Kudos to Lowell Bergman for a concise, intelligent look at many of the factors that have led us to a sad state of affairs--and, in at least one case (Lodi), to an appalling miscarriage of justice.
As a former AUSA (yes, in the Bush administration), I cannot begin to describe the pressure prosecutors face to produce convictions to justify the massive expenditures in the 'war on terror'. Most AUSAs are, like the one interviewed, good soldiers who believe in the 'war' the way they believe in God and family and apple pie--because they were raised that way and always have, because these form the core of their belief system and because questioning the mission would trigger all kinds of crises: moral, political, professional and, in the end, financial. I promise you that the AUSA you interviewed has never allowed himself to consider the possibility that the two men from Lodi are, in fact, innocent; when and if he ever does so, he will be horrified by what he has done.
There are a few 'warriors' willing/irreverent enough to recognize that the 'war' is, by and large, a massive exercise in making people BELIEVE they are safer, at the cost of ever-unpopular/unappreciated civil liberties....Eventually we can't take it and get out--or, like the FBI agent in the program, retire and atone by joining the defense. Unfortunately, of course, this self de-selection only assures that the miscarriages of justice will continue.
I'm so frustrated with the current administration hiding behind the "war on terror" to rewrite the rules of justice. They are using the terror threat to get carte blanche support for their squewed policies at our expense. Don't we live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty - no matter what you are accused of? This administration has proved itself wrong at almost every step of the way since 9-11. They scare me as much as Osama bin Laden... and have probably done more to comprimise the American way of life that bin Laden could ever have dreamed of doing. What a shame.
What makes the fact that Umer Hayat was an ice cream truck driver (a point repeatedly made) make him less likely to be a terrorist?
"The Enemy Within" is a fine piece of journalism. Born in 1949, I grew up with the Red Scare, the McCarthy Era and served as a combat infantryman in Vietnam prior to my newspaper journalism BA, seven years in professional journalism, and 20 years as a deputy sheriff. I love this nation, her servicemen and women, and the core values of our forefathers. Frontline continues to set a high standard in American journalism. If we ever lose the desire for truth, we have lost our mission - that is -protecting and nourishing the United States of America. Thank you.
Your report on the Lodi investigation is tainted with the ACLU, liberal-thinking slant that is upsetting to Americans like me . Lowell Bergman's questioning of FBI is so accusative of unfair tactics that the purpose of the program is obvious. And the testimony of that FBI retireee in support of the accused is nothing short of appalling. The producers of this program will not wake up to reality until one of our counter-intelligence efforts fails and the second 9-11 happens.
I just watched Frontline, as I do each week. I have since 9/11 maintained my equilibrium with respect to the level of terrorist threats here in the United States. I think most of the threats have been blown out of proportion to serve political ends, especially coming up to elections, as occurred during the 2004 Presidential Election. I think that is the enormous tragedy in all of this, that the American populace is being duped so outrageously, and in the process, frightened to death. If the truth be known, I have many more concerns about the neo-nazis and people like Timothy McVeigh who killed as many people in an individual to victim ratio than each of those terrorists on 9/11. However, while we are keeping our eye on the Muslim population, we have taken it off.
The effort tonight is thought provoking; I only wish it had come sooner, which is what I believe about most of the media since 9/11 in giving this administration a free ride and failing its duty to the American public by pandering to politicians.
Thank you. Keep up the work.
Wasn't it Ben Franklin who said that if we give up our rights in exchange for security, we will end up with neither? Would he have said the same thing if he lost a family member on 9/11?
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NEXT ON FRONTLINEMy Brother's Bomber (Part Three)October 13th