Wednesday, August 19, 2015

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Skewed Corrupted Version Of Justice

Simon Smyth protests the vindictive treatment of Chelsea Manning, imprisoned for exposing US human rights abuses. Simon Smyth is a book devotee.

The U.S. military justice system is using legal measures to unfairly punish Chelsea Manning. Is solitary confinement an appropriate or proportionate response to these breaches of prison rules? I see the American authorities' vindictiveness against their least favourite 'criminals' parallels their partisan stance when it comes to International War Crimes. Some people/states are singled out for detrimental / preferential treatment.


The black community is also on the wrong end of the U.S. justice system. They are more likely to be arrested, charged, sentenced and receive heavier sentences than white people. They are also more likely to be on Death Row. Obviously the black community is more disadvantaged on a socio-economic level but to say that this is reason for the disparity doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The justice system on street level is also skewed to the extent that questions are being asked do Black Lives Matter? Obviously they do not matter to some.

The Rule of Law is being violated. It always has been but now we see it being devalued in more subtle ways. The U.S. authorities changed the entire definition of WMD or Weapons of Mass Destruction to refer to a gas canister bomb. Just so the Boston bomber, despicable though he is, can be sentenced to death. If it was an ordinary bomb the federal authorities couldn't have done that since the crime was in Boston.

So, Tony Blair and Bush were right. Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction. He certainly had more devastating weapons than a gas canister bomb. Were all critics of the premise for starting the second Iraq war wrong? History may look at it that way now we have a new definition.

It devalues the entire concept of WMD previously being nuclear, chemical or biological to the new more mundane definition. Surely the legal concept regarding the severity, significance and weight of using a WMD is now compromised. Justice in the future is also compromised. Not just in extending the severity of a normal bomb but reducing that of the real WMDs.

Chelsea Manning is facing the same skewed corrupted version of justice. The old adage about the punishment fitting the crime is out the window. Discretion in decision-making is being used in a vindictive rather than humane way. My bet is this definitional bastardisation will be a legal technique used more and more in the future. Now it is happening on a national level and not just in international law.

5 comments :

Msspikemilligan said...

With all due respect Simon, You do a disservice to the serious issue of racism by lumping it with Bradley/Chelsea Manning. He signed up, he knew the deal, and lets be honest you don't have to be a militarist or supporter of any government to believe that he's only a step below the likes of Freddie Scap and others. I'm sure he/she. Don't get me wrong ,sympathy to all , but I know of plenty of people/regimes/governments who would gladly help him on his journey and removes his testicals (sadly with a rusty blade).
I feel you missed an opportunity here to deal with racism.

Simon said...

I was focusing on Chelsea. I was using the example of racism to demonstrate the inherent imbalance of the U.S. Justice system.

Chelsea's crime wasn't one of violence but one of purely telling us what the authorities were up to. If we don't know what the state is up to there will be no democratic accountability. No transparency. The government seem to think the populace are not worthy of knowing what is being done in their name.

It is the vindictiveness of his punishment that galls. He seems to be singled out for solitary more so than others. Solitary confinement particularly if prolonged can be a cruel and unusual treatment. Particularly if imposed for petty reasons.

However, I get your point. Racism is a big issue. I didn't mean to connect it directly with Chelsea's case, just to demonstrate the general imbalance in the US justice system. I feel strongly about both subjects. That doesn't take away from your valid and welcome point. Perhaps I should have left the point of racism out and written about it another day and purely dealt with Chelsea. Thanks for that.

AM said...

I don't see the comparison between Scap and Manning as valid. One was in a joint venture with the state pushing state terrorism whereas the other was exposing state malpractice. Wasn't sure myself how the racism angle fitted.

Simon said...

AM,"Wasn't sure myself how the racism angle fitted."

I was attempting to show the inherent injustice in the US justice system purely to demonstrate we shouldn't be surprised by it. However, I admit it was clumsy.

Msspikemilligan said...

Simon fair play to You for putting any of these issues out there. It's easy for contributors to be over critical behind a keyboard while doing nothing constructive ourselves.
My 'Scap' comparison may have been sloppy in itself (my apologies to Mr/Ms Manning!). It's all about perspective. One persons whistleblower is anothers informer.