Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘justice

Should people who break serious laws be prosecuted?

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Not, apparently, if they are part of the Bush Administration, which is getting the “special” form of justice: no prosecutions. Spencer Ackerman, in the Washington Independent:

Eli Lake at The Washington Times has the exclusive:

President Obama’s choice to run the Justice Department has assured senior Republican senators that he won’t prosecute CIA officers or political appointees who were involved in the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogations.”

Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.’s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.

So much for all that.

I find this miscarriage of justice intensely disappointing. When people break laws, including international treaties ratified by the US, they deserve prosecution. Certainly they can mount a defense: “Someone told me it would be okay” seems to be the main line of argument. So they can defend themselves and explain the reasons, and the jury will sort it out. That’s the system the US once had, and it seemed to work pretty well on the whole, with exceptions. But the new system, in which people can commit crimes without being prosecuted provided they are well-connected, seems to be a move toward a Mafia-like system of justice.

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2009 at 11:35 am

Justice: first-class and main-cabin versions

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Very good post by Greenwald:

Aside from the intrinsic dangers and injustices of arguing for immunity for high-level government officials who commit felonies (such as illegal eavesdropping, obstruction of justice, torture and other war crimes), it’s the total selectivity of the rationale underlying that case which makes it so corrupt.  Defenders of Bush officials sing in unison:  We shouldn’t get caught up in the past.  We shouldn’t be driven by vengeance and retribution.  We shouldn’t punish people whose motives in committing crimes weren’t really that bad.

There are countries in the world which actually embrace those premises for all of their citizens, and whose justice system consequently reflects a lenient approach to crime and punishment.  The United States is not one of those countries.  In fact, for ordinary citizens (the ones invisible and irrelevant to Ruth Marcus, Stuart Taylor, Jon Barry and David Broder), the exact opposite is true:

Homeless man gets 15 years for stealing $100

A homeless man robbed a Louisiana bank and took a $100 bill. After feeling remorseful, he surrendered to police the next day. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Roy Brown, 54, robbed the Capital One bank in Shreveport, Louisiana in December 2007. He approached the teller with one of his hands under his jacket and told her that it was a robbery.

The teller handed Brown three stacks of bill but he only took a single $100 bill and returned the remaining money back to her. He said that he was homeless and hungry and left the bank.

The next day he surrendered to the police voluntarily and told them that his mother didn’t raise him that way.

Brown told the police he needed the money to stay at the detox center and had no other place to stay and was hungry.

In Caddo District Court, he pleaded guilty. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison for first degree robbery.

Under federal law, “the simple possession of just 5 grams of crack cocaine, the weight of about two sugar packets, subjects a defendant to a mandatory five-year prison term.”  In Alabama, the average sentence for marijuana possession — an offense for which most Western countries almost never imprison their citizens – is

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2009 at 10:46 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Media

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Another who underwent waterboarding calls it torture

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It really seems pretty clear that waterboarding is torture—clear, that is, to all but a few: Cheney, Fox News, Bush, Judge Mukasey, …  From Dan Froomkin today:

Josh White writes in The Washington Post: “A former Navy survival instructor subjected to waterboarding as part of his military training told Congress yesterday that the controversial tactic should plainly be considered torture and that such a method was never intended for use by U.S. interrogators because it is a relic of abusive totalitarian governments.

“Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a counterterrorism specialist who taught at the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school in California, likened waterboarding to drowning and said those who experience it will say or do anything to make it stop, rendering the information they give nearly useless. . . .

“Unlike attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey, who called the technique repugnant but declined to say whether it is torture, Nance said unequivocally that waterboarding is a long-standing form of torture used by history’s most brutal governments, including those of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, North Korea, Iraq, the Soviet Union and the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia.”

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2007 at 11:39 am

The telecom amnesty

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More from Glenn Greenwald:

Leading telecom advocate Fred Hiatt this morning turned over his Washington Post Op-Ed page today to leading telecom advocate Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, to explain why it is so “unfair and unwise” to allow telecoms to be sued for breaking the law. Just as all Bush followers do when they want to “justify” lawbreaking, Rockefeller’s entire defense is principally based on one argument: 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. Thus he melodramatically begins:

In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, the Bush administration had a choice: Aggressively pursue potential terrorists using existing laws or devise new, secret intelligence programs in uncharted legal waters. . . . Within weeks of the 2001 attacks, communications companies received written requests and directives for assistance with intelligence activities authorized by the president. These companies were assured that their cooperation was not only legal but also necessary because of their unique technical capabilities. They were also told it was their patriotic duty to help protect the country after the devastating attacks on our homeland.

Using 9/11 to “justify” telecom amnesty is not only manipulative, but also completely misleading. Telecoms did not merely break the law in the intense days and weeks following the 9/11 attacks. Had they done only that, there would almost certainly be no issue. Indeed, the lead counsel in the AT&T case, Cindy Cohn, said in the podcast interview I conducted with her last week that had telecoms enabled illegal surveillance only in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks — but then thereafter demanded that the surveillance be conducted legally — EFF almost certainly would not have sued at all. But that isn’t what happened. Both the Bush administration and the telecoms jointly broke the law for years. Even as we moved further and further away from the 9/11 attacks, neither the administration nor the telecoms bothered to comply with the law. The administration was too interested in affirming the theory that the President could exercise power without limits, and the telecoms were too busy reaping the great profits from their increasingly close relationship with the Government.

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Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2007 at 12:55 pm

Accountability: where is it when we need it?

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Good post by Stephen Pizzo:

Those us of a certain age have been here and done this before. And many of us wonder how we could possibly allowed ourselves to be sucked into it again. And then it dawned on me this weekend — the one critical thing we did not learn from our disastrous Vietnam experience. It’s not what we did, but what we failed to do. And that one thing is the reason for nearly everything that’s gone so terribly wrong in Iraq and our so-called “war on terror.”

Got your pen? Because we can’t afford to ever for this again. Okay, here it is:

Accountability — personal, civil, criminal and international accountability.

We forced just that on Nazi government, officials, military and collaborators after WW II. And we insisted on it for the Khmer Rouge butchers of Cambodia. We even imposed it on the leaders we deposed in Iraq who are, one by one, being tried and hung for the crimes they committed against Shiites in Iraq.

But nothing even close to that happened to the men who trumped up and executed the war in Vietnam. The only accountability they’ve faced has been easily dismissed rhetorical scoldings. Instead of facing their accusers in a court of law they were allowed to go on with their lives as if the blood of thousands wasn’t virtually dripping from their hands.

Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara and other’s in the Johnson and Nixon administrations actually went on to advise other presidents and continue to live the good life unmolested — un-prosecuted.

It’s a fact of history that undoubtedly gave considerable aid and comfort to officials of the current administration. Great comfort must have been provided by the sight of Henry Kissinger popping in and out of the Bush White House and McNamara appearing on panels with academic and other former government officials. Those two men alone are responsible for the deaths of more civilians than Saddam Hussein’s entire bloody career. Yet nearly 40 after their crime spree, they walk free, respected, included, wealthy.

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Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 11:08 am

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