Osama bin Laden deserves justice

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2002

I watched the news reports last weekend concerning the video tape of Osama bin Laden allegedly taking responsibility for the September 11 terrorist attacks.

My first thought was the bin Laden was too smart to admit any responsibility for anything, especially with George Bush breathing down his neck. What was particularly disturbing to me was the fact that the U.S. was debating whether or not to release the video to the media.

The idea that they were debating this issue at all was an indication to me that the U.S. was not interested in justice or fairness. If justice was a concern they would be gathering evidence for a jury trial and the premature release of crucial evidence that might prejudice that jury would be shielded.

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I’m sure the Justice Department has already tried, convicted, and sentenced bin Ladin and all his cohorts in their mind and hearts if not in court (I know I have), but the issue still remains that this man committed serious crimes against our country, its citizens and its allies and if he is to answer to these crimes in a U.S. court of law our justice system needs to be above reproach.

Any indication of impropriety should be squelched immediately.

Let me be clear &045; I’m not defending bin Laden and I’m not forgiving anything he may be responsible for, but having sat through my fair share of jury trials I know that there comes a time when the prosecutorial machine develops a mind of its own.

I’ve taken a few hits myself lately about comments I’ve made in prior editorials that have been viewed as critical of our local legal system. I don’t apologize for having a unique viewpoint. I just simply believe that our justice system, more than anyone or anything else, must stay within the basic philosophies on which it was founded.

People must be viewed as innocent until proven guilty and that burden of proof must be on the prosecution. I admit that the media doesn’t always make it easy for lawyers to do their jobs, but if the lawyer has evidence that supports the guilt of a suspect then all that remains is deliberation and final sentencing.

After all, the evidence convicts the guilty, not the lawyer, the judge or the jury.

If we all assume guilt at the onset of every trial, more sooner than later, our prisons will be filled with innocent people. There have been insincere men throughout history that have used the law to bind and break the innocent in order to gain a variety of self serving tokens. I would hope that in the present day, that system of justice has been done away with.

Our president seems to have this Texas cowboy mentality of rounding up a posse to go get the bad guy and drag him in for federal display. Well bin Laden needs to be brought in so that he can answer a few hard questions, but Bush also needs to tone down his cowboy rhetoric so as not to inflame popular opinion against bin Laden to the point that the legal system will not be able to function properly.

Maybe I’m naive. Am I the only one in the country that believes that bin Laden will be captured and tried in a court of law? If the standard Texan rhetoric holds true, more than likely bin Laden will not live long enough to see his day in court.

I for one would love to sit through bin Ladin’s trial. I want to see the prosecution put on a case that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that bin Laden is responsible for the death and chaos in New York and Washington.

I want to be there to see the evidence and the video tape that convicts this man. And if the conviction comes, I for one would support the death penalty rather than life in prison because I don’t want my tax payers going to pay for his prison livelihood.

I believe the U.S. legal system is the best system for justice that the world has to date. It’s not perfect, but when blind justice is put into action it is a beautiful sight.