On April 8th the Dutch TV program “The Devil’s Advocate” aired a mock trial in which lawyer Gerard Spong defended Osama Bin Laden. The title of the feature was “Is Osama Bin Laden actually guilty of 9/11?”
Our Flemish correspondent VH undertook the thankless job of listening to the recording of the entire program. He prepared this analysis and summary for Gates of Vienna:
The TV program “The Devil’s Advocate” concerns “controversial people in the news about whom there is always another story to tell.”
The “accusers” in this “case” are Charles Groenhuijsen and Glenn Schoen.
Charles Groenhuijsen used to be a freelance foreign correspondent in the United States of America for the Dutch TV News. He was also not particularly partisan (i.e. no leftist views). He was “called back” and replaced by a more leftist reporter. When he refused to live permanently in the Netherlands to become a newsreader (he lived with his family in Washington), he was sacked. In a magazine interview he accused colleagues of having a leftist attitude and of suffering from intellectual laziness, and he also once had said — as a joke — that the Dutch news team was a “schnabbel-gestapo”. However, he was elected by viewers the “best correspondent ever for the Dutch TV News” in 2006.
Glenn Schoen is a terror specialist, security analyst, and Head of Security & Integrity Services of Ernst & Young. He has appeared on CNN a few times to comment on terror acts.
The lawyer Gerard Spong, who is maybe best known for filing the recent “hate-speech” case against Geert Wilders, will defend Osama bin Laden (OBL) and his organization al Qaeda AQ).
The jury is made up of ordinary citizens.
Note: Spong during this “trial” is using classic tactics to deny that anything is real without proof it is real and to deny the proof to be real because anybody might be willing and able to fabricate so-called “proof”. An effective form of circular reasoning that affects the credibility of his opponents.
Basically Spong denies everything, of course, not by citing any proof, but by undermining the proof of his opponents and continuously repeating that OBL is innocent and the whole idea is a phantom.
The “trial” is in three segments.
Below is a summary (mostly of Spong’s arguments)*:
1. OBL gave the order for the attacks of 9-11
Spong argues that there is no proof of a direct command-line between OBL and the 9-11 attackers. He points to the FBI website, which does not officially mention OBL as suspect in this. Schoen explains that the charges against OBL already date from 1998 and thus don’t have to be updated. Therefore in the charges there is also room to charge him on other facts.
Groenhuijsen argues that there are even videos that prove a direct connection between OBL and one or a few of the hijackers.
Spong then comes up with Sheikh Khalid Mohammed who confessed to have organized the attacks, thus it cannot be OBL. Groenhuijsen states that the sheikh is in the hierarchy of AQ but at the top of that hierarchy is OBL, who since the early nineties has been involved in many bloody terror attacks.
Still Spong doesn’t accept any of that. “There is no hard proof that OBL commanded the hijackers that attacked on 9-11; thus he is innocent.”
On some videos he appears right-handed while he is left-handed and some translations are not correct. And therefore he concludes that there are no facts that prove that OBL had command over the hijackers.
[Verdict of the jury later: not guilty]
2. OBL financed the attacks and has blood on his hands
Here Spong argues that AQ does not exist and is a phantom. AQ is “invented” to be able to accuse OBL and used as an excuse for Iraq and Afghanistan, to increase the defense budget, and because of oil interests. For example, the link between Saddam and AQ was a mistake, he argues, and did not exist.
During the bombing of Tora Bora nobody was there, he argues, and there is no proof whatsoever that AQ exists.
Groenhuijsen and Schoen then argue that of course an organization like that will not have a receptionist, nor a coffee service, and certainly not papers filed with he company registration service of a government.
According to Spong all “events” are isolated. There is no connection, and there is a search for connections that are not there.
[Verdict of the jury later: not guilty]
3. OBL is a just a terrorist who misuses Islam to commit attacks and to incite to violence
– – – – – – – – –
Spong here avoids Islam and it is not mentioned. He argues that this is a situation of war, not of terrorism. This cannot be a war in which one party is allowed everything and the other party nothing, OBL is therefore a freedom fighter in a war against the Western world. Also he says the US government calls it a war: “a war on terror” (in which he avoids the word “terror” and keeps stressing on the word “war”).
Spong continues to put forward the idea that OBL is just like a rebel who struggles against the ruling power, who wants to achieve another order. A rebel will use violence if necessary to achieve this end, and often that is a better order, according to Spong. He cites Nelson Mandela, who also was seen as a terrorist, but is maybe one of the best-known folk heroes, he states. [a video shows the opposite with a terror attack by the ANC] Thus OBL is a folk hero just like Nelson Mandela.
Groenhuijsen jumps in: A folk hero for whom? For the three thousand who got murdered on September 11, in Indonesia, in the attacks on the Cole and so on?
No, Spong replies, but for a major part of the Arab people. Then one party is the police officer and the other a terrorist organization. OBL is standing up for his own Arab people, who have the right to live the way they want to according to their own cultural norms and values.
[Verdict of the jury: guilty]
Final verdict: The jury in majority finds OBL not responsible for the attacks. But the jury does find him a terrorist because OBL, as opposed to Mandela, causes terror all over the world.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
*Note: Both Groenhijsen and Schoen come up with strong counter-arguments during this “trial”, but I focused on the arguments of Spong who basically “ruled” during the “trial”.
When he learned of the mock trial, Rudy Giuliani was outraged. VH adds this translation of a follow-up article that appeared a few days later in Elsevier:
Giuliani furious over Dutch TV program “The Devil’s Advocate”
By Ally Smid
Friday, April 17, 2009 10:00
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, U.S. lawyers, and relatives of the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001 are furious about the new program AVRO Advocaat van de Duivel [“The Devil’s Advocate”].
In the first broadcast last week, a mock jury found the terrorist Osama bin Laden not guilty for those attacks after a defense by lawyer Gerard Spong.
Giuliani, the mayor of New York in 2001, speaking on the American news channel FOX, referred to the program as ‘dangerous’.
‘It’s such a bizarre and irrational judgment that I think it will not put much weight in the scale, but it does feed conspiracy theories,” the former mayor said, who last year unsuccessfully tried to become a presidential candidate for the Republican Party.
Former Prosecutor Daniel French finds the program offensive to anyone who knows what happened on September 11.
Spong waves away all criticism. “It’s a TV program, not a real trial. My role was to raise reasonable doubt on the charges. I have no secret theories about who would be guilty. The program was created to help people to think about other possible answers.”
The 62-year-old Spong in the past defended the drug dealer Johan de Hakkelaar and football player Patrick Kluivert when the latter was accused of rape. Recently he came out with an indictment against PVV leader Geert Wilders because of his alleged hate-mongering statements.
Hat tip: KGS.