my father the idea of standing up for people who were persecuted or otherwise down-and-out, and wanted to apply that lesson in a different way, hence my initial decision to become a public defender,” Said says in an interview. “I was fortunate enough to start my career working on a high-profile prosecution like that with political overtones, and I came to the belief that it is always important to try and get the client’s message across, especially given how the overwhelming official hostility towards anyone with the status of terrorism defendant can subvert the legal process.”