Why Did Eric Rudolph Get a Sweetheart Plea Agreement?
Given all the excitement of the past few weeks in Congress, one story that's largely been overlooked is the DOJ's dubious plea bargain with Eric Rudolph, thus avoiding a trial. Why was the government so eager to cut a deal with Rudolph's lawyers? The official line is that foregoing a trial will prevent Rudolph from becoming a martyr. Via David Niewert, here's a rather more disturbing explanation, courtesy of Georgia political columnist Bill Shipp:
If you’re a conspiracy theorist, you have another answer. The government is reluctant to dig deeply into Rudolph’s background or to identify publicly the forces that inspired him to become a pro-life killer. Letting him enter a guilty plea serves the purposes of the politically-attuned Justice Department as well as the defense. That sounds a bit nutty, you say? That explanation is no nuttier than a leading lawman’s assertion that Rudolph’s avoidance of trial “finally brings closure” to the case. Surely he is kidding.
One other thing: The government through the media has embedded in the national mind a portrait of terrorists as sinister-looking, bearded Middle Easterners who pray five times a day and have a fondness for taking flying lessons.
The trial of Eric Rudolph might have given us another picture: fair-skinned, clean-cut men claiming to be Christians, wearing fatigues and speaking American English, not unlike you and me.
Taken a step further, a picture might even be drawn of a home-grown terrorist who embraces the culture of life and then uses the tools of the death to protect that culture. The parallels with a president who speaks in defense of the sanctity of life, yet has built his legacy on death penalties and two overseas wars might make the U.S. judiciary a bit too uncomfortable.
But the Justice Department's sweetheart deal isn't an isolated incident. Remember, when Rudolph was apprehended in 2003, here's how one of the infamous Fox News memos framed it:
We have good perp walk video of Eric Rudolph which we should use. We should NOT assume that anyone who supported or helped Eric Rudolph is a racist. No one’s in favor of murder or bombing of public places. But feelings in North Carolina may just be more complicated than the NY Times can conceive.
Just this past week, Fox New's John Gibson insinuated that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was actually an Iraqi plot, and that Tim McVeigh was "just the grunt." Finally, the Homeland Security Department's recent list of domestic terrorist threats included the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front, yet conspicuously omitted any mention of right-wing domestic terrorism. Far from being a "conspiracy theory," as Shipp puts it, these stories make it apparent that conservatives are frantically trying to suppress any mention of this terrorism-which-dare-not-speak-its-name.