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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/25/11

Orange Jumpsuits/Double Standards

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However, under the protection of Miami's politically powerful Cuban community and the Bush Family, the CIA-trained Posada and Bosch have been allowed to live out their golden years in freedom and comfort. For them, no evidence -- even contemporaneous U.S. intelligence reports and self-incriminating statements -- was enough to justify holding these defiant terrorists accountable.

Meanwhile, international tribunals have relied on the skimpiest circumstantial evidence to bring charges against Arabs who are viewed with disdain by Western governments and media. To this day, U.S. journalists ignore the implausibility of Libyan intelligence agent Ali al-Megrahi's 2001 conviction by a Scottish court for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The special Scottish court convicted Megrahi in the deaths of the 270 people -- while acquitting a second Libyan -- in what appeared to be more a political compromise than an act of justice. One judge told Dartmouth government professor Dirk Vandewalle about "enormous pressure put on the court to get a conviction."

Following Megrahi's dubious guilty verdict, Libya was coerced into accepting "responsibility" for the bombing to get punitive international sanctions lifted. Despite agreeing to pay reparations to the victims' families, Libyan officials continued to deny having a role in the bombing.

Then, after the testimony of a key witness against Megrahi was discredited, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed in 2007 to reconsider his conviction out of a strong concern that it was a miscarriage of justice. However, due to more political pressure, that review was proceeding slowly in 2009 when Scottish authorities agreed to release Megrahi on medical grounds.

Megrahi dropped his appeal in order to gain an early release in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis, but that doesn't mean he was guilty. He has continued to assert his innocence and an objective press corps would reflect the doubts regarding his conviction.

Instead, American journalists from all hues on the ideological spectrum routinely blame Gaddafi for the Lockerbie bombing and cite it as justification for NATO's bombing campaign that has killed many young Libyan soldiers (and a number of civilians) while paving the way for anti-Gaddafi rebels to reach Tripoli.

Hariri Bombing

A similar lack of objectivity has applied to the work of a special United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Earlier this month, the tribunal unsealed an indictment accusing four members of Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah of carrying out the bomb attack that killed Hariri and 21 others.

However, the prosecutors acknowledged that they had no smoking gun or even any direct evidence tying the accused to the crime. Instead, the indictment cited a complex analysis of cell-phone usage attributed to the defendants, though it wasn't clear how the prosecutors linked the suspects to the various phones.

In many ways, the case had the look of "rounding up the usual suspects," including Mustafa Amine Badreddine, whose slain brother-in-law Imad Moughnieh was linked to the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, an attack that the U.S. media frequently identifies as "terrorist" even though it followed the Reagan administration's military intervention in the Lebanese civil war.

When the Hariri indictment was unsealed on Aug. 17, the U.S. media again was quick to treat the dubious allegations against the four defendants as credible, since Hezbollah is an unpopular group among U.S. and Israeli officials.

But Hezbollah leaders noted that the indictment lacked any hard evidence and that Israeli intelligence had penetrated Lebanon's phone service, raising doubts about the reliability of the cell-phone records. (Two senior employees of one cell-phone company were arrested in 2010 for spying.)

Hezbollah denounced the charges as an American-Israeli scheme to discredit the organization and vowed to protect the defendants from arrest.

In the Western press coverage of the indictment, there also was little note that the tribunal's earlier investigation had reached a very different conclusion, fingering Syrian intelligence for the Hariri killing. That preliminary finding in 2005 had received uncritical front-page treatment in the New York Times and other leading U.S. news outlets, since Syria was another bête noire.

Back then, Consortiumnews.com and Der Spiegel were two of the few news organizations that pointed to what seemed like a rush to judgment by the tribunal's German investigator, Detlev Mehlis. Some of Mehlis's witnesses appeared unreliable and promising leads had not been followed up.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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