CIA piggy says he has diplomatic immunity and can't be tried for his crimes of kidnapping and torture!!!
Ex-CIA Agent in Milan Asks for Immunity
An Italian judge rejects the request of the retired station chief, wanted in a suspect's abduction.
By Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
ROME — He has not been arrested, and he's probably nowhere near Italy, but a former CIA station chief has begun to sketch his defense against charges he led a clandestine operation that kidnapped a radical Egyptian imam from the streets of Milan.
Robert Seldon Lady, identified by Italian prosecutors and law enforcement officials as the retired station chief in Milan, is one of 22 current or former CIA operatives for whom Italian prosecutors have issued arrest warrants in connection with the 2003 abduction. The cleric was seized on his way to a mosque and bundled off to an Egyptian jail, where he later said he was tortured.
The case is being watched closely because it threatens to expose in the greatest detail yet the Bush administration's practice of "extraordinary rendition," the transport of a suspect seized abroad by American agents to another country for interrogation without judicial approval. Renditions are an especially controversial element in a network of murky CIA counter-terrorism operations that is coming to light, including secret prisons and mysterious flights in Europe and beyond.
The practices are expected to be a major issue of discussion this week when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits several European capitals.
"One of the things she will be saying is, 'Look, we are all threatened by terror. We need to cooperate in its solution,' " national security advisor Stephen Hadley told "Fox News Sunday."
"As part of that cooperation for our part, we comply with U.S. law," he added. "We respect the sovereignty of the countries with which we deal. And we do not move people around the world so that they can be tortured."
In seeking to squash the arrest warrant that names him, Lady, 51, makes essentially two arguments, according to court documents provided to the Los Angeles Times. As an accredited consular officer at the U.S. Consulate in Milan, he enjoyed diplomatic immunity, Lady's attorneys argue. And without acknowledging the kidnapping, the attorneys argue that any such activity would have been carried out under the orders of the U.S. government and with the knowledge and permission of Italian officials. Italian law protecting state security shields Lady from having to answer to judicial authorities about such activities, the attorneys say.
But an Italian judge, Enrico Manzi, last week rejected the arguments and denied Lady's request for immunity. Manzi said Lady lost his immunity when he retired from the agency, and that immunity need not always apply if the alleged crimes are sufficiently serious.
Although Lady's attorney, Daria Pesce, said she planned to appeal, the ruling was a significant setback to defense efforts to make the case go away.
Although Lady had retired to northern Italy, he left the country ahead of the indictments, the first batch of which was issued in June. Manzi said evidence confiscated from Lady's home in the north was particularly compelling. This included surveillance photos of the abducted cleric, known as Abu Omar, and computer records mapping out the route from the Milan neighborhood where he was snatched to the U.S.-run Aviano Air Base, where he was placed on board a jet. Abu Omar is suspected by Italian law enforcement of helping to recruit militants and supporting terrorist attacks.
Publicly, the CIA has neither confirmed nor denied Lady's affiliation with the agency or any aspect of the Milan operation. Privately, some CIA officers have sought to portray it as the work of contractors. But the Italian court papers did not shy away from describing Lady's former job; and if he was involved, then the mission probably was directed at a top level.
In his role in American intelligence, Lady, "far from representing a serious threat … should be considered an important ally in the fight against international terrorism, which is highly destabilizing for the entire Western Hemisphere," attorney Pesce wrote in her court filing.
"Mr. Lady, in carrying out the duties typical of a supervisor of the American intelligence agency CIA, could well have assumed the role of a member of a special diplomatic mission, sent by the U.S.A. to Italy with, we reiterate, the indispensable authorization of our state," she added.
Members of such "special diplomatic missions" normally enjoy "absolute immunity" for acts performed on behalf of the state, she said.
The last claim is proving especially embarrassing for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a loyal ally of President Bush. Berlusconi has repeatedly denied that his government knew about or approved the Milan abduction.
Pesce, in an interview last week, said she was attempting to present a "hypothetical" scenario that shows Lady could not have acted without authorization. She emphasized that she did not have direct knowledge of Italian government complicity.
Armando Spataro, the lead prosecutor attempting to bring the CIA operatives to trial, issued the arrest warrants over the summer and, following protocol, last month asked the Italian Justice Ministry to demand the extradition of the agents from the United States.
But Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, who answers to Berlusconi, has so far refused to act and may have sought to undermine the case by calling Spataro a leftist militant. On Friday, Castelli again said he was still "studying" the matter.
Ex-CIA agent fights warrant for arrest
Items compiled from Tribune news services
Published December 10, 2005
ITALY -- A former CIA station chief accused in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan will go to Italy's Supreme Court if necessary to fight an arrest warrant from Italian prosecutors, his lawyer said Friday.
Robert Seldon Lady is one of 22 purported CIA agents accused in the purported Feb. 13, 2003, kidnapping of cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr.
Lady's lawyer, Daria Pesce, said that even though a Milan judge rejected her client's claim of immunity last month, Lady still believes that the evidence against him was collected illegally because of his status as a consular official.
Prosecutors raided Lady's home outside Asti earlier this year, collecting a picture of Nasr taken in January 2003 on the Milan street where he was allegedly abducted a month later.
this was a damn good article in the December 2005 issued of The Atlantic Review magazine. the writer interviewed many of the military men fighting the war and seemed to say that with perfect 20/20 hind site we have done just about every thing we could have possiblely done wrong in iraq. and that IF it's possible to win the war. and thats a big IF - then it will take many years of the US military staying in Iraq and it will cost tons of money.
althought the writer seems to be a bit pro-war from the perspective of an anti-war person like myself the article seemed to say that Iraq is doomed like Vietnam was and the only question will be is how long do we waste our time staying there before we leave and cut our losses. something one military man told the author by saying "we can either lose the war now if we leave, or lose the war and destroy the army if we stay in iraq" - its not an exact quote but its close enough.
here is the first page of the online article - i would include the whole article but you can only get it if you subscribe to the magazine which i dont.
The Atlantic Monthly | December 2005
Why Iraq Has No Army
An orderly exit from Iraq depends on the development of a viable Iraqi security force, but the Iraqis aren't even close. The Bush administration doesn't take the problem seriously—and it never has
by James Fallows
hen Saddam Hussein fell, the Iraqi people gained freedom. What they didn't get was public order. Looting began immediately, and by the time it abated, signs of an insurgency had appeared. Four months after the invasion the first bomb that killed more than one person went off; two years later, through this past summer, multiple-fatality bombings occurred on average once a day. The targets were not just U.S. troops but Iraqi civilians and, more important, Iraqis who would bring order to the country. The first major attack on Iraq's own policemen occurred in October of 2003, when a car bomb killed ten people at a Baghdad police station. This summer an average of ten Iraqi policemen or soldiers were killed each day. It is true, as U.S. officials often point out, that the violence is confined mainly to four of Iraq's eighteen provinces. But these four provinces contain the nation's capital and just under half its people.
The crucial need to improve security and order in Iraq puts the United States in an impossible position. It can't honorably leave Iraq—as opposed to simply evacuating Saigon-style—so long as its military must provide most of the manpower, weaponry, intelligence systems, and strategies being used against the insurgency. But it can't sensibly stay when the very presence of its troops is a worsening irritant to the Iraqi public and a rallying point for nationalist opponents—to say nothing of the growing pressure in the United States for withdrawal.
Bush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'
By DOUG THOMPSON
Dec 9, 2005, 07:53
Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office
to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the
controversial USA Patriot Act.
Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period
immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger
that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined
forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr
to oppose renewal.
GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous
provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at
the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel
Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.
“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the
Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case
that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s
just a goddamned piece of paper!”
I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they
all confirm that the President of the United States called the
Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”
And, to the Bush Administration, the Constitution of the United States
is little more than toilet paper stained from all the shit that this
group of power-mad despots have dumped on the freedoms that “goddamned
piece of paper” used to guarantee.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House counsel,
wrote that the “Constitution is an outdated document.”
Put aside, for a moment, political affiliation or personal beliefs. It
doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. It
doesn’t matter if you support the invasion or Iraq or not. Despite our
differences, the Constitution has stood for two centuries as the
defining document of our government, the final source to determine – in
the end – if something is legal or right.
Every federal official – including the President – who takes an oath of
office swears to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he cringes when someone calls
the Constitution a “living document.”
“"Oh, how I hate the phrase we have—a 'living document,’” Scalia says.
“We now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The
Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's sake.”
As a judge, Scalia says, “I don't have to prove that the Constitution
is perfect; I just have to prove that it's better than anything else.”
President Bush has proposed seven amendments to the Constitution over
the last five years, including a controversial amendment to define
marriage as a “union between a man and woman.” Members of Congress
have proposed some 11,000 amendments over the last decade, ranging from
repeal of the right to bear arms to a Constitutional ban on abortion.
Scalia says the danger of tinkering with the Constitution comes from a
loss of rights.
“We can take away rights just as we can grant new ones,” Scalia warns.
“Don't think that it's a one-way street.”
And don’t buy the White House hype that the USA Patriot Act is a
necessary tool to fight terrorism. It is a dangerous law that infringes
on the rights of every American citizen and, as one brave aide told
President Bush, something that undermines the Constitution of the
But why should Bush care? After all, the Constitution is just “a
goddamned piece of paper.”
hey another question for kevin and laro.
im freezing my ass off in phoenix. its colder then shit now.
do the sadistic guards that run your prison keep it warm and toasty for you? or do they freeze you?
do they give you enought cloths to keep warm when you go outside? or again do the sadistic bastards that control your lives try to make you freeze to death.
prior to you guys going to prison i had this nieve view that they actually took care of your needs while your were in prison. but seeing the commissary lists you guys have it seems like they pay you slave labor wages and then make you take care of your own needs when it comes to things like toilet paper and clothes. is that the way it is now that cold weather is here. you have to buy all your own clothes thru the commissary is you want to keep warm.
and laro what is your new job at the prison? i think in tucson you said you made kosher food. what do you do at safford? kevin was cleaning shows but now he is helping one of his masters make a prison newsletter.
Dec. 04, 2005
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: If a black man is armed, is he a criminal?
An "old police tradition of requiring off-duty officers to carry their weapons -- 'always armed, always on duty' -- is being scaled back in police departments nationwide following the shootings of off-duty officers by colleagues who thought they were criminals," The Associated Press reported Nov. 28 in a story datelined Providence, R.I.
Providence's policy is now being re-examined as the city faces a $20 million civil rights lawsuit over the shooting of Sgt. Cornel Young Jr., who was killed in 2000 while he was off duty and trying to break up a fight.
Young's mother says the rookie officer who shot her son was not adequately trained to recognize off-duty or plainclothes officers.
Earlier this year, an Orlando police officer fatally shot a plainclothes colleague who was investigating underage drinking outside the Citrus Bowl. The plainclothes officer had gotten into a scuffle with tailgaters and fired his gun into the air.
In 2001, two uniformed officers shot and killed an undercover detective when he pointed his gun at a suspected car thief in Oakland, Calif.
So now, the 20,000-member International Association of Chiefs of Police has called for off-duty officers who witness a crime to call for assistance rather than pulling a weapon.
You don't need bifocals to read between the lines and see where that's heading: No cop needs to carry a gun when off duty. At which point, how long do you suppose it will be before we're told, "Not even off-duty cops can carry guns anymore; surely an average civilian, without a peace officer's level of training, shouldn't be allowed to blunder around carrying one of these indiscriminate weapons of death."
First let us point out a vital component of this reported trend that The Associated Press seems too politically correct to note: rookie Providence police officer Cornel Young Jr. was a young black man.
Add that fact to the equation, and let us see if we can summarize the logical chain of argument at hand:
1) When police officers see people carrying or drawing guns who they cannot readily identify as fellow police officers, they tend to shoot them and ask questions later, especially if they're black.
2) This is leading to the deaths of off-duty cops by friendly fire.
3) The solution is to discourage or prevent off-duty officers from using or carrying firearms.
Anyone else see a problem, here? How about that first premise?
America is an armed nation. The Second Amendment guarantees each American the right to own and carry firearms. Further, the 14th Amendment further bars any state or local authority from infringing this vital right for U.S. citizens. (And if you read your history books, you know the Congress meant especially "black citizens.")
In its 1997 study "Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms," the National Institute of Justice determined 25 percent of Americans own guns. In 1994, 44 million Americans owned 192 million firearms, of which 65 million were handguns. And John Lott has conclusively demonstrated, in his epochal book "More Guns, Less Crime," that whenever a state or county "allows" more law-abiding citizens to carry handguns, violent crime rates go down.
Instead of disarming off-duty cops so the police can continue to feel free to shoot anyone out of uniform who they see with a gun (especially if he's black), why not alter police training as follows?
"This is an armed nation. Twenty-five percent of your fellow 'civilians' own firearms, and have a God-given right to carry them around. Except for writing traffic tickets for revenue, they have just as much right to chase and apprehend a fleeing felon -- or to present a weapon in defense of themselves or others -- as you do. This includes black folks. Get used to it.
"So, even though it may initially seem to make our jobs harder, let's stop hassling people when we perceive they have guns. If a call comes in reporting a 'man with a gun,' let's ask whether the man is brandishing or threatening anyone, and otherwise advise the caller that being armed is not a crime.
"And, particularly, let's stop shooting people who draw their guns when they're being assaulted. Yes, pausing those extra few seconds may sometimes put your own life in danger. This is still a less-dangerous job than hard-rock mining or fishing in Alaska, and you volunteered for it."
No, the off-duty Florida officer should not have fired his gun into the air to break up a scuffle. That's dumb. But with all due respect to Young's grieving mother, no, the problem is not that Providence cops had trouble recognizing an off-duty fellow officer. The problem is that their first instinct when they saw a black man with a gun who was not obviously a police officer, was to shoot him.
The police chiefs should be urging more citizens to go armed so their men get used to it, not trying to turn us into a police state, which is defined as "a place where only the police carry guns."
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of "Send in the Waco Killers" and the new novel "The Black Arrow." His Web sites are www.TheLibertarian.us or www.LibertyBookShop.us.
another jobs program for cops and prison guards!!! and it also points out the failure of the government schools. if the mandatory government run public schools would teach women from first grade on that men do not have the right to abuse them and that they should leave any relationship like this most of this stuff would not be happening.
Responding to abuse
Police recognize growing role in ending domestic violence
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
Twenty years ago, domestic violence was considered a family affair. If police were called, they usually separated the couple, made them promise to knock it off and went on their way.
But then the state passed a law saying police must arrest domestic-violence offenders if there is physical injury or a weapon is involved.
Now, officers who once were reluctant to intervene say domestic violence is such a pervasive crime they need to be involved in stopping it. Not only does the cycle of violence invade every aspect of a victim's life, they say, but it also shapes the children who witness it, perpetuating more violence and anti-social behaviors down the road.
"It's just the ripple effect of domestic violence," said a detective in Maricopa County. "My sons and daughters who want to become police officers are going to be dealing with the same family, perhaps, 20 years from now."
Police attitudes toward domestic violence are being captured for the first time in a study, to be released today, by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. Proposed by the Governor's Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women, the study surveyed 777 officers around the state and included 31 personal interviews. The officers' names and agencies were kept confidential.
The study highlights the tremendous about-face in officer attitudes over the past two decades, but it also raises questions about officer training and education, prosecution and the state's ability to provide services and programs for victims to break the cycle of violence.
Officers say they need to respond to family violence incidents but they question whether the state's pro-arrest policy is working amid a lack of prosecution, and they often don't understand why victims go back to their abusers.
Among the findings:
• Nearly all the officers surveyed now believe domestic violence is a "real crime" that warrants their intervention, particularly because of its links to child abuse, animal abuse, substance abuse and other crimes within and outside the family. Nearly 72 percent agreed they should arrest offenders even when the victim says no. Twenty years ago, if a victim didn't want the batterer arrested, police didn't bother.
• Only 14.4 percent of officers felt prosecutors followed up effectively with domestic-violence cases. Statewide between January and August of this year, police made 16,880 domestic-violence arrests, but there were only 3,537 convictions. Officers said a lack of follow-up by prosecutors lessens the impact of arrest, discourages victims and emboldens batterers. And the majority said arrest alone seldom helps reduce future incidents, especially for abusers who don't work regularly or who use alcohol and drugs.
• Many officers sympathize with victims but don't understand why they return to abusers. Seventy-two percent agreed "Many DV victims could easily leave their relationships but don't," and only 20 percent agreed "Most DV victims are receptive to interventions by law enforcement."
"I've gone to these cases where the woman or man - it's happened both way - (says), 'I'm deathly afraid he's going to come back and kill me,' " said a supervisor in eastern Arizona. "And you say, 'Well, we need to get you to the shelter for the evening.' (And the victim says) 'Are you kidding? I can't leave my stereo. He'll come back and bust up my stereo.' Now, how seriously can you take this person?"
Domestic violence has been considered a criminal matter since the 1980s when research first suggested that arrest would deter suspected abusers from battering again.
Last year, it was one of the most common calls to Phoenix police, with officers responding to more than 54,000 domestic-violence incidents.
State law says officers must make an arrest in cases where there is physical injury or a deadly weapon is involved. They can arrest others, at their discretion, even if they don't witness the violence.
Officers and domestic-violence experts say police intervention could break the cycle of violence, giving the abused time to file an order of protection and seek shelter.
"It's not going to save everybody the first time," said Phoenix police Detective Heather Maldonado. "But by making that arrest, it gives them one more opportunity to get out.
"We're trying to help these people. This isn't normal. You don't have to live like this."
It's also a step toward holding batterers accountable immediately and teaching children who witness the violence that it's not OK to hit.
Dale Wiebusch, director of systems advocacy for the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said mandatory arrest works best when there is a coordinated response to the abuse that includes help for the victim and prosecution for the batterer. But "nobody wants to pay for that," Wiebusch said.
"If you're there with people and you support them and you get them hooked into other programs, they won't go back to those abusive situations," he said.
But Wiebusch said that means "everybody does their job. Cops arrest, prosecutors prosecute and judges sentence. When you get consistent behavior throughout the system, we'll start making a difference."
Officers across the state complained about a lack of prosecution, saying "we can't do it by ourselves," and without mandatory prosecution, "our time, money and efforts are a total waste."
"The prosecution thing doesn't occur . . . and the officers look at it as 'This (domestic violence) can't be as big a problem as everybody's telling me," said a supervisor in eastern Arizona.
Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Patty Stevens, who is chief of the Family Violence Bureau in Phoenix, said prosecutors are taking domestic violence seriously but sometimes they simply can't make a case.
The biggest hurdle is getting victims into court. Without their testimony, it often can be nearly impossible to prove the case to a jury.
"They're in a situation where they're either afraid to testify or maybe they're persuaded not to," Stevens said. "This (suspect) may be a means of financial support. They may be in part of the cycle where things are better, and they don't want to stir it up again.
"In certain cases we may have a concern that we're putting the victim in more harm. We can never say, 'We can protect you.' That would be a foolish thing to say."
As a result, prosecutors meet monthly with detectives and they have developed protocols to encourage more detailed investigations and educate 911 dispatchers, officers, attorneys and medical personnel on what evidence is needed.
"They're tough cases for everybody," Stevens said. "The battle's worth it. There are cases where our attorneys can see they've changed people's lives. There's nothing more important than that."
The Morrison study only looked at law enforcement and did not address how the rest of the system is working. It is the first step in a comprehensive look at Arizona's response to domestic violence that will help mold future policies and efforts to better address the problem, said Phoenix police Cmdr. Kim Humphrey. Similar studies of prosecutors and judges are planned.
"You can't just expect officers to fix it," Humphrey said. "There's a whole system that has to come together to intervene in this."
The state may need to adopt a "pro-prosecution" initiative to strengthen the response of the criminal-justice system, the study suggests. More should be done, too, to encourage community involvement in preventing domestic violence and to educate police on the dynamics that drive victim attitudes and behavior.
Domestic-violence experts say it can be more difficult than some officers realize for victims to leave. A batterer may be the sole financial support. The couple may have children together. A woman whose self-esteem has been broken may not be able to fathom how she could ever find a job and support herself. Plus, abuse often is followed by a sort of honeymoon stage where the batterer may apologize and promise it will never happen again.
"Every once in a while they get that glimpse of who they fell in love with, and they go back. They believe he's going to change," Phoenix Detective Maldonado said. "But he's always going to get violent."
Phoenix police are a month away from piloting an Internet training program that includes interviews with domestic-violence victims, Humphrey said
"You want people to stop saying, 'Why is she staying there?' There are valid reasons why even if they're not obvious to you," Humphrey said.
Maldonado said that while things are "obviously better now," domestic-violence cases are increasing, and "the key is not to become lax."
"It's not a piece of paper. There's someone who needs help," she said.
"We need to keep it up and keep on fighting so the victims know we're here, and we're not going anywhere."
the cops at scottsdale community college have sign posted all over saying that they videotape the place 24 hours a day. it wasnt until Michael Fischer parked his expensive hot rod under a video camera to protect it, and then when it got stolen that we found out that the cops at scottsdale college never put tape in the cameras.
Scottsdale college's security cameras working again
Dec. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
Scottsdale Community College's security cameras are up and running again after almost four months, but not soon enough for one student whose car was stolen from a campus parking lot.
"I couldn't believe it, especially since (surveillance warnings are) posted all over the place," Michael Fischer, a business marketing student, said of there being no record of the midday theft. "It gives you a false sense of security."
In late August, lightning disabled the camera system that monitors parking lots and some interior walkways, leaving the campus unmonitored.
Scottsdale Community College has averaged about one car theft per year for the past several years and Fischer's, taken in late September, was the first this academic year.
Fischer said he said he deliberately parked his 1992 limited-edition Ford Mustang so it would be in view of a camera.
- Elias C. Arnold
Status: Cameras in the parking lot of Scottsdale Community College are up and running again.
Sure the City of Mesa is like Tempe and Phoenix in that they want to chase all the homeless people out of money. But they certainly don't want to miss any revenue they get from the federal government by counting the homeless in the census!
Volunteers are sought to help count homeless
MESA - Mesa and the Maricopa Association of Governments are looking for volunteers for the 2006 Homeless Street Count on Jan. 24.
The count includes only individuals and families living on the street and at the Phoenix overflow shelter. It does not include the more than 5,000 currently residing in other shelters or transitional housing. Last year 2,918 people were identified as living on the streets of Maricopa County.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the count in order to apply for HUD funding. In 2005 the region was awarded more than $19 million for homeless-assistance programs.
No experience is necessary to volunteer, and training is provided. Homeless individuals are not approached, merely counted.
Information: Lisa Wilson at (480) 644-5831 or visit www.cityofmesa.org/ humansvc.
hmmm.... sounds a little like kevins case!!!
TOOKIE LIVES? MAYE SHOULD WALK FREE
Sunday, December 11, 2005 - FreeMarketNews.com
With all the controversy over the impending execution of "Tookie" Williams, the founder of the L.A. street gang the Crips who is on death row for multiple murders, it's noteworthy that the story of another black man facing execution is not making the headlines. In this case, the state is Mississippi, and the man with the deathwatch is Cory Maye.
