Free Markets, Free People

Crime

An Arrogancy of Jurisdiction

Suppose I told you that there is an organization which claims to have worldwide jurisdiction (literally, “where the law speaks”) over all matters of criminal law and justice, regardless of who a person is? No I’m not referring to the ICC, but instead to the Obama administration.

The Obama administration is considering a criminal trial in Washington for the Guantanamo Bay detainee suspected of masterminding the bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed 202 people, a plan that would bring one of the world’s most notorious terrorism suspects just steps from the U.S. Capitol, The Associated Press has learned.

Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, was allegedly Osama bin Laden’s point man in Indonesia and, until his capture in August 2003, was believed to be the main link between al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah, the terror group blamed for the 2002 bombing on the island of Bali.

It’s not readily apparent what charges would be brought against Hambali, but a real question exists as to exactly what power our civil judicial system would have over him. In order to pass judgment on anyone, a court must have personal jurisdiction over the defendant, which essentially means that he has some nexus with the place where his trial takes place. With respect to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, there is at least a good argument that his alleged activities with respect to the 9/11 attacks and the World Trade Center bombings creates a connection with the court of record in New York City. In contrast, Hambali does not, as far as anyone has alleged, have any connection whatsoever with the District of Columbia, nor with anywhere else in the United States. So on what basis can a DC court claim to have any power over his person?

Yet that’s just what the Obama administration proposes to do. It is considering trying Hambali in a federal civil court, supposedly for his terrorist actions (which are legion, to be sure) elsewhere in the world. Most famously, Hambali is thought to be the mastermind behind the devastating bombings in Bali back in 2002. But Bali is in Indonesia, not the United States. Indeed, Jemaah Islamiya, of which Hambali is known to be the operations coordinator and chief liason to al Qaeda regarding its Southeast Asia conquests, has not been alleged to be involved in any actions in America or her protectorates. All of which should lead to the inexorable conclusion that our federal courts have no jurisdiction over Hambali.

Perhaps no real harm would come from a court reaching such a decision. It wouldn’t lead to a release of the prisoner, necessarily, since the question of guilt or innocence would never be addressed. But what if, instead, a ruling is made that there is personal jurisdiction over Hambali? Stranger things have happened — witness the vast expansion of judicial power created in Boumediene v. Bush, where the Supreme Court found that its jurisdiction for habeas corpus purposes extended to any person within America’s exclusive control. Should a DC court find it does have personal jurisdiction over a person who has no connection to America except for being captured by her soldiers, that would be paramount to declaring American law and jurisprudence the law of every land. In other words, we would be claiming that our laws “speak” everywhere and for everyone, whether you like it or not.

If you are inclined to believe that holding enemy combatants at GITMO directly aids al Qaeda’s recruitment efforts, how do you think the terrorist organization and her adherents will take to our claim that they, and everyone else in the world, are subject to our civil laws? How will the rest of the world view such an arrogant statement? Beyond satisfying some petty political aims, by taking such a misguided step as this the Obama administration is not doing the U.S. any favors, and is likely damaging our interests.

When Do “Show Trials” Become A Circus?

I don’t think there’s any real doubt that Eric Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 defendants in New York’s federal court was as much about politics as justice. President Obama’s remarks about KSM’s guilt and the outcome of the trial left little doubt this is to be a show trial. And while I’m certainly no fan of Sen. Lindsey Graham, I thought he made Holder look foolish during the Senate hearings into the matter. It was clear, at least to me, that this decision was not well thought out. It was also clear that Holder had no idea of the possible ramifications of his decision. He continually, but ineffectually, avoided Graham’s points – once these terrorists are brought into the federal court system there are a completely different set of rules at work. And while they may indeed get convictions with these particular defendants, it most likely won’t be pretty and it sets a precedent (criminalizing this war) that we may regret in the future.

It is now emerging that even if the administration adamantly denies that these are show trials, the terrorists in question know exactly what they are and plan on using them to propagandize what they did and why:

Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but “would explain what happened and why they did it.”

[…]

Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain “their assessment of American foreign policy,” Fenstermaker said.

“Their assessment is negative,” he said.

Fenstermaker met with Ali last week at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He has not spoken with the others but said the men have discussed the trial among themselves.

But don’t worry – the feds have it all under control. This will be a fair but orderly trial:

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said Sunday that while the men may attempt to use the trial to express their views, “we have full confidence in the ability of the courts and in particular the federal judge who may preside over the trial to ensure that the proceeding is conducted appropriately and with minimal disrupton, as federal courts have done in the past.”

Really? So how does Mr. Boyd and the Department of Justice plan on stopping a terrorist, to whom they just gave this right, from confronting his accusers in court and taking the stand to defend himself?

I mean if this is all about justice and not about, you know, a show?

