Few Americans know the names “George Tanois” or “Julian Khater.” But we all should.
Not since Woodrow Wilson’s Department of Justice imprisoned Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene Debs during World War I has the federal government punished protesters as brutally as it is punishing Tanios, Khater and other Jan. 6 demonstrators.
Debs served nearly three years in prison for making a speech that “obstructed recruiting” before Wilson’s Republican successor, Warren G. Harding, commuted his 10-year sentence.
For at least a century now liberals like Wilson have shown little affection for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, or due process. If the DOJ has its way, Khater and Tanios will serve much longer than Debs.
Khater, 32, and Tanios, 39, restauranteurs and long-time friends, made the trek from Pennsylvania and West Virginia respectively to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 to register their discontent with the election process.
The Department of Justice believes their motives were more sinister. An affidavit for a search warrant claims the two “were working in concert and had a plan to use the toxic spray against law enforcement.”
The two men were arrested on March 14 and charged with several crimes including four counts related to possession and use of a “deadly or dangerous weapon.”
That alleged weapon was a can of chemical spray. Police use such sprays themselves because, however irritating, they are not deadly or dangerous.
At one point, Khater allegedly told Tanios, “They just f***ing sprayed me.” He is then “seen holding a white can with a black top that appears to be a can of chemical spray.”
According to the affidavit, Khater was later observed “with his right arm up high in the air, appearing to be holding a canister in his right hand and aiming it in the officers’ direction while moving his right arm from side to side.” He was standing “five to eight feet away from the officers.”
If true, this was obviously an act unworthy of a Trump supporter. That said, a Portland cop catches more abuse on the average weeknight. The average Portland cop abuser, however, is usually back out on streets by the next night’s riot, not locked in solitary confinement in a D.C. prison.
Incredibly, Khater and Tanios are among “the dozens” of protesters currently being held in D.C. jails while the Justice Department slow walks their cases through the courts. The pair faces up to 20 years in prison.
The case against the two men lost its emotional punch last week when the D.C. chief medical examiner announced that chemical irritant exposure played no role in the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
A Trump supporter himself, Sicknick died of a series of strokes more than 100 days before the medical examiner got around to announcing the cause.
After weeks of trumpeting the conspiracy theory that Trump supporters clubbed Sicknick to death with a fire extinguisher, the media switched to the bear spray conspiracy theory only to see that fall apart.
The power of the murder narrative, however, assured that there were would be minimal public pushback to the DOJ’s draconian treatment of the Trump protesters.
At the time of Tanios’s detention hearing, Julie Kelly reports in American Greatness, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Aloi had this to say to Tanios, a first-generation Lebanese American.
“Everyone in our country knows what happened on January 6. … we have created this culture, radicalized by hate, and just refusal to really accept the result of a democratic process.”
In truth, no one knows what happened on Jan. 6 any more than one knows what happened on Nov. 3, including the judge. Although he acknowledged Tanios did not use the spray and had no criminal record, he ordered him to jail nonetheless.
The prosecution is relying almost exclusively on videotape to make their case against Khater, Tanios and the other protesters, and they are not willing to share much of it with the defense attorneys.
The media strategy to date has been to shame elected Republicans into silence on this transparent injustice. Unfortunately, the strategy seems to be working.
Jack Cashill’s latest book, “Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply,” is now on pre-sale. His recent book, “Unmasking Obama: The Fight to Tell the True Story of a Failed Presidency,” is widely available. See www.cashill.com for more information.
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