With the exception of Radley Balko, blogging at the Agitator, and Steve Gordon following the story at Hammer of Truth, there is almost nobody in the media ranks who seems to care. Maye's story is far less convoluted than Williams' sordid tale. According to both Balko and Gordon, the man was minding his own business, asleep in his bed with his girlfriend and baby daughter, when several armed men stormed his door and entered his Prentiss, Miss. home, one night in December, 2001. In fear of his life and those of his family, Maye raised a gun and shot one of the intruders, seriously wounding him. After a bit more struggle, during which the other intruders identified themselves as police officers, Maye surrendered and was taken into custody, while his home was searched for illegal drugs.
As it turned out, the troops were looking for Jamie Smith, the man who lived on the other side of the duplex, suspected of drug dealing, and had stormed the wrong door. Nobody among the officers on the scene had even been made aware that the property was occupied by more than Smith himself, and they assumed the other door was only a side entrance to the house. Unfortunately, the officer Maye shot ended up dead; more unfortunately for Cory, who is black, the officer was not only a white man in Mississippi, but the son of the local police chief.
According to the stories by both sources, the trial featured an incompetent defense attorney, an all-white jury and a prosecutor who played fast and loose with the rules of courtroom conduct. Mayes was convicted of first-degree murder of a police officer, and sentenced to be executed. Appeals since then have only served to delay the process. At no time has the fact that this man was essentially only protecting his home from invaders been taken seriously, even though Mississippi law does allow such self-defense as a justification for killing someone.
Attempts to appeal the jury's decision have been unsuccessful, perhaps also hampered by the shortcomings of his legal counsel. The latest word on the situation is that Cory Maye is due to be executed by lethal injection, unless Governor Haley Barbour can be convinced to intervene on his behalf with a pardon, or failing that a reduction in his sentence. Steve Gordon ends his coverage with an e-mail link for the Governor, at:
in hopes that at least some readers will do what they can to convince Barbour to rectify this tragic miscarriage of justice.
staff reports - Free-Market News Network
Mississippi Burning an Innocent Man
Fox News columnist and blogger extraordinaire Radley Balko has been reporting about Cory Maye, who sits on death row in Mississippi for being a cop killer. Here is the basic story line:
Sometime in late 2001, Officer Ron Jones collected a tip from an anonymous informant that Jamie Smith, who lived opposite Maye in a duplex, was selling drugs out of his home. Jones passed the tip to the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force, a regional police agency in charge of carrying out drug raids in four surrounding counties. The task force asked Jones if he’d like to come along on the raid they’d be conducting as the result of his tip. He obliged.
On the night of December 26, the task force donned paramilitary gear, and conducted a drug raid on Smith’s house. Unfortunately, they hadn’t done their homework. The team didn’t realize that the house was a duplex, and that Maye — who had no relationship with Smith,– rented out the other side with his girlfirend and 1-year-old daughter.
As the raid on Smith commenced, some officers - including Jones — went around to what they thought was a side door to Smith’s residence, looking for a larger stash of drugs. The door was actually a door to Maye’s home. Maye was home alone with his young daughter, and asleep, when one member of the SWAT team broke down the outside door…
..Maye, fearing for his life and the safety of his daughter, fired at Jones, hitting him in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest. Jones died a short time later.
Maye had no criminal record, and wasn’t the target of the search warrant. Police initially concluded they had found no drugs in Maye’s side of the duplex.
The end result, especially since the cop who died is the son of the police chief, is tragically predictible. To add fuel to the fire, Maye is black and Jones was white.
In January of last year, Maye was convicted of capital murder for the shooting of Officer Jones. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
The story gets even wierder, though. More after the jump.
According to Balko, who seems to be researching this story well, Maye had no criminal record. The police initially said there were no drugs, then said “they’d found ‘traces’ of marijuana and cocaine.” Maye’s attorney said the cops found one roach. That isn’t relevant, though.
Someone busted in his home late at night and he shot them in self defense. It is that simple. Except in places like Mississippi.
Balko provides that the jury may have been a bit tainted for either racial or religious reason and his posting is a must read. He followed it up with some additional compelling background, too.
Here is his account of his conversation with the circuit court clerk for Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi:
Her: You want me to read the whole thing? It’s very long.
Me: No, that’s okay. I just have a hunch about what’s in it that I was hoping you could check out for me.
Her: What would you like me to look for?
Me: Are you familiar with the Cory Maye case?
Her: Oh, yes. I know what happened.
Me: My guess is that you’ll find the name of Jaimie Wilson on that warrant, but you won’t find the name of Cory Maye. Could you check to satisfy my curiosity before you send me a copy?
Her: Okay. Let’s see…. Jaimie….
Her: Yes, now I see his name is on the warrant. Jaimie Wilson.
Me: Now look for Cory Maye.
Me: Corey Maye?
Me: Is he in there anywhere?
Her: Oh my.
According to Balko, the following applies to Mississippi’s capitol murder law:
“(2) The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be capital murder in the following cases:
(a) Murder which is perpetrated by killing a peace officer or fireman while such officer or fireman is acting in his official capacity or by reason of an act performed in his official capacity, and with knowledge that the victim was a peace officer or fireman…”
and here is the code for justifiable homicide:
(1) The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another shall be justifiable in the following cases:
f) When committed in the lawful defense of one’s own person or any other human being, where there shall be reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury, and there shall be imminent danger of such design being accomplished…
As I write this, I hear the the chorus of a song going through my mind:
That’s the night the lights went out in georgia
That’s the night that they hung an innocent man
Don’t trust your soul to no back woods southern lawyer
Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hand
The lights aren’t out yet, though. In coversation at my local watering hole last night, several people (Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian) all stated that they think Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is truly a decent man, even if they disagreed with his politics a bit. I’d suggest that we all contact him and see if this is indeed the case.
Cory Maye Update
Last night, I provided a lot of details which have been presented by Radley Balko about Cory Maye, who is on death row in Mississippi for what strongly appears to be a case of justifiable homocide. At this moment, it seems that Maye exercised his Second Amendment right along with his natural right of self-defense in a botched drug raid, unfortunately killing a police officer.
I suggested that people should contact Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi about this case. A couple of hours later a blog entry appeared where someone did just that. However, some of the facts in the letter may not be totally accurate. Today, Radley begs our caution in the presentation:
But it’s important that we get all of the facts straight on the case. I’ve already seen a few misconceptions start to appear. I think this is in part due to conflicting accounts of the case as given by various media outlets in Prentiss and Hatiesburg, by Maye’s first lawyer, by the cops at the scene, and by the prosecution. It’s also probably in part due to me putting the first two posts up rather quickly, and perhaps not being quite as clear as I should have been. It’s important that all the facts are correct, because even if a 75% true version of the story starts getting cited in letters to Gov. Barbour, he can cite the 25% that’s wrong, and dismiss them outright as being ignorant of the facts of the case.
Radley is correct. It is important that verifiable and accurate information be presented. I don’t think we messed up at HoT, but I urge anyone to please be careful with the facts when writing a letter to Barbour, or any other elected government official. I’d still suggest writing a letter, as gubernatorial action may be the swiftest manner for justice to be served in the case. My knowledge of Mississippi code is very limited, but Article 5, Section 12 of the Mississippi Constitution does provide:
In all criminal and penal cases, excepting those of treason and impeachment, the governor shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons, to remit fines, and in cases of forfeiture, to stay the collection until the end of the next session of the legislature, and by and with the consent of the senate to remit forfeitures. In cases of treason he shall have power to grant reprieves, and by and with consent of the senate, but may respite the sentence until the end of the next session of the legislature; but no pardon shall be granted before conviction; and in cases of felony, after conviction no pardon shall be granted until the applicant therefor shall have published for thirty days, in some newspaper in the county where the crime was committed, and in case there be no newspaper published in said county, then in an adjoining county, his petition for pardon, setting forth therein the reasons why such pardon should be granted.
Being very careful to present factual information, I’m writing my letter today. I’m asking you do the same.
Just a random thought: This may be one time where the NRA and the ACLU could work together in order to ensure a just outcome in the case.
WHY IRAQ HAS NO ARMY
I. AUTUMN 2002-AUTUMN 2003: TAKEN BY SURPRISE
II. AUTUMN 2003-AUTUMN 2004: OVERWHELMED
III. AUTUMN 2004-AUTUMN 2005: PROGRESS BUT NO URGENCY
IV. HOW TO LEAVE WITH HONOR
An orderly exit from Iraq depends on the development of a viable Iraqi security force, but the Iraqis aren't even close. The Bush administration doesn't take the problem seriously — and it never has
When Saddam Hussein fell, the Iraqi people gained freedom. What they didn't get was public order. Looting began immediately, and by the time it abated, signs of an insurgency had appeared. Four months after the invasion the first bomb that killed more than one person went off; two years later, through this past summer, multiplefatality bombings occurred on average once a day. The targets were not just U.S. troops but Iraqi civilians and, more important, Iraqis who would bring order to the country. The first major attack on Iraq's own policemen occurred in October of 2003, when a car bomb killed ten people at a Baghdad police station. This summer an average often Iraqi policemen or soldiers were killed each day. It is true, as U.S. officials often point out, that the violence is confined mainly to four of Iraq's eighteen provinces. But these four provinces contain the nation's capital and just under half its people.
The crucial need to improve security and order in Iraq puts the United States in an impossible position. It can't honorably leave Iraq — as opposed to simply evacuating Saigon-style — so long as its military must provide most of the manpower, weaponry, intelligence systems, and strategies being used against the insurgency. But it can't sensibly stay when the very presence of its troops is a worsening irritant to the Iraqi public and a rallying point for nationalist opponents — to say nothing of the growing pressure in the United States for withdrawal.
Therefore one question now trumps others in America's Iraq policy: whether the United States can foster the development of viable Iraqi security forces, both military and police units, to preserve order in a new Iraqi state.
The Bush administration's policy toward Iraq is based on the premise that this job can be done — and done soon enough to relieve the pressures created by the large-scale U.S. presence in Iraq. These include strains on the U.S. military from its lone overseas assignments, mounting political resistance in America because of the cost and casualties of the war, and resentment in Iraq about the open-ended presence of foreign occupation troops. This is why President Bush and other officials say so often, "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." American maximalists who want to transform Iraq into a democracy, American minimalists who want chiefly to get U.S. troops out as soon as possible, and everyone in between share an interest in the successful creation of Iraq's own military.
If the United States can foster the development of a sufficiently stable political system in Iraq, and if it can help train, equip, and support military and police forces to defend that system, then American policy has a chance of succeeding. The United States can pull its own troops out of Iraq, knowing that it has left something sustainable behind. But if neither of those goals is realistic — if Iraqi politics remains chaotic and the Iraqi military remains overwhelmed by the insurgent threat — then the American strategy as a whole is doomed.
As Iraqi politicians struggle over terms of a new constitution, Americans need to understand the military half of the long-term U.S. strategy: when and whether Iraqi forces can "stand up."
Early in the occupation American officials acted as if the emergence of an Iraqi force would be a natural process. "In less than six months we have gone from zero Iraqis providing security to their country to close to a hundred thousand Iraqis," Donald Rumsfeld said in October of 2003. "Indeed, the progress has been so swift that … it will not be long before [Iraqi security forces] will be the largest and outnumber the U.S. forces, and it shouldn't be too long thereafter that they will outnumber all coalition forces combined." By the end of this year the count of Iraqi security forces should indeed surpass the total of American, British, and other coalition troops in Iraq. Police officers, controlled by Iraq's Ministry of the Interior, should number some 145,000. An additional 85,000 members of Iraq's army, plus tiny contingents in its navy and air force, should be ready for duty, under the control of Iran's Ministry of Defense. Since early this year Iraqi units have fought more and more frequently alongside U.S. troops.
But most assessments from outside the administration have been far more downbeat than Rumsfeld's. Time and again since the training effort began, inspection teams from Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), think tanks, and the military itself have visited Iraq and come to the same conclusion: the readiness of many Iraqi units is low, their loyalty and morale are questionable, regional and ethnic divisions are sharp, their reported numbers overstate their real effectiveness.
The numbers are at best imperfect measures. Early this year the American-led training command shifted its emphasis from simple head counts of Iraqi troops to an assessment of unit readiness based on a four-part classification scheme. Level 1, the highest, was for "fully capable" units — those that could plan, execute, and maintain counterinsurgency operations with no help whatsoever. Last summer Pentagon officials said that three Iraqi units, out of a total of 115 police and army battalions, had reached this level. In September the U.S. military commander in Iraq, Army General George Casey, lowered that estimate to one.
Level 2 was for "capable" units, which can fight against insurgents as long as the United States provides operational assistance (air support, logistics, communications, and so on). Marine General Peter Pace, who is now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last summer that just under one third of Iraqi army units had reached this level. A few more had by fall. Level 3, for "partially capable" units, included those that could provide extra manpower in efforts planned, led, supplied, and sustained by Americans. The remaining two thirds of Iraqi army units, and half the police, were in this category. Level 4, "incapable" units, were those that were of no help whatsoever in fighting the insurgency. Half of all police units were so classified.
In short, if American troops disappeared tomorrow, Iraq would have essentially no independent security force. Half its policemen would be considered worthless, and the other half would depend on external help for organization, direction, support. Two thirds of the army would be in the same dependent position, and even the better-prepared one third would suffer significant limitations without foreign help.
The moment when Iraqis can lift much of the burden from American troops is not yet in sight. Understanding whether this situation might improve requires understanding what the problems have been so far.
Over the summer and fall I asked a large number of people why Iraq in effect still had no army, and what, realistically, the United States could expect in the future. Most were Americans, but I also spoke with experts from Iraq, Britain, Israel, France, and other countries. Most had served in the military; a large number had recently been posted in Iraq, and a sizable contingent had fought in Vietnam. Almost all those still on active duty insisted that I not use their names. The Army's press office did arrange for me to speak with Lieutenant General Dave Petraeus, who was just completing his year's assignment as commander of the training effort in Iraq, before being replaced by Martin Dempsey, another three-star Army general. But it declined requests for interviews with Petraeus's predecessor, Major General Paul Eaton, or others who had been involved in training programs during the first months of the occupation, or with lower-ranking officers and enlisted men. Many of them wanted to talk or correspond anyway.
What I heard amounted to this: The United States has recently figured out a better approach to training Iraqi troops. Early this year it began putting more money, and more of its best people, on the job. As a result, more Iraqi units are operating effectively, and fewer are collapsing or deserting under pressure. In 2004, during major battles in Fallujah, Mosul, and elsewhere, large percentages of the Iraqi soldiers and policemen supposedly fighting alongside U.S. forces simply fled when the shooting began. But since the Iraqi elections last January "there has not been a single case of Iraqi security forces melting away or going out the back door of the police station," Petraeus told me. Iraqi recruits keep showing up at police and military enlistment stations, even as service in police and military units has become more dangerous.
But as the training and numbers are getting somewhat better, the problems created by the insurgency are getting worse — and getting worse faster than the Iraqi forces are improving. Measured against what it would take to leave Iraqis fully in charge of their own security, the United States and the Iraqi government are losing ground. Absent a dramatic change — in the insurgency, in American efforts, in resolving political differences in Iraq — America's options will grow worse, not better, as time goes on.
Here is a sampling of worried voices:
"The current situation will NEVER allow for an effective ISF [Iraqi Security Force] to be created," a young Marine officer who will not let me use his name wrote in an e-mail after he returned from Iraq this summer. "We simply do not have enough people to train forces. If we shift personnel from security duties to training, we release newly trained ISF into ever-worsening environs."
"A growing number of U.S. military officers in Iraq and those who have returned from the region are voicing concern that the nascent Iraqi army will fall apart if American forces are drawn down in the foreseeable future," Elaine Grossman, of the well-connected newsletter Inside the Pentagon, reported in September.
"U.S. trainers have made a heroic effort and have achieved some success with some units," Ahmed Hashim, of the Naval War College, told me in an e-mail. "But the Iraqi Security Forces are almost like a black hole. You put a lot in and little comes back out."
"I have to tell you that corruption is eating the guts of this counter-insurgency effort," a civilian wrote in an e-mail from Baghdad. Money meant to train new troops was leaking out to terrorists, he said. He empathized with "Iraqi officers here who see and yet are powerless to stop it because of the corrupt ministers and their aides."
"On the current course we will have two options," I was told by a Marine lieutenant colonel who had recently served in Iraq and who prefers to remain anonymous. "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our army, or we can just lose."
The officer went on to say that of course neither option was acceptable, which is why he thought it so urgent to change course. By "destroy our army" he meant that it would take years for the U.S. military to recover from the strain on manpower, equipment, and — most of all — morale that staying in Iraq would put on it. (Retired Army General Barry McCaffrey had this danger in mind when he told Time magazine last winter that "the Army's wheels are going to come off in the next twenty-four months" if it remained in Iraq.) "Losing" in Iraq would mean failing to overcome the violent insurgency. A continuing insurgency would, in the view of the officer I spoke with, sooner or later mean the country's fracture in a bloody civil war. That, in turn, would mean the emergence of a central "Sunni-stan" more actively hostile to the United States than Saddam Hussein's Iraq ever was, which could in the next decade be what the Taliban of Afghanistan was in the 1990s: a haven for al-Qaeda and related terrorists. "In Vietnam we just lost," the officer said. "This would be losing with consequences."
How the Iraq story turns out will not be known for years, but based on what is now knowable, the bleak prospect today is the culmination of a drama's first three acts. The first act involves neglect and delusion. Americans — and Iraqis — will spend years recovering from decisions made or avoided during the days before and after combat began, and through the first year of the occupation. The second act involves a tentative approach to a rapidly worsening challenge during the occupation's second year. We are now in the third act, in which Americans and Iraqis are correcting earlier mistakes but too slowly and too late.
As for the fourth act, it must resolve the tensions created in the previous three.
I. AUTUMN 2002-AUTUMN 2003: TAKEN BY SURPRISE
"It was clear what might happen in a highly militarized society once the regime fell," Anthony Cordesman wrote recently. Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, has produced an authoritative series of reports of the new Iraqi military, available at the CSIS Web site. "The U.S. chose to largely ignore these indicators."
In explaining the early failures that plagued the occupation, Cordesman cited factors that have become familiar: an unrealistic expectation of how long Iraqis would welcome a foreign force; a deliberate decision to hold down the size of the invading army; too little preparation for postwar complications; and so on. Before the invasion Saddam Hussein had employed at least half a million soldiers and policemen to keep the lid on Iraq. The United States went in with less than a third that many troops, and because virtually none of them spoke Arabic, they could rarely detect changes in the Iraqi mood or exert influence except by force.
But the explanation of early training problems also leads in some less familiar directions.
One view about why things went so wrong so fast is espoused by Ahmed Chalabi, onetime leader of the Iraqi National Congress, and American supporters of the war such as James Woolsey, a former CIA director, and Richard Perle, a former chairman of the Defense Policy Board. "My view is pretty straightforward," Woolsey told me. "We lost five years, thanks to the State Department and the CIA." The years in question were from 1998, when Congress passed and Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, advocating regime change in Iraq, to 2003, when U.S. troops moved on Baghdad. The act provided $97 million for arms and for training expatriate Iraqi forces. "All we had to do was use some of that money to train mainly Kurdish and Shia units to fight with us, like the Free French in 1944," Woolsey said. The main counterargument is that a Kurdish-Shiite invading army would have made it even harder to deal with Sunnis after Saddam fell.
A different view is strongly held by others among the war's early advocates within the Bush administration. In discussions with former members of the administration I was told they felt truly bad about only one intelligence failure. It did not concern WMD stockpiles in Iraq; the world's other intelligence agencies all made the same mistake, my informants said, and Saddam Hussein would have kept trying to build them anyway. What bothered them was that they did not grasp that he was planning all along to have his army melt away and re-emerge as a guerrilla force once the Americans took over. In this view the war against Saddam's "bitter enders" is still going on, and the new Iraqi forces are developing as fast or as slowly as anyone could expect.
But here is the view generally accepted in the military: the war's planners, military and civilian, took the postwar transition too much for granted; then they made a grievous error in suddenly dismissing all members of the Iraqi army; and then they were too busy with other emergencies and routines to think seriously about the new Iraqi army.
"Should we have had training teams ready to go the day we crossed the border?" asks Lieutenant General Jim Mattis, who commanded the 1st Marine Division during the assault on Iraq (and whom Harrison Ford is scheduled to play in a film about the battle of Fallujah). "Of course! The military has one duty in a situation like this, and that is to provide security for the indigenous people. It's the windbreak behind which everything else can happen." Mattis argued before the war that teams of civic advisers should have been ready to flood in: mayors from North America and Europe to work with Iraqi mayors, police chiefs with police chiefs, all with the goal of preparing the locals to provide public order. "But we didn't do it, and the bottom line was the loss of security."
Many other people suggest many other sins of omission in preparations for the war. But at least one aspect of the transition was apparently given careful thought: how to handle the Iraqi military once it had surrendered or been defeated. Unfortunately, that careful thought was ignored or overruled.
After years of misuse under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi military had severe problems, including bad morale, corrupt leadership, shoddy equipment, and a reputation for brutality. But the regular army numbered some 400,000 members, and if any of them could be put to use, there would be less work for Americans.
By late 2002, after Congress voted to authorize war if necessary, Jay Garner, a retired three-star Army general, was thinking about how he might use some of these soldiers if the war took place and he became the first viceroy of Iraq. Garner, who had supervised Kurdish areas after the Gulf War, argued for incorporating much of the military rank-and-file into America's occupation force. Stripping off the top leadership would be more complicated than with, say, the Japanese or German army after World War II, because Iraq's army had more than 10,000 generals. (The U.S. Army, with about the same number of troops, has around 300 generals.) But, I was told by a former senior official who was closely involved in making the plans, "the idea was that on balance it was much better to keep them in place and try to put them to work, public works-style, on reconstruction, than not to." He continued, "The advantages of using them were: They had organization. They had equipment, especially organic transport [jeeps, trucks], which let them get themselves from place to place. They had a structure. But it was a narrow call, because of all the disadvantages."
Garner intended to put this plan into action when he arrived in Baghdad, in April of 2003. He told me recently that there were few signs of the previous army when he first arrived. "But we sent out feelers, and by the first week in May we were getting a lot of responses back. We had a couple of Iraqi officers come to me and say, 'We could bring this division back, that division.' We began to have dialogues and negotiations."
Then, on May 23, came a decision that is likely to be debated for years: Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2, to disband the Iraqi military and simply send its members home without pay.
"I always begin with the proposition that this argument is entirely irrelevant," Walter Slocombe, the man usually given credit or blame for initiating the decision, told me in the summer. During the Clinton administration Slocombe was undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon, the job later made famous by Douglas Feith. A month after the fall of Baghdad, Slocombe went to the Green Zone as a security adviser to Paul Bremer, who had just replaced Garner as the ranking American civilian.