~McQ

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More Valuable Than Gold?

If you’re one of those folks that asks for a seatbelt extender when you get on a flight, you may want to take Peru off your vacation destination list.  And not for the reason you might think:

A gang of killers who murdered to steal their victims’ body fat have been arrested in Peru.

Police said the three people held in the jungle province of Huanuco confessed to five killings and said they could sell one litre of fat for £10,000 to the cosmetic industry.

The men said the fat was sold to intermediaries in Lima, who police suspect sold it to companies in Europe.

No animals were injured in the manufacture of these cosmetics – not.

This is also not a new business:

It is believed six members of the gang are still at large, including leader Hilario Cudena, 56, who Castillejos said had been killing people to extract human fat for more than 30 years.

But:

Medical authorities said last night human fat is used in anti-wrinkle treatments – but is always extracted from the patient, usually from the stomach or buttocks.

There would be a risk of reaction that could lead to lifethreatening consequences if fat from someone else were used, said dermatology professor Dr Neil Sadick.

So the questions – if what Sadick says is true and this his been going on for 30 years, who in Europe is buying this stuff and why?

There’s obviously a market somewhere.

A little Sunday puzzler for you.

~McQ

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Media Continues To Ignore The Obvious In Ft. Hood Murders

Charles Krauthammer takes on the developing media spin about Ft. Hood murders.

That, of course,  is that Hasan’s religion had nothing to do with any of this – instead he had just heard so much from returning vets that he “snapped”. He, in effect, developed secondary PTSD. Says Krauthammer:

Really? What about the doctors and nurses, the counselors and physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who every day hear and live with the pain and the suffering of returning soldiers? How many of them then picked up a gun and shot 51 innocents?

And what about civilian psychiatrists — not the Upper West Side therapist treating Woody Allen neurotics, but the thousands of doctors working with hospitalized psychotics — who every day hear not just tales but cries of the most excruciating anguish, of the most unimaginable torment? How many of those doctors commit mass murder?

It is a pretty untenable and unbelievable attempt to divert attention away from the elephant in the room – the fact that Hasan was a radicalized muslim who proselytized for his religion (something his colleagues heard but neither reported or did anything about), had “SoA” (Soldier of Allah) on his business card and shouted “Allahu Akbar” when he began his murder spree.

As Krauthammer points out the religious aspect of this is something the politically correct crowd would prefer to ignore. Instead they literally invent something to replace it on the fly and in its stead:

Secondary post-traumatic stress disorder, a handy invention to allow one to ignore the obvious.

And the perfect moral finesse. Medicalizing mass murder not only exonerates. It turns the murderer into a victim, indeed a sympathetic one.

And it isn’t a recent attempt on the part of the media. Consider this – not even one full day after the massacre at Ft. Hood, Newsweek’s Andrew Bast wrote this:

What if Thursday’s atrocious slaughter at Fort Hood only signals that the worst is yet to come? The murder scene Thursday afternoon at the Killeen, Texas, military base, the largest in the country, was heart-wrenching. Details remained murky, but at least 13 are dead and 30 wounded in a killing spree that may momentarily remind us of a reality that most Americans can readily forget: soldiers and their families are living, and bending, under a harrowing and unrelenting stress that will not let up any time soon. And the U.S. military could well be reaching a breaking point as the president decides to send more troops into Afghanistan.

It’s hard to draw too many conclusions right now, but we do know this: Thursday night, authorities shot and then apprehended the lone suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. A psychiatrist who was set to deploy to Iraq at the end of the month, Hasan reportedly opened fire around the Fort Hood Readiness Center, where troops are prepared for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. And though this scene is a most extreme and tragic outlier, it comes at a time when the stress of combat has affected so many soldiers individually that it makes it increasingly difficult for the military as a whole to deploy for wars abroad.

Not even a full day after the murders, you have the stage being set for precisely what Krauthammer notes – medicalizing (stress, PTSD, victim) the tragedy instead of pointing to the real reason – or even mentioning it.

Fast forward to yesterday and an AP story:

Rising suicide rates and a shooting spree last week by an Army psychiatrist at a base in Fort Hood, Texas, have raised new questions about the effects of combat stress and the state of the military’s mental health system.

For most, Hasan’s “shooting spree” has raised few questions about the effect of combat stress and the state of the military’s mental health system.

Instead it has raised questions about the media’s insistence on crediting the obvious for his “shooting spree” and why they’re so afraid to confront it? Does combat raise stress – yes, of course it does. It always has. This is nothing new. But given what we’ve learned, that’s not why Hasan murdered 13 people.

Yet, as the AP story shows, that’s still the track some in the media prefer over the apparent truth of the matter.

Political correctness.  As we’ve learned now, it kills.  Unfortunately, not all of us have learned that as AP, Newsweek and a whole host of other poilitically correct apologists for Hasan’s motives continue to prove.

