Can You Spare a Dream Team?
by Tommy Ates
There is a wise phrase that says, "If it ain't broke.
Don't fix it." Why then is U.S. Attorney General John
Ashcroft trampling on civil liberties? The answer is simple:
it's convenient; it's helpful; and it makes everybody's job
a lot easier, save the average citizen, who couldn't dream
of getting an O.J.-style "Dream Team" defense like
the American Taliban, John Walker, will likely receive.
So, if only the rich would be able to get an adequate defense,
then what groups would benefit from the "new" liberties
President Bush has bestowed upon the American people? The
answer is also simple: have you made a Right lately? When
have you cashed in your NRA or sought to increase your 401K?
If by osmosis, the spectre of the conservative movement, the
gun lobby, and corporate interests come to mind then, like
Sherlock Holmes, "By Jove, I think you've got it!"
However, you don't have to be an Englishman to be fooled
by the NRA joining with the ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic
Relations on the lobbying front to defeat the eroding rights
that the good Ashcroft says are vital for 'Homeland Security'.
The NRA is concerned about one thing: guns. And the Attorney
General set their minds at ease at the Congressional hearings
last week when he stated that guns sold at gun shows would
be protected from the new regulations. The ACLU might as well
the face the fact that is largely as its own, the lone surfer
on the post-Sept. 11th conservative tidal wave.
What does this mean to minorities? Well, if you've heard
of fast-track capital murder charges and sleeping attorneys
in big-city courtrooms, then get ready for the Twilight Zone
II: Instant Justice. By sidestepping many of the regulations
and protections our civilian court system provides, justice
becomes a fast-food carryout service, servicing the rich and
leaving the poor to say, "May I take your order please?"
(The only exception to this scenario is that you are already
in jail and the restaurant has outsourced the customer service
detail to the prison where you're getting paid 5 cents an
Do you think that is not a rational scenario? Under the Ashcroft
Counter-terrorism provisions, a citizen would need to know
how the legal game is playing BEFORE entering the game. For
minorities and the poor, they fall into the game, and some
don't get out (i.e., Shaka Sankofa, Mumia Abu Jamal). Yes,
my fellow citizens, we are in a "Brave New World"
and unfortunately, the rules are being written with the destination
already preprogrammed. Only ACLU, the Council on American-Islamic
Relations, and some Democratic Senators bold enough to challenge
the "patriotism" of the new laws can provide a fair
oversight of this Trojan horse agenda; but this isn't the
only area of legality which has the potential to change.
In terms of attorney-client privilege, the meaning of the
trust relationship itself is put into question, especially
with government-provided attorneys whose loyalties (even though
paid with taxpayer money) are supposed to be explicitly tied
to the client. Now with the possibility of "observed"
conversations (i.e. eavesdropping), would attorneys be compelled
to ask for plea bargains for their clients since the two cannot
honestly regarding the nature of the offenses? Increasingly,
civil libertarians are realizing the playing field is becoming
the "the playa's ball" with Ashcroft as head pimp.
Again, can I get a "Dream Team"?
Above all, President Bush is to blame for these regressive
policies, for nothing the Attorney General does is without
his approval. It is shame that US civilians are unable to
trust that their government will be able to give due protections
provided for them in the Constitution. Not only will minorities
be disadvantaged when it comes to buying justice, but we will
open to "subjective" racial profiling as nearly
5, 000 Arab-American males will be when their "interview"
project is complete.
If that isn't bad enough, someone please say why smart, while
males between the ages of 35 and 55, with a military background,
are not being profiled in light of the ongoing Anthrax domestic
terrorism, of which the Justice department is virtually clueless?
Why is it even when terror and death can look Americans in
the face we still only see color? We haven't learned people;
we haven't learned...