Archive for the ‘Law Enforcement’ Category


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 13, 2015 at 12:38 pm

On November 11, a New York City panhandler made a big mistake: He bragged that he raked in up to $200 an hour by using his dog to win sympathy–and money.

“On a Friday morning, I make $400 in two hours,” Will Anderson, 43, told the New York Post.

Then the former theater stagehand compounded his mistake: He admitted that he was able to rent a room–and was no longer homeless.

But by November 12, he had disappeared from his usual spot at East 42nd Street between Vanderbilt and Madison avenues.

Perhaps he realized that his new-found notoriety wasn’t likely to win sympathy–and money–from passersby.

Meanwhile, there are 59,305 derelicts infesting the streets of New York City.

San Francisco is another stronghold for what city officials euphemistically refer to as “the homeless.” Yet many of the officials working with this population have another–and unofficial–term for them: DDMBs–“Druggies, Drunks, Mentals and Bums.”

In fact, if you visit San Francisco, forget what Julie Andrews told you in Mary Poppins: Don’t “Feed the Birds.”

Getting caught doing so can net you a fine from $45 to $300.

City officials launched the campaign in 2004, fining people who fed pigeons in the Tenderloin area. Within a month, they extended the crackdown to Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and the cable car turnaround in downtown.

Feeding birds “damages property, and it’s not good for the bird population,” said Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for the Public Works Department at the time of the ban.

“We have a whole education campaign letting people know it’s against the law,” said Falvey. This includes posters erected by the Public Works Department, which read:

Please do not feed the pigeons. There are dozens of reasons why, but mainly: feeding pigeons harms our neighborhoods and also harms the birds.

Large population of pigeons is a health hazard.
Our huge feral pigeon population is a health hazard and creates many problems in the city.

Feeding pigeons promotes overbreeding.
Pigeon feeding produces overbreeding. Pigeons normally breed two or three times a year, producing two eggs per brood. Overfed city pigeons can breed up to eight times a year.

Pigeons are harmed when fed.
When you feed pigeons, you are not doing them a favor. They lose their natural ability to scavenge and survive on their own. Pigeon over population leads to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and produces sick and injured birds. A smaller flock is healthier and does less damage.

It is illegal.
It’s against the law to feed pigeons on the streets or sidewalks of San Francisco (Sec. 486. M.P.C). Violators may be cited and fined.

You can help keep your neighborhood safe and clean and the pigeon population under control by not feeding pigeons. Keep edible garbage away from pigeons by discarding it in a securely covered garbage can. And don’t feed pets outside.

You may report pigeon feeders to the San Francisco Police Department at 415-553-0123, or by calling 3-1-1.

* * * * *

At the same time that city officials are telling residents, “Please don’t feed the pigeons,” they aren’t telling them, “Please don’t feed the bums.”

Because of its mild climate and social programs that give cash payments to just-arrived vagrants, San Francisco is often considered the homelessness capital of the United States.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (1996–2004) actually proposed that the city create electronic cards for transients that residents could swipe with their credit cards, thus transferring money from their accounts to that of the recipient.

Brown dropped the idea when faced with the brutal truth that not many citizens–especially women–would be willing to whip out their credit card when confronted by a smelly, unshaved and possibly psychotic transient.

San Francisco spends $200 million annually on “homeless services.”

Estimates of their numbers range from 7,000-10,000 people, of which approximately 3,000-5,000 refuse shelter.

A similar public crackdown on “bum-feeders” could go like this:

Please do not feed the bums. There are dozens of reasons why, but mainly: feeding bums harms our neighborhoods and also harms the bums.

Our huge feral bum population is a health hazard and creates many problems in the city.

Their stolen shopping carts and filthy possessions block sidewalks and harbor parasites like bedbugs and lice. Bum food makes a mess and attracts rats.

Feeding bums promotes overbreeding.  Bums normally travel alone, foraging for drugs and/or alcohol.

When you feed bums, you are not doing them a favor. They lose their natural ability to find work and support themselves and their families.

Bum over population leads to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and produces sick and injured bums. A smaller horde is healthier and does less damage.

It’s against the law to feed bums on the streets or sidewalks of San Francisco. Violators may be cited and fined.

You can help keep your neighborhood safe and clean and the bum population under control by not feeding bums.

Keep edible garbage away from bums by discarding it in a securely covered garbage can. And don’t feed bums outside.

It is Illegal.  You may report bum feeders to the San Francisco Police Department at 415-553-0123, or by calling 3-1-1.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 12, 2015 at 11:20 am

On November 5, 2015, Marci Simms became a casualty of 9/11.

Early in her life, Simms decided she wanted to be a policewoman.  And after graduating from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, she joined the New York Police Department in 1998. She worked in Manhattan and Brooklyn before joining the 107th Precinct in Queens in 2013.

Eventually she reached the rank of lieutenant–a major achievement in a department that’s still largely a macho man’s club.

Simms was still a rookie when Al Qaeda terrorists slammed two jetliners into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

For the next four months, she joined thousands of other responders at Ground Zero, searching for survivors and human remains and removing tons of hazardous waste produced when the Twin Towers burned and crashed.

