Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuse, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up

Archive for March, 2008

North Central High counselor working hard on behalf of U.S. military recruiters

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 23, 2008

Jane Umphrey, a counselor at Spokane’s North Central High School, has been hard at work on behalf of U.S. military recruiters. Here (click here for PDF file) are some documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Request to Spokane School District 81 in September 2005 and January 2007.

The letter from Russell J. Vaucher from the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Seattle dated 10/4/04 was sent to North Central High School and subsequently e-mailed by the District to all schools on 12/3/04. Vaucher included Section 9528 of HR 1 (“No Child Left Behind” Act) which request schools to “provide, on a request made by military recruiters or an institution of higher education, access to secondary school students’ names, addresses, and telephone numbers”. As you will note in Vaucher’s letter, he request specific formats for providing the information to Joseph/Jenkins@usarec.army.mil.

This request for names of Spokane District 81 student information was made in the midst of a period of massive violations of law and policy by U.S. military recruiters. By May 2005 the extent of the violations and abuses was international news and the military had shut down recruiting for a day to attempt to get a handle on the abuses.

Department of the Army Recruitment Letter to North Central High School 10-4-2004 and related documents

U.S. military recruiter misconduct is a very well established fact and has been criminally prosecuted on multiple occasions during this illegal invasion, occupation and brutalization of Iraq. The extent of the abuses was extensively documented in May 2007 (read 2007) by Nashville’s WTVF. The WTVF website includes, among many other print and video resources, a 30-minute documentary “Dishonorable Deceptions” on the recruitment of the mentally ill.

A couple years ago, U.S. military recruiters in Spokane attempted to recruit a legal Latin American immigrant out of a Spokane-area school. This kid has a 68 IQ, suffered a stroke at birth, and was in special education. His parents do not speak English. They had the nerve to visit the kid at school and at his home. After his parents complained to me, I contacted the recruiter and told him that he could certainly continue his efforts if he chose to but, if he did so, he would face being accused and hopefully charged. That was the last the family heard of him.

In addition, there is this e-mail by Frank Shaffery, the U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s deputy director of recruiting operations.
http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=6488309&nav=menu374_2_2

“Established cases” is only a small reflection of the actually extent of the problem. Again, the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) report in August 2006 which stated, “available service data show that between fiscal years 2004 and 2005, allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter wrongdoing increased, collectively, from 4,400 cases to 6,600 cases; substantiated cases increased from just over 400 to almost 630 cases; and criminal violations more than doubled from just over 30 to almost 70 cases.”
http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d06846high.pdf

You will note the words “service-identified incidents” in the GAO report and you will note the number of substantiated cases increasing to a number almost double that which you present. Search the web and talk to real people in our community and you find many more allegations. No one has to doubt that the military and the Bush administration have little interest in substantiating and investigating the extent of the violations. Suffice it to say that it did not take more than a few weeks for the first major exposes on the issues before the US military took the unprecedented step of shutting down recruitment for a day to try to correct its rotten, criminal (again see the GAO stats) recruitment efforts.

Ignorant as they may be of the realities of the Middle East and of modern warfare, the U.S. president and his “chickenhawk” minions are sufficiently astute to understand that a draft would constitute the collapse of the entire house of cards and would have us once again have us remembering Kent State.
http://spokanepoliceabuses.wordpress.com/2007/08/06/know-your-rights-tin-soldiers-and-nixons-coming/

The U.S. military utilizes tens of thousands of mercenaries — US and foreign — in Iraq. The military is severely broken. They are desperate for cannon fodder and are engaged in an ongoing campaign of false advertising.

Be assured that additional recruitment scandals will be forthcoming, as the abuses are occurring even as we write.
The public will continue to respond to the abuses and will legitimately continue to focus on recruiters and their superiors, all of whom are paid by the taxpayer and are subject to law.

More important than the numbers of abuses by U.S. military recruiters is the type of abuses they have engaged in. We are talking not just about misleading and exaggeration. We are talking about rape, forgery, and other sorts of crimes. As this August 20, 2006, report discloses:

(quote) More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance exams. A six-month Associated Press investigation found that more than 80 military recruiters were disciplined last year for sexual misconduct with potential enlistees. The cases occurred across all branches of the military and in all regions of the country. (end quote)
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/19/national/main1913849.shtml

Even with the number of 630, this is not insignificant. A May 5, 2005, New York Times report found that 1 in 5 recruiters was under investigation.
http://rncwatch.typepad.com/counterrecruiter/2005/05/one_in_five_rec.html
If you do not want to get to the NY Times article via a counter-recruitment blog (though this one has great resources), go directly to the NY Times article.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/national/03recruit.html?ex=1272772800&en=cb1c8ef720824a5d&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
http://www.quakerhouse.org/Recruiter-Abuses-03.htm

Again, I believe it is important to frame this recruitment scandal in the context of a growing list of scandals related to the U.S. defeat and fiasco in Iraq — 1) the original lies and deceptions used to convince the world and justify the invasion; 2) the cover-ups related to U.S. war crimes; 3) the thefts and maladministration of billions by U.S. forces, contractors, and companies; 4) the lies to soldiers, families and countries about the circumstances of deaths, such as those of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan and the lies about the story of Jessica Lynch and the death of her fellow soldiers; and many, many other scandals, some yet to come to light.
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/03/19/iraq_five/

Those who seek to defend this Bush/Neo-Con fiasco will always find themselves behind the fact that it is destined to be described as one of the biggest military fiasco in human history — and perhaps at the top of the list. The final consequences of the war are yet to be known. Will it lead to collapse of the U.S. economy? Will it lead to a nuclear confrontation in the Middle East? How many thousands and tens of thousands of U.S. troops will return home to kill themselves, live with mental illness, and destroy the lives of their families? How far will the image and power of the U.S. decline? Time will tell. In the meantime, facts point to a greatly diminished U.S. and a legacy equal to that of the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. How long will we be subject to the apologists?

Posted in Freedom to Fascism, Know Your Rights, Lies Damn Lies and ..., Surveillance Society, Unanswered Questions, US Military abuses, War Abroad & At Home | Leave a Comment »

Police say they use taser on non-violent people

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 13, 2008

http://noworldsystem.com/2008/03/11/police-say-they-use-tasers-on-non-violent-people/

Police say they use Tasers on non-violent people
Internal documents show the weapon has been employed simply to get some suspects do what they are told

The Vancouver Sun
March 8, 2008

Vancouver police regularly use Tasers to subdue people who are unarmed and non-violent, according to internal reports released by the force.

