SIX MONTHS SUSPENSION WITHOUT PAY for leaving anti-Muslim graffiti in the house of a suspect. Is that enough punishment for this Secret Service agent? It's nontrivial, but is it enough to get the message across?
UPDATE: In the comments, Brian Erst notes that the agent's name is still being kept secret. But why? Initially, it might have been because of doubt about his guilt, but that's over now.
If I were a criminal defense lawyer in a case involving the Secret Service, I'd ask if any of the agents involved in my case was the one who had done this. Every time. Because an agent who'd leave this sort of thing in a suspect's home might plant evidence, too.
posted at 01:23 PM by Glenn Reynolds
One of the biggest stumblingblocks a person encounters when they begin to develop an ability to discern the truth and see the light is the trap of getting angry at evil. Islam is indeed evil. It is not a religion like Buddhism or Hinduism or Taoism. It is a religion that is specificly set up on the foundation of the Old and New Testaments, yet it denies the truths of the Old and New Testaments. To a Christian with discernment Islam is a religion that has been set up in rebellion to the Living God. That is OK. Faith is worthless if it's not freely chosen and the correct approach is to respect all beliefs and understand that a free environment for people to make their own progress and choice is the ideal. This individual, though, fell on the common stumblingblock of becoming righteously angry or indignant towards what he discerns as evil. This is always a victory for evil. (Questions of self-defense regarding religious beliefs and respect for all religious beliefs are a different subject.)
Posted by: ct at August 10, 2002 01:32 PM
Six months suspension without pay for this agent equals a fine of $40,000. Pretty stiff. I think it gets the message across quite clearly.
Look, Islam itself is not evil. Saying that it is, constitutes a convenient way to avoid the real issue that is involved--the issue that Islam has been perverted by a number of suicide fanatics and anti-Semites. There are plenty of Muslims who are appalled and disgusted at what has happened to their religion, and the way that it has been twisted to suit the political needs of a group of extremists. Many of those Muslims serve quite honorably on our armed forces. Calling the religion itself "evil" misses the point. It is the perversion of Islam that we should condemn. And the perversion should not be recognized as the true nature of the religion.
Now, maybe it's because the Secret Service is supposed to be "secret", but how exactly does a reporter manage to write a story about the six-month suspension of an agent, name the prosecutor in the case, name the victim (plus several paragraphs about his alleged crimes) but not name the freakin' agent?!
I realize "the name has not been released", but are these guys the Praetorian Guard or something? Why was the name not released? Afraid someone might actually follow-up to determine if the punishment is actually served? I seems to recall reading the name of agents who were actually on the president's detail (as opposed to whatever group raids check-kiter's houses), so why the hush-hush?
When someone goofs up this badly, you fire him and let the prosecution proceed in public. Notice how Mr. Shishani, who has not yet confessed or been convicted of a crime, has his name and face plastered all over, but the agent who has confessed and "punished" gets to keep his privacy.
Our government at work - huzzah!
Posted by: Brian Erst at August 10, 2002 02:07 PM
I agree. The agent's name should be made public.
If I left a note full of religious ravings in a law enforcement officer's home, and got caught, you can bet that my name would be all over the papers.
Character is revealed by what you do when you have power. Not by what you say when you are currently in a state of no power. In the Muslim world the Saudis currently have some power. What have they done, what are they doing with that power? Only war has kept Islam from acting out its inherent drive and character throughout history (and for what is inherent in Islam check their holy book and the pages of history, not to mention current headlines from any Muslim dominated country or region around the world). This is all a debate for idiots. Islam is a religion of worship of a false idol, a 7th century Meccan moon god. It's a religion that leads its adherents into resentment and ignorance and oppression and their lands into various states of being God-forsaken. I said to a discerning Christian it's obvious what Islam is. Obviously to a non-Christian or a non-discerning Christian Islam is going to be whatever its adherents tell you it is.
Posted by: ct at August 10, 2002 02:19 PM
Islam is a militaristic ideology that divides the human race into two categories: believers and infidels. It enjoins its followers to destroy infidels. Read the Koran. If a Muslim Secret Service agent (God, I hope there aren't any, but there probably are) had written, "Christianity is evil. Allah is King," do you think he would have had his career derailed? The punishment of this agent shows the moral blindness that has taken hold in this country. It is incorrect to say that Islam is not evil because there are many good Muslims. It is correct to say that there are many good Muslims in spite of the fact that Islam is evil. Islam is a powerful engine of hatred, intolerance, and heinous acts of terrorism. Only moral idiots would deny the obvious. We live in a country that more and more calls good evil, and evil good. The agent in question made the political error of voicing his outrage against evil. He is being punished for showing moral discernment. What a great country we live in.