Most of those responders didn’t wear respirators or even face masks as protection against the toxic dust they breathed every day.  Meanwhile, the Federal Government assured them that the air was safe.

Firefighters rescuing victims at the World Trade Center

During a 2014 interview, she spoke of the conditions she had faced: “It was smoky. You felt like it was just burning your throat.

“I had a back ache. I thought I did something wrong working around the house. But I noticed a lump on my stomach. Even my doctor thought it was nothing but a cyst.”

That cyst turned out to be stage four lung cancer.  Just 16 months later, on November 5, 2015, Marci Simms died.  She was only 51.

The only positive aspect of her illness: Her medical costs were covered by the Federal Government.

In 2010–nine years after the worst terrorist attack in American history–Congress passed the Democratically-sponsored James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Act.

The law was named for a New York City detective who died of a respiratory disease in 2006 after his contact with toxic chemicals at Ground Zero.

Previously, the responders had been forced to bear the massive costs of healthcare for diseases like cancer and pulmonary fibrosis.

The law authorized $1.8 billion to be spent over five years to treat injuries of police, firefighters, emergency workers, construction and cleanup crews caused by exposure to toxic dust and debris at the site.

Republicans bitterly opposed the legislation.  They argued that providing healthcare for ailing September 11 heroes would bankrupt the nation.

Of course, they hadn’t voiced such concerns when President George W. Bush lied the nation into a $1 trillion war against Iraq in 2003.

For Republicans, the heroes of 9/11 had become “welfare-seeking bums.”

Slandering the Act as an “entitlement program” like Medicare, they demanded that the responders return to Congress every year to make their case–allegedly to prevent fraud and waste.

Republicans forced Democrats to accept an amendment that deliberately cast a slur on the men and women who answered their country’s call in its supreme moment of agony. Only then was the legislation passed.

The amendment read: “No individual who is on the terrorist watch list maintained by the Department of Homeland Security shall qualify as a screening-eligible WTC survivor or a certified-eligible WTC survivor.

“Before determining any individual to be a screening-eligible WTC survivor…or certifying any individual as a certified eligible survivor….the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall determine whether the individual is on such list.”

The amendment provoked outrage among non-politicians, Democrats and even some Republicans.  Among these:

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)  whose district encompassed Ground Zero, said it was “absurd” to consider that any of the 9/11 heroes would be terrorists.  He added that the screenings were a “waste of money.”
  • Rep. Peter King (R-NY) called the exercise “shameful” and “a waste of time,” adding: “It put a cloud over extraordinarily good people for no reason.”
  • “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart noted that the federal government didn’t run background checks on any other group of people receiving financial benefits. These included Social Security recipients, Medicare patients and even Wall Street bankers bailed out during the recession.

Specifically, responders seeking help were told that the following would be reported to the FBI to prove they were not terrorists:

  • Name
  • Birthplace
  • Address
  • Government ID number
  • and other personal data.

By August, 2011, the FBI had screened some 60,000 emergency responders to the attacks on the World Trade Center and had not uncovered any suspected terrorists. 

To date, no known terrorist has been found seeking treatment.

Glen Kline, a former NYPD emergency services officer, best summed up the disgrace of these background checks: “This is absurd. It’s silly. It’s stupid. It’s asinine.  I mean, who are we even talking about–the undocumented workers who cleaned the office buildings?

“We know who all the cops, firefighters and construction workers were. They’re all documented.  Is the idea that a terrorist stayed to help clean up? And then stayed all these years to try and get benefits?”

Unable to prevent the heroes of 9/11 from receiving medical care for their ailments, Congressional Republicans waited for their chance to strike.

In October, they refused to renew the Act, which is set to expire in October, 2015.

Meanwhile, 2,500 Ground Zero workers–so far–have been stricken with cancer.

Thus, self-righteous Right-wing legislators–who never lifted a beam from a trapped 9/11 survivor or inhaled toxic fumes that spewed from the crater that was once the World Trade Center–continue to stand in judgment over those who did.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm

On October 30, the hacker group Anonymous released the names of at least a dozen alleged Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members and their families online.

“Ku Klux Klan, We never stopped watching you,” the group said in a prepared statement.  “We know who you are. We know the dangerous extent to which you will go to cover your asses.

“Originally, we did not attack you for your beliefs as we fight for freedom of speech. We attacked you due to your threats to use lethal force in the Ferguson [Missouri] protests [in November, 2015].

“We took this grudge between us rather seriously. You continue to threaten anons and others. We never said we would only strike once….

“We will release, to the global public, the identities of up to 1000 klan members, Ghoul Squad affiliates and other close associates of various factions of the Ku Klux Klan.”

The information released included ages, phone numbers, addresses and even credit card numbers.

By November 5, Anonymous had released the names of about 1,000 alleged KKK members or sympathizers via a Twitter data dump.

Among those names released by Anonymous:

  • U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.);
  • U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx.),
  • U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-In.);
  • U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.);
  • Mayor Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, Tennessee;
  • Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington, Kentucky;
  • Mayor Paul D. Fraim of Norfolk, Virginia;
  • Mayor Kent Guinn of Ocala, Florida; and
  • Mayor Tom Henry of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

All of these officials have denied any affiliation with the Klan.