On Friday, in response to a Freedom of Information request, VPD published on its website details of the about 150 times officers drew their Tasers from 2002 to early 2007.

The more than 70 pages of reports include cases where the electric shock weapon was drawn from its holster but not fired.

The reports cover cases in which the Taser was fired at a suspect from a distance and cases where it was used in “drive stun” mode — where a shock is administered by holding the device directly against a suspect.

The reports indicate that, in most cases in which Vancouver officers fired the Taser from a distance, the person was acting violently — from fighting with officers to threatening themselves or others with a weapon.

“[Officers] observed the male stabbing himself in the stomach with a pen,” reads one report from 2006. “When [officers] challenged the suspect, he ran at them and the [Taser] was fired. The suspect immediately fell to the ground and was handcuffed.”

However, in a number of cases, police used the Taser as soon as someone displayed a “fighting stance” or simply to get a non-violent suspect to do what they were told.

“Suspect fled from plainclothes members and resisted arrest when caught. Suspect was taken to the ground but refused to allow [officers] to handcuff him and held his arms underneath his body,” reads one report from 2006. “Strikes and open hand techniques were attempted but the suspect was still resisting. A [Taser] drive stun was applied to the suspect’s lower back and the suspect was then handcuffed.”

Jason Gratl, president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said he was troubled to see Vancouver police are using the Taser as a compliance tool.

“The officers seem content to Taser individuals for lack of compliance with verbal commands or aggressive posturing,” said Gratl. “It is dead certain from these reports that Tasers are not merely an alternative to the use of sidearms but are used in practice as a convenient tool to gain physical control over individuals.”

There is debate over whether the Taser should be used to get non-violent suspects to comply with police orders.

In December, Paul Kennedy, head of the RCMP’s Commission for Public Complaints, published a report saying Tasers were used too often and recommended police use them only against suspects who are being “combative” or “posing a risk of death or grievous bodily harm” to themselves or others.

VPD Const. Jana McGuiness said the force believes the Taser is sometimes the safest option for controlling someone who is resisting arrest. “The problem is when you have a subject resisting to that degree, your chances of injuring yourself or that person escalates,” she said. “The Taser allows [police] to gain control with the minimum amount of injury to themselves or the suspect.”

According to the VPD, suicide attempts were an issue in about one in five Taser deployments and drugs or alcohol were a factor in one in three.

Ohio: Travellers Threatened With Arrest In Storm
http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=weather&id=6008531&pt=print
Japanese coastguard ’shot’ whaling activist
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment..rc=rss&feed=networkfront

Chicago Links School Cameras to Police Squad Cars
http://www.chicagotribune.com..meras-07mar07,1,4279778,print.story

Britain Makes Camera That Sees Under Clothes
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSL0926757420080309

Britain Building Stealth DNA Database
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/li..528857&in_page_id=1770

Posted in Independent Oversight, Prison Industrial Complex, Surveillance Society, Tasers, Unanswered Questions, War Abroad & At Home | Leave a Comment »

URGENT CALL — Spokane Campaign Against Violence Motivated by Hate

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 11, 2008

A CAMPAIGN AGAINST VIOLENCE MOTIVATED BY HATE

Working together to address the increase in random acts of violence against homeless individuals in our community. We hope as a community we can put an end to this appalling and frightening trend.

Central United Methodist Church

518 W 3rd

Tuesday March 18, 2:00 pm

Please RSVP with

Holly Jean Chilinski

Shalom Ministries

Shalom30@qwestoffice.net

(509) 455-9019

*********************************

http://www.spokesmanreview.com/media/video/?ID=844 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003089027_webhomeless27.html  http://thegimpparade.blogspot.com/search?q=spokane  http://thegimpparade.blogspot.com/2006/07/disabled-homeless-man-set-afire-after.html

 

Posted in Ethics, In Collective Self-Defense, Know Your Rights, Racism, Solutions, Testimonies, Urgent Call | Leave a Comment »

Spokane Police Complaint Forms

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 11, 2008

The first two are police internal affairs forms described by Spokane Police Internal Affairs Sgt. Jim Faddis as “unnecessary”.  They were obtained from by me from Sgt. Faddis and a colleague at the Police Internal Affairs Office located at the time in the Monroe Court Building in downtown Spokane.  Faddis had initially refused to provide the documents but when I told him that I would simply file a public disclosure request and then sue if they were not released, he hand them to me.

Spokane Police Internal Affairs Form 1

Spokane Police Internal Affairs Form 2

The second two are the front and back of a form that SPD reluctantly developed in a couple years ago after persistent demands from the community.

How to File a Complaint about Spokane Police Misconduct 1

How to File a Complaint about Spokane Police Misconduct 2

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Deputy dumps quadriplegic from wheelchair in front of jail camera and colleagues

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 10, 2008

Law enforcement in the United States has become a threat to public security.

Take Spokane, Washington, where law enforcement beat, tasered, hog-tied and suffocated a disabled and innocent man, Otto Zehm, who later died. Spokane, Washington where suicidal Josh Levy was subject to 18 hours of police tactics prior to a botched tasering which prompted him to jump to his death from the Monroe Street Bridge.

Or take Hillsboro, Florida, where a Deputy — not believing that a man was a quadriplegic — violently and criminally dumps him out of his wheelchair as a way to prove it. And, of course, the surveillance video shows a Deputy laughing as he walks away from the crime.

http://www.heyokamagazine.com/HEYOKA.11.BrianSterner..htm

For more on abusive police officers, here are ten additional videos:

http://www.linkognito.com/b.php?b=727

Posted in Corruption, Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, Know Your Rights, No Sir Officer ____, Photographic Evidence, Spokane taser, Testimonies, Videos | Leave a Comment »

FILM — Up The Ridge: A US Prison Story — Tuesday, March 11, 2008 Magic Lantern

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 9, 2008

Up The Ridge: A U.S Prison Story
A Shocking Look Inside The Incarceration Industry

Film Screening & Public Discussion

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 — 7:30 to 9:00 PM
Magic Lantern Theater, 25 W Main, Spokane

*Due to the graphic nature of this film, it is not recommended for children
Sponsored by November Coalition Foundation and Thousand Kites

For more information call (509)684-1550 or e-mail tom@november.org

Admission is free; donations gladly accepted!

