Posts Tagged ‘Justice’

Hell Freezes Over: Limbaugh, Giuliani Thank Obama

He was not being sarcastic. Turns out he was being sarcastic. Rush Limbaugh opened his program today by saying, “Thank God for President Obama.” Politico has now updated its original take and now says El Rushbo was in full mockery mode.

He went on to say:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we need to open the program today by congratulating President Obama. President Obama has done something extremely effective, and when he does, this needs to be pointed out….

President Obama, perhaps the only qualified member in the room to deal with this, insisted on the Special Forces. No one else thought of that…not a single intelligence adviser, not a single national security adviser, not a single military adviser came up with the idea of using SEAL Team 6 or any Special Forces.”

That turned out to be part of the mockery as well.

Former New York City Mayor and vociferous Obama critic, Rudi Guiliani, actually was sincerely gracious today:

“I feel a great deal of satisfaction that justice has been done, and I admire the courage of the president to make a decision like this because if something had gone wrong everyone would be blaming him and I admire the courage and professionalism of our military intelligence officials who carried this out and this is a great victory against terror. Nobody can minimize it. He was a symbol more than anything else right now but…symbols are really important.”

Others have been less than gracious, congratulating the military but failing to mention the role the President played in approving the surgical strike.

According to

Over the past seven weeks, Obama had chaired numerous National Security Council meetings on the topic, including ones on March 14, March 29, April 12, April 19 and April 28.

“In the lead up to this operation, the President convened at least 9 meetings with his national security Principals,” a senior administration official e-mailed reporters. “Principals met formally an additional five times themselves; and their Deputies met 7 times. This was in addition to countless briefings on the subject during the President’s intelligence briefings; and frequent consultations between the [White House National Security Council], CIA, [Defense Department] and Joint Staff. The President was actively involved in reviewing all facets of the operation.”

This was a total team effort; from the Situation Room in the White House to the incredible heroism and courage of the U.S. Special forces who despite losing a helicopter and going on with the mission anyway not knowing if they had a way out of there, pulled it off anyway.

This also speaks to the merits of continuity between Presidential administrations. The groundwork for this was laid by George W. Bush. And he deserves credit as well. There will always be debate about the tactics that were used and whether Iraq should have ever have been part of the equation. Those debates are for another day.

For now: justice served.

NPR 1 Howard Stern 0

The National Radio Hall of Fame recently set about to select its slate of inductees and retired NPR Newscast veteran, Carl Kasell was nominated for his decades of work. Since I run this unit for NPR, this made me swell with pride- though admittedly, Carl retired just before I came on board so I have absolutely nothing to do with the accolades.

I, however, cheered mightily from the sidelines for Carl- on a number of different levels. Turns out another contender for the Hall of Fame was one Howard Stern. You may have heard of him. He was once on terrestrial commercial radio before heading to XM Radio for a gazillion dollars. Howard was, of course, a lock for this Hall of Fame thing. And he said the following about Carl Kasell on his XM Radio show:

“Who’s Carl Kasell (and he mispronounced his name- it’s like Castle not Cuh-sell)? He got himself all the way to NPR. What a lucky duck….he’s got to have at LEAST four listeners.”

Gracious as always. For the record, NPR Newscasts are heard by over 24 million people a week- but more importantly- here was Carl’s response to Howard as heard on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, an NPR quiz show that airs on the weekends that Carl helps host and announce.

“Dear Mr. Stein,

My understanding is that you are featured on a satellite information service, available in some brands of cars, on which you host a show about gynecology. While I’m sure this is a useful service for medical professionals, like all of us in radio, [surely] you aspire to something greater.”

Heh heh. The record will show that Carl Kasell has just been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and Howard Stern was not.

All’s well that ends well.

Lindsay Gets 90

Oh Ma Ga. I cannot believe I’m writing about Lindsay Lohan. Then again, it’s not every day a spoiled brat with a gigantic sense of entitlement and self-importance gets their due.

Seven times she failed to show up for an alcohol education class she had been mandated to attend due to not one, but two DUI convictions. The excuses were many. Stolen passport while attending the Cannes Film festival and was stranded in France. Flight problems in North Carolina. The death of an Uncle (she didn’t attend the funeral).

