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Susan Estrich - No baby-faced innocent, but not enemy combatant either

Sometimes a picture speaks volumes. Sometimes it's outright deceptive. The picture of "Bomber No. 2" didn't look a bit like a mass murderer. A sweet-faced college kid, the former lifeguard, the nice young man described by classmates and friends. It couldn't be. There must be some outside organization calling the shots. An international conspiracy, perhaps. Brainwashing.
Or maybe it was just a deceptive picture of a cold-blooded murderer.
He and his brother put bombs next to children. One of those children was murdered.
In a court of law, innocence is presumed. That is a rule of law, not a finding of fact. For those of us who watched, watched over and over, the proof appears to be nothing less than overwhelming. Others may have been involved. Further investigation is absolutely required.
But I for one have no doubt that the defendant is not a baby-faced college student, that he is no one's victim, that he is responsible for heinous crimes. Responsibility is not an exacting standard in criminal law. Did he know what he was doing? Did he understand that there was a bomb in that backpack, and that bombs kill people and terrorize cities? Whatever other pressures may have been at work, however influenced he was by religion or his brother or anyone else, if he knew what he was doing, if he understood the nature of his conduct, that is enough to make him responsible.
But that does not make him an enemy combatant.
The calls by politicians to treat him as one, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, a lawyer who should know better, demonstrate the triumph of politics over law. According to Graham, speaking on the Senate floor, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's "ties to radical Islamic thought" and his Chechen heritage should justify holding him as an "enemy combatant" subject to trial by a military tribunal.
Ties to "radical Islamic thought" do not make a person an enemy combatant.
Ties to thought are, in fact, at the core of the protection afforded by the First Amendment. Actions are another matter. But there is absolutely no evidence that this man was a member of al-Qaida or the Taliban, or that his acts were directed by foreign enemies. He is an American citizen who (allegedly) killed innocent people and would have (absent the brilliance of the Boston hospital trauma system) killed many more — on American soil using devices made in America.
Indeed, even Graham acknowledges this. He just wants him to be treated as an enemy combatant until proved otherwise. Nothing in the law or the Constitution supports this. It is totally unnecessary.
The evidence against Tsarnaev is overwhelming. He wouldn't need to say a word to government authorities to be convicted in an American court. The only consequence of not giving him Miranda rights is that his statements might not be admissible in a criminal trial, which, frankly, won't matter. Anyone who thinks a Boston jury will be unduly sympathetic (unlike military officers) is just plain wrong. Indeed, for my money, military officers — who are more accustomed to seeing death on the fields of battle than the rest of us are to seeing destruction and devastation in Copley Square — might have an easier time focusing solely on the evidence admitted at trial.
In our ridiculously polarized media and political culture, we have a tendency to see everything in extremes, which means that more often than not we're wrong.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not a baby-faced innocent, even if that is how he looks in the pictures that flashed on the screen every minute. He placed a bomb in the middle of hundreds of innocent people, children included.
He is also not an enemy combatant by any definition, nor do we need to treat him as one in order to ensure that justice is done.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Rev. Dave Balzell - Good Sheperd Sunday after Boston

