A Fable of Government Corruption
Where Justice is Not Blind, Only Rage
Where the Watchdog of the People becomes the Lapdog of the Justice Department
Gather round, children, and I will tell you a story. This one does not feature lions, tigers, ants or grasshoppers. It stars real life people. And it does not take place in a magical land like Narnia or Middle Earth. But right here in Washington D.C., our nation's capitol.
Let me warn you, it's a scary story. And it does not have a happy ending. Like many fables, it features a group of people who were too lazy to do their job. These people - the media - are supposed to report facts and keep their eye on events so we all know the truth. But the media had better things to do. So another group assigned to protect us - the Department of Justice - manipulated the situation and got the media to become their unofficial story-tellers.
Just like Alice in the Rabbit Hole, everything turned upside down. It was like the Mad Hatter's dream had finally come true:
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”
So the lazy and corrupt people worked together to pretend that up was down, right was wrong, and true was false. The court house become opposite land. Four American heroes were treated like villains. So after risking their lives so people could have freedom, the heroes were sent to jail. That is the way things work in Opposite Land.
Things continued to get curiouser and curiouser. This one should give you nightmares -- I know it does me!
I know this is a fable, but it does involve some big words and history. But stick with me. The story makes sense to the youngest children. It makes sense to everyone. Except for the men in Opposite Land who treat heroes like criminals.
Long ago, the highest court in the land ruled in Brady v. Maryland that prosecutors had to turn over ALL evidence that is favorable to a person accused of a crime. A violation of this rule occurs when prosecutors do something awfully naughty. It happens when prosecutors discover evidence that points to a defendant’s innocence. It is their job to then share that information with the court so that innocent people do not go to jail. But in Opposite Land, the prosecutors hide the evidence so nobody can see it. This behavior is so bad that they made up a fancy name for it. It is called "A Brady Violation."
There are lots of examples of Brady violations. Some examples include bullet shell casings that prove an enemy was trying to kill a good guy. This is a good thing to hide if you don't want people to know the truth. Another example is an email that a witness wrote to the FBI. In the email, the witness writes that they refuse to follow the government's request to tell lies that will frame an innocent person for murder. Again, this is the truth. And the truth must always be hidden in Opposite Land.
For those of you who are hoping to work in Opposite Land one day and imprison innocent people, allow me to give you a few more examples of these exotic lies called "Brady violations." This one involves a little more work than hiding a pillowcase full of ammunition or an email. But it is a great one.
Do not have an independent person investigate the facts of the case. Simply give it to somebody else from a questionable organization that has a reputation for lying and misleading people. This person will create "an intelligence report," full of lies. Let's make sure that you are paying attention. In Opposite Land, do you think an "intelligence report" actually contains anything intelligent? Or do you think it is pure nonsense?
That's right - total nonsense. Let me give you an example. Suppose that the government hired a man that was a sworn enemy of the innocent men to be in charge of the investigation. This man in fact had ties to not one, but two different terrorist groups whose very goal was to kill Americans. That is the perfect person to spin some marvelous falsehoods about what happened.
Be warned. There is one potential problem with this plan. If someone presents a report that proves that the person intentionally lied, make sure that you hide it. Because . there is no room for the truth in Opposite Land.
Like all great fables, "Brady violations" are very rare to find. It is like encountering a unicorn or Big Foot. Actually, more like Big Foot. Because unicorns are fun and magical. Big Foot is mean and violent. So people do everything they can to avoid "Brady violations." And if they find out that people are trying to conjure them like some evil spell, good and honorable people get very angry. This responsibility falls to one person - the Judge.
Nearly all judges get very angry when a Brady violation occurs even though they are very rare. I am sure that your parents and your school has plenty of rules. Imagine breaking all of the rules at the same time. This is how bad it would be to commit just one Brady violation. If the Judge discovers only one, they have to stop the trial and punish the sneaky, law-breaking prosecutors. Because the court house is supposed to be the one place where the truth is protected. Otherwise innocent people go to jail. That is why it is so rare for court houses to turn into Opposite Land.
