Friday, May 7, 2010

Justice American Style

Don't underestimate the ability of the American judicial system to act more stupidly than you can believe possible. Declaring that corporations are persons and therefore have rights to spend unlimited sums on political advertising was a brilliant moment since the same law says that real persons, you know, the living breathing type, are not allowed to spend unlimited sums (see here and here). But since corporations are "persons", they are given rights as "persons" that go beyond what mere mortal persons have. Got that?

Well, the American legal system has just lowered the bar yet again. Here's a report on
The Pentagon has barred four journalists from the trial of Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr because they allegedly reported the name of a military interrogator who happened to testify Thursday that he tried to frighten Khadr with the possibility of being raped in prison.

"We threw some people out of there today because they disclosed the identity of a protected witness," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday afternoon. "He had been clearly identified as someone who needed to be protected....These newspapers identified him by name."

The journalists kicked out of the proceedings, currently in the midst of pre-trial hearings, are Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers, Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Paul Koring of the Globe & Mail, and Steven Edwards of Canwest Newspapers.

They were ejected for violating ground rules which bar the identification of protected witnesses. The reporters have noted that the name of the interrogator in question, Joshua Claus, was widely reported in the Canadian press before the trial. In fact, Claus gave one or more interviews in 2008 about his interrogation of Khadr.

The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement decrying as "nonsensical" the move against the four reporters. "That reporters are being punished for disclosing information that has been publicly available for years is nothing short of absurd – any gag order that covers this kind of information is not just overbroad but nonsensical," the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer said. "Plainly, no legitimate government interest is served by suppressing information that is already well known."

Asked why reporters were being punished for reporting a publicly available name, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said any previous stories or interview naming Claus was irrelevant. "That doesn't change the fact that his identity was protected in the courtroom during this hearing. He wasn't 'Interrogator #1' when he was previously interviewed," Col. Lapan said.

Claus previously pled guilty to abusing another detainee at the U.S.-run prison at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. He was sentenced to five months in jail.
It is funny. The US is a signatory to the UN prohibitions on "child soldiers" and "torture" but doesn't apply that law to itself. It has taken a 15 year old and held him for 9 years for the "crime" of attacking US soldiers who were in the process of attacking the outpost in which he was located. It isn't even clear he did anything, but that hasn't stopped the torture meisters at Guantanamo from using all their special "tricks" over the years. This case is despicable, but the US refuses to release this victim of their system. It is now "trying" him but using torture confessions as the only real evidence against him. It is a farce that is being passed off as "justice".

Don't get me wrong. His father, Ahmed Said Khadr, was a slimy character who was fully involved with Al Qaeda. His wife and children were indoctrinated and mouthed the crazy hatreds of the father. The youngest son is Omar Khadr. I can believe the kid mouthed the crazy propaganda of the father, but at 15 he was a "child soldier" and didn't really know enough to be a "member" of Al Qaeda and shouldn't be treated harshly like he has been by the US military.

This is the case against Omar Khadr (from Wikipedia):
In February 2008, the Pentagon accidentally released documents that revealed that although Khadr was present in the house, there was no other evidence that he had thrown the grenade. In fact, military officials had originally reported that another of the surviving militants had thrown the grenade just before being killed, and later rewrote their report to implicate Khadr instead.
For this, Omar Khadr has been tortured for 9 years and imprisoned and not given a trial. That's American "justice".

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