~McQ

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Ft Hood: I Think This Is About Right

Steven Taylor says it:

It strikes me at this stage that trying to generalize from this event about a particular class of persons is no different than taking the Oklahoma City Bombing and assuming that because a right-wing white male was the perpetrator that there ought to be some blanket assumptions that could automatically be made. Or, perhaps a better analogy, those who have tried to blame things like abortion clinic bombings or anti-gay violence on conservative Christianity. In the absence of an actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence, the responsibility for an event like this falls squarely on the shoulders of the person who engaged in the violence, and blaming others (based on religion, ethnicity or anything else) is blatantly unfair.

And yet, people are making wild assertions about the event, as if we really can know much of anything less than 24 hours after the event.

I’m not saying that there isn’t an “actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence” (I don’t know), but until and unless that can be proven, it seems to me that the same broad brush we all condemn when, as Taylor points out, people try to make the same sort of unfounded assumptions about “right-wing” groups, etc is being used by some in this case.

Sometimes a nut is just a nut. And I think we all agree this guy is an absolute scumbag.  But, in reality, given what happened today in Orlando and what we know about Hasan, you could argue that we have seen two disgruntled employees who happened to be mentally unstable try to settle their scores with lethal violence. Unfortunately we have a long and rich history of such events.  We call it “going postal” from all the incidents of disgruntled postal employees shooting up their places of work.

Bottom line? Let’s not make more of this than it is until we have more proof. And no that’s not being politically correct – it is being factually correct.  If he’s a radical Islamist jihadi directed by an al Qaeda master (or some like scenario), then I’ll be the first to point that out and condemn it.

But at the moment, he seems more like a nutjob who went over the edge and acted out violently. Until I learn more about him and what caused him to do what he did, I’ll continue with that tentative conclusion. Because that’s the only conclusion supported by the evidence right now.

That said, my heart and prayers are with the victims of his rampage. And a special word of thanks to Sgt. Kimberly Munley who heroically stepped into harm’s way and an insane situation and ended it with a few well places shots. She was wounded in both legs and her hand. I wish her a speedy and complete recovery so she can be up and about to testify when they try this scumbag and send him to his just reward.

HT: Below The Beltway

~McQ

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Because The LA Prosecutor Should Be Spending His Time Pursuing Bin Laden

A rather long title to introduce probably the single most absurd rationalization for not bringing Polanski to justice I’ve yet read.

You have to read it just to understand how intellectually bankrupt some people can be.  The false premises and pretzel logic in this particular article is remarkable.  So is the moral relevance.  And notice too how he avoids the real charge (rape) in favor of a charge that was never made (statutory rape).  Note too he completely avoids the problem of lack of consent from the girl. All the way through you continue to think, “this has to be a farce”.  Frankly, for a while, I thought it was.  But it clearly isn’t.

I have no idea who George Jonas is, but I do know that’s the last article of his I’ll ever bother reading.

~McQ

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Quote of the Day

Jonah Goldberg reminded me of this beauty by Harvey Weinstein concerning Hollywood’s defense of rapist Roman Polanski:

In an opinion piece in London’s the Independent, Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein, who is circulating the pro-Polanski petition, wrote: “Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time. A deal was made with the judge, and the deal is not being honored. . . . This is the government of the United States not giving its word and recanting on a deal, and it is the government acting irresponsibly and criminally.”

In an interview, Weinstein said that people generally misunderstand what happened to Polanski at sentencing. He’s not convinced public opinion is running against the filmmaker and dismisses the categorization of Hollywood as amoral. “Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion,” Weinstein said. “We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe.”

If Hollywood is the best moral compass, then there is no such thing as moral magnetic north.

While doing fundraising is appreciated, it shows much less of the needed compassion in those situations than a small rural church in Georgia which pools the resources of its parishioners, drives to coastal Mississippi, buys supplies from Home Depot and rebuilds houses for those made homeless by the hurricane.

Nope – the moral compass of this country resides where it always has, and those who possess it are calling BS on the Polanski charade.

~McQ

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The Polanski Thing

I don’t get it.  Where’s NOW?  Where are all the women’s groups?  Where are all the agitated ladies yelling “no means no!”  Where are the children’s rights organizations demanding Polanski’s extradition?

And what in the world is going on in Hollywood?  If ever anyone wanted to point to the decadence in our country this provides the example.

Here, let’s let Kate Harding provide a little clarity, shall we:

Roman Polanski raped a child. Let’s just start right there, because that’s the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in “exile” (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never — poor baby — being able to return to the U.S.).