Up the Ridge: A U.S. Prison Story

Up the Ridge: A U.S. Prison Story is a one-hour television documentary produced by Appalshop’s Nick Szuberla and Amelia Kirby. In 1999, Szuberla and Kirby were volunteer DJ’s for the Appalachian region’s only hip-hop radio program in Whitesburg, KY when they received hundreds of letters from inmates transferred into nearby Wallens Ridge State Prison, the newest prison built to prop up the region’s sagging coal economy. The letters described human rights violations and racial tension between staff and inmates. Filming began that year and, through the lens of Wallens Ridge, the film offers viewers an in-depth look at the United States prison industry and the social impact of moving hundreds of thousands of inner-city minority offenders to distant rural outposts. Up the Ridge explores competing political agendas that align government policy with human rights violations, and political expediencies that bring communities into racial and cultural conflict with tragic consequences. As the film makes plain, connections exist, in both practice and ideology, between human rights violations in Abu Ghraib and physical and sexual abuse recorded in American prisons.

Posted in Freedom to Fascism, Know Your Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisons in Spokane, Racism, Solutions, Surveillance Society, Urgent Call, Videos | Leave a Comment »

A 911 Nightmare — from the website of the Center for Justice

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 7, 2008

(From the website of the Spokane Center for Justice.)

A 911 Nightmare

Center files suit on behalf of Spokane man detained and endangered after he summoned police

There’s no question that Robert Chambers did the right thing after he and his ex-wife heard a gunshot in the parking lot of their north Spokane apartment complex. Investigating the sound of the gunshot, Chambers saw a man with a gun and called 911.

That he couldn’t have imagined is that he would be the one taken into custody and that after being handcuffed he’d be put in a patrol car that would then be used as a shield by Spokane police in a standoff with the gunman.

This alarming case of mistaken identity and endangerment is now the subject of a federal lawsuit. Chambers is a 57-year-old man who suffers from a debilitating bone disease. Lawyers for the Center for Justice are seeking damages for “unreasonable seizure” and for alleged post-traumatic emotional injuries triggered as a result of Chambers’s harrowing experience in February 2005.

In the complaint filed late last week against the City, former police chief Roger Bragdon, and two individual police officers, Chambers says he was told by the 911 operator to leave his apartment and go outside to meet responding officers. But when the officers arrived, the complaint alleges, it was Chambers who was ordered to behave like a suspect, lie on his stomach with two other innocent bystanders, and then handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. According to the complaint, Chambers was taken into custody despite the efforts of his ex-wife and daughter to inform the police that they were arresting the person who’d called for help. While in the car, Chambers says he even heard the police dispatcher informing the officers that the 911 operator was reporting that the officers had seized the wrong man. Still, it was only after another police officer arrived on the scene and intervened that Chambers was released.

“Why was I singled out to be cuffed and no one else?” Chambers asked in a complaint he wrote to Bragdon in a March 9, 2005 complaint about the incident. And why, he asked, wasn’t he moved out of harm’s way during the standoff with the shooter.

“The officers used the car I was in as a shield while the suspect was being told to come out of the apartment,” Chambers wrote. “Now had the suspect been a real nut case, I was a prime target and probably would have been shot.”

Chambers, who was an active volunteer in the city’s Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S.) program, wrote that he’d “never had anything but the utmost respect” for Spokane police until the incident. In the letter to Bragdon, however, he bitterly complained about being “publicly humiliated and totally disrespected by your officers” and reported that his frustration only mounted after he tried, several times, to file a complaint about the incident with the department’s internal affairs branch.

In a March 23, 2005 response to Chambers, Deputy Police Chief Jim Nicks, defended the officers actions of putting Chambers in handcuffs and “securing you in a patrol car.”

However,” Nicks conceded, “leaving you in a patrol car that possibly places you in harm’s way is not consistent with the mission of the police department. In reviewing this incident, it appears our officers made a tactical error.”

The lawsuit alleges that Chambers’s treatment violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure; that the City is responsible for “failure to properly train” the officers involved, and that the City and former Chief Bragdon are responsible for the policies that led to the violation of Chambers’s constitutional rights.

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Torok — a troubling choice as spokesperson on police interrogation of 12 year olds

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 6, 2008

The March 6, 2008 edition of the Spokesman-Review ran a story on the interrogation by Spokane Police and Spokane School District 81 Resource Officers of two 12-year-old girls, KellyAnn Cameron and Taylor Wyatt, who signed away their Miranda rights despite indications that they did not understand the process nor the implication of their actions. At least one of the girls was unclear as to whether or not an “attorney” and a “lawyer” were one and the same. Nevertheless, the four law enforcement personnel interrogated the girls without presence of parents or other staff.

The story is very troubling, both in the details of the incident itself as well as in the person chosen as the spokesperson for the Spokane Police Department, Sgt. Dan Torok.

Sgt. Dan Torok is perhaps the most controversial police officer in Spokane, both for his involvement in three high profile incidents in the last few years, two of which resulted in deaths, and for his belligerent online comments under the name “Dan” at blogs run by the local Spokesman-Review newspaper. In the matter of the Alford death by Torok’s service weapon, the chief of police ordered him to issue a Garrity letter, so infrequently used that Spokane County Sheriff’s investigators were confused about its propriety, according to the reporting of the Spokesman-Review. The Garrity letter effectively shielded Torok from questioning by investigators.

(It is highly ironic that Torok was shielded by the Chief from questioning from investigators over the Alford killing yet Torok is commenting publicly in defense of the SPD regarding the interrogation of the two twelve year old girls after questionable application of a Miranda waiving statement).

The killing of Alford by Torok remains controversial. Beyond that, however, the death of Otto Zehm is even more controversial not to mention the fact that the case remains unresolved from the perspective of many. To this date it remains unclear whether or not the FBI has a review of this matter open or not. And a report on the Spokane Police by consultant Mike Worley paid for by the city of Spokane remains incomplete to this date. The status of the contract the city signed with Worley’s company to write that report also remains unclear.

Torok was one of seven Spokane Police Officers involved in the brutal March 18, 2006 attack on and subsequent death of Otto Zehm, an unarmed mentally ill man who was beaten, tasered, hog-tied, kicked, kneed, and suffocated, before dying March 20, 2006 in what the coroner called a “homicide”.  Almost exactly a year later, Torok shot a homeless man, Jerome Alford, in a little trafficked area of Spokane.

As quoted in the Spokesman-Review article, Sgt. Torok waxes eloquent in justifying the actions of the SPD and suggests that police must interrogate pre-teens and other youth at school because the presence of parents is an impediment to their interrogation techniques.

