Friday, June 19, 2009

Republican Blogger Lies Insult Law Enforcement Community

Back in the winter, I was at a New Year’s party with Ben Tribbett when he twittered that “Anonymous Is A Woman is outraged!” I was laughing at the time and hitting him on his knees with a noisemaker. It was funny because AIAW is seldom outraged. I may get testy, dyspeptic, but not truly outraged very often. Today, I am outraged. And here’s why.

Bearing Drift ran with this supposed breaking story, claiming that Democrats in Congress, including Virginia’s Gerry Connolly and Tom Perriello, voted to bring terrorists to Virginia. Quoting an unnamed Capitol Hill source (you can’t even source and link, guys?) here’s the money quote:
Rep. Perriello just voted with Speaker Pelosi on an amendment to allow for funds to close Guantanamo Bay facility and move those detainees to Virginia. Perriello voted against an amendment, offered by Rep. Lewis of California, that would have prohibited the closure - the amendment failed 212-213 with Mr. Perriello casting the deciding vote.
Now, Aznew, the Virginia Democrat, Lowell, from Blue Virginia, and Drew, from Dem Bones, have all already pointed out the various logical fallacies in this piece, not the least of which is that nowhere in this bill or the amendment does it mention anything about sending Gitmo detainees to Virginia. It simply approves money for the closing of Gitmo. According to Drew, here’s an explanation and the actual amendment that was voted down:
So, today Rep. Perriello voted against an amendment (H.Amdt 220 to HR 2847) that would have prohibited the use of funds to close down Guantanamo. Here is the actual amendment, introduced by Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA):
An amendment numbered 118 printed in the Congressional Record to prohibit the use of funds to implement Executive Order 13492, issued January 22, 2009, titled "Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities".
Good for Rep. Perriello and my representative, Gerry Connolly, for voting that amendment down!

America is built on the principle that we don’t hold people indefinitely without a trial. I have served on juries, and I can tell you that an absolute fundamental of American legal jurisprudence is that we are all “innocent until proven guilty.” Judges instruct jurors on that point all the time. Now, that doesn’t give a jury permission to acquit criminals and put them back on our streets. But it means that in America every man and woman is entitled to a fair trial. It’s who we are. We don’t keep people in prisons without their day in court. Communists, Nazis, and fascists do that. We don’t.

So, if Gerry Connolly, who I am proud to say is my congressman, and Tom Perriello, from the 5th CD, voted against an amendment that would have kept Gitmo opened, I applaud them for displaying true American values. And for having the moral courage to not buckle under to conservative political hacks who use fear to win elections.

But none of this is why I am outraged. Here’s why.

Let’s concede for a moment that because of their votes, some detainees would be brought to America, and even to Virginia. Do the BD bloggers and other conservatives really believe that America’s law enforcement community - its guards, its police - would fail to keep us safe?

Here’s where it gets personal and why I am outraged. My cousin’s husband is a prison guard in South Florida. As such, he has guarded some of the most dangerous criminals in the Miami-Dade and Broward region, including members of the infamous Columbian Medellin drug cartel. So, do you really think he’s not up to the job of guarding some of the detainees and that South Florida would be less safe if they were in his care? I don’t.

But I do believe that the fear mongering in that diary is an insult to him and to his fellow prison guards who work in maximum security penal facilities throughout the nation. These are brave men and women who have guarded some of our most dangerous criminals, including the Oklahoma bombers Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols; Ted Kaczynski; and criminals like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and members of the Crips, the Bloods, and MS-13.

However, BD and other conservative bloggers, taking their talking points, robot-like, from the Republican Party Central, have a shocking disdain for all civil servants. It is rooted in their anti-government ideology and rhetoric. But believe it or not, the government in a representative democracy is us. It is “we the people.” Sometimes your side or my side loses an election. But there’s always the next one. We are governed by those who win elections. To disdain them is to disdain America and its choices. To disdain our civil servants is to disdain our neighbors, friends, and relatives, many of whom work tirelessly to fight our fires, keep our streets safe, and guard our prisons. To insult them to score cheap political points is to put party before country. And that is unpatriotic.

The disdainful Republican bloggers owe America’s law enforcement community - especially its prison guards - an apology. They owe America an apology for their unpatriotic disdain and the cheap shot they just took.


DanielK said...

Thank you Karen for finally really hitting this point home! You know what I do for a living and I've been surprised that this sentiment has really been silent throughout this part of the debate. Prison and jail officials have dealt with some of the most violent people in our history and their track record is outstanding.

You do make a very good point when discussing the gang issue in Northern Virginia. You and I both know that when MS-13, South Side Locos, 18th Street and every other gang or clique was running rampant in Northern Virginia, people were in complete fear. I think that is terrorism as well, especially when citizens are afraid to go near a group of young people because of how they look or the language they are speaking. Anyone who followed the news during that time will probably agree that the gang violence we experienced was terrible and unspeakable. Their attacks are some of the most violent some people have ever experienced in their careers and guess where they were housed while they awaited trial? In our local jails and detention facilities. They were safe and secure because of the jobs our law enforcement professionals do everyday. To doubt their ability, is as you say an insult to them and the careers they choose!

