Friday, April 8, 2005

Two Towns - 224

[This episode was skillfully written to compare incidents in two towns: Kresge OK and Talasura Iraq; and two people undergoing trials. It is actually the same plot in two different settings with differently named characters; and, is quite good considering H and M are in "parallel play," again.] Lance Cpl Scott Van Arsdale and two of his buddies saw Ma'Mun Al-Reza hurry distractedly out of the platoon mess tent just before a bomb exploded. Scott stopped to tie his shoe so was the only one of 17 reservists from Kresge not killed. Harm and Bud were sent to Kresge to help process survivor benefits, so happened to be in the story line to investigate the fire bombing of the Reserve Center. The whole town turned out to see Scott's homecoming. Mayor Hazlet, an attorney turned real estate agent, said that all of the boys had worked on their parents farms and had joined the reserves together in support of their country and families. They were combat engineers and none complained when they were called up. Within minutes of the center burning the sheriff caught Scott nearby, smelling like gas, and guiltily, preemptively saying you've got the wrong man. H heard that Scott had a "strong moral center" but had refused to talk to his pastor. Cliff Pardee, the military rejected brother of Scott's dead friend said that Scott was a "goody, goody" who "even picked up litter on the way to school." They heard nothing that exonerated Scott so they recommended article 32. The town, however, blockaded his removal to Washington saying "we've given up enough of our boys, you're going to have to fight for this one." They decided to hold the hearing in Kresge with H & B prosecuting. Hazlet decided to defend for free over Hs advice. Hazlet threw suspicion on Cliff who had an anger issue, punched a wall, siphoned gas from sisters car, had no witness for where he was during fire and had lied to H about why he was rejected from the service. After being rebuffed by Cliff H befriended his son, Donovan, who was carrying a cat that had lived in the recruiting station as a mascot. He said that he had been given the cat for safe keeping by Scott just before the fire set. With the new evidence he confessed, waived his article 32 rights and accepted punishment. He said that he was just so angry he didn't know what else he could do but that he was sorry he had deceived them. One by one, all of the town stood in his support.

Meanwhile Ma'Mun was being held under duress by Colonel Mazzone, trying to extract a confession. Cresswell sent Mac to the area because Mazzone wanted someone "who could relate" with the mother of Ma'Mun who was making a huge fuss. Ma'Mun had actually been working as spy FOR the US, against the village Sheikh who was a town tyrant, known terrorist and had been killed resisting apprehension. Ma'Mun's backpack was the explosive device but he claimed he had nothing in it except a few personal items including a Koran. He had left the tent realizing he had left his pass in the bathroom and going back to get it. You could tell M was not happy with Ma' Mun being tied to a chair for hours but participated in Mazzone's "plan." She visited his mother and said that as a prisoner of war and would continue to be regardless of her attempts to shout down elected officials, enlist al Jazeera or write threatening letters to US congressmen. "It must be working, you're here," she said. M replied that she had no authorization to change his status but if she would lower her tone "we could have a reasonable discussion." She then told M a very convincing story about being trained as an interpreter in Baghdad but fleeing with her son after the Shiite rebellion where all males between 18 and 60 were killed by SadDAM. Ma'Mun had convinced her to return last month, as safer and an opportunity to free the community. He had a vision where "boys like these could be educated." M said she couldn't see her son but asked for a letter. Then she told Ma'Mun she had seen his mother- but refused further information; and had a letter- that he couldn't see. Finally he signed a confession. M had to demand to tell the mother herself over Mazzone's objections. When she was told, Mrs. Al Reza asked "under what conditions," to which M didn't answer. She showed M Nabil, an orphan, delinquent boy, who she had chastised for throwing rocks. He had accused her of just being mad because the Sheik killed her son. He said he had been on a balcony and overheard the sheik talking to another man about putting a bomb in Ma'Mun's backpack. M found wire, semtex and defaced Koran pages in a boarded up shop. Mazzone bad-mouthed Ms evidence and request for stake out. She finally convinced him with simple investigative logic, confession extracted under duress, and why did you ask for someone who could relate unless you wanted me to "relate." They eventually did catch Mohammed Sadar, on the "hot list," coming back for his stuff, and got a confession from him.

The people in Kresge voted to donate 25% of son's life insurance policies for a war memorial to their son's. Ma'Mun was released and M had Mazzone go to a town meeting where a school was announced with Ma'Mun as the teacher. Mazzone would answer questions "about the occupation and how it will affect our lives." When everyone clamored to ask a question he murmured to M "What is this?" She told him, "Democracy, sir."

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