“I worked for nine days to gather and verify all the information that was gathered before its release,” Amped Attacks, the releaser of the information, stated online.

“I got the information from several KKK websites when I [hacked] them and was able to dump their database.

“I went through many emails that was signed up with these sites and a few of the emails that sparked my interest was the ones of the politicians in question there would be no reason for them to be signed up on any KKK website unless they supported it or was involved in it.”

Click here: UPDATE: Here’s the Latest On the Leak of Alleged KKK Members

This mass leak is easily the worst assault on the KKK since the FBI declared war on it more than 50 years ago.

More importantly, it is an assault made by a private group that has no affiliation with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The last time the Justice Department waged an all-out attack on the Klan was during the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.

The reason: The murders of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi–Michael “Mickey” Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney–on June 21, 1964.

Johnson ordered the FBI to find the missing activists. After their bodies were found buried near a dam, Johnson gave FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover a direct order: “I want you to have the same kind of intelligence [on the KKK] that you have on the communists.”

So the FBI launched a counterintelligence program–in Bureau-speak, a COINTELPRO–against the Ku Klux Klan.

Up to that point, Klansmen had shot, lynched and bombed their way across the Deep South, especially in Alabama and Mississippi.  Many Southern sheriffs and police chiefs were Klan sympathizers, if not outright members and accomplices.

Ku Klux Klansmen in a meeting

The FBI’s covert action program aimed to “expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize” KKK groups through a wide range of legal and extra-legal methods.

“My father fought the Klan in Massachusetts,” recalled William C.  Sullivan, who headed the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division in the 1960s.  “I always used to be frightened when I was a kid and I saw the fiery crosses burning in the hillside near our farm.

William C. Sullivan

“When the Klan reached 14,000 in the mid-sixties, I asked to take over the investigation of the Klan.  When I left the Bureau in 1971, the Klan was down to a completely disorganized 4,300.  It was broken.

“They were dirty, rough fellows.   And we went after them with rough, tough methods.”

Click here: The Bureau My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI: William C Sullivan, Sam Sloan, Bill Brown: 9784871873383: Amazon.com:

Among those methods:

  • Planting electronic surveillance devices in Klan meeting places;
  • Carrying out “black bag jobs”–burglaries–to steal Klan membership lists;
  • Contacting the news media to publicize arrests and identify Klan leaders;
  • Informing the employers of known Klansmen of their employees’ criminal activity, resulting in the firing of untold numbers of them;
  • Developing informants within Klans and sewing a climate of distrust and fear among Klansmen;
  • Breaking up the marriages of Klansmen by circulating rumors of their infidelity among their wives; and
  • Beating and harassing Klansmen who threatened and harassed FBI agents.

The FBI’s counterintelligence war against the Klan ended in 1971.

Today, there are active Klan chapters in 41 states, with between 5,000 and 8,000 active members.

Of course, it’s possible that some of the information posted by Anonymous is wrong.

But if it isn’t, then Anonymous has done the nation a public service.

And, by doing so, it has raised a disturbing question: Why has the Justice Department left a private organization to do battle with a terroristic one like the Ku Klux Klan?


In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 5, 2015 at 12:34 am

The headline on the CNN website said it all–or seemed to: “Religion’s Week From Hell.”

Then came the first paragraph: “Whether you believe that religious violence is fueled by faith or is a symptom of larger factors–political instability, poverty, cultural chaos–one thing seems clear: Last week was hellish for religion.”

The story–published on the CNN website on February 18, 2015–then outlined a series of atrocities committed in the name of religion:

“Across several continents, including North America, Europe, Central Asia and Africa, scores of religious believers suffered and died in brutal attacks over the past seven days.”

Click here: Religion’s week from hell – CNN.com

And here was the day-by-day chronicle of slaughter:


  • Boko Haram, the Islamic group based in Nigeria, attacked several towns in Cameroon, kidnapping 20 people. They also exploded a car bomb in Niger.  At the time, the death toll was unclear.


  • Craig Hicks, an athiest who ranted against religion on the Internet, was charged with killing three young Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


  • The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked Kurdish forces in northern Iraq and Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.  At least 31 people were killed in Baghdad by ISIS bombs.


  • Al Qaeda seized a key military base in Baihan, Yemen, killing four Yemeni soldiers.  They then took control of the town’s weaponry.
  • With the United States’ having already closed its embassy in Yemen, Italy, Germany and Saudi Arabia did the same.


  • Boko Haram killed 21 people in attacks on Mbuta and Akida villages in Nigeria.
  • The Islamic terror group also killed four civilians and a soldier in neighboring Chad.
  • In Peshawar, Pakistan, the Taliban attacked a Shia mosque, killing 19 and wounding dozens.


  • In Copenhagen, Denmark, an Islamic gunman fired at attendees of a free-speech forum, where a Swedish cartoonist was scheduled to speak.  His alleged crime: Depicting the Prophet Mohammed.  Casualties: Three officers wounded and one 55-year-old man killed.
  • Hours later, the same terrorist visited a Copenhagen synagogue.  Opening fire, he wounded two officers and killed a private security guard.


