- After the annual Thanksgiving Day turkey "pardoning"
travesty, Obama granted nine executive pardons, a December 3 White House
press release announcing them by name, date of sentencing, and offense
- They date from Russell James Dixon's June 23, 1960 two
years probation for a felony liquor law violation to Scoey Lathaniel Morris'
May 21, 1999 three years probation and $1,200 restitution for passing counterfeit
obligations or securities.
- The others were for:
- -- minor illicit drug related charges;
- -- illegal possession of government property;
- -- conspiracy to defraud the US by making false statements
to the FDA;
- -- mutilation of coins;
- -- adultery; and
- -- passing bad checks.
- Besides one bad conduct military discharge/24 months
confinement sentence, another imprisonment for one year/one day, and one
30 day jailing, the others involved probation (five years maximum), and/or
fines. All were minor offenses, hardly warranting pardons, especially compared
to what demands executive exoneration and restitution but never comes.
- They involve gross criminal injustice, falsely imprisoning
innocent people, some for murders they didn't commit, hundreds of others
for political advantage, and two or more times involving human rights lawyers
for defending unpopular clients too vigorously. Prominent examples are
- On December 3, New York Times writer Charlie Savage headlined,
"In a First for Obama, Nine Pardons Are Granted," saying:
- "For the first time since taking office nearly two
years ago, President Obama exercised his clemency powers on Friday by granting
pardons to nine people."
- White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said:
- "The president was moved by the strength of the
applicants' post-conviction efforts at atonement, as well as their superior
citizenship and individual achievements in the years since their convictions."
- In fact, he engaged in holiday season political grandstanding
for people he neither knew of or cared about, compared to responsible action
not taken. Previously he denied hundreds of commutation petitions and dozens
requesting pardons, many for deserving victims. Why these now are unrelated
to justice, what this or most past executives never considered.
- Dozens of previous articles addressed wrongfully imprisoned
victims, mostly men, several women, and two human rights lawyers - Lynne
Stewart and Paul Bergrin. Both defended unpopular clients too vigorously.
As a result, they were targeted and railroaded for doing their job honorably,
heroically, and effectively.
- Mumia Abu-Jamal was falsely sentenced to death for a
1981 murder he didn't commit. He remains on death row.
- In 1977, Leonard Peltier, an innocent man, got two life
sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents during a 1975 Pine Ridge Indian
- Sami Al-Arian, a prominent Muslim scholar/activist, was
targeted for supporting equity and justice for oppressed Palestinians and
other democratic value/social justice issues.
- Ramsey Muniz, a prominent Latino activist, was framed
on bogus drug charges, given life without parole in 1994.
- Oscar Lopez Rivera was imprisoned for supporting Puerto
Rican independence, sentenced to 70 years in 1981.
- A memorable line from Joseph Heller's "Catch-22"
explains much, saying:
- Clevinger "was guilty, of course, or he would have
not been accused, and since the only way to prove it was to find him guilty,
it was (the prosecutor's) patriotic duty to do so."
- In other words, guilty by accusation, jurors intimidated
to convict, justice always denied.
- Most false imprisonments targeted Muslims for their faith,
ethnicity, prominence, political activism, and/or charity - for political
advantage to incite fear, maintain war on terror hysteria, and enlist popular
support for imperial adventurism, rampaging out-of-control globally and
increasingly at home repressively against anyone challenging state policy.
- Other false imprisonments victimized environmental, animal
rights, Black, Latino, and other civil and human rights activists.
- All are innocent. None guilty. None should be imprisoned.
All should be unconditionally pardoned with public apologies and full restitution.
Some deserve Presidential Medal of Freedom or other honors, not hard prison
time, often involving long-term isolation and grotesque abuses, including
torture, rape, and other forms of mistreatment.
- In contrast, nearly always, undeserving notables get
presidential honors, most recently on November 17. In a White House ceremony,
15 Medals of Freedom were awarded to:
- -- GHW Bush, an unindicted war criminal;
- -- billionaire Warren Buffett, recently saying:
- "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class,
the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."
- In his case, Forbes magazine, in 2010, listed him the
world's third-ranked billionaire, his net worth an estimated $47 billion.
- -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a released WikiLeaks
diplomatic cable calling her weak, saying she's "risk averse and rarely
- -- former AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, notable for
selling out rank and file members for privilege, power, and a seat at the
table with corporate CEOs;
- -- two retired sports figures, Bill Russell and Stan
- -- poet Maya Angelou, cellist Yo Yo Ma, holocaust survivor
Gerda Weissmann Klein, John H. Adams (co-NRDC founder), former Irish ambassador
Jean Kennedy Smith, Rep. John Lewis, civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez,
and Tom Little, an optometrist killed in Afghanistan.
- Except for perhaps Mendez and Angelou, none deserve Medal
of Freedom honoring, the nation's highest civilian award, recognizing individuals
- "an especially meritorious contribution to the security
or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other
significant public or private endeavors."
- Waging war, making billions, selling out workers, ill
governing, dunking basketballs or hitting home runs hardly qualify, unlike
a lifetime commitment to democratic values, universal equity and social
- US governments flaunt these principles at home and abroad,
including wrongfully imprisoning innocent victims while, at the same time,
honoring some of our worst and undeserving - a record of shame and disgrace,
Obama perpetuating it, mocking justice by his December 3 pardons and Medal
of Freedom awards.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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