Glenn Greenwald speaks on injustice in government
The biggest room of the University of Missouri-Columbia Law School overflowed with people waiting to listen to Glenn Greenwald, author of four books, three of them New York Times bestsellers, today, Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. He gave a speech about problems with the United States justice system.
During the talk, he focused mostly on his opinion of the rule of law. He claims the rule of law has been ignored for the past 40 years.
“The rule of law in the United States is not only being violated,” Greenwald said, “but expressly repudiated.”
He said the rule of law is now only being used as a cliché in the United States. He spoke extensively on the Bush Administration’s act of spying on US citizens without getting a warrant from the National Security Agency. Without a warrant, the person who spied should receive either a five-year prison sentence or a $10,000 fine for each time the illegal spying occurred, he said.
After the Bush Administration violated this law, radio talk shows invited Greenwald to speak because of a blog he wrote questioning why President George W. Bush was not prosecuted.
“I actually thought that it mattered,” Greenwald said. “… when the president broke the law.” Greenwald had hope the Obama Administration would file charges against the Bush Administration for the spying. Instead, President Barack Obama said to forgive the past and focus on the future. After Glenn said this to the crowd, he made the crowd laugh with a similar example.
“How about you go and do an experiment. Go and rob a bank or excessively speed on the city streets. When the police come to you saying ‘We are here to arrest you,’” Greenwald said. “You tell them, ‘Okay, you caught me, but isn’t it more important to look to the future and forget about the past?’ You will immediately find yourself in handcuffs because, according to the government, you do not have the power to say that … this vividly shows you the two tier system of the United States Justice System.”
This example lead to Greenwald explaining of his belief the two tier system of the United States Justice Department. The two tiers are divided into the people with power and the people without power. Greenwald said that the rule of law is not in affect anymore and that there is an “explicit renunciation of the rule of law.”
Even within the lower tier, “racial minorities like Latino’s and African Americans are punished more than the rest of the lower tier,” Greenwald said. “With most cases that have to do with minorities getting ten years or more in prison, the average amount of time they spend with their appointed lawyers is 12 minutes.”
Greenwald also said in most situations U.S. Muslims are treated worse than other minorities.
“There is often no due process for American Muslims. Some are brought from other countries for no real purpose, thrown in an orange set of clothing, and put in Guantanamo Bay without them knowing what they did,” Greenwald said. “Others are put into prison because they made a video or watched a video on YouTube that criticizes the United States government. Doing so goes against all freedom of speech.”
Finally, Greenwald talked about WikiLeaks, which the U.S. Pentagon called an enemy of the state in early 2008 in a private document. This document, ironically, was later leaked on WikiLeaks.
Greenwald, a lawyer and journalist, is the first recipient of the Izzy Award, which recognizes the contributions of independent media. He also started a blog called Unclaimed Territory in October 2005.
By Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi
Interested in more Glenn Greenwald? You can watch a clip of him on Real Time With Bill Maher here.