Got that? He raped a child. He plead guilty to a lesser charge, but in fact he raped a child. Then he fled. You tell me, if it was some poor Wal-Mart frequenting, no-name red-neck who had done that 30 years ago and then taken off and hidden out in a double-wide for all this time, Hollywood would be having benefits for the victim and howling for the blood of the rapist. The women of The View would be demanding justice. Dr. Phil would be on Oprah telling the world of the long-term trauma and effect this sort of event can cause. Nancy Grace would be pounding the podium and telling the world this isn’t about the forgiveness of the victim, but justice.

Instead, as Harding points out, we’re hearing every excuse in the book from the glitterati (not necessarily the one’s I’ve named) as to why Polanski should skate. He’s been in “exile” for 30 years. Really? He’s lived in France. Although some may consider that to be a form of “exile” few prisoners convicted of rape would consider living there, fathering 2 children and generally enjoying the lifestyle of the rich and famous to be “exile”, much less punishment.

Instead, what it all boils down too is he’s an artist and artists are different than the little people and should be treated differently. I mean, don’t you know they don’t have to follow the rules?  Haven’t you watched the awards shows or followed their lives on Entertainment Tonight? It is they who get to define what is good or right, or so they believe. They can ignore the rules and flaunt them, because, you know, they have a talent which millions enjoy. That makes them special and certainly more special than some floozy 13 year old child who’s life has come to  nothing in comparison.

And besides, Polanski escaped justice long enough, thanks to our friends in France who refused to extradite an admitted child rapist, that he’s should be allowed to slide, or so his defenders rationalize.

The fact that she’s forgiven him (since justice was never done, what other choice did she have but bottle it up and let it poison her life?) and wants to avoid the publicity is understandable.  Her mental health has demanded she find a way to put this behind her because the justice system was never able to bring her any sort of satisfaction or closure.

However, this isn’t really about her anymore – it’s about child rape and the simple fact that it is never right, never excusable and is always punishable, no matter how long it takes to track the perp down. That’s justice. You can’t drag Bubba out of the trailer and put him in jail for however long is appropriate if you can’t drag Polanski back from Switzerland and do the same.

~McQ

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Census Bureau and ACORN Part Ways

And given ACORN’s history and recent problems I say none too soon. The plan had been to have the ACORN be an integral part of the Census Bureau effort in 2010. But ACORN’s past has caught up with it (the little sting operation in MD and DC probably didn’t help) and the Census Bureau, bowing to the public’s concern, is cutting the organization loose.

“Over the last several months, through ongoing communication with our regional offices, it is clear that ACORN’s affiliation with the 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts,” read a letter from Census Director Robert M. Groves to the president of ACORN.

“Unfortunately, we no longer have confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed through your many local offices. For the reasons stated, we therefore have decided to terminate the partnership,” the letter said.

Now the next goal ought to be to find a way to defund the organization, i.e. pull all of its federal funding. If it want to engage in “community organizing” let it fund itself the old fashioned way – beg for money.

Meanwhile, it appears MD has decided it may prosecute the filmmaker who exposed ACORN.

~McQ

9/11

I never watch morning TV. I can’t stand all the caffeine fueled happy talk on the morning news shows and anyway I’d rather ease into the news cycle the old fashioned way – with a newspaper. But on September 11th of 2001 I happened to be listening to the radio when I heard a report that it was believed that an airplane had hit one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

I walked over and turned on the TV. I forget which channel or network it was but I remember the anchor talking about what was then thought to be a horrific accident. It couldn’t have been 5 minutes later that the second tower was hit.

I stood in horrified amazement. I realized it was no accident but I didn’t understand yet what it all meant. Then the report came in about the Pentagon. Finally I realized that it was an orchestrated attack. I wouldn’t hear about the plane that crashed in PA for a while.

I remember doing something I never do – sitting in front of that TV all day. It was like the earth stood still. I watched the towers burn. I watched the people flee. I watched in horror as others jumped. I watched the towers collapse one by one. I watched as fire and police rescue headed into the disaster area as civilians fled. I watched as ash, like a volcanic explosion might bring, cover that portion of the city. And I watched as New Yorkers fled the city on foot over clogged bridges.

It was a stunning day – an almost visceral feeling of anger finally descended on me as I began to understand the full implications of what happened.

9/11 is certainly a day that will live in infamy as we were the victim of a cowardly attack that cost the lives of 3,000 people. But, as is often the case with Americans, there were a lot of heroes that stepped up that day. And the basic decency of our fellow countrymen was also evident as businesses and individuals did what was necessary to help and comfort those who had been able to flee those towers.

9/11 is a day for remembrance. Not a day for “community service” or whatever it is that some are trying to turn it into. It should be a somber day in which we remember those who died, recognize that we have enemies in the world who will stop at nothing to strike us and redouble our commitment to protect our homeland from such attacks.

And to all those who lost their lives on that day, we should dedicate at least a portion of this one to their memory.

~McQ

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