After a terrible week, we went to church, this past Sunday, and it was Good Shepherd Sunday. But when we walked into our churches, our hearts and minds probably weren't there. Instead, they were probably still down in Boston, where they had been, for all of last week.
Even though we live up here, in New Hampshire, Boston isn't all that far from us. Many of us might have personal ties to the metro-Boston area. Some of us might've lived there, before we moved up here. Some of us might still have family or friends there. Some of us might've had family and friends who were locked into their houses on Friday. Some of us might've had family and friends who ran or were at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
I've been to Boston more times than I can count, and to the Boston Marathon many times. I grew up in Maine, where Patriot's Day was a holiday, and my dad would take my sister and I into Boston. We'd go to Hopkinton for the start of the marathon, and we'd watch an endless wave of runners. Then we'd drive into the city, and go to the finish line. We'd always get there in time to watch Rick and Dick Hoyt cross the finish line. We'd stay in the city past dark, and go up into the Prudential Center, and see the city all lit up. It was always such a great day.
This past Monday morning started out as a great day for all those runners, and for the city of Boston. But then... This past week has been a rough week, a sad week, a terrible week, and maybe we're angry, or sad, or fearful, or maybe it feels like there isn't much we can do to prevent the next time that something awful like this happens.
However, there were some incredibly inspiring moments, this past week: the people who ran toward the bomb blast to help others, the first responders who saved so many lives, the skill of the staff at some of the finest hospitals in the world, the marathoners who ran a couple more miles to donate blood, the New York Yankees singing "Sweet Caroline", thoughtful and inspiring words from Mr. Rogers, the Lutheran comfort dogs, the dedication and hard work of law enforcement, and the lack of bigotry and hatred. Most people reacted with love, and compassion, and concern for neighbors, and we put on our race shirts on Tuesday, and our Boston shirts on Friday, and we lifted our neighbors in prayer, and from up here, in New Hampshire, and all across the country, our hearts and minds were in Boston, all week, this past week.
And then we showed up at church this past Sunday, and it was Good Shepherd Sunday, when we are reminded that our Lord Jesus will shepherd us through in times of need. And given the week we'd all just had, we were there, in need of some shepherding. And this past Sunday, we heard the familiar words of Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd... though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me." And we heard these words, from the Book of Revelation: "The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
And this past Sunday, we needed to hear that we have a God who loves us, and that we have a God who shepherds us. And this past Sunday, in the face of the tragedy and sorrow of the past week, we were reminded that we have a God who raises us up from everything and anything, and we were reminded that we have a God who brings resurrection, even out of terrible events like those we have witnessed in this past week.
(Rev. Dave Dalzell is the Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Laconia, a congregation of the ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. www.goodshepherdnh.org

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 12:35

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Froma Harrop - Americans cope with ordinanry setbacks, the Tsarnsev brothers didn't

The uncle of the accused Boston Marathon bombers got the boys right. They were unable to settle into American life, Ruslan Tsarni told reporters from his home in Maryland, "and thereby just hating everyone who did." He called the two brothers "losers." I prefer the term "weaklings."
As the story thickens with detail, it would seem that the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, now dead, was the ringleader. So let's concentrate on him.
Tamerlan would seem the model of the mentally unfit immigrant. Here was an accomplished boxer who couldn't roll with the punches of American existence.
Fragile personalities often adopt grandiosity as a shield. Making peace with the kind of setbacks that ordinary Americans confront on a regular basis would have made Tamerlan ordinary. Hence, he took the well-trod path of latching onto a radical cause, in his case religious, to inflate his importance.
It takes a whole lot of crossed wires to see blowing up a bunch of innocents as a remedy for what ails. And that's why Tamerlan's actual disappointments are so beside the point.
"Life in America Unraveled for Two Young Men," reads a Wall Street Journal headline. But by the measuring stick of human suffering — even at the higher American scale — Tamerlan was doing OK.
What were his unravelings? The boys' father had a hard time in America making a living as an auto mechanic. The family lived for a while in subsidized housing. These were not unique circumstances given the sorry state of the economy over the last few years.
Tamerlan reportedly dropped out of college for money reasons. Well, so did Steve Jobs.
Then there was his boxing. "He couldn't get into the Olympics," the family's landlord told a Russian newspaper, "and that was the last thing he really worked hard at." Many more boxers try to get onto the U.S. Olympic team than succeed. By virtue of having become a Golden Gloves contender, Tamerlan would have been the envy of high-school boxers everywhere.
An assimilated American in his situation would have gone to the Small Business Administration for a loan, set up a boxing school in the neighborhood and continued from there. We can well believe Tamerlan's statement about Americans, "I don't understand them." A courageous man would have simply returned to a culture he felt at home in. Many immigrants do.
This story bears strong resemblance to that of Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani in jail for trying to set off a bomb in Times Square. Like Tamerlan, he had obtained a green card. He had a wife, children and good jobs. But his real estate investments didn't pan out, and he lost his house to foreclosure.
Had Shahzad made good money in real estate, we probably would have never heard of him. But he didn't, and rather than try, try again, he turned to radical Islam. Radical Islam provides fragile male egos a class of inferiors to feel superior to. That would be women. One of Shahzad's solutions included pressuring his soon-to-be-ex-wife into wearing a hijab, a modest Muslim head covering.
At his sentencing, Shahzad puffed himself up, invoking the name of a Muslim warrior from the Crusades. The federal district court judge dryly urged him to spend the time behind bars pondering "whether the Quran wants you to kill lots of people."
It is not America's duty to give such troubled individuals therapy and a pile of Lexapro. It is to keep them out of a country they can't fit into.
The FBI had already talked to Tamerlan about his jihadist interests. We assume the bureau will not shrug at such cases in the future.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Froma Harrop - Trumped-up war between generations