Posted by: Leonard Martinez at August 10, 2002 02:25 PM
Oh, dear Instapundit, don't be such an hyperethical sissy. What this country needs is more anti-Islam graffiti. I mean, what the fug are they doing here if they hate us so much? Let them go back where they came from and live happy lives mumbling about spilling the blood of infidels, with their butts in the air five times a day. Are they entitled to their own country and culture? Yes. Are we all-despisťd Americans entitled to our own country and culture? Apparently not.
Posted by: Louis J. Zurr at August 10, 2002 02:44 PM
Take a deep breath already. You're insisting that there is something "special" about Islam (believer vs infidel) that ain't that special.
The Hebrew Scriptures (aka Old Testament) foundation of Judaism is full of us-vs-them bloodlust. According to that scripture, the Hebrews slaughtered men, women, children and even the CATTLE of the pre-existing inhabitants of "their" Promised Land, at YHWH's insistence. When they occassionally balked at His orders, he smote the Hebrews for insolence.
Hundreds of years later (and after numerous shellackings from their neighboring empires), they mellowed out, reinterpreted much of their scripture, added commentary, new context and tradition and became pretty nice folks. These Jews (like the Essenes and such) were the founders of Christianity, and brought a fairly mellow vibe, but even they (look at Revelation and several bits of the NT) had the occassional bit of euphoric rhapsodizing about the day when God would kill all the unbelievers.
Hindus, Shintoists, Taoists - all of them have their blood-thirsty scripture, but most of them have toned it down after bumping into folks that didn't believe and couldn't be slaughtered (or who slaughtered them).
Islam has a similar tradition of interpretation and tradition (the hadith) that has been used through the centuries to moderate its teachings. Unfortunately, right now we have a group (the Wahhabs) that are successfully proselytizing their hadith and tradition (which is a very polarizing and militant tradition), but smack them down hard enough and the other, more moderate forms will suddenly become more inviting.
Nothing tames a religion like losing a big war.
Posted by: Brian Erst at August 10, 2002 02:52 PM
B.E. - Your ignorance of history and of the Bible is profound (that's a very common place to be though, you have alot of company where you are).
And your argument that we are all, afterall, the same is both untrue and very tiresome at this point.
Posted by: ct at August 10, 2002 03:13 PM
Um, I had actually meant for this comment thread to be about the discipline of Secret Service agents, rather than the merits of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc.
when you work for the government... you can't just go around imposing whatever kind of sentence you want for punishment.. you have to follow your written policies. if you don't, you will have a lawsuit on your hands. 6 months may be the mandatory guidlines for this kind of infraction.
And what's with the ski masks? I noticed everytime Clinton helicoptered into downtown Little Rock the roof of nearest, tallest building was occupied by either ineffectual ninjas stalking Clinton -or- Secret Service agents in black with ski masks on. Why are they hiding their faces?
Posted by: Dan Harris at August 10, 2002 04:18 PM
Glenn - after reading the dogmatic ranting of ct and others, I now understnad why you don't regularly have commenting on the site. But on to more important matters:
The sentence handed down to the Secret Service Agent, while severe in normal terms, was not strong enough in this case, for the following reason:
Secret Service Agents have an undeniably important job to do, and the job requires certain skills, foremost of these is the ability to profile those around them. When agent enter a building to sweep for threats, they must be able to assess the probably threat of a person in a split second. Spotting strange behavior, or suspicious eye movements in a suspect are part of the job. To put it simply, a Secret Service agent has to be really, really good at assessing complete strangers quickly.
What this agent did was not just detestable, but it spoke to his ability to do his job. Racism of the kind that the graffiti demonstrated is indicative of a complete world view: the Agent obviously thinks that Muslims are evil, or he would not have said so. Regardless of what you may think about the reletive merits of the Islamic religion, you must admit that scrawling racist remarks on a personís wall indicates a prejudiced mindset. As I said, a Secret Service Agent must be able to accurately assess complete strangers very quickly, and very accurately. Doing this requires finely honed instincts, good intuition, and good understanding of human behavior. This agent has demonstrated that all these abilities are seriously lacking. In crowd situations, he may be more likely to target Muslim or Muslim looking suspects for his attention, not because of their relative threat to his primary (re: the person he is protecting) but because of his preconceived ideas of Muslims as being inherently evil.
