June 2004

The information about Jose Padilla’s “dirty bomb” that the Justice Department released last week to sully this man in the public’s mind and essentially try him in the press rather than in a court of law turns out to be scientifically questionable. This is why due process (notice, opportunity to be heard, present and cross examine witnesses, neutral factfinder, public scrutiny and right to appeal) is absolutely ESSENTIAL for anyone who values truth or freedom.

Scientists Say Dirty Bomb Would Be a Dud By CHARLES J. HANLEY

NEW YORK – The “dirty bomb” allegedly planned by terror suspect Jose Padilla would have been a dud, not the radiological threat portrayed last week by federal authorities, scientists say.

Quotes to admire, from Chairman Mao and Jacques LaLanne —

According to a biography my friend is reading, the Chairman never brushed his teeth (he’d get up in the morning and rinse his mouth with tea instead, as the peasants do). At one point, his dentist had to pull one of his rotted teeth and described the pus oozing out of his gums around the infected tooth…he then told the Chairman that he really needed to start brushing his teeth. The Chairman responded:

Does a tiger brush his teeth? How do you think the tiger’s teeth get so sharp?

And here’s Jacques Lalanne in a 1995 Outside Magazine interview on warming up before exercise:

Warming up is the biggest bunch of horseshit I’ve ever heard in my life. Fifteen minutes to warm up! Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh-oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ No! He just goes out and eats the sucker. You gotta get the blood circulating, but shit, does the lion cool down? No, he eats the sucker and goes to sleep. And that,” he concluded, folding his arms into a variation of the pose, “is the truth.”

This story about how the U.S. wrongly accused a Muslim lawyer in Portland, who had never been to Spain, of being involved in the Madrid train bombings, should chill your blood. The FBI took a photoscan of a fingerprint found on a bag that contained detonators, ran it through their database, and decided that it matched the prints of a lawyer living in Oregon. The Spanish forensic people disagreed, but the FBI was eager to make the case. Here’s what they put in the affidavit for his arrest:

First, they lied and said that Spain “felt satisfied” with the F.B.I.’s conclusions.

“They included that Mr. Mayfield had represented a Portland terrorism defendant in a custody case; that records showed a “telephonic contact” on Sept. 11, 2002, between his home and a phone number assigned to Pete Seda, the director of a local Islamic charity, who is on a federal terrorism watch list; that his law firm was advertised in a “Muslim yellow page directory,” which was produced by a man who had business dealings with Osama bin Laden’s former personal secretary; and that he was seen driving from his home to the Bilal mosque, his regular place of worship.

The document also said while no travel records were found for Mr. Mayfield, ‘It is believed that Mayfield may have traveled under a false or fictitious name.'”

Great reading while in Australia. Funny observations reliably capped by an end of the day beer or three.
A funny and thoughtful novel about love and its corrollary, suffering.

A Shout Reader heeded my call to write to Senators Boxer and Feinstein in support of San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris’ decision not to seek the death penalty against the young man accused of killing of Officer Spinoza. This reader’s letter to Feinstein also criticized the Senator’s support for last year’s Medicare Rx bill and stated that the writer and other longstanding Democrats were voting outside the party because of the Senator’s record of voting for corporations over individuals. The Senators’ responses are duplicated below.

From Senator Boxer

Thank you for contacting me regarding your opposition to the death penalty. I appreciate hearing from you and I have deep respect for your views.

Since the infamous Night Stalker murders in 1985, I have believed that for the most heinous crimes, the death penalty should be reserved as an option.

I recognize, however, that in imposing such a sentence, where the consequences are so final and irreversible, we must take every precaution to make sure that the administration of justice is reasoned and fair. That is why I have cosponsored legislation that would reduce the risk that an innocent person might be executed by providing post-conviction testing of DNA evidence.

Furthermore, we have an obligation to make sure that our system of capital punishment, as a whole, is one that is consistent with the Constitutional requirements of equality and due process.

Again, thank you for contacting me regarding your deeply-held and thoughtful position on the death penalty. I value the views of my constituents and appreciate your opinion and I deeply regret that I have disappointed you.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

From Senator Feinstein

Thank you for your letter in which you express your concerns about capital punishment. I appreciate hearing from you.

The death penalty is an issue that I struggled with for many years. My personal experiences over the past twenty years have convinced me, however, that the death penalty does serve as a deterrent to crime if it is carried out without inordinate and prolonged delay. After many years of seeing the carnage caused by violent crime, lives snuffed out in their infancy and the broken families left to pick up the pieces, it has become clear to me that those who commit heinous crimes in the taking of human lives should, in many instances, forfeit their own.

I do value your opinion and recognize that we do not agree on these matters. I am also hopeful that, in the future, we will find many areas where we do agree. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.

Sincerely yours,
Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

The Shout Reader wonders what personal experience Senator Feinstein has had that has convinced her that quick executions deter crime. “I’d like to know what experience she’s referring to before we start gassing people with shortened due process,” she writes. I’d like to know as well.

Fellow San Francisco Bay Area dwellers, Democrats, Friends:

Please join me in supporting Senator John Kerry’s campaign for President in 2004. Voting matters, but money matters, too, and Kerry needs both our votes and our money to defeat the current regime. We will be holding a fundraiser party at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto on June 19th. Download Details. I hope you’ll attend, and give at least the minimum, if not more, to support John Kerry and to get our country back on course after this sudden, bumpy, dangerous veer to the right. We also hope this party will help connect younger, urban, creative people with more seasoned Democratic activists, and reinvigorates the Party. Space at the party is limited, so you should register and contribute now.

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