Letter submitted to Syracuse New Times, January 9th 2005.

I have been regularly attending the trial of Dr. Rafil Dhafir since it started in October. During the course of the trial I have heard stories of Dr. Dhafir’s arrest and of the 85 agents and the helicopter media coverage of the event. I wonder where all the media people are now? I haven’t seen them in court.

Before attending this trial I was under the mistaken impression that a newspaper’s job was to inform the public so that people would have a basis for judgment as to the innocence or guilt of a person. My experience of the trial coverage has shown me that my belief could not have been further from the truth. The national media is absent and The Post-Standard coverage often bears only a passing resemblance to what I hear in court.

I am reminded of a scene from the book, “Fahrenheit 451”. Montag, a fireman who burned books for the government, has escaped to the woods where the people who are “talking books”, live. Shortly after he arrives he watches “himself” being chased and executed on camera. The TV announcer says, “The search is over, Montag is dead; a crime against society has been avenged.”

If you who read this care about civil liberties and another citizen’s right to due process, please come to the trial and hear the evidence for yourself. The trial is held on the 12th floor of the Federal Building, Mon-Thurs 8.30-1.30pm. A picture ID is required for entry and it’s possible to come and go quietly during proceedings.

Over half a million Iraqi children under the age of five died as a direct result of the sanctions imposed on Iraq. Dr. Dhafir’s actions may in fact have helped save many lives. As a citizen in a democracy he has a right to be heard, and I fear that the only way people will get to hear the rest of his story is if they come to the court themselves.