During the big health care fight, the right told older Americans that Obamacare was grabbing money from their Medicare and giving it to young people. Now it tells young workers that Medicare and Social Security are draining their take-home pay to support retirees sitting around the pool.
The story, it would seem, moves from the young taking from the old to the old taking from the young. The one constant here is the motive: to weaken public support for government programs offering Americans a modicum of economic and health care security.
We can all agree that entitlement spending must be contained. The "how" of it is a big question. But the answer cannot be intergenerational warfare. And it need not be.
The storyline of the young being stripped by their elders has gotten a good deal of traction. Witness this headline on Charlie Cook's National Journal column: "Democrats Risk Alienating Young Voters by Opposing Cuts in Entitlement Spending."
Cook was referring to many liberals' complaints about President Obama's proposed budget, which would cut entitlement spending by about $800 billion over 10 years. Among other things, the plan would ask Medicare beneficiaries, particularly the well-to-do, to pay more. Most controversially, it would change Social Security's inflation formula in a way that would lead to smaller cost-of-living raises.
Obama's budget would begin to correct the imbalance reflected in the Urban Institute computation that Washington spends seven times as much per older American as it does per child. It would increase spending on education, on infrastructure, on research, on jobs — programs aimed at boosting an economy that has not been kind to younger workers.
This may be so, and that's no bad thing. The trouble with this conversation is that it avoids the real reason we're having it.
Yes, Medicare costs need restraining. And altering the inflation measure in Social Security — a program that's holy ground for many liberals — could be an acceptable, if painful, concession in budget talks.
But the origin of this phony war between the generations isn't so much how the budget pie is being cut by age group. It is the size of the pie.
Years of reckless tax-cutting has eaten away the revenues available to meet many national demands. This was the big rationale for cutting taxes. If you want to shrink government, conservatives kept saying, you have to cut off its allowance.
So all this carping in the richest country on earth that there's no money to fix the bridges — and that if it weren't for all those oldsters' entitlements, we'd have it — is absurd. So is the spiel that we can't guarantee health coverage to younger Americans without harming the elders' medical benefits.
The right talks about Obamacare as though achieving universal coverage were some kind of moonshot. Almost every other industrialized country has been doing it for decades.
Obama's budget offers a clever means of giving conservatives some of what they want, but it also names a price for them: $700 billion in new tax revenues. The proposal's main idea, limiting itemized deductions for the richest households, is well-chosen.
Rather than engage in hand-to-hand combat over ending this tax break or that one, lawmakers could simply put a cap on the total taken. That doesn't mean all loopholes make equal sense. (Some, such as the deduction for mortgage interest, should be phased out.) But smart tax reform is going to take time that we don't now have.
One last point. The aging baby boom generation will be large and expensive, but its members will eventually pass on, and the ratio of workers to retirees will stabilize. In sum, no generation need be the enemy of another.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Pat Buchanan - Will the GOP embrace amnesty?

