Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Here's an lovely little item on the strained quality of modern American justice. Remember James Yee, the Muslim chaplain at Guantanmo who was arrested a few months ago on charges of espionage? He is now on trial -- for keeping porn on a government computer and for adultery. It's not as if they are terribly worried about adulterers in the ranks, either -- his partner in, well, crime is also an officer, and is testifying under a grant of immunity.

So, how did the prosecutors find out about the relationship?

[Yee's paramour] said that as far as she knew, no one else knew of their relationship. But when she was interviewed during the security investigation as a friend of Captain Yee's, the interrogator asked her if they had been intimate and she answered truthfully.

So, the original charges were baseless, but rather than admit that, the government went on a fishing expedition in his personal life, found something else, and charged him with that. I thought that kind of justice was reserved for Bill Clinton.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is looking into Texas justice, the kind Dubya wants to see nationwide. A court there recently stayed the execution date for a convict, because prosecutors had lied to the defense at the trial -- and the stay was overturned by the circuit court there because... well, actually they won't say why. The opinion was marked "not for publication".

And one last one, via Jim Henley. It seems that the median jail sentence for people convicted of crimes that the Justice Department claims are related to international terrorism is fourteen days. When Congress was voting to give the Justice Department special powers for dealing with crimes relating to terrorism, I doubt they had anything in mind which would merit a fourteen day jail sentence. Am I the only person who hears overtones of Orwell these days whenever they encounter the phrase, "Justice Department"?


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