Prosecutors were not amused. As Danette Meyers put it, “Once, maybe, you’d have an excuse. Twice, an oversight. Three times, still haven’t caught her attention. . . . Seven times, the court is irrelevant to her.”

Meyers asked for Ms. Lohan to serve 30 days in the clinker. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marsha Revel begged to differ. She went for three times that; 90 days in the slammer. Plus another 90 in rehab. So much for the best defense lawyers money can buy.

This is not just about a screwed-up, substance-abusing, egotistical actress. This is about somebody who gets wasted and then thinks it’s cool to drive a 2-ton automobile. On May 26, 2007, Lindsay Lohan drove a Mercedes-Benz into a hedge along Sunset Boulevard. Next time, who knows, maybe it’s a child instead of a hedge.

California defense attorney Mark Geragos says this is a case of a celebrity getting reverse preferential treatment- more time in jail because she’s famous. He argues prison time is not what’s needed here, rehab is.

Ok. She got her 90 days of rehab. The other 90 have nothing to do with her mental health. It’s for ours. Makes us feel like there is a sense of justice out there and no matter how pretty or rich or famous you are- no one is above the law. It goes for Presidents and it goes for actresses too.

Baseball’s Lies

Associated Press- Paul Sanoya

I always thought Bud Selig was the single worst Commissioner in the history of Baseball and now it’s official. His stubborn refusal to entertain the expansion of instant replay in the sport is now making Baseball look extremely foolish.

By now, you have probably heard about the blown call by first base umpire Jim Joyce last night that cost Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga a place in baseball history. It just can’t get worst than this for an umpire or for the game; to blow a call on the 27th out that would have given the young man a perfect game…and Baseball, its first season ever with three perfect gems.

Jim Joyce is not to blame. He is an experienced 21-year umpiring veteran and one of the best in the business. He blew it because he’s human. A more heart-rending mea culpa will never be heard. He apologized directly to Galarraga following the game after he’d seen the replay. There was a hug involved. He cried in an interview saying he felt so bad that he had deprived the kid of a perfect game.

Even Detroit Manager, Jim Leyland, after going nuts on the field after the contest, seemed to undergo a change of heart later when he said Joyce was a good ump who just missed a call.

So why isn’t there instant replay in baseball other than for home run calls? There’s always been the “purist” argument; that the game’s events have always been decided by the umps and that humanity and it’s occasional failings are just part of the sport. Rather quaint, I’d say.

The real reason for limited instant replay is the insane concern the sport has had for years about the length of its games; that instant replay would just drag things out too long. I’ve never understood why there’s a problem with long baseball games. Baseball’s powers-that-be seem to be perpetually paranoid that their sport isn’t fast or exciting enough. Which shows how fundamentally they misunderstand their own sport.

Baseball is what it is. Sometime it’s fast, sometimes it’s as lethargic as a slow, humid summer day. That’s part of the charm. It’s three hours of mostly slow, strategic ritual interspersed with exhilerating moments of breathtaking action.

Baseball should be willing to wait a few minutes while the umps take a look at a controversial call on a replay. Everyone, except the record books and the box scores, knows Armando Galarraga threw a perfect game last night. You cannot deny the truth you see with your own eyes.

Leave it to Bud Selig and his crony owners to cripple the sport into making it accept a lie as reality; that Cleveland’s Jason Donald was safe at first base on the evening of June 2nd, 2010 and that a 28-year old Venezuelan pitcher for the Detroit Tigers did not achieve perfection.

Note: Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, this afternoon announced Major League Baseball would look at expanded instant replay. here is the Commissioner’s complete statement:

“First, on behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate Armando Galarraga on a remarkable pitching performance. All of us who love the game appreciate the historic nature of his effort last night.

“The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order. Armando and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation. I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly. Jim’s candor illustrates why he has earned the respect of on-field personnel throughout his accomplished career in the Major Leagues since 1989.

“As Jim Joyce said in his postgame comments, there is no dispute that last night’s game should have ended differently. While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed. Given last night’s call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features. Before I announce any decisions, I will consult with all appropriate parties, including our two unions and the Special Committee for On-Field Matters, which consists of field managers, general managers, club owners and presidents.”

