Monday, March 29, 2004

People often ask me, why would cops lie? Why should we believe that the government is so corrput so as to put people in jail without cause? Why are you a public defender, not a prosecutor?

The last year or so in this country has made so many of these questions easier to answer.

Why to police and government officials lie? Because they can, just look at the head of our government. They can lie with impunity and get away with it. When screwing over our country by sending us to war unnecessarily By the way, before calling me a weak-knee liberal, I supported the war, because I thought that Hussein's possession of WMD was a real enough threat to go to war over. I never considered that it was controversial that he had them or not, because my government lied. I remember clearly an argument I had with a co-worker where he asked "why do you trust the government on this?" I answered that I couldn't imagine that they would ever lie about something as severe as this, and that the threat must really be there if they are willing to take us into a war. Look how wrong I was.

This is why I don't trust the government, any more than I trust some big corporation to do the right thing by fixing up their gas tanks that they know are defective and will explode upon rear impact, killing the people inside, even though it may cost more than the cost of a bunch of subsequent lawsuits over that issue. But no, just like Ford never fixed the Pinto, knowing that it was defective, I don't trust that the government will go out of it's way to tell us the truth.

There is a fascinating anecdote from the Cuban Missile Crisis. The US ambassador to France had gone to see the French President and was explaining the situation with the Soviets bringing missiles to Cuba. He went through the whole case, and finally, at the end, pulled out a batch of photos to show the president as proof of what he was saying. The French president said he didn't need to see the photos, if the US insisted that the missiles were there, their word was enough to convince the French leaders. Imagine such a situation today. Is there a country in the world who would take George W. Bush at his word if he said something like that? This, of course, is why we are less safe than we were before going into Iraq.

And the reason I'm a public defender rather than a prosecutor, I could never be the "good soldier" and do what government asks me to do, swallowing my convictions. Sure, I have to represent some scumbags, but I'm not forced to do anything unethical or even immoral. I do what is required of me by the Constitution, but I do not subvert it. I take pride in protecting the little person against the government. Just look at the number of people arrested and put into something of an American Gulag since 9/11, disappeared without a trace, unable to go to court to challenge their detention, unable to see their family, no prospects of when to get out, all because of a prior association, or for not having paper work filled out exactly right. All without the right of an appeal. I'm proud to represent those little guys against our all-powerful, and increasingly abusive, government.