On arrival Slocombe advocated that the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA, should face the reality that the previous Iraqi army had disappeared. "There was no intact Iraqi force to 'disband,'" Slocombe said. "There was no practical way to reconstitute an Iraqi force based on the old army any more rapidly than has happened. The facilities were just destroyed, and the conscripts were gone and not coming back." The Bush administration officials who had previously instructed Garner to reconstitute the military endorsed Slocombe's view: the negative aspects of consorting with a corrupt, brutal force were still there, and the positives seemed to be gone. "All the advantages they had ran away with the soldiers," the senior official involved in the plans said. "The organization, the discipline, the organic transport. The facts had changed."
The arguments about the decision are bitter, and they turn on two points: whether the Iraqi army had in fact irreversibly "disbanded itself," as Slocombe contends, and whether the American authorities could have found some way to avoid turning the hundreds of thousands of discharged soldiers into an armed and resentful opposition group. "I don't buy the argument that there was no army to cashier," says Barak Salmoni, of the Marine Corps Training and Education Command. "It may have not been showing up to work, but I can assure you that they would have if there had been dollars on the table. And even if the Iraqi army did disband, we didn't have to alienate them" — mainly by stopping their pay. Several weeks later the Americans announced that they would resume some army stipends, but by then the damage had been done.
Garner was taken by surprise by the decision, and has made it clear that he considers it a mistake. I asked him about the frequently voiced argument that there was no place to house the army because the barracks had been wrecked. "We could have put people in hangars," he said. "That is where our troops were."
The most damaging criticism of the way the decision was made comes from Paul Hughes, who was then an Army colonel on Garner's staff. "Neither Jay Garner nor I had been asked about the wisdom of this decree," Hughes recalls. He was the only person from Garner's administration then talking with Iraqi military representatives about the terms of their re-engagement. On the eve of the order to disband, he says, more than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers had submitted forms to receive a one-time $20 emergency payment, from funds seized from Saddam's personal accounts, which they would show up to collect.
"My effort was not intended to re-activate the Iraqi military," Hughes says. "Whenever the Iraqi officers asked if they could re-form their units, I was quite direct with them that if they did, they would be attacked and destroyed. What we wanted to do was arrange the process by which these hundred thousand soldiers would register with [the occupation authorities], tell us what they knew, draw their pay, and then report to selected sites. CPA Order Number Two simply stopped any effort to move forward, as if the Iraqi military had ceased to exist. [Walt Slocombe's] statement about the twenty dollars still sticks in my brain: 'We don't pay armies we defeated.' My Iraqi friends tell me that this decision was what really spurred the nationalists to join the infant insurgency. We had advertised ourselves as liberators and turned on these people without so much as a second thought."
The argument will go on. But about what happened next there is little dispute. Having eliminated the main existing security force, and having arrived with fewer troops than past experience in the Balkans, Germany, and Japan would suggest for so large a territory, American officials essentially wasted the next six months. By the time they thought seriously about reconstituting Iraq's military and police forces, the insurgency was under way and the challenge of pacifying Iraq had magnified.
There is no single comprehensive explanation for what went wrong. After the tension leading up to the war and the brilliant, brief victory, political and even military leaders seemed to lose interest, or at least intensity. "Once Baghdad was taken, Tommy Franks checked out," Victor O'Reilly, who has written extensively about the U.S. military, told me. "He seemed to be thinking mainly about his book." Several people I spoke with volunteered this view of Franks, who was the CENTCOM commander during the war. (Franks did not respond to interview requests, including those sent through his commercially minded Web site, TommyFranks.com.) In retrospect the looting was the most significant act of the first six months after the war. It degraded daily life, especially in Baghdad, and it made the task of restoring order all the more difficult for the U.S. or Iraqi forces that would eventually undertake it. But at the time neither political nor military leaders treated it as urgent. Weeks went by before U.S. troops effectively intervened.
In June of 2003, as the looting was dying down but the first signs of insurgent violence were appearing, the CSIS sent a team of experts who had worked in past occupations. They were alarmed by what they saw. "There is a general sense of steady deterioration in the security situation, in Baghdad, Mosul, and elsewhere," they reported. "Virtually every Iraqi and most CPA and coalition military officials as well as most contractors we spoke to cited the lack of public safety as their number one concern." At that time, the team pointed out, some 5,000 U.S. troops were tied down guarding buildings in Baghdad, with two and a half battalions, representing well over a thousand troops, guarding the American headquarters alone.
Anthony Cordesman, of the CSIS, says there was never a conscious decision to delay or ignore training, but at any given moment in the occupation's first months some other goal always seemed more urgent or more interesting. Through the first six months of the occupation capturing Saddam Hussein seemed to be the most important step toward ending the resistance. His two sons were killed in July; he himself was captured in December; and the insurgency only grew. Along the way the manhunt relied on detention, interrogation, and break-down-doors-at-night techniques that hastened resentment of the U.S. presence. "The search for Saddam colored everything," Victor O'Reilly told me. "It is my belief that the insurgency was substantially created by the tactics used by the occupying force, who were initially the saviors, in their search for Saddam. Ambitious generals, who should have known better, created a very aggressive do-what-is-necessary culture. Frustrated troops, with no familiarity with the language or culture, naturally make mistakes. And in a tribal society if you shoot one person it spreads right through the system."
The hunt for WMD troves, conducted in the same way as the search for Saddam and by troops with the same inability to understand what was being said around them, had a similar embittering effect. The junior-level soldiers and Marines I interviewed consistently emphasized how debilitating the language barrier was. Having too few interpreters, they were left to communicate their instructions with gestures and sign language. The result was that American troops were blind and deaf to much of what was going on around them, and the Iraqis were often terrified.
General Mattis had stressed to his troops the importance of not frightening civilians, so as not to turn those civilians into enemies. He, too, emphasizes the distractions in the first year that diminished the attention paid to building an Iraqi security force. "There was always something," he told me. "Instead of focusing on security, we were trying to get oil pipelines patched, electrical grids back into position, figure out who the engineers were we could trust, since some of them hated us so much they would do sabotage work. It was going to take a while."
When Americans did think about a new Iraqi army, they often began with fears that it might become too strong too fast. "Everybody assumed that within Iraq it would be peaceful," says T. X. Hammes, the author of The Sling and the Stone, who was then in Iraq as a Marine Corps colonel. "So the biggest concern was reassuring all of Iraq's neighbors that Iraq would not be a threat. One of the ways you do that is by building a motor infantry force with no logistics" — that is, an army that can't sustain any large-scale offensive operation. Such an army might assuage concerns in Syria and Iran, but it would do little to provide internal security, and would not be prepared for domestic counterinsurgency work. (This tension has not been resolved: to this day the Iraqi government complains that the United States will not help it get adequate tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery.) Corrupt use of U.S. aid and domestic Iraqi resources was a constant and destructive factor. Last August the Knight Ridder newspapers revealed that Iraq's Board of Supreme Audit had surveyed arms contracts worth $1.3 billion and concluded that about $500 million had simply disappeared in payoffs, kickbacks, and fraud.
Training the police would be as big a challenge as training the army. "There was no image of a non-corrupt police force anywhere in the country," Mattis says. And to make matters more difficult, the effort began just as the police were coming under attack from insurgents' bombs and grenades.
Throughout the occupation, but most of all in these early months, training suffered from a "B Team" problem. Before the fighting there was a huge glamour gap in the Pentagon between people working on so-called Phase III — the "kinetic" stage, the currently fashionable term for what used to be called "combat" — and those consigned to thinking about Phase IV, postwar reconstruction. The gap persisted after Baghdad fell. Nearly every military official I spoke with said that formal and informal incentives within the military made training Iraqi forces seem like second-tier work.
There were exceptions. The Green Berets and other elite units of the Special Forces have long prided themselves on being able to turn ragtag foreign armies into effective fighting units. But there weren't enough Special Forces units to go around, and the mainstream Army and Marine Corps were far less enthusiastic about training assignments. Especially at the start, training missions were filled mostly by people who couldn't get combat postings, and by members of the Reserves and the National Guard.
Walter Slocombe told me that there could have been a larger structural attempt to deal with the B-Team issue. "If we knew then what we know now," he said — that is, if people in charge had understood that public order would be the biggest postwar problem, and that Iraqis would soon resent the presence of foreigners trying to impose that order — "we would have done things differently. It would have made sense to have had an American military unit assigned this way from the beginning. They would be told, 'You guys aren't going to fight this war. You're not going to get Medals of Honor. But you will get due recognition. Your job is to run the occupation and train the Iraqis.' And we'd configure for that mission."
But of course that didn't happen. "I couldn't believe that we weren't ready for the occupation," Terence Daly, a retired Army colonel who learned the tactics of counterinsurgency in Vietnam, told me. "I was horrified when I saw the looting and the American inaction afterward. If I were an Iraqi, it would have shown me these people are not serious."
II. AUTUMN 2003-AUTUMN 2004: OVERWHELMED
By late 2003 the United States had lost time and had changed identity, from liberator to occupier. But in its public pronouncements and its internal guidance the administration resisted admitting, even to itself, that it now faced a genuine insurgency — one that might grow in strength — rather than merely facing the dregs of the old regime, whose power would naturally wane as its leaders were caught and killed. On June 16 Army General John Abizaid, newly installed as CENTGOM commander, was the first senior American official to say that in fact the United States now faced a "classical guerrilla-type campaign." Two days later, in congressional testimony, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, seemed to accept the definition, saying, "There is a guerrilla war there, but … we can win it." On June 30 Rumsfeld corrected both of them, saying that the evidence from Iraq "doesn't make it anything like a guerrilla war or an organized resistance." Two days after that President Bush said at a White House ceremony that some people felt that circumstances in Iraq were "such that they can attack us there. My answer is, Bring them on." Meanwhile, the insurgency in Iraq grew worse and worse.
Improving the training of Iraqis suddenly moved up the list of concerns. Karl Eikenberry, an Army general who had trained Afghan forces after the fall of the Taliban, was sent to Iraq to see what was wrong. Pentagon briefers referred more and more frequently to the effort to create a new Iraqi military. By early 2004 the administration had decided to spend more money on troop training, and to make it more explicitly part of the U.S. mission in Iraq. It was then that a grim reality hit: how hard this process would actually be.
"Training is not just learning how to fire a gun," I was told by a congressional staff member who has traveled frequently to Afghanistan since 9/11. "That's a part of it, but only a small part." Indeed, basic familiarity with guns is an area in which Iraqis outdo Americans. Walter Slocombe says that the CPA tried to enforce a gun-control law — only one AK-47 per household — in the face of a widespread Iraqi belief that many families needed two, one for the house and one for traveling.
Everyone I interviewed about military training stressed that it was only trivially about teaching specific skills. The real goal was to transform a civilian into a soldier. The process runs from the individual level, to the small groups that must trust one another with their lives, to the combined units that must work in coordination rather than confusedly firing at one another, to the concept of what makes an army or a police force different from a gang of thugs.
"The simple part is individual training," Jay Garner says. "The difficult part is collective training. Even if you do a good job of all that, the really difficult thing is all the complex processes it takes to run an army. You have to equip it. You have to equip all units at one time. You have to pay them on time. They need three meals a day and a place to sleep. Fuel. Ammunition. These sound simple, but they're incredibly difficult. And if you don't have them, that's what makes armies not work."
In countless ways the trainers on site faced an enormous challenge. The legacy of Saddam Hussein was a big problem. It had encouraged a military culture in which officers were privileged parasites, enlisted soldiers were cannon fodder, and noncommissioned officers — the sergeants who make the U.S. military function — were barely known. "We are trying to create a professional NCO corps," Army Major Bob Bateman told me. "Such a thing has never existed anywhere in the region. Not in regular units, not in police forces, not in the military."
The ethnic and tribal fissures in Iraq were another big problem. Half a dozen times in my interviews I heard variants on this Arab saying: "Me and my brother against my cousin; me and my cousin against my village; me and my village against a stranger." "The thing that holds a military unit together is trust," T. X. Hammes says. "That's a society not based on trust." A young Marine officer wrote in an e-mail, "Due to the fact that Saddam murdered, tortured, raped, etc. at will, there is a limited pool of 18-35-year-old males for service that are physically or mentally qualified for service. Those that are fit for service, for the most part, have a DEEP hatred for those not of the same ethnic or religious affiliation."
The Iraqi culture of guns was, oddly, not an advantage but another problem. It had created gangs, not organized troops. "It's easy to be a gunman and hard to be a soldier," one expert told me. "If you're a gunman, it doesn't matter if your gun shoots straight. You can shoot it in the general direction of people, and they'll run." Many American trainers refer to an Iraqi habit of "Inshallah firing," also called "death blossom" marksmanship. "That is when they pick it up and start shooting," an officer now on duty in Baghdad told me by phone. "Death just blossoms around them."
The constant attacks from insurgents were a huge problem, and not just in the obvious ways. The U.S. military tries hard to separate training from combat. Combat is the acid test, but over time it can, strangely, erode proficiency. Under combat pressure troops cut corners and do whatever it takes to survive. That is why when units return from combat, the Pentagon officially classifies them as "unready" until they have rested and been retrained in standard procedures. In principle the training of Iraqi soldiers and policemen should take place away from the battlefield, but they are under attack from the moment they sign up. The pressure is increased because of public hostility to the foreign occupiers. "I know an Iraqi brigade commander who has to take off his uniform when he goes home, so nobody knows what he's done," Barak Salmon told me. The Iraqi commander said to him, "It really tugs at our minds that we have to worry about our families' dying in the insurgency when we're fighting the insurgency somewhere else." The GAO found that in these circumstances security units from "troubled townships" often deserted en masse.
The United States, too, brought its own range of problems. One was legislative. Because U.S. forces had helped prop up foreign dictators, Congress in the 1970s prohibited most forms of American aid to police forces — as distinct from armies — in other countries. For the purposes of containing the insurgency in Iraq the distinction was meaningless. But administration officials used up time and energy through 2004 figuring out an answer to this technical-sounding yet important problem.
Language remained a profound and constant problem. One of the surprises in asking about training Iraqi troops was how often it led to comparisons with Vietnam. Probably because everything about the Vietnam War took longer to develop, "Vietnamization" was a more thought-through, developed strategy than "Iraqization" has had a chance to be. A notable difference is that Americans chosen for training assignments in Vietnam were often given four to six months of language instruction. That was too little to produce any real competence, but enough to provide useful rudiments that most Americans in Iraq don't have.
The career patterns of the U.S. military were a problem. For family reasons, and to keep moving up in rank, American soldiers rotate out of Iraq at the end of a year. They may be sent back to Iraq, but probably on a different assignment in a different part of the country. The adviser who has been building contacts in a village or with a police unit is gone, and a fresh, non-Arabic-speaking face shows up. "All the relationships an adviser has established, all the knowledge he has built up, goes right with him," Terence Daly, the counterinsurgency specialist from the Vietnam War, says. Every manual on counterinsurgency emphasizes the need for long-term personal relations. "We should put out a call for however many officers and NCOs we need," Daly says, "and give them six months of basic Arabic. In the course of this training we could find the ones suited to serve there for five years. Instead we treat them like widgets."
All indications from the home front were that training Iraqis had become a boring issue. Opponents of the war rarely talked about it. Supporters reeled off encouraging but hollow statistics as part of a checklist of successes the press failed to report. President Bush placed no emphasis on it in his speeches. Donald Rumsfeld, according to those around him, was bored by Iraq in general and this tedious process in particular, neither of which could match the challenge of transforming America's military establishment.
The lack of urgency showed up in such mundane ways as equipment shortages. In the spring of 2004 investigators from the GAO found that the Iraqi police had only 41 percent of the patrol vehicles they needed, 21 percent of the hand-held radios, and nine percent of the protective vests. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, a branch of the military, had received no protective vests at all. According to the GAO report, "A multinational force assessment noted that Iraqis within the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps felt the multinational force never took them seriously, as exhibited by what they perceived as the broken promises and the lack of trust of the multinational force."
Although most people I spoke with said they had warm relations with many of their Iraqi counterparts, the lack of trust applied on the U.S. side as well. American trainers wondered how many of the skills they were imparting would eventually be used against them, by infiltrators or by soldiers who later changed sides. Iraq's Ministry of Defense has complained that the United States is supplying simpler equipment, such as AK-47s rather than the more powerful M4 rifles, and pickup trucks rather than tanks. Such materiel may, as U.S. officials stress, be far better suited to Iraq's current needs. It would also be less troublesome if Iraq and the United States came to be no longer on friendly terms.
And the biggest problem of all was the kind of war this new Iraqi army had to fight.
"Promoting disorder is a legitimate objective for the insurgent," a classic book about insurgency says.
It helps to disrupt the economy, hence to produce discontent;
it serves to undermine the strength and the authority of the
counterinsurgent [that is, government forces]. Moreover,
disorder … is cheap to create and very costly to prevent.
The insurgent blows up a bridge, so every bridge has to be
guarded; he throws a grenade in a movie theater, so every person
entering a public place has to be searched.
The military and political fronts are so closely connected, the book concludes, that progress on one is impossible without progress on the other: "Every military move has to be weighed with regard to its political effects, and vice versa."
This is not a book about Iraq. The book is Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, which was published nearly forty years ago by a French soldier and military analyst, David Galula, and is based on his country's experiences in Algeria and Vietnam.
Counterinsurgency scholarship has boomed among military intellectuals in the 2000s, as it did in the 1960s, and for the same reason: insurgents are the enemy we have to fight. "I've been reading a lot of T. E. Lawrence, especially through the tough times," Dave Petraeus said when I asked where he had looked for guidance during his year of supervising training efforts. An influential book on counterinsurgency by John Nagl, an Army lieutenant colonel who commanded a tank unit in Iraq, is called Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife. That was Lawrence's metaphor for the skills needed to fight Arab insurgents.
"No modern army using conventional tactics has ever defeated an insurgency," Terence Daly told me. Conventional tactics boil down to killing the enemy. At this the U.S. military, with unmatchable firepower and precision, excels. "Classic counterinsurgency, however, is not primarily about killing insurgents; it is about controlling the population and creating a secure environment in which to gain popular support," Daly says.
From the vast and growing literature of counterinsurgency come two central points. One, of course, is the intertwining of political and military objectives: in the long run this makes local forces like the Iraqi army more potent than any foreigners; they know the language, they pick up subtle signals, they have a long-term stake. The other is that defeating an insurgency is the very hardest kind of warfare. The United States cannot win this battle in Iraq. It hopes the Iraqis can.
Through the second year of occupation most of the indications were dark. An internal Pentagon report found,
The first Iraqi Army infantry battalions finished basic training
in early 2004 and were immediately required in combat without
complete equipment … Absent-without-leave rates among
regular army units were in double digits and remained so for
the rest of the year.
I asked Robert Pape about the AWOL and desertion problems that had plagued Iraqi forces in Mosul, Fallujah, and elsewhere. Pape, of the University of Chicago, is the author of Dying to Win, a recent book about suicide terrorism. "Really, it was not surprising that this would happen," he said. "You were taking a force that had barely been stood up and asking it to do one of the most demanding missions possible: an offensive mission against a city. Even with a highly loyal force you were basically asking them to sacrifice themselves. Search and destroy would be one of the last things you would want them to do."
A GAO report showed the extent of the collapse. Fifty percent of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in the areas around Baghdad deserted in the first half of April. So did 30 percent of those in the northeastern area around Tikrit and the southeast near al-Kut. And so did 80 percent of the forces around Fallujah.
This was how things still stood on the eve of America's presidential election and the beginning of a new approach in Baghdad.
III. AUTUMN 2004-AUTUMN 2005: PROGRESS BUT NO URGENCY
At the end of June 2004 Ambassador Bremer went home. His Coalition Provisional Authority ceased to exist, and an interim Iraqi government, under a prime minister selected by the Americans, began planning for the first nationwide elections, which were held in January of this year. The first U.S. ambassador to postwar Iraq, John D. Negroponte, was sworn in as Bremer left. And a new American Army general arrived to supervise the training of Iraqis: Dave Petraeus, who had just received his third star.
The appointment was noticed throughout the military. Petraeus, who holds a Ph.D. from Princeton, had led the 101st Airborne during its drive on Mosul in 2003 and is one of the military's golden boys. What I heard about him from other soldiers reminded me of what reporters used to hear about Richard Holbrooke from other diplomats: many people marveled at his ambition; few doubted his skills. Petraeus's new assignment suggested that training Iraqis had become a sexier and more important job. By all accounts Petraeus and Negroponte did a lot to make up for lost time in the training program.
Under Petraeus the training command abandoned an often ridiculed way of measuring progress. At first Americans had counted all Iraqis who were simply "on duty" — a total that swelled to more than 200,000 by March of 2004. Petraeus introduced an assessment of "unit readiness," as noted above. Training had been underfunded in mid-2004, but more money and equipment started to arrive.
The training strategy also changed. More emphasis was put on embedding U.S. advisers with Iraqi units. Teams of Iraqi foot soldiers were matched with D.S. units that could provide the air cover and other advanced services they needed. To save money and reduce the chance of a coup, Saddam Hussein's soldiers had only rarely, or never, fired live ammunition during training. According to an unpublished study from the U.S. Army War College, even the elite units of the Baghdad Republican Guard were allowed to fire only about ten rounds of ammunition per soldier in the year before the war, versus about 2,500 rounds for the typical U.S. infantry soldier. To the amazement of Iraqi army veterans, Petraeus introduced live-fire exercises for new Iraqi recruits.
At the end of last year, as the Iraqi national elections drew near, Negroponte used his discretion to shift $2 billion from other reconstruction projects to the training effort. "That will be seen as quite a courageous move, and one that paid big dividends," Petraeus told me. "It enabled the purchase of a lot of additional equipment, extra training, and more rebuilding of infrastructure, which helped us get more Iraqi forces out in the field by the January 30 elections."
The successful staging of the elections marked a turning point — at least for the training effort. Political optimism faded with the subsequent deadlocks over the constitution, but "we never lost momentum on the security front," Petraeus told me. During the elections more than 130,000 Iraqi troops guarded more than 5,700 polling stations; there were some attacks, but the elections went forward. "We have transitioned six or seven bases to Iraqi control," he continued, listing a variety of other duties Iraqi forces had assumed. "The enemy recognizes that if Iraqi security forces ever really get traction, they are in trouble. So all of this is done in the most challenging environment imaginable."
Had the training units avoided the "B Team" taint? By e-mail I asked an officer on the training staff about the "loser" image traditionally attached to such jobs within the military. He wrote back that although training slots had long been seen as "career killers," the importance of the effort in Iraq was changing all that. From others not involved in training I heard a more guarded view: If an Iraqi army emerges, the image of training will improve; if it doesn't, the careers of Petraeus and his successor Dempsey will suffer.
Time is the problem. As prospects have brightened inside the training program, they have darkened across the country. From generals to privates, every soldier I spoke with stressed that the military campaign would ultimately fail without political progress. If an army has no stable government to defend, even the best-trained troops will devolve into regional militias and warlord gangs. "I always call myself a qualified optimist, but the qualification is Iraqi leaders muddling through," one senior officer told me. "Certain activities are beyond Americans' control."
