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Travesty of Justice « Thread Started on Jun 15, 2004, 7:12pm

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Travesty of Justice « Thread Started on Jun 15, 2004, 7:12pm

Postby admin » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:16 am

Travesty of Justice « Thread Started on Jun 15, 2004, 7:12pm »--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: Travesty of Justice This is the only article in this thread View: Original Format Newsgroups: alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater,, alt.impeach.bush, alt.politics, alt.politics.bush, alt.politics.liberalism, alt.society.liberalism, talk.politics.miscDate: 2004-06-15 11:55:48 PST ... G.htmlJune 15, 2004OP-ED COLUMNISTTravesty of JusticeBy PAUL KRUGMANNo question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.For this column, let's just focus on Mr. Ashcroft's role in the fightagainst terror. Before 9/11 he was aggressively uninterested in theterrorist threat. He didn't even mention counterterrorism in a May 2001 memooutlining strategic priorities for the Justice Department. When the 9/11commission asked him why, he responded by blaming the Clintonadministration, with a personal attack on one of the commission membersthrown in for good measure.We can't tell directly whether Mr. Ashcroft's post-9/11 policies areprotecting the United States from terrorist attacks. But a number of piecesof evidence suggest otherwise.First, there's the absence of any major successful prosecutions. The one setof convictions that seemed fairly significant - that of the "Detroit 3" -appears to be collapsing over accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. (Thelead prosecutor has filed a whistle-blower suit against Mr. Ashcroft,accusing him of botching the case. The Justice Department, in turn, hasopened investigations against the prosecutor. Payback? I report; youdecide.)Then there is the lack of any major captures. Somewhere, the anthraxterrorist is laughing. But the Justice Department, you'll be happy to know,is trying to determine whether it can file bioterrorism charges against aBuffalo art professor whose work includes harmless bacteria in petri dishes.Perhaps most telling is the way Mr. Ashcroft responds to criticism of hisperformance. His first move is always to withhold the evidence. Then hetries to change the subject by making a dramatic announcement of a terroristthreat.For an example of how Mr. Ashcroft shuts down public examination, considerthe case of Sibel Edmonds, a former F.B.I. translator who says that theagency's language division is riddled with incompetence and corruption, andthat the bureau missed critical terrorist warnings. In 2002 she gaveclosed-door Congressional testimony; Senator Charles Grassley described heras "very credible . . . because people within the F.B.I. have corroborated alot of her story."But the Justice Department has invoked the rarely used "state secretsprivilege" to prevent Ms. Edmonds from providing evidence. And last monththe department retroactively classified two-year-old testimony by F.B.I.officials, which was presumably what Mr. Grassley referred to.For an example of changing the subject, consider the origins of the JosePadilla case. There was no publicity when Mr. Padilla was arrested in May2002. But on June 6, 2002, Coleen Rowley gave devastating Congressionaltestimony about failures at the F.B.I. (which reports to Mr. Ashcroft)before 9/11. Four days later, Mr. Ashcroft held a dramatic press conferenceand announced that Mr. Padilla was involved in a terrifying plot. Instead offeaturing Ms. Rowley, news magazine covers ended up featuring the "dirtybomber" who Mr. Ashcroft said was plotting to kill thousands with deadlyradiation.Since then Mr. Padilla has been held as an "enemy combatant" with no legalrights. But Newsweek reports that "administration officials now concede thatthe principal claim they have been making about Padilla ever since hisdetention - that he was dispatched to the United States for the specificpurpose of setting off a radiological `dirty bomb' - has turned out to bewrong and most likely can never be used in court."But most important is the memo. Last week Mr. Ashcroft, apparently incontempt of Congress, refused to release a memo on torture his departmentprepared for the White House almost two years ago. Fortunately, hisstonewalling didn't work: The Washington Post has acquired a copy of thememo and put it on its Web site.Much of the memo is concerned with defining torture down: if the paininflicted on a prisoner is less than the pain that accompanies "seriousphysical injury, such as organ failure," it's not torture. Anyway, the memodeclares that the federal law against torture doesn't apply tointerrogations of enemy combatants "pursuant to [the president's]commander-in-chief authority." In other words, the president is above thelaw.The memo came out late Sunday. Mr. Ashcroft called a press conferenceyesterday - to announce an indictment against a man accused of plotting toblow up a shopping mall in Ohio. The timing was, I'm sure, purelycoincidental. Copyright 2004 The New York
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