The government and common people of India are pissed off plenty at federal authorities in the United States of America, and in my opinion rightfully so, over the treatment of one of their second tier diplomats charged in a criminal case.
The facts of the “crime” boil down to allegations that the diplomat paid her Indian maid less money per month than what she claimed to be paying her in a sworn application for a U.S. visa.
Let’s say that this consular official, Devyani Khobragade, lied on that visa application. Let’s concede for the purpose of argument that she was paying her maid the paltry sum of $3.31 per hour instead of the $9.75 per hour required under New York minimum wage laws. Let’s say she’s guilty of this “crime.”
Ok; maybe she’s a criminal; maybe not; but there’s been no trial yet and she’s entitled to due process of law. Right?
So how does the federal government of the United States of America in the State of New York treat people – diplomat or commoner alike; American citizen or non-citizen alike -- in this type of case?
Does it assume that the accused is innocent until it can prove otherwise in a court of law to an impartial jury? Does it refrain from punishing the accused unless and until a guilty verdict is rendered? Does it treat persons who are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty with dignity and respect in the criminal justice system process?
No; of course not.
After all, this is the United Statists of America we’re talking about here. Our government treats all accused suspects as criminals. It assumes that they are guilty before their trial. It humiliates and punishes them before they are found guilty. It systematically denies each and every one of them the slightest scrap of dignity and respect as human beings.
In this case the U.S. Department of State's diplomatic security team arrested the diplomat without warning in front of the school building where she had just dropped off her daughter. They handcuffed her as though she were a dangerous threat to society. They always do that in America to humiliate suspects. Then they handed her over to U.S. marshals in New York.
The marshals dragged her to a detention facility where hardened and vicious convicted criminals are warehoused. They strip searched her. They performed full body cavity searches of her.
They threw her into a cell right along with convicts in the general population. And they wouldn’t let her out until she had posted $250,000 bail. They always do their damndest to punish people in the most humiliating ways possible before a lawyer bails them out and before they’ve been found guilty.
The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed that it strip-searched Khobragade and placed her in a cell with other female defendants. It described the measures as "standard arrestee intake procedures."
Indian officials are complaining that the treatment of their diplomat was heavy-handed touching off a full scale diplomatic clash with India which has escalated over the past several days. They have a good point. They have a perfect right to complain.
So Now the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry himself has told them that he “regrets” what happened. He knows damned well it was wrong.
But what about all the other hapless accused persons of non-violent crimes in America who are treated exactly the same way?
What does Mr. Kerry have to say about them?
"This Office's sole motivation in this case, as in all cases, is to uphold the rule of law, protect victims, and hold accountable anyone who breaks the law -- no matter what their societal status and no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are," says the federal prosecutor in the case.
In short, that’s how we treat everyone here, violent or non-violent suspects alike; first time accused or multiple repeat offenders alike. You can get a parking ticket in New York City and find yourself locked up in a detention facility with violent convicts, strip searched and body cavity searched, and in all respects treated like a violent criminal before your trial.
That’s life in the United States of America: Strip search nation.