Dodge City on the Hudson — The Bizarre Dominique Strauss-Kahn Affaire
Recently by Eric Margolis: Graveyard of Empires
Sacré Bleu! Last Friday, US prosecutors revealed that the hotel maid who had accused former International Monetary Fund chief Strauss-Kahn of raping her in his hotel suite was a serial liar.
She had lied about being raped to get into the US, lied on her tax returns, and lied on numerous other issues. She had been taped discussing $100,000 payments with jailed drug dealers. Media sources in New York asserted she was a prostitute who routinely serviced hotel clients.
It is unprecedented for prosecutors to discredit their own star witness. The city's red-faced DA, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., probably did so because of rumors that the defense, which had assigned a number of crack investigators to check into the maid's background, was about to go public with the embarrassing information.
Strauss-Kahn (universally known as DSK) has now been released from house arrest under which he had to pay for an armed guard to watch him. His cost to avoid being locked up with murderers and armed robbers in New York's ghastly prison gulag, Riker's Island, was said to be $100,000 weekly.
New York's bumbling prosecutors still insist they will proceed with the case. So will the maid's damage-seeking civil suit, at least for now. But legal experts here say DSK is increasingly likely to be acquitted now that his accuser has been exposed as a liar and fraudster.
This incredible circus puts the US justice system on trial before the eyes of the world. The Wild West frontier arrest and treatment of DSK, the lynch-mob mood, the media orgy, and his public humiliation make the US look like a nasty third world state where prosecutors and media collude. Such has often been the fate of people charged by the government with terrorism.
Getting the scalp of a famous Frenchman, not justice, was the goal of US prosecutors. Many New Yorkers hate France for its past criticism of Israel and its past insubordination to US political demands, and so were delighted to see this French bigwig humiliated and debased.
The judicial near lynching of DSK also profoundly humiliated France. DSK was expected to win next year's French presidential election. France's current president, Nicholas Sarkozy, is highly unpopular with the public and looked almost certain to be defeated by DSK – if he had decided to quit as head of the IMF and run as the Socialist presidential candidate.
Until last Friday, France's Socialists appeared doomed to defeat. Their assorted candidates induced sleep and yawns, not cheers of support. Sarkozy must have thanked his lucky stars when DSK was arrested on sordid charges that shocked and horrified France.
But now, in an amazing reversal of fortune, DSK may actually beat the rap in New York and return to France. The able Christine Lagarde has replaced him at the IMF, relieving DSK the decision of staying on there or returning to French politics.
France's left is beyond elated by the impending collapse of the DSK trial. Not only have the ruinous charges against him been exposed as lies, but DSK may well emerge from the legal ordeal as a martyr.
All France noted the dignity and courage with which DSK and his wife Anne Sinclair bore their public humiliation and the threats of 30 years in prison.
So if Strauss-Kahn escapes the legal quick-sands in New York, he could quickly return triumphant to France and begin campaigning against President Sarkozy. That's a big if. He may also sit on the sidelines until the next presidential elections, five years hence.
However, in a dizzying new twist to this drama, a French female journalist, TristaneBanon, is apparently going to charge DSK with attempting to rape her in 2003. She claims not to have reported the alleged assault out of fear for her career. DSK claims she is delusional and a publicity-seeker.
Welcome to the next round of the war of the sexes.
Many French will be convinced that their first impression after DSK was arrested — that he was victim of a nefarious political plot or financial shakedown — was correct. The finger of suspicion will point at those who could have benefitted from his humiliation and conviction.
If the chambermaid episode was indeed a plot, it was conceived and executed with great skill and daring. DSK's notoriety as a satyr, that is, a man obsessed by sexual desire and conquering females, was artfully used to draw him into this honey trap. Paris has long been abuzz with tittle-tattle about his sexual escapades in private and public. We may see the handwork of professionals.
Angry feminists who claimed the maid was a victim of male sexism and oppression will be rightly embarrassed. Those males who claim that women are too prone to untruths and fanciful accounts will feel vindicated. Rape is a horrible crime, but the scales of justice in North America have tilted too far to the accuser who is by now assumed to almost always be speaking the truth.
More important, the US prosecutors who allowed this circus to occur should be fired and sent to North Dakota. America's justice system is embarrassing and
desperately needs to be elevated to civilized standards.
Arresting and humiliating DSK on trumped up evidence, and as if he was a notorious mass murderer, is outrageous and dim-witted. If cleared of charges, he should launch the mother of all law suits against New York's publicity-seeking legal vigilantes.
The skirt-chasing DSK is an unlikely model, but he may end up teaching the US a lesson that it badly needs in civilized behavior and judicial caution.
Eric Margolis [send him mail] is the author of War at the Top of the World and the new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World. See his website.