Ethnic tensions divide Iraq, and they divide the new army. "Thinking that we could go in and produce a unified Iraqi army is like thinking you could go into the South after the Civil War and create an army of blacks and whites fighting side by side," Robert Pape, of the University of Chicago, told me. "You can pay people to go through basic training and take moderate risks. But unless they're really loyal to a government, as the risks go up, they will run." Almost every study of the new Iraqi military raises doubts about how loyally "Iraqi" it is, as opposed to Kurdish, Shiite, or Sunni. The most impressive successes by "Iraqi" forces have in fact been by units that were really Kurdish peshmurga or Shiite militias.
"There is still no sense of urgency," T. X. Hammes says. In August, he pointed out, the administration announced with pride that it had bought 200 new armored vehicles for use in Iraq. "Two-plus years into the war, and we're proud! Can you imagine if in March of 1944 we had proudly announced two hundred new vehicles?" By 1944 American factories had been retooled to produce 100,000 warplanes. "From the president on down there is no urgency at all."
Since last June, President Bush has often repeated his "As Iraqi forces stand up …" formula, but he rarely says anything more specific about American exit plans. When he welcomed Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, to the White House in September, his total comment on the training issue in a substantial welcoming speech was "Our objective is to defeat the enemies of a free Iraq, and we're working to prepare more Iraqi forces to join the fight." This was followed by the stand up/stand down slogan. Vice President Cheney sounds similarly dutiful. ("Our mission in Iraq is clear," he says in his typical speech. "On the military side we are hunting down the terrorists and training Iraqi security forces so they can take over responsibility for defending their own country." He usually follows with the slogan but with no further details or thoughts.)
Donald Rumsfeld has the same distant tone. Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz have moved on to different things. At various times since 9/11 members of the administration have acted as if catching Osarna bin Laden, or changing Social Security, or saving Terri Schiavo, or coping with Hurricane Katrina, mattered more than any possible other cause. Creating an Iraqi military actually matters more than al most anything else. But the people who were intent on the war have lost interest in the only way out.
A Marine lieutenant colonel said, "You tell me who in the White House devotes full time to winning this war." The answer seems to be Meghan O'Sullivan, a former Brookings scholar who is now the president's special assistant for Iraq. As best I can tell from Nexis, other online news sources, and the White House Web site, since taking the job, late last year, she has made no public speeches or statements about the war.
IV. HOW TO LEAVE WITH HONOR
Listening to the Americans who have tried their best to create an Iraqi military can be heartening. They send e-mails or call late at night Iraq time to report successes. A Web magazine published by the training command, called The Advisor, carries photos of American mentors working side by side with their Iraqi students, and articles about new training techniques. The Americans can sound inspired when they talk about an Iraqi soldier or policeman who has shown bravery and devotion in the truest way — by running toward battle rather than away from it, or rushing to surround a suicide bomber and reduce the number of civilians who will be killed.
But listening to these soldiers and advisers is also deeply discouraging — in part because so much of what they report is discouraging in itself, but even more because the conversations head to a predictable dead end. Sooner or later the question is What do we do now? or What is the way out? And the answer is that there is no good answer.
Let me suggest a standard for judging endgame strategies in Iraq, given the commitment the United States has already made. It begins with the recognition that even if it were possible to rebuild and fully democratize Iraq, as a matter of political reality the United States will not stay to see it through. (In Japan, Germany, and South Korea we did see it through. But while there were postwar difficulties in all those countries, none had an insurgency aimed at Americans.) But perhaps we could stay long enough to meet a more modest standard.
What is needed for an honorable departure is, at a minimum, a country that will not go to war with itself, and citizens who will not turn to large-scale murder. This requires Iraqi security forces that are working on a couple of levels: a national army strong enough to deter militias from any region and loyal enough to the new Iraq to resist becoming the tool of any faction; policemen who are sufficiently competent, brave, and honest to keep civilians safe. If the United States leaves Iraq knowing that non-American forces are sufficient to keep order, it can leave with a clear conscience — no matter what might happen a year or two later.
In the end the United States may not be able to leave honorably. The pressure to get out could become too great. But if we were serious about reconstituting an Iraqi military as quickly as possible, what would we do? Based on these interviews, I have come to this sobering conclusion: the United States can best train Iraqis, and therefore best help itself leave Iraq, only by making certain very long-term commitments to stay.
Some of the changes that soldiers and analysts recommend involve greater urgency of effort, reflecting the greater importance of making the training succeed. Despite brave words from the Americans on the training detail, the larger military culture has not changed to validate what they do. "I would make advising an Iraqi battalion more career-enhancing than commanding an American battalion," one retired Marine officer told me. "If we were serious, we'd be gutting every military headquarters in the world, instead of just telling units coming into the country they have to give up twenty percent of their officers as trainers."
The U.S. military does everything in Iraq worse and slower than it could if it solved its language problems. It is unbelievable that American fighting ranks have so little help. Soon after Pearl Harbor the U.S. military launched major Japanese-language training institutes at universities and was screening draftees to find the most promising students. America has made no comparable effort to teach Arabic. Nearly three years after the invasion of Iraq the typical company of 150 or so U.S. soldiers gets by with one or two Arabic-speakers. T. X. Hammes says that U.S. forces and trainers in Iraq should have about 22,000 interpreters, but they have nowhere near that many. Some 600,000 Americans can speak Arabic. Hammes has proposed offering huge cash bonuses to attract the needed numbers to Iraq.
In many other ways the flow of dollars and effort shows that the military does not yet take Iraq — let alone the training effort there — seriously. The Pentagon's main weapons-building programs are the same now that they were five years ago, before the United States had suffered one attack and begun two wars. From the Pentagon's policy statements, and even more from its budgetary choices, one would never guess that insurgency was our military's main challenge, and that its main strategic hope lay in the inglorious work of training foreign troops. Planners at the White House and the Pentagon barely imagined before the war that large numbers of U.S. troops would be in Iraq three years later. So most initiatives for Iraq have been stopgap — not part of a systematic effort to build the right equipment, the right skills, the right strategies, for a long-term campaign.
Some other recommended changes involve more-explicit long-range commitments. When officers talk about the risk of "using up" or "burning out" the military, they mean that too many arduous postings, renewed too frequently, will drive career soldiers out of the military. The recruitment problems of the National Guard are well known. Less familiar to the public but of great concern in the military is the "third tour" phenomenon: A young officer will go for his first year-long tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, and then his second. Facing the prospect of his third, he may bail out while he still has time to start another, less stressful career.
For the military's sake soldiers need to go to Iraq less often, and for shorter periods. But success in training Iraqis will require some Americans to stay there much longer. Every book or article about counterinsurgency stresses that it is an intimate, subjective, human business. Establishing trust across different cultures takes time. After 9/11 everyone huffed about the shocking loss of "human intelligence" at America's spy agencies. But modern American culture — technological, fluid, transient — discourages the creation of the slow-growing, subtle bonds necessary for both good spy work and good military liaison. The British had their India and East Asia hands, who were effective because they spent years in the field cultivating contacts. The American military has done something similar with its Green Berets. For the training effort to have a chance, many, many more regular soldiers will need to commit to long service in Iraq.
The United States will have to agree to stay in Iraq in another significant way. When U.S. policy changed from counting every Iraqi in uniform to judging how many whole units were ready to function, a triage decision was made. The Iraqis would not be trained anytime soon for the whole range of military functions; they would start with the most basic combat and security duties. The idea, as a former high-ranking administration official put it, was "We're building a spearhead, not the whole spear."
The rest of the spear consists of the specialized, often technically advanced functions that multiply the combat units' strength. These are as simple as logistics — getting food, fuel, ammunition, spare parts, where they are needed — and as complex as battlefield surgical units, satellite-based spy services, and air support from helicopters and fighter planes.
The United States is not helping Iraq develop many of these other functions. Sharp as the Iraqi spearhead may become, on its own it will be relatively weak. The Iraqis know their own territory and culture, and they will be fighting an insurgency, not a heavily equipped land army. But if they can't count on the Americans to keep providing air support, intelligence and communications networks, and other advanced systems, they will never emerge as an effective force. So the United States will have to continue to provide all this. The situation is ironic. Before the war insiders argued that sooner or later it would be necessary to attack, because the U.S. Air Force was being "strained" by its daily sorties over Iraq's no-fly zones. Now that the war is over, the United States has taken on a much greater open-ended obligation.
In sum, if the United States is serious about getting out of Iraq, it will need to re-consider its defense spending and operations rather than leaving them to a combination of inertia, Rumsfeld-led plans for "transformation," and emergency stopgaps. It will need to spend money for interpreters. It will need to create large new training facilities for American troops, as happened within a few months of Pearl Harbor, and enroll talented people as trainees. It will need to make majors and colonels sit through language classes. It will need to broaden the Special Forces ethic to much more of the military, and make clear that longer tours will be the norm in Iraq. It will need to commit air, logistics, medical, and intelligence services to Iraq — and understand that this is a commitment for years, not a temporary measure. It will need to decide that there are weapons systems it does not require and commitments it cannot afford if it is to support the ones that are crucial. And it will need to make these decisions in a matter of months, not years — before it is too late.
America's hopes today for an orderly exit from Iraq depend completely on the emergence of a viable Iraqi security force. There is no indication that such a force is about to emerge. As a matter of unavoidable logic, the United States must therefore choose one of two difficult alternatives: It can make the serious changes — including certain commitments to remain in Iraq for many years — that would be necessary to bring an Iraqi army to maturity. Or it can face the stark fact that it has no orderly way out of Iraq, and prepare accordingly.
Having eliminated the existing security force, American officials wasted the next six months. By the time they thought seriously about reconstituting Iraq's military and police, the insurgency was under way.
By early 2004 the administration had decided to spend more money on Iraqi troop training and make it an explicit part of the U.S. mission. It was then that a grim reality hit: how hard this process would actually be.
All indications from the home front were that training Iraqis had become a boring issue. Donald Rumsfeld, according to those around him, was bored by Iraq in general and this tedious process in particular.
"U.S. trainers have made a heroic effort," Ahmed Hashim, an expert at the Naval War College, explains. "But the Iraqi Security Forces are almost like a black hole. You put a lot in and little comes back out."
Last summer Marine General Peter Pace said that three Iraqi units had reached the "fully capable" level. In September the U.S. military commander in Iraq, Army General George Casey, lowered that estimate to one.
America's hopes today for an orderly exit from Iraq depend completely on the emergence of a viable Iraqi security force. All current indications suggest that no such viable Iraqi security force is about to emerge.
By James Fallows
Photographs by Ilkka Uimonen
James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic.
Source: Atlantic, Dec2005, Vol. 296 Issue 5, p60, 14p
DHS report admits air marshals 'overreacted' in airport shooting
By DOUG THOMPSON
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Dec 11, 2005, 20:50
Although the department claims otherwise publicly, a confidential
internal report within the Department of Homeland Security admits air
marshals "overreacted" when they gunned down a Florida man at Miami
International Airport last week.
The report, which may never be released publicly, confirms that
preliminary interviews with witnesses conflict the statements of air marshals
who claim Rigoberto Alpizar shouted he had a bomb as he stormed off a
plane and up a jetway at the airport.
"Although witness statements contain conflicting information, none of
those interrogated following the incident collaborate any utterance by
the suspect that he either possessed, or intended to detonate, an
explosive device," the report says.
A Department of Homeland Security source, unhappy with what he calls
the agency's "blatant attempt to whitewash this incident," disclosed the
contents of the report to Capitol Hill Blue.
Publicly, DHS and the Air Marshal Service claim the two agents who
brought down Alpizar in a hail of bullets from their 357 Sig Sauer handguns
acted "within guidelines" for handling potential terrorist activities.
"He was belligerent. He threatened that he had a bomb in his backpack,"
claimed Brian Doyle, DHS spokesman. "The officers clearly identified
themselves and yelled at him to 'get down, get down.' Instead, he made a
move toward the backpack."
But Alpizar, a 44-year-old naturalized American citizen from Costa
Rica, suffered from bipolar disorder and had not taken his prescription
medication to control the condition. The Home Depot employee who lived in
Maitland, Florida, did not have a bomb and witnesses on the scene
dispute the marshals' claim that he shouted he did.
"I can tell you, he never said a thing in that airplane; he never
called out he had a bomb," says fellow passenger Jorge Borelli, an Orlando
"He just wanted to get off the plane," says passenger John McAlhany,
sitting in the middle of the Boeing 757. McAlhany says Alpizar was
"clearly agitated" but said nothing about a bomb. "I never heard the word
'bomb' until the FBI asked me: 'Did you hear the word bomb?'"
McAlhany says other federal officers stormed onto plane, pointing guns
at passangers and demanding they put their hands in front of them.
"I was on the phone with my brother. Somebody came down the aisle and
put a shotgun to the back of my head and said, 'Put your hands on the
seat in front of you," McAlhany says. "I got my cell phone karate-chopped
out of my hand."
The air marshals claimed Alpizar failed to get on the ground when they
demanded it and instead reached into a bag he was carrying. McAlhany
says the bag was a fanny pack.
"You can't get on the ground with a fanny pack," he said. "You have to
move it to the side."
Another passenger says Alpizar appeared agitated but not threatening.
"The wife was telling him, 'Calm down. Let other people get on the
plane. It will be all right,'" said Alan Tirpak. "I thought maybe he's
afraid of flying."
Jim Bauer, special agent in charge of the air marshals' office in
Miami, claims the killing was justified.
"This threat presented itself, and we believe it was necessary to use
deadly force," Bauer said.
But doubts continue with those who witnessed the incident and those
doubts are expressed in an internal DHS memo that may never see the light
The government of Costa Rica has officially demanded an investigation
and explanation of the killing of Alpizar. President Abel Pacheco said
the shooting resulted from "American paranoia about terrorism."
?Copyright 2005 Capitol Hill Blue
keystone cops in the crime lab again!!!!!
DNA reliability under fire
Evidence in Tucson, Florida cases contaminated by unknown source
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
Evidence from criminal cases in Arizona and Florida, including a rape, a murder, and an assault, has been contaminated with the DNA of an unknown female who has no connection to either the suspects or the crimes.
The unknown DNA has been detected in at least three cases in Tucson and an undisclosed number of cases in Florida, leaving authorities pointing to possible contamination from a supplier of testing materials to crime labs.
Prosecutors and police say the presence of unknown DNA does not hinder their ability to prosecute suspects or negate other evidence in the affected cases. advertisement
But defense attorneys and legal experts say that the issue raises serious concerns about the reliability of DNA evidence and they say the potential impact of the contamination is dramatic and disturbing.
The spread of the unknown DNA might not be limited to the two states, since police labs nationwide tend to use the same small group of suppliers for items such as Petri dishes, test tubes, measurement devices, filters and reagents.
"It is a profile we can't attribute to someone in a case or someone in a lab," said Susan Livingston, forensic services director for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Tallahassee. "We have not been able to pinpoint the source of the contamination. . . . It is something we may never figure out. But it certainly raises the question of what our two states have in common."
DNA: The holy grail?
"DNA is considered the gold standard of forensic science. It is the holy grail of evidence. What happens when we find out that the holy grail is contaminated?" Phoenix lawyer Larry Hammond said. "The whole CSI phenomenon is going to be called into question."
Hammond is founder of the Arizona Justice Project, which has used DNA to exonerate a death row inmate and a convicted child molester and has helped create a national institute on forensic science in criminal cases.
"I want there to be things you can count on in the criminal justice system to convict the guilty and acquit the innocent," Hammond said. "You don't have that if the top, most scientific tool you have is contaminated."
Hammond said the cases in Florida and Tucson need to be reviewed by an impartial panel to determine if the cases have been jeopardized. And he said it is imperative to identify the source of the contamination.
"This is very disturbing," he said. "It calls into question all of the related cases."
DNA refers to deoxyribonucleic acid, the genetic material found in the cells of almost all living things. DNA is considered the biological equivalent of a fingerprint, in that every person has a different DNA structure.
Criminalists in forensic laboratories have used DNA to identify or rule out suspects in crimes by matching their DNA to samples of DNA in hair, tissue, semen, blood and saliva found at crime scenes.
The Tucson cases
Records from Pima County Superior Court show that the unknown DNA was found in three cases handled by the Tucson Police Department crime lab.
On Nov. 17, a Tucson criminalist reported that the unknown female DNA was found on earrings stolen from a woman during an assault. However, the DNA did not match anyone associated with the case, including the victim or the man charged in the crime.
The same unknown female DNA was found on a cigarette butt that was evidence in an unrelated Tucson homicide case.
It was also found on a gun used in an unrelated Tucson assault case. The gun was seized from a vehicle driven by a man who was traveling with two other men. No females were in the vehicle at the time.
After discovering the unknown DNA, the Tucson crime lab contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which maintains a national database of unknown DNA profiles.
The database confirmed that the same DNA had been found in police laboratories in Florida, although officials there are not saying how many cases or law enforcement agencies are involved.
Crime lab officials in Tallahassee and Tucson are working together to find the source.
Susan Shankles, superintendent of the Tucson Police Department crime lab, said the unknown DNA likely entered the lab through equipment bought from a vendor.
"Certainly, I am concerned," she said. "But I think the lab has investigated and we can explain where we think it came from."
Shankles explained that much of the equipment used in the lab is guaranteed to be DNA-free. And since the discovery of the contamination, the lab has bought a $1,500 device that will eliminate DNA from everything else.
"Since this is the first time we've seen this type of problem, we're taking steps to make sure we don't see it again," she said.
Shankles acknowledged that crime labs in other states could be affected with the unknown DNA. But she said it is likely that the contamination is limited to a batch of equipment and could stem from something as simple as an employee sneezing in a manufacturing facility.
"It's not like it is swirling in the air," Shankles said. "Only those people who purchased this particular lot would be affected."
The unknown DNA has already affected one of the Tucson cases.
Prosecutors in the sexual assault case argued in a Pima County court last week that the unknown DNA found on the victim's earrings is not relevant and doesn't affect other evidence against the suspect, Daniel Lopez.
In a pretrial motion, prosecutors said jurors shouldn't even be told of the unknown DNA. "It is irrelevant to any issue or evidence being introduced," Deputy County Attorney Shawn Jensvold said.
At the same time, he said, if "the mere mention of the earrings opens the door for the defendant to probe into the DNA testing of the earrings, then the state will avoid any mention of the earrings."
Since the earrings were allegedly stolen at the time of the assault, not mentioning them would eliminate a piece of evidence linking the suspect to the crime.
A lawyer with the Pima County Legal Defender's Office, which represents Lopez, said the unknown DNA calls into question all of the DNA evidence against Lopez. The attorney says the jury needs to know evidence in the case is contaminated.
Shankles said the crime lab doesn't support any outcome in any case.
And DNA is used to eliminate a suspect from a crime as often as it used to implicate someone.
"We analyze evidence for whatever it is," she said. "We have no vested interest in going one way or another. . . . We analyze the evidence to the best of our ability."
look kiddies we are not jack booted thugs who handcuff 8 year old children and force them to take drugs. were the police and were here to help you! and you little b*stards better not tell mommy and daddy what happened in class today! got that!!
School Board will discuss inquiry into handcuffing
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
PHOENIX - A law firm tasked with investigating how Lakeview Elementary School officials handled an incident involving an 8-year-old student who was handcuffed and force-fed medication in class has completed its investigation.
The Washington Elementary School Board will discuss the findings in an executive session today, followed by a public meeting where officials could take personnel action related to the case. Currently, the school's principal and psychologist are on paid leave because of the Nov. 15 incident, which began when the girl's mother called police saying she could not control her daughter.
Police arrived and handcuffed the girl with her mother's permission and took her to the school near Peoria and 30th avenues. The class then witnessed the girl being handcuffed, restrained by her feet and forced to take prescribed medication.
The children were later told by school officials not to tell their parents, according to the parents and their children. School officials held a public meeting later that week to address the community's concerns and let parents know that they had retained the law firm Quarles and Brady Streich Lang to conduct a private investigation into the incident.
The firm conducted interviews with several staff members, parents and students, said Deanna Rader, the law firm's lead investigator.
Principal Cherri Rifenburg and school psychologist Burke Bretzing helped the police officer restrain the girl in her classroom, and were placed on leave. School officials also acknowledged that the pair forced the girl to take prescribed medication.
The Phoenix Police Department is conducting its own internal investigation into the actions of its officer, William Buividas, 22. That investigation is not yet complete and he has continued to work, said Phoenix police spokesman Tony Morales.
The girl has not attended school since the incident, but school district spokeswoman Karyn Morse said they think she will eventually return.
On Nov. 22, a Phoenix police sergeant made a presentation to the girl's third-grade class about how police are friends and here to help.
Reporters Josh Kelley and Judi Villa contributed to this article.
Live Tracking of Mobile Phones Prompts Court Fights on Privacy
By MATT RICHTEL
Published: December 10, 2005
Most Americans carry cellphones, but many may not know that government agencies can track their movements through the signals emanating from the handset.
Tracing a Cellphone In recent years, law enforcement officials have turned to cellular technology as a tool for easily and secretly monitoring the movements of suspects as they occur. But this kind of surveillance - which investigators have been able to conduct with easily obtained court orders - has now come under tougher legal scrutiny.
In the last four months, three federal judges have denied prosecutors the right to get cellphone tracking information from wireless companies without first showing "probable cause" to believe that a crime has been or is being committed. That is the same standard applied to requests for search warrants.
The rulings, issued by magistrate judges in New York, Texas and Maryland, underscore the growing debate over privacy rights and government surveillance in the digital age.
With mobile phones becoming as prevalent as conventional phones (there are 195 million cellular subscribers in this country), wireless companies are starting to exploit the phones' tracking abilities. For example, companies are marketing services that turn phones into even more precise global positioning devices for driving or allowing parents to track the whereabouts of their children through the handsets.
Not surprisingly, law enforcement agencies want to exploit this technology, too - which means more courts are bound to wrestle with what legal standard applies when government agents ask to conduct such surveillance.
Cellular operators like Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless know, within about 300 yards, the location of their subscribers whenever a phone is turned on. Even if the phone is not in use it is communicating with cellphone tower sites, and the wireless provider keeps track of the phone's position as it travels. The operators have said that they turn over location information when presented with a court order to do so.
The recent rulings by the magistrates, who are appointed by a majority of the federal district judges in a given court, do not bind other courts. But they could significantly curtail access to cell location data if other jurisdictions adopt the same reasoning. (The government's requests in the three cases, with their details, were sealed because they involve investigations still under way.)
"It can have a major negative impact," said Clifford S. Fishman, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office and a professor at the Catholic University of America's law school in Washington. "If I'm on an investigation and I need to know where somebody is located who might be committing a crime, or, worse, might have a hostage, real-time knowledge of where this person is could be a matter of life or death."
Prosecutors argue that having such information is crucial to finding suspects, corroborating their whereabouts with witness accounts, or helping build a case for a wiretap on the phone - especially now that technology gives criminals greater tools for evading law enforcement.
The government has routinely used records of cellphone calls and caller locations to show where a suspect was at a particular time, with access to those records obtainable under a lower legal standard. (Wireless operators keep cellphone location records for varying lengths of time, from several months to years.)
But it is unclear how often prosecutors have asked courts for the right to obtain cell-tracking data as a suspect is moving. And the government is not required to report publicly when it makes such requests.