During President Eisenhower's first term, 60 years ago, the United States faced an invasion across its southern border. Illegal aliens had been coming since World War II. But, suddenly, the number was over 1 million. Crime was rising in Texas. The illegals were taking the jobs of U.S. farm workers.
Under Gen. Joseph May Swing, the Immigration and Naturalization Service launched "Operation Wetback" and began rounding up and deporting Mexican border-crossers by ship and bus. By the end of Ike's second term, illegal entries had fallen by 90 percent.
Eisenhower, who had tapped his nuclear hole card twice — first, to force the Chinese to agree to a truce in Korea, then to halt their shelling of the offshore islands in 1958 — was a no-nonsense president.
Measured by population and gross national product, Eisenhower's America was but half the size of today's America. Yet, in the 1950s, we were in many ways a stronger and more self-confident country. We had universal military service, and few complained. As for the deportation of the Mexicans, they had broken in, they did not belong here, and they were going back. End of discussion.
Contrast the rigorous response of Ike's America to an invasion across our southern border to the hand-wringing moral paralysis of our political elite in dealing with 11-12 million illegal aliens in our midst. We are to stop using terms like illegal aliens, we are told. For it shows insensitivity. And compassion commands that we bring these folks "out of the shadows" and "put them on a path to citizenship."
One understands Democrats' motives in pushing this amnesty. Perhaps nine of 10 illegals are from Third World countries, and folks of Asian, African and Hispanic descent voted 4-to-1 Democratic in 2012.
Sen. Chuck Schumer and Democrats are writing an immigration bill that will create millions of new citizens who will vote to bury the Party of Ronald Reagan forever. But why are Republicans collaborating in erecting the scaffolding on which their party is to be hanged?
A year ago, the GOP platform declared, "We oppose amnesty because it would have the effect of encouraging illegal immigration and would give an unfair advantage to those who have broken our laws." What has changed since then?
Yet, today, with Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio providing cover — a "very positive force," purrs President Obama — Republicans are about to trash their platform and vote an amnesty for 11-12 million illegals. Why?
One reason is the fear, bordering on panic, since Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote 71 to 27. Republicans attribute their unpopularity among Latinos to their opposition to amnesty, rather than their commitment to peel back the social programs on which minorities heavily depend.
Another force for amnesty is corporate America. Thousands of businesses have hired illegals in violation of U.S. law. Amnesty for their illegal workers means, de facto, amnesty for them.
Moreover, U.S. corporations and agribusiness also want the right to import foreign workers. And under this new immigration bill, H1-B visas for highly skilled engineers and computer programmers will double to 110,000 a year, and the cap can rise to 180,000. Visas for H-2A agricultural workers will go to 337,000 over three years.
Silicon Valley is not interested in middle-aged Americans who lost jobs in defense industries. They want young foreign students with newly minted advanced degrees, who will work for less. Thus, with 14 percent of our U.S. labor force — more than 21 million Americans — unemployed, working part-time but seeking full-time work or having stopped looking, Congress is going to vote an amnesty for 12 million illegals and bring in a million new immigrants a year — and hand them green cards.
What happened to putting our own country and people first?
Moreover, under the new law, unlimited visas will be issued for spouses, children and parents of permanent residents and citizens.
With all these workers and dependents pouring in, the downward pressure on U.S. wages, stagnant since Gerald Ford was president, will intensify. And the steady rise in the scores of millions of beneficiaries of social welfare programs will continue.
What do Republicans get in return for capitulating and embracing amnesty? The Democrats solemnly promise to secure the border this time. In short, the administration will do its duty and protect the states from another invasion, if the Republican Party will abandon its principled opposition to amnesty. The Republicans will be faithless to those who voted for them on a pledge not to support amnesty, if only Obama will promise a good-faith effort to do his constitutional duty.
Prediction: Once word goes out that the illegals will no longer be sent back, there will commence a new stampede to the border. And once the new law is on the books, Democrats will move to truncate the time for the former illegals to become U.S. citizens.
And Republicans who resist will be accused of being anti-Hispanic, and will then do what comes naturally — capitulate again.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 276

 
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