Hey, things are lookin up, my ne'er-do-well friends. Apparently, this thing called the modern day, which just happens all by itself, as easily as a clock ticking, has landed us another fabulous 'Eureka!". No more do we ugly Americans have to worry about carrying drugs into far away nations, that in the past locked our lame asses up indefinately. Now with the Senator-in-your-pocket, get-out-of-Dubai-jail-free game, lifetime incarceration is just another word for "Honey, could you get Orrin Hatch on the phone?"
On May 19th, Dallas Austin (maybe his mom was a big fan of Texas), music producer from the fine state of Georgia, flew to Dubai to attend Naomi Campbell's 3-day birthday bash. Pulled over at customs, Dallas was searched and his gram of cocaine confiscated. Initially charged with trafficking, then knocked down to possession, Austin was tried and convicted on July 4th, and sentenced to 4 years. Yet a mere hours later he was flying home to Atlanta.
Immediately after Austin's arrest the phones rang from Dubai to Bahrain, Washington, DC to Pakistan, involving "multiple ambassadors, a prime minister, a prince, Lionel Ritchie, the senator, and religious leaders in Atlanta". (J. Leeds & S.Waxman, New York Times, July 8, 2006) I have to say if I was in a prison in an Arab Emirate country I would try to do better on the Vegas ladder than Lionel Ritchie; I'd at least drop a dime to Tom Jones!
And the reason these uber influential types threw their jail break efforts into the ring was in fact all due to the melodious stirrings of Orin G. Hatch, the Senator from Utah and hitmaker extrodinaire. Orrin and Dallas share an entertainment lawyer, Joel Katz, who undoubtedly makes many more millions on R & B producer Austin than religio-patrio-babble crooner Hatch. Although Hatch was the lynchpin in this pardon, as he is the man who supported DP World in the take over of security of NY/NJ ports debaucle last spring. That aside, the crazy amount of lawyers, long distance telephone calls and letters of testimony on Austin's fine character show that can-do American spirit sure does blaze mighty when one of your own is in trouble. Brings a tear to my eye to see our government leaders working so hard for our boys overseas...
And what about the fine upstanding justice system in Dubai? How does this pardon sit with the rulers in charge of doing all the ruling? " 'In an issue like this it is not unusual,' said Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, head of Dubai Police, who said he was speaking in general terms and could not discuss the case in detail. 'It is preferable to me that a foreigner who is caught in something like this be returned home rather than be kept here in prison for four years, costing us lots of resources.' " (J. Leeds & S.Waxman, New York Times, July 8, 2006) I guess we can read between the lines here and assume that Dubai wants to be known as an ecologically sensitive country and worries about leaving a larger than necessary ugly footprint on Mother Earth. Therefore they would rather conserve their prisons for future use, and have them ready when they might really be needed.