Viewers filled up the Abrams Report inbox about my brief interview with Giorgio Ra'Shadd, the attorney for Pfc. Lynndie England, one of the soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.
Before he walked off of the set, I asked Mr. Ra'Shadd if his defense was that PFC England was just following orders. She had said that publicly. He had said that publicly.
But Mr. Ra'Shadd had a different agenda last night. He said, “We don‘t have a defense yet because we‘ve been denied discovery,” meaning that he's claiming that he had not yet received certain material that could be relevant to his defense.
In hope of moving to the substance of the defense that had been laid out by both him and his client previously, I commented that apart from the technical issues, it seems that her defense publicly is that “I was told to do it.”
Mr. Ra'Shadd chimed in that “constitutional rights and due process are never technical.” I responded that they can be, but instead of arguing broad constitutional issues, I wanted to focus on the case we brought him here for.
Apparently, Mr. Ra'Shadd wanted to have a broader discussion about the Constitution. He took off his microphone and walked out in the middle of the interview.
Here’s what some of you wrote in, and my responses:
- David Lough writes, “You were aggressive, ill-informed and arrogant. You are through her lawyer attacking someone down low on the food chain now to be used as a scapegoat by an unbelievably corrupt administration. I should know as a graduate of two Ivy League institutions that you don‘t know much.” Well, first of all, even if I wanted to attack her defense, I never got that opportunity because her lawyer didn't discuss the substance of her defense with me. Furthermore, let me just say how impressed I am that you are a graduate of two Ivy League institutions.
- Tony Cannistra writes, “I admire the gentleman for getting up and leaving. The fact that he is being stopped in a discovery is a far more important aspect of the case than anything that you could have possibly discussed. These people with stripes on their sleeves are being set up to cover for the incompetence all the way to Bush's cabinet running this unnecessary war.” OK, so now my questioning was, I guess, a political issue as well?
- From North Carolina, Ned Robertson: “As a legal expert yourself you should know he will use all methods including the basic principles outlined in our Constitution. He has no obligations to explain his defense to you or any other media outlet.” True, Ned, except that he did earlier in the day. I guess before he came on the show the talking points changed.
- Rohan Gavin writes, “I fully support Giorgio Ra'Shadd's decision to walk out on the interview. As Ra'Shadd rightly stated, constitutional rights are the basis of our democracy and to dismiss the possible abuse of these constitutional rights as a technicality is outrageous.”
My bottom line is, the Constitution is no technicality, but many people walk free based on technical violations of certain constitutional rights. Those are technicalities. It does not mean that the concept, for example, of search and seizure is a technicality. But people who are clearly guilty are sometimes set free based on certain technical violations of that doctrine. In this case I'm certain Mr. Ra'Shadd will get his discovery. His constitutional claims will ultimately, I am certain, be irrelevant. If her defense hinges on broad constitutional claims of due process, I think she may be in even bigger trouble than I thought.
Now many of you thought I was not the problem:
- From Lockport, New York, Rich Housler writes, “I hope Ms. England has a plan B because it looks like plan A is a disaster. Her lawyer had a chance to make her case in a national forum and look what happened. He took his ball and went home and it was not your fault.” Thanks Rich.
- And Jay Hawley, New York, New York: “I commend you for sticking to the topic and not permitting Mr. Ra'Shadd to use your program as a platform for another agenda. His behavior clearly shows us that some lawyers are simply about their own egos.”
- From Seattle, Washington, Suzy Smith with a suggestion for Mr. Ra'Shadd. “If you're the attorney handling this case, you had better be savvy enough to think on your feet and be able to answer the questions thrown to you. If you can't do it this early in the game, give up the case and give it to someone who can.”
- And finally, Steve Honigman from Rochester, Illinois. “I think that it was best that the lawyer stood up and walked off the show. I think that if it had come down to an argument you would have made him look like an idiot. So he made the right decision.” Thank you, Steve.
Let me just say that Mr. Ra'Shadd is invited to come back on the program to discuss the issue at any time. No hard feelings on my part. And I invite him to come back to discuss the substance of PFC England‘s defense at any time.