  • ISIS released a video showing its members beheading more than a dozen members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority on a Libyan beach.

So much for “religion’s week from hell.”

Except that the title of this story was completely misleading. It would have been more accurately entitled: “Islam’s Week of Hell.”

ISIS member beheading a helpless captive

Of the 13 atrocities detailed above, all but one showcased Islamics as the murderers.

The single exception was that of Craig Hicks, an athiest who was charged with shooting three Muslim college students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

It was this case–and not any of the others–that brought Muslims to demand “justice.” Muslims immediately urged the Obama administration to investigate the murders as a hate crime.

Suzanne Barakat, the sister of one of the victims, said the students had been murdered because they were Muslims. She said that the killings should be considered an act of terrorism: “It’s time people call it what it is.”

But getting Islamics to label other Islamics as terrorists is an entirely different matter.

According to author Ronald Kessler, this has caused serious problems for the FBI. In his 2011 book, The Secrets of the FBI, Kessler notes the refusal of the Islamic community to identify known or potential terrorists within its ranks.

Says Arthur M. Cummings, the Bureau’s executive assistant director for national security: “I had this discussion with the director of a very prominent Muslim organization here in [Washington] D.C. And he said, ‘Why are you guys always looking at the Muslim community?’”

“I can name the homegrown cells, all of whom are Muslim, all of whom were seeking to kill Americans,” replied Cummings. “It’s not the Irish, it’s not the French, it’s not the Catholics, it’s not the Protestants.  It’s the Muslims.”

Occasionally, Muslims will condemn Al Qaeda.  But “rarely do we have them coming to us and saying, ‘There are three guys in the community that we’re very concerned about.’” said Cummings.

“They don’t want anyone to know they have extremists in their community.  Well, beautiful.  Except do you read the newspapers?  Everybody already knows it. The horse has left the barn.

“So there’s a lot of talk about engagement. But, realistically, we’ve got a long, long way to go.”

At one community meeting, an Islamic leader suggested to Cummings that then-FBI director Robert Meuller III should pose for a picture with his group’s members. The reason: To show that Islamics are partners in the “war on terror.”

“When you bring to my attention real extremists who are here to plan and do something, who are here supporting terrorism,” said Cummings, “then I promise you, I will have the director stand up on the stage with you.”

“That could never happen,” replied the Islamic leader.  “We would lose our constituency.  We could never admit to bringing someone to the FBI.”


In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on October 29, 2015 at 12:04 am

Want to report a crime to the FBI?  First you’ll have to prove you deserve to even see an FBI agent.

Step 1: Visit a Federal building where the FBI has a field office.  To enter, you must show a driver’s license or State ID card.

If your name is on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, you won’t show it at all (let alone visit any FBI office).

And if you aren’t a notorious criminal or terrorist, handing over a driver’s license or State ID card with the name “John Smith” isn’t going to tell the security guard anything relevant about you.

It’s simply an invasion of your privacy in the name of security theater.

Step 2: You must remove

  • Your belt;
  • Your shoes;
  • Your watch;
  • Your wallet;
  • All other objects from your pants pockets;
  • Any jacket you’re wearing;
  • Any cell phone you’re carrying.

All of these must be placed in one or more large plastic containers, which are run through an x-ray scanner.

Step 3: Assuming you avoid setting off any alarm system, you’re allowed to enter.

Step 4: Take an elevator to the floor where the Bureau has its office and walk into a large room filled with several comfortable chairs that sit close to the floor.

Step 5: Approach a window such as you find in a bank–made of thick, presumably bulletproof glass.

A secretary on the opposite side greets you, and asks why you’ve come.

Step 6: State your reason for wanting to speak with an agent. If the secretary thinks it’s legitimate, she requires you to show her your driver’s license or State ID card.

Step 7: Slide this through a slot in the glass window.  Then she makes a xerox of this and hands the card back.

Step 8: Then you must fill out a single-page card, which requires you to provide your:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Phone number;
  • Social Security Number;
  • The reason you want to speak to an agent.

Of course, you can refuse to fill out the card. But then the secretary will refuse to let you meet with an agent.

So the FBI has no qualms about requiring others to give up their privacy.  But its director, James B. Comey, believes the public actions of police should be hidden from citizens’ scrutiny.

Addressing a forum at the University of Chicago Law School on October 23, Comey offered a series of possible reasons for the recent surge in crime rates in America.

Click here: FBI — Law Enforcement and the Communities We Serve: Bending the Lines Toward Safety and Justice 

“Maybe it’s the return of violent offenders after serving jail terms.  Maybe it’s cheap heroin or synthetic drugs.  Maybe after we busted up the large gangs, smaller groups are now fighting for turf.

“Maybe it’s a change in the justice system’s approach to bail or charging or sentencing. Maybe something has changed with respect to the availability of guns….”

Then Comey offered what he thought was the real villain behind the rise in crime: Cellphones aimed at police.


FBI Director James B. Comey

“In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime? Are officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns?

“I spoke to officers privately in one big city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars. They told me, ‘We feel like we’re under siege and we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.’

“I’ve been told about a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video.

“So the suggestion, the question that has been asked of me, is whether these kinds of things are changing police behavior all over the country.