The agent must be fired, not so much because of the severity of his infraction, but because the infraction demonstrates his inability to carry out his critical duties.
I agree with ct in general. And Brian, I mean no insult to you: I myself am ignorant in many more areas than I would like. Farthermore, I would even help your argument by pointing to some behaviors by Christians, such as the Inquisition and the Crusades. Also, for the record, I am Jewish. However, let us assume that you are right. Let us have the big war, and let them loose it. And let us see what happens next. We have no other choice anyway.
Posted by: Alisa at August 10, 2002 04:31 PM
Glenn: sorry, guilty as charged. Back to the original subject.
Sean, there was no one in the house at the time of the search, as far as I know. Who was he supposed to assess? I do no concider the graffiti as reported to be racist. Islam is not a race, it is a religion. I happen to think it is evil, so does the agent in question. However, he certainly chose the wrong place and time to express his views, to say the least. As far as his punishment, I have no idea if it is severe enough - probably not. I also think his name should have been published, after his guilt was established, if only for a fact that he acted like a coward in the first place. On second thought, I wonder if secret agents are allowed to express their political/religious opinions in public.
Posted by: Alisa at August 10, 2002 04:49 PM
Point one: All crimes are, in essence, crimes against property, or against life if one accepts the Lockean precept that one's self, one's life, is one's property. There is no fundamental difference. This is a crime against property and for the scope of this crime and the cost of repair, which should be borne by the agent involved as restitution, a six-month suspension seems excessive. But...
Point two: It is the primary, some would say sole, obligation of government to protect rights and property, which, again, amount to the same thing. In this case, not only is there property damage, but it is caused by an agent of that same government whose job it is to prevent such. Holding those in the public trust to a higher standard is not an unreasonable response.
Posted by: Joseph Bommarito at August 10, 2002 04:56 PM
While what the agent did was unquestionably wrong, I can't imagine anyone other than CAIR and like-minded propagandists believe it ranks very highly at all on the relative scale of evils. Who among us hasn't wanted to to lash out, even if it is in a bigoted, wrong-headed fashion? I agree with Leonard above that there is a massive moral blindness in this country, largely derived of the delusion that the people we're fighting against abide by the same moral code we do. They don't. We are protecting the wrong side. A Muslim secret service agent who scrawled anti-Christian or anti-Semetic graffiti on a wall would not have received as serious a punishment. And if he had, CAIR would be up in arms.
Well, I'm kinda disappointed in this thread. Here are some observations:
1. There are, in fact, Arab-Muslim terrorists who want to kill lots of Americans.
2. Most American Arabs/Muslims don't share that goal. (If I'm wrong about this, we're into a whole different discussion).
3. These American Arab/Muslims are an important asset in the war against the crazed Wahabbists who want to kill us as they provide a key group of translators, informants, etc.
4. It's probably a bad idea to piss them off by having Secret Service agents who clearly regard them all as servants of the AntiChrist or some such.
Then, on top of that, is the notion that we can't have law-enforcement people taking advantage of their access to people's homes to leave hate mail.
The whole thing is a disgrace, and as far as I'm concerned this Secret Service agent is (1) unsuited for duty; and (2) undeserving of the anonymity he's enjoying. The rest of us wouldn't get that kind of protection.
"Um, I had actually meant for this comment thread to be about the discipline of Secret Service agents, rather than the merits of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc."
Glenn is from a place called 'academia'. They don't like hearing things that clash with things they like hearing.
How about those penalties handed out to all the government employees responsible for the Waco and Ruby Ridge operations? Considering the extent of Glenn's indignation over this current case it's really hard to imagine what he was going through back then. Or is it? (Something tells me Glenn was probably washing his car or something...)
Posted by: ct at August 10, 2002 05:51 PM
Wow. Trolls at InstaPundit. It really does happen to the best of us.
If "ct" had even the tiniest little inkling of what he's talking about, he wouldn't be talking.
I'd like to think you're right abour point (2) above, and a truly hope you are, but more and more it seems that this is not the case. From British Muslim leader Omar Bakri, via MEMRI:"The life of estrangement will lead... to [a] change in the situation of the country in which we live, as the Muslims changed the situation in Abyssinia and Indonesia. Allah willing, we will transform the West into Dar Al-Islam [that is, a region under Islamic rule] by means of invasion from without. If an Islamic state arises and invades [the West] we will be its army and its soldiers from within. If not, [we will change the West] through ideological invasion from here, without war and killing."These aren't the extremists talking--these are the "moderate" Muslims.
