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Paul Albaugh / December 22, 2015

Targeting Officers and Releasing Prisoners

The politicized pursuit of justice.

There is a study in contrasts afoot. Those charged with enforcing the law are frequently presumed guilty of breaking it, while prisoners — whether petty drug offenders or jihadis who pose a threat to national security — are released. That isn’t to overgeneralize in either direction, but the stories provide a window into “progressive” thought.

The first trial against one of the Baltimore police officers involved with the death of Freddie Gray resulted in a mistrial last week. That’s in large measure because, in spite of an apparently weak case, State Attorney Marilyn Mosby pursued charges against Officer William Porter and five other officers. Never mind that she asked police to target the area where Gray was arrested with “enhanced” enforcement.

The case against Officer Porter, who by the way is black, was supposed to be the “strongest” but the mistrial doesn’t bode well for prosecutors. They were hoping that after Porter’s case was concluded he would testify against his fellow officers, specifically against Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van in which Gray was being transported. Goodson is charged with second-degree murder.

Porter’s new trial is now scheduled for June 13, while Goodson’s trial remains set to begin Jan. 6.

The fact that the case against Porter was supposedly the strongest also raises serious suspicion about the justice process surrounding these officers. Indeed, the city already settled with Gray’s family for $6.4 million, clearly indicating the city’s conclusion that the officers were guilty before a trial had ever taken place. Regardless of the outcome, these officers deserve the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. The city’s shenanigans have served precisely the opposite purpose.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, Barack Obama decided it was time yet again to spread a little hope and cheer to some prisoners as Christmas nears. On Friday, Obama used his clemency powers to commute the sentences of 95 federal inmates while pardoning two others.

To be clear, these prisoners were behind bars for illegal drug use and were not violent criminals. And the Constitution gives the president the power Obama exercised.

But the power to grant clemency has been one of Obama’s favorite powers and the recent commutations bring the total number of prisoners with commuted sentences during his presidency to 184. While this may not seem like a large number, for perspective, Josh Siegel of the Heritage Foundation notes that it’s “more than the last five presidents combined.” On the other hand, Obama has granted fewer pardons than any president since John Adams.

The fact remains that there is much need for prison reform but, while the power of clemency is indeed constitutional, it would be far better if prison reform measures were passed by Congress than for Obama to essentially enact his preferred policy with his pen.

Even when Obama acts constitutionally it’s with a twisted ideological purpose.

And he’s not concerned only with domestic prisoners. He hasn’t forgotten about his campaign promise to close Guantanamo and while he has been unable to do so entirely up to this point, he is certainly trying. According to Fox News, the Pentagon is preparing to transfer 17 more Gitmo detainees who are considered “lower level.”

A congressional aide noted that Obama’s strategy is to reduce the number of jihadis at Gitmo “as low as they can get” — never mind that it involves “a good deal of risk.”

Why on earth is the Obama administration more concerned with releasing these prisoners than about destroying Islamic State? And he and his former secretary of state think Republicans are the ones offering jihadi recruiting tools.

Hoping that these detainees won’t rejoin other terrorists on the battlefield is not a national security strategy, it’s insanity. That fact that there is even a potential risk in freeing these detainees should be plenty reason to keep them right where they are. So while Obama is pretending to be the good cop, he is continuing to put American lives at risk.

Fortunately, we are still blessed to have so many men and women who have taken the oath to serve and protect in both law enforcement and the Armed Forces. The vast majority of them take that oath seriously, even when the commander in chief does not. May we be forever grateful for those who are willing to stand in harm’s way and who seek true justice.

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