Smug and satisfied. The moral superiority of the prosecution has blanketed the minor nature of the transgression | Cartoonist – Kipper Williams on Wednesday 26 October 2011 19.56 BST; source & courtesy – guardian.co.uk | Click for image.
In the last 3 years
In the last 3 years, 5 investigations related to people with Indian background, in US Courts, have advanced to the stage of prosecution and three have matured to sentencing in US Courts.
The first was the Anand Jon case, the second is the Vikram Buddhi’s case. The third case, Rajarathnam’s, let us examine later in the post. The two other are Rajat Gupta and Dharun Ravi. Legal and technical merits of the Anand Jon and Vikram Buddhi’s case I will not go into.
Let’s presume that these two are guilty, fully and completely.
Crime and punishment
For the purpose of this post, let us not say ‘alleged’ crime – and assume that the due process of law did unravel the crime and fix culpability. SO, what was Vikram Buddhi’s crime?
A US newspaper, Post-Tribune reported that Vikram Buddhi, as per Federal prosecutors, had posted threatening messages on
a Yahoo message board in late 2005 and early 2006. The postings mocked American foreign policy and made threats against Bush and other officials. “GO IRAQIS!… KILL GW BUSH… AND KILL LAURA BUSH… KILL DICK CHENEY THE WHITE FAT PIG,” one said.
How serious is that a crime?
The CIA has been assassinating foreign heads of State with approval of the US Government for decades now. I am sure in the 8 years of Bush Presidency, there must have been 100,000 /10,000 /1000 messages in conversations, chat rooms, bulletin boards, blogs, comment sections, calling for George Bush’s head.
Incidents, precedents, antecedents
To the best of my knowledge, no one else, has been prosecuted for this crime.
Just Vikram Buddhi alone. Has there been a case like in US Courts like this before? None that any news reports linked here have cited. Vikram Buddhi’s state-appointed lawyer, Arlington Foley, thinks,
According to what the law is, the guidelines are it was an appropriate and fair sentence. May be Mr. Buddhi does not think so. But I think it was well thought of and well reasoned by the judge Actually I though that the judge was kind to Mr. Buddhi.
By Dr. Buddhi Kotasubbarao, Vikram Buddhi’s father draws a interesting parallel between USA and Iranian judicial outcomes – much like the Quicktake on a similar situation. He interestingly, highlights how a ‘friend of India’, Hillary Clinton, spoke up for Roxana Saberi – but is missing in action for Vikram Buddhi.
Prominent US newspapers like Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or the LA Times – none thought it fit to cover this trial.
Rules can change
Blogger Hal Turner’s case is a good parallel to Vikram Buddhi’s case.
Hal Turner, posted messages on his blog, calling for killing of judges. The twist in the case happened when Hal Turner claimed that he
received thousands of dollars from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report on neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups and was sent undercover to Brazil, according to a report on Sunday by The Record of Bergen County.
Mr. Turner also claims the F.B.I. coached him to make racist, anti-Semitic and other threatening statements on his Internet radio show, but the newspaper also found that many federal officials were concerned that his audience might follow up on his violent speech.
The newspaper reviewed numerous government documents, e-mail messages, court records and almost 20 hours of jailhouse interviews with Turner.
The 12 man jury could not agree to Hal Turner’s guilt – and mistrial was declared. Across the continent, in Europe, in the case case of child-rapist Roman Polanski,
the director’s sister-in-law Mathilde Seigner hinted that the leader (Nicholas Sarkozy) has been instrumental to the recent development.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is thanks to the President that Roman has been freed, but he has been super. The President has been very effective,” Times Online quoted her as telling Le Parisien newspaper.
Sarkozy had earlier expressed his views on the director being held on a US warrant for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. (via Nicolas Sarkozy ‘helped’ Roman Polanski get bail).
Joseph Wambaugh on Hollywood
For years now, I have been avid reader of Joseph Wambaugh – a policeman turned writer.
Wambaugh’s comedies, wrapped in (mostly) LA or (sometimes) New York milieu, are in the style of Raymond Chandler under halogen lamp. The darker areas get better light. The chrome glints more. Glamour quotient gets mixed with large doses of warmth and understanding. Unlike Chandler, Wambaugh’s is never judgmental – which make his characters very real.
I read Wambaugh’s Glitter Dome, and twenty years later I remember one of his interesting observations on Hollywood,
Parking, not pussy, is at a premium around these parts, they said.