I have no doubt that if our facilities are tasked with housing these prisoners that our communities will be no less safe than they were before! It is funny how Democrats are painted as "weak on crime" even though it is the Republican Party who usually display very little confidence in the abilities our law enforcement professionals and this is a perfect example!

Thanks Karen!

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thank you Daniel, this is high praise from you. The whole point that they were insulting the law enforcement community really seemed self-evident to me.

I think they are basically cowards if they are afraid to trust our prison system and the guards that work there. But then one of my cousins is one of those guards in Broward County, also a fairly high crime area with dangerous people running around in the jails.

spotter said...

"BD and other conservative bloggers, taking their talking points, robot-like, from the Republican Party Central, have a shocking disdain for all civil servants. It is rooted in their anti-government ideology and rhetoric."

And yet, where does their paycheck come from? The government. In their view, everybody who works for the government is a slacker, except, of course, them. And by the way, no one should have government health insurance, except, of course, them.

Anonymous said...

Very good post. The reason we have jury trials in place is that all offenses are crimes against society. Rape, burglary, terrorism, even bribery in the government all make us feel less safe -- that's why it is up to society to punish the offenders, rather than vigilante justice.

To me, there is no trade off between security and constitutionality if the detainees are brought here, especially since the president -- by his own admission -- spends each day asking himself how to keep our country safe.

I don't feel good about terrorists who are sworn enemies of this country living on our soil. However, I also don't like the fact that our last administration painstakingly outlined means of torture and eavesdropping that could be defended legally merely by saying, "we found out what we needed to know."

Anonymous said...

I have flitted around the Republican blogosphere in the last few months suggesting that this is a stupid issue for Republicans. It has all the earmarks of some dumb idea thought up by a political consultant (my negative stereotype makes it a 25-year old consultant, but I suppose you don;t have to be young to be stupid) at RNC and blasted out as talking points to all GOP office holders and candidates. I can almost pinpoint the day when we started seeing this very unflattering (to Rs) argument coming from congressmen and, in our state, our Gubernatorial candidate. The less discerning bloggers just pick it up and run with it. I've seen it at Virtucon, BD, and perhaps a dozen other places (often more than once) . Even my old beloved alma mater, TC, has tried it on for size, but hasn't really hammered it to the degree that others have.

Here's the problem: We're in a serious struggle against international terrorism. This stuff is at the core of defining how we react as a nation to external threats. To have a bunch of ninnies running around trying to scare people about the ineluctable consequences of putting these enemies in a deep secure hole is hardly conducive to creating a leadership class the average citizen (make that "voter") can admire. Americans (or Virginians) as a group are not such a bunch of namby-pambies that they are going to find this an effective political argument. The argument makes us all out to be wimps.

We are perfectly capable of taking care of these detainees in a secure fashion. As Americans, we know that that is one of the responsibilities that goes with the actions we are taking abroad in our own defense. Every state in the Union should be pleased to volunteer to take some part of that chore.

NoVA Scout

Catzmaw said...

Once again, your thoughts on this issue parallel mine. It's ridiculous to assert that these detainees are so magically powerful that they could somehow pose a bigger threat or accomplish more harm than the psychopaths and hard core criminals who already populate our prisons.

Frankly, it is not only a slur on our law enforcement professionals but a form of cowardice to be so very fearful of 240 prisoners that our nation of 300 million finds the prospect of sharing the same geographic coordinates with them too horrifying to contemplate.

Meanwhile, the Europeans are laughing at us and our fears, having experienced trials of mass murderers and terrorists at the Hague and jailed them upon conviction.

J.R.Hoeft said...

Oh, please.

This has nothing to do with prison guards or their ability to keep us safe.

It has everything to do with wasting taxpayer money when we have a perfectly good facility at GITMO already doing the job.

It has everything to do with creating unnecessary demands on our local populations when we have to move the prisoner to the courthouse.

It has everything to do with granting U.S. rights to people sworn to undermine the U.S. system of governance and law and order.

It has everything to do with putting these prisoners in general population, allowing them to sew their seeds of hatred amongst U.S. inmates.

It has everything to do with the POTENTIAL of making the area surrounding the prison a target for outside terrorist groups and extremists.

Spare me your hyperbole.

Karen, I thought you were better than this.

Besides, my source said Perriello was arm-twisted into this vote and he was one of the last, if not the last one, to cast his ballot...literally being the one.

Additionally, Virginia is at the head of the line when it comes to prisoner moves for the very reason you mention - we have top-notch military brigs and state prisons.

Anonymous said...

