Are YOU Logic Challenged, Too?
The Bush administration has finally spun a story sufficiently horrifying to push the stories of its security scandals and bureaucratic blunders off of the front pages. Only Americans who are "logic challenged" will feel safer tonight. Their TVs will tell them to close their eyes and relax, secure in the knowledge that finally someone is going to be severely punished, in retribution for a crime which might take place sometime in the future. How comforting.
''Has God finally given us what we truly deserve? Lord have mercy!''
Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 @ 11:05:50 EDT
By George Lewandowski
YellowTimes.org Content Director
Am I the only American sitting bolt upright in bed tonight, in a cold sweat, thinking about the crime that has just landed top dead center on the front page of every newspaper in the country? The news that robs me of my sleep is the arrest of Abdullah al Muhajir, who is accused of Lord knows what. The official spin on this story is changing by the minute.
Incidentally, the arrest took place over a month ago but it didn't come to light, for some reason, until our newspapers were full of inconveniently embarrassing stories about ignored intelligence warnings and tales of obvious incompetence at the highest levels of our security apparatus.
A few timid members of Congress had even begun to think about asking, ever so politely, if they could "pretty please, possibly convene a hearing to pose some, er... well, some gentle questions" about what the administration knew in advance of "hitting the trifecta," as Bush puts it.
The crime that has me sitting on the edge of my bed tonight, wide awake at midnight, is not the cobbled and goobered-up half-retracted story of a possible plan by persons unknown to maybe, somehow, commit some sort of nasty terrorist bombing using a "dirty bomb." No, that is not the crime that has me losing sleep, for no one, not even Ashcroft asserts that the crime actually took place, that the bomb was detonated, that the bomb was built, nor that the defendant had begun assembling the materials for making such a bomb.
In fact, the most recent reports don't even assert that the defendant had obtained any blueprints for this wonderful tyrants' toy, a devilish device that, according to today's NPR report, had previously been perfected and tested by our own Pentagon for use against populations outside the U.S., that is, for proper and morally righteous disposal of people who aren't us. No, that bomb is not the criminally inspired catastrophe that haunts my nocturnal peace, and robs me of my sleep.
In fact, the latest CBS coverage admits "U.S. officials are backing away from assertions that a man arrested last month in Chicago was plotting a 'dirty' bomb attack on the United States, CBS Correspondent Jim Stewart reports... U.S. officials now admit they're not sure what American-born Abdullah al Muhajir's plans were when he returned to the U.S. last month."
No, I am dosing my insomnia with NyQuil tonight, trying to forget the crime that actually DID happen. It took place right in front of millions of American TV viewers and newspaper readers.
The crime that frightens me was not committed by the defendant, a native born United States citizen. It was committed by his accusers, my rulers. It was committed against that defendant, and by implication, against all of us who want to be free of tyranny. The defendant was summarily stripped of his civil rights and he has been condemned to suffer the indignity of a "military tribunal."
This tribunal is a politically efficient form of rough justice, carried out by military officers who answer through their chain of command to the same Commander in Chief who created this new venue and who formally accused the defendant in the first place.
The tribunal travesty was hastily concocted by photo-op politicians to replace a full and fair civilian trial. Real trials, fair trials, impose uncooperative rules of jurisprudence on the accusers, rules that have been worked out through more than two hundred years of judicial experience, on at least two continents.
The carefully constructed rules of evidence, the entitlement to a jury of peers, the right to a defense attorney, the right of appeal to a Supreme Court, a court that is subordinate to the U.S. Constitution, even the right to be released from jail if not convicted, are all being denied this defendant by the politicians who now seem to rule us at their pleasure.
These politicians, the same men who saw fit to order thousands of dollars worth of draperies to hide the shame of one offending tin... booby, in the hall of justice, have now ruled that any defendant, any person whom they choose to accuse, may be locked up for the rest of their life, with no trial and no real avenue of appeal. The only appeal open to Mr. Muhajir is to the tender mercies of the same simple-minded ruler who made the quiet decision a month ago to lock him up and throw away the key.
This absurdity gets worse. The reason given for this total disregard of proven methods of impartial investigation is that this defendant is accused of a crime so special in its evil intent that it doesn't really matter if he is guilty or not.
Mr. Muhajir, who may indeed be a very dangerous and evil person, is simply a person who has been accused of thinking about doing an evil deed. The alleged deed, a plan to detonate a "dirty bomb," is so nasty that our rulers have decided to dispense with the rule of law and with the carefully crafted judicial process that has proven, over the centuries, to be more reliable than tribal politics for sorting out the truth.
Apparently, that truth is secondary to the need to punish someone, anyone. We may never know what Mr. Muhajir has, or has not done, for our rulers have decided that it is more important to punish someone than to spend the time and energy necessary to gather enough evidence sufficient to convict.
This tribunal will jump straight to the sentencing phase, dispensing "justice" without any need to construct the kind of formal proof that would stand up in a real court, the kind of proof that would assure the rest of us that the real culprit has indeed been caught, that our Keystone Kops in Washington D.C. have actually hanged the guilty man instead of merely lynching a conveniently dark skinned scapegoat.
Suddenly, two centuries of checks and balances, carefully constructed rules of evidence, and logical frameworks for legal arguments, have all been abandoned in favor of the Salem dunking stool.
This means two things: 1) That any citizen whom the President elects to toss into jail, or to execute, can be legally dispatched by the mere application of a convenient accusation, and 2) that we citizens are no longer entitled to expect a formal and logical proof of guilt.
The President has given himself the right to set aside two centuries of western thought and political reforms, for the sake of his political necessities.
Most Americans felt that this judicial joke, the "tribunal," when first unveiled several months ago, was a handy device for hanging aliens, an appropriate way for disposing of those who were undesirables born without God's blessing, without proper U.S. citizenship. Now it turns out that the tribunal is also to be the blunt instrument for dispatching the rest of us cattle.
Only Americans who are "logic challenged" will feel safer tonight. Their TVs will tell them to close their eyes and relax, secure in the knowledge that finally someone is going to be severely punished, in retribution for a crime which might take place sometime in the future. How comforting.
Using this logic, perhaps the royal monarch will see fit to toss the Senate Majority Leader and a few uncooperative journalists into a vat of boiling oil, for the murder of some poor damsel who has not yet turned up missing. Surely someone should pay for such a heinous crime, especially if it ever happens. Why wait until it's too late? Light the fires now!
American foreign policy has, for generations, supported and subsidized this ludicrous brand of quick and dirty justice for the victims of third world despots. The monster of our own making has finally crawled home to club us with our own nasty weapons. It is hard to argue that we deserve better.
We have allowed our rulers to act without principles or mercy around the globe. How can we now expect those same rulers to respect our human rights? Why should they even pretend? What makes us so different from other victims of U.S. arrogance? With a wave of the emperor's hand and a reading of the royal decree we have just been alienated from our "inalienable rights."
The Bush administration has finally spun a story sufficiently horrifying to push the stories of its security scandals and bureaucratic blunders off of the front pages. This will silence the critics for as long as His Majesty chooses to keep Mr. Muhajir in the public spotlight, dangling at the end of a rope, twisting in the wind.
I think I need another dose of that cold medicine. My throat suddenly feels constricted.
[George Lewandowski is the Content Director for YellowTimes.org. He lives in the United States.]
George Lewandowski encourages your comments: glewandowski@YellowTimes.org
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