Guest Columns

HUDSON: A CONTINUING SAGA

The Denver Post competes for readers directly with the National Enquirer

The banner headline, “Saudi Accused in hit plan,” splashed across page one of Friday’s Denver Post may have caught your attention. Holy cow, was there finally evidence that Homaidan al-Turki, the Colorado inmate recently transferred into the federal prison system for fuzzy reasons, was actually guilty of ordering the assassination of Corrections Chief Tom Clements? No, it wasn’t that. If you were curious enough to work your way to paragraph 14 on page 9, you would discover that al-Turki was accused six years ago by a mentally ill prisoner of threatening to kill him. The subsequent investigation failed to produce any confirmation for the charge, and no finding of complicity was recorded or any disciplinary action taken.

This complaint still appears on al-Turki’s inmate “incident” report, however, together with a dozen or more additional complaints that have been leveled and later dismissed against the Saudi national during his eight year residence in Colorado’s prison system. Corrections institutions operate something like junior high school locker rooms where “mean girls” file groundless complaints for the sheer thrill of stirring up animosity. An incident file exists for every prisoner, where most of the reports prove groundless.

So, why was any of this discussed at al-Turki’s sentencing hearing where he is seeking a transfer to Saudi Arabia to serve out his probation? The ill-fated sex offender, who has now completed his eight year sentence, finds himself an unlikely political football in next year’s Governor’s race. George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County District Attorney who has publicly announced his keen interest in the Governor’s race, hopes to ride his death penalty prosecution of James Holmes for the Aurora theater massacre and his ‘tough on Muslims’ insistence on the continued incarceration of al-Turki to a November election victory.

The Saudi national’s hearing was continued over until next Thursday when your intrepid correspondent will attempt to provide a complete report on the proceedings. Meanwhile the Arapahoe Sheriff’s department has placed snipers on the roof of the county jail and marched al-Turki into court in shackles, including handcuffs attached to a waist chain around his bright red jumpsuit, wearing pathetically flimsy orange plastic sandals. Al-Turki is being held on a 23 hour a day ‘protective’ lockdown and yesterday his brother, a medical doctor who has been caring for the al-Turki family in Saudi Arabia and traveled here to testify on his brother’s behalf, was refused a brief personal meeting with the prisoner — charming behavior from our justice system. A Sheriff’s deputy did promise to consider relaxing these circumstances for a prisoner that both the defense and prosecution agree is a low risk inmate. I wouldn’t hold my breath, however. Brauchler evidences the ferret like intensity of a jailer at the Salem witch trials.

Assistant District Attorney Ann Tomsic raised concerns about the quality of sex offender treatment that al-Turki would receive in a nation that appears on the Secretary of State’s list of human trafficking violators. This concern was expressed with a straight face, despite the fact that the Colorado Department of Corrections’ own offender treatment program recently received a scathing audit for the thoroughgoing inadequacy of its design and delivery of client services. Not to mention the fact that America is ranked by the United Nations as the single largest consumer of illegal drugs on the planet. Therefore, I presume Tomsic would suspect the quality of our addiction treatment programs? Of course, the Saudis impose capital punishment for many serious drug crimes, which has to be a money saver for them — something a candidate for Governor could talk about.

Miller Hudson can be reached at: mnhwriter@msn.com.