Intelligence and the Pursuit of Justice

In the aftermath of the recent Boston Marathon bombing, Republicans now complain  why we “ignored” warnings from Russian intelligence about the alleged culprits. How times change. Just as the Reagan Administration cozied up with the Taliban as “freedom fighters” as long as they were killing Russians, offshoots such as al Queda went from “partisans” to pariahs when the sponsored attack dogs started biting the hands that fed them.

Boston Marathon Suspect: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Boston Marathon Suspect: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

The Russian Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki Rossii (SVRR), which superceded the old Soviet KGB, has hardly been a “friendly” intelligence service. Notorious spies Aldrich Ames, and Robert Hanssen, were in the SVRR’s lucrative employ in the 1990s, before getting “three hots and a cot” in Federal prison for the rest of their lives. Even Israel, beneficiary of billions in American largess which continues today, employed Jonathan Pollard, a former naval intelligence specialist whose spying also earned a stretch “up the river.” Far from being a rogue, disowned by his handlers, efforts to spring Pollard by Israel and its’ supporters continue. They want their “hero” back. Needless to say, we aren’t as willing to “forgive and forget.”

Intelligence services worldwide act in their own interest, and any information they might share with their American counterparts by necessity is viewed with skepticism. While it might seem Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) now wonder why U.S. intelligence organs didn’t embrace SVRR suspicions about Chechen terrorists as the Gospel According to Iron Feliks with the fervor of a newly converted wearer of magic Mormon undies, let’s not forget the political winds could well have blown the other way for partisan expediency.

In an era of the 24 hour news cycle, there is no real substitute for sober reflection and investigation in the search for salient facts.  The rush for the marketable scoop all too often draws the wrong conclusions, and an embarrassing trip to the correction section of the paper which every competent journalist fears as if it were the Ebola virus.

For the last several days, I listened to the Right-wing media screaming for Muslim heads, regardless of culpability, and a renewed call for a fast track return to abandonment of American justice, torture of suspects, and a quick trip to a lethal injection. All very shortsighted and silly considering the body of evidence and the examination of facts have yet to be completed. Every short cut to the torturer’s chamber  and the executioner recklessly shortchanges principled, competent weighing of salient facts. We end up wearing the mess of haste. Dead men tell no tales.

Before he was elected, and reelected, to the Oval Office, President Obama was a Harvard-educated lawyer. If there is one thing law school teaches, it is the value of facts. If they bothered to care, Juris Doctors Sen. Graham, and Rep. McCaul are on track to mimic the buffoonish gaffes of Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) They don’t care about facts. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has  experience with terrorism, being an apologist for the Irish Republican Army bombers and killers in the “bad old days.” He, of all people, ought to know better.

We should go back and remember the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City eighteen years ago in 1995. While conservative Americans were screaming for “Arab terrorist” blood then, the culprits were all government-hating American heartlanders. Oops!

We have the time and the need to get justice done properly. I’m getting tired explaining lunatic American conspiracy theorists to sensible European friends. The infamous 2011 terror massacre in Norway by was prudently investigated, tried in open court, and the murderer packed off to an isolated prison cell. Anders Breivik’s ramblings all too quickly lost what little audience they had. His Warholian “fifteen minutes” were soon up.

Facts. Justice. Let’s try them this time.