Message to OBL

January 26, 2010 2 comments

So Osama Bin Laden has sent us another message. As his face appeared on the TV screen, I got a real sense of irritation and annoyance. I am not scared of him. I am bored to tears with him. He is so lame. Like a pesky fly you can’t get rid of. Anyway, he’s sent so many messages over the years, but I’m not sure anyone has sent one back.


Yo, Bin Laden:

I don’t know your exact location these days, but wherever it is, I’m hoping it’s damp and uncomfortable. Got your latest message. I see you are taking responsibility for the “underwear” bomber guy who tried to take out a Northwest Airlines plane over Detroit.

I don’t know if you noticed, oh brilliant one, but the attack was a masterpiece of incompetent failure. Your genius buddies at your Yemen franchise designed a faulty fuse that caused your brave would-be bomber to pretty much burn his own genitals beyond recognition. As if that were not pathetic enough, you apparently feel the need to elbow your way into the limelight by trying to take credit for this abysmal failure.

Everybody knows you had nothing to do with it. We know you are in a cave or some crappy little hovel in western Pakistan, running to the next super-duper-top-secret-location every time one of our predators drops a bomb within ten miles of you. With your every waking hour dedicated to self-preservation, I don’t think you could coordinate a two-car parade, much less an intricate terrorist plot.

I couldn’t help but notice that you’ve dropped your recent concerns about Iraq and Afghanistan and are back to the Palestinian thing. You used to be angered about U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia. Your message discipline is all over the place. You are not rallying the great masses, you are boring and confusing them into a stupor.

Anyway, worst of luck to you and your independent franchises around the world. May your nights be long and really scary and the wind always in your face.

Categories: Terrorism Tags: , ,

Fear of Flying

December 28, 2009 Leave a comment

I suppose there’s a reason why clichés exist- there’s truth to them. Here are two that seem appropriate as we start this first week after Christmas: 1) Even when they fail, terrorists win and 2) We have to be successful every time, they just have to be successful once.

Yeah, I’ll admit it- I’m a little spooked. It struck a nerve; the near-disaster that was averted only when a faulty detonator prevented a bomb from taking out 278 passengers aboard a plane headed for Detroit from Amsterdam on Christmas Day. I know 40 thousand people die every year in car accidents in the United States so, technically, the automobile is a bigger killer than terrorism.

But stuff like this becomes personal when your kid arrives from Atlanta for Christmas week and all is right with the world. Five days later he flies back from New York’s La Guardia airport and- just like that- we now have to get to the terminal an hour earlier with a freshly renewed specter of terrorism in the back of our minds.

And I’m frustrated at the workings of a seemingly incompetent bureaucracy. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s own father had warned U.S. officials of his son’s increasing radicalization and associations. That’s how he got on a terror list data base to begin with. Why wasn’t that also good enough to get him on a no-fly list? Why, exactly, was he issued a U.S. entry visa?

I heard Homeland security chief, Janet Napolitano tell ABC News’ Jake Tapper on Sunday: “The system has worked really very, very smoothly.” She lauded the passengers and crew for their actions. What? Passengers putting out a fire and subduing a man who just tried to set off a bomb, are an integral part of “the system?” I’m really glad the passengers did what they did, but I do believe their mission on that flight was to sleep, eat some pretzels and get home, not wrestle some maniac to the floor who wanted to kill them.

Napolitano also said on ABC’s This Week that there are no indications the screening in Amsterdam was not properly done. She has since pulled back from that statement. Clearly, somebody messed up. This fellow got on board an aircraft with pentaerythritol (PETN), the very same plastic explosive material al-Qaeda operative Richard C. Reid used in 2001 when he tried to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner by igniting a homemade bomb in his shoe.

As for terrorists failing and still winning- Richard Reid, of course, was an abysmally failed terrorist, but his legacy lives on with every shoe we’ve had to remove at airport security screening for the past eight years. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab apparently had these explosives sewn into his underwear. I can only imagine what his legacy will be on the traveling public. Is it too much to ask for airport screening that works and is effective- that’s minimally smart and profiles people and behavior instead of profiling their luggage? It seems to work for Israel’s El Al airlines just fine.

