Monday, June 13, 2005

Terrorist Today, Gone Tomorrow

Originally posted 6/10/05 at Ma'at's Feather

I love law. I usually love lawyers. Well, OK, except for the ones currently working on the criminal side of Dubbya's "war on terrorism".

It tells you what kind of world we live in post 9/11, and definitely post-Bush Administration. Today, we have attorneys admitting, with a straight face, that the highly-damning, detail-loaded "affidavit" regarding the "Lodi Terrorists" (TM) they trumpeted all over the media as the smoking gun of Terrorists in Our Midst (TM) could not be submitted to a judge so that he or she could actually test its factual merit in a way that the media and most of the public are totally unqualified to do:

"Lodi Affidavit" Bait and Switch

For those who missed it (and you shouldn't have), five Muslims were arrested yesterday in Lodi, California in what was described as a roundup of terrorists in California's beautiful San Joaquin Valley. Two of them, father and son, allegedly confessed to having sent the son to an al Qaida training camp in Pakistan so that the son could be "trained to kill Americans." (Of course, we could spend hours talking about why American citizens needed to undertake expensive travel to someone else's country to do what they could learn to do right here at home from the same organization that taught Timothy McVeigh the tricks of the trade, but that's another discussion for another day). And kill us in some of the most vulnerable locations - hospitals and large grocery stores. When the few media skeptics demanded to know what proof they had to support this extraordinary story, DOJ press representatives insisted that there was a confession from the son, and disseminated to the media an affidavit which allegedly set forth the factual basis for their arrest of father and son.

That affidavit was nowhere to be found, however, when it was time to actually file it with the Court to support a finding of probable cause for these men to stand trial for something. The stated reason that different versions of this key document were being used in different contexts? It was ""An unfortunate oversight due to miscommunication".

Miscommunication about WHAT exactly? I can't speak for you, but it seems to me that it is pretty hard to "miscommunicate" about someone having a terrorist plot to target hospitals and supermarkets and Kill Americans.

I don't know - maybe it's just me.

Here's the money quote:

Sacramento FBI spokesman John Cauthen said the deletions in the document were made because the original details were "not relevant or not accurate in context" for the purpose of proving a probable cause to arrest Hamid Hayat and his father.

I have to ask: Is this man saying with a straight face that these alleged details are more accurate when they were used yesterday morning to incite folks in the San Joaquin Valley into fear-induced incontinence over the thought of being victimized by a terrorist attack while they were visiting a sick relative in the hospital or picking up their evening dinner than they were when it was time to present those details to a detached neutral?

Why, yes, I believe he is.

Who are these folks trying to kid? Dumb question, because I already know the answer - the vast majority of Americans who do not practice criminal law and/or have a law degree, and therefore do not know the difference between an affidavit showing probable cause (sworn under oath) and a press statement/release (say whatever you want). Even if one concedes the "irrelevant" part to the government, since after all no lawyer includes all of her/his factual detail in pleadings, how in the hell can anyone defend disseminating facts (and I use the term loosely) which had to be left out of a legal pleading because they were inaccurate?

The government has told so many lies and 1/2 truths at this point about imminent terrorist threats right here on American soil I can't even keep them straight anymore. Of course, a careful observer cannot help but note that they are almost always carefully timed to coincide with the release and/or increased dissemination of the real news occurring at the same time. Yesterday's "real news" was the five brave Marines blown to bits during the military and moral nightmare that is Iraq post-US invasion; DOJ's belated release of its own scathing report confirming that our government blew at least five chances to catch up to some of the 9/11 terrorists in the months immediately preceding 9/11; and of course the increasing drumbeat for accountability that is finally beating in earnest about the Downing Street Memo.

Of course, we all know that the best way to keep a questioning, thinking public from questioning and thinking about what their government is up to is to keep them scared to death. Even if you have to lie.


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