Legal experts say that such live tracking has tended to happen in drug-trafficking cases. In a 2003 Ohio case, for example, federal drug agents used cell tracking data to arrest and convict two men on drug charges.
Mr. Fishman said he believed that the number of requests had become more prevalent in the last two years - and the requests have often been granted with a stroke of a magistrate's pen.
Prosecutors, while acknowledging that they have to get a court order before obtaining real-time cell-site data, argue that the relevant standard is found in a 1994 amendment to the 1986 Stored Communications Act, a law that governs some aspects of cellphone surveillance.
The standard calls for the government to show "specific and articulable facts" that demonstrate that the records sought are "relevant and material to an ongoing investigation" - a standard lower than the probable-cause hurdle.
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Tracing a Cellphone The magistrate judges, however, ruled that surveillance by cellphone - because it acts like an electronic tracking device that can follow people into homes and other personal spaces - must meet the same high legal standard required to obtain a search warrant to enter private places.
"Permitting surreptitious conversion of a cellphone into a tracking device without probable cause raises serious Fourth Amendment concerns, especially when the phone is monitored in the home or other places where privacy is reasonably expected," wrote Stephen W. Smith, a magistrate in Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas, in his ruling.
"The distinction between cell site data and information gathered by a tracking device has practically vanished," wrote Judge Smith. He added that when a phone is monitored, the process is usually "unknown to the phone users, who may not even be on the phone."
Prosecutors in the recent cases also unsuccessfully argued that the expanded police powers under the USA Patriot Act could be read as allowing cellphone tracking under a standard lower than probable cause.
As Judge Smith noted in his 31-page opinion, the debate goes beyond a question of legal standard. In fact, the nature of digital communications makes it difficult to distinguish between content that is clearly private and information that is public. When information is communicated on paper, for instance, it is relatively clear that information written on an envelope deserves a different kind of protection than the contents of the letter inside.
But in a digital era, the stream of data that carries a telephone conversation or an e-mail message contains a great deal of information - like when and where the communications originated.
In the digital era, what's on the envelope and what's inside of it, "have absolutely blurred," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy advocacy group.
And that makes it harder for courts to determine whether a certain digital surveillance method invokes Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.
In the cellular-tracking cases, some legal experts say that the Store Communications Act refers only to records of where a person has been, i.e. historical location data, but does not address live tracking.
Kevin Bankston, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group that has filed briefs in the case in the Eastern District of New York, said the law did not speak to that use. James Orenstein, the magistrate in the New York case, reached the same conclusion, as did Judge Smith in Houston and James Bredar, a magistrate judge in the Federal District Court in Maryland.
Orin S. Kerr, a professor at the George Washington School of Law and a former trial attorney in the Justice Department specializing in computer law, said the major problem for prosecutors was Congress did not appear to have directly addressed the question of what standard prosecutors must meet to obtain cell-site information as it occurs.
"There's no easy answer," Mr. Kerr said. "The law is pretty uncertain here."
Absent a Congressional directive, he said, it is reasonable for magistrates to require prosecutors to meet the probable-cause standard.
Mr. Fishman of Catholic University said that such a requirement could hamper law enforcement's ability to act quickly because of the paperwork required to show probable cause. But Mr. Fishman said he also believed that the current law was unclear on the issue.
Judge Smith "has written a very, very persuasive opinion," Mr. Fishman said. "The government's argument has been based on some tenuous premises." He added that he sympathized with prosecutors' fears.
"Something that they've been able to use quite successfully and usefully is being taken away from them or made harder to get," Mr. Fishman said. "I'd be very, very frustrated."
this was from the November|December 2005 issue of legal affairs magazine. it seems that the legal community this magazine caters to thinks that anyone with a gun is a crackpot criminal.
The Enemy Among Us
They have grown smaller and quieter over the past decade, but citizen militias are still locked and loaded in rural America.
Is the FBI paying attention?
By Geoffrey Gagnon
THE SERIOUS ARRIVED AT DAWN, painted their faces green, and began drilling while the grass was still cool and moist. Others drove in just before the mid-morning June sun climbed above the trees. They paused over the trunks of their cars and the backs of their trucks and checked their Saturday-morning gear, as if it was golf clubs or fishing rods. But the men of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia—clicking magazines into assault rifles, thrusting pistols into holsters, shifting knee pads and helmets into place—were truly weekend warriors.
Once a month, in the middle part of southern Michigan, they come to ready for battle. Their base of operations is Camp Stasa, a family farm outside the tiny town of Bancroft, Mich. It's owned by a World War II veteran named Frank Stasa who, the militiamen say, served as a guard at Nuremberg during the Nazi trials. A decade ago, when the Michigan Militia imagined itself an army, one of about 800 similar groups across the country, Stasa offered up his cornfields for training. These days the movement is almost quiet, in Michigan and elsewhere; the old leaders have scurried underground, and those who remain have adopted a lower profile. At most, 150 groups are active, experts say, and the ones in Michigan hardly constitute an army. Still, this group of several dozen men, most of them blue-collar workers approaching middle age, gathers at Stasa's farm. They drive from suburban Detroit, down a rutted dirt road that runs between flat pastures a half hour east of the state capital in Lansing. They pass by the remains of kitchen appliances and onto Stasa's spread. It's hardly in the open, but it's not difficult to spot if you know what you're looking for, a lot like the militia that trains there.
Nearly two dozen militiamen were scattered about Camp Stasa that day when a pack of six began to march. They followed a sandy two-track road around the perimeter of Stasa's fields, clad in camouflaged fatigues that they said were required by the Geneva Conventions. Each man was loaded down with a closet full of military miscellany. Some hauled glow sticks and radios with attachable throat mics. Others carried flashlights with red lenses and parachute cord and zip ties, which, they explained, would be helpful in securing prisoners. Everyone carried loaded guns, two or three each.
In front, at the point, trudged a thick militia member who goes by the call sign Corporal Punishment. He wore dark sunglasses and, sheathed on his hip, a six-inch knife that tapped against a canteen and kept time with every stride. In his gloved hands he held a black, military-style AR-15 semiautomatic rifle with a grenade launcher attached beneath the barrel. His chest pocket held pistol slugs. He said he'd come that morning from Bay City, an hour away, to help maintain the country's security. Behind his left shoulder marched Mad Hatter, who had slung across his forearm the barrel of a WASR-10, a semiautomatic sibling of the AK-47. On his chest he carried several 30-round magazines for the gun. He also had a black .40 caliber pistol and a smaller nine-millimeter handgun, with extra ammunition for each. Mad Hatter said he'd spent the last six months training to keep his family safe.
Over the clank and rattle of metal, the conversation was taken up by Rancher, marching to Mad Hatter's right. He'd been with the militia for only six months, but his conversion to the cause seemed complete. His recent sojourn in Arizona to help militia-types corral Mexican border-crossers—a "peace-keeping mission," Rancher called it—made him the envy of the group. These days illegal immigration is near the top of the list of perceived threats that keep militia members on edge, along with national identity cards, and government land seizures. In Rancher's mind, the arch-villain behind the threats is the United States government, which, he's convinced, brought down the World Trade Center to provoke a war that would allow the feds to impose martial law as a pretext to seizing guns. "Buildings don't fall down like that unless they're hit from the inside," he said.
Sweat-soaked and sucking warm water from canteens, the men lumbered to the end of a two-mile march. None of them seemed to notice the dark pickup truck that rolled to a muffled stop 30 yards behind them. Out of it stepped a square-jawed, rope-muscled man, lean and quiet. In his mid-30s, he was younger than the rest. He paused to light a cigarette. Without a word, he strapped on his gear, gripped his rifle, and in the hottest moments of the day, set out alone along the dirt road. He seemed to like it that way.
Corporal Punishment, Mad Hatter, Rancher, and the others flopped down at picnic tables, scattering their weapons and gasping like winded horses. Before them on a shooting range, a group of eight militiamen who'd been drilling since dawn flashed hand signals and worked ambush techniques in the tall grass. Their faces were streaked with green and black paint, and they listened closely to their training instructor, Super Six, an infantry veteran of the Persian Gulf war of 1991, who motioned them off the range. Moments later, the now-rested marchers took their positions at the range, and Six sat back beneath a tree to watch. "For some of these guys it's just fun and games; they just aren't serious," Six said, idly thumbing rifle rounds and snickering at the gaudy firearms and projectile launchers fastened to a few of the shooters' guns. "Scopes are fine for hunting, but for shooting people, they're distracting," he said. "They keep you from seeing the guy sneaking up beside you."
Six, who grew up in West Virginia in a family fond of homemade guns, seemed genetically wired for warfare. He earns a living selling military supplies, and he recently complained on the Michigan Militia website that turning swords into plowshares would not stop plow thieves from making weapons. Pulling a slow drag on a smoke, he worried that a battle could reach his doorstep soon. "This country's in trouble," Six said. "When it all goes to shit, what's gonna happen then?"
As Six spoke, the square-jawed man who had set off on his own rounded the cornfield and came back into view. He was still smoking, still silent. His fatigues were crisp, the Army Ranger and U.S. Army patches sewn onto them line-straight. When he passed in front of Six and claimed a spot on the left side of the shooting range, a couple of heads turned. Around him rose the rapid pop and blast of bullet spray. He squeezed the trigger of his gun at a slow, deliberate pace. Six watched for a moment, then raised his hand to point. "Guys like that," he said, "are going to make this thing work."
A DECADE AFTER GRABBING THE NATION'S ATTENTION, the so-called citizen militias, if they're recognized at all, are composed of blustering and ostentatiously armed figures more likely to provoke curiosity than fear. A rite of spring at Camp Stasa known for years as "tax blast" reinforces the stereotype—a family-friendly day of fun and guns when the uninitiated can take aim at IRS forms and tax booklets. But a militia group can also inspire disaffected members to dangerous action, and it is the loner among them, the laconic man in the shadows, who has always unnerved the government.
In 1983, before there was a militia movement, Randy Weaver hunkered down in the wilds of Idaho to prepare for the end of the world. Eight years later, he was busted for selling guns, and when he skipped his court date, U.S. Marshals went looking for him. As they conducted surveillance on his cabin, shots rang out, and the marshals began trading fire with the cabin's inhabitants. After two days, a U.S. Marshal and Weaver's wife and 14-year-old son were dead. A nine-day standoff ensued, and gun-owning sympathizers across the country painted Weaver and his family as martyrs. A year later, after federal agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., and President Bill Clinton signed the Brady gun-control law, the radical right had all the evidence it needed to conclude that the government was conspiring to make war on its own citizens. The battle cry went out, and militias sprang up seemingly wherever angry gun owners came together.
The Michigan Militia flourished under the leadership of Norm Olson, a pastor and former high-school teacher with a booming voice. In 1994, on a 120-acre compound in Northern Michigan, Olson went into the business of training "guerrilla fighters to be ruthless, merciless," he said. He armed them, too, opening the Alanson Armory, a no-frills gun shop and militia supplier built off the side of his garage. The place was crammed with rifles and military supplies, as well as militia patches and flags. "We wanted to be visible," Olson said, "to put the government on notice." For a time, Olson was the public face of the national militia movement. During a 1995 Senate committee hearing on domestic terror, the sleeves of his battle dress uniform rolled up and a camouflaged militia hat on his head, Olson launched into a tirade about government corruption and encroachment into citizens' lives. The next day's national newspapers were full of his incendiary statements, including his suggestion that militias needed to provide government with "a good spanking to make it behave."
Olson's rhetoric might have gained little notice had it not been for a notorious loner linked to the Michigan Militia. On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh mixed two tons of fertilizer with fuel oil to detonate a Ryder truck in front of the federal building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children in a day care center. Foreign terrorists were initially suspected, but police charged McVeigh with the crime two days later. The case prompted terrorism experts to develop a more nuanced theory of why militias were dangerous. For all their tough posturing, the experts concluded, militia leaders were mostly talk. But their rhetoric—calls to urgent and armed resistance against apocalyptic government conspiracies—could push a member to strike. "It was never the militia leader actually bombing or killing," said Mark Pitcavage, director of fact-find-ing at the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that monitors extremists. "But they coax the others to violence." When police pulled McVeigh over for driving without plates hours after he bombed the Murrah Federal Building, he was no ranting militia leader. He was a former Army private, passed over by a Special Forces unit, disaffected and deranged on a diet of militant, racist rhetoric. "McVeigh was a nobody who was inspired by what others told him," Pitcavage said. "It's the nobodies that scare us."
AS MILITIAS INSPIRE LONERS LIKE MCVEIGH TO ACT, they try to instill an understanding that anyone arrested for committing violence will deny a militia connection. The idea is to protect others in a militia cell, to make it appear that the so-called lone wolf is an unallied loon. But those who plot terror rarely get there alone. "The leaders of these groups create a justification for action and urgency," said Michael German, a former FBI agent and counterterrorism instructor for the bureau. "They say, 'Here's what you should do and here's how you should do it.' And then they stand back, they create space, and they say, 'I had no idea this guy wanted to blow up buildings.' " What often pushes loners away from the group is the realization that an attack may never come, that all the talk and training may be for naught. So the loner splinters off and prepares to attack on his own. "It's the meet, eat, and then retreat phenomenon that makes these people break apart from the groups," Pitcavage said. "A lot of these places are finishing schools for people of a certain ideology. With all those weapons and all that talk, they feel that something has to happen."
In 2003, Norman Somerville, loaded with weapons and seething with militant urgency, was prepared to make something happen in rural Northern Michigan. A Special Forces veteran linked to militia cells, Somerville was fed up and itching for a showdown. Police had recently killed Scott Woodring, a fellow militia member, in a shootout as they attempted to arrest him for the killing of a state trooper. Woodring's death touched off angry web-postings among militia sympathizers and galvanized Somerville to strike at police. On a 40-acre compound outside the hamlet of Mesick, he plotted what prosecutors would later describe as "a violent militia conspiracy" to avenge Woodring's death. Somerville fortified his property, built an underground bunker, and collected machine guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. He kept photographs of President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, with the crosshairs of rifle scopes drawn over their faces. Above the ground, hidden by tree limbs, Somerville positioned a massive anti-aircraft gun that he trained on the approach to his property. And he readied the pride of his arsenal—vehicles he referred to as the twin "war wagons." Somerville had outfitted his Jeep and van with M1919 .30 caliber machine guns capable of emptying 550 rounds in a minute. The Jeep, with its passenger seat removed, boasted a mounted gun turret. Somerville planned to use the Jeep to cause a traffic accident and then to open fire on police when they arrived at the scene. In late 2003, authorities learned that Somerville was about to carry out his plan, and they moved in. He was convicted on weapons charges and sentenced to six and a half years in prison. In court, prosecutors called the rural handyman a "psychologically deranged man who was armed to the teeth, filled with hate, high on dope and had his finger on the trigger." After his arrest, Somerville said he had handed out or traded illegal machine guns to others, and he warned authorities of a network of "shadowy rebels" preparing for "a quiet civil war" in rural Michigan.
ON THE FIRING LINE, MAD HATTER SPRAWLED IN THE DEEP GRASS at the back of the shooting range, his big belly to the ground and the business end of his rifle pointed down range. Rancher lay to his left, wearing a camouflaged T-shirt that he had picked up while searching for illegal immigrants in Arizona. Behind them, sitting in the shade and smoking a cigarette, was the man with the square jaw and precise aim. He called himself Razor and said it was his second time at a militia event.
The three were the newest members of the group, but each said he had trolled militia websites for years. "I watched the militias when they got really popular a few years back, and I didn't think it was for me," said Rancher. But September 11 got him thinking hard about the movement. "When those towers came down," he said, "I saw the writing on the wall. I thought, 'Bad things are coming.' " For Mad Hatter, the impetus wasn't much different. He explained that vague terror warnings got him thinking about ways to protect his family. Mad Hatter wants to be ready for thieves, or terror, or even a repeat of the power outage that stretched from New York to the Midwest two summers ago. He's filled his basement with provisions for survival, and he's saving up for more guns and a lot more ammo, which he stores in green canisters like the ones that rattle in the back of his work van. "You can never ever have too much," he said. From 25 yards, he squeezed a dozen or so rounds from his .40 caliber pistol.
Razor watched with an idle stare. He had stopped shooting and put his rifle down, mentioning that he had left his favorite gun in his truck. When asked to see it, he smiled for the first time that day and headed for the pickup. From the floor near the passenger seat, Razor produced a soft black case from which he pulled a shiny .45—a pistol with a long barrel the color of motor oil. With the weight of the big gun collected in his hand, Razor beamed before tucking it back into the truck. Still, he wouldn't say much. A few cigarettes later, he offered only that he'd thought about joining the militia for years. "I looked around for a long time, and when I came out here I found out I agreed with a lot of what these guys say," he said, dodging questions about what he agrees with. "I just think it's important to train, to stay sharp."
MICHAEL GERMAN HAS A SCHOOLBOY'S HEAD OF WISPY BLOND HAIR and an aw-shucks grin. His appearance belies the street-tough attitude he cultivated while working undercover as an agent for the FBI. German's specialty was infiltrating dangerous extremist groups, including militia cells. In 1996, he assumed the persona of Rock, a thuggish gun supplier, and slipped into the Washington State Militia in time to hear talk of assassinations and bomb-building. The militia was convinced that United Nations troops—the harbingers of what militia members called the New World Order—were preparing an invasion from nearby Canada, and the militia readied for battle. As its members practiced building pipe bombs in a warehouse in Mount Vernon, Wash., Rock documented the government's case. When he had enough evidence, Rock arrived at a meeting with a box of hand-cuffs and a promise: He'd teach the guys how to escape from locked cuffs without using a key. It seemed like something worth learning. After the militia members cuffed themselves out of reach of their guns, FBI agents stormed the building and arrested the bomb makers without firing a shot. German, at the front of the room, held up his FBI badge.
His experience with extremist groups made German valuable to agents with militia questions in bureaus across the country. And in 2002, German got a call to lend a hand with an investigation, reportedly centered in Tampa, Fla. He wouldn't offer specifics about what the FBI had uncovered. "I can only say that there was an ongoing case with an international component," he said. "And it was a mess, organizationally."
According to stories published in The New York Times, the case involved an Islamic terror organization suspected of joining forces with a domestic militia group. "I told people at the FBI that this case is going to be on the front page of the paper," German recalled. "It's either going to be good for us, or bad for us." When the FBI didn't commit more resources to the investigation, German said he grew confused. He said he also noticed that the bureau had created what he believed were false documents concerning the case, and when he raised his voice to protest, the FBI effectively benched him. "Over the next four or five months, the work just stopped," he said.
After 16 years in the FBI, German resigned in the summer of 2004, saying the FBI froze him out for raising a warning flag about domestic terror. Today, German's complaints are at the center of an internal investigation, about which German and the FBI are mum. But he paints a picture of a bureau gone soft on domestic terror, charging that investigations, warnings, and reports of threats get bogged down in paperwork and ignored.
German acknowledges the bureau's myriad priorities, but cautions that the FBI isn't taking homegrown extremist factions seriously enough. "These groups are clandestine, criminal operations. They're a part of an ongoing conspiracy," he said. He believes the threat of homegrown terror requires the relentless building of criminal cases against pipe-bomb builders, illegal-gun dealers, and the like. It requires agents on the ground and an appreciation for a network that inspires violence. "[Law enforcement officials] say we're looking for a needle in a haystack when it comes to these guys," German said. "But we need to quit searching the haystack and start going after the needle factories."
Experts who track militias stress that while visible numbers are down, members today appear more committed to their cause. "If anything, the people who have stayed with the militias have gotten more militant and dedicated," said Daniel Levitas, author of The Terrorist Next Door, a respected account of the antecedents to the militia movement. "Judging by their rhetoric today, they're more aggressive in their embrace of destruction." A report released in 2004 by the Anti-Defamation League claimed evidence of "a quiet attempt to revive the antigovernment movement." Despite the militias' deep distrust and fear about operating in public, outfits around the country, the report said, are putting out the call for "like minded folks." The ADL cited newly vigorous recruitment campaigns in West Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, and Washington.
In his annual threat assessment delivered to Congress last February, FBI Director Robert Mueller characterized the danger posed by militia groups as a "continuing threat." And John Lewis, a 28-year veteran of the FBI and now its deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, said the bureau is mindful of the dangers posed by far-right militia outfits. "The shock and awe of Oklahoma City still permeates this building," he said, sitting at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. "We're minding the store." Lewis said he was unaware of German's public allegations to the contrary, and unfamiliar with the case that put German and the bureau at loggerheads. He also dismissed the former agent's criticism of the FBI for taking homegrown terror too lightly: "I don't know how he can say that without the top-down view that I have. I run counterterrorism off this desk, and we're using every arrow in our quiver." Lewis said he believed that the FBI was not shortchanging the fight against domestic terror. "We think we've got the right ratio here," he said, "when it comes to [international terror] and [domestic terror]."
But fighting international terror has become the bureau's highest priority since September 11, Lewis explained. While the FBI has poured more money and manpower into counterterrorism efforts generally, the global war on terror has absorbed most of the resources.
He acknowledged that his resources for dealing with home-grown terrorists are limited. "This is a huge country," he said. "Do we have everyone covered? I wouldn't bet my last 20 on it." Making the challenge more difficult is the FBI's obligation to balance the rights of militia members under the First and Second Amendments with the need to stop terror before it strikes. "There's nothing wrong with collecting weapons and explosives," Lewis explained. "There's nothing wrong with collecting lots and lots of weapons. Some could say that these people are dangerous, and they'd be right. But until a line is crossed, we have to stand back."
Most FBI critics don't quibble with its decision to make international terror a higher priority than extremists at home. But many find the bureau's domestic choices confusing. In May, Lewis told a Senate hearing that groups like the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front had become the bureau's chief domestic priority. According to the FBI, in the last 15 years, over 1,000 attacks against property have been documented and attributed to radical left-wing groups. "It shouldn't come as a surprise," Lewis said, "that these groups rank higher [in priority] than militia groups."
But militia expert Daniel Levitas was surprised. "I find that both laughable and terrifying," Levitas said of the bureau's emphasis on eco-terrorists. He's among the critics who say the FBI's soft stance on militia groups may have already had consequences.
IN JANUARY 2002, WITH THE NATION'S ATTENTION ON FOREIGN TERROR and anthrax mailings, a curious package arrived on the doorstep of a Staten Island family. It had come from Tyler, Tex., and contained a stash of fake identification documents, including a social security card, a birth certificate, and a United Nations ID card. Included was a note from the package's sender, William Krar. "We would hate to have this fall into the wrong hands," Krar wrote to the intended recipient, New Jersey Militia member Edward S. Feltus.
A longtime player in the New Hampshire Militia, Krar was a weapons salesman who also made guns. Federal authorities first noticed him in 1995, after a foiled plot to kidnap a television newscaster in retaliation for media coverage that criticized the Oklahoma City bombing. One of the plotters, Sean Bottoms, told investigators that Krar was active in the militia movement and was an explosives expert who dealt in ammunition and military supplies. About the same time, according to the FBI, an informant told the bureau that Krar was a "good source of covert weaponry."
