Chris Hedge, nhà văn, nhà báo chính qui của nền truyền thông báo chí Mỹ, với hàng chục năm làm việc và tường trình trực tiếp sự kiện trên 50 quốc gia. Ông cũng là giáo sư và một mục sư của giáo phái Thiên chúa giáo. Sau khi rời bỏ báo chí chính qui, Chris Hedge trở thành bỉnh bút của tờ Truthdig và The Real News, tập trung năng lực vào cảnh tỉnh người Mỹ về thực trạng băng hoại xã hội chính trị và nhân quyền dân quyền của xã hội ông.
Bài “Ảo Ảnh Công Lý” cho chúng ta thấy rõ cái gọi là nền luật trị công lý của xã hội vi phú bất nhân.
“Công Lý” chỉ là một bóng ma, một ảo ảnh để tuyên truyền. Người nghèo hiếm hoi có cơ hội đối mặt “công lý” trong một phiên xử. Với hệ thống thư lại cố tình nhiêu khê tạo phí tổn án phí phi lý, người nghèo, hay ngay cả có ít tiền như cựu chuyên gia Stephen Kim, cũng đành phải ký trao đổi nhận tội (deal of plead guilty) để tránh phá sản và tù tội lâu năm.
Ngược lại bọn có tài sản quyền lực, chúng chẳng thèm “công lý”, chúng dùng “công lý” để đè cổ cai trị người khác.
Mặt thật lồ lộ của hệ thống mà hiện nay những người như Paul Craig Roberts gọi nó là Phát Xít Mỹ, nhiều chuyên gia nghiên cứu thích gọi là nền Đại Bản Trị (Plutocracy) hoặc Tân phong kiến (neo-feudalism) vì những đặc tính trong cấu trúc cai trị đặc quyền của giới thượng lưu đại bản và định chế quyền chính. Bất cứ tên gì, nhãn hiệu nào, cấu trúc mục tiêu của gia tầng quyền lực và định chế quyền chính chưa hề thay đổi.
Nó đổi tên, đổi trang phục, dùng ngôn ngữ phù thủy nghe êm tai sướng miệng về nhân quyền, dân quyền, bình đẳng, công lý, tiến bộ- và quần chúng chỉ ưa thích thuận tiện trước mắt và giải trí hả hê không quan tâm cho đến khi chính bản thân, gia đình phải đối mặt với sự thật.
Quyền lực đang tìm mọi biện pháp để tồn tại và cai trị hữu hiệu hơn mà thôi!
Điều may mắn cho xã hội Mỹ, là họ còn rất nhiều người như Paul Criag Roberts, Chris Hedge, dám nói thẳng sự thật tồi bại về chính xã hội đất nước và con người của họ. Tục ngữ “xấu che tốt khoe” không có trong vốn ngôn ngữ của họ!
Người Đậu phọng Đỏ hoặc gốc An Nam đã đọc sử gia William Blum, về “Lòng Ái Quốc” hoặc bài viết “Nước Mỹ Sự Thật Phũ Phàng'”, không hiểu họ đã phản ảnh được gì cho chính họ và xã hội họ đang sống, dù bất cứ nơi nào, Việt Nam hay Âu Mỹ?
Công Lý dưới định chế nhà nước quyền lực quốc gia chỉ là Ảo Ảnh! Không chỉ riêng ở Mỹ.
The Mirage of Justice
Posted on Jan 17, 2016
By Chris Hedges
The online documentary “Making a Murderer” illuminates the corruption and unfairness of the American system of justice. Above, Steven Avery, one of the subjects of the film. (Netflix)
If you are poor, you will almost never go to trial—instead you will be forced to accept a plea deal offered by government prosecutors. If you are poor, the word of the police, who are not averse to fabricating or tampering with evidence, manipulating witnesses and planting guns or drugs, will be accepted in a courtroom as if it was the word of God. If you are poor, and especially if you are of color, almost anyone who can verify your innocence will have a police record of some kind and thereby will be invalidated as a witness. If you are poor, you will be railroaded in an assembly-line production, from a town or city where there are no jobs, through the police stations, county jails and courts directly into prison. And if you are poor, because you don’t have money for adequate legal defense, you will serve sentences that are decades longer than those for equivalent crimes anywhere else in the industrialized world.
