March 31, 2004

Only Time Will Tell If Dreams Become Reality

* Star first amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams slams U.S. government for shutting down Iraqi newspaper. an excerpt:

"Of all the messages the United States could send to the people of Iraq, the sorriest is this: If you say things we disapprove of, we'll shut you up.

"That, regrettably, is precisely the message American administrator Paul Bremer has sent to Iraq by shutting down Al Hawza, an anti-American newspaper that frequently criticizes U.S. conduct in that country. According to the media liaison for the U.S.-administered government, the 'false information' in the paper 'was hurting stability.'
...
"But shutting down the newspaper will surely inflict even greater harm. In Iraq, we are engaged in a raging battle of ideas and ideology. Our claim that we are not only liberating the Iraqi people from a monstrous human-rights violator but bringing democratic self-rule to the Iraqi people is met daily by the cynical response that the American invasion was driven by a desire for oil and political conquest. The results of that battle are unclear and will remain so for months, if not years, to come.
...
"In the heat of ongoing conflict in Iraq, it may be difficult to recall Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' plea that we must protect even the speech we hate. But we will pay dearly if we abandon our principles at the very time and in the very place that we need to display them with the greatest pride."

* Cost of a pound of pot [via drug war rant]

"Vietnam Veteran Douglas Lamar Gray had a roofing business in Moulton, a wife and a son. In 1989, he bought $900 worth of marijuana in a motel room...

"Until then, the longest Gray had been locked up was a few months for a burglary in his teens, then two more burglaries in his early 20s....

"A police informant with a criminal record had lured Gray to the motel. Gray bought the marijuana...
Gray was sentenced to life in prison without parole. That no one was injured during his crimes doesn't matter. Gray, 49, will die behind bars.

"Before the drug bust, he had not been arrested in 14 years.

"'Made real good money, owned my own house, my own land,' he said. 'Watched my little boy grow up, then they set me up and sold me a pound of pot.'

His wife divorced him. His son, now 16, is in trouble with the law. 'He said he was going to get into trouble and come to prison so he could be with me,' Gray said.

"The state has spent $150,000 to keep Gray locked up. So far.

"How much more the state spends depends on how long Gray lives.

the whole article can be read here.

* E.J. Dionne Jr. weighs in on the Clarke testimony. And he is right. Much of what Clarke has said, has been published before, in some cases what Clarke is alleging mimics what president bush himself told Bob Woodward for Woodward's book 'Bush At War.'

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