“And the answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know whether this explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.”

The FBI has

  • Lobbied Congress for an electronic “key” that would allow it to enter a cyber “back door” to eavesdrop on even those emails protected by encryption systems;
  • Monitored electronic bugs and wiretapped phones–as well as social media sites like Facebook and Twitter;
  • Treated law-abiding citizens like criminal suspects before they can even seek help from an agent; and
  • Repeatedly preached to Americans that if they have nothing to hide, they should have nothing to fear from police surveillance.

But according to the FBI, citizens who aim cameras at cops in public places present a clear and present danger. This holds true even if they don’t interfere with the ability of police to make arrests.

They make heavily armed police feel so threatened that many officers are refusing to carry out their sworn duties.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on October 28, 2015 at 1:27 am

For decades, Americans have been told by police at local and Federal levels: If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t worry about giving up your privacy.

The FBI, for example, has lobbied Congress for an electronic “key” that would allow it to enter a cyber “back door” to eavesdrop on even those emails protected by encryption systems.

Of course, the FBI has long found ways to circumvent the efforts of criminals to remain anonymous.

Decades ago, Mafiosi learned to assume their phones were being wiretapped and their rooms bugged with hidden microphones by agents of the FBI or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

And law-abiding Americans have grown used to being under camera surveillance every time they enter a bank, a State or Federal agency, a drugstore or supermarket.  Or even walking down a street.

Related image

So it must seem ironic–if not downright hypocritical–to such people when police complain that their privacy is being invaded.

And this “invasion” isn’t happening with taps placed on cops’ phones or bugs planted in their police stations or private homes.

No, this “invasion” is happening openly in public–with video cameras and cellphones equipped with cameras.

And it’s happening in direct response to a series of controversial incidents involving the use of deadly force by police.

The most famous of these was the shooting, in August, 2014, of strong-arm grocery store robber Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.  Ironically, this was not captured on video.

But a number of other incidents were. Among them:

  • The shooting of Walter Scott, a black motorist, on April 4, 2015.  Scott was stopped for a non-working third tail light.  When North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager returned to his patrol car, Scott exited his car and fled.  Slager gave chase, firing first a Taser and then his pistol.  He hit Scott five times–all from behind.  Slager later claimed he had “felt threatened.” Unluckily for him, the shooting was caught on a citizen’s cellphone camera. On June 6, a grand jury indicted Slager on a charge or murder.
  • On April 9, 2015, San Bernaradino sheriff’s deputies, after an exhaustive chase, kicked Francis Pusok twice–including a kick to the groin–as he lay facedown on the ground with his hands behind his back.  About five minutes after Pusok was handcuffed, hobbled and rolled onto his side, another deputy also kicked him. Three deputies have been charged with felony assault.  The footage of this came from an NBC News helicopter.
  • In February, 2015, Orlando police officer William Escobar was fired after cell phone footage emerged of him punching and kicking a handcuffed man.

Addressing a forum at the University of Chicago Law School on October 23, FBI Director James B. Comey spoke of rising crime rates in America.  And he offered a series of possible reasons for it.

Click here: FBI — Law Enforcement and the Communities We Serve: Bending the Lines Toward Safety and Justice 

“Maybe it’s the return of violent offenders after serving jail terms.  Maybe it’s cheap heroin or synthetic drugs.  Maybe after we busted up the large gangs, smaller groups are now fighting for turf.

“Maybe it’s a change in the justice system’s approach to bail or charging or sentencing. Maybe something has changed with respect to the availability of guns….”

Then Comey offered what he thought was the real villain behind the rise in crime: Cellphones aimed at police.


FBI Director James B. Comey

“But I’ve also heard another explanation, in conversations all over the country. Nobody says it on the record, nobody says it in public, but police and elected officials are quietly saying it to themselves. And they’re saying it to me, and I’m going to say it to you….

“In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime? Are officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns?

“I spoke to officers privately in one big city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars. They told me, ‘We feel like we’re under siege and we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.’

“I’ve been told about a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video.

“So the suggestion, the question that has been asked of me, is whether these kinds of things are changing police behavior all over the country.

“And the answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know whether this explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.”

Apparently, it’s OK for police to aim cameras–openly or concealed–at citizens, whether law-abiding or law-breaking. But if citizens aim cameras at cops–even without interfering with their making arrests–police feel threatened, to the point of refusing to carry out their duties.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 23, 2015 at 12:40 am

In 2005, Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian architect, was placed on the United States Government’s No-Fly list, operated by the Terrorist Screening Center.

It wasn’t because she was a member of Al Qaeda.  It happened because of an FBI screw-up.

The mess started in January 2005, when Ibrahim and her 14-year-old daughter arrived at the San Francisco Airport.  Their destination: Hawaii, to attend a conference trip sponsored by Stanford.

Ibrahim, still recovering from a recent hysterectomy, was in a wheelchair.

When she approached the United Airlines counter to check in, she was seized, handcuffed, thrown in the back of a police car and taken to a holding cell.

There she was interrogated.  During this, paramedics had to be summoned because she hadn’t taken her surgery medication.

