Posted on 20-04-2010
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

This chilling piece on on time anthrax attack suspect Dr. Steven J. Hatfill by David Freed is worth a read.  It is a stark reminder of the slender thread on which liberty stands when the government succumbs to fear.   The government bureaucrats, their enablers at the local level and the credulous media will walk away with few consequences, apart from any discomfort to their consciences, if they exist.  While Dr. Hatfill was not driven to suicide, Dr. Bruce Ivins (now presumed to be responsibel for the anthrax attacks) cracked quickly.  By committing suicide he gave the FBI the opportunity to close the case.  Given the myopic vision with which people honed in on the suspect the entire truth may never be told.

Dr. Hatfill was the latest victim of the police-media rush to judgment in prominent cases.  Other victims in the last 15 years include Dr. Wen Ho Lee (accused of spying for China and who received an apology from the Federal judge for government misconduct), Richard Jewell (accused in the Atlanta Olympic bombing) and Brandon Mayfield (accused of involvement in the Madrid terror attacks due to sloppy fingerprint analysis).

And then there is the ongoing blot of Guantanamo, where it was asserted recently that even George Bush and Dick Cheney knew that many of the prisoners were innocent (the dubious capture methods were widely reported by the non mainstream news media), but were willing inflict the collateral damage to catch a few hardcore terrorists.  With the innocents now likely radicalized that has been advanced by some Fox “News” contributors as an argument to keep them locked up.

One of my biggest disappointments with Barack Obama has been his rather retrograde record on civil liberties.  While he said a lot of the right things on torture and closing Guantanamo (which is still open), his administration has brushed the Bush administration’s torture record under the carpet (the cynic in me thinks because they are probably doing it themselves more discreetly), dismissed privacy concerns in tracking cellphones, and asserting a right to assassinate American citizens.  The last one is an invitation to a slippery slope of the type of police “encounters” and extra judical killings that occur in India, Pakistan and other parts of the world.  Given the sheer incompetence in many prominent cases, it seems like a dangerous road to cross.

noted previously the power wielded by prosecutors and law enforcement and the risk of abuse.  I understand that the line between liberty and security is a fine one.  But the harassment meted out to Dr. Hatfill to buttress a weak case is truly disturbing.

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