Crime

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may turn out that in the Walker case, as in thousand of cases far from the limelight, big federal firearm penalties will help send someone to prison despite shoddy police work. This does not make for a safer society.

An effective criminal justice system turns on the certitude of appropriate punishment. Locking up small fry for terms equal to or greater than those received by the worst offenders means that when parole time rolls around the real bad guys are right there at the front of the line.

By any rational definition, Walker is small fry indeed. If his deeds merit spending the rest of his life in prison, then the gallows should go up at Camp X-Ray any minute now. That will never happen because of the international uproar that would ensue, not because anyone at the Justice Department has a problem with it.

In fact, it is pretty safe bet that many detainees in Cuba will be sent home before the Walker legal saga has played itself out. But no one is talking about that inconvenient fact.

Hypocrisy and deceit. Capt. Willard would recognize it well.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/2628044.htm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27799-2002Feb5.html

Sam MacDonald examines anti-terror rhetoric, the new language of gun cone Argentine economic collapse.
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1. Terminate with Extreme Prejudice

Martin Sheen's character in Apocalypse Now–CIA hit man Capt. Willard–has just enough moral sense dangling from his frayed nerves to sniff out the hypocrisy and deceit at the core of his Vietnam experience.

His government has dispatched him to kill the renegade Col. Kurtz, ostensibly because Kurtz murdered South Vietnamese officials. Willard observes that "charging a man with murder in Vietnam was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500."

The comparison likely escapes the Bush Justice Department, which is perfectly willing to lock up the "American Taliban," John Walker Lindh, for the crime of bringing a gun to a war.

Among the charges Walker faces are federal weapons violations similar to those often seen in indictments of armed robbers. These counts help push the possible penalty to three life sentences plus 90 years–life in prison without the possibility of parole.

It is standard procedure for prosecutors to come up with the biggest possible sentence in charging documents, the better to compel a plea agreement of some sort. And it just so happens that the feds' case in a trial could be hurt by the lack of any hard record of Walker's supposed confession. Looks like the feds really need a plea.

So it may turn out that in the Walker case, as in thousand of cases far from the limelight, big federal firearm penalties will help send someone to prison despite shoddy police work. This does not make for a safer society.

An effective criminal justice system turns on the certitude of appropriate punishment. Locking up small fry for terms equal to or greater than those received by the worst offenders means that when parole time rolls around the real bad guys are right there at the front of the line.

By any rational definition, Walker is small fry indeed. If his deeds merit spending the rest of his life in prison, then the gallows should go up at Camp X-Ray any minute now. That will never happen because of the international uproar that would ensue, not because anyone at the Justice Department has a problem with it.

In fact, it is pretty safe bet that many detainees in Cuba will be sent home before the Walker legal saga has played itself out. But no one is talking about that inconvenient fact.

Hypocrisy and deceit. Capt. Willard would recognize it well.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/2628044.htm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27799-2002Feb5.html

Sam MacDonald examines anti-terror rhetoric, the new language of gun control, at https://www.reason.com/0203/co.sm.gun.shtml


2. Review and Comment

For once a state attorney general is suing a software company and it isn't Microsoft. And for once the lawmen kind of understand what is at stake, although the big picture seems to escape them.

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer says Network Associates forces users of its McAfee products to sign away their First Amendment rights. Spitzer cites a "censorship clause" in McAfee's license agreement.

The clause says customers cannot publish product reviews or results of benchmark tests without permission from the company. Such restrictive covenants are illegal, the state says.

The state goes on to argue that publishing reviews are clearly protected fair uses of copyrighted material. Here is where Spitzer might be snoozing.

Fair use has been under widespread legal attack since at least 1995. Even then it was possible to discern that as copyright protections expanded in the digital age they would bump up against the First Amendment, as when a rights holder claimed that accurate information diminished the value of a protected product.

Now it is common to hear big media reps say fair use is incompatible with the digital age, and recent legislation nods in that direction. And so it is that Network Associates believes its software license gives it the right to restrict users' speech.

"As far as their First Amendment argument…the First Amendment applies against government actions," said Kent Roberts, executive vice president and general counsel for Network Associates. "In the software world, you define in your license the end user's right of use. It's perfectly appropriate to say, 'In the context of a review, come talk to us.' "

Imagine if books and movies worked that way.

http://news.com.com/2100-1023-832221.html

For the text of the complaint, see http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2002/feb/petition.pdf.


3. Stream World

From the rough justice file comes word that a Taiwanese Web site has hundreds of videos on demand for $1 each. Hollywood studios are still tied up in knots over how to offer Web video and still adhere to their copyright paranoia. The answer appears to be that they can't.

Industry lawyers are threatening Movie88.com, but the site insists it is complying with all local copyright laws. Their defense appears to hinge on the notion that streamed video is just a rental.

If its past behavior is any indication, Hollywood will sue the site in a Los Angeles court, lean on the site's bandwidth provider, and lobby to have local laws changed to outlaw the offending practice.

This may have the desired effect, but meanwhile potential streaming revenue remains untapped. Why not try a $2-a-movie legit streaming site? Compete with the pirates and make them go away.

That has to be cheaper than endless reruns of Around the World in 80 Jurisdictions.

http://news.com.com/2100-1023-831383.html


4. Quick Hits

Quote of the Week

"The supervisors are taking a proactive approach to protect the health, safety, and morals of the community," said Numidia Township, Pennsylvania, lawyer Todd Kerstetter, referring to a unanimously passed ordinance that prohibits erections in public. The new law bans "the showing of covered male genitals in a discernible turgid state."

http://www.pressenterpriseonline.com/cgi-bin/liveique.acgi$rec=17009?frontpage3

Ground Zero Syndrome

Lead, PCBs, and asbestos are the troika that spooks anyone near the World Trade Center site or its debris. Illnesses blamed on the pollutants are on the rise, and the politicians are demanding "answers." Uh-oh.

http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20020207/3835447s.htm

New World Order

A crazy Frenchman forces a plane to land in Cleveland after he refuses to put out his cigarette.

http://www.nandotimes.com/nation/story/244962p-2322345c.html


5. New at Reason Online

Runaway Train
Amtrak's oversight makes one long for unaccountable corporations. Michael Lynch

Terror Tactic
The government blames drug users for the violence created by its disastrous policies. Jacob Sullum

Clouds in the Climate Models
Do the tropics hold the secret to a cooler world? Ronald Bailey

Bill of Benevolence
Maybe the U.S. should apply its "non-negotiable demands" to Israel and Arafat. Michael Young

and much more.


6. From the Print Edition

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