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11/11/01

STRAPPADO WRACK

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The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself.
- Robert G. Ingersoll

Justice for Me But None for You

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Having never been a fan of the DoJ, it is somewhat encouraging that AG John Ashcroft is turning the house of cards upside down. Yes, you say; the eavesdropping on phone calls between lawyers and those deemed to evoke 'reasonable suspicion', should send up the red flag. Well, here is a news flash! Do you really think that those conversations were private to begin with?

If you are one of those types who have never soiled their hands by talking with an alumni of the federal big house, you will never understand the realities of the judicial system. State crimes have the bulk of the responsibility to incarcerate those violent outlaws. But Federal reservations book for the most part, a higher clientele. Drugs infractions top the list by numbers, but the best seats are reserved for those white collar connoisseur's of working over the system. So why should we law abiding straight and narrow observers of the ordinance care what happens to these outcasts? Just maybe the analogy runs parallel to the adage that ones terrorist is anothers freedom fighter . . .

Laws exist to control behavior. The operative word is control. Behavior is always relegated to the choices that individual make. But control is the province of the rulers of a society. Has it been that long ago that people have forgotten what the last Justice Department was like? Can anyone argue with a straight face that the FBI has not acted as helpless buffoons with muffed investigations, planted evidence and deceptive testimony? The institutionalization of incompetence is the current trademark of the G Men. Their role of establishing a foreign bureau all over the known world is akin to flipping Big Mac's on every street corner. Just what is the proper role of the FBI, to begin with?

The answer from their own ranks, comes as no surprise; it is to protect the government. But when will it become the domestic peace keeper of this country, and limit their role as a law enforcement constable? The true terrorist threat that this Nation faces already resides within our borders. Those who plot to injure our fellow citizens are cowards to their cause. But when the central authorities exercise measures that focus their efforts on protecting themselves at the expense of the safety of regular citizen, you have a systemic problem that requires major surgery.

Ashcroft is not the political bawd that Reno was when she was in office. Does that mean that 'We the People', should place our trust in his efforts to clean house? The need is certainly urgent and the task is huge, so are his proposals prudent to solve the immediate crisis?  At this point the risk of additional erosion in civil liberties is obvious. However, the overhaul of DoJ is so pressing that we must turn to some public official, in a good faith effort, to dismantle the institutional culture that has allowed the national policemen to become the federal offender.

Perpetual defenders of civil liberties always fear the worst. The record of a trustful government doing the right thing is sparse, at best. The resurrection of the ACLU to its original purpose, has been reported to have taken up the gantlet in protecting individual rights. But just what kind of record has this august organization been building for themselves over the last few decades? Their mission sure has been side tracked along the way to this new, 'so called' epiphany. So where is Larry Klayman and Judicial Watch on this issue? Defense of the Bill of Rights from our conservative allies seems to be absent on this one.

With that said, and at the risk of being accused as blindly following down the wrong path, reform of the entire justice system is of the highest order. If some wait for a Ramsey Clark, type to emerge to do the dirty work, you would expire from lack of oxygen. John Ashcroft may not inspire the lofty dreams of the hard core libertarian, but he is the right man, in the correct place, at a time of national crisis.

It offends the intelligence of thinking Americans to contend that non citizens have the same rights as citizens. Guests can certainly overstay their welcome. Visitors must observe the rules of the road. And friendly warnings of breaking the speed limit, must come to an end.

Let's not be naive! Reform never results in all the changes that should be accomplished. But if the debate turns to attacks of the AG from wimps in the legal profession, we will lose the initiative to make fundamental changes. And who trusts a defense lawyer to begin with? Equal rights exist for citizens, only! If some can't see that, they are windmill spinners. Deportation will ensure more protection than any other single measure. The quality of the inmate population in federal institutions need not be diluted by the influx of contaminated foreigners. Bed space is reserved for our own! Recent building expansion requires constant rotation among our population. Arent there enough Americans to keep the no vacancy light out?

The big picture must be kept in focus. Human rights protection will only become part of the fabric of the DoJ when the mindset of their people adopt respect for individual dissent. Bureaucratic solutions, an oxymoron if there ever was one; have come from leadership from the top. As long as this pattern remains, Ashcroft will have a positive influence. But for real substance, each public servant needs to accept personal responsibility to defend and not abuse individual rights.

We all want results. Identify and find the criminals, conduct fair trials and proportional punishment when needed. Proactive efforts to diffuse further terrorist plots are proper and should be supported. That is the real meaning of Home Land Defense. Direct efforts upon the source of the danger and compliment this role with sweeping internal restructuring. This course will build a better America. It is worth the risk. Change the system . . .

SARTRE - November 11, 2001

A right without an attendant responsibility is as unreal as a sheet of paper which has only one side. - Felix Morley

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