June 21, 2003, 9:53 PM EDT
On Friday, I rode across the Brooklyn Bridge, whose gray netting went with the sky, and as long as there was tension about the bridge, I was remembering Richard Seaberg, a big cop from Emergency One, who climbed to the top of the bridge so many times and pulled somebody down before he jumped. Seaberg protected the Brooklyn Bridge.
Now there is a charge by the government that terrorists intended to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, or pull it down. Simultaneously, while protecting the bridge, the government was doing frightening damage to the life of the country.
Because of it, I am thinking that it could be time for me to begin thinking about leaving this news business. It is not mine anymore. Let me tell you why. Friday, the newspapers and television reported the following matter with no anger or effort to do anything other than serve as stenographers for the government:
On March 1, give or take a day, in Columbus, Ohio, the FBI arrested an American citizen they say is Iyman Faris. There wasn't a word uttered. He vanished. No lawyer was notified. He made no phone calls and wrote no postcards or letters. He was a United States citizen who disappeared without a trace into a secret metal world.
This citizen's proper name was Mohammed Rauf. He took the Faris from a street name in his neighborhood in Columbus. I don't know why he did this for sure. A friend of mine in Columbus, Mike Weber, told me Friday that he thought the federal agents wanted him to use Faris because the real name, Rauf, purportedly would alert others that he had been caught. Who knows? You believe the FBI, you belong back in public school.
They held him secretly in an iron world for the next six weeks. This is plenty of time to hand out giant beatings. Oh, yes, don't gasp. If cops are performing a Fascist act, then always suspect them of acting like Fascists. They have fun beating people up.
In mid-April, again in deep secrecy, the government says Faris was allowed to plead guilty to plotting to pull down or blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. He was in a sealed Virginia federal courtroom. If he had a lawyer, that was some lawyer.
After that, he was sentenced. We don't know what the sentence was because it is sealed.
I don't know what Faris looks like or sounds like or what he thinks and what he was doing. He could be the worst. I don't know. Prove he wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge and let him paste a picture of Osama bin Laden on the cell wall for inspiration over the next half a century. But first bring him into open court and try him. Pretend you live in America. Even pick a jury. I don't know. What a thing it would be if he comes up not guilty.
What we do know is that this is your country now.
Once before this, in 1942, we detained Japanese-Americans in secrecy. The nation swore never to do it again. We haven't. This case is out of the old Soviet Union. He was neither booked with television watching nor arraigned in front of a judge. Anybody concealed by government agents and guards for more than three months could have marks on him somewhere. And our newspeople write like the worst of the old Pravda. I read in papers from everywhere yesterday morning, "After Mr. Faris was secretly arrested three months ago... " and "court papers this week said that Mr. Faris secretly pleaded guilty to charges of terrorism last month." They say. They were simply typed out, as if to report the guy getting a parking ticket. Now, the FBI doesn't even tell you the right name of a kidnapped man and makes the news reporters love it.
Why would the government say he is a terrorist if he isn't guilty?
The only thing that could possibly bother anybody is the thought of somebody reading this 50 years from now and saying, "Look at that. This is where they blew a couple of amendments."
This government's kidnapping of Faris/Rauf violated the laws handed down by Madison, Jefferson, Marshall. A small religious zealot, John Ashcroft, takes their great laws and bravery and using our new Patriot Act, turns it into Fascism.
He could do this openly because news reporters go about the government like gardeners, bent over, smiling and nodding when one of the owners shows up. You only have to look at a White House news conference to see how they aggressively pursue your right to know.
The newspeople stand when the president comes into the room. They really do. They don't sit until he tells them to. You tell them a lie and they say, "Sir."
And now you have a citizen kidnapped by agents and there is no anger. The day's news is about a children's book, and a has-been heavyweight, Mike Tyson, under arrest in a Brooklyn precinct at the foot of the bridge. Newspeople like to be called "journalists" and write of "the need to protect sources." They don't have any. Here's a guy held for three months and nobody even got a phone call.
The newest attribution in today's news reporting is, "senior law enforcement official." That is news report for a cop. Newspeople can speak French all over the place but I know of only two reporters in New York who can speak Arabic, and one of them is in the Middle East now and is of no help. That means you can't even quote somebody and attribute it to a "senior Arab."
There is not even the beginnings of anger about an American kidnapped by his government, over freedom being taken from us all, and bet me you won't see it back. The newspeople are comfortable with being known as the "media." That is a dangerous word; all evil rises around those afflicted with it.
Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.
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