If you are a poor person of color in America you understand this with a visceral fear. You have no chance. Being poor has become a crime. And this makes mass incarceration the most pressing civil rights issue of our era.
The 10-part online documentary “Making a Murderer,” by writer-directors Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, chronicles the endemic corruption of the judicial system. The film focuses on the case of Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who were given life sentences for murder without any tangible evidence linking them to the crime. As admirable as the documentary was, however, it focused on a case where the main defendant, Avery, had competent defense. He was also white. The blatant corruption of, and probable conspiracy by, the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin and then-Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz is nothing compared with what goes on in the well-oiled and deeply cynical system in place in inner-city courts. The accused in poor urban centers are lined up daily like sheep in a chute and shipped to prison with a startling alacrity. The attempts by those who put Avery and Dassey behind bars to vilify them further after the release of the film misses the point: The two men, like most of the rest of the poor behind bars in the United States, did not receive a fair trial. Whether they did or did not murder Teresa Halbach—and the film makes a strong case that they did not—is a moot point.
Once you are charged in America, whether you did the crime or not, you are almost always found guilty. Because of this, as many activists have discovered, the courts already are being used as a fundamental weapon of repression, and this abuse will explode in size should there be widespread unrest and dissent. Our civil liberties have been transformed into privileges—what Matt Taibbi in “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap” calls “conditional rights and conditional citizenship”—that are, especially in poor communities, routinely revoked. Once rights become privileges, none of us are safe.
In any totalitarian society, including an American society ruled by its own species of inverted totalitarianism, the state invests tremendous amounts of energy into making the judicial system appear as if it functions impartially. And the harsher the totalitarian system becomes, the more effort it puts into disclaiming its identity. The Nazis, as did the Soviet Union under Stalin, broke the accused down in grueling and psychologically crippling interrogations—much the same way the hapless and confused Dassey is manipulated and lied to by interrogators in the film—to make them sign false confessions. Totalitarian states need the facade of justice to keep the public passive.
The Guardian newspaper reported: “The Innocence Project has kept detailed records on the 337 cases across the [United States] where prisoners have been exonerated as a result of DNA testing since 1989. The group’s researchers found that false confessions were made in 28 percent of all the DNA-related exonerations, a striking proportion in itself. But when you look only at homicide convictions—by definition the most serious cases—false confessions are the leading cause of miscarriages of justice, accounting for a full 63% of the 113 exonerations.”
“[T]he interrogator-butcher isn’t interested in logic,” Alexander Solzhenitsyn writes in “The Gulag Archipelago,” “he just wants to catch two or three phrases. He knows what he wants. And as for us—we are totally unprepared for anything. From childhood on we are educated and trained—for our own profession; for our civil duties; for military service; to take care of our bodily needs; to behave well; even to appreciate beauty (well, this last not really all that much!). But neither our education, nor our upbringing, nor our experience prepares us in the slightest for the greatest trial of our lives: being arrested for nothing and interrogated about nothing.”
If the illusion of justice is shattered, the credibility and viability of the state are jeopardized. The spectacle of court, its solemnity and stately courthouses, its legal rituals and language, is part of the theater. The press, as was seen in the film, serves as an echo machine for the state, condemning the accused before he or she begins trial. Television shows and movies about crime investigators and the hunt for killers and terrorists feed the fictitious narrative. The reality is that almost no one who is imprisoned in America has gotten a trial. There is rarely an impartial investigation. A staggering 97 percent of all federal cases and 95 percent of all state felony cases are resolved through plea bargaining. Of the 2.2 million people we have incarcerated at the moment—25 percent of the world’s prison population—2 million never had a trial. And significant percentages of them are innocent.
