Rush to Judgment on Terror Trials

It wasn’t unusual that Rush Limbaugh went ballistic on his show, Nov. 13. He does that several times a day.

It wasn’t unusual that he mixed a few facts with opinion and outright lies in his three-hour daily show. Fact checking for the man who calls himself “America’s Truth Detector” is as rare as union organizers working for Walmart.

What is unusual is that Rush Limbaugh, whose web site shows a picture of him carrying a large gold-fringed American flag on a six-foot staff, spoke out against the Constitution of the United States.

Because logic and reason avoids his black-clad bouncy body, he may not have even known he was attacking the history of the United States and its Constitution. But on this Friday the 13th, the forces of evil spewed forth from his unfettered microphone mouth.

The United States had announced it was removing five persons accused of plotting the 9/11 terror from Guantanamo Bay and putting them into the federal judiciary system. Attorney General Eric Holder, at a press conference in Washington, D.C., had announced, “After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September the 11th will finally face justice.  . . .  I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants a fair trial just as they have for over 200 years [before] an impartial jury under long established rules and procedures.” He announced that the Department of Justice would “prosecute these cases vigorously,” and would seek the death penalty in each case.  President Obama had said earlier that day he was “absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheik Mohammad [the alleged mastermind behind 9/11, and the other defendants] will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice. The American people insist on it, my administration will insist on it.”

Limbaugh called the decision a “disgusting travesty perpetuated here by Barack Obama.” That was just the beginning of his rant. Over the next few minutes, Limbaugh said the decision to bring terrorists to trial was solely “to satisfy the rabid, radical, far left that hates this country; that hates George W. Bush; that hates the U.S. military.”

Limbaugh opposed the use of lawyers; several times he branded them as leftist and Marxist. Although he came from a family of lawyers, he disregarded Constitutional guarantees that require even the most heinous of criminals to be assured their rights, including the right to be represented by an attorney. While erroneously claiming that terrorists have no rights, Limbaugh also objected to providing the defendants “fairness,” because in what he called the “new America,” fairness is something created by “a bunch of radical leftists.” He claimed that the defendants didn’t even deserve lawyers because, in the world of Rush Fairytale Logic, the lawyers would use the courts to attack the United States.

He attacked the federal judiciary, claiming, “There are a bunch of radical leftists on our federal bench,” all of whom apparently, if you believed the Mouth That Roared, are governed by such mundane and useless rules like—well—the Constitution of the United States. What Limbaugh didn’t say, possibly because the facts didn’t agree with his own distorted version of reality, is that there are more conservative judges than liberal judges in the federal judiciary. About one-third of all federal judges were appointed by George W. Bush, with a majority of all judges appointed by Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes. Limbaugh, in his deliberate distortion of facts also didn’t point out that 62 percent of all appeals court judges were appointed by Republican presidents, and that conservatives are the majority on 10 of the 13 appeals courts. He also failed to point out that six of the nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents. The Republican-dominated federal courts have cut down several unconstitutional provisions of the PATRIOT Act; the Republican-dominated Supreme Court has twice rebuked the Bush–Cheney Administration for procedures that are blatantly unconstitutional. In one major decision, conservative Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, speaking for the majority, ruled, “Any process in which the Executive’s factual assertions go wholly unchallenged or are simply presumed correct without any opportunity for the alleged combatant to demonstrate otherwise falls constitutionally short . . . [T]he constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties . . . remain vibrant even in times of security concerns.”

Like most conservative radio hosts and their teabag party followers, Limbaugh several times had blasted the Department of Justice for even thinking about bringing the terrorists onto the mainland, claiming the men were so evil that they would endanger all Americans. Unsaid by the talking mouths and empty heads was that the Department of Justice successfully prosecuted numerous gangsters, serial killers, and terrorists, and then successfully imprisoned them without danger to civilians.

For emphasis about how he thought a trial for the 9/11 terrorists would be unfair, Limbaugh threw veiled anti-Semitic attacks upon a possible jury pool. “Before it’s all said and done you’re going to find some whack nut jobs on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that are going to be on this jury,” said Limbaugh. The Upper West Side is largely identified as a community that was settled by refugee Jews, and which still has a significant percent of Jews.

Several times, Limbaugh stated that since the defendants had already “confessed,” the need for a trial was not necessary, and would only embarrass the U.S., placating those “leftists,” and exposing the entirety of the American intelligence community. This, said Limbaugh, is the “hidden agenda” of the Obama Administration. “They want the United States on trial,” Limbaugh cried out. Disregarding the absurdity of his own remarks, Limbaugh never acknowledged that the “confessions” were made only after severe torture. Bringing criminals, who have been subject to torture, to trial, who have confessed, said Limbaugh “is yet another internal assault on the fabric, the traditions, the institutions that have made this country great,” he told his equally rabid listeners.

Having attacked the President, the Attorney General, lawyers, judges, the Department of Justice, and Jews, Limbaugh put Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) into his cross-hairs. Sestak, said Limbaugh, is “a dangerous left-wing radical ideologue.” What drew Limbaugh’s rage was that Sestak not only supported the prosecution of the 9/11 terrorists in federal court, but that on Fox News, he argued that “Most studies have shown that [torture] does not give you evidence as readily or as credible as other means.” Persons who are tortured, said Sestak, raising concerns about the legitimacy of the terrorists’ “confessions,” will often confess to anything in order to stop the torture.

What Limbaugh didn’t tell his audience was that Sestak was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a retired vice-admiral who had led a carrier battle group, and was the first director of the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit after 9/11. Sestak’s views are the same as John McCain’s, also a Naval Academy graduate who had led an air squadron. Listeners could now choose between two war heroes, one of whom had suffered torture as a prisoner of war, and a college drop-out who, said his mother, flunked almost all of his classes in his only year in college, was declared 4-F in the draft, and now hails on 600 radio stations as the mouthpiece for the right-wing fringe.

“We are in the process of destroying American ideals; we are in the process of subordinating America’s greatness, America’s exceptionalism,” Rush Limbaugh wailed.

The reality is that flag-waving fact-impaired Rush Limbaugh has no idea what American ideals are, nor does he have respect for the legal history of the United States or the power of the Constitution.

WALTER BRASCH is author of 17 books, a syndicated columnist, and professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University and recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com




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Walter Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an analysis of the history, economics, and politics of fracking, as well as its environmental and health effects.

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