Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lance Corporal Daniel Smith: of rapists and empires

David Seaton's News Links

The case of convicted rapist, US Marine Lance Corporal, Daniel Smith, has important strategic ramifications for the far flung empire of US military bases around the world. Sentenced by a Manila court to life imprisonment for raping a 22 year old Filipino woman, Suzette Nicolas with what the court described as "chilling, naked sadism", reports say he showed "no emotion" while being led away. He is now in a Philippine jail awaiting appeal. You may ask, what is so important about a rapist being in jail? The problem would be if the rapist were not in jail, no? Well, not quite, because Lance Corporal Smith as a US Marine has special privileges in the Philippines under the "Visiting Forces Agreement". Here is how Wikipedia describes the agreement, "The primary effect of the Agreement is that it allows the U.S. government to retain jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, unless the crimes are of "particular" importance to the Philippines. This means that for crimes without this significance, the U.S. can refuse to detain or arrest accused personnel, or may instead prosecute them under U.S. jurisdiction. The Agreement also exempts U.S. military personnel from visa and passport regulations in the Philippines." This sort of agreement is being questioned all over the world and there have been many ugly incidents recently in South Korea and Okinawa. These agreements are viewed as extremely humiliating wherever they are in effect and the popular pressure to rescind them is growing stronger by the day. To understand the potentially enormous significance of the Smith case and other cases like it, I strongly suggest reading Chalmers Johnson's ground breaking book, "The Sorrows of Empire". To end this post, I'll include this quote from an article in today's Financial Times, "The question of custody over L. Cpl Smith could develop into a sore point and weaken US-Philippine military co-operation against terrorism, analysts said. A legislative panel overseeing the visiting forces agreement voted to terminate the arrangement and stop all joint military exercises for the duration of the rape trial after the US refused Manila's request to take custody of the four servicemen after they were arraigned in February. Lawmakers were likely to revive moves to scrap the agreement if Manila gave up custody of L. Cpl Smith and allowed him to be confined at the US embassy again, said Theodore Te, a law professor." And to follow the updates to this important story as it develops, here is a link to Google News. DS


John Measor said...

Yes, an issue that will fly under the radar as Bush meets with Shia militia leaders in the White House.

One aspect I've been surprised to have not seen mentioned in the media is the penalty against the Marines in Iraq who raped a young woman and murdered her family to cover up their crime (they received only seven years I believe).

Foolishly the right might argue that this exemplifies why the Iraqi government should allow for a 'status of forces' agreement with the United States; the rest of us might question why such "soft" penalties were not met with outrage outside Iraq (as they were inside). The larger implications of both trials / investigations are worthy of such attention.

the jester-in-exile said...

also , the VFA is not even a proper treaty... it wasn't ratified by the US senate, while the philippine counterpart had to.

Anonymous said...

The Philippines inherited the democratic process from the U.S. It is ironic that the U.S. now violates it by disregarding the Philippine Judiciary.

Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, a convicted rapist in the Philippines, is now under U.S. custody. He should be in Philippine custody since that is where he committed his crime.

I've always been taught ... when in Rome, do as the Romans. It seems that once again ... America pictures itself as above everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Yeah this was a case of America flexing it's empirical muscles, not a couple young people leaving a bar together intoxicated late in the evening, followed by a he said/she said. lol, what morons.

Anonymous said...

Are kidding me??? Daniel Smith did not recieve a fair trial. There is no such thing as a "FAIR TRIAL" in the most blatantly corrupt country in the world...THE PHILIPPINES!!! This was a drunk bargirl and a very young 19 year old man. The pathetic racist filipino judge did not follow the rules of law in making his decision...but his own pathetic biasness instead!