I can assure you that Miranda rights are not in the curriculum of School District 81 in the seventh grade or elementary school and I believe it is safe to say that they are not in the curriculum through 10th grade as well. One of these girls was not even sure what the word “attorney” meant without asking for clarification.

Is Sgt. Torok — who with his men did not have the judgment to understand that Otto Zehm was “carrying” a pop bottle as opposed to being “armed” with a pop bottle before brutalizing him — a credible spokesperson for the tax-payer financed Spokane Police Department on issues of police discretion and police interpretation of policy? That the Spokane Police Department would even consider Torok in such a role shows just how far they are from understanding the crisis of credibility from which they are suffering.

Sgt. Torok — whose fellow SPD detectives did not have the training, judgment and ethical uprightness to understand that the photos taken by a Spokane Fireman of a minor girl with whom improper sexual contact occurred constituted evidence of a possible crime and therefore should have been confiscated as legal evidence rather than deleted at the direction of the detectives as in fact occurred — is going to be defending the SPD before the press and public in matters of alleged misconduct? Ironically, Torok’s experience at the center of significant controversy caused by his own poor judgment and questionable actions in the field makes his selection by the SPD brass as a spokesman to the media logical in a certain perverted bureaucratic sense. Furthermore, Torok has been practicing his role defending the SPD’s indefensible and ongoing scandals for months on the blogs of the Spokesman-Review, blogs such as Hard 7 and others. In his comments on those blogs he has become a master of stonewalling, rationalization, and the dodge.

Given his role in killing mentally ill Otto Zehm and his shooting to death of homeless Jerome Alford, it is extremely dangerous and troubling to see Torok resort on multiple occasions to calling members of the Spokane community participating in those blogs ‘mentally ill‘ when their comments simply seek to inform or when they express the disdain and disgust felt in many sectors of the community towards SPD misconduct, corruption, and lack of accountability.

In fact, prominent members of the city government and the professional community should be vocally outraged and up in arms that Torok is being allowed to play this role of public spokesman, given his direct role in the murder of Zehm and the killing of Jerome Alford, not to the mention the SPD’s severely botched “intervention” in the matter of Josh Levy who jumped to his death from the Monroe Street bridge following 18 hours of being surrounded and isolated by Spokane Police and after they lied to him and botched a sneak taser attack on him.

This is a police department with ZERO credibility in dealing with “other” (the term used by Dr. John “Gus” Olson, Spokane community activist and advocate for the disadvantaged, to describe those in Spokane who are rejected for being different, looked upon with disdain for being poor, excluded for being “other”, left to rot by a society incapable of real compassion). Recall Carmen Jacoby, who testified to the Chief of Police in the public forum at City Hall on September 19, 2007. Jacoby told of the Spokane policeman who told her that in relation to homeless people sleeping in the green space near a freeway on ramp, “I have a job to do…to get these shit bags out of this park” and then threatened to put her in the bag of his squad car if she persisted in demanding his name and badge number.

Having shown incompetence which endangers public safety and a shocking level of disdain for the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and non-white, does the Spokane Police Department now move on to 12-year-old girls? Apparently so.

The manner in which a police department deals with the most vulnerable among us is highly indicative of their attitude towards the people they pretend to “protect”. How the SPD handles pre-teen girls provides a window into the core attitudes of the Department. Many members of our community, like these girls, are easily exploited by a police department without adequate procedural training, supervision, and independent oversight.

The S-R article contains links to both the pertinent R.C.W. (Washington state Revised Code of Washington, i.e., the law in Washington state) and the OLR Research Report on the Miranda rights of children.

The study states: “In determining whether a juvenile effectively waived his Miranda rights, courts consider whether the juvenile had the capacity to understand the warnings given to him, the nature of his constitutional right to remain silent, and the consequences of waiving those rights.”

The parents of the two 12-year-old girls in this case have appropriately and effectively questioned whether in this case these young girls had in fact “the capacity to understand” the Miranda warnings given to them, their constitutional rights, and “the consequences of waiving those rights”, prior to the police interrogation.

This is an area of great controversy and a fundamental issue of individual rights and protections in our nation. While some states set higher ages for children to be able to waive their Miranda rights, other states require the presence of parents. Some states, including Washington, use a “totality of circumstances” test. It is heartening to see that the ACLU is involved.

I, for one, do not trust the judgment of SPD officers in the field nor their integrity in reporting the of facts. In the case of the interrogation of these two pre-teen girls by SPD officers, that lack of integrity rises to such a level that a court would have difficulty establishing that these very young, very vulnerable girls clearly understood the waiving of their right within the “totality” of circumstances. With two Spokane Police officers and two District 81 resource officers in the room, and with at least one of these girls not certain if an attorney and a lawyer are the same thing, clearly there was an intimidation/coercion factor.

I would certainly be interested in the outcome of the internal affairs complaint filed by these parents. Sgt. Jim Faddis used to be an internal affairs officer so he could help the Spokane people and media out on that one. Sgt. Faddis was asked by me on the S-R’s Hard 7 blog (where he blogs under the names “Jim F” and “Kevin”) to clarify the exact procedure for making an internal affairs complaint in Spokane. Not surprisingly, Faddis has failed to respond to that request.

It would also be nice to get more comment from Spokane School District 81 on the parents’ request for a change in the policy regarding police interrogation of children at school. I for one would strongly support changes in the policy as well as a public education effort to educate Spokane area youth on their rights in dealing with the police.

Posted in Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Solutions, Spokane LE Personalities, Spokane Police Guild, Spokane taser, Testimonies, Torok, Trained to Kill, Unanswered Questions | 2 Comments »

Police Officers And Alcohol

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 4, 2008

While the Spokane Police Guild continues its deliberation over how much civilian oversight and subordination to the will of the public its officers are willing to accept, it is a good moment to look at the issue of police officers and alcohol. It is an increasingly well known fact that police officers are greatly affected by the stress of their jobs and that one consequence is rates of domestic violence greater than found in the general public. At the same time, the role excessive alcohol consumption in the issue of domestic violence is inadequately examined. More important, however, are the broader implications for public safety resulting from alcohol abuse by law enforcement personnel.

As previously addressed in this blog, a stag party held at the Spokane Police Guild club a number of years ago resulted in a precedent setting Supreme Court case dealing with public access to information. The Supreme Court decision quoted the Spokane City Attorney stating via affidavit that: “Release of this information, under the circumstances presented by this case, will cause substantial and irreparable damage to the Spokane Police Department’s ability to operate as a law enforcement agency, which is a vital governmental function.

