• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683. Note: This annoying box will disappear once we reach our fund drive goal. Thank you for your support!


Extreme Justice in America


Extreme justice is extreme injustice.

— Legal maxim cited by Cicero in De Officiis 

The August 12, 2013 verdict against Whitey Bulger offered some reassurance that the legal system in the United States does not always produce wrong results.   That counteracted the impression left by (a) the August 12, 2013 findings of the New York federal judge that New York city’s widely touted “stop and frisk” law violates the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure and the guarantee of equal protection and (b) three pieces in the August 11, 2013 New York Times.

With respect to Mr. Bulger, on August 12 a Boston jury found that Whitey Bulger was guilty of, among other things, murdering 11 people. Of course the trial also showed that Mr. Bulger had corrupt minders in the FBI who were upholding the criminal conduct of one of their charges rather than upholding the law.  Nonetheless, good news must be taken where it can be found.

Disheartening news was offered by the three pieces in the New York Times.  The first, by Nicholas Kristof, captioned “Help Thy Neighbor and Go Straight to Prison,” shows what damage a mindless, but powerful U.S. attorney can do in the name of making sure his singular idea of justice is done.  Many years ago Edward Young was convicted of several burglaries, none of which involved the use of any weapons.  When he was released in 1996 he turned his life around, got married, had four children and got a good job until physical problems forced him to quit working and become a stay at home dad for his four children.  Then a neighbor died and with his death Mr. Young’s problems were born.  The neighbor’s wife asked Mr. Young to help him dispose of her husband’s personal stuff.  He helped her clean out, sell and otherwise dispose of her husband’s belongings.  Among items Mr. Young cleaned out but neglected to sell were seven shotgun shells that he put aside so his children wouldn’t find them.  Sometime later he became a suspect in a burglary case and his home was searched and the shells were discovered.  Mr. Young was prosecuted under a federal law that bars ex-felons from possessing guns or ammunition and is accompanied by a mandatory 15-year prison sentence.  When Mr. Kristof asked the prosecuting U.S. attorney, William Killian, why he’d want to put Mr. Young behind bars for 15 years Mr. Killian had what Mr. Killian thought was a perfectly good explanation.  He was quoted by Mr. Kristof as saying that:  “The case raised serious public safety concerns.”   Mr. Killian knows something the rest of us don’t or, maybe he doesn’t know anything.  The latter is more probable than the former.

The next piece was by Frank Bruni entitled “Fatal Mercies.” Barbara Mancini’s father, Joseph Yourshaw, aged 93, was receiving hospice care and wanted his life to end. He asked his daughter to give him the bottle containing his painkiller medicine which she did.  He drank its contents and died.  Barbara has been charged in Pennsylvania with a violation of the Pennsylvania criminal law dealing with “Causing or Aiding Suicide,” a felony punishable by 10 years in prison.  Mr. Bruni says that in his investigation of the events he can find no evidence that Barbara did anything more than hand her father the bottle.

The last piece by John Grisham  entitled “After Guantanamo, Another Injustice” takes us back to Guantanamo, a place we have visited before, to examine the inhumane practices engaged in by the administration for reasons that are best known to the administration since no one else seems able to explain them.  In Mr. Grisham’s piece he describes the treatment accorded Nabil Hadjarab, an Algerian man who grew up in France.  Mr. Grisham describes the circumstances leading to his arrest in Afghanistan.  None of what Mr. Grisham describes suggests that Mr. Hadjarab’s arrest was warranted or justified the treatment to which he was subsequently subjected.  That treatment included being placed in an underground prison and tortured, being forced to sleep in bitter cold on cement floor without any covers, etc.  When he finally got to Guantanamo his abusive treatment continued. In the 11 years he has been at Guantanamo Mr.Hadjarab “has been subject to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, temperature extremes, prolonged isolation, lack of access to sunlight, almost no recreation and limited medical care.”  He has never been charged with any terrorist activity.

In 2007 a review board recommended he be released.  He was not.  In 2009 another review board recommended he be transferred.  He was not.  He joined other prisoners in a hunger strike that resulted in his being force-fed, a form of torture that the administration believes is preferable to having prisoners starve to death while in U.S. custody, an outcome that would reflect badly on the country’s well-known humanitarian instincts.

Mr. Grisham fears that Mr. Hadjarab may now be transferred to Algeria where he has no contacts, rather than to France where he grew up and has family.  Only time will tell whether his fears are justified.  What we don’t need time to learn is that enforcement of laws in the hands of the wrong people produce results as bad as the results authorities hope to prevent.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

Christopher Brauchli is an attorney in Boulder, Colorado.

October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Omar Kassem
Do You Want to See Turkey Falling Apart as Well?
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook is Listening to You
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria