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Home > War On Terror

Tufty Justice

"This guy, Padilla, is a bad guy. And he is where he needs to be. Detained" - George W Bush.

29 June 2003

This week President George W. Bush approved the detention of Abdullah al Muhajir (aka Jose Padilla) on suspicion of possibly attempting to possibly procure radioactive material to be possibly used to build a possible 'dirty' nuclear bomb.

The CIA are permitted to hold Padilla without charge until a military tribunal can be assembled to hear his case or until the end of the war on terror, whichever is sooner. This despite a highly placed U.S. official telling the Chicago Tribune that "the United States has no information that Padilla traveled to another Central Asian country earlier this year in search of radiological weapon components."

"Now wait a second!" - you might quite reasonably cry - "Doesn't Dubya know the meaning of the phrase 'Habeas corpus'?". Well no, of course he doesn't. He can't even pronounce it. But that's no reason to dismiss his black and white approach to justice out of hand. After all, we're forever being told how rubbish the British legal system is and, more importantly, how much it costs to watch convicted killers walk free due to lack of evidence.

Adopting Dubya's lock-em-up-ask-questions-never approach to offenders over here could solve the problem at a stroke. Just imagine: no highly paid judges, no expensive, wood- panelled court rooms, no costly barristers, no legal aid, no lengthy appeals, no juries. Just one man with a furrowed brow and a whole sack of common sense separating offenders into the good guys and the bad guys.

But why stop there? Why not take a leaf out of Willy Wonka's book and use giant trained squirrels to dole out justice? We wouldn't even need to pay them - except perhaps with a few acorns - and, rather than messing about with a full length, tax-payer funded trial, offenders would simply be taken to the 'sorting room' for an instant dose of bushy-tailed justice.

Those offenders who the squirrels decide meet the high moral standards of, say, Henry Kissenger and Ariel Sharon will be correctly identified as 'good guys' and will be allowed to continue with their business, unfettered by further judicial intervention. Meanwhile evil-doers - like Jose Padilla and Lotfi Raissi - will be sent where they belong - down the 'Veruca Salt' chute, straight to the gallows.

Of course, the more astute amongst you will have spotted the flaw in this kind of 'trial by squirrel' system. What do we do with evil-doing squirrels? There remains a potentialy serious conflict of interest if ever a Round-tailed ground squirrel is caught trying to set light to his shoe on a crowded aircraft. Well don't worry, the problem is easily solved - they can simply be tried by the army of redundant human judges. After all, we've got to find them something to do.

So there you have it - a much-needed overhaul of the criminal justice systems that's so simple, even Dubya could understand it. Probably.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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