And the “irreparable damage” to the Spokane Police Department has continued to this day.

Of course, the problem of alcohol abuse by law enforcement is not limited to just Spokane Police officers, of course. The Seattle P-I’s August 2007 special series documents in detail the preferential treatment of police officers throughout Washington state when they are stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The article refers to two Spokane County Sheriff’s officers “who were caught driving drunk, a sergeant who tipped his truck over was given a reprimand and a deputy who was simply pulled over on a freeway got an eight-day suspension.”

More recently the people of Spokane have been subject to two grave alcohol related incidents.

In the first, a controversial Spokane police officer — already under scrutiny for his ownership of a drug house less than two blocks from an elementary school — left a Spokane bar under the influence of alcohol and shot a man in the back of the head, endangering the residents of the Peaceful Valley neighborhood of Spokane. The officer, Jay Olsen, faces charges while the man he shot and accused of stealing his truck has been acquitted of the charges against him. To make matters clearer, the city of Spokane has walked away from Olsen and left him to defend himself.

Then came the matter of Jason Uberuaga, former Gonzaga University baseball star and decorated police officer, involved in both the Intermodal Center shooting and one of seven Spokane Police officers implicated in the yet unresolved homicide by cop of Otto Zehm. Uberuaga, a deputized federal drug task force member, was fired by the chief of police for “conduct unbecoming” of an officer. In essence, the demise of Uberuaga is the result of a drinking episode with other law enforcement personnel, allegations of rape against Uberuaga, and Uberuaga driving his undercover police vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

**************************

A broken system works in favor of cops busted for DUI

By ERIC NALDER AND LEWIS KAMB
SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS

(Part 1 of a part 3 series)

The state is airing another ad against drunken driving this month warning, “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed.”

But there’s an exception out on the streets for some police officers.

Cops confronted with a drunken-driving arrest fare better than the average citizen, according to a Seattle P-I investigation of seven years’ worth of internal discipline records, arrest reports, accident reports, license-suspension files and court documents statewide.

The P-I selected 63 cases from 92 to examine closely, focusing on active duty officers who consumed alcohol before driving police or personal vehicles. Most were street cops, but nine were assigned to county or city corrections duties.

  Michael Bowe, bloodied
  Zoom Washington State Patrol
  Michael Bowe, a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy, was stopped in March 2004 in Grays Harbor County for a DUI arrest — one of five such stops while he carried a badge. How his face was bloodied was never determined, but his service weapon was in the car.
Read his story.

Five sworn officers were not prosecuted at all, despite blood-alcohol tests indicating impairment.

A half-dozen officers kept their licenses after a drunken-driving arrest simply because their paperwork missed the deadline at the state Department of Licensing. Arresting agencies are given a grace period of 50 days to file the paperwork.

Although the samples are very different in size and demographics, a member of the general public’s chance of getting a license suspension because of a breath test over the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit was double that of a cop, according to a P-I comparison. Only one of four current and former officers who refused a breath test lost her driver’s license, while the public’s rate is 16 out of 17.

  Inside Brown's car
  Zoom  
  On July 23, 2003, Tacoma police Officer Paul A. Brown registered a 0.244 blood-alcohol level and was charged with DUI. Eleven full, one empty and one partially consumed miniature scotch bottles were found in Brown’s car, as well as 15 full beers, two open beers and one empty beer container.

Police officers who were visibly inebriated and reeking of alcohol smashed their department cars or their personal cars, asked for favors, got breaks and even threatened fellow officers who had the temerity, in their minds, to arrest them, the records showed.

In one case, an unidentified colleague of an intoxicated Seattle officer who got in an accident in a city-owned car asked the arresting trooper “how we could take care of this.”

One Renton police jailer had his police identity card taped to his license as an ongoing precaution. Others outright asked for “professional courtesy.”

Impaired law officers were in at least 14 accidents, including four in police cars. Kevin Williams of the Seattle police drunkenly rolled his car on a northbound Interstate 5 offramp early one morning in 2005. Lawyer David Vanderpool and another bystander used a box cutter to free him from a seat belt just before flames consumed the car. Vanderpool said he didn’t know, until a P-I reporter recently called him, that he had saved a policeman’s life. Williams got deferred prosecution, a five-day suspension or loss of vacation time.

  Garcha accident
  Zoom Kent Police Department
  In 2002, Tacoma police Officer Gurdial Garcha hit a telephone pole in Kent in his personal van, so drunk he was nearly six times the legal limit. Some in the Tacoma department wanted him fired, but he got a two-day suspension and lost two vacation days.

In 2002, Tacoma police Officer Gurdial Garcha hit a telephone pole in Kent in his personal van, so drunk that he was nearly six times the legal limit. Some in his department wanted him fired, but he got a two-day suspension and lost two vacation days.

The Seattle Police Department was far more secretive about releasing records than any other department in the state. The department blacked out officers’ names and released fewer documents. The P-I had to find details about the cases from databases and other agencies.

“We follow the laws,” said Chief Gil Kerlikowske, whose agency signed a union contract that prevents release of names of officers in disciplinary records.

Some cases break down trust. In one Seattle case, an anonymous hospital worker confronted a sergeant when an alcohol-affected officer driving a city-owned car wasn’t investigated for DUI after a civilian motorist running a red light struck him. Despite her efforts, the officer was never prosecuted.

At the heart of the P-I’s findings is a police discipline system that is broken, illogical and unevenly applied, according to interviews, documents and a computer analysis of outcomes.

DECODING CENSORED SPD DOCUMENTSFor this project, Seattle P-I reporters sent public disclosure requests to more than 270 law enforcement agencies across Washington. Although the requests were identical in the types of records being sought — sustained officer-misconduct internal investigations — police department responses widely varied. The Seattle Police Department and Mercer Island Police Department offer good examples of the range of responses to the P-I’s request.Seattle police provided only one page of disciplinary records per each misconduct case requested and have not yet provided other documents the P-I requested. The three documents the Seattle police released to the P-I with officers’ names censored (see PDF) turned out to be the only hint of unpublicized accidents involving cops driving department cars who had been drinking. Because Seattle police were more secretive than other agencies, the P-I went elsewhere to learn the details of the crashes involving Timothy McGrath (June 21, 2002), Anthony Baily (Oct. 25, 2002) and Maria “Susan” DiTusa (June 9, 2004).By contrast, here are just the first six pages (PDF) of a Mercer Island police internal investigation of Det. Chris DeChant’s DUI-arrest and police vehicle accident on Dec. 16, 2004. Along with the complete 20-page investigative report, documents released to the P-I included an additional 86 pages of attachments, including the full Washington State Patrol arrest report, victim damage claims and the hand-written case notes of the city’s public safety director, who made the final disciplinary decision.Here’s what different officials for each city said when asked about how their city responded to the P-I’s requests:”There’s no department that handles more public disclosures than us. We follow the law.”

– Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske

“We disclosed the documents we believed we were required to under the law.”

– Mercer Island City Attorney Bob Sterbank

Regulators in Olympia and in Seattle who oversee the discipline of lawyers, judges and even cosmetologists do so through a detailed set of disciplinary standards. What passes for statewide discipline in the police world is one investigator attached to the state police academy in Auburn who reviews disciplinary records of terminated officers from various agencies to assess whether they should lose their state licenses.

In individual departments, standards are forged through union negotiations and in case-by-case consultations among sheriffs and chiefs. Few agencies maintain a schedule of discipline that could be laid out in a database — the Washington State Patrol and the Arlington Police Department being two exceptions.

The result is a lack of uniformity. Crashing a police car while inebriated on Mercer Island earned an officer a suspension 15 times longer than the penalty imposed for the same violation on the other side of Lake Washington in Seattle.

Driving drunk in a police car brought a one-day suspension for a King County sheriff’s detective and a termination in Island County. That King County detective also wasn’t prosecuted and didn’t get punished for reportedly asking the arresting state trooper for favors. A state trooper who asked for favors during a DUI arrest in a private car got a 45-day suspension and was put on probation under tough terms for the remainder of his career.

In cases in which two Spokane County sheriff’s officers were caught driving drunk, a sergeant who tipped his truck over was given a reprimand and a deputy who was simply pulled over on a freeway got an eight-day suspension.

In Seattle, Kerlikowske said he has toughened discipline for DUI while chief the past seven years. When compared with other big U.S. cities, Seattle is right in line, typically doling out three- to 10-day suspensions, he said. He said he is planning to fire repeat offenders.

Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Rich O’Neill said cops are treated more harshly than citizens because they face discipline in addition to court proceedings. He said they can get hit in the pocketbook twice — a court fine and a loss of pay in a suspension.

However, many citizens are also disciplined at work. Under federal law, truckers lose their licenses for a year for a first drunken-drinking offense, and for life for a second. Some police officers weren’t suspended from their jobs, and some of those who were suspended were allowed to forfeit vacation instead of losing pay.

Police officers and firefighters are also specifically exempted from a federal law that requires truckers to be blood-tested after an accident.

Yakima Officer Lori Sheeley had five accidents in her patrol car and caused citizen injuries, but Assistant City Attorney Sofia Mabee said Sheeley wasn’t tested in any of them because city policy doesn’t require it. In May 2005, a year after Sheeley resigned, in part because of the accidents, she hit a barrier on a Tri-Cities bridge. She blew a breath test of .117, over the limit.

Discipline failures erode public confidence, some cops and members of the public say.

Wendi Eccles was rear-ended one December night in 2004 by a Mercer Island cop who was drunk in a city-owned car. Her back never fully recovered, and she resents that internal investigators from Mercer Island never interviewed her.

“They’re supposed to be upholding the law, making sure people don’t do this kind of stuff,” she said. “But they go do it and don’t face the same consequences.”

Former Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley, now a lieutenant in the department he led until December 2006, agrees that those charged with upholding the law should be held to a public and uniform disciplinary system. Hawley led the department when it got mired in a DUI favoritism mess in 2004.

“I think some kind of standardization of disciplinary action would be good,” Hawley said. “For criminals, we have standardized ranges.”

Hawley served until recently as a charter member of a state board that adjudicates police license-revocation cases. “I’ve seen people fired for things they should never have been fired for. Then it happens at the other end, where this guy should be fired immediately, but he isn’t because he is the boss’ best pal.”

But Kerlikowske warned that widespread police standards are “no panacea,” because they take away the ability to evaluate cases individually.

Four case studies

A review of four accidents involving police officers provides a window into the process, showing how disparate the disciplinary system is.

Seattle police Detective Sgt. Anthony Baily was cut loose from his crumpled undercover police car after a three-vehicle accident in downtown Seattle about 2 a.m. one night in October 2002.

He was later cut loose from a possible DUI.

Three hours after the accident, then-Sgt. John B. Heneghan of the West Precinct was visiting Baily at the hospital, and a nurse confronted him, records show. She asked the sergeant why Baily wasn’t being tested for alcohol when one of the other drivers was under police guard and being blood-tested, records show. Heneghan then noticed the odor of alcohol near Baily, the report said. Heneghan didn’t write down the woman’s name, and police were never able to identify her. Heneghan alerted accident investigators about 5:30 a.m.

At that point, police investigators could have blood-tested and processed Baily for DUI, but they didn’t. Seattle attorney Paul Cullen, a DUI specialist, said the law wouldn’t have prevented Baily’s prosecution. He said experts can scientifically show that a person was drunk at the time they were driving, using blood-alcohol evidence gathered by police 3 1/2 hours later.

Later that day, a lieutenant told internal investigators about the nurse’s comments.

The city attorney later considered prosecuting Baily — a police union board member — for DUI.

He considered using tests on blood vials that a paramedic and the hospital staff routinely collected from Baily right after the accident, but concluded that the evidence wouldn’t stand up in court.

Finding Baily’s case was difficult. When the Police Department released a stack of internal investigative records to the P-I — including Baily’s — the accused officers’ names were blacked out, as the city’s contract with the police union dictates. But Baily’s name was visible on a sheet mentioning his three-day suspension for, among other things, “use of alcohol” in his department car.

The report noted that the accident wasn’t his fault, and, indeed, it wasn’t.

Lynnwood defense lawyer Jim Feldman, who represented the inebriated man who ran a red light and hit Baily’s car, told the P-I that he had felt Baily deserved a DUI citation.

He said Baily’s unofficial test reading was higher than that of his client, who was prosecuted. Records ultimately confirmed that his client’s blood-alcohol level was 0.10 and Baily was between 0.12 and 0.15.

Three weeks after the accident, SPD internal investigators with a search warrant obtained three vials of Baily’s blood and test results from Harborview Medical Center. The state toxicology lab tested it.