I consider it a reasonable public policy debate to discuss whether Gitmo's role as a detention center should be ended. Unfortunately, JR, a lot of the posts on our side of the blogosphere have contained all this wussy BS about bringing these dangerous people into the US, generally, and Virginia, in particular. It is that sort of stuff that I find demeaning to Americans, Virginians, and, to the extent they propagate it, Republicans.

NoVA Scout

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Jim, not to pile on, but NoVA Scout is right. Your side has framed this in a way designed to produce fear in people rather than to encourage a rational debate. And, yes, it does insult our law enforcement community, specifically prison guards.

I saw Shaun Kenney's ridiclous post, which I am not as outraged about, as you are about my post. When you write something strong, you become fair game. Rules of the game.

But let me address it:

My outrage did not come from Democratic party talking points but from a real, live, flesh and blood relative who happens to be a prison guard in one of the most dangerous prison systems in the country. I also have a cousin who taught prisoners adult education courses for their GEDs in Rikers Island, in New York. That is another notorious and dangerous place.

So, please spare me your own faux outrage. They are insulted by arguments that imply that our prisons can't contain these people.

No political talking point gave me the insight of relatives who work in our prison system. But if you and others want to believe it's all manufactured anger and talking points, so be it. Unfortunately, ideology and incoherent lack of logic do not replace facts.

And speaking about facts and informed opinion, a law enforcemnt professional, DanielK, and a lawyer, Catzmaw, have both responded that they agree with my argument. Somehow, I take their insight as further validation that my defense of the law enforcement community was spot on.

As for your other points, discussing things like cost, use of taxpayer money, and even whether it is appropriate to try these prisoners in American courts or in military courts, those are all legitimate issues for discussion.

If your original post had raised those issues in a non inflammatory way, I would not have launched this particular post of my own. And if your argument had been a good, pragmatic one, it might even have convinced me. But that was not what you chose to do.

Instead, you went for the cheap, political shot. When you shoot first, you can't object when others return fire.

DanielK said...

I posted a response J.R.'s posting the other day but for whatever reason it didn't come so I'll reiterate a few points to show how little you know on this matter from a corrections standpoint.

First, Virginia is not on the top of the list because of their "top notch" military prisons and brigs but rather because of the Federal Court in Alexandria City. Our prisons and jails are some of the best, proven through national accreditation standards. Almost every state has some form of supermax, Adminstrative Segregation, Security Housing Units for those prisons who are the "worst of the worst." The placement of these detainees will be determined on what courts they are tried in. So far, New York and Alexandria are up there given some of the terror cases they have handled.

Secondly, your statement of it having "everything to do with putting these prisoners in general population" really shows your ignorance on this topic. (If that offends anyone sorry, but I can't think of a more fitting word) Since your party makes these prisoners out to be the "worst of the worst" do you really think they would be put in general population? I don't have the time to educate you on this topic but trust me, if they weren't in general population in a military penal facility they won't be anywhere here. Also, if you watch any documentary regarding prisons some of the worst gang members are held in long-term solitary confinement because of the potential for violence. If they are classified as such I doubt that these terrorists would be a lower security level than those prisoners.

My frustration is only a little from the Republican Party's lack of faith in people like me but rather this absolute garbage of criminals being released onto our streets. Last time I look, none of the Gitmo detainees are United States citizens so I think it is commonsense that non-citizens cannot be legally released from American prisons. Correct? Illegal immigrants?

In closing, I would argue the Republican Party would be pretty bothered if these terrorists were housed in facilities in American jurisdictions but it would allow for easier access for counsel and also limit torture as an interrogation method. Just my thoughts on the subject, but what do I know?

Brian Kirwin said...

AIAW, you've simultaneously argued that the amendment didn’t bring the GITMO detainees to our prisons AND that our prison guards are up to the task of housing them.

If the former is true, why be so forceful about the rest?

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Brian, the amendment being voted down hasn't brought anybody to our prisons yet, if it ever does. It was just voted on, so any speculation about its consequences is in the future. Right now, Gitmo is still open and still contains prisoners.

But if Gitmo is closed and prisoners are brought to the U.S., which is a definite possibility, our prison guards are more than up to the job of guarding them in super max prisons.

What about the logic of that don't you understand?

Brian Kirwin said...

Oh please...keep going.

I adore when lefties show how out of touch they are with Virginians.

Anonymous said...

Kirwin and Hoeft are the sewer of blogs! Kirwin is a self proclaimed "political consultant" who has deep sixed the last two state races. Welch and Williams. The only thing these two can do is sit on the sidelines and throw rocks and make snide remarks. AIAW has done a public service in shining a light on these cockroaches and made them scurry back under the refrigerator.

Kirwin claims the "lefties" are out of touch with Virginians?????

Webb, Warner, Kaine, and lets not forget Obama all have taken Virginia in very recent elections. Being oblivious as they are, they must think these people who have won are "righties"????? Do you even bother to read what you're posting before you hit the submit button? Obviously not!

Oh please....keep going! Too funny!