Sunday, January 13, 2008

In a Times Op-Ed, John Farmer, erstwhile counsel to the 9/11 commission, reports on, among other things, a seriously messed up prosecution:

In United States v. Lakhani, the defendant, Hemant Lakhani, bragged to an F.B.I. informant of his ability to procure everything from shoulder-held missiles to submarines. There was only one problem: it became clear over a 22-month period that Mr. Lakhani couldn’t deliver. He was unable to find anyone to sell him the weapons.

So, in exasperation, the government stepped in. A government agent arranged to be the supplier for Mr. Lakhani. The government thus not only induced the defendant to commit the crime, but enabled him to commit it. No matter. Mr. Lakhani was convicted, and sentenced to 47 years in prison by a federal district court in New Jersey.

The people responsible get to carve another notch on their desks, or whatever, but it's clear from a larger point of view that Lakhani was no threat, and the deployment of a federal task force to pursue him was a complete waste of time.

From this case, and that of Jose Padilla, another guy who more famously got a long jail sentence for minor charges advanced after the original "dirty bomb" publicity failed to pan out, he observes that things are seriously wrong. And proposes a remedy:

It is time to stop pretending that the criminal justice system is a viable primary option for preventing terrorism. The Bush administration should propose and Congress should pass legislation allowing for preventive detention in future terrorism cases like that of Mr. Padilla. It is the best way to ensure both the integrity of our criminal law and the safety of our nation.
Well, that'll certainly deal with the problem --- the problem, that is, of the government's mistakes leaving them embarrassed.

It's just a shame that we have to destroy the integrity of our criminal justice system --- based on habeas corpus, and the presumption of innocence --- in order to save it.


Blogger Deb said...

I miss my country, haven't seen it in a while since the fog of terrorism clouded formerly sane people's minds.

Outing a CIA agent is okay, framing and entrapping people is okay, torture is okay. If I was still in the military, I would have been court martialled for insubordination by now. This just isn't right.

I want my country back but that is a fool's dream now.

11:29 AM  

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