More to the point, the idea that what the agent did was wrong is unquestionable. Should he be punished? Absoultely, but I believe that's for his superiors to decide, as is the question of his anonymity. Will this royally piss off "moderate" Muslim Americans? Yes, but no more so than US policies in the Middle East, or airports for that matter (i.e. it's discrimination when an Arab is searched and random when it's a toddler).
We should not sink to the level of our enemy. But one isolated incident by one individual does not come close to matching the decades of anti-American, anti-Semetic hate speech throughout Arab countries and from Muslims living in the West. You could just as soon equate the collateral damage from Israel's targeted killing in Gaza to the hundreds of Israeli civilians killed.
Just because democratic countries are held to a higher standard than kleptocracies and theocracies doesn't mean we will never make mistakes.
Glenn - Sorry about the previous off-topic response. >sound of head smacking<
Nick - The agent's actions are stupid and actionable even outside of the present situation. If ANY police officer/federal agent comes into my house and starts writing nasty things about me, my family, my religion, or my choice of music, it's a crime. And most any other officer would have been sanctioned IN PUBLIC - we'd know the name and rank of the officer involved. That we don't know this in this case is more evidence that "Homeland Security" is a joke. The LEAST one should expect is security IN YOUR OWN HOME. (This does not mean that the SS shouldn't have searched Mr. Shishani's house, just that they should have done so in as respectful a manner as possible.)
Glenn is absolutely right that we shouldn't be ticking off the greater Muslim community (who can be an invaluable asset), especially for petty, can't-control-yourself reasons.
Posted by: Brian Erst at August 10, 2002 06:36 PM
Like Glenn, I am also very disappointed in this post - a Secret Service agent certainly needs to be held to inordinately high standards, given his significant legal rights and powers. As a public employee of the USA, he is accountable to America as a whole, a country which does hold one of the world's largest, and most peaceful, muslim populations. But with all due respect, it is not Glenn's reason #4 thats at stake here, but very basic ethical and legal implications of a VERY grim misdemeanour on the part of a public servant.
For the record, I am Hindu, and thus care very little for organized religion, or centralized authority. Hence, I am also libertarian (also because I am an economist). The current problem is not Islam. Ordinary Russian citizens were not the problem in the Cold War, neither were ordinary Chinese. Stalin and Mao had a lot more to do with the world's problems. Similarly, people in West Asia are victims of 'evil' authoritarian governments, which, sadly, are actively supported by this 'freedom-loving' country. To paint Islam as the resident evil is to ignore the real problem: that a handful of people can oppress, brainwash, force and nudge ordinary people into unnatural, involuntary beliefs and activities.
As for CT, dude, you are a real piece of work. Not too different from the holy-war quoting radicals on the other side. Take a break - go drink a cup of coffee or something.
Posted by: Radio at August 10, 2002 06:36 PM
It's a fair point. Government law enforcement employees savaged (murdered) men, women, and children who were Christians. Basically nothing happened to them along the lines of criminal prosecution. How indignant was Glenn about that?
Is marking on a Muslim's calendar a greater crime than gassing, shooting and burning alive Christians?
(Call me whatever name you like, Kevin. People named Kevin are usually harmless enough.)
Posted by: ct at August 10, 2002 06:43 PM
Regardless of whether or not the punsishment of 6 months' suspension without pay is an adequate punishment, it is the one that was finally chosen. Since the agent will (presumably) at some point return to his job, I think it is reasonable to say that his name would not be released so as not to compromise him at his future assignment, since secret service assignments often require well, secrecy. While one may argue that that means he should have been fired, I think that the punishment in this case is appropriate.
Posted by: Pete K at August 10, 2002 06:48 PM
Well, getting the thread back to its original purpose, per Glenn's request, I agree that the agent's punishment was rather strong, and entirely appropriate. And chances are that he will continue to be ostracized even after his suspension ends, with his superiors hinting repeatedly that they would very much like for him to leave. I have a friend from law school who is a member of the Secret Service, and he tells me that just about everyone he knows is embarrassed at this episode, since it puts the Service in a bad light, and since it potentially compromises other investigations with the taint that this wayward agent has placed on the Service as a whole.