I hate that I’m even slightly spooked as I take my son to the airport. I’m frustrated that these deranged losers can affect our lives in so many ways, large and small. I’m not proud that in feeling these things, I’ve let these guys win even a miniscule victory by stoking my own, mostly irrational, fears for my family and friends.

But at least now I know how it works. Next time I put my kid on an airplane, or board one myself- turns out he and I and our fellow passengers are a primary line of defense in a system that works so “very, very smoothly.”

(Note: On NBC’s Today Show this morning, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, completely reversed her comments on ABC’ s This Week and specifically stated “Our system did not work in this instance. Nobody is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is underway.” The President has also decided to address the nation later today about the incident.)

The Trial of KSM- Why it’s the Right Thing to Do

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Khalid-Sheikh-Mohammed-frontI really do respect both the logic and the motives of those who question the Justice Department’s decision to bring admitted 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to trial in the federal courts and in the city where his evil took such a terrible toll more than eight years ago.  In the end, I can’t help but think it is the right course of action for it is more than just symbolism; it is the embodiment of this country standing for the principles on which it was founded.

The arguments for keeping his case in the military tribunal framework and off the U.S. mainland are many.  There is the very real security risk of such a high-profile trial taking place in New York City.   But the fact is New York has never stopped being a target.  Only now it is a hardened target.  When Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly say they can handle it- I believe them.

There’s the view that by prosecuting his case in civilian courts, KSM is being treated as no more than a shoplifter; that surely there are special national security circumstances that merit the use of a system that is specifically in place for dealing with enemy combatants who have declared war against us.   But KSM is not being treated as a shoplifter.  The government is seeking the death sentence.  It has a 94% conviction rate in terrorism cases; KSM is not the first terrorist to go on trial in the federal courts.  And while there is ample precedent for use of military tribunals in times of war, this has always been a different kind of war, one that will never be ended by a sovereign government signing surrender documents aboard a U.S. Navy vessel.

Whatever precedents are set in how we treat this particular kind of enemy are especially important and carry an irretrievable and permanent effect because this is a war without end, one that is being waged by shadowy groups and individuals and not nations.   I believe in our system of justice and the basic tenants that we do not hold individuals indefinitely and without charges, and that we have a high burden for conviction because once it has been satisfied, the punishment is certain and because of those high standards of proof, morally without question.

There are many who fear the trial will turn into a circus featuring an egomaniac who will be given a platform to spew his spiteful venom and in essence, add insult to the tragic injury he has already caused.  But we have been down this road before.  The trial of Al Qaeda terrorist, Zacarias Moussaoui in federal court in Alexandria three years ago was rife with this very kind of behavior.  We saw him for what he was, we collectively dismissed his rantings, we convicted him and he is now imprisoned for the rest of his life.   Democracy is messy and so, occasionally, is our system of justice but in the end, it works.

There are legitimate concerns that since he has admitted guilt and wants to be put to death, the only defense that can be waged on KSM’s behalf will involve showcasing and detailing the interrogation methods that were used to extract his confessions.  But we don’t know the government’s precise case against this man.  We don’t know what he confessed and when or in what relation to the methods that were used on him.   And we don’t know the type of judge who will be assigned to this case.  That judge will have the latitude to limit certain disclosures on national security grounds.  I am not convinced the interrogation techniques used on KSM will either be much of a factor or for that matter, even come to that much public light beyond what is already known.

Finally, it has been argued that a public trial for the whole world to see will go a long way toward improving America’s image and some counter- well, who cares what the world thinks about us?   Frankly, I don’t care much for winning a popularity contest in the court of world opinion either.   But I do know this.  Every time an American citizen is imprisoned and accused and held without trial abroad; every time a U.S. soldier is captured and interrogated- our own behavior and standards form the moral foundation upon which we base our arguments for their release and humane treatment.  It is not a theoretical point.  A clear moral foundation rallies international sentiment and creates the public pressure that often leads to positive resolutions in cases in which our own are being unjustifiably treated.

Ultimately, the outcome of the trial and the way it is conducted will determine whether this was or was not a wise course to take.  I, for one, have faith in our system and that the process will result in conviction, a sentence of death, and for so many who were permanently scarred by the atrocious events of 9/11- finally- justice.

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,