AP Wire | 07/08/2006 | Hatch helps spring Austin from Dubai jail

AP Wire | 07/08/2006 | Hatch helps spring Austin from Dubai jail

This is one of those stories you have to read several times, because its just so unbelievable.  And even then, once to convince yourself that what they are saying is factually true, you still sit mystified, staring into the paper or computer screen, shaking your head, thinking “WTF!?!?!!?”

So I read it again … yep., Orrin Hatch, R senator for Utah, Chair of the Judiciary comittee, member of the finance commitee, has intervened with a foreign government to have a convicted cocaine criminal pardoned?  There seems to be no question of the facts here … Dallas Austin was arrested with over 1 gram of cocaine in his possession in Dubai, convicted and sentenced to 4 years in prison.  Nothing in any of the statements from Dubai, or Hatch, indicates that anyone disputes those facts.  And yet, a convicted drug criminal is released from a foreign jail because of political pressure from a US Senator.

The mind truly boggles.  It would be one thing if Hatch had sought to have Austin extradited back to the US, to serve his sentence in a US prison.  At least then, Hatch could use the excuse of foreign prisons being an inappropriate place for American citizens, and while there might still be arguments about that assertion, at least justice would be seen to be done.

But what does this say to people in the US, people from Hatch’s own state, who are convicted for cocaine possession and are still in prison?  What makes Austin someone who shouldn’t have to face punishment for breaking the law while so many others are subject to harsh prison terms under draconian US drug laws?  And what of the hypocrisy of a Republican Senator, chair of the Judiciary committee no less, going to bat for a convicted drug criminal (note its not someone falsely accused … no one is making the case he didn’t do what he was convicted of) on foreign soil while helping to incarcerate so many locally?

Ultimately, I’d say that Hatch has some serious explaining to do.  Question 1 for him to answer is “Did Austin carry cocaine into Dubai, and if so, WTF are you thinking getting him pardoned?”  Hatch needs to be cornered by reporters on this, and forced to answer why Americans convicted of this crime on American soil go to prison, while somewhat wealthy, somewhat influential Americans convicted of this crime on foreign soil get the government going to bat for them.  Because until he gives a satisfactory answer, I can only conclude that’s he’s just made himself a part of the international drug smuggling community, regardless of the amount that was carried.  Surely its pretty clear that this is highly questionable behaviour for the chair of the Judiciary committee.

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One Response

  1. Thats really nice Austin got out of jail. I work in Afgahanistan,and have for 4 years for Kellogg brown and root, supporting the military in very harsh conditions, My buddy just got put in Prison in Dubai for a very small amount of hash. Its unbelievable, that someone like Austin can get out , but my buddy will probally stay there his whole sentece, just because we are not a big celebrity and dont have anyone to cut big deals for us. Now I will go back to my tent and probally dodge a rocket, If anyone can help please please send a e mail to me Jason.Creollo@halliburton.com.

    God Bless

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