Alisa, you are right in that what the guy said was not, strictly speaking, racist. Islam is not a race. It was a poor choice of words on my part, but my opinion stands.
The fact that the house was empty when the search was conducted is neither here nor there, because I was not speaking about the specific situation when I questioned his ability to do his job. Indeed, except for a moderate waste of time, scrawling hateful messages on a man's wall does not interfere with the Agents ability to do his job.
What I question is his ability to carry out other aspects of his duties, such as interviewing suspects, monitoring a crowd for suspicious behavior, or any other form of investigation which involves person-to-person contact, particularly contact requiring the agent to judge character and personality.
What we know so far about this agent is this:
1) He believes Islam is evil.
2) He believes Christ is king.
3) He believes both these things strongly enough to write them on a strangers wall.
4) He believes these things strongly enough to break the law, and endanger his job by doing so.
Now, we could say that he simply choose a bad time and place to express his opinion, but his actions say more about him then just that donít they? They say that he is, for lack of a better word, a religious fanatic. He is a fanatic to the extent that he would do something as stupid and ill advised as writing this message on a strangers wall heís conducting a search. He committed a serious offence, for seemingly no good reason but his desire to tell a complete stranger that he thinks that strangers religion to be evil, and his own to be correct.
As far as Iím concerned, his actions prove him to have extremely poor judgment, as well as attitudes towards religion that clearly interfere with his ability do his job. Iíll say it again: he believes Islam is evil, and that everyone who practices Islam is an evil person. If he finds himself needing to choose between two suspects in a crime, one Muslim, one non-Muslim, which would he choose? The individual he firmly and passionately believes to be evil, or the one whom he does not believe to be evil?
Iím not saying a person cannot hold these beliefs, but that man is an agent of the Secret Service Ė charged with protecting the life of the President of the United States, and he is unfit to do the job. He must be fired, and he should be named publicly for what he has done.
When I was a de facto atheist the best thing that ever happened to me was a drunk frat dude writing "Christ Saves" on a flyer I was putting up at a college bulletin board. He was basically saying, "I'm a f***-up, but you are not one." I didn't think of suing him at the time. It didn't convert me at the time. I remember it though, and as trivial as it may seem it played a part in me getting a clue.
How do we know that this Muslim won't have a similar experience. Are you people afraid of words? I'm the one here who's whacked out?
Posted by: ct at August 10, 2002 07:02 PM
The man was clearly unprofessional, and the six months' suspension without pay is only his immediate punishment. His long-term punishment will be to have this incident following him around for the rest of his career, with every supervisor he has wondering about the next little prank he decides to pull which would put the SS (along with said supervisor) into disrepute. I've got a feeling that if he is a GS-11 now, or whatever grade, that is the grade at which he will retire.
It is enough. I am not a member of one of the bullet-catching professions, and I do not presume to judge one who is, without more information. No one knows what good things, brave acts or honorable, that this man has done, which might tend to gentle any urge towards harsh justice.
"4. It's probably a bad idea to piss them off by having Secret Service agents who clearly regard them all as servants of the AntiChrist or some such."
Dr. Reynolds, what percentage of the population do you think ought to be Muslim? 5%? 20? 50? What is your comfort level? Where would you draw a line?
It doesn't matter one way or the other if we "piss them off". Let them be pissed off...as long as they behave themselves. The U.S. has the most generous immigration policy in the world, and a couple of million ingrates dare to be pissed off? I think it would be a good thing if they got pissed off, and showed it. It might get everything out in the open, and we could settle the whole mess. But so far, the Muslims do not seem to have made a habit of doing things out in the open--sort of a problem for an open society, no?
I don't regard Muslims as servants of the Anti-Christ, since nobody would confuse me for any kind of Christian in the first place. But we live in interesting times, and it is my opinion that they are all, fairly or unfairly, on probation, and I don't believe that I am the only one who holds that opinion. I am constantly being told that Islam is a "religion of peace"--and have never once heard a Muslim imam or spokesman point out that Islam actually means "submission". The more I learn about the "religion of peace", about its' effect on everyday lives, the less I like.
A bad idea to piss them off? I love Instapundit, but please, have mercy....
Posted by: Monty James at August 10, 2002 07:04 PM
This case only serves to once again demonstrate that there are multiple versions of the law - one for the sheeple, and one for their "sheperds." Gov't officials, and law enforcement officers in particular, should be held to a higher standard of behavior than civilians, and receive harsher penalties when they break the law, rather than lesser.
