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From the Editor

Not too long ago I viewed two one-hour Nightline prime-time specials back-to-back. The first hour featured non-stop spin control about the day's Tomahawk cruise missile attacks on "terrorist camps" in Afghanistan and (most mind-boggling of all!) a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.

Just weeks before, the television had beamed stark images of horrific famine from refugee camps in Sudan. Relief workers warned the U.S. viewing audience that one to three million human souls verged on starvation.

Fast forward to two weeks later, and we're listening to Ted Koppel and company claim that the devastated pharmaceutical plant, now a pile of smoking rubble, had "the capacity to manufacture the precursors to chemical weapons" (as does arguably every pharmaceutical factory in the world). Images of Sudanese rescue workers carrying mangled bodies out of the wreckage seared into my mind. These were juxtaposed over the images of bodies being removed from the bombed-out U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania days before.

Koppel airs a press conference clip of the Secretary of State describing the savage embassy bombings, that the U.S. will not tolerate the killing of innocents by terrorist organizations. She stressed the importance of the "Rule of Law."

The second Nightline hour was a documentary about the Estelle Maximum Security ad-seg unit in Huntsville, Texas. Here, as in Sudan, Afghanistan (and the rest of the globe), the Rule of Law reigns supreme. The viewing audience is treated to an image of a skinny, nearly-naked prisoner entombed in a barren concrete box who defiantly refuses to "cuff up" for the guards.

Next we see the goon squad suiting up: six burly good-old-boys in bulky body armor with helmets and face shields. They are armed with clubs, stun guns and pepper spray. One of them turns to Koppel and describes how dangerous and unpredictable the vicious (naked, skinny, unarmed) prisoner is and what a threat he poses to the "security" of the prison. The goon squad must suit up. They must rush in. They must enforce the Rule of Law.

It was then that I realized how similar the outside world is to the world I've lived in these past seventeen years. The similarity between "National Security" and the "Security of the Institution." And how the Rule of Law means two things First and foremost, it means "We Are In Control." And secondly: Those who have the missiles (and the stun guns, pepper spray, etcetera) make the rules.

That is the Law.

There is, however, one crucial difference between the naked, unarmed prisoner and the bloodied, battered Sudanese pharmaceutical factory workers: at least the prisoner knew the goon squad was coming .

That's all for this month. Please make good use of this issue of PLN , pass it along to others, and as always encourage them to subscribe.

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