After the terrorists struck on September 11, police in New Hampshire were warned that Krar was engaged in "suspicious activity." An employee at a self-storage facility told authorities that Krar claimed he knew about the attacks before they occurred and knew about future attacks. Police noted in their report that Krar was storing "army-type equipment."
As it turned out, the trove of fake documents had shown up in Staten Island by mistake. The family who received it passed it along to local police, who handed it over to FBI agents in Newark, N.J. Seven months after the intercept, the FBI spoke with Feltus, who revealed that he had ordered the phony documents from Krar, hoping they would help him travel in the event of a disaster or government siege. Feltus also told agents that he and another militia activist had stockpiled more than 100 guns in Vermont.
Three months after their interview with Feltus, FBI agents in Texas drove out to have a look at Krar's home. Still unaware that he had come to the FBI's attention seven years before, agents decided they'd monitor Krar's mail. Nothing happened for three months, until January 2003—a full year after the FBI received his package of bogus IDs—when police in western Tennessee pulled over a rental car driven by Krar.
The officers found marijuana and syringes containing atropine, an antidote for nerve gas. They also found documents with vague titles (one was called "procedure") that the FBI said "appear to be instructions for executing a covert type plans/operations." Over the following month, FBI agents put the pieces together, and a picture of Krar finally emerged. That's when field offices in New England and Texas shared information related to the militia connections, the September 11 complaint, and the investigation into the 1995 plot. They requested a warrant to search Krar's property, and in Krar's east Texas storage locker, agents found an arsenal that included a hydrogen cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands of people. Among other things, Krar had been hoarding blasting caps, detonators for military devices, trip wire, grenades, pipe bombs, machine guns, half a million rounds of ammunition—even a landmine. Krar, 63, was convicted and sentenced in May 2004 to 11 years in prison.
When asked this past summer about the Krar case, Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Lewis said he was familiar with it and believed the bureau had acted promptly. When refreshed on the chronology of the case, he expressed skepticism. "I can't believe a scenario in which we'd sit on something like that," he said. "But again, I don't know about the details of that case."
AS THE DAY SLID AWAY, THE GROUND BEHIND THE ROW OF SHOOTERS working the range filled with shell casings. Gun grease, juice boxes, AR-15 magazines, and Coco-Puff cereal bars covered a nearby picnic table, making it look as if a SWAT team had gone to grade school. The portions of Super Six's neck not lathered in paint or covered by his camouflaged shirt had grown red from the sun.
Unlike most others in the militia, Six had seen real combat. Beneath his pant leg he hid a pink scar that he had earned in a firefight in Iraq. "I came around in the mid-'90s and checked the militia out," he explained. "What I saw was a joke." Six said he decided that when the militias in Michigan got serious, he'd join. Three years ago, he did. This year, he began a training program that he hopes will produce tough, self-reliant militia leaders, and he wants to grow its ranks swiftly. He calls it a "force multiplier school." "This country's bankrupt. Everyone knows that," he said.
Before the sun dipped below the trees at Camp Stasa, Six and the men engaged the safeties on their weapons and began to pack their equipment into pouches and bags. They peeled off their gloves, packed up the trunks of their cars, and slipped off one at a time. On the summer Saturday at Camp Stasa, there was no grand dismissal, no concluding remarks. Some men had reason to stay and keep shooting into the evening and some camped overnight. Eventually they all left as Razor had arrived—alone.
Geoffrey Gagnon is the managing editor of Legal Affairs.
Prof. Questions Gov't Monopoly on Marijuana
By ANDREW MIGA, Associated Press Writer Mon Dec 12, 7:35 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Put this in your pipe and smoke it: A University of
Massachusetts professor says the medical marijuana grown by the
federal government isn't very good. He wants a permit to cultivate his
own pot, saying it will be better for research.
Lyle Craker, a horticulturist who heads the school's medicinal plant
program, is challenging the government's 36-year-old monopoly on
research marijuana. Craker's suit claims government-grown marijuana
lacks the potency medical researchers need to make important
"The government's marijuana just isn't strong enough," said Richard
Doblin, a Craker supporter who heads the Massachusetts-based
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
A hearing before a federal administrative judge at the Drug
Enforcement Administration got under way Monday and is expected to
last all week.
Craker's suit also alleges there isn't enough of the drug freely
available for scientists across the country to work with.
The DEA contends that permitting other marijuana growers would lead to
greater illegal use of the drug. They have also said that
international treaties limit the United States to one marijuana
A lab at the University of Mississippi is the government's only
marijuana growing facility.
DEA attorneys defended the government's marijuana, contending its
Mississippi growing center provides adequate quality and quantity for
legitimate researchers across the country.
"Whatever material is needed could be provided under (the) process
that is already in place," said Mahmoud ElSohly, a research professor
who runs the cultivation program at the school for government
agencies, including a 1,200-square-foot "growing room."
The government's official stockpile at the facility is about a metric
ton, he estimated.
"We have quite a bit of inventory," ElSohly said.
Most of it is stored in bulk in barrels lined with federally approved
The most powerful marijuana is stored in a walk-in freezer, part of
the facility's storage vault, to maintain its potency.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse oversees the Mississippi facility.
Craker, who has been fighting the government for four years, did not
attend the hearing. Doblin, whose group hopes to fund Craker's
marijuana growing, said they have confidence in their case, which has
the support of nearly 40 members of Congress, including Massachusetts
John Kerry and Edward Kennedy.
"How do you defend the government's case against the public interest
that there needs to be more research?" said Doblin, whose group aims
to expand medical research on psychedelic drugs, including so-called
"Ecstasy" or MDMA. Doblin said he believes there is great promise in
the use of "vaporized" marijuana as a health aid.
There was a moment of levity in the DEA hearing room when ElSohly was
explaining how the marijuana is sometimes rolled into cigarette form,
asking the judge if she understood what he meant.
"I have no idea," replied DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen
Bittner with a smile.
Both sides expect that a decision in the case is months away.
Excluding killer doesn't improve image of attorneys
Dec. 13, 2005 12:00 AM
Perhaps the Arizona Supreme Court does not wish to offend murderers. That would explain what happened last week, when the justices ruled that convicted killer James Hamm, a graduate of ASU's law school, should not be allowed to practice law because he lacks "good moral character."
To most people, this was a no-brainer. As far as they're concerned, killing a guy precludes a person from ever establishing "good moral character." Strangely enough, the court didn't say that.
Instead, it ruled that Hamm should not be admitted to the state Bar because he didn't pay child support for a son he had before being sent to prison. And for not showing enough remorse or candor (as far as the justices were concerned) about the man he wounded in the same incident in which he killed another. And for allegedly cribbing a few lines from another court's ruling to use in his own brief. Not for murder, however.
"The court declined to set a standard (that said murderers should be excluded from practicing law) because there were other issues that they felt would prohibit him (Hamm) from being admitted," said Cari Gerchick, a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court.
Murderers across Arizona must have breathed a sigh of relief. As a class, they were not singled out.
Hamm spent 17 years in prison. He turned his life around, got educated and has expressed remorse. He's a poster boy for the possibility of rehabilitation.
Still, most people might agree that he doesn't deserve to practice law. He does, however, deserve a straight answer. And he didn't get it.
For one thing, being admitted to the bar does not mean that you'll practice law. Someone has to hire you. Having Hamm's name on the stationery could bring a law firm unwanted publicity.
Or, a firm might say that we either believe in rehabilitation or we don't. And if we do, then why not hire Hamm?
Particularly since, from what I was told, licensed attorneys don't get disbarred for the offenses that supposedly kept Hamm from being admitted in the first place.
According to Matt Silverman, a spokesman for the State Bar of Arizona, "There's a huge difference between someone who has applied to be an attorney and someone who already is in practice and is having problems."
In other words, there is a double standard. Once you're in, you're in.
"Practicing law is a privilege," Silverman said. "We believe that people who have committed murder shouldn't be allowed to practice law, period."
Unfortunately, that isn't what the Supreme Court said. It pointed to the child support and all the other stuff.
The fact is that attorneys have no greater claim on "good moral character" than any other profession. A lot less, if you ask some people. I would have liked to see the Supreme Court dispense with the legal mumbo jumbo and say what it meant. Something like: "We believe that letting Hamm become a lawyer would have made the rest of us look bad. And since the law allows us to exclude people we don't like, we're excluding him."
Hamm may be the first convicted murderer in Arizona history to graduate from law school and try to be admitted to the Bar. He also could be the last, since murderers now serve longer sentences that are without the possibility of parole.
Either way, his case seems to prove two things. First, that in rare instances a murderer can be rehabilitated. Second, that the legal profession, perhaps, cannot.
Reach Montini at email@example.com or (602) 444-8978.
one of the reasons i am still unemployeed. but i still am for eliminating all immigration laws. getting rid of the INS, and ripping down all of the fences that seperate USA from mexico and canada.
High-tech companies lobby for more visas
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 13, 2005 12:00 AM
High-tech employers are lobbying Congress to raise a cap on visas for specialty workers and allow an additional 30,000 such workers into the United States each year.
Companies say that would give them more flexibility to put the world's best and brightest to work in America instead of in competing countries. They say it would increase the chances of employees developing groundbreaking innovations in the United States. But an increase in the number of these visas could create tougher job competition for American workers.
"It's a major, major issue for Arizona companies," said Shoshana Tancer, a Phoenix lawyer and member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "It's not just the giant high-tech companies. It is the small businesses that want people. They've graduated with master's degrees and they want to work in the United States for a time, and they have the skills (small businesses) need."
Business organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers, high-tech trade association AeA and Compete America are lobbying for the increase. High-tech companies including Intel Corp., Motorola Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are supporters.
The cap would cover H-1B visas, a category that allows workers in specialty occupations to work in the United States for up to six years. They are admitted on the basis of their professional education, skills or experience, and employers are required to seek U.S. workers first and attest that they have not laid off a similarly qualified U.S. worker. For immigrants, an H-1B is often a prelude to applying for status as a legal permanent resident.
This year, for the first time, the entire allotment of visas was claimed before the fiscal year began. Some 65,000 H-1B visas were available for fiscal 2006, which started Oct. 1, and all those were gone in August. No more visas will be available until October 2007.
"We support the increase because the current cap does not correlate to market demand," said Tracy Koon, director of corporate affairs for Intel. "The current cap methodology is not flexible to changing business needs."
Koon said Intel hires foreign nationals only when it cannot find U.S. workers with the education and skills it needs. Raising the cap would have minimal impact on Intel this year, because the company planned ahead for staffing, she said. But if a solution isn't found in the long run "and we can't hire the talent we need in the U.S., we will be forced to go where the talent is," she said.
The growing national controversy over immigration has made other employers reluctant to publicly discuss their use of H-1B visas. Organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA, already vocal on illegal immigration, have taken positions against H-1B visas.
"We don't see any reason at this point for them to increase H-1Bs," said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for FAIR. "It's in the interest of the companies to bring in as many as they can, but the government has an obligation to protect the jobs and interests of Americans."
Supporters are pushing Congress to raise the cap this year as a short-term solution, but want the issue of temporary workers to be decided as part of broader immigration reform expected next year.
"These are short-term solutions we hope get us through to the broader, comprehensive immigration reform debate," said Sandra Boyd, vice president of human resources policy for the National Association of Manufacturers and chair of Compete America.
The pool of highly skilled workers entering the state on temporary-worker visas is relatively small.
Some 5,918 immigrants came to Arizona on H-1B visas in fiscal 2004. They included engineers, nurses, athletes and others with specialized skills, according to U.S. Customs and Immigration Service statistics. The number has hovered around 5,000 since rebounding from a low of 3,717 in fiscal 1999. Spouses and children of temporary workers totaled 1,731 in fiscal 2004, compared to 1,376 five years earlier.
High-tech companies say they need additional visas because much high-paying, specialty work can be done anywhere, and worldwide competition for top talent has grown fierce. Opponents say businesses seek out H-1B visa holders because they can pay them substantially less than American workers.
A Congressional Budget Office study on immigrants in the U.S. labor market, released last month, found the pay difference was not dramatic. Foreign-born men from countries other than Mexico or Central America earned 10 percent less in 2004 than did native-born men, adjusted for education and experience, according to the study. Foreign-born women earned 3 percent less.
Demand for the H-1B visa is growing, supporters say, because American universities are not graduating enough scientists and engineers. And American-born graduates are being snapped up by defense companies, whose employees must be U.S. natives to obtain security clearances.
"If we were able to graduate more students, we wouldn't have the problem, and that's a national occurrence," said Herb Finkelstein, industrial/government liaison in Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.
Declining enrollments in engineering programs have been blamed on factors ranging from students' weak preparation in math and science to the lack of a national imperative such as the 1960s vision of landing on the moon.
High-tech employment, which plummeted in the 2001-2002 tech downturn, has rebounded. In November, 2.2 percent of architectural and engineering workers and 2 percent of computer and mathematical workers were unemployed, compared to 4.8 percent of the total workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
IEEE-USA, an association for electrical and electronics engineers, thinks rates are down at least partly because discouraged workers have left the field, spokesman Chris McManes said. The organization thinks the H-1B cap is fine where it is, and that any reform should be part of a broader immigration debate instead of budget wrangling, he said.
High-tech employers petitioning for H-1B visas the past two years include Motorola, which sought nearly 600 for Arizona-based workers, and Freescale Semiconductor Inc., which requested nearly 200, according to Customs.
"Our Arizona operations include a number of very, very specific and technical jobs," Freescale spokesman Glaston Ford said. He declined to say which jobs the company has filled with H-1B workers, but said its needs include skills in radio-frequency and analog research and development, and in specialty materials used to make computer chips.
"There are areas where a specific skill set can be very, very narrow," he said. "Sometimes we can't find the skills locally and we have to go international."
The proposed increase wouldn't directly affect Freescale, he said.
"We believe the industry needs more flexibility in addressing specific skill sets, and a higher cap allows more flexibility," he said.
The proposal to raise the cap is a small part of the massive federal budget bill being considered in Congress. The Senate-passed version includes the extra visas; the House version does not. A conference committee is expected to come up with a compromise by year-end on the many issues, including visas, that separate the two chambers' bills.
The issue is part of the budget debate because the Senate version proposes to raise the fee employers pay for workers' H-1B visas $500 each.
Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., said at an Intel briefing this month that he doubts the increase will be approved this year. Smith, who supports the higher cap, said anti-immigration forces combined with the fact that visas are a collateral issue to the overall budget make passage unlikely. He predicted multifaceted reform next year.
"It would be tremendously important to keeping the brain power coming here and prevent the brain drain," he said.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-8280.
california murders an innocent man!!!
Dec 13, 11:26 AM EST
Gang founder claimed innocence until the end
By KIM CURTIS
Associated Press Writer
SAN QUENTIN, Calif. (AP) -- Stanley Tookie Williams maintained his innocence right up until his death, even when an admission of guilt may have spared him execution.
Even after the courts and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected a flurry of Williams' last-ditch appeals before his execution early Tuesday, his supporters vowed to prove his innocence.
Williams, the Crips gang co-founder whose case stirred a national debate about capital punishment versus the possibility of redemption, was executed Tuesday morning for killing four people in 1979.
Williams, 51, died at 12:35 a.m. Officials at San Quentin State Prison seemed to have trouble injecting the lethal mixture into his muscular arm. As they struggled to find a vein, Williams looked up repeatedly and appeared frustrated, shaking his head at supporters and other witnesses.
"You doing that right?" it sounded as if he asked one of the men with a needle.
After he was declared dead, his supporters shouted in unison: "The state of California just killed an innocent man," as they walked out of the chamber.
Lora Owens, stepmother of one of the four people Williams was convicted of killing witnessed the execution. "I believe it was a just punishment long overdue," she told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Williams' case became one of the nation's biggest death-row cause celebres in decades, with Hollywood stars and capital punishment foes arguing that Williams' sentence should be commuted to life in prison because he had made amends by writing children's books about the dangers of gangs and violence.
His execution also drew fierce criticism in Europe, where politicians in Schwarzenegger's native Austria called for his name to be removed from a sports stadium in his hometown.
"Schwarzenegger has a lot of muscles, but apparently not much heart," said Julien Dray, spokesman for the Socialist Party in France, where the death penalty was abolished in 1981.
Williams became the 12th person executed in California since lawmakers reinstated the death penalty in 1977.
In the days leading up to the execution, state and federal courts refused to reopen his case. Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied Williams' request for clemency, suggesting that his supposed change of heart was not genuine because he had not shown any real remorse for the killings committed by the Crips.
"Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?" Schwarzenegger wrote. "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."
Schwarzenegger said the evidence of Williams' guilt was "strong and compelling." Witnesses at Williams' trial said he boasted about the killings, saying: "You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him."
Williams was condemned in 1981 for gunning down convenience store clerk Albert Owens, 26, at a 7-Eleven in Whittier and killing Yen-I Yang, 76, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 63, and the couple's daughter Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 43, at the Los Angeles motel they owned. Williams claimed he was innocent.
Williams was led into the death chamber at midnight, shackled and handcuffed. He declined to give a formal final statement.
He seemed frustrated by the length of time it took officials to insert the intravenous lines in his arms. He repeatedly looked up, shaking his head at supporters, reporters and other witnesses whom officials did not identify.
In all, it took nearly a half-hour to prepare Williams for execution. It took much less time to die; he appeared to stop breathing just moments after a prison official read the death warrant and said, "The execution shall now proceed."
Williams was described as "complacent, quiet and thoughtful," by Corrections Department spokeswoman Terry Thornton in the hours before the execution. He declined to have a last meal as he waited in the holding cell, drinking milk instead. Prison officials said he spent his last hours reading mail, watching television and visiting with his lawyers and friends.
After watching her longtime friend die, Barbara Becnel told the crowd of hundreds gathered outside prison gates that she would prove Williams' innocence and that Schwarzenegger was a "cold-blooded murderer."
She said Williams "was brave and strong and he was everything we believed him to be."
Singer Joan Baez, M A S H actor Mike Farrell and the Rev. Jesse Jackson were among the celebrities who protested the execution.
"Tonight is planned, efficient, calculated, antiseptic, cold-blooded murder and I think everyone who is here is here to try to enlist the morality and soul of this country," said Baez, who sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" on a small plywood stage set up just outside the gates.
A contingent of 40 people who had walked the approximately 25 miles from San Francisco held signs calling for an end to "state-sponsored murder." But others, including Debbie Lynch, 52, of Milpitas, said they wanted to honor the victims.
"If he admitted to it, the governor might have had a reason to spare his life," Lynch said.
Among the celebrities who took up Williams' cause were Jamie Foxx, who played the gang leader in a cable movie about Williams; rapper Snoop Dogg, himself a former Crip; Sister Helen Prejean, the nun depicted in "Dead Man Walking"; and Bianca Jagger. During Williams' 24 years on death row, a Swiss legislator, college professors and others nominated him for the Nobel Prizes in peace and literature.
Williams founded the Crips gang with a friend in 1971 and managed stay out of trouble for years despite his claims that he was a drug-fueled thug who robbed, beat and shot at people.
Authorities say the gang is responsible for hundreds of deaths, many of them in battles with the rival Bloods for turf and control of the drug trade.
Whatever luck Williams found on the streets avoiding the law ended in 1979 after four people were killed in a pair of armed robberies that were connected to him and his pump-action shotgun.
Williams never wavered from his claim of innocence and said he refused to confess to crimes he did not commit, even if doing so would save his life. He said he redeemed himself while in prison and apologized for starting the Crips.
"There is no part of me that existed then that exists now," Williams said recently during several hours of interviews with The Associated Press. He said that while he wanted to live and continue his work with children, he was prepared to die.
"I haven't had a lot of joy in my life. But in here," he says, pointing to his heart, "I'm happy. I am peaceful in here. I am joyful in here."
Posted 12/14/2005 2:07 AM Updated 12/14/2005 7:45 AM
Pentagon rolls out stealth PR
By Matt Kelley, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A $300 million Pentagon psychological warfare operation includes plans for placing pro-American messages in foreign media outlets without disclosing the U.S. government as the source, one of the military officials in charge of the program says.
Run by psychological warfare experts at the U.S. Special Operations Command, the media campaign is being designed to counter terrorist ideology and sway foreign audiences to support American policies. The military wants to fight the information war against al-Qaeda through newspapers, websites, radio, television and "novelty items" such as T-shirts and bumper stickers.
The program will operate throughout the world, including in allied nations and in countries where the United States is not involved in armed conflict.
•Cost: Up to $100 million per contractor, $300 million total
•Contractors: SYColeman of Washington; Lincoln Group
of Washington; Science Applications International
Corp. of San Diego
•Awarded: June 7
•Length: Five years
•Purpose: "For media approach planning, prototype
product development, commercial quality product
development, product distribution and dissemination,
and media effects analysis."
Source: Department of Defense
The description of the program by Mike Furlong, deputy director of the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, provides the most detailed look to date at the Pentagon's global campaign.
The three companies handling the campaign include the Lincoln Group, the company being investigated by the Pentagon for paying Iraqi newspapers to run pro-U.S. stories. (Related story: Contracts for pro-U.S. propaganda)
Military officials involved with the campaign say they're not planning to place false stories in foreign news outlets clandestinely. But the military won't always reveal its role in distributing pro-American messages, Furlong says.
"While the product may not carry the label, 'Made in the USA,' we will respond truthfully if asked" by journalists, Furlong told USA TODAY in a videoconference interview.
He declined to give examples of specific "products," which he said would include articles, advertisements and public-service announcements.
The military's communications work in Iraq has recently drawn controversy with disclosures that Lincoln Group and the U.S. military secretly paid journalists and news outlets to run pro-American stories.
White House officials have expressed concern about the practice, even when the stories are true.
National security adviser Stephen Hadley said President Bush was "very troubled" by activities in Iraq and would stop them if they hurt efforts to build independent news media in Iraq. The military started its own probe.
It's legal for the government to plant propaganda in other countries but not in the USA. The White House referred requests for comment about the contracts to the Pentagon, where officials did not respond.
Special Operations Command awarded three contracts worth up to $100 million each for the media campaign in June. Besides the Lincoln Group, the contractors are Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) of San Diego and SYColeman of Washington.
SAIC and Lincoln Group spokesmen declined to comment on the contract. Rick Kiernan, a spokesman for SYColeman, says its work for Special Operations Command is "more in the world of advertising."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has emphasized that Washington must promote its message better. "The worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press and reported and spread around the world," he said last week.
The Iraq example may cause Arabs to doubt any pro-American messages, says Jumana al-Tamimi, an editor for the Gulf News, an English-language newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates.
Placing pro-U.S. content in foreign media "makes people suspicious of the open press," says Ken Bacon, a Clinton administration Pentagon spokesman who heads the non-profit group Refugees International.
No contractor for the global program has made a final product, Furlong says. Approval will come from Rumsfeld's office and regional commanders. Some of the development work is classified.
"Sometimes it's not good to signal ... what your plans are," he says.
Contributing: Barbara Slavin
demoninizing people convicted of DUI. i guess this is a good way to justify to the public how the government raises money by shaking down people convicted of DUI crimes.
