SYNDICATED COLUMN: Guilty After Proven Innocent

Make DSK Whole—Then Jail Him

“Innocent until proven guilty.” We say it. We teach it to our children. But we don’t believe it.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, charged with ambushing a hotel cleaning person at a hotel in midtown Manhattan and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, has been released.

This was not the usual case of a well-heeled defendant wielding money and influence to weasel out of responsibility for his crime. To the contrary, the NYPD and district attorney believed the alleged victim, initially characterized as a hard-working immigrant struggling to support her family. The cops aggressively pursued DSK, as the French media calls him. They even subjected him to the “perp walk” that signifies official contempt.

But that’s all over. District attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. says the case has fallen apart. The victim was unreliable at best, a conwoman at worst. The charges are dead. DSK is free.

Innocent until proven guilty, right?


But not really.

When you’re accused, the story screams in blood-red 112-point type above the fold on page one for weeks on end. When you’re exonerated, it runs one column-inch buried in the classifieds—on the day all your friends, relatives and colleagues happen to miss the paper.

Strauss-Kahn won’t go to prison. Not for whatever happened or didn’t happen at the Sofitel. (He will face a rape charge filed by a French reporter, who accuses him of going after her “like a chimpanzee in rut” years ago.)

Though legally innocent, DSK will not be restored to his job leading the International Monetary Fund, which he was forced to resign as he cooled his heels at Rikers Island. No reason given. Just: no.

Before getting dragged out of his first-class seat on an Air France jet bound for Paris, the deaccused rapist was widely considered a frontrunner for the Socialist Party’s nomination for the French presidency. Now George W. Bush has a better chance than DSK of moving into Elysée Palace. Too much dirt has come out. Legally innocent he may be, but too many voters harbor doubts.

Like the old Soviet Union, the United States and its Western puppet states (France included) mindlessly repeat too many sweet-sounding slogans devoid of real meaning: “Equal justice under the law.” “All men are created equal.” “One man, one vote.”

“Innocent until proven guilty.”

If legal innocence (i.e. the failure of the state to convict one of a crime) is to rise above the status of hollow rhetoric, people like DSK ought to be entitled to the full restoration of their pre-arrest status. In DSK’s case, he is morally entitled to his old job at the IMF and an open invitation by the French Socialists to run for his nation’s highest office. He also deserves to be compensated for the legal bills and bail costs he accrued during his ordeal.

Not many people reading this will agree with me. Which is my point: as a society, we don’t really believe in “innocent until proven guilty.”

We did not revel in Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest because of the crime that the legal system has since decided not to pursue, rape. We laughed and jeered because we hate(d) him.

We hate(d) DSK because he is rich and evil.

Had DSK been a run-of-the-mill accused rapist, few would have noticed and no one would have been as gleeful about his predicament. Here was the fearsome chief of the mighty IMF, an old, smug, white pig forced to shower with an electronic monitoring device locked to his ankle. “Le Perv!” shouted the New York Post.

How delicious!

After the arrest I published a cartoon showing DSK in a police interrogation room. I pride myself on my refusal to leap aboard media bandwagons, so I didn’t assume he was guilty. “What’s the big deal?” I showed him asking police detectives. “I’ve been raping the world for years!”

It takes a cruel genius to turn big profits on the backs of the world’s poorest people. Meet DSK’s IMF.

First IMF officials such as DSK convince the political leaders of say, Kyrgyzstan, that they could rapidly modernize their Fourth World backwater with a loan. Build some new highways! How about that long-awaited hydroelectric dam? Foreign corporations will rush in to do business! Paying us back will be a breeze!

This is, to be charitable, as overly optimistic as Countrywide telling slum dwellers they’ll never regret an adjustable-rate mortgage. There are good reasons that foreign firms do not invest in dumps like Kyrgyzstan. Those reasons do not change because there’s a new airport road or a new four-star hotel.

Increase in GDP or no, the IMF loans come due. What to do? IMF experts parachute in. Their recommendation: “structural adjustment.” No more profligate spending on social programs. Close those pricy health clinics! The IMF is the world’s biggest loan shark.

Ripped social safety nets cause social unrest. Kyrgyzstan, once relatively stable, was propped up by IMF loans in the late 1990s. They came due, forcing the poor nation to curtail social spending. It has since been swept by a series of riots, coups, ethnic cleansing and even warlordism.

Here in the United States, IMF-style gangster capitalism takes the form of Republican/Tea Party “starve the beast” demagoguery. There’s always money for rich people. And for wars. And for wars that make rich people richer. For the poor and middle-class, Medicare and Social Security are ostentatious and unaffordable luxuries. Socialized medicine, guaranteed cost-of-living increases and unlimited unemployment benefits are off the table.

It is this economic outlook, devoid of humanity and contemptuous of people’s basic needs, that Dominique Strauss-Kahn represents.

We all hate him. We hate those like him. That perp walk looked so…right.

He deserves prison, no doubt about it. Until there’s a revolution, however, DSK will never suffer for the crimes he committed as a globe-trotting financier.

Even as DSK flew first-class and left his most intimate DNA in $450-a-night suites at four-star hotels, his IMF was demanding that the citizens of Greece and Portugal slash pensions and hike college tuition. That is his biggest crime, undeniable and unforgivable, and the one for which he and those like him should someday face justice.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is



  • Dear Ted – Well said. For many years, the good ‘ol’ USA was a place where you could always hope for a trial that was well above the other standards in the world. ( Yeah, maybe not always, but usually much better as compared to most of the world at various times) – Now, this has become a media/Internet entertainment clusterfuck – such as DSK and the Casey Whatever Trial.