Then, to her surprise, she was released–and told that her name had been removed from the No-Fly list.  She boarded a flight to Hawaii and attended the conference.

But in March 2005, the situation suddenly changed.

Having returned to Malasia, she bought a ticket to fly back to California to meet with her Stanford thesis adviser. But at the airport, she was banned from the flight.

She was told that her student visa had been revoked, and that she would longer be let into the United States.  When she asked why, authorities refused to give a reason.

She would not learn the answer for another eight years.

An FBI agent in San Jose, California, had conducted a background check on Ibrahim.  He hadn’t meant to place her on theNo-Fly list.

FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

He had simply checked the wrong boxes on a form.  He didn’t even realize the mistake until nearly a decade later, during his deposition in 2013.

In fact, he filled out the form exactly the opposite way from the instructions provided on the form. He did so even though the form stated, “It is recommended that the subject NOT be entered into the following selected terrorist screening databases.”

Thus, Ibrahim was placed on the No-Fly list.

That was bad enough–but at least understandable. FBI agents are human, and can and do err like anyone else.

What is not understandable or tolerable is this:

After Ibrahim filed a lawsuit against the United States Government in 2006, the Justice Department ordered a coverup–to prevent word from leaking that one of its agents had made a mistake.

Moreover, Ibrahim was ordered by the Justice Department to not divulge to anyone that she was suing the United States Government–or the reason for the lawsuit.

Ibrahim is currently the dean of architecture at University Putra Malaysia.

Because the Justice Department refused to admit its mistake, attorneys working pro bono for Ibrahim incurred a reported $3.8 million in legal fees, as well as $300,000 in litigation costs.

In his recent decision on the case, U.S. District Judge William Alsup, based in San Francisco, called the agent’s error “conceded, proven, undeniable and serious.

Once derogatory information is posted to the Terrorist  Screening Database, it can propagate extensively through the  government’s interlocking complex of databases, like a bad credit  report that will never go away,” he wrote.

If only the Justice Department had readily admitted the mistake and quickly moved to correct it.  But the egos of Federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors effectively ruled out this option.

Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama (2006-2011) had a completely different approach to dealing with mistakes.

In his 2014 autobiography, Duty, he writes of his determination to promote good relations between the Pentagon and the reporters who covered it.

In his commencement address at the Anapolis Naval Academy on May 25, 2007, he said:

“…the press, in my view [is] a critically important guarantor of our freedom.

“When it identifies a problem, the response of senior leaders should be to find out if the allegations are true.  And if so, say so, and then act to remedy the problem.

“If [the allegations are] untrue, then be able to document that fact.”

Millions of Americans not only distrust the Federal Government–they believe it is aggressively conspiring against them.

But the vast majority of Federal employees do not come to work intent on destroying the lives of their fellow Americans.

They spend most of their time carrying out routine, often mind-numbing tasks–such as filling out what seem like an endless series of forms.

But even where no malice is involved, their actions can have devastating consequences for innocent men and women.

Especially in cases where “national security” can be invoked to hide error, stupidity, or even criminality.

The refusal of the Justice Department to quickly admit the honest mistake of one of its agents prevented Ibrahim from boarding a commercial flight for seven years.

Federal agencies should follow the advice given by Robert Gates:  Admit your mistakes and act quickly to correct them. 

Unless this happens, the poisonous atmosphere of distrust between the Government and its citizens will only worsen.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 16, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will plead guilty to lying to the FBI.

That announcement was made on October 15 by the office of the United States Attorney [Federal prosecutor] for Chicago.

Hastert, who was the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, had been indicted on May 28 for violating federal banking laws and lying to the FBI.

He had tried to conceal $3.5 million in hush-money payments over several years to a man who was blackmailing him.

Dennis Hastert

The source of the blackmail: A homosexual–and possibly coerced–relationship with an underage student while Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School, in Yorkville, Illinois–long before Hastert entered Congress in 1981.

Hastert wasn’t indicted for having had a sexual relationship with an underage student. The statute of limitations had long ago run out on that offense.

He was indicted for trying to evade federal banking laws and lying to the FBI.

According to the indictment, the FBI began investigating the cash withdrawals in 2013.

The Bureau wanted to know if Hastert was using the cash for criminal purposes or if he was the victim of a criminal extortion.

When questioned by the FBI, Hastert said he was storing cash because he didn’t feel safe with the banking system: “Yeah, I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing.”

Thus, irony: By giving in to blackmail, Hastert:

  • Lost $3.5 million;
  • Unintentionally engineered his arrest and indictment; and
  • Ensured that his darkest secret would be revealed.

There is a lesson to be learned here–one that longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover well understood: Giving in to blackmail only empowers the blackmailer even more.

As William C. Sullivan, the onetime director of the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Divison, revealed after Hoover’s death in 1972:

“The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator, he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter.

“‘But we wanted you to know this. We realize you’d want to know it.’ Well, Jesus, what does that tell the senator? From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.”

Of course, hypocrites who lead double-lives are always vulnerable to blackmail.  Enter Dennis Hastert.

During his tenure as House Speaker, Hastert pushed the anti-homosexual Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) through the House. He also proposed a Constitutional amendment to anjul same-sex marriages in states that allowed them.