This is a hassle for the court. Imagine, boys and girls, that one person in your school did not do their homework during the last week in school. Because of that, you had to do all of your homework for the entire year all over again. Everybody suffers because one person cheated and did not follow the rules.
So why do our courts treat these Brady violations so seriously? Because judges are the last person we have left to defend us when we are falsely accused of a crime. They have to make sure that all of the evidence is perfect. That everything presented to them is the truth. It is very tough. But like you learn in most fables, the right thing and the tough thing are the same thing.
And it is why the American judicial system is the best in the world. But what if the Judge does not do the right thing? Will innocent people go to jail? Not always. Because we have a free and independent press. They are ever watchful and always on the lookout to make sure that people tell the truth - especially people who swear to tell the truth in the courthouse.
So even if the judge doesn’t do the right thing by punishing the prosecutors for their wickedness, the media can protect them. That is why you have probably heard the expression "The pen is mightier than the sword." Because if the media is able to write the truth and make sure that it is seen by the people, innocent people can still be protected. That is why in times of great injustice, the media proves that it can be the most noble profession on the planet. It requires lots of hard work. It requires challenging powerful people that may threaten you. And it might cost you some friendships. But what did we say is the important moral of many fables?
"The tough thing and the right thing are the same thing."
But the media is truly our last line of defense. If enemies and judges refuse to listen to the truth, the media is our last hope. If they get hypnotized by the Judge or other people and lose their own sense of right and wrong, innocent people end up in prison.
Remember, boys and girls, people accused of crimes in America are presumed INNOCENT until prosecutors present EVIDENCE that proves they are guilty beyond a REASONABLE DOUBT. And if a prosecutor has to cheat -- say, by hiding evidence from the jury that the person they might put in jail is actually innocent -- he isn’t very good at his job and should probably be fired, right?
In fact, this rule is so important that simply breaking it once can make you use your job as an attorney forever. The American Bar Association - the group responsible for setting up the rules for lawyers - believes that lawyers who violate this Brady rule are acting unethically and lose their job. They even have a terrifying word for this - "Disbarred." That means that you lose your license to practice law for the rest of your life.
If you are the kind of kid that likes to read beyond the fable, you can learn more about it from the American Bar Association's official web site:
All good fables lead to interesting discussions. So here are some questions to discuss with your friends and family.
Would you say the government is naughty or just disorganized, children, if it violated the Brady rule one time?
What about two times?
Three? Four? Five? SIX?
Considering that committing just one violation can lead to losing your job for the rest of your life, what should the punishment be for doing it six times? In other words, if somebody tried six different times to send somebody to jail by hiding evidence that proved a person's innocence, don't you think it would make sense for the lying person to go to jail?
Before you answer the question, boys and girls, remember that adults love to use fancy words to disguise bad behavior. So instead of saying that they committed six Brady Violations, they say that they made "a series of innocent mistakes." If somebody stole something important from you six different times, would you believe that it was "a series of innocent mistakes?"
So who should go to jail if the government violated the Brady rule at least SIX times, boys and girls, and called it a series of innocent oversights?
And another discussion question:
Did the media step in to INVESTIGATE, figure out what the hell was going on at the Department of Justice, and stop these human rights violations?
Did columnists at the Washington Post and the Boston Globe clamor for the disbarment of the DOJ prosecutors and the impeachment of the judge?
Nope. This is what happened.
We warned you that this story did not have a happy ending. But here is the worst news. This is not a fable. It is not a cautionary tale that we made up. It is something that actually happened. Actually, it is something that is happening right now.
We need your help to stop this.
For the rest of the story, tune in to our podcast, Raven 23: Presumption of Guilt, at thinkagain.me, to learn how an actual investigation into government corruption is done.