Friday, June 20, 2014

Why Care?

 Is anyone asking why we should care if someone gets a fair trial? Is anyone wondering why it matters if evidence "against" a defendant is shielded by being "classified?"  Is anyone wondering why we should care about indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA?  Is anyone asking why we should care if assassination of U.S. citizens with no due process goes on and many innocents are killed as a result?

Here's one clue form Orwell.  It sounds as though he could have written it today:

“Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.” (Notes on Nationalism, 1945) - George Orwell

Haven't Americans - even American leaders- condemned those sorts of things when done by other countries?  If it was wrong for "the other side", how did the view of those behaviors magically change if "we" do them?  If we want to stop a race to the bottom, we need to examine our policies and actions and start to bring them in line with the values we preach.

Another clue: imagine how your would want to be treated or would hope your loved ones would be treated.  Would you not want all the provisions of the law to be followed both openly and fairly?  Yes, that would include both the First and Fourth Amendments to our Constitution.

I'm reminded of one episode of the old tv show "The Commish."  In it, the defense attorney (who had a recurring role) was assaulted.  They caught a suspect.  Even after what she went through, her commitment to making sure accused persons get a defense didn't falter.  Incredibly, she gave the suspect a card with information to contact someone who would see he got a defense.  That type of commitment is necessary to make sure that our imperfect justice system does what should be its job - getting at truth.

I don't believe most folks want to see people get away with crimes. But in our zeal to catch and punish "The Terrorists" or  "The Bad Guys"; let's make sure we do things correctly.  Justice isn't done in secret.  Openness, transparency, and respect for the rights of all must be the hallmarks of a fair justice system.  We need to be sure we keep working toward that ideal.

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