The only effective way of handling blackmail was demonstrated by Arthur Wellesley, known to history as the Duke of Wellington.

The Duke of Wellington

In 1815, he had defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo, ending France’s longstanding threat to England.  With that victory came the honors of a grateful nation.

Then, in December, 1824, Wellington found himself the target of blackmail by Joseph Stockdale, a pornographer and scandal-monger.

“My Lord Duke,” Stockdale write in a letter, “In Harriette Wilson’s memoirs, which I am about to publish, are various anecdotes of Your Grace which it would be most desirable to withhold….

“I have stopped the Press for the moment, but as the publication will take place next week, little delay can necessarily take place.”

Wilson was a famous London courtesan past her prime, then living in exile in Paris.  She was asking Wellington to pay money to be left out of her memoirs.

From Wellington came the now-famous reply: “Publish and be damned!”

Wilson’s memoirs appeared in installments, naming half the British aristocracy and scandalizing London society.

And, true to her threat, she named Wellington as one of her lovers–and a not very satisfying one at that.

Wellington was a national hero, husband and father. Even so, his reputation did not suffer, and he went on to become prime minister.

Click here: Rear Window: When Wellington said publish and be damned: The Field Marshal and the Scarlet Woman – Voices

Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House, might now wish he had followed the example of the Duke of Wellington.

His reputation might have been trashed, but he wouldn’t have faced prosecution.

By choosing to give in to blackmail, Hastert destroyed his reputation and left himself open to prosecution for violating Federal currency laws.

Once he lied to FBI agents about the reason for his withdrawals, his choices came down to two: Confront the charges in open court, or plead guilty and avoid a trial.

By pleading guilty, Hastert avoids having to answer why he was willing to pay out $3.5 in blackmail monies.

But his reputation remains twice trashed–once under the stigma of sexual misconduct, and again under the stigma of a criminal conviction.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on October 15, 2015 at 12:51 pm

In the bullet-riddled new movie, “Black Mass,” both FBI agents and criminals use plenty of four-leter words.

But the word both groups consider the most obscene is spelled with only three letters: R-a-t.

The movie is based on the true-life story of Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger and the secret deal he forged with John Connolly, his childhood friend-turned-FBI agent.

Johnny Depp as James “Whitey” Bulger

After decades of ignoring the Mafia, the FBI is now mounting an all-out effort against it.  One of the agents assigned to this war is Connolly, who is assigned to the Boston field office in 1975.

For Connolly (Joel Edgarton) winning this war means getting inside Intelligence on La Cosa Nostra’s leaders and operations.

And he believes that his former childhood friend, Bulger (played by an ice-cold Johnny Depp) can supply it.

The only question is: How to get him to do it?

And Connolly has the answer: An alliance between the FBI and Bulger’s Winter Hill gang.

At first, Bulger is wary.  He hates “finks,” “informers,” “rats.”  But Connolly persuades him that it’s one thing to inform on your own friends–and something different to inform on your sworn enemies, such as the Italian Mafia.

And to sweeten the deal further, Connolly offers Bulger immunity from FBI scrutiny. The only condition: “You can’t clip [kill] anyone.”

Bulger readily agrees–knowing he has no intention of keeping his word.  He will kill anyone who crosses him–or threatens to become “a problem.”

For Connolly and Bulger, the deal quickly proves golden.

Armed with Bulger’s inside tips, Connolly makes it possible for the FBI to plant an electronic bug in the headquarters of Gennaro Angiulo, the underboss [second-in-command] of the Raymond Patriarca Mafia Family’s operations in Boston.

John Connolly

Successful prosecutions follow.  To the Boston United States Attorney [Federal prosecutor] and his FBI superiors, Connolly is a mob-busting hero.

And with the dismantling of the Mafia’s operations, Bulger and his friend, enforcer Steven Flemmi, seize control of organized crime in Boston.

FBI photo of James “Whitey” Bulger at the time of his arrest

“Black Mass” vividly illustrates that even an elite law enforcement agency such as the FBI can’t operate effectively without informants.  And informants don’t come from the ranks of choirboys.  These are criminals willing to sell out their accomplices or their criminal competitors–for a price.

With his superiors happy, Connolly works virtually unsupervised.  He, Bulger, Flemmi and Connolly’s nominal supervisor, John Morris, are on a first-name basis.  Against all FBI regulations, he and Morris host a lavish steak dinner for Bulger and Flemmi at Connolly’s house.

But if Connolly refuses to admit that he’s been corrupted, his wife, Marianne [Julianne Nicholson] sees it all too well.  He begins dressing more flashily and carrying himself more arrogantly.  Eventually, Marianne locks him out of the house and forces him to sleep in his office.

Eventually, a new Federal prosecutor named Fred Wyshak [Corey Stoll] arrives in Boston, and he’s determined to go after Whitey Bulger.

Bypassing the FBI, Wyshak enlists State police and agents of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). They start rounding up scores of criminals–including those forced to pay a “street tax” to Bulger.

Among those arrested are Bulger’s top enforcers Steven Flemmi and Kevin Weeks. Informed that Bulger has been “ratting out” not only the Mafia but his fellow Irish mobsters, they quickly turn on him.