They certainly enjoy greater protections - in most jurisdictions, the penalties for shooting a police officer are more severe than for shooting your next door neighbor.
Which leads to my next question - what is the legal support for this principle, and why is it not a violation of the Constitutional equal protection clauses?
Again, nick, monty: why are we pursuing this "guilty till proven innocent" idealogy when dealing with American Muslims? Or Muslims anywhere for that matter? To repeat myself from an earlier post (sorry), that is like saying ordinary Russians, ordinary East Germans, and ordinary Chinese citizens were directly responsible for their governments during the cold war.
Dit make any sense to castigate ordinary Iranians for the actions of their Ayatollah, who rules with an iron hand? Or ordinary Iraqis for Saddam Hussien? SImilarly, ordinary Afghans for the Taliban, or ordinary Pakistanis for the whacko fundamentalist/army combination that runs that country?
The real enemies are the Stalins, Maos, Hitlers, Bin Ladens, Sauds, Saddams. THIS IS THE USA, we are a nation of a different idealogy, we were founded on the rights of the individual, not on involuntary collective responsibility. Government servants humiliating ordinary citizens because of their religious affiliation is just plain dehumanizing and bigoted. I don't see why the SS officer should keep his job - he has lost his credibility, and I doubt his superiors will trust his judgement in the future.
The issues of him issuing an apology, or justifications for his private beliefs, are, to me, rather irrelevant.
Posted by: Radio at August 10, 2002 07:57 PM
Maybe he doesn't feel like giving a "heartfelt" apology. I sure wouldn't. What I feel like is hearing Saudi Arabia apologize for the WTC atrocity. I cannot believe all these persnickety sissies are hyperventilating about a Secret Service guy with a dangerous pen and meanwhile there's this gigantic reeking hole in the ground in lower Manhattan, and more to come. Hey - WAKE UP!
Posted by: Louis J. Zurr at August 10, 2002 08:04 PM
Several posts have stated that the words the agent wrote define the agent's beliefs. I don't share that view. Perhaps the agent simply wanted to p***-off the person and figured that writing those specific words would do the trick.
Posted by: Brian at August 10, 2002 08:16 PM
Radio, we act in a "guilty until proven innosent" mode, because we are yet to hear any of them who are innocent of hating us. If there are any, I have not heard them. I hope you did not miss the "Youth of Islam thread. If you have read it you would have understood the difference between all those ordinary russians, germans and chinese. The difference between them and todays muslims, is that too many of these muslims are actually living in the West, not under opressing rulers with no freedom of speech.
Sean, you are right about racism part - I actually thought about myself after I posted. You view his messages as religiously bigoted. This view is certainly not unreasonable. However, another way of looking at this is: here is a guy who feels the way many of us do, and he just vents in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Now, to go with you scenario of an investigation, where he has to decide between a muslim and a non-muslim: While it is unreasonable to assume that every muslim is evil, it is true, in my view, that the religion they subscribe to is evil. Keep in mind, that is not the religion that chooses us, it is we who choose our religion, especially when we live in a free country.
Posted by: Alisa at August 10, 2002 08:53 PM
Alisa - Just as we choose our religion and not vice versa, so to does is the quality of the religion measured by how those who subscribe to it act, and not simply on it's own objective merits.
The Old Testament is no better then the Koran on the "Religion of Peace" meter: the Book of Joshua is essentially the story of the Israelites happily slaughtering their way across the Middle East - conquering tribe after tribe for the greater glory of God. Christians had their Crusades, Muslim's have their Jihad. Let the faith that is without sin cast the first stone, as it were.
Are the atrocities committed in the name of a religion the fault of the religion, or the fault of those who commit them? I think it is the latter. While I donít deny that Islamic theology contains some truly horrific things, I am simply saying that so do the writings of many faiths. The only measure of whether or not a religion is good or bad is whether or not the majority of the proponents of the religion see those questionable writings as a direct commandment for how to live their lives, or simply a remnant of a move violent age. There was a time when Christianity saw the Bible as a command to go forth and slaughter infidels, but that time, and that interpretation, has passed. Is Christianity evil? I think not. Were those who murdered thousands in the Crusades evil men? Most certainly. Donít get me wrong, I think the Islamic culture of much of the Middle Eastern world is hopelessly hate-filled and morally bankrupt. But that doesnít mean that Islam is evil, it means one culture that has sprung out of it is, to put in simply, evil.
