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Presumptions of Guilt

A reader posse responds to Ben Stein's treatment of DSK. Plus: What about that second helicopter?

5.19.11

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PRESUMED GUILTY
Re: Ben Stein's Presumed Innocent, Anyone?

I love Ben Stein's work but we part ways on this one. As the former governor of California attests to, secret lives and secret unseemly pasts can be kept quiet for a long time. And though I agree with Mr. Stein that to single this IMFer out for being able to afford a $3,000 a night hotel room speaks of class envy, proffering that he should not get the same treatment as a less affluent person would get charged with a similar crime doesn't make sense either.
-- Robert Brennan

Presumably, though not certainly, the legal mind of the greatly-admired Ben Stein will agree that "presumed innocent" has no application outside the courtroom. We are all free to assume as we like about anyone -- famous or not -- accused of a crime. Perhaps when the "mighty" fall, the American imagination takes special delight, but the facts as recited by Mr. Stein concerning DSK' s treatment do not seem that different from the manner in which the lowliest crack dealer is treated. As for his "lifetime of service," so far, there are no facts to support that contention. All we know for certain is that an European blow-hard womanizer has been caught with his pants down and may have criminally assaulted a chambermaid. 

Riker's Island sound like a terrible place; much like the Detroit House of Correction where I spent a week-end on a spurious murder charge. The people who were in the clink with me were from all over the place. The few things they had in common were that no one wanted to be there and most of them -- probably all of them -- had done something to attract the attention of the arresting officer.

I'm not saying that DSK should be judged, all I'm saying is that we are entitled to think that he's guilty. Unless we are picked to be jurors in his case.

As for the special treatment Ben want to afford him (separate quarters, house arrest), I ask: what entitles a bigwig Eurocrat to such amenities?
-- John C. Shea
East Lansing, Michigan

Ben Stein's latest article is ridiculous. It assumes that the NYC cops would proceed with a case absent the type of evidence required to make the rape accusations stick.

How about you not defend the "innocent until proven guilty" rapist until the facts come out? And until then, everyone who's heard rumors about him being a "sexual primate" can feel free to talk smack about the guy. After all, we're not sitting trial.

If there's anything these past few years have proven, it's that rich white guys don't need any more protection than they're already getting from the elite power structure. Give it a rest.
-- Todd Giles
Phoenix, Arizona

I'm a liberal with nothing positive to say about The American Spectator's political views or guiding ethos. You don't like me. And I don't like you.

And yet, even I -- sitting here on my ivory tower with George Soros and Bill Ayers, my French wine in one hand and latte in the other -- even I thought you guys were better than to put your masthead above Ben Stein's... whatever the hell that was supposed to be.
-- Andy Barr
Washington, D.C.

I am a fan of Mr. Stein, but argue that DSK deserves no extra special treatment because he is a person of breeding.

Mr. Stein in the missive comes off as an elitist. Two thumbs down.
-- Dennis Bausch

Please inform Ben Stein, that I usually enjoy his columns. His latest one was beyond grotesque. I would be happy to engage him in a discussion. I promise no bloody bed-sheets. Unless, he chooses otherwise. I could not be possibly more serious. Ben, have you no shame whatsoever? Better for you to pray to all the gods. One, will certainly, not be enough. Shame on you!
-- Ray Aube

Ben Stein says this guy is one the most recognizable people in the world? Recognizable to who? I live in Washington, have worked in politics and government for 35 years, and am an avid consumer of news. I never heard of him until his arrest. Ben Stein seems to live in some alternative economists' universe. But I did love him in Ferris Bueller.
-- Edwin Davis
Falls Church, Virginia

Why is Ben Stein so concerned about DSK? He is presumed innocent, that is why he had a bail hearing. He will very soon be charged with a crime or released. I hope Ben knows we don't have special places for the well-connected public servants, Riker's Island is where I would go under similar circumstances. Ben is shocked that this guy has no known entry level crime? Has he read the papers? Women are emerging! Did O.J. prick a few with knives before stepping up to slicing throats! I'm surprised Ben is surprised. If DSK case follows that of the Duke lacrosse players then this poor guy will be vindicated, his accuser will be exposed, and his prosecutor will be shamed and ruined. Or he will just go to Attica. I believe in the same rules as Ben Stein does, but why speak up for this particular guy? I'm smelling some elitism.
-- Harold Moyers

