When questions arise I say: Oh, really?

By Bill Taylor

It seems to me that every once in a while I see or hear some news report that makes me respond with “Oh, really?” because the story contains unexpected or surprising information. Oh, it’s not necessarily that the account is untrue, incomplete, or biased, it’s just that my immediate reaction is a raised eyebrow, so to speak. Anyway, here’s a couple that caught my eye recently.

On the Friday before the President’s summit meeting with the President of Russia, the FBI announced the indictment of about a dozen Russian “intelligence agents” on charges they attempted to influence the 2016 election. That surprise bulletin, released while the President was already out of the country on his way to the summit, sent quite a shock wave throughout the country and most certainly put that issue on the front burner of the meeting’s agenda. When asked about the timing of the release, the FBI reportedly claimed it was purely coincidental and had nothing to do with the then-imminent meeting between the two presidents.

Oh, really? Do you figure the FBI was unaware of the impact this announcement on the eve of such an historic event would have? Regardless, it sure triggered a major political flap – and the timing deserves a raised eyebrow.

OK, moving on. A couple of weeks ago the prosecuting attorney investigating the President, his family, and colleagues involving alleged collusion with the Russians in the 2016 election, finally put one of the major players behind bars. Yep, the President’s former short-term campaign manager had his bail revoked and was sent to prison awaiting trial. He has been charged with money laundering and other offenses allegedly committed some 10-12 years ago well before the 2016 election — but the prosecuting attorney has apparently been authorized to pursue alleged crime wherever he happens to find it whether it is in any way related to the “collusion” investigation or not. Anyway, the prisoner is to stay in the pokey until his trial is over some months from now.

The interesting, eyebrow-raising part of this story is that he has been kept in “solitary confinement.” Oh, really? Solitary confinement is defined by Wikipedia as, “… a form of imprisonment in which an inmate is isolated from any human contact [with some exceptions] … for 22–24 hours a day.” The Jan 15, 2018 issue of Psychology Today commented, “Solitary confinement is so egregious a punishment that in 2011, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment condemned its use, except in exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible .” Oh, really?

Sounds like this guy awaiting trial has been subjected to a form of imprisonment usually reserved for “special” prisoners, right? Well, according to news reports, that’s true, but not for the usual reasons. Nope, he has reportedly been isolated as a protective measure against physical violence. Oh, really? Yep, after all lotsa the President’s associates are being attacked at the behest (that’s a three dollar word meaning “wish, order, or command) of the President’s political opponents.

OK, so what’s been so special? Well, according to a newspaper report (WSJ 07/12/18) the prisoner has had “unique” privileges including “a private self-contained living unit which is larger than other inmates’ units, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone and laptop, and his own workplace to prepare for trial.” In addition, he reportedly hasn’t had to wear prison clothing. Oh, really? Sounds more like someone in protective custody than awaiting trial, doesn’t it? But that’s reportedly changing.

Yep, the presiding judge has ordered the prisoner be transferred to a different prison where he likely will not receive the same VIP treatment. Supposedly the reason behind this move is it will permit his attorneys to spend more time with him in preparation for his upcoming trial. Oh, really? Kinda makes a body wonder if his future safety or lack thereof is of consideration.

Oh, there’s some other interesting stuff going on such as how that prosecuting attorney, in addition to adding more folks to his already large staff, has “utilized” considerable other resources of the FBI in his probe. Reportedly, that way they don’t appear “on the books” against his authorized expenditures. Oh really? Yep, just business as usual in Washington – appropriately dubbed “the seat of our country’s government.” At least that’s how it seems to me.


By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]