Smile, you’re on DUI Web site
By Katie McDevitt, Tribune
December 14, 2005
Driving drunk now comes at an even higher price — public shame. Sobering Sentences, a Web site created by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, displays names and faces of people convicted of driving under the influence.
It also tells stories of children killed by drunken drivers, and flashes photos of fiery crashes and disfigured faces.
"If these people feel embarrassed to have their pictures up, then frankly that’s tough," County Attorney Andrew Thomas said. "Maybe other people tempted to drive drunk will see this and realize this is the type of fame they would rather not have."
The Web site will display only convicted offenders, focusing on extreme or aggravated DUI offenses. The photos will be changed
"I certainly think it seems a little gimmicky," said Scott Maasen, a Scottsdale defense attorney. "This is the same thing we see with Sheriff Joe’s jail cameras, and you don’t see crime rates going down."
"Everyone on here has been convicted, but this appears to us to be an additional punishment imposed by the (county attorney), not a jury, judge or Legislature" said Dawn Wyland, interim director of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The (county attorney’s) job is not to sit around and figure out additional ways to punish people."
Web sites that display sex offenders in a similar manner are authorized by statute, Wyland said.
The Web site also has:
• Links to DUI statutes and organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
• Statewide news about drunken driving.
• Information about penalties for DUI convictions.
• Suggestions on ways to prevent people from driving under the influence.
"It’s not something we’ve actively pursued, but it’s not something we are against," said Chuck Heeman, Arizona executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"It’s hard to say if it will work, but we hope it does," he said.
"People are not only looking at jail time and fines, but will face the sobering sentences of the hall of shame," Thomas said.
Contact Katie McDevitt by email, or phone (480) -898-633
just yesterday in the arizona republic an article ran saying the iraqi president doesnt support torture. then this article runs today.
Iraqi security suspected of torturing 2 to death
Borzou Daragahi and Louise Roug
Los Angeles Times
Dec. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
BAGHDAD - Two detainees may have been tortured to death at the hands of Iraqi security forces, the head of a commission investigating allegations of abuse at Iraqi jails said Tuesday.
But the cause of their deaths is unclear, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Rosh Shawais, who is heading the investigation, said in an interview.
Detainees told investigators that the two alleged victims were tortured or starved to death, while prison officials say the pair died of natural causes.
In all, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters Tuesday, at least 120 prisoners have been abused at the hands of Iraqi security forces, more than previously disclosed by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. As many as 18 prisoners may have died while in custody at a Baghdad detention center.
Shawais, an ethnic Kurd, said he is continuing to investigate reports of other deaths.
The new allegations have surfaced at the end of a heated and sometimes violent political campaign leading up to Thursday's parliamentary vote. On Tuesday, Mizhir Dulaimi, a Sunni Arab candidate for parliament, was killed, and a prominent Shiite candidate was targeted in an assassination attempt.
Meanwhile, four U.S. soldiers died Tuesday after their patrol struck a roadside bomb northwest of the capital. Nearly 2,150 American service members have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
Reports of prisoner abuse in Iraqi-run jails first surfaced last month after U.S. soldiers raided a compound in the Jadiriya section of Baghdad and discovered scores of men showing signs of hunger and torture.
Officials last week discovered another detention center where at least 13 prisoners showed signs of physical abuse.
On Monday, a Sunni politician released a DVD purportedly showing tortured detainees at a third facility, though the allegation could not be confirmed.
Shawais has presented a report to the prime minister detailing preliminary findings regarding alleged torture at the first compound discovered last month.
He said his committee will finish its final report before the end of the year. He requested an extension of the deadline in order to widen the scope of the investigation.
The allegations of abuses of suspected Sunni Arabs by security forces that are dominated by Shiite Muslims have become intertwined with the fierce political campaign.
A secular coalition led by former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, which is running against the Shiite-led government, has alleged human rights conditions in Iraq are now as bad as under Saddam Hussein.
Jaafari, at a luncheon organized for journalists, vowed Tuesday that his government would seriously examine the allegations. "We should provide prisoners with facilities that are up to international standards," he said.
However, Khalilzad brushed aside attempts by some officials in the Jaafari government to downplay the torture allegations.
"It was far worse than slapping around," the U.S. ambassador said, calling on the Iraqi government to speed up the investigation.
these devices are very good but they are not fool proof. they can read your prints wrong and fail to identify you. the new yorker magazine had a good article on this about 3 years ago
Portable fingerprint device assists in DUI crackdown
IDs essential, say police, judges and prosecutors
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
MESA - Police are taking fingerprinting to the streets to help better identify drunken-driving suspects and speed up court cases.
Starting this month, drunken-driving suspects arrested in the annual police holiday crackdown are being fingerprinted using a portable machine that is the size of a suitcase and costs about $45,000. The process, a first in Arizona, takes about 15 minutes.
In Mesa, most DUI suspects are cited and released after police on the street take a single ink fingerprint made on the citation.
Police make sure the person has a ride home or will call a cab, if needed. But the Mesa Police Department doesn't have enough room to hold all DUI suspects because it would overcrowd the jail, said Mesa traffic unit motor officer Brad Withrow.The portable LiveScan's computer, keyboard and scanner allow an officer to record all 10 of a suspect's prints. The 10-print scan provides more detailed and accurate identification.
Withrow, who spearheaded the project, said getting the prints right away can make a difference because some drunken-driving suspects will provide a false name or license to avoid prosecution.
Recently, a Mexican national who used 10 aliases in separate drunken-driving cases, including some in Mesa, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Withrow said.
"These people will use two or three names and have two or three DUIs pending at one time," Withrow said. "With this, you have a positive identification of the individual you arrest that night."
The portable machine will also save court time because if the one-print method is used on the street, judges typically order a full set of prints before a trial.
"The idea here is identify the person right at arrest and eliminate the court appearance, and there is no question about identification hearings," Withrow said. "It is locking that person with that arrest."
Mesa police forensic identification technician Gary Mollencopf said getting the identification at the time of arrest helps speed up the process of entering the information into databases. If the suspect's fingerprints are in the database, police can quickly find prior criminal history or determine if a person is using a false name.
"The quicker you get the fingerprint in the system, the quicker you know who (you) have, and from a justice standpoint that is the real value," Mesa City Prosecutor John Pombier said. "We don't want people taking advantage of the system. We want to hook up the right conviction to the right people and the right charges."
Mesa Municipal Court Presiding Judge Matt Tafoya said the process will help expedite cases. The court handles about 2,500 DUI cases each year, Tafoya said.
"We love it because you have definitely identified the person cited," he said. "It eliminates the identification issue."
A version of this story appeared in the Mesa Community edition.
Porn star Jameson takes fight over club to ballot box
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
SCOTTSDALE - Adult-film actress Jenna Jameson jumped angrily into Scottsdale politics Tuesday, launching a referendum drive to overturn Scottsdale's tough new regulations for sexually oriented businesses.
Jameson, who was the star attraction of Monday's City Council meeting, said the city only started cracking down because of her plans to breathe new life into Babe's Cabaret.
"The mayor and her council members used my fame to generate publicity that panders to the religious right wing, without regard to the rights of the majority of our citizens who simply want to enjoy adult entertainment," she said.
Jameson also blasted Scott Bergthold, the attorney associated with the Christian-based Alliance Defense Fund who drafted the regulations, calling him a "religious zealot" who aims to "take away freedoms of expression and choice for consenting adults."
Jameson and other supporters will need to collect 3,384 signatures from registered Scottsdale voters by Jan. 11 to force the issue onto a ballot. The earliest possible election date would be May 16, City Clerk Carolyn Jagger said.
City attorneys and elected officials were prepared for legal challenges to the regulations. Jameson's challenge will take it from the courts to the ballot box.
City Councilman Bob Littlefield, who faces re-election on March 14, said that he is comfortable with his position.
"I think we did the right thing," he said. "I will be more than happy to defend it."
Technically, few of the regulations adopted Monday are new. The old ordinance contained many of the same restrictions, but the city could not enforce them because they were unclear and not defensible in court.
That will change March 13, when the ordinance takes effect.
Bye-bye, lap dances. Also forbidden will be the discreet placement of a tip "on the person or the clothing of an employee."
Most dire, Skin and Babe's - soon to be called Club Jenna - will have to install barriers that put a 4-foot buffer between patrons and dancers.
"By putting the 4-foot rule in effect, we will lose all of our girls to the Phoenix clubs," Skin owner Todd Borowsky said.
The small size of both clubs would make it impossible to install the barrier and still carry on business, the owners said.
Jameson had only to sit in the middle of the second row of the council chamber to make a splash. About 200 people, including a bevy of exotic dancers wearing "Save Small Business" T-shirts and carrying pickets, filled the hall and congregated around the front of the building during the six-hour meeting.
"I'm afraid we're going to lose our jobs," Skin entertainer Candy Rosales said. "I like working in Scottsdale. It's the place to be. Everybody in the world knows where Scottsdale is."
A reputation as a pornography mecca is exactly what city leaders feared when they hired Bergthold with a $6,000 contract. The two-year contract also pays $200 per hour for Bergthold's consulting time, up to $20,000 plus expenses to help update the city's 1993 regulations for strip clubs.
Bergthold said the city has the right to regulate strip clubs to control "adverse secondary effects" such as property crimes, public lewdness, prostitution and the spread of diseases.
The attorney also maintained that the city did not have to prove the secondary effects exist locally because the ordinance is aimed at preventing or abating problems in the future.
Mayor Mary Manross said the city had the right and responsibility to make sure the ordinance was clear, enforceable and defensible in court.
"We are not here to close down a business or to prevent First Amendment expression," she said.
in this article the governors say they dont want to be "sugar sheriffs" or "grease police" but we know thats a lie. after all we now have messy yard cops who will put you in jail and seize your home if you dont mow your lawn and trim your palm trees.
Governors to tackle U.S. obesity problem
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
Arizona, like the rest of America, is fat and unhealthy, mired in an obesity epidemic that often gets swallowed up by other headline-grabbing issues.
The statistics reveal our flabby, unhealthy underbelly:
• Nearly six in 10 Arizona adults are overweight or obese, placing them at risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and early death.
• One in three Arizona children ages 6-19 is overweight or obese.
• The combination of childhood obesity and physical inactivity is driving health care costs to all-time highs and forcing companies to raise health insurance rates.
Some of the nation's governors descend on Phoenix today for their winter meetings, and they have only one topic on their plate: a leaner, healthier America.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, this year's chairman of the National Governors Association, is spearheading the drive to a healthier America after giving up Southern fried foods and taking up running.
Just two years ago, he lost 110 pounds after he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The 50-year-old Huckabee said people must undergo a cultural change and "start killing the snakes instead of treating the snake bites."
"This may be the greatest health risk America has ever seen," said Huckabee, a Republican who is being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008. "This is not something that will be accomplished in an election cycle. We're going to have to change this over a generation."
He pointed out that 700,000 Americans would die this year because of obesity or a lack of activity.
He said that while changing lifestyles is difficult, if he can do it, anyone can.
"I used to love anything fried," he said. "I'm a true Southerner at heart. The only thing I haven't seen fried is a salad, and I'm sure someone will give that a shot."
The governors, including Arizona's Janet Napolitano, will spend the next two days at a Phoenix resort talking about ways to turn the tide against childhood obesity and promoting a healthier lifestyle. Huckabee said states must first change attitudes and educate the public before government acts.
He said lawmakers shouldn't be the "grease police" or "sugar sheriffs" because it shifts the debate from healthy lifestyles to individual rights. Arkansas has been in the forefront fighting the battle of the bulge. State employees in Arkansas can get up to a $40 a month discount on their monthly health premiums, including a $20 discount if they don't smoke. They are also allowed to exercise 30 minutes a day during work hours.
America's weight problem costs big bucks. The United States spent nearly $93 billion in 2002 treating obesity-related diseases, according to Health Affairs, a Maryland-based health policy and research journal. In fact, the United States spends more money per capita on health care than any other country in the world.
In early 2004, Napolitano directed the Department of Health Services to tackle an obesity problem that is prevalent across Arizona. The Arizona plan offers ideas such as changing building codes to promote healthy community designs, building lactation rooms in businesses and teaching parents how to feed their children and get them moving. But it doesn't have any mandates or funding, just recommendations for changes in schools, communities, workplaces and health care.
Sue Gerard, director of the state's health department, said the problem is so complex that it can't be fixed overnight.
"Parents are afraid of their kids walking to school for fear they will be abducted," said Gerard, who takes a 15-minute walk every Tuesday morning with her staff. "Instead, they drive their kids to school. We can do simple things, like making neighborhoods walkable with good lighting, safe sidewalks and plenty of parks. It's making community planners think about those things."
Doug Hirano, director of the Mountain Park Health Center in south Phoenix, noticed the increase in overweight children at his clinic, so he formed a neighborhood group.
"We found out that 25 percent of the kids coming in here were overweight," Hirano said. "Kids aren't getting enough exercise. The availability of fresh fruit and healthy food is less accessible in low-income areas."
Hirano's group is monitoring physical education in local schools, sponsoring "No TV nights" and building community gardens where neighbors can buy fresh fruit.
In 2004, 23 states, including Arizona, received an "F" in the nation's first report card on obesity, issued by the University of Baltimore, for failing to require physical education, improve school nutrition or eliminate junk food on campus. Napolitano, a Democrat, said Arizona has to start putting the state plan into action, adding that she will use the "bully pulpit" of her office to create a healthier Arizona.
"We have to encourage parents to get out and exercise with their kids," she said. "We have to learn better eating habits. Childhood obesity leads to adult health problems.
"We should look at giving state employees incentives because it has been successful in Arkansas. It's all about diet and exercise."
Dr. Michelle May, a family practitioner who works with parents, said everyone must work together.
"It's really a complex issue," May said. "Kids are enticed to hassle their parents to buy certain foods that are low in nutritional value. It is not a parent's job to have their kids clean their plate so they can have dessert. This is going to take some time."
U.S., Myanmar tie at 6th in countries jailing journalists
China holds on to lead with 32, panel report says
Katharine Q. Seelye
New York Times
Dec. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
The United States has tied with Myanmar, the former Burma, for sixth place among countries that are holding the most journalists behind bars, according to a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Each country is jailing five journalists. The United States is holding four Iraqi journalists in detention centers in Iraq and one Sudanese, a cameraman who works for Al-Jazeera, at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. None of the five has been charged with a specific crime.
This year, China topped the list of countries with the most journalists, 32, in jail, many of them for activity on the Internet. This is the seventh year in a row in which China has led the list.
Fifteen of the Chinese journalists are being held under national-security legislation for writing critically about the Communist Party online, the report said.
A total of 125 writers, editors and photojournalists were held in jails around the world on Dec. 1, the report said. The tally is three higher than were held on Dec. 1, 2004, but it is not the highest number in the 25 years that the committee has been keeping track. The highest was 182 journalists jailed in 1995.
Cuba ranked second with 24, Eritrea was third with 15, Ethiopia was fourth with 13 and Uzbekistan ranked fifth, with six journalists in jail.
No American journalists are being held in jails anywhere in the world, the committee said. The survey is taken on a single day each year and does not count those who may have been held and released at other points during the year. Thus, Judith Miller, a former reporter for the New York Times who served 85 days in jail this summer for refusing to reveal a confidential source, was not included because she was not incarcerated on Dec. 1.
The United States has made the list before because other journalists have been in jail on Dec. 1 for refusing to reveal their sources. But Ann Cooper, executive director of the committee, said this was the first year in which the United States had been on the list for cases in which journalists had been held without specific charges being filed against them.
Investigator: CIA sent prisoners in Europe to Africa
Dec. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
PARIS - A European investigator said Tuesday that he has found mounting indications the United States illegally held detainees in Europe but then hurriedly shipped out the last ones to North Africa a month ago when word leaked out.
Dick Marty, a Swiss senator looking into claims the CIA operated secret prisons in Europe, said an ongoing, monthlong investigation unearthed "clues" that Poland and Romania were implicated, perhaps unwittingly.
Both countries have denied any involvement and Marty said he believes no prisoners are now being held by the United States in Europe.
"To my knowledge, those detainees were moved about a month ago, maybe a little more," he told reporters after briefing the legal committee of the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog. "They were moved to North Africa."
Asked to which country detainees might have been moved, he said, "I would imagine that it would be Morocco - up to you to confirm it."
Moroccan government spokesman Nabil Benabdellah denied any connection to such prisons when reports of the transfers surfaced last week.
"We have nothing to do with, and we have no knowledge about this subject," he said.
The Washington Post first reported the reputed existence of secret prisons in eastern Europe and other countries on Nov. 2. The newspaper did not name the countries, but the New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had evidence indicating the CIA transported suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania. The conclusion was based on an analysis of flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004 obtained by the group.
European officials say such prisons violate the continent's human rights principles.
Marty told the council's legal committee information gathered so far "reinforced the credibility of the allegations concerning the transfer and temporary detention of individuals, without any judicial involvement, in European countries."
"Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards," he said. Marty was expected to present a full report to the council's parliamentary assembly in January.
The investigator told reporters he could not offer proof that secret detention centers existed. But he cited two suspected cases of detainees held by U.S. authorities in Europe as signs that suspects were held at least temporarily.
The cases cited were the reputed February 2003 kidnapping of Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr by the CIA in Milan, Italy; and claims by Khaled al-Masri, a Lebanese-born German, that the agency took him to Afghanistan and tortured him after mistakenly identifying him as being linked to al-Qaida. Masri said he was released in 2004.
it looks like this murder of Rigoberto Alpizar by federal air marshals at Miami International Airport is a clone of the killing of Scotland Yard murder of Charles de Menezes
Maitland Man Shot, Killed By Air Marshals
POSTED: 3:26 pm EST December 7, 2005
UPDATED: 10:50 am EST December 8, 2005
MIAMI -- A Central Florida man was shot and killed by federal air marshals Wednesday afternoon on a jetway leading to an American Airlines plane at Miami International Airport. The man had made some sort of threat and ignored the air marshals' commands, authorities said.
The man has been identified as Rigoberto Alpizar (pictured, right), 44, of Maitland, WESH 2 News reported.
WESH 2 reporter Raoul Martinez spoke with Alpizar's mother-in-law, Stephanie Buechner, at his home. She said Alipizar and her daughter, Anne, were married for nearly 20 years. She said they do not have any children, and he suffered from bipolar disorder.
She said they were not in Colombia, which is where the plane had originated. The plane was about to depart for Orlando when the incident occurred.
Alpizar arrived at Miami International Airport on a flight from Quito, Ecuador, federal officials said. Relatives said he and his wife had been on a mission trip to Peru. All arriving passengers in Miami from outside the U.S. are required to disembark for a customs check, and Alpizar did so. He then boarded the American Airlines flight bound for Orlando.
Alpizar and his wife lived on Gillis Court in Maitland near Maitland Middle School.
Man Ignored Air Marshals' Commands
Alpizar had boarded the plane bound for Orlando and claimed just before the plane was to leave that he had a bomb, officials said.
The jetway was still connected to the plane when two federal air marshals on the plane ordered him to get down on the floor. Authorities said he ran for the jetway and reached inside a backpack he was carrying. That was when an air marshal shot him.
Jim Bauer, the special agent in charge of the Federal Air Marshals service in Miami, said no bomb was found in Alpizar's bag.
His other three bags were blown up on the tarmac, but apparently they contained no explosives, either.
The plane had just arrived from Colombia and was headed on to Orlando. According to American Airlines' Web site, Flight 924 arrived from Medellin at 12:16 p.m. EST at Gate 42 in Terminal D. It was supposed to depart for Orlando at 2:18 p.m.
A high-ranking federal air marshal, who wishes to remain anonymous, told WESH 2 News reporter Claire Metz that marshals are trained to use as little force as possible until their backs are against a wall.
"When he went in the bag, they had to assume he was going for a triggering device. I'm sure they had given him verbal commands the entire time. He obviously disregarded them. They couldn't let him get his hand in the bag for obvious reasons. They don't know what kind of trigger he would have on the bomb. Even if there isn't a bomb, they don't know that," the air mashal said.
This is the first time an air marshal has shot at a passenger or suspect since the program was reconfigured after Sept. 11, 2001.
Passengers Say Man's Wife Said He Was Bipolar
Mary Gardner, a passenger on the Flight 924, told WESH 2 News that she heard four to five shots fired. She said she was seated in the third row of the coach section of the aircraft. She saw a man run frantically through the aisle from the back of the plane to the first-class area before the shots were fired.
She said a woman who was apparently traveling with the man was screaming, "My husband! My husband!"
Gardner also said other passengers said they heard the woman say that her husband was bipolar and had not taken his medication.
Gardner said she was not sure if the shooting happened in the first-class section of the airplane or outside on the jetway.
After the shooting, police boarded the plane and told passengers to put their hands on their head. Gardner said the passengers onboard remained calm and were later escorted off the plane and onto a bus.
No other injuries were reported.
Rigoberto Alpizar and Jean Charles de Menezes: Two victims of state “anti-terror” killings
By Bill Van Auken
12 December 2005
The state killings of Rigoberto Alpizar and Jean Charles de Menezes came four-and-a-half months apart, and an ocean separated the scenes of their violent deaths. Yet the similarities between their fates is undeniable. Both were innocent men brutally executed by undercover agents—in one case American, in the other British—prosecuting the so-called “global war on terror.”
Both were Latin American immigrants, gunned down on the grounds that they supposedly posed a terrorist threat. The reaction in their home countries—Brazil in the case of de Menezes, Costa Rica in that of Alpizar—was one of anger and disbelief.
De Menezes, an electrician, was shot to death July 22 on a London subway car that he had boarded on his way to work. Plainclothes cops burst in after him and, without warning, grabbed him and shot him multiple times in the head.
Police initially reported that de Menezes had been followed leaving the home of a suspected terrorist wearing a bulky jacket on a hot day. They claimed that when they challenged him at the entrance to the subway station, de Menezes bolted over a ticket barrier and attempted to escape before he was caught, overpowered, and shot in the head by cops seeking to prevent him from detonating a bomb.
It quickly became evident that there was no bomb and that the man they had killed had no connection to terrorism whatsoever.
Citing security concerns in the “war on terror,” London’s metropolitan police commissioner tried to quash any independent investigation of the killing. Rejecting the notion that the police should be held accountable for killing an innocent man, he insisted that the public accept that cops have to make “hard decisions” in order to prevent terrorist attacks.
Within weeks of the killing, however, documents and film footage leaked to the media made it clear that every aspect of the police story on the killing was a lie, and the police commissioner’s concern for security was in reality part of an elaborate cover-up.
It emerged that de Menezes had come not from the house of suspected terrorists, but a different apartment in the same three-story building. He was not wearing a heavy coat, had not jumped over a ticket barrier and was never even challenged by police. He was calmly seated in the subway car when, without warning, one cop seized and held him while two others executed him, pumping seven bullets into his head.
The entire police story was made up after the fact to justify the murder of an innocent man.
Then last Wednesday came the killing of Rigoberto Alpizar, a naturalized US citizen from Costa Rica who had resided in the US for more than two decades. Returning with his wife from a missionary trip to South America, he panicked after boarding an American Airlines jet in Miami for the short trip to Orlando, and ran up the aisle.
