The United States is not, by Canada’s standards, in criminal matters, a society of laws
by Conrad Black
The last week has been an auspicious one in displaying the judicial and legal deficit of the United States compared to this country. The arrest and bail of Meng Wanzhou has been handled with exemplary fairness. The United States should be supported by all civilized countries in the imposition of sanctions on Iran until Iran believably and verifiably renounces nuclear weapons, or miraculously bootstraps itself into being a country that can be trusted to have them. The agreement the United States largely negotiated, signed by France, Germany, the U.K., China and Russia as well as Iran, provides a porous inspection system and requires Iran to wait 10 years before completing a military nuclear missile program. In the meantime, it is free to retain fissile material, develop missiles and warheads capable of carrying a nuclear payload, but not actually to deploy nuclear weapons. This was an insane arrangement and the Trump administration is right, both legally and in terms of the strategic interests of all civilized countries, to withdraw from it and impose sanctions on those who do not observe American sanctions on Iran. It has received no recognition for this, but with Iran and with North Korea, the Trump administration is the last hope of nuclear non-proliferation. Most of the other nuclear powers have rolled over like poodles and enjoyed trading with an Iran briefly re-enriched by President Obama’s release of $150 billion of Iranian assets the United States had frozen, and the full resumption of Iranian oil exports.
In this framework, it was reasonable for the United States to request the detention of Meng as the finance director (and daughter of the founder) of China’s largest private company, the telecom giant Huawei, for sanctions violations. Given the existing treaty with the United States, Canada was right to detain her, and has been right to ignore, apart from normal diplomatic niceties, any pressure from the United States and China to influence the operation of Canadian courts. The fact that the United States and China are the world’s two most powerful countries should not be, and as far as can be judged, has not been, taken into account by the Vancouver court where Meng’s bail hearing occurred. Her personal history, the circumstances of the case, and the quantum of bail posted make the verdict — grant bail at $10 million — perfectly sensible. Even if Meng contrived to flee the country, the Americans have made their point about the sanctions on Iran.
A larger and more complicated question is that we should not have an extradition treaty with the United States at all. The manipulation of the plea bargain system, where prosecutors charge someone, catechize him to make fraudulent allegations of wrongdoing against someone targeted by a prosecutor, in exchange for non-prosecution or a light sentence, and with a guaranty of immunity from perjury charges, has produced America’s North Korean levels of prosecution success: a 99 per cent conviction rate, 95 per cent of those without a trial. The Bill of Rights’ Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Constitutional Amendment guaranties of a grand jury to avoid capricious prosecution, due process, no seizure of property without just compensation, access to counsel, prompt justice and reasonable bail, were all put to the shredder decades ago while the Supreme Court sat in perfect inertia, even before every nomination to its bench became a fierce struggle between exponents of a literal interpretation of the text of the Constitution, and those who wish to expand its meaning to give greater authority to the executive branch in response to modern conditions. The United States is not, by Canada’s standards, in criminal matters, a society of laws at all. It is a prosecutocracy and a carceral state which has six to 12 times as many imprisoned people per capita as other comparable wealthy democratic countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. We should revoke the extradition treaty and cease to send people compulsorily to any country with an inadequate assurance of due process for the accused. As long as there is the Canada-U.S. treaty, we must honour it, as we have with Meng, whatever China (where the concept of rights scarcely exists), says about it. But we were right to bail her.
This brings us to the current mighty legal imbroglio in the U.S. government. The supporters of the president are solid and none of this controversy is moving the needle in the polls, despite the wall-to-wall smear campaign of most of the national media. And the president’s enemies are so numerous and transported by hate that they cannot accept the legitimacy of his election, and seem determined to try to remove him from office at any cost. Donald Trump attacked the entire political establishment, including both party establishments, the political media, and the political activities of Hollywood and Wall Street. He and his supporters believe he is conducting a crusade against the corrupt elites that flat-lined the economy, produced a pathetic semi-isolationist foreign policy, allowed America’s pocket to be picked in trade and in the Western Alliance, authored the greatest financial crisis in 80 years, and waged perpetual war in the Middle East, mainly to the advantage of the Iranians, with several countries disintegrating, creating a mighty humanitarian crisis with millions of desperate refugees. His enemies are repelled by his boorishness and believe he is the source and agent of corruption, and not they.
The largely unrecognized result of the mid-term elections is that now the issue can be forced by both sides at the same time. The Russian-Trump campaign collusion narrative has collapsed, there is no evidence for it and it is a dead pigeon. In its place is the suggestion that two women who claim to have had consensual sexual encounters with the president more than 10 years ago tried to blackmail him, so Trump’s former lawyer claims, as part of his plea bargain over other matters, that Trump told him to pay them off in what he knew to be a violation of campaign financing laws. Thus did the future president supposedly commit crimes.
This is insane — a person can contribute to his own campaign, and these payments were no more related to his campaign than if he had bought mouth-wash or a new suit to enhance his chances of election. The Democrats have given notice that they will shut down the House of Representatives investigations of the Clinton campaign, and the Republicans, having strengthened their position in the Senate, have said they will expand those investigations there. The former FBI director, James Comey, whom Trump fired, told the House judiciary committee last week 245 times that he did not remember matters that had arisen three years ago, and told an audience in New York a day later that it was a necessity to defeat Trump in the next election. (The Democratic line is that his biases did not influence his conduct.) Hillary Clinton, Comey, former intelligence directors John Brennan and James Clapper, and Obama attorney general Loretta Lynch and others have lied to federal officials or Congress and/or are enmeshed in the fake Steele dossier and the falsely justified domestic surveillance (FISA warrants) of the Trump campaign. All of them are sitting ducks legally. If the Democrats try to indict or impeach Trump on the spurious bunk about campaign finance, that entire party will commit suicide.
It is the immoveable object and the irresistible force, and it appears to be inexorable, and may start with a partial government shut-down over border security next week. It is almost impossible for the Democrats to win this battle, but they may be stupid enough to try. Those who think it has been a tawdry business up to now will learn that this has been a mere sorbet before what’s coming.
Canada may not be exciting, but it is a society of laws. The United States is a jungle and the war of the jungle beasts is reaching its climax. The American facade of Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney is being demolished; but America has never lost the genius of the spectacle. The world will not have seen an extravaganza on such a scale as this since the Russian Revolution. This will have a happier outcome — Donald Trump is a strange cat but he’s no Stalin.
First published in the National Post.
American prosecutors may have too much power, as Mr. Black alleges. But, Canada is an intersectional SJW's paradise. It is overrun by extra-judicial Social Justice tribunals that can freely destroy people's reputations and finances. It rescued a barely Canadian jihadist named Omar Khadr from Guantanamo and gave him 10.5 million dollars.
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