  • Whoops – pressed the wrong key – Excuse me – As an American citizen and soldier, I can now say that I am very sad to see where my country has gone. Yeah – I have family and relatives here, but they seem incapable of understanding that their country has become a tyrant ruled by a dictatorship. It has happened so slowly, that they can’t realize it. The idea of killing so many people and our own, stripping old women of their pampers to search them at airports, and more are sickening. Since you are all talk and no walk yourself – What do you suggest, Ted?

  • I really enjoy all your columns (even those I disagree with, because at least those have well reasoned, argued, and researched arguments unlike much of the lies and drivel I am forced to look at elsewhere) but this one is particularly good. There is a whole slew of good and interesting points made here. It flows and is concise despite having multiple theses. All the while it is well flavored with that special Ted Rall vitriol sauce made from a home brew of mocking contempt sprinkled with hints of muted rage which can make your writing so invigorating.

    This does bring me to the topic of your Al Jazeera columns. I am sure as writer with a lot to say the 2000 words (I think you said that is what it was) is nice. But while you have certainly used them to write a number of interesting things, you tend to be a bit rambley in those longer columns. They have less of the clean and concise flow, focus, and ideal pacing that are characteristic of your shorter columns. I am not suggesting that you give them up or try to shorten them. Just that it seems like you need to find your stride with them, which I am sure will happen as you continue to do them. My point is that these short columns of yours are lean and mean, while your new longer ones have some unappealing fat a gristle on them.

    • I hear you. It’s a challenging format, and like anything it takes practice to get better. I hope they’re still worth reading.

  • DSK got more-or-less justice. Delayed, and with loss of his position at IMF, a position that Mr. Rall considers a crime.

    About half of commenters say, even if the woman is a proven liar and prostitute, if a woman says she was raped, then she was raped. After all, it is certainly possible for a liar and prostitute to be raped. Rape of a woman by a man, they say, is different from other crimes. If I say someone robbed me, I have to prove ownership of the item he either has or, if he doesn’t have it, I also have to prove he has fenced it. A fairly large group say a charge of rape should require absolutely no proof of any kind beyond the woman’s word (a strange reaction to cases where, e.g., the woman’s clothes were taken as proof of consent). Of course, we have DNA evidence that some kind of sex took place, but we also have a very, very strange recorded telephone call by the victim (if that’s what she was).

    So it’s a case that will be in law schools for years.

    But prosecutors say they need hard proof of DSK’s guilt, and they aren’t sure if they have it.

    If only he were an accused terrorist. He could be subjected to enhanced interrogation until his screams were correctly interpreted by witnesses who don’t even speak his language as a confession, which, for an accused terrorist subjected to enhanced interrogation, is irrefutable proof of guilt.

  • Oh certainly, please don’t get the wrong idea. I sincerely hope you continue to do your Al Jezzera pieces and I both hope and believe you will improve on them. I enjoy all your columns, I am just suggesting there is a discernible difference in the quality between your shorter and longer columns relative to the high standards set by the frame of reference defined by your shorter ones.

    To be more specific I am suggesting that it strikes me that the issue has to do with the flow. The shorter ones feel compact, sharp, and fast. The longer ones, seem a little bit rambley and unfocused by comparison even when they have a clear thesis. This doesn’t mean that I think you should shorten your longer essays but that to reach the same skill level with them you will need to overcome the challenge of maintaining the pace, streamline, and focus over a longer space of words. It is a difficult job and one I certainly could not do to any acceptable degree.

    I generally try to offer constructive criticism to everyone, but often I just come off as being a cranky and whiny bastard. It is my own fault that this is so even though it is not my intention to come off as such.

  • The accuser lied, or perhaps only exaggerated, her experiences in Africa to bolster her asylum application. Who wouldn’t lie to get out of a third world hellhole? It doesn’t mean she’s likely than an average person to fabricate an allegation against a stranger from whole cloth.

    Rape is about control. Its a manifestation of the same alpha dog humping the couch cushions drive for dominance that led DSK to be such a ruthlessly exploitive IMF chief. That shitbag is guilty as sin. He may walk, but look on the bright side. He won’t become president of France. Given that France has the 5th largest nuclear arsenal in the world, DSK’s arrest undoubtedly did more to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of a psychopath than the entire war on terror.

  • How can you say France is a U.S. puppet state? The U.S. fought the Vietnam War to back a puppet government of France. At the same time France left NATO to negotiate lucrative transfers of sensitive technology to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Even our recent blunder in Libya can be best explained by Sarkozy needing a good distraction abroad in order to win reelection. I’m not saying we’re France’s puppet, but we’re certainly been their dupe often enough that there’s no way the can be our puppet.

    People have the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty by the law. They do not have the right to demand that other people have a good opinion of them or continue to deal with them once evidence casting doubt on their integrity surfaces. Ted, would you want a lawyer who was suspected of embezzlement handling a relative’s estate, or a doctor who was suspected of molestation examining your kids? Its not always fair, since accusations are sometimes false, but its inevitable. Its not a defect in our system. If anything a sign of health that such information is not censored.

    Based on the publicly available facts I’d guess there’s probably about a 95% chance DSK is a rapist. If reasonable doubt is 99% certainty, than DSK should not go to jail. However, the French voters should damn well know what they have a 95% chance of getting if they choose him as their next president.

    • France is a US puppet state NOW. The old independence, like kicking out NATO in the 1960s, is long dead. Sarkozy is a Bush hangover and an embarassment.