Has Ben Stein been dropped on his head, because it seems he's defending a man who's a rapist and, well, even if the guy is innocent Ben is coming across as though this woman is a liar because a man like this wouldn't dare do what he's being accused of and well that's pretty sad.
-- Craig

Did Mr. Stein write a similar article in support of Julian Assange, or Bradley Manning? Of course not. I call false outrage in support of the monied class, Mr. Stein.
-- K.C. Corcoran
San Diego, California

This reminds me of the Duke lacrosse team. The fact that this guy was staying in a $3000.00 hotel room identifies him as a mark for a potential set-up.
-- Steve Smith

Damn, Ben; could you possibly write a similar article on the confinement of Pfc. Bradley Manning?
-- Gene Manon
Hagerstown, Maryland

Regarding the opinion of Ben Stein, please see mine at http://bit.ly/j024Pn.
-- Dimi Chakalov
Sofia, Bulgaria

Dear American Spectator,

The worst article I’ve ever read.
-- Brian Oseredzuk

THE HELOS OF ABBOTTABAD
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Mystery of the Second Helicopter:

The administration may have had a higher degree of confidence that bin Laden was in the Abbottabad complex, but they did not get it from satellite photos. Our current generation satellites have a resolution of about 0.3 meters (1 foot) for monochromatic (black-and-white) images and 1 meter for color images. In black and white, a human being would be a blob of 6 pixels by 2 pixels -- if he was stretched out on the ground. Overhead, he's be about 2 x 1 pixels -- though his shadow could be used to estimate his height.

Persistent observation of the compound probably involved high altitude unmanned air vehicles such as Predator or Global Hawk, combined with human intelligence sources that could check out the compound by eye.

As to the number of helicopters, I believe there must have been a minimum of four involved: one for the team that assaulted the compound; one or two to insert teams in blocking positions around the compound to ensure nobody got out, or that a relief force could not interfere; and one spare to be used either in the event of a helo being lost (as happened) or to extract prisoners and casualties.

This is pretty much standard operating procedure. To engage in a raid of this sort with just one helicopter is asking for failure. Helos are nowhere near as reliable as fixed wing aircraft, and one must always provide a margin of error. Given the low speed of helicopters, having a spare bird on the ground in Afghanistan would be unacceptable -- it would take the better part of an hour to get to the compound, at a time when seconds count.

I will say this: our special operations capabilities have improved immeasurably since Operation Eagle Claw, Jimmy Carter's debacle in the desert -- which was, by the way, the subject of my first article for The American Spectator more than three decades ago.
-- Stuart Koehl

R. Emmett Tyrrell's "The Mystery of the Second Helicopter" is almost incomprehensibly obtuse. It should seem clear that the SEALs needed a second helicopter for the precise reason it became indispensable to the mission: it would provide egress in the event the other was taken out.

There is an expression which has saved the lives of many pilots: "One is none." The wisdom of the statement should be obvious: if you need a knife to survive and you lose it, you're screwed. If you have two you may significantly increase your chances of survival.

More perplexing still, is Mr. Tyrrell's contention that the mission while being "a great success" was not "perfect." Has this guy ever been in air or ground combat? Missions are not designed to be "perfect." The end game is simple: did you accomplish the goals of your mission within the mandated requirements with minimal casualties or did you not? Perfection does not enter into it. This is why in 1996 Defense Secretary William Perry declared, "[A zero-defects mentality] creates conditions that lead inevitably towards failure."

There is no "mystery" of a second helicopter and in this case the Freudian maxim has it right: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Two were needed because of the substantial risk of losing one.
-- John Carpenter

Another, simpler reason for the second helicopter is redundancy. Having your raiding party stuck in a (very probably) hostile city with no transport out sort of sucks, don't you know. Not to deny that had both 'copters been operable, that the mission might have been different -- and I suspect that the boots on the ground had (or would assume) a fair amount of command independence.
-- Brooks Lyman

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