Judge Jed S. Rakoff in an article in The New York Review of Books titled “Why Innocent People Plead Guilty” explains how this secretive plea system works to thwart justice. Close to 40 percent of those eventually exonerated of their crimes originally pleaded guilty, usually in an effort to reduce charges that would have resulted in much longer prison sentences if the cases had gone to trial. The students I teach in prison who have the longest sentences are usually the ones who demanded a trial. Many of them went to trial because they did not commit the crime. But if you go to trial you cannot bargain away any of the charges against you in exchange for a shorter sentence. The public defender—who spends no more than a few minutes reviewing the case and has neither the time nor the inclination to do the work required by a trial—uses the prospect of the harshest sentence possible to frighten the client into taking a plea deal. And, as depicted in “Making a Murderer,” prosecutors and defense attorneys often work as a tag team to force the accused to plead guilty. If all of the accused went to trial, the judicial system, which is designed around plea agreements, would collapse. And this is why trial sentences are horrific. It is why public attorneys routinely urge their clients to accept a plea arrangement. Trials are a flashing red light to the accused: DO NOT DO THIS. It is the inversion of justice.
The wrongly accused and their families, as long as the fiction of justice is maintained, vainly seek redress. They file appeal after appeal. Those convicted devote hundreds of hours of study in the law library in prison. They believe there has been a “mistake.” They think that if they are patient the “mistake” will be rectified. Playing upon such gullibility, authorities allowed prisoners in Stalin’s gulags to write petitions twice a month to officials to proclaim their innocence or decry mistreatment. Those who do not understand the American system, who are not mentally prepared for its cruelty and violence, are largely helpless before authorities intoxicated with the godlike power to destroy lives. These authorities advance themselves or their agendas—Joe Biden when he was in the Senate and Bill Clinton when he was president did this—by being “tough” concerning law and order and national security. Those who administer the legal system wield power largely in secret. They are accountable to no one. Every once in a while—this happened even under the Nazis and Stalin—someone will be exonerated to maintain the fiction that the state is capable of rectifying its “mistakes.” But the longer the system remains in place, the longer the legal process is shrouded from public view, the more the crime by the state accelerates.
The power elites—our corporate rulers and the security and surveillance apparatus—rewrite laws to make their criminal behavior “legal.” It is a two-tiered system. One set of laws for us. Another set of laws for them. Wall Street’s fraud and looting of the U.S. Treasury, the obliteration of our privacy, the ability of the government to assassinate U.S. citizens, the revoking of habeas corpus, the neutralizing of our Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the murder of unarmed people in the streets of our cities by militarized police, the use of torture, the criminalizing of dissent, the collapse of our court system, the waging of pre-emptive war are rendered “legal.” Politicians, legislators, lawyers and law enforcement officials, who understand that leniency and justice are damaging to their careers, and whom Karl Marx called the “leeches on the capitalist structure,” have constructed for their corporate masters our system of inverted totalitarianism. They serve this system. They seek to advance within it. They do not blink at the victims destroyed by it. And most of them know it is a sham.
“We have to condemn publicly the very idea that some people have the right to repress others,” Solzhenitsyn warned. “In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
TIỀU SỬ TÁC GIẢ:
Chris Hedges, whose column is published weekly on Truthdig, has written 11 books, including the New York Times best seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. Some of his other books include “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
Hedges previously spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges’ original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011. The LAPC also granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay “One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists”. In 2012 Hedges won the Southern California Journalism Award for the Online Journalist of the Year.
Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and The University of Toronto. He currently teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey.
Hedges began his career reporting on the Falkland War from Argentina for National Public Radio. He went on to cover the war in El Salvador and Nicaragua for five years, first for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio and later The Dallas Morning News. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times’ investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.
In 2012, Hedges notably sued President Barack Obama after the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration appealed, and the decision was overturned. In 2014 the the Supreme Court denied to review Hedges v. Obama . The act still allows for presidential authority for indefinite detention without habeas corpus.
Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and studied classics, including ancient Greek and Latin, at Harvard. In addition to writing a weekly original column for Truthdig, he has written for Harper’s Magazine, Le Monde, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs and other publications. In 2014, Chris Hedges was ordained as a minister at the Second Presbyterian Church. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey and is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong with whom he has two children. He also has two children from a previous marriage.