- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2003

Nobles: The engineers who gave us dialysis and direction.
Their faces aren't familiar, but their extraordinary, life-saving inventions are so common that we often take their work for granted: Dr. Willem Kolff, Mr. Bradford Parkinson and Mr. Ivan Getting, the winners of this year's the National Academy of Engineering's most prestigious prize.
You could call Dr. Willem Kolff, the 91-year- old inventor awarded the Russ Prize, the first bionic man. Certainly he's earned his other title, the "Father of Artificial Organs." Dr. Kolff stitched together a kidney dialysis prototype from sausage casings and a water-pump part from a Ford dealer while he was living under Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. He's been developing life-saving devices ever since, including the artificial heart, the heart-lung machine that permits open-heart surgery and the artificial eye.
While he has paused to pick up many awards, including medicine's Lasker Prize, he never took the time to patent any of his inventions. He's too busy even now, working on another life-saving invention that should make many breathe easier an artificial lung.
Hikers, ship captains, car drivers and soldiers all breathe easier thanks to Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson, the creators of the Global Positioning System (GPS), who were honored this week with the Draper Prize. Mr. Getting was one of the first advocates, and certainly the foremost, for such a system in the 1950s. Mr. Parkinson led the program that took Mr. Getting's plans from the blueprints to the satellite system we are all familiar with.
Thanks to the noble work of Messrs. Parkinson, Getting and Kolff, most of us can hope to live a bit longer, and spend less time getting lost.

Knaves: The German sentencing system for giving an amazingly light sentence to an accessory to more than 3,000 deaths.

Even before he was convicted this week in a German court for giving aid and assistance to the September 11 hijackers, Mounir el Motassadeq was an admitted terrorist. He admitted to attending a training camp run by Osama bin Laden. He admitted to being friends with Mohammed Atta. He even lived for a while in Hamburg with Atta and two other September 11 hijackers Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah.
In fact, Motassadeq knew Atta so well that he signed his will. Motassadeq was so close to al-Shehhi that he had power of attorney over his bank account. He used that power to give the hijackers the appearance of normal German university students by paying their bills for tuition and rent. As Judge Albrecht Mentz noted, Motassadeq was "a cog that kept the machinery going."
Given Motassadeq's culpability in the terrible crimes of September 11, not to mention his training as a terrorist and his demonstrated ability to assist others, the German courts had every reason to lock him up for life. Yet, where justice succeed, sentencing failed.
For being an accessory to 3,066 deaths and for his further conviction of five counts of accessory to attempted murder and accessory to causing bodily injury, Motassadeq received the maximum sentence permitted under German law 15 years in prison. He will serve at least 10 of those, but he won't serve any more than 15.
Even if he serves the maximum, Motassadeq will be out of his cage when he is merely 43 years old, thanks to the knavish German sentencing system. After having had 15 years to nurse his bitterness, to further develop his network, to plan and to plot, Motassadeq will be back on the street.
Statistically speaking, when Motassadeq is released, he will have another 30 years ahead of him to grow old with his wife and enjoy his grandchildren something the 3,066 victims of his crimes will never enjoy. Perhaps even worse, Motassadeq will also have another 30 years to develop, to aid and to assist additional September 11-style attacks.


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