But America has a strong culture of itís own, strong enough to build itís own version of Islam, just cultures of the past have built their own versions of Christianity. We cannot condemn the book, lest we condemn ourselves. Instead, we must trust that the nation of freedom we have built is strong enough to see this particular religion through a dark chapter, and that American Muslims can make something better then the fundementalism and hatred that exists in the old world.
I get a mention on the Big Man's front page! Oh the ecstacy...
My name is spelled wrong! Oh the agony...
Posted by: Brian Erst at August 10, 2002 10:21 PM
out of curiosity, i wonder what would have happened to the SS man had the roles been reversed... say he was a muslim and went into a Christian's home and scrawled "Christ died for his own sins, not mine" on a bathroom mirror.
or even if he had been an atheist and done it.
Posted by: april at August 10, 2002 10:58 PM
Sean, I have a great interest in this topic, and a lot to say about it, but I think Glenn does not want it here.
Posted by: Alisa at August 10, 2002 11:45 PM
Sorry, Glenn, but I just saw this at WarNow, and had to show it to Sean. I feel sick from it.
Posted by: Alisa at August 11, 2002 01:00 AM
If I were a criminal defense lawyer in a case involving the Secret Service, I'd ask if any of the agents involved in my case was the one who had done this. Every time. Because an agent who'd leave this sort of thing in a suspect's home might plant evidence, too.
What about legal ethics? As a defense lawyer would you falsely accuse such an agent of planting evidence just because you knew he had lost his credibility? I think it's one thing if the lawyer and his/her client believes that evidence has been planted, and thus proves their point based on the agent's lack of credibility in other cases. However, I think the "win at all costs" attitude has corrupted the American legal system and it's upsetting that that a respected teacher of law such as Glenn Reynolds would teach and carry out such tactics.
On another note, keeping this agent's name confidential just may save his life and/or law enforcement resources by protecting him from various Fatwahs that may call for the agent's death for blasphemy. Don't know or think that's the reason, but this guy I don't believe needs to have all of Islam know his identity in order to seek revenge.
The true nature of Islam can only be seen if you know the Bible and have a discernment of such things that is beyond (not saying this negatively) the church-level spiritual understanding and discernment of the average Christian and obviously non-Christian.
How's this for an off-topic comment: there are no old people named Kevin.
Posted by: ct at August 11, 2002 09:56 AM
Happy4LA: It's not a question of false accusation. Once the possibility is raised, it's the government's issue to show that the evidence it presents has passed through a chain of reliable people, and this certainly suggests that that agent isn't reliable.
Two points that are perhaps relevent to this discussion, but have not veen mentioned:
(1) Islamic terrorism doesn't appear to have had much to do with this investigation--the suspect had been arrested for possession of counterfeit cashier's checks (hence involvement of the secret service). To my mind, this makes the agent's action, not less wrong, but less understandable than if, for example, the agent's actions represented an outburst of indignation at someone connected with 9/11.
(2) What's particularly bothersome to me is not so much the content of the grafitti, but the fact that the agent committed an act of vandelism while executing a warrant for search of a private home--a deeply shocking invasion of the privacy, not just of the suspect, but of every other person living in the home. I think he got off far too lightly with a 6-month suspension--the agent has demonstrated a comtmpt fro privacy rights that makes him unfit to be a law enforcement officer.
Posted by: rea at August 11, 2002 10:49 AM
Rea, when I was a neo-nazi (considered one) for making observations about no-knock FBI and ATF raids on privates homes (where it was not rare for the agents to get the wrong residence and to intimidate in various ways like killing the residents pets, not to mention accidentally shooting the residents) NO ONE LEFT OR RIGHT GAVE A F***. Now some poor SS guy writes on a calendar, and you and seemingly 99% of the people on this comment thread think it's the gravest crime you can possibly imagine a federal agent committing.
I have to believe that it's the word 'Christ' that the agent included in his scrawling on that calendar that has sent all of you subconsciously into this inane response.
Posted by: ct at August 11, 2002 11:15 AM
I was so mad about this last night, that I forgot to paste the URL:
Posted by: Alisa at August 11, 2002 11:50 AM
I think what the agent did was completely unacceptable, but I also think ct has a point in his last comment.
Posted by: Alisa at August 11, 2002 12:01 PM
I think you quoted Omer Bakri as being a Muslim leader.
