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July 14, 2003 - 8:50 p.m.
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It's a shame that most people consider the justice process to be a professional one which is at best the petty playground of lawyers or at worst Springer-style trash entertainment. What happens in the justice process is that people's rights are either upheld or denied, and that's extremely important if you believe in truth, justice, and the American way.
Everyone should be paying attention to the Moussaoui case, because it's highly critical in terms of the constitutional rights that all of us take for granted. Moussaoui is the alleged 20th terrorist in the September 11 attacks.
By the way, I know that people think that putting "alleged" in front of the description of the crime charged is some sort of lawyer's semantic game. The reason that I used "alleged" is because the moment we stop talking about a defendant's "alleged" crimes is the moment we've discarded the sacred concept of innocent until proven guilty.
One of the goals of the Bush Administration is to turn the United States into an authoritarian state. I know that when I say that, most people think I'm Chicken Little crying that the sky is falling. Well, the reason that I know that the sky is falling on American freedom is because I pay attention to things like the Moussaoui case. So pay attention.
The Moussaoui case is the perfect vehicle for the Bush Adminstration to start stripping us of our rights. The reason is that there would be a huge public outcry if this guy were to escape procecution on a technicality. (An authoritarian's technicality is often a citizen's basic right, by the way.) Thus, Bush's Department of Justice has the perfect forum to challenge our basic rights.
Moussaoui thinks there's a witness who can provide evidence that he was not involved in the September 11 attacks. It is Moussaoui's right to have access to such a witness. You don't need a law degree to know this; you merely need to know how to read. The right to access to favorable witnesses is in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor."
This favorable witness that Moussaoui would like to question is in the custody of the federal government. And the Justice Department has just flat out refused to produce the witness, in unashamed defiance of both the Sixth Amendment and the Judge's order that the Department of Justice produce the witness.
Normally, prosecutorial misconduct- especially when it involves denying constitutional rights- leads to dismissal of charges, because the that is the only way that the courts can avoid continued denial of the accused rights.
The Department of Justice is just daring the Judge to dismiss the case against Moussaoui. The Bush Administration wins either way. If the Judge does not dismiss the case, he's going to have to come up with some twisted reasoning to do it, and set a precedent to allow feds to further trample rights. The available reasoning is that Constitutional rights may be violated in the name of national security, however the government defines national security. In other words, you only have rights as long as the government says you do. If you only have a right at the government's whim, then you don't really have that right, do you?
The fox is very eager to guard the hen house.
However, if the Judge dismisses the case against Moussaoui, the Bush Administration wins too. There will be public outrage that a suspected terrorist got off on a "technicality," and such a decision will rally public support around Bush's authoritarian policy. As far as the Bush Administration is concerned, dismissal of the Moussaoui case is probably the better outcome.
The ultimate prize for the Bush Administration is secret police (the new anit-terrorism laws get the Administration halfway there) and secret tribunals. And those two of the tools of any authoritarian government. Read your history.
By the way, apply your most creative imagination to this "national security" smokescreen. What is it that al-Qaida cronie can say that will seriously undermine national security? Has he memorized the secret government files on Roswell like the Navajo Indians on the X-Files? Why can't the feds do something to deal with any information that might be released? Supposedly, they know what this witness has to say, they can take precautions before he says it. Try to imagine what this guy has to say that threatens national security so much that it's worth ignoring the Sixth Amendment. I certainly can't imagine it.
The best my imagination can do is that this guy will blurt out that he was tortured for information while in American custody. Though I can't belive that the feds are worried about that outcome, since there wasn't very much public notice of John Walker Lindh being locked in a small metal box for three days until he finally decided to "volutarily" confess to working with al-Qaida.
If you don't see like I do how this denial of rights turns into a facist state, keep in mind that the Bush Administration has already accused his political foes of giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy every time they speak out against him. Add it up. If Bush can jail terrorist conspirators without do process, and his political opponents are aiding the terrorists, then he can jail political opponents. This isn't the slippery slope; this is the edge of the cliff.
If you follow the Bush Administration's terrorism policy and read about the history of Nazi Germany at the same time, I guarantee the combination will scare the shit out of you.