Friday, August 12, 2011

You Always Hurt the One You Love

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Pogo cartoonist Walt Kelly

I don’t know if others are picking up on this story, but the government’s efforts to defend everyone and everything but Americans continue.

Recall that we recently learned that Brian Terry—the Border Agent murdered in December—was killed by guns linked to the botched Operation Fast & Furious, which allowed a huge cache of guns to be transferred illegally to a Mexican drug cartel.  As reported yesterday at, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona has opposed a motion by the Terry family to qualify as “crime victims” in the case against Jamie Avila, the man accused of purchasing those guns.  Under the Crime Victims Rights Act, the family of a deceased victim has the right to participate in legal proceedings by communicating with prosecutors, receiving information, and being heard by the court.  Such motions are routine, and government opposition is rare.  And yet, there’s the federal government telling the Terry family no.

I seem to recall something about one of the fundamental purposes of the federal government being to protect us from foreign and domestic threats:

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to . . . establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence . . . and secure the Blessings of Liberty . . .

Yet at every turn, we see this government falling all over itself to defend and confer rights upon the criminal and foreign, while attacking and criminalizing the citizenry.

How did we get this ass-backward?

Consider the Terry case in the context of some of the other things we’ve seen from Washington in recent years:

·         Actively suing Arizona to stop it from taking steps to enforce the federal government’s own border protection laws that the government isn’t enforcing itself;

·         Conferring U.S. criminal defense rights, including Miranda warnings, free defense counsel, and U.S. criminal trials upon combat prisoners who aren’t citizens, and who in many cases have never even set foot in the U.S.;

·         Providing military support to defend rebels in Libya, while refusing to prosecute Voting Rights Act violations here;

·         Molesting old ladies and children at airports, while refusing to engage in any effort to apply what is undeniably known to identify likely actual terror threats.

This government spends more time and effort investigating steroids in baseball and collusion in college football than it does actually standing up for its own citizens on their own home turf. 

It’s more than passing strange that the U.S. Attorney’s office now refusing to permit the Terry family to participate as crime victims is the very same one that led the botched Operation Fast & Furious in the first place.  That operation is under heavy scrutiny, and is likely to have considerable light shone on it in the Avila case. 

To be fair, the U.S. Attorney’s office may be technically correct on the law.  The Crime Victims Rights Act only applies to a victim or a deceased victim’s family that have been directly and proximately harmed by the violation at issue.  Avila isn’t being prosecuted for Terry’s murder, he’s being prosecuted for illegally dealing in the guns.  While those guns were used to kill Terry, the illegal sale and transportation of those guns isn’t a direct cause of his death; his murderers would in all likelihood have had other guns even if the illegal trade never took place.

But that’s missing the point.  There is a difference between what the U.S. Attorney’s office can do, and what it should do.  That it may have a technically valid objection ignores the fact that the Terry family’s motion is one that is almost invariably unopposed.  It's a simple matter of respect and helping bring a sense of closure to crime victims and their families.  Which begs the question: Why is it being opposed here?

The only conceivable reason is CYA.  This is not just a matter of embarrassment for the U.S. Attorney, but there is a real prospect of civil liability for the government and those involved should the Terry family pursue a wrongful death action.  Allowing them to participate in the Avila case under the Crime Victims Rights Act might give them access to information that could brighten the spotlight on the bungling of Operation Fast & Furious, and possibly fuel their case against the government.

And there’s the rub.  Recall the Obama Administration’s zeal to keep a “boot on the neck” of BP and others to hold them responsible and accountable for correcting damage caused by the Deep Water Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico.  Well, where is that same sense of responsibility here?  The decision to oppose the Terry family’s crime victim motion can only be understood as signaling that the government will take whatever measures it can to avoid responsibility and accountability for Terry’s death. 

Once again, the government is choosing sides, and it’s never with the American Citizen.

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