Warned by Connolly that the FBI is going to arrest him, Bulger disappears–and goes on the run for 16 years.  For 12 of these he is on the Bureau’s “Ten Most Wanted” list.

The manhunt ends on June 22, 2011, when the FBI finally arresdts Bulger–now 81–at his apartment complex in Santa Monica, California.

After going to trial, he’s found guilty on August 12, 2013, on 31 counts of racketeering, money laundering, extortion and involvement in 19 murders.  He’s sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus five years.

For Connolly, a similar fate awaits.  His supervisor, Morris, decides to cut a deal for himself at the expense of hhis longtime friend.

Connolly is retired from the FBI and at home when two FBI agents show up to arrest him.  He’s indicted on charges of alerting Bulger and Flemmi to investigations, faisifying FBI reports to cover up their crimes, and accepting bribes.

Testifying against him are Flemmi and Weeks.  On November 6, 2008, Connolly is convicted.  He’s sentenced to 40 years in prison, after the judge notes that the former FBI star had “crossed to the dark side.”

“Black Mass” has a great many lessons to teach about the relationship between law enforcement agents and their criminal informants.

And how those relations can sometimes go terribly wrong.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 14, 2015 at 2:03 am

For decades, the rhetoric of the Cold War has carried over into the debate over policing.

“Hawks” on the Right have demanded a “hard” approach to law enforcement, emphasizing punishment.  “Doves” on the Left have pursued a “soft” line, stressing social programs and rehabilitation.

But it isn’t enough to be “hard” or “soft” in pursuing the goal of a safe, law-abiding society.  It’s necessary to be “smart” above all.

If you can’t eradicate evil, then you should try to direct at least some of its elements into a safer path.  This especially true for those effrots directed against violent criminal gangs.

According to the FBI:

  • Some 33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs with about 1.4 million members are criminally active in the U.S. today.
  • Gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90%  in several others.
  • Many are sophisticated and well organized; all use violence to control neighborhoods and boost their illegal money-making activities, which include robbery, drug- and gun-trafficking, fraud, extortion, and prostitution rings.
  • Their revenues climb into untold billions of dollars each year–all of it tax-free.

Click here: FBI — Gangs

These gangs aren’t going to disappear, no matter how many of their members die or wind up in prison.

The time has come to apply the time-tested principle so well known south of the border: “Pan o palo.”  Or: “Bread or stick.”

In short: Rewards or punishments.

As in a legalized competition for the title of “State Gang Champion.”  This would work as follows:

  • Each state should invite its resident gang members to take part in a series of competition for the title of “State Gang Champion.”
  • These would be modeled on competitions now existing within the National Football League–a series of playoffs to determine which two gangs will duke it out in the “Super Rumble.”
  • These competitions would be completely voluntary, thus eliminating any charges of State coersion.
  • They would be modeled on the country’s current mania for “Ultimate Warrior” contests for kickboxers and bare-kunckled fighters.
  • Contestants–as many as a score or more from at least two opposing gangs–would meet in a football-sized arena.
  • No firearms would be allowed.
  • Contestants could otherwise arm themselves with whatever weapons they desired–such as baseball bats, swords, axes, spears or chains.
  • Everyone who agreed to participate would automatically be granted immunity for whatever carnage they inflicted.
  • The object of these contests would be to officially determine which State gang was the “baddest” for the year.
  • Tickets could be purchased by fans looking for an afternoon’s festival of gore.
  • Television networks could–and no doubt would–vie for rights to film the events, just as they now do for “pay-for-view” wrestling or boxing matches.

Related image

A modern-day Coliseum

There are several reasons why many–if not most–gangs would want to participate in such contests.

  1. They would be able to eliminate members of rival gangs without risk of prosecution and imprisonment.
  2. They would be able to gauge–through the heat of combat–the toughness of their own associates.
  3. They would gain at least temporary stardom–just as successful gladiators did under the Roman Empire.
  4. The winning gang would gain official status as “The Baddest” gang in the State.

On the last point: Napoleon Bonaparte created the Order of the Legion of Honor, distributed 15,000 crosses to his soldiers and called his troops the “Grand Army.”

When someone criticized him for giving “toys” to his war-hardened veterans, Napoleon replied: “Men are ruled by toys.”

And for the State there would be gains as well:

  1. These contests would literally eliminate a great many gang members who cannot be removed any other way.
  2. Police and prosecutors could concentrate their limited resources on gangs that refused to participate or were deemed to pose a major threat.
  3. Millions of dollars in State revenues would be generated through ticket sales and the buying of pay-per-view rights.

Admittedly, many law-abiding citizens would be repulsed by the carnage that would result from implemting this proposal. But these are generally the people who disdain boxing or wrestling contests anyway.

But given our increasingly jaded and violence-prone society, most of them would eventually tolerate it as an effective way to simultaneously raise badly-needed tax revenues and reduce the size of criminal gangs.

Republican politicians would find this an especially attractive proposal, since it adheres to the two concepts dear to the hearts of all Right-wingers: Killing people and making money.

In short: With sufficient creativity and ruthlessness, it should be possible to reclaim control of our streets from the evils of gang violence.


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