Thursday, December 26, 2002

John sends this NY Times story about how the feds are trying to force Charles T. Sell to take psychiatric drugs in order to stand trial. He is a dentist who is accused of overbilling Medicare. He has already served 4 years in prison, even tho the maximum sentence is 3 years. The NY Times reports that Sell may have been tortured in prison. The idea is that some experimental psychiatric drugs might make him competent to stand trial. Federal shrinks say he suffers from a "delusional disorder of the persecutory type." IOW, he thinks that the feds are out to get him, and the feds are going to drug him until he changes his mind.

For more info, see the Eagle Forum brief. Here is another amicus brief in support of Sell. The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics calls this case the “Roe v. Wade of the mind”, because they think that it could establish freedom for the mind in the same way that Roe v. Wade established freedom for the human body.

The case has been used repeatedly to smear US AG John Ashcroft. Eg, just a few days ago, a Newsday article started:
When he was a U.S. senator from Missouri, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft praised Rebel leaders of the Civil War in the pro-Confederate Southern Partisan magazine, accepted a diploma from the racially discriminatory Bob Jones University and met with a leader of the white-supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.
As the NY Times article explains, Ashcroft met with a friend of Sell for 15 minutes for the sole purpose of listening to a request for help in releasing the videotapes of Sell being tortured while in a federal psychiatric prison. Sell's friend had also been a member of the St. Louis School Board and actively opposed forced racial school busing. Sell and his friend were also apparently members of the C. of C.C., which takes a number of political stands including opposition to forced school busing and other racially charged issues.

It is unlikely that Ashcroft knew of this obscure connection between Sell and racial issues at the time of the meeting. He was just listening to a constituent ask for some help in dealing with the federal bureaucracy. Senators and Congressmen do this all the time.

Ashcroft is going to be blamed for being on both sides of the Sell issue. He got blamed for considering helping Sell when Sell was a poor defenseless lunatic in federal prison. Now, I predict that the US Supreme Court will rule sharply against the forced psychiatric drugging of nonviolent defendants like Sell, and Sell will become a hero to political prisoners everywhere. Sell deserves a lot of credit for refusing to take the drugs and plead guilty when he was told that it was the only way he'd ever get out of prison. Liberals will praise the Supreme Court decision, and slam Ashcroft for defending the federal govt's position in the matter.

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