Selected for evidence was the lowest reading, which was from the first vial drawn less than a half-hour after the accident. An investigator, Sgt. Mike Teeter, and supervising assistant city attorney Mike Finkle explored a possible DUI case, but in July 2003 Finkle wrote a memo concluding that it wasn’t possible.

He noted that blood collected by the hospital wasn’t preserved or handled in the way courts require. Finkle based his decision largely on technical opinions by Ann-Marie Gordon, manager of the state toxicology lab.

Gordon was concerned about a lack of preservatives and chain of custody of evidence and speculated about how a skilled lawyer might defend Baily. She suggested an admittedly unlikely defense that Baily had pounded down eight doses of liquor, wine or beer immediately before driving, and at the moment of impact hadn’t yet reached the legal intoxication level of 0.08, documents show.

Gordon’s credibility has since come into question. She resigned her post July 20, several days after the State Patrol began investigating whether she had lied about testing ethanol-water solutions used to make certain that breath-test machines are working properly. If proved, the allegations could lead to hundreds of challenges of DUI convictions.

As for the Baily case, Cullen, the DUI lawyer, said court precedents indicate that he could have been prosecuted using the hospital blood.

The P-I asked Chief Kerlikowske last week about Baily’s case. After that interview, documents previously requested but not provided to the P-I were made available for review. Both the Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office said they had been preparing the release. To date, not all of Baily’s records have been provided.

Kerlikowske visited Baily at the hospital an hour after the nurse blew the whistle that night, but was then unaware of the nurse’s tip, said department legal adviser Mark McCarty. Kerlikowske said he didn’t smell alcohol, but if he had, he would have ordered a DUI investigation on the spot.

Feldman said his client, David Cotner, 27, of Winthrop may have benefited from what he believes was SPD’s fear of publicity. That’s why the city abandoned plans to charge Cotner with vehicular assault, a felony, and didn’t challenge his request for deferred prosecution in the DUI case, Feldman speculates.

Kerlikowske bristled at that. “I just find that incredulous. That is so far outside the bound of what the prosecutor or a Police Department would do to keep something outside a newspaper,” he said.

In another case, a Seattle police officer first tried to avoid calling police after rear-ending a young Renton man’s car, then got on the phone with his superiors, who eventually had a conversation with the Washington State Patrol trooper investigating the accident.

Seattle police Officer Timothy McGrath drove his unmarked SPD Pontiac Grand Am into the rear of the man’s Ford Tempo on Interstate 405 near Renton at 11:30 p.m. on June 21, 2002. No one was hurt.

A “nervous” McGrath suggested to Jeff Shane, 18, that they exchange insurance information and go their separate ways. He didn’t seem drunk, Shane said, but he “was really hinting toward not calling the police, if not outright saying it.”

  McGrath
  Seattle police Officer Timothy McGrath drove his unmarked department car into the rear of a Renton man’s vehicle on Interstate 405. McGrath was charged with DUI but pleaded guilty to negligent driving and was issued an occupational driver’s license.

But Shane called 911, and McGrath got on his cell phone. SPD officers arrived to talk with him, and a state trooper arrived roughly a half-hour later.

McGrath smelled of alcohol and handed his commission card to Trooper James Miller the minute he arrived, the trooper wrote in his arrest report.

Miller told him to sit tight while he called a State Patrol sergeant to the scene, who “made some phone calls” and told the trooper to process McGrath like “any other person.”

All the way to the Renton police station, McGrath talked on his cell phone to “his superiors” from the back of Miller’s cruiser, the trooper wrote.

Then, while McGrath waited to take a breath test at the station, he handed his cell phone to the trooper.

“They asked me how we could take care of this,” Miller wrote, referring to unidentified parties on the cell phone call. “I told them I’d send (the) case up the chain of command. It was up to them.”

Timing was key, because as soon as anyone takes a breath test, a state computer records the name and the reading. Was someone at the other end of the phone line trying to stop the process of a DUI citation?

“Nobody came out and said that,” said a State Patrol spokesman, Capt. Jeff DeVere. “But (Miller) said it seemed that might have been what was asked.”

Miller doesn’t remember the name or affiliation of whom he spoke to on the cell phone, DeVere said. “He doesn’t remember who he was. We don’t know if it was an officer.”

O’Neill, of the Guild, suggested that someone could have been impersonating a supervisor or an officer.

Troopers don’t usually allow DUI suspects to talk on cell phones from a cruiser out of concern for officer safety, but there are exceptions, DeVere said. He didn’t feel that Miller did anything wrong.

McGrath registered nearly twice the limit on the breath-test machine, a 0.136, and though cited for DUI, he pleaded guilty to first-degree negligent driving. His license was suspended for 90 days, but an occupational driver’s license was issued to allow him to continue driving at work, according to state Department of Licensing records. Such licenses are often issued with employer approval to allow people to drive for work.

SPD internal affairs had the trooper’s report but did not investigate McGrath’s cell phone calls from that night, said McCarty, the SPD legal adviser. More than a year after the accident, in August 2003, the SPD issued a suspension order to McGrath, five days for “conduct unbecoming” for the negligent-driving conviction. The officer was allowed to forfeit vacation instead of losing pay.

The P-I found the cryptic order in a stack of papers the SPD turned over to the newspaper with the names of the offending officer blacked out. Databases the reporters obtained helped them identify the case. McGrath resigned from the SPD in 2005.

“Well, that’s all very interesting information,” he said from his Florida home after a reporter detailed what he knew. “But I’m not interested in talking to you about it. I don’t think it’s really any of your business.”

In another case, it was a night of holiday partying that ended with a Mercer Island patrol car rear-ending a civilian’s car, and a King County prosecutor who had been at the same party arriving at the police station to represent the interests of the drunken police officer.

The officer’s job suspension was 15 times longer than what SPD leveled against McGrath for essentially the same offense. The Mercer Island cop wasn’t allowed to forfeit vacation time.

Instead, Detective Chris DeChant got the stiffest discipline of any of the cops who drank and crashed a police car, a 75-day suspension. That’s the harshest penalty ever given by Mercer Island police short of firing, said police Chief Ed Holmes, who was then in charge of the internal investigation.

  DeChant
  Mercer Island police Detective Chris DeChant was given a 75-day suspension after he drank and rear-ended a civilian’s vehicle with his police car. It was the harshest penalty ever given by Mercer Island police short of firing.

