Saturday 18 February 2006

Judicial Backwaters - Guantanamo Countdown

The poor cannot be innocent
A saying once ascribed to a prominent law professor and defence lawyer in America suggested “everyone is innocent until declared broke”.
This opens the subject of the backwater of American justice where the privileged and the rich can get away with anything if they have the representation and resources that can bamboozle the judges, the jury and the legal system.
Too many examples exist as to how rich and famous Americans have walked free from murder, child abuse and fraud charges with just a dent to their egos.
If one were to commiserate, it would be for those who have no means of getting real justice in the land of liberty and freedom because the equality of man in America is only there when you are equal to the system by being able to pay your way out of the clutches of the law.
The equality of certain death
In fact, I would go on to say the only equality of opportunity in America of today is the equality of the certainty of death. Some might delay it by being of means, those who have not, arrive there quicker. It is a sad fact of life as exemplified by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
One profession that brings home the bacon every time is that of the high-profile lawyer as they argue and settle marital, criminal or civil matters. In a quest to help healthcare organisation that crumble under the strain of class-action suits, Mr Bush has clipped the wings of Tort cases which really make lawyers so rich at the expense of the claimants.
Abyss of injustice
Spare a thought for the aberration, anomaly or abomination that is Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. It is amazing that this place has been leased in perpetuity from Cuba which has suffered decades of sanctions and bad blood with America. Sometimes international treaties and diplomacy make no sense but there we are with an aberration.
It is an anomaly because people are in detention created by the US government but outside the jurisdiction of American courts and justice; because we have allowed the bastion of human freedom and democracy to assign untrammelled powers to their president to protect the American people.
Protecting the American People however includes the ability to take America from the safety of the high moral ground to the moral valley illustrated by the despicable state of affairs that feeds our disgust from the pictures and videos of Abu Ghraib Prison.
The abomination of justice is where those who do not have a strong ally or country to defend them and demand their rights are kept as enemy combatants outside the reach of even the Geneva Convention.
No voice for the voiceless
It pains me that whilst Britain has successfully extracted their citizens from Guantanamo Bay, they have not spoken up for those who are kept outside justice, outside review, outside care, outside concern and outside reach of their people in that utterly forsaken place.
It is a luxury of American royalty that men who are going to live full and fulfilled lives having extricated themselves from the travesty of war and the defence of the realm and now hold the power to send others to their untimely deaths as martyrs to a cause that is defeating reason and purpose as days go by.
If any of them had attended one funeral of any of all those killed in the cauldron of terror call Iraq, I might even find one word of praise for them.
As well run as Abu Ghraib?
However, Mr Rumsfeld says Guantanamo Bay is a well run detention centre, I am wont to believe him, but can I really do that?
The detention centres in Iraq produced those stomach churning pictures and the British soldiers meting out “justice” to the teenagers, as the cameraman in seemingly sexual ecstasy urges them on – are situations open to public and press scrutiny.
One commentary contends that Guantanamo Bay served as the incubator for those activities.
We cannot have one standard for our convenience and exculpation then have another for those who are not like us.
Here lies the unjust
The unknown unknown of Guantanamo Bay requires that the people there know if they would get justice somewhere on earth, and if America cannot give it to them, then it is really time to close Guantanamo Bay and let the wild bunch lose.
Mr Rumsfeld is a smart man; he is probably a fair man too, but nay a just man.
We should call to notice that all in leadership who have the power to send men to war should ensure that their epitaphs include the phrase “he/she was a just man/woman”; God have mercy on your souls, if fortune obliterates that legacy.
"The defendant wants to hide the truth because he's generally guilty. The defense attorney's job is to make sure the jury does not arrive at that truth." Alan Dershowitz

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