A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I Wish This Wouldn't Keep Happening. It Gets So Old.

I really think it is a good idea that the FBI investigate terrorist suspects. And when they find them, and probable cause to go get them, I think they should arrest them. I think the suspects should get a fair trial by an impartial jury, and go to prison if they are judged guilty or plead guilty.

But what I don't think is a good idea is the constant political grandstanding that the people who employ the FBI seem to think appropriate to their other agendas:

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Federal Bureau of Invesigation apparently gave the media a different, far more damaging version of an affidavit against a Lodi, California father and son charged with lying to federal officials than the one that was finally given to a court in Sacramento Thursday.

The affidavit filed Thursday did not contain any of the sensation material from earlier in the week which said the son's "potential terrorist targets included hospitals and groceries, and contained names of key individuals and statements about the international origins of 'hundreds' of participants in alleged Al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Pakistan." [emphasis mine--ed.]

Defense attorney Johnny Griffin III, who represents the father, Umer Hayat, accused the government of "releasing information it knew it could not authenticate." The FBI said the different versions were the result of "unfortunate oversight due to miscommunication."

Miscommunication. Right.

We've seen this all before. The last time was the politically motivated Department of Homeland Security terror scare of August 1, 2004, in metro New York City and in Washington, during the middle of the Presidential election campaign.

Our major partner in the particular investigation in question, British Home Secretary David Blunkett, expressed Britain's oblique rebuke of the Bush Administration whose fevered "terror alert" forced the arrests in Britain and Pakistan to be made too soon, before all the useful intelligence had been gathered:

There is also a difference between alerting the public to a specific threat and alarming people unnecessarily by passing on information indiscriminately. I think we have got the balance right. I am being kept fully informed of police operations. As these are ongoing I cannot comment further on them at this stage. What matters is that the relevant authorities are vigorously pursuing their investigations in order to protect the public.

Would that the politicians who currently manage our government thought this was all that mattered when terrorists are arrested.

George W. Bush made a major speech yesterday in my town. It was at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Graduation Ceremony and, as usual, anybody but a previously vetted shill was kept out of the enthusiastic audience.

What was he speaking about? Making the Patriot Act permanent and extending the powers it grants.

Can you guess why any reasonable observer would not buy the FBI's supposed "oversight and misscomunication" as the real explanation of why the scare rhetoric about the Lodi suspects was trumpeted so loudly. Good, I'm glad your head is screwed on straight, too.

Now I disagree with the President. I don't think the Patriot Act should be made permanent and the powers it gives the police should be extended. The reasons I think this are best articulated here.

But I also think that this legislation is important enough both to our safety and our freedom that it should be deliberated carefully, without haste, and without grandstanding scare tactics on the part of its proponents, whether it is passed or not. And I do not see why a reasonable supporter of Patriot Act II would not think this as well.

I am outraged, insofar as outrage is still possible, since it occurs so frequently, at the constant misuse of terrorist investigations, and distortion of the facts concerning them, to stampede this country into particular political decisions.

You should be outraged, too. Even if you support the passage of Patriot Act II.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Defense attorney Johnny Griffin III, who represents the father, Umer Hayat, accused the government of "releasing information it knew it could not authenticate." The FBI said the different versions were the result of "unfortunate oversight due to miscommunication."

Now, now Joseph. What you didn't report is that Umer Hayat's son, Hamid Hayat, admitted to FBI personnel that he DID in fact attend a jihadi terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

That is why those two gentlemen are being retained in custody. It seems lying to federal agents is cause for retention of said admitted liars.

So it would seem appropriate that the decibel rating on your outrage dial needs be lowered.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

You are a fool who cannot read straight. I have never said there was no reason not to hold the suspects and no one who can read straight would draw the conclusion that I had.

Further, if you could read straight, you would have understood that my outrage had nothing to do with the suspects one way or the other, and everything to do with the way investigating terrorism is used for the private political advantage of the President's party.

But I presume you won't be able to read this reply straight, either.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The investigations are being conducted for VALID reasons exclusive of propaganda beneficial to the Bush administration.

Your readers may find this link of interest.


The greater outrage would be that there be no investigations.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

I'm not sure if you are the same Anonymous as Comment #1, but if you are, you still can't read straight.

The first sentence of the post says the following:

"I really think it is a good idea that the FBI investigate terrorist suspects."

What part of, "I really think it is a good idea that the FBI investigate terrorist suspects," don't you understand?

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm the same but I started not with the first sentence but the second to last.

In my understanding prosecutorial offices throughout this nation including the FBI operate in an all smothering 'the suspected and indicted' is guilty of any possible indictments the prosecutor can find.
It is not difficult to find this is SOP from DA offices including the FBI.

I do not find that stampeding this country into a particular political decision. But that was your judgement call. I simply disagree with it and am looking for the appropriate words to convey that message.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

Well, it may be SOP, but it is still bad judgment, in the abstract, in terror cases, for exactly the reason that British Home Secretary gave--the constant squeezing of the public's adrenals in the absence of immediate danger.

The habit of doing this for political advantage is not unknown in the current leadership.

I might also critique it more broadly as the threat to liberty from a constellation of the powers of mere suspicion or arrest, the "lying to a government offical" statutes, and the recent abuses of the material witness warrent in the name of "fighting terror". But that would require some more thought and another post.

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