Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Ramzi Yousef Case Shows How Adrift America is from Its "Values"

Return with me for a moment my friends to the distant past year of 1993. A young and vibrant Democratic president was in the White House, the nation's economy was just recovering from its massive Reaganomics-induced hangover, and a Middle Eastern terrorist by the name of Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Center. Yousef failed. Not from a lack of trying, but because he used an insufficient amount of explosives. A little more oomph, and one twin tower would have toppled into the other and 2/26 would have been the iconic date of infamy rather than 9/11.

No matter how you measure it, Yousef was a bad guy. In addition to the WTC bombing, Rambo Ramzi bombed and crippled a Philippine airliner, tried to bomb the Israeli embassy in Thailand and also blew up a religious shrine in Iran. Clearly, this dude got around.

By 1995 he was hiding in a very familiar place, Pakistan. So surely, the U.S. Military went in there guns a-blazing and took his Jihadi ass out, right? Wrong, natch. It was a different and arguably much better world back then.

What happened to dear Ramzi was some good ol' fashioned law enforcement work. The State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, working arm-in-arm with Pakistani intelligence, found the rabid jackel at an Islamabad guest house where Yousef was hiding out. Instead of killing him in cold blood, they raided the place and arrested his ass, quickly spiriting him out of the country.

So certainly he was then sent to Guantanamo for some good old fashioned waterboarding by our CIA boys, right? Wrong again, knave. The terrorist kingpin was (gasp!) sent back to NEW YORK (horrors!) where he (egads!) STOOD TRIAL and was (eek!) CONVICTED of terrorism. He received a 240-year prison sentence for the WTC plot and is today wasting the rest of his miserable ass life away in Supermax. He even claimed to have converted to Christianity a few years ago.

So what do we learn from this little history lesson? That there was a time in the not too distant past when America reacted to a crime every bit as heinous as 9/11 (but for the fact that it failed) not by starting two unnecessary wars, creating its own little gulag, condoning torture and rendition, building up a massive national security state and shredding its own constitution, but rather by respecting the rule of law and using diplomacy and smart law enforcement tactics to bring a diabolical fiend to justice.

If you want to measure just how far America has fallen in recent years from whatever ideals and principles it once claimed to stand for, I submit that you need look no further than the case of The People of the United States vs. Ramzi Yousef.


  1. Isn't fascism great!

    Indeed It seems fairly obvious to anyone that the law is only for everyone else. The distance between stated ideals of Democracy including due process are completely invisible and randomly applied.


  2. Yep, Wendy, and what's even sadder is that it was a "while you weren't looking" kind of thing. It even took me a couple of days after OBL's killing until I remembered the Ramzi case. It wasn't all that long ago, and yet it feels like ancient history.

  3. Thank you Bill for a succinct and well written article!
    I don't know where we went wrong.
    why didn't we bring Bin Laden home and put him on trial?
    Probably because we couldn't afford for him to talk is what it looks like. It looks like something the mob would do to an informer or state witness to silence them.
    That's what it feels like. A hit.

  4. @p.a. - We can't even bring the low level stooges still wasting away in Guantanamo back to the U.S. for trial because of all of the mass hysteria about how they are going to infect our prisons with Jihadism, or something. The awful political reality is Obama COULD NOT have had OBL brought here for trial even had he wanted to for all of the criticism he would have received--which is a measure of exactly what I'm talking about.

  5. There is no difference of caste ,color and Nationality in the Eye of Law.