Sunday, May 10, 2009

Punish Them All, Or Let Them All Go

The Obama administration continues to struggle in its search for a coherent law enforcement policy. Case and point: Attorney General Eric Holder recently dropped all charges against Ted Stevens, (ranking crook, and former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.) Holder claims he does not have the evidence to continue the prosecution against the former senator.

How is that? The man had already been convicted, found guilty of corruption. He was awaiting sentencing at the time Holder dropped the charges. Not enough evidence to sentence? (Sentence him already!) Not enough evidence to sustain an appeal? If he is held to the same standard that two million other incarcerated Americans are held to, then that conviction would be rubber-stamped on appeal, and Stevens would serve out his sentence like everyone else.

Holder claims there was prosecutor misconduct in Stevens’ trial. So….? There is prosecutor misconduct everyday, in trials across this country. Is Holder prepared to start dropping many of those charges too? And while he’s at it, how about getting righteous over the ineffective assistance of counsel hundreds of thousands of indigent Americans receive daily in America’s courts?

Now Mr. Obama (and his attorney general) wants to forgive acts of torture committed by the Bush administration. He says, “We do not want to look back.” In that case, why ever mention “9-11” again? And why pursue “terrorists” across the mountains of Afghanistan for something that happened eight years ago?

Simply “looking forward,” Mr. President, is not an option. To prosecute any crime, you must do some “looking back.” But seeing that you are in a forgiving mood—willing to let Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the gang off the hook—how about relieving America’s overcrowded prisons of poor souls who committed their crimes 20, 30, and 40 years ago?

We can’t have it both ways. We can’t pursue Osama bin Laden for his past acts, then look the other way when the past acts of high-ranking Americans catch up with them.

One Obama official said: “The CIA agents (who committed those acts) are good men who were simply following orders.” So were Hitler’s henchmen. Another contends that those operatives cannot be prosecuted because the acts they committed “were not illegal at the time they committed them.” Wrong. Torture is never legal.

A word of advice, Mr. President: if it is good enough for the average citizen, then it should be good enough for everybody. When you tailor policy to conform to individuals, you inevitably stretch the law, (which is like stretching the truth.) It will break. Then, suddenly, you, too, will be under investigation. Don’t do it. Keep it simple. When they break the law—no matter who they are – punish them. Either that, or let them all go free.

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