FINGER-POINTING

Posted in Rants on December 30th, 2009 by Ed

Bill Kristol wins the award for the first wingnut pundit to trot out the "I can't believe we're going to try the Northwest 253 suspect in a regular court" trope.

This is precisely the problem. This guy has been lawyered up. We don't know anything. One reason we don't know anything — he's not being treated like an enemy combatant. He's not being interrogated. We're not finding out everything we could know about Awlaki. This is an ongoing attack — enemy attempt to attack the United States, and we're treating it as a one-off law enforcement case.

In other words, if he isn't whisked off to a metal shipping container at Bagram AFB, sleep deprived, and repeatedly beaten for a couple of days we are somehow missing the point. Just think of what a valuable opportunity to get utterly useless "information" out of an abused captive we are ignoring. If you beat this asshole long enough he will tell you he's Osama bin Laden, but that's the kind of riveting intel that makes prosecuting a war on terror the AEI Way so fulfilling.

I've previously asked the question about why the right are so afraid to try these people in civil courts. Part of it has to do with this sense that we are coddling people by doing anything less than putting a bag over their heads and chaining them to a concrete floor for a few months. Part of it has to do with their Jack Bauer whack-off fantasies about ticking time-bombs and the value of making suspects talk. And part of it – neatly evidenced by Kristol's "lawyered up" comment – is the persistent fear that somehow the civil courts will find these people not guilty despite the mountains of evidence against them.

A portion of the American public operates under the belief that the justice system consists mostly of stone-cold guilty defendants being found not guilty on technicalities. With the help of the hated lawyers, criminal after criminal is released back onto the streets because some cop forgot to cross the T on a piece of paperwork. Does this happen? Yes, certainly it does. But how common is this outcome? And how common is it in a case such as this one in which the guilt of the accused is proven beyond any shadow of a doubt before the trial begins?

We are quite comfortable with a justice system that puts innocent (black) people behind bars or on death row but the prospect of a guilty person going free is so heinous that, in this example, whisking them off to the gulag to ensure an appropriately draconian level of punishment is preferable. It is infuriating on some level to think that there is a chance, however remote, that a suspect whose guilt is nearly certain can walk away from a courtroom unscathed. But from where do "technicalities" arise? Mostly from law enforcement. Nothing paves the road to acquittal with gold quite as well as shitty police work. Moral outrage is always directed at "the system" for letting criminals walk when if anything it should be directed at the people who decided to barge into a home without a search warrant or ignoring someone's request for counsel during an interrogation. No, cops are not machines and they can't be expected to be perfect but when they disregard the law and resort to end-justified means they offer the loopholes that we so greatly fear will be abused by the guilty.

What are the odds that this dipshit will be found not guilty by an American jury? I'd bet it's somewhere around a million to one, but I'd wager even more that if it does happen, the FBI and other agencies responsible for investigating the case and detaining the suspect will be to blame. Not that Bill Kristol and his ilk are interested in assigning blame to Our Heroes who wear the badge.

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