Friday, December 14, 2007

Other Items

Tuesday's vote, which ultimately could affect some 19,500 federal prisoners serving time for crack convictions, came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges may deviate from the strict sentencing guidelines developed during the "war on drugs." The two decisions amount to a repudiation of federal law enforcement policies and a return of power to judges in dispensing justice to defendants in federal courts.
The reprieve would be unprecedented: No other single rule in the two-decade history of the Sentencing Commission has potentially affected so many inmates.
The numbers, which amount to 10% of all federal prisoners, dwarf even the grants of presidential clemency afforded draft resisters and conscientious objectors after the Vietnam War.

The above is from Richard B. Schmitt's "Ruling could free 2,500 drug inmates" (Los Angeles Times) and the first question to ask is this: Is Schmitt classifying all who were in the military during Vietnam and left in objection to that illegal war as "conscientious objectors"? While that would be great -- and apply it to today -- since so many who try for CO status are rejected, it's kind of hard to picture the Los Angeles Times getting on board with that. But even if he is attempting to include those who deserted as CO's it makes no difference because there was no attempt to include deserters in the amnesty offered by Jimmy Carter and Ford's program was clemency, a joke, included an oath, an auditioning and auditing process and a host of other factors that weren't necessary when he pardoned War Criminal Tricky Dick. Ford's clemency resulted in less than 15,000 people (draft resisters and deserters) receiving clemency and Schmitt's already tossed out "could affect some 19,500" so, if he's referring to Ford's program, he doesn't know the numbers. Carter's plan only effected draft resisters. (Draft resisters had not been inducted, deserters had left at some point after being inducted into the military.) Now as the term CO is used in big media, it refers only to those whose process ends with the military or courts (civilian or military) granting CO status. Those who apply and are rejected (even if wrongly rejected) are not recognized by big media as COs.

So unless Schmitt's attempting to advocate a broader sense of the term CO for big media, he doesn't know what he's writing about. Those who have been granted CO status need no clemency, need no pardon. Those granted CO status are not punished. They have been officially designated COs and there is no legal fallout for that status. They stand no threat of arrest so what Schmitt's talking about is anyone's guess but file it under another example of someone who's heard bad Glory Days tales and thinks he's know far more than he does and include the editor that didn't catch the glaring error. Those awarded CO status during Vietnam needed no pardon, no clemency. The CO status was recognized and that was that for them.

Turning to the topic of the current illegal war, yesterday a marine was found guilty of killing Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassain by stabbing him repeatedly over forty times. Jasem had been an Iraqi soldier until Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes murdered him. AP reports he was found guilty "of negligent homicie" but not of "unpremeditated homicide." In addition, Holmes was "also convicted of making a false statement." Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) continues to play dual roles of enabler and rescuer whenever war crimes are involved. Perry paints a 'difficult' childhood picture. The childhood is not that different from many. By contrast, Mark Wilkerson* -- who received no coverage from the paper -- saw his mother's boyfriend murdered and his mother nearly mothered as a young child -- both by his step-father who later killed himself in jail. Holmes, Perry tells us, often went "to school hungry" -- check the stats, that's not uncommon today and the paper's yet to lead the way on advocating better and greater meals served in school -- and that there were 'threats' by his father to move out of state. Perry has no idea what the father did or did not say. While Perry's able to tell you that a minister wants to adopt the twenty-two-year-old Holmes (yes, that does sound like the creepy neighbor in Family Guy), he apparently wasn't overly concerned with telling Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin's story. For the record, the dead person is whose story would be harder to tell and whose story the press should be attempting to tell. But Perry is the sob-sister of the War Crimes. Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) shows a little more restraint and does manage to note this:

Prosecutors contended that Holmes became enraged during the fight and murdered Hassin with his bayonet. They also accused him of trying to stage the crime scene by moving the body and firing the soldier's AK-47 rifle, all to make it seem that he had to kill Hassin in self-defense.
A major piece of evidence in the prosecution's case was a videotaped statement that Holmes gave to naval investigators Jan. 22. Holmes allegedly said, "I picked up (Hassin's) AK and fired it, as to give myself a way out ... for getting into it with this Iraqi soldier."

Prosecutors? Oh, yeah. Perry remembers those in the fourteenth paragraph of a seventeen paragraph report (and the fourteenth paragraph is one single sentence). But it's AP that does the best job on that, noting that Holmes (after setting the scene up to make it look as though Hassin fired his rifle) has claimed it was the fallout from a 'fight'. AP notes the prosecution's statement regarding the fight: "Not a scratch. Not a blemish. . . . There is not a mark on him. There is no self-defense. There can be lawful killins during a time of war. This is not a lawful killing."

Holmes faces sentencing today and the max will be 8 years in prison (he won't get the maximum sentence). Hassin remains dead. In other crimes, ABC's Brian Ross, Maddy Sauer and Justin Rood report on the sexual assault of Tracy Barker in Iraq:

The Department of Justice declined to prosecute a State Department employee who allegedly sexually assaulted a female Halliburton/KBR worker in Iraq, despite a recommendation from the State Department that he be charged, according to an internal document obtained by ABC News.
Ali Mokhtare, who is still employed by the State Department, was investigated in
2005 after a female Halliburton/KBR employee said he sexually assaulted her at the company-run camp in Basra, Iraq. Mokhtare was a diplomatic official in Basra who first came to Iraq as a Farsi translator interviewing detainees.
The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service investigated the allegations against Mokhtare and presented the case to the Justice Department for prosecution, but "the case was declined for prosecution" states the document.

Barker is quoted stating, "I'm an American citizen being assaulted by a State Department employee and nobody cares and nothing's being done about it." Tonight, ABC's 20/20 will explore the topic further. And Barker's not to be confused with Jamie Leigh Jones whose story (gang-raped and held in a 'container') ABC also broke this week.

*To clarify, Mark Wilkerson is not accused of killing anyone. Wilkerson applies because he did have a very difficult childhood. He also applies in this entry because, in this illegal war, he attempted to get CO status and was denied. Wilkerson is a war resister.

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