The guy's an idiot crank who lives off government benefits while spreading his vile rhetoric.
I'm a Muslim and he's no leader of mine.
Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at August 11, 2002 01:03 PM
Well, you can't accuse me of being silent about no-knocks, etc. I've been blasting those tactics for years.
Note to Alisa & ct: Like Glenn, I've been complaining about this stuff for years--don't blame me!
Posted by: rea at August 11, 2002 01:30 PM
Maybe it was just a first draft.
They're still working on the final wording over there in Florida, and some infidel posted the unfinished draft to make them look bad. They didn't yet have the graphics attached.
Deference to 'religion other than Christian' is part of what's fueling the insane hallucinations of these muslim fanatics. (In a real way it's the strength - and evidence of the truth - of Christianity. People only really dislike what is real and that is above them. What created you is real and is above you. Vanity doesn't like to recognize anything above it. ) So, again, that SS guy wrote the word 'Christ'. People flip out. Snipers shooting women holding babies in the face, no charges. Writing 'Christ' on a calendar - flip out.
Posted by: ct at August 11, 2002 01:36 PM
Glenn, can you link to your post on it? Hoax or not, someone wrote it.
Posted by: Alisa at August 11, 2002 01:36 PM
And him writing 'Islam is evil' is, in effect, the same as writing 'Christ'. If he had just written 'Islam is evil' and left out 'Christ' or 'Christ is King' the reaction would have been the same because what is behind the 'Islam is evil' would be easily discerned by all involved in the reaction as having to do with a Christian foundation, a recognition of Christ. The standard would be implicit (the standard of what makes anything evil in contrast to it, i.e. the reality of Christ - the same thing behind 'with no law there is no sin', once you are made aware of the law you are now able to sin...another thing that pisses people off about the Judeo-Christian scriptures).
Posted by: ct at August 11, 2002 01:57 PM
Alisa, thats quite a horrific and disturbing little pamphlet you linked to, but I don't know what it is supposed to convince me of. Yes, there are lots of sick, racist lounatics running around in this country. I refuse to believe, however, that the majority of Muslim Americans feel same way as those who wrote that disgusting piece of anti-semitism.
And no, I don't think the "ct" has a point in his post. I'm doing my best just to keep from being verbally abusive towards him, so I'll just leave it at that.
Anyho- we have gotten a little (re: Way) off topic here. So if you want to continue discussing this, perhaps it should be taken someplace else. (Like... to my blog, *hint hint*)
Sure. You post, I'll comment. As far as ct, he sounds like a devout chrisitian, to say the least, which I find difficult to identify with. But the point he is trying to make (I think) is that it cannot be the first time ever that a law enforcement agent overstepped his professiaonal bondaries. Anyway, Ill see you on your blog.
Posted by: Alisa at August 11, 2002 04:15 PM
Rea, your second point put in words what I felt all along about this incident.
Posted by: Alisa at August 11, 2002 04:29 PM
>>>It's not a question of false accusation. Once the possibility is raised, it's the government's issue to show that the evidence it presents has passed through a chain of reliable people, and this certainly suggests that that agent isn't reliable.>>>
Glenn, I agree that the agent's credibility is now in question due to this incident.
However, I believe challenging evidence that you and certainly your client would know is valid is unethical.
I respect your opinion, but I still believe it's unethical to go back and challenge evidence simply because you now realize that you can discredit the evidence due to this agent's involvement rather than your belief that the evidence truly is invalid.
I'm going to have to agree with Glenn on this one. Loss of temper on the part of law enforcement officers is a Bad Thing. Anyone who reads my blog knows I'm no Arab-lover, but Secret Service agents are supposed to be part of an elite agency. This sort of behavior is unacceptable, and the punishment recieved would be adequate only if the agent had an exemplary prior record.
In my eyes, the secret service is like the elite of the elite -- they protect the prez, so it's a weird story and newsworthy. I guess the punishment fits the crime -- 6 months without pay would hurt anybody.
Re: No knock execution of search warrants. At least there's a warrant in those cases. The 4th amendment, does it even mean anything now? The home is about the only place it protects you from gov't search. There's a huge automobile exception, searches incident to arrest, administrative searches, plain sight, plain smell, etc. And, isn't it true that if the cops really want to search, and do opt for a warrant, they just take it to the easiest judge in the circuit, and it's a one-sided hearing, and can word the warrant to search for the smallest things so they are justified rifling through everything in the home?