Friday, July 06, 2007

USA criminal caste conspiracy

Pardons for the powerful ... prison for us by LYDIA HOWELL

I guess nobody told Dick Cheney's right-hand man: "First of all, 'Scooter
' Libby, when you're a powerful person, it's not the crime, but the
cover-up that ends up getting you jail time." U.S. federal Judge Reggie B.
Walton not only sentenced Libby to 30 months, a $250,000 fine and two
years probation upon release, for lying to a grand jury and obstruction of
justice, but, just refused to let Libby remain free while appealing his
conviction. For once, a judge recognized the double standards of the
American injustice system and refused to cut the usual slack to a powerful
person that ordinary defendants rarely get.

Libby's sentence was barely announced when over 150 of his VIP friends and
colleagues—though not his boss, Cheney—wrote letters urging Bush to pardon
Libby. Those demanding the privilege due to one of their own included
torture promoter and war criminal Donald Rumsfeld; liar-for-war Paul
Wolfowitz, guilty of cronyism at the World Bank, and his fellow
neo-conservative liar-for-war Richard Perle; Henry Kissinger, war criminal
for covert and overt aggression against Vietnam, Indonesia, Chile—the
latter has resulted in an indictment from the International Criminal Court
preventing Kissinger from leaving the country, due to fear of arrest.
Notice a pattern here?

Also weighing in for a pardon was General Peter Pace, chair of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, whose conservative Christian beliefs compelled him to say
recently that gay or lesbian people should not serve in the military since
they're "breaking God's law." I guess that prohibition against "bearing
false witness" in the Ten Commandments doesn't count. And here's a
surprising Libby supporter: James Carville, Democratic campaign strategist
seen regularly on CNN, calling for a pardon.

Why do these people, along with lawyers and academics from conservative
universities, think Libby deserves a pardon? National Review editors
issued an editorial just two hours after the verdict against Libby. Their
argument comes down to the fact that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald
never prosecuted anyone for the original crime of outing CIA operative
Valerie Plame, making the prosecution of Libby's "faulty memory" (the
latest right-wing spin for lying) about it irrelevant. Their editorial
said, "Early in the investigation, Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage informed investigators that he had told Novak about Mrs. Wilson
(although he left out the fact that he had also leaked to the Washington
Post's Bob Woodward). But like the savvy bureaucratic infighter that he
is, Armitage kept quiet publicly, allowing the vice president's office to
take the heat for something he had done." For the entire national review
editorial, see:

In fact, Libby supporters even continue to claim that Plame wasn't even a
covert CIA agent, though years later they still harp on Clinton
Administration aide Sandy Berger taking classified documents home—a common
practice by government workers, since as the sheer number of documents
declared classified has exploded, respect for secrecy has declined. So
far, Bush has refused to comment on whether or not he'll pardon Libby,
simply observing that Libby's sentence was "tragic."

What is really tragic is that the United States has the largest prison
system in the world, bulging with over 2 million people, more than half
there for nonviolent drug offenses. Before Bush's "war on terrorism,"
there was the "war on drugs," where selling a couple of ounces of crack
can get you a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, plus, your life
chances ruined. Untold thousands of teenagers and young adults—mostly poor
and mostly of color—have drug convictions trail them like a demonic
bloodhound. Those with convictions for murder or rape aren't excluded from
getting government grants for college, but those convicted of drug crimes
can't get a chance for college. Ex-offenders are expected to "go straight"
when no one will hire them or rent them an apartment. About 350,000 people
are doing prison time for marijuana alone, with Tommy Chong of the comedy
duo Cheech and Chong fame, recently doing a year in jail for selling bongs—
not even marijuana.

The fastest growing prison population is women of color, many incarcerated
for guilt-by-association; that is, they answered the phone or simply lived
with a drug-dealing boyfriend or husband. With no names to turn in or
information to trade for a lighter sentence, some get longer sentences
although they sold no drugs. Few get a pardon.

And don't get me started on innocent people in prisons and on Death Row
who can't even get new trials, much less governors to intervene on their

Prison-building, and even private companies running prisons, continues to
be Big Business. Devastated rural and small town economies compete for a
new prison to stay afloat.

Now, the leader in corporate-operated prisons, Corrections Corporation of
America, faces competition from Halliburton subsidiary KBR, who's gotten a
$335 million contract to build "detention centers," according to the New
York Times. Clayton Church, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, was
reported to have said, "Concerns about the [Halliburton's] Iraq contracts
did not affect the awarding of the new contract." The company overcharged
and wasted over $2 billion and failed to build most of what it was paid
for in Iraq.

With George W. Bush claiming the authority to declare any person an "enemy
combatant" without any evidence and subject them to indefinite detention
without charge, criminal conviction or trials, we should be asking who is
intended to fill these new Halliburton prisons—to be built in an
"undisclosed location." Pacific News reported in depth on these prisons,
quoting Daniel Ellsberg: "Almost certainly this is preparation for a
roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly
dissenters." Ellsberg, a former military analyst who in 1971 released the
Pentagon Papers, the U.S. military's account of its activities in Vietnam,
said, "They've already done this on a smaller scale, with the 'special
registration' detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with

As the architects of war without end demand Scooter Libby's pardon, it's
overdue that Americans wake up to these planned secret prisons. The
so-called "war on drugs" was an early warning most progressives ignored.
The net in Bush's "war on terrorism" is even bigger and anyone might be
trapped in it.

-- June 22, 2007

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posted by u2r2h at 6:05 PM


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