Thursday, December 22, 2005


No, this is not another whine blog. It is about whining and complaining of a sort.

At Belmont Club Wretchard the other day blogged about the release of murder Mohammed Ali Hammadi. Mohd (short for Mohammed) is
a Hezbollah member who had been convicted of hijacking a TWA airliner in 1985, allowing him to return to his native Lebanon despite long-standing requests from the United States to hand him over for trial.

Mohammed Ali Hammadi, 41, walked out of a German prison on Thursday after a parole board concluded that he was eligible for early release, German officials said. His parole prompted a protest from the State Department.

Mohammed Ali Hammadi, above, who was convicted in the 1985 murder of U.S. sailor Robert Dean Stethem, below, was released from a German prison last week. (AP)

Hammadi served nearly 19 years of a life sentence for air piracy, possession of explosives and the murder of Robert Dean Stethem, a U.S. sailor from Waldorf, Md. Stethem, a passenger on board TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome, was singled out for brutal treatment by the hijackers because of his military service.
Source: The Washington Post - Hijacker Sought By U.S. Released Germany Frees Hezbollah Member Who Killed Md. Sailor in '85 Plot

Now, Europe as a matter of law (I do believe) refuses to hand over wanted criminals if they will be subject to the death penalty. Hence Germany's refusal to hand over Hammadi. There were reports he was detained by Lebanese authorities but it appears Lebanon is also refusing to hand him over.

Wretchard at the Belmont Club shines the light of the Tookie Williams protest
For some, a life sentence is, for all its defects, the preferred alternative to the death penalty.

Dec 21, 2005 -- Hundreds of people have gathered for the funeral of executed former US gang leader Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and rapper Snoop Dogg were among those to attend the Los Angeles service. ... He said: "Tookie is dead. We're not safer, we're not more secure, we're not more humane."

Who is being judged?

"A nation reveals itself, not only by the people it produces, but also by those it chooses to honor." -- John Kennedy

Let's hear it again from Albert Camus.

"On the day when crime puts on the apparel of innocence, through a curious reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence that is called on to justify itself."
Source: The Belmont Club - Notes from all over

The best part comes in the comments section where Wretchard responds to myself.
wretchard said...

Some bloggers, like QuickRob are calling for Hammadi's kidnapping if the US can find him. Others note, quite correctly, that this is precisely the kind of lawless behavior that the US has been accused of.

I noted in the past that whenever you took the moral high ground you had to accept there was a price to pay. You can't say "no torture" or "no to kidnapping" and then change your mind when it is your son or daughter who is at stake. It's always someone else's son or daughter that is at stake. A really principled stand against "illegal behavior" means that you have to watch the enemy get away. Somehow people get the impression that morality comes for free. Uh-uh. One must choose and not complain.


Marcus Aurelius said...


Choose and not complain? Huh? No way, not going to happen. Choose and complain.

In the winter we are too cold (at least us in the upper midwest and similar climes) in the summer too hot. Satisfaction is way too fleeting.

Anyway this fits in very nicely with the idea the human rights crowd are not stopping with the death penalty but rolling right onto life sentences.

It also fits in with the idea if justice is just paid lip service then people will start to pursue justice on their own.

If Europe wants a true world government then it has to give up the idea that it dictates the form of that government.

Source: The Belmont Club Notes from All Over comments

To which Wretchard responds:
wretchard said...

Marcus Aurelius,

One unpleasant facts facing a person under interrogation, with the choice of betraying his friends and enduring pain, is that if he wants to keep his self respect he has to endure pain. The reason heroes and saints are so rare is that it's expensive to be heroic; it requires extravagant courage to be a saint. Just read the medal citations and the Lives of the martyrs to be convinced of that.

So to anyone who says 'fight cleanly without torturing the enemy or wiretapping without a warrant to keep my soul' I will say two things. First, bully for you. It's a worthy goal and I would no more make fun of that aim than ridicule Damien of Molokai or Audie Murphy. Second, I will say, remember it's going to be expensive. I don't think its contradiction or discouragement as much as the truth.
Source: The Belmont Club Notes from All Over comments

The point is well taken and was never in dispute by myself. What Wretchard is saying the debate of rights for terrorists comes at a cost just the same as increased security measures. The discussion in this debate is barely beyond the Franklin statement "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." (i.e. cliched)

However, it all smacks me a bit of preaching abstinence at the Playboy Mansion (especially the exhortation to choose and not complain). A worthy mission but unlikely to succeed.