At the front of the plane, he was confronted by two plainclothes air marshals. According to spokesmen for the secretive air marshals service and the Department of Homeland Security, after Alpizar left the aircraft he said he had a bomb and disregarded orders to drop a bag he was carrying. According to these accounts, when he reached into the bag, the marshals shot him. Passengers reported hearing at least five shots.
No one has come forward to corroborate the marshals’ story, outside of an agency spokesperson who claimed that Alpizar had “run up and down the aisle shouting, ‘I have a bomb in my bag.’” This version of the event has been disputed by every passenger interviewed by the media.
Instead, Alpizar’s fellow passengers reported him saying, before he ran up the isle, that he had to get off the plane. They further recounted that his wife came running after him shouting that he was sick, that he was bipolar and had not taken his medicine. Not one of them heard the word “bomb.”
Why did the marshals service spokesman make up the story about him shouting about a bomb as he ran “up and down the aisle”? Undoubtedly, for the same reason that the London police described Jean Charles de Menezes wearing a heavy coat and jumping over a ticket barrier in flight, when in fact he was wearing no such clothing and had paid his fare, not even knowing that he was being pursued.
In both cases, it quickly became apparent that the police had taken the life of an innocent man, and alibis were needed both to exonerate the individual officers and uphold the infallibility of the security forces.
How much else of the air marshals’ explanation of why they shot Rigoberto Alpizar—his talk of having a bomb, his disregarding their order to put down his bag, his reaching into it—is a lie? Like the official account of the de Menezes shooting, it is undoubtedly a fabrication.
There are, however, differences worth noting in the reactions to the two shootings in London and Washington. Last July, in Britain, police officials, the foreign minister and others quickly declared their “regrets” over the killing. Prime Minister Tony Blair announced how “desperately sorry” he was about the shooting and declared his “deep sympathy” for the de Menezes family’s loss. He quickly added, of course, that none of this should interfere with unconditional support for the police “in doing the job they have to do in order to protect people in this country.” In other words, such killings were inevitable and more were to be expected.
In Washington, there was little expression of even feigned sorrow or sympathy. Bush has said nothing about the killing of Alpizar, and his spokesman merely praised the air marshals for their “extensive training,” declaring, “We are appreciative of all that our air marshals do day in and day out in terms of trying to protect the American people.”
“Beyond our expectations”
The right-wing Republican Congressman from Florida—Alpizar’s own representative—John Mica, who heads up the House subcommittee dealing with aviation security, was clearly gratified by the state murder of his constituent. “This shows that the program has worked beyond our expectations,” he declared.
While the de Menezes killing was treated for some time by the British media as a significant controversy, the American press and broadcast news have dropped the Alpizar story after just three days, his murder eclipsed by an airplane overshooting the runway and accidentally killing a six-year-old child in Chicago. That could change, should damning videotape come to light in the Miami shooting.
The contrast—at least on the surface—between the reactions of the Blair and Bush governments and the media to two very similar events is not a mere accident. It is to be explained, in the first place, by differences in the social and cultural physiognomies of the two countries.
As reactionary as the British government of Tony Blair is, as profoundly antidemocratic its political agenda, and as polarized as British society is between the elite “haves” and the masses of “have nots,” Britain is still no match for the US when it comes to extremes of social inequality, the brutality and underlying violence of class relations, and the backwardness of the political and media establishment. The US is, after all, one of a handful of industrialized countries that continues the barbaric practice of capital punishment.
Hundreds of people are shot dead by police in the US every year. These killings are so commonplace that no government agency even bothers to keep accurate figures on how many die annually in fatal encounters with the police. According to some estimates, a third or more of the victims are mentally ill.
In Britain, police killings have claimed approximately 30 victims in the last dozen years—although, with the de Menezes killing and the Blair government’s “shoot to kill” policy, the British police may soon be catching up with their colleagues across the Atlantic.
Whatever the differences in form and style, however, the similarities are overwhelming and chilling.
The cold-blooded killing of an innocent, emotionally and mentally distraught man desperately trying to get off an airplane and the police execution of a young electrician taking a train to work are both defended as inevitable collateral damage in the “global war on terrorism.” The public is told that such atrocities are necessary—along with secret prisons, torture, disappearances, targeted assassinations and unprovoked wars of aggression—to keep everyone “safe.”
The same rationale has been given for sweeping attacks on democratic rights on both sides of the Atlantic, codified in the USA Patriot Act and the recently enacted Terrorism Bill in Britain. Bedrock legal principles such as habeas corpus that date back to the Magna Carta are being breached in the name of combating the supposedly unprecedented and omnipresent threat of terrorism. Giving police unfettered powers to act as judge, jury and executioner is an integral part of this process.
It is these measures themselves that constitute the gravest threat to the “safety,” lives and liberty of people in both Britain and America. This was confirmed in concrete terms on board American Airlines Flight 924 in the immediate and terrifying aftermath of the killing of Alpizar.
Police stormed the plane, threatening other passengers. “They stuck guns in our faces... They were waving the barrels, shouting ... ‘No one move!,’” passenger Jorge Borelli told the New York Daily News. “They didn’t say we’ll shoot you if you take your hands off your head, but they said, ‘You will be considered a threat and we will deal with you accordingly,’” he said. “That was the scariest part. I thought, God, if someone freaks out and jumps up, they’re going to start shooting.”
After being held at gunpoint for nearly half an hour, all of the passengers were marched off the plane, their hands on their heads, to be frisked, sniffed by dogs and then detained for several more hours of questioning.
There is no evidence whatsoever that such deranged police state measures—Miami authorities assured the public that the SWAT team, like the marshals, was following procedures—have any deterrent effect on terrorism.
Indeed, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission formed by the Bush administration to whitewash its response to—and possible complicity in—the September 11, 2001 attacks issued a report last week that declared the government’s failure to make substantive security improvements over the past four years “shocking.”
That is because the supposed concern over terrorism has from the beginning served merely as a multipurpose pretext. It has been used to justify the implementation of wide-ranging policies of war and repression that had been drawn up well before the planes ever struck New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
In the final analysis, these policies are aimed at benefiting a small financial oligarchy whose interests are so inimical to those of the vast majority of working people that it and its political representatives have abandoned even the pretense of a commitment to democratic rights. Rather, this ruling layer—both in Britain and the US—has increasingly seen constitutional rights and civil liberties as intolerable impediments to the pursuit of policies—the destruction of living standards and social services, tax cuts for the rich, predatory wars—that are opposed by the great majority of the people.
Jean Charles de Menezes and Rigoberto Alpizar were both victims of this process, and they will not be the last.
Air marshals shoot unarmed man in a Florida airport
Dead because he was mentally ill
By Elizabeth Schulte | December 16, 2005 | Page 2
RIGOBERTO ALPIZAR didn’t have a chance. The 44-year-old, unarmed man with a bipolar disorder was shot to death December 7 in a Miami airport by air marshals who said they thought he was detonating a bomb.
Alpizar had run off American Airlines Flight 924, which was waiting to leave the gate for a trip to Orlando, Fla.. He made it to the jetway connecting the plane to the airport concourse when marshals opened fire and killed him. No bomb was found.
James Bauer, a special agent in charge of federal air marshals in Miami, said the marshals acted appropriately in response to Alpizar, who, they claim, “uttered threatening words that included a sentence to the effect that he had a bomb.”
Passengers on the flight, however, tell another story. “I don’t think they needed to use deadly force with the guy,” John McAlhany, a 44-year-old construction worker from Sebastian, Fla., told Time magazine. “He was getting off the plane.” “I never heard the word ‘bomb’ on the plane,” McAlhany said. “I never heard the word bomb until the FBI asked me did you hear the word bomb. That is ridiculous.”
Passengers say that Alpizar’s wife, Anne Buechner, ran after her husband when he took off down the aisle toward the jetway. “She was running behind him, saying, ‘He’s sick. He’s sick. He’s ill. He’s got a disorder,” McAlhany said. “She was trying to explain to the marshals that he was ill. He just wanted to get off the plane.”
Another passenger, Alan Tirpak, told CNN, “She was just saying her husband was sick, her husband was sick...she just kept saying the same thing over and over, and that’s when we heard the shots.”
McAlhany described the terrifying scene that followed, as armed marshals took over the plane. “They were pointing the guns directly at us instead of pointing them to the ground,” he said. “One little girl was crying. There was a lady crying all the way to the hotel.”
Before Alpizar started to run off the plane, McAlhany said that he heard him arguing with his wife: “He was saying, ‘I have to get off the plane.’ She said, ‘Calm down.’”
Alpizar grabbed his backpack and ran off the plane. When marshals caught up with him and ordered him to lie down on the ground, Alpizar wasn’t fast enough. Some witnesses say the marshals fired as many as six times.
The White House immediately defended the marshals. “From what we know, the team of air marshals acted in a way that is consistent with the training that they have received,” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters.
The two air marshals who killed Alpizar are among thousands hired after September 11, when the program of placing usually undercover agents on passenger flights was expanded from 33 to more than 6,000. Another marshal, who requested anonymity because they are forbidden to talk to reporters, told the New York Times that their rules for use of force were “basically same as any other law enforcement officer.”
That's bad news for people, like Rigoberto Alpizar, who have a mental disorder. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, people with mental disorders are four times more likely to be killed by the police.
It's also bad news for immigrants. Alpizar, who was originally from Costa Rica and received his U.S. citizenship several years ago, was described by neighbors in Maitland, a suburb of Orlando, as quiet and friendly. He worked as a paint salesman at Home Depot. When he was shot, he was returning from a trip with a church group to Quito, Ecuador.
But, like Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian immigrant shot by British police who believed he was responsible for the July subway bombings in London, Alpizar was guilty until proven innocent. This is the real face of “security” in Bush and Blair’s war on terror.
Fatal jetway shooting poses some questions
When federal air marshals shot and killed a passenger in Miami last week, authorities were quick to defend their actions as "textbook."
So were politicians.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the sky marshals appeared to have "acted consistent with their extensive training."
And the chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said the marshals' actions "should send a message to a terrorist or anyone else who is considering disrupting an aircraft with a threat."
There is no question that the passenger, Rigoberto Alpizar, 44, a Maitland, Fla., man who apparently once lived in Milwaukee, was acting erratically as American Airlines flight from Miami to Orlando was boarding.
According to various news accounts, Alpizar was muttering and then ran up and down the aisles and then tried to get off the plane. His wife reportedly was pursuing him, yelling, "My husband, my husband." According to news reports, passengers said Alpizar's wife said he was bipolar and had not taken his medication.
Authorities said that at some point he mentioned a bomb - although other passengers dispute that. As he bolted from the plane, air marshals caught up with him in the jetway where he reportedly refused orders to lie down and was then shot when he reached into a carry-on bag.
No bomb was found. Nor was there any indication that Alpizar, who has relatives in Wisconsin and was considered a "nice guy" was part of any terrorist plot of any sort.
From what we know at this point, he was simply a man with a history of mental illness who had an episode in the worst possible place.
Police and Homeland Security authorities are continuing to investigate, but, it seems quite improbable that the sky marshals will be faulted - it will likely go down as simply a tragic mistake.
But it shouldn't end there.
There should be more second-guessing than that. This was, after all, the first time the sky marshals program has had an instance in which marshals fired shots since it was beefed up in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
At the time the sky marshals numbered only 33. Today their ranks stand at about 2,000 men and women and their budget is $600 million a year.
Some will argue that the record of the past four years suggests it has been an effective deterrent to another terrorist attack. Others would argue the reverse - that there have been no episode in which marshals have blocked any plotters from seizing an aircraft and the only time they have fired their weapons was to kill an unarmed man.
Those are polar views, of course, by there remain questions in between. The Federal Air Marshal Program has been bumped from agency to agency within the Department of Homeland Security and there have been reports of morale problems within the program - a charge which Homeland Security officials deny.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, there have been clashes between sky marshals and new management which has come from retired Secret Service ranks over operating procedures, dress code and an effort to expand their ranks by moving up passenger screeners. In November, the Times said, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against Homeland Security over a policy that forbids marshals from speaking publicly about their jobs or criticizing the service.
News reports have also said that the 13 weeks of air marshal training includes instruction in how to distinguish between a terrorist ruse and the bad behavior of a drunken or disturbed passenger. Perhaps that instruction could use another look since it certainly had a tragic conclusion in the Alpizar case. Still other reports have suggested arming sky marshals with tasers - and in fact United Airlines had trained its crews in their use but abandoned the plan when it filed for bankruptcy.
All of this is second-guessing, of course. But that's what should come from the Alpizar case - it's a chance to clear the air and make national security better.
Family Of Man Killed By Marshals In Miami Wants Answers
Brother Says Shooting Was Unjustifiable
POSTED: 2:16 pm EST December 10, 2005
UPDATED: 3:19 pm EST December 10, 2005
RIO CLARO DE GOLFITO, Costa Rica -- Family members of a man who was shot dead by air marshals in Miami after allegedly announcing he had a bomb demanded an explanation of the killing from U.S. authorities Friday.
"I can't understand why U.S. authorities killed my son in this way. He was not a terrorist," Carlos Alpizar, the 72-year old father of Rigoberto Alpizar told The Associated Press in the family home in Rio Claro de Golfito, near the Panama border about 190 miles south of Costa Rica's capital, San Jose.
"Rigoberto loved everything about his second country," he said "And look, they killed him like a dog."
Rigoberto Alpizar, 44, left his native Costa Rica for the United States two decades ago. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen and worked for the U.S. chain Home Depot.
Federal officials say Alpizar made a bomb threat in the jetway, after running out of the plane. They said they opened fire because Alpizar ignored their orders to stop, instead reaching into his backpack.
Alpizar's brother, named Carlos Alpizar like his father, said the shooting was unjustifiable.
"They say he was carrying a bomb, but Rigoberto and his wife had passed the security zone, they were checked thoroughly and still they killed him," he said.
Alpizar's remains will be buried next to those of his mother, Francisca Medina, in a cemetery in Cariari de Pococi, about 40 miles northeast of San Jose.
"We want them to rest together," said the elder Carlos Alpizar, explaining that the family had reached an agreement with Rigoberto Alpizar's wife, U.S. citizen Anne Buechner, to bury Rigoberto in his homeland.
Buechner told witnesses and police that Rigoberto suffered from bipolar mental disorder and was off his medication when he became agitated and began running through the aisles of a commercial airliner that was about to depart from Miami to Orlando on Wednesday.
However on Thursday, another brother Rolando Alpizar told Costa Rican Channel 7 television that family members were not aware that his brother had any mental problems and he described Rigoberto as "a very honest, very hardworking, responsible person."
The father said his son called him often and came home last July to accompany him to the doctor for a heart problem. Before he returned to the United States, he left notes throughout the house to remind his father to take his medication.
President Abel Pacheco, who is a psychiatrist, told radio station Nuestra Voz on Thursday that he would seek an investigation into the matter. He remarked that people in the United States "are living in a state of collective hysteria and if the police say, 'Get down,' you get down."
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar said the government would look into possibly helping the family with the cost of transferring Alpizar's body back to his homeland.
Questions Raised: Are Air Marshals Prepared to Handle Mentally Ill Passengers?
The Press Enterprise
The death of a bipolar airline passenger at the hands of federal air marshals has raised questions about whether the people charged with preventing violence in the skies are adequately trained to handle mentally ill passengers.
Several experts on mental illness and police training said they did not fault air marshals for fatally shooting Rigoberto Alpizar at Miami International Airport. But they suggested the Federal Air Marshal Service should re-examine how it trains marshals to deal with people who act erratically or irrationally due to mental illness or other brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.
"This guy was mentally disturbed; he wasn't a terrorist, and he didn't have a bomb and the air marshals took him down, which is what they are trained to do," said Andrew Thomas, an aviation analyst at the University of Akron in Ohio.
"As it is right now, if an air marshal sees something that he perceives to be a threat to the aircraft, be it a hijacking or a potential explosive, the response is to shoot first and ask questions later," said Thomas, author of two books on aviation security.
Alpizar and his wife had just boarded an American Airlines flight from Miami to Orlando on Wednesday when he bolted from the plane with his arms flailing. Chasing him was his screaming wife - and a federal air marshal.
Witnesses said the man's wife frantically tried to explain that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.
Alpizar was shot moments later on a jetway after he apparently reached for his backpack, authorities said. Two air marshals were on the flight, and both fired at Alpizar, federal officials said.
The White House said Thursday that the air marshals appeared to have acted properly when they killed Alpizar, who claimed to have a bomb in his backpack.
Some passengers at Ontario International Airport on Thursday said they supported the air marshals' handling of the incident.
Some faulted Alpizar's wife for not calming him down. They said she should have made sure he took his medication before going into a tense situation like an airplane trip.
If a person's outbursts can't be controlled, that person should avoid mass transit, said Marilyn Rohr, 57, of Bangor, Maine. Rohr said delays caused by the Miami shooting were partly responsible for her spending two days in limbo while traveling between Boston and Ontario.
Another air passenger, Tim Whitacre, said air marshals couldn't be expected to know Alpizar was in the midst of a psychiatric crisis.
"It's not like he had `I'm bipolar and didn't take my medication' tattooed on his forehead," said Whitacre, 25, of Frankford, Mo.
Dave Adams, an air marshals spokesman, said the officers receive some training in dealing with "abnormal behavior." However, when they feel their lives are threatened, they react to forcibly take control, Adams said.
But several mental health experts said law enforcement officers can use other tactics for identifying and dealing with people who are mentally ill - but they need to be trained.
Risdon Slate, a criminology professor at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, said police officers are used to commanding respect and taking charge of a situation. Someone suffering from a mental illness might not react well to that approach.
"It may not be because someone's trying to be a jerk but maybe because the person's mentally ill," said Slate, who earned his doctorate at what is now Claremont Graduate University in Claremont.
Slate has trained police officers in how to calm someone suffering from a psychiatric crisis. Slate has an unusual perspective on the issue: Like the man killed in Miami, Slate is bipolar. He once was jailed after suffering a psychiatric crisis.
Slate said he doesn't know what kind of training air marshals received in alternatives for dealing with passengers with a mental illness or brain disorder, or whether they had any alternatives other than their handguns.
In some circumstances, a less-lethal stun-gun or bean-bag gun might be preferable to using a firearm, Slate said, although he did not know whether the marshals had access to such equipment.
Whatever their training, Slate said he hopes the federal government re-examines how it prepares air marshals to handle people with mental disorders.
"Unfortunately . . . crisis drives policy," he said.
Inland law enforcement officials say they train new officers in handling mentally ill people along with the other police-academy courses in firearms, use of force and search and seizure.
There are about 30,000 flights per day into and around the United States, Thomas said. Anywhere from 5 percent to 7 percent of the daily flights across the nation are carrying air marshals, and most of those are international flights, he said.
"If you fly from Ontario to Cleveland, it's more likely you are not going to have an air marshal on the plane, because its not a high-risk flight," Thomas said.
Most details about the Federal Air Marshal Service are closely held. The group has forbidden its members to speak publicly about their jobs and reveals only basic and generally vague information about their methods and training.
Adams said air marshals get two courses on dealing with passengers who act strangely. The first comes during a seven-week program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M. That program is a basic law enforcement session. They get more specific training on unruly passengers later at a training center in Atlantic City, N.J.
Adams said the training deals with strange behavior, but when strange behavior takes a more threatening posture, lethal force quickly becomes an option.
The air marshals date back 30 years to the sky marshal program created to deter hijackings of flights to Cuba.
When terrorists hijacked four planes on 9/11, fewer than 50 marshals were available to guard flights each day.
In November 2001, the newly formed Transportation Security Administration was given 10 months to expand the air-marshal program from a few dozen to several thousand.
According to the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, the rapid ramp-up led to shortcuts on training and security clearances. Air marshal training, designed as a 14-week program, was cut to five weeks for candidates with no law enforcement experience. Others had just one week.
In recent years, the Federal Air Marshal Service has sent active officers back for training on some of the skills that were skipped initially.
POTENTIAL FOR CONFLICT
Thomas, the air security author, said that without more information about Wednesday's shooting, it was hard to say whether the Miami air marshals acted appropriately.
Thomas said he expects the number of onboard confrontations between troublesome passengers and air marshals to increase, especially after a planned Dec. 22 relaxation of rules that prohibit air travelers from bringing some types of short-bladed scissors and tools on board airliners.
"If we don't upgrade the training of flight attendants and air marshals to be prepared to be deal with these permitted items, situations like (Wednesday's) will become more frequent," he said.
Adding to the potential for conflict is the rising incidence of air rage and increasing frustration among air passengers, he said.
Data show a direct relationship between the number of onboard disturbances involving passengers and the number of complaints air travelers lodge with the federal Department of Transportation, he said. In recent months, complaints jumped 30 percent as travelers griped about overbooked flights, delays and long waits tied to security, Thomas said.
Huntington Beach firearms instructor Greg Block, whose firm trains law-enforcement agencies, said air marshals lack some of the tools and resources police on the ground can utilize.
Police officers can use their uniformed presence, verbal commands, and other tools such as batons and pepper spray to try to control a situation. They also can call for backup, an option obviously not available to marshals once they're airborne.
The other issue at play in Wednesday's shooting - the plight of the mentally ill - puts attention on what one expert called a poorly funded mental health system that increasingly leaves people untreated.
About 2 percent of the population has a severe mental illness, but about 40 percent of those people are not getting treated, said Mary Zdanowicz, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center in Virginia.
Many states do not allow mentally ill people to be hospitalized involuntarily unless they risk harming themselves or others, she said.
"By law, you're letting people get on planes with severe mental illness," she said.
* * *
Staff writers Lisa O'Neill Hill and Naomi Kresge, and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.
* * *
Californians who may have a diagnosable mental illness: ONE IN 5
Number who may have a serious mental illness: ONE IN 15
In California, emergency calls to sheriff offices related to a mental illness crisis: 9 PERCENT
Nationally, people with mental illness are FOUR TIMES more likely than the general public to be killed by police in justifiable homicides.
Police are more likely to be killed by a person with a mental illness than by someone with a prior arrest for assaulting police or resisting arrest.
SOURCE: CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE ANALYST, TREATMENT ADVOCACY CENTER
* * *
COMPARING THE TRAINING REGIMENS
CALIFORNIA PEACE OFFICERS
BASIC TRAINING: A minimum of 664 hours in a police academy required, although most police academies in the state offer between 900 and 1,000 hours of instruction.
CURRICULUM: Officers learn how to use firearms, study criminal search-and-seizure laws, and learn basic police work.
SPECIALIZED TRAINING: After academy graduation, officers are partnered with field-training officers for at least 10 weeks.
BASIC TRAINING: Fourteen-week program. Candidates spend first seven weeks at a training center in Artesia, N.M.
CURRICULUM: Basic law-enforcement skills.
SPECIALIZED TRAINING: Candidates spend seven weeks at a training center in New Jersey, where they learn such skills as how to work in the confined space of a passenger cabin. Also, must pass an advanced marksmanship course and spend one week training with an airline.