But other police administrators around the state said any violation drawing more than a 30-day suspension should be a dismissible offense, and that goes especially for anyone drunk in an agency car.

“If it was sustained they were drunk, and they were driving a patrol car, they are fired,” said Benton County Sheriff Larry Taylor. “That tears at your credibility, of the entire department.”

Guild President O’Neill said the toughest discipline possible under the Seattle contract, short of firing, is 30 days.

Eccles, the day care operator whose back was injured when she was rear-ended, feels that DeChant got off easy. She couldn’t work for a month.

DeChant, who didn’t respond to interview requests, caught some breaks in the case.

For example, his license should have been revoked for a year when he refused a blood-alcohol test after the accident, but it wasn’t. A Des Moines Municipal Court judge suppressed his breath-test refusal due to confusing instructions from the trooper. Because of that, the state Department of Licensing had to let him drive.

Eccles said she could tell DeChant “was drunk” the moment she saw him. He handed her his police business card when she asked for insurance information and repeatedly told her the damage would be covered. She called 911.

Some confusion arose that night when King County Deputy Prosecutor Greg Fullington, who was assigned to DeChant’s narcotics task force and had been at the same party, initially tried to act as his attorney, but withdrew when reminded that his office was responsible for prosecuting DeChant.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson said he “vigorously counseled” Fullington for what was “not the proper role for a King County prosecutor.” Fullington has since left the office.

Eccles was disgusted by the whole mess.

“He’s still able to drive. His license wasn’t even taken away,” she said. “I don’t understand why guys like him get to be above the law.”

Internally, DeChant signed a “last chance” agreement that said he’d be fired for another alcohol-related offense. But when three more charges were sustained against him earlier this year for drinking and making a scene at an officer awards banquet, he got only a letter of reprimand.

“I didn’t believe (the most recent violations) were severe enough for termination,” Chief Holmes said. “He’s a good officer, and he works really hard.”

In another case, Seattle Detective Maria “Susan” DiTusa said from the wreckage of her unmarked police car that she was a police detective — “before I could even ask DiTusa any questions,” State Trooper Joseph Zimmer wrote in his report.

“I only had one, and my co-worker can attest to that,” she said of her drinking.

Maybe she was rattled when she smashed the side of her department’s Ford Taurus into the Mercer Street exit tunnel wall on June 9, 2004, because she probably wasn’t telling the truth. She recorded 0.137 on a preliminary breath test, more than the effects of one drink.

At the hospital, DiTusa refused a blood test that would have legally determined her level of intoxication. Preliminary tests aren’t admissible in court.

DiTusa appealed the state’s mandatory one-year license revocation for refusing a blood-alcohol test, but when the Licensing Department rejected her arguments, she obtained an occupational driver’s license.

Kerlikowske gave her a five-day suspension but allowed her to forefeit vacation in lieu of it. He promised to impose five more days if she got drunk and crashed another patrol car — “similar misconduct” is how he put it — within the next two years. The chief cited her “forthright cooperation with the administrative investigation” for the leniency.

In court, she reduced her criminal DUI citation to first-degree negligent driving by pleading guilty.

UPCOMING

Tuesday: Looking through mountains of public documents and internal reports, the P-I reveals how cops avoid arrest.
Wednesday: One officer whose career ended after a highly public DUI tells his story – and what’s wrong with the system.

P-I reporter Daniel Lathrop and P-I researcher Marsha Milroy contributed to this report. P-I reporter Eric Nalder can be reached at 206-448-8011 or ericnalder@seattlepi.com. P-I reporter Lewis Kamb can be reached at 206-448-8336 or lewiskamb@seattlepi.com.

Posted in Corruption, Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Law, Spokane LE Personalities, Spokane Police Guild, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

Did the Secret Service set up Barack Obama for assassination?

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 1, 2008

Elections & Voting
Did the Secret Service set up Barack Obama for assassination?
By Larry Chin
Online Journal Associate Editor

Feb 25, 2008, 00:55

According to the Dallas Star-Telegram, the Secret Service gave an order to stop screening for weapons for a full hour before the February 20 Barack Obama rally in Dallas. Metal detectors were turned off, and bags were not checked, as hundreds were allowed to file into Reunion Arena. This bizarre activity “ordered by federal officials,” was immediately reported by an alarmed Dallas Police Department, which knew that it was a “lapse in security.”

The Secret Service (which has been assigned to Obama since August 2007) has denied the allegations, declaring post-facto that the event was secure. However, the Secret Service has provided no detailed explanation about this blatant security stand-down. It is not known who gave the orders. The Obama camp itself has issued no statement.

While this story has been vastly underreported by major corporate media, independent liberal media, particularly Democratic Party and Obama faithful, have expressed astonishment and outrage. President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination in Dallas, Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1968 (which came on the eve of his California presidential primary victory) were also facilitated by Secret Service “lapses.”

While there is no doubt that Barack Obama, bankrolled and sponsored by political elites, appears to be closing in on the Democratic Party nomination, and is an enthusiastic imperial war facilitator, this does not eliminate the real danger he faces from political adversaries.

It goes without saying that Obama is viewed as a bitter enemy (at the very least a symbolic one) by the Bush-Cheney-McCain-neocon gang. Obama not only faces threats from fanatical right-wing and racist elements, but the desperately power-hungry rivals within the more conservative neoliberal wing of the Democratic faction, led by the Clintons. The incendiary Karl Rove-esque attacks launched against Obama by the Clinton apparatus have become increasingly bitter, personal, and below-the-belt in recent weeks.

Obama is also competing with Hillary Clinton for the support of John Edwards. Edwards, the calculating emissary of Bilderberg Group interests, who was, according to Daniel Estulin, author of The True Story of the Bilderberg Group, handpicked by Henry Kissinger to be John Kerry’s vice presidential partner in 2004, may be positioning himself for the same powerful seat this year. Kissinger (who is lurking in McCain’s camp for 2008) and other leading elites already have control of the entire process, from both sides.

Obama’s supporters, and congressional allies such as Senator Dick Durbin, have been concerned for Obama’s safety for months.

It must be noted that the Clintons’ longtime criminal connections, which both tie to, and parallel, those of the Bush family/faction are well-documented (but roundly ignored) fact. The Clintons and Bushes have been full partners across official and unofficial power agendas, co-rulers of the United States, for over two decades. The body count that can be attributed to these two cooperative factions is long and gruesome.

The Clintons’ love of presidential election-season intimidation