Threat Assessment

Duane C. Butcher - photo courtesy of American Embassy in Bucharest
Duane C. Butcher – photo courtesy of American Embassy in Bucharest

Although there’s zero mention of it on the American Embassy’s website, the American charge d’affairs, Duane C. Butcher, made a quick little stopover in Cluj yesterday to visit long-time embassy snitch Emil Boc.

The only reason we know about it is because he gave a brief statement to the local Realitatea and Digi24 crews (video at the link). The article caught the Unsleeping Eye’s attention because it was entitled “You should be worried about the crisis in Ukraine!”

Really? I thought I already dispensed with that bullshit. Of course Russia isn’t going to invade Romania! Why would they? And it’s not like the Romanian economy is going to be affected as there is almost zero trade with Ukraine. The Ukrainian currency is in the toilet and, exactly as I predicted, Ukrainian grain futures are plummeting, but Romania hasn’t been affected whatsoever.

But I shouldn’t be so hard on poor little Duane, who is nothing but a meek little office mouse who does what he’s told to do and says what he’s told to say. That’s why he’s spouting this bullshit about how Romania should be “worried” about Ukraine. Little D is a nobody, a bench warmer keeping the embassy running until Washington bothers to send in a new ambassador, the kind of guy who is grateful that his wife lays out his clothes for him in the morning.

During his mini “presser”, Little D also faithfully repeated his masters’ mantra, which requires thanking Romania yet again for its participation in NATO. I’ve been noticing lately how weird it is that Basescu gives all of his press conferences in front of four flags, two Romanian ones, one EU one and a NATO one. Who else does that? I can’t find a single other instance of another president who always stands in front of a NATO flag during official speeches. Even the presidents of the Baltic countries, who are all fiercely anti-Russian and thus grateful members of NATO, don’t give all their press conferences standing in front of a NATO flag. Only Basescu does that.

Little D doesn’t speak Romanian, which is nothing new for the American Embassy, but still though you’d think one of his staffers might’ve mentioned this. The CSM (organization of court judges in Romania) is debating whether or not to make information about criminal cases available to the public. Little D was in Cluj and it turns out that the Cluj County CSM is pressing hard to seal all criminal case records and make them unavailable to the public (my translation):

Judges and prosecutors of the CSM have begun to modify their guidelines on collaborating with the press but are not consulting the press on the proposed changes, only polling court officials throughout Romania on their opinion in the matter.

Some judges and prosecutors believe that the press should have only limited access to criminal case proceedings and that in some cases the press should be denied all access. Other judges are of the opinion that there should be some limited, but not complete, transparency. Almost all of the judges are of the opinion that the media’s access to court cases should be regulated.

Gosh, now what did Little D have to say about that? Nothing, of course.

In fact, it’s been me who has been saying all along that the lack of judicial transparency is a huge problem in this country. But I’m no charge d’affairs so what I say doesn’t carry much weight, unfortunately.

I used to work for the local government in America and guess what? Our records were public. In fact, most of them were online. Not only that, but because I was a public servant, my salary was public record too. Our budget was public. How our department spent our money was public. Everything was public record. Do you know why? Because it’s the public who is paying for all of it. And when you’re spending the people’s money, the people have a right to know what you’re doing with it.

How’s this for irony? I could call my (hypothetical) broker tomorrow and tell him to buy me one share of Apple stock on the Bucharest exchange. That would then make me an Apple stockholder and thus, by law, the company has to send me quarterly detailed reports about what they’re doing with my money. There’s more transparency coming from a private corporation halfway around the globe than right here in Cluj, where nobody knows what in the hell the government is doing.

In America, court cases were public too, with only very rare exceptions (such as when a minor child was the victim). Hell, as screwed up as the United States is, the public still has full and unfettered access to both criminal and civil cases. Remember Zacarias Moussaoui? He was convicted of terrorism and yet his complete court case is online. Almost everything is public, including records of every single person arrested in the state of Florida, all of which are online.

Meanwhile whenever I say Romania’s court cases should be made public, people link to one or two sentencing declarations or other bits of legalia floating around but I’ve yet to see an entire case, including transcripts, trial exhibits and witness testimony, ever released to the public. Yet try to get a copy of the trial transcripts of Sorin Apostu’s case, the former mayor who was convicted and jailed for corruption and taking bribes. Go ahead, I dare you.

Back to the article on the CSM’s proposed rule changes:

The Cluj Court of Appeals has told the CSM that the press should not have access to court records and that the court believes that all criminal court records should be made secret.

What should Romania be worried about more, Russian soldiers a thousand kilometers away in Crimea or the CSM moving towards banning the press (and the public) from access to court cases?

According to Traian “NATO flag” Basescu and Little D Butcher, the answer is the Russians.

5 thoughts on “Threat Assessment

  1. I really don’t know what effect the situation in Ukraine will have on Romania (if any), but for sure banning the press and public from access to court records and proceedings is a big problem. It’s also a problem that can be fixed by Romania–can’t really say that about what is happening in Ukraine.


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