November 23, 2007 | Filed Under Law
Judge Brinkema made a statement recently that implied a lack of faith in government to handle certain cases. The CIA intentionally withheld information that was critical to the issue of justice and the judge is concerned.
At a post-trial hearing Tuesday for Ali al-Timimi, a Muslim cleric from Virginia sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for soliciting treason, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she can no longer trust the CIA and other government agencies on how they represent classified evidence in terror cases. Attorneys for al-Timimi have been seeking access to documents. They also want to depose government witnesses to determine whether the government improperly failed to disclose the existence of certain evidence. The prosecutors have asked her to dismiss the defense request.
The government has denied the allegations but has done so in secret pleadings to the judge that defense lawyers are not allowed to see. Even the lead prosecutors in the al-Timimi case have not had access to the information; they have relied on the representations of other government lawyers. After the hearing, the judge issued an order that said she would not rule on the prosecutors’ motion until the government grants needed security clearances to al-Timimi’s defense lawyer, Jonathan Turley, and the lead trial prosecutor so they can review the secret pleadings.
Brinkema said she no longer feels confident relying on the government briefs, particularly since prosecutors admitted last week that similar representations made in the Moussaoui case were false. In a letter made public Nov. 13, prosecutors in the Moussaoui case admitted to Brinkema that the CIA had wrongly assured her that no videotapes or audiotapes existed of interrogations of certain high-profile terrorism detainees.
As a kid, I was always a big fan of the CIA. The idea of a rogue-like organization that works for the United States government. The CIA have always been depicted as shadow warriors if-you-will that become heroes of all growing young men. I always fantasized about being one of these shadows, going out into the world and knocking off the bad guys. In my dreams, I was invisible, I was licensed to kill and serve in a highly exciting world of good guys and bad guys.
Even today, I’m still into flicks like those that center around Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt, but I am concerned that the U.S. government has gone beyond the rogue justice into an all out assault on civil rights. The big issue today is where do you draw the line? Should the government have access to the records of all citizens, even those that are innocent of any and all wrongdoing? Proponents of a more fascist State often argue that “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.” That’s a cop out of the argument though, because the truth is that we’ve always lived in an “Innocent until proven Guilty” system of government. The new rules pushed by proponents of the “Patriot” Act and other such garbage policies are continuing to blur the legal lines.
The problem isn’t just with the issue of justice and civil rights, but the fact that Americans are losing faith in government. If we don’t believe in our government to do this ‘dirty’ work, then we have a problem. I’m not of the school of though that suggests “trust the government at all costs”, obviously! So, what I suggest is that government needs to do a better job of regulating its thugs. I don’t accept that we need to do away with all rogue agencies that do the bidding of the U.S. government, it’s just not a realistic approach to governing. At the same time, there should be a proper balance between the rights of citizens and security and right now that balance is way off.
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