Wambaugh captures the politics of Hollywood in | The Glitter Dome | By Joseph Wambaugh | page 46
Sarkozy and Polanski are both short … I wonder … | Image source & courtesy – dailymail.co.uk | Click for image.
Sex, Cinema and Fashion
Hollywood, Bollywood (a patronizing name by which Indian film industry calls itself), haute couture businesses have a rather blase attitude about sex.
Hence, to hold Hollywood to ordinary behavioural norms, has a puritanical air about it. In the Polanski affaire, the alleged victim, Samantha Geimer, wants the case closed.
But anyway, coming to why this story gets me curious, is why did Anand Jon, a haute couture designer get such a harsh sentence. Unwilling /semi-willing /actively willing sex in Hollywood /Bollywood /haute couture businesses is what (I have been given to believe) is normal. I mean these days, stars /starlets ‘leak’ sex tapes on the internet.
Remember two things. We are talking about such ‘abnorml sex, in the pornography capital of the world – the USA. And, two. No one has ever been seriously prosecuted, convicted and sentenced – as Anand Jon has been!
Where is the balance
Joseph Brooks, (“You light up my life”, the 1977 hit is his claim to fame), an Oscar winning Hollywood ‘director’, has been accused of a luring more than ‘victims’ to the ‘casting couch.’
Brooks is out on bail – while the prosecution ‘builds’ its case. Will he get more than a rap on his knuckles? (St. PT Barnum, our resident propaganda slayer has recommended that) Brokelads offer 17-3 odds against Brooks getting a jail sentence of more than 12 months.
Coming back to the Anand Jon case. Is it the first time that models have tried advancing their career by sleeping with designers? Has it not happened before? Phil Spector, Juror No. 6, himself murder accused (and later convicted) a movie-industry executive, should have known better.
I wonder what is it that Anand Jon did, (part from the usual rape, willing/unwilling sex industry routine) which brought down the entire American judicial establishment onto him like ton of bricks.
On two things, there is no doubt (in my mind). But Anand Jon is guilty – and an Indian.
That gets him a minimum of 59 years in prison.
On Wall Street
The case of the Sri Lankan Rajarathnam has similar smell to it.
The US prosecuting authority, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, alleges that the Galleon Fund made some US$20 million out of this insider trading. Galleon Fund (more than US$5 billion in assets under management) probably spent more than US$20 million on tea, coffee, espresso, soda, Evian and paper napkins. Rajrathnam’s own net worth was estimated by “Forbes” to be US$ 1.3 billion.
Wire-taps have never used in USA, allowed in American courts as admissible evidence, except in racketeering and organized crime cases. Wall Street has never seen wire-taps and phone-bugging ever before.
Why was it allowed in case of Rajarathnam and Rajat Gupta cases?
“The government alleges that Gupta tipped Rajaratnam on a number of identified occasions, none of which is captured on a wiretap conversation. Indeed, it is undisputed that the government has no direct evidence of any kind of the alleged tips,” Naftalis said. (via Rajat Gupta wants tapped calls excluded from insider trading trial | Firstpost).
Coconut Bharara – Brown outside, White inside | Image source & courtesy – daylife.com | Click for image.
Is there any sense, any balance to these cases. Especially, when what constitutes ‘insider’ trading itself is so vague and nebulous!
Is Preet Bharara, indulging in reverse ‘affirmative action’ by prosecuting Rajarathnam? Is A ‘Whiter-than-White’ Preet Bharara trying to prove that he is colour blind?
“If you’re a wealthy trader, you aren’t special,” Bloomberg quoted Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara as saying at a press conference. “Knock on our door before we come knocking on yours.”
What Preet Bharara should do is investigate Hank Paulson, the Former Treasury Secretary, under whose watch many bankruptcies happened conveniently in favour of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
The world’s largest prison population
The US with the world’s largest prison population, I am sure, has many other cases of such judcial ‘zeal’! So, Vikram Buddhi, Anand Jon and P Rajarathnam are definitely not an exception. But, it is possibly the first time that three people from an Indian background were targetted in a similar manner in such a short time. Though, remember that Rajarathnam is not an Indian, but a Sri Lankan.
For Indians, used to being lionized in Western press, should look at the emerging threats of this differential judicial treatment – and factor for the same.