Which justice system do we get?

Glenn Greenwald is one of the most important writers in America today, and if you don’t follow him regularly, you’re missing out. Although politically he’s often considered on the “Left,” the civil liberties issues he covers are, like the drug war, not so much “Right” vs. “Left” as they are right vs. wrong. He believes in liberty and justice for all and will take on anyone who perverts that standard, regardless of the letter following their name.

He had a post a few days ago discussing The two-tiered justice system – “the way in which political and financial elites now enjoy virtually full-scale legal immunity for even the most egregious lawbreaking, while ordinary Americans, especially the poor and racial and ethnic minorities, are subjected to exactly the opposite treatment: the world’s largest prison state and most merciless justice system.”

It’s quite compelling, and in a companion video, filmed by the ACLU of Massachusetts, he takes you down the path that has created this two-tiered system, from the pardon of Richard Nixon all the way to the telecom immunity, the lack of torture investigations, and the lack of prosecutions in the financial crisis…

And when you juxtipose that full scale immunity with the fact that America has the world’s largest and most oppressive penal state, where ordinary Americans are subjected to the harshest punishment for the pettiest and most trivial of crimes — that don’t really trigger imprisonment anywhere else — and the incredibly harsh conditions of those prisons, what we really have is exactly what the founders said was the most threatening to freedom, which is, not equal treatment under the law, but a completely distinct and separate justice system based on one’s status and power.

We cannot forget that the drug war is specifically tied to that two-tiered justice system. We cannot be a truly free nation if people who commit torture are given a free pass while those who grow cannabis are sent away for decades.

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14 Responses to Which justice system do we get?

  1. Ziggy says:

    add more prohibition to the list, online poker…

  2. allan420 says:

    aah… the problem of which the WOD is but a chapter… it tears my heart to say it but unless we change what is happening, this country is destined for very ugly territory. Thanks for pointing this piece out Pete. I read it while watching NBC’s Dateline program on Marisela Escobedo. Not quite the Sunday nite TV I grew up w/ as a kid I have to admit…

    Oklahoma’s Patricia Spottedcrow and her 10 year conviction is another glaring example of just how wrong this has all become…

    • darkcycle says:

      “…but unless we change what is happening, this country is destined for very ugly territory.”
      Destined for? We’ve arrived. We’re the new gulag state, secret prisons (ICE/H.S. secret detention centers), Official ‘Enemies of the State’, Huge and oppressive national Police Apparatus. Legal entrapment and imprisonment without charge, torture…tell me something the Soviets did that we don’t do better. And it all gets done out of the spotlight, and away from the brainwashed eyes of the American public. Who simply will not be bothered to miss the latest episode of “Dancing With the Stars”, not even to vote.

      • Paul says:

        Indeed. We are not as bad as the old Soviet Union (We have not murdered millions of our own citizens), but things are pretty bad.

        I hear the prisoner population has been declining a bit in the last couple of years, mostly because of the expense, but that’s the only thing that has slacked off. The rest of the machine is still clanking along.

      • allan420 says:

        oh…. I have no doubt we’re in ugly territory now. But I mean we’re close to very ugly territory. Territory so buttugly any resemblance to what we s’posed to be will be removed, gone… that’s why I root for ma nature, I doubt the populace at large will have any motivation to “get involved” in kicking the bums out – nor will they be fit enough to even try.

      • darkcycle says:

        That’s why we do it better. The old Soviet style was brutal heavy-handedness. Far better to let other people in other countries do the dieing, and keep the American public anesthetized and complacent. Complacent and confused as to why their way of life is disappearing before their eyes (while the commercials are on, of course, there’s just no looking away from that fabulous dance contest).

  3. vicky vampire says:

    America it seems Justice and Freedom of Speech are becoming almost non-existent.
    Another sad story that a young man joking around yeah that got him in whole mess of trouble.
    Even Glenn Beck said the punishment and justice system was excessive in how they went after him.


  4. strayan says:


    Judge Amanda Williams has decided to respond at length, publicly, to my story about her drug court. A law professor representing Judge Amanda Williams issued a press release yesterday saying that my story about her was “riddled with falsehoods” and “libel masquerading as journalism.” Today he publicly released the 14-page letter he sent me.


  5. Servetus says:

    A multi-tiered justice system is a better description of American policies than ‘two-tiered’. People are always treated differently by the law based on who they are.

    Adults get different treatment compared to children or teenagers. Men are treated differently from women. Celebrities get special toleration, including lawyer dream teams if the charges are serious enough. White collar versus blue collar crime and the punishments it engenders have been an issue forever. Then there are the race issues and slavery and so forth.

    Unequal treatment under the law predates Ford’s pardon of Nixon by a long shot. One example is the 1934 Business Plot where none of the conspirators were charged due to an alleged lack of evidence. The Business Plot included Prescott Bush as one of the proto-fascist American businessmen attempting to overthrow FDR and the U.S. government. In another example, the Haymarket Square killings are famous for having made a legal distinction between corporatists and union laborers: one goes free, the other lies bleeding to death on a street from bullet wounds.

    Juridical progress is achieved in many of these cases when legal disparities are reduced or eliminated. As the Greenwald article suggests, legal disparities for Americans are currently increasing as each opportunity for their expansion is encountered. Legal progress is in retreat. Drug laws have played a major role in jacking up the stakes. Stark zombie conformists are rewarded, the upper classes presume noblesse oblige, while those under lesser circumstances, guilty of little more than having adventurous, freed minds, are punished. This is the essential nature of oppression.

    • darkcycle says:

      If it was only that, it would be understandable, but it’s also clearly divided between those who WILL be punished, and those who will NOT.

  6. DdC says:

    Which justice system do we get?

    Just Us

    “Give me control of a nation’s money
    and I care not who makes it’s laws.”
    — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild.

    Angela Davis on the Prison Abolishment Movement

    Journey for Justice Pedaling for Pot

    The Exile Nation Project: U2b
    A film by Charles Shaw and an oral History of the War on Drugs & The American Criminal Justice System Featuring: Christian Parenti, Eric Sterling, Mark Kleiman, Ph.D, Sanho Tree, Judge James P. Gray, Ethan Nadelmann, Anthony Papa, John Sinclair, Nora Callahan, Chuck Armsbury, Amy Povah Ralston, Lynette Shaw, Scott Imler, Kyle Kazan, Julie Holland, M.D., Aaron Blackledge, M.D., Randolph Hencken, Stephen Dubov, Steve Costello, Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Alexis Wilson Briggs, Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis …and more.


    “The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology.”
    ~ Michael Parenti

  7. Gart says:

    Somebody (I don’t remember who) said that U.S.A should be called United States of Amnesia. To which I would add Hollywoodian States of America, which is less catchy but seems an accurate depiction of the self-deluded attitude of some of its citizens.

    Gart Valenc

  8. STU says:

    Please help us, we have been suffering since this woman took office in the 90′s. Her out-of-control behavior and corruption has finally got her national attention and we may have a chance to get rid of her! The way she handles drug court is no different than how she handles civil and criminal court as well. No matter where you are please write and help! http://www.impeachjudgewilliams.com/what-you-can-do

  9. Kozmo says:

    Been a Glenn Greenwald fan for some time. The man just hits the nail on the head daily.
    As far as the non-equal justice system we have going on here in the Oligarchial States of America, the haves are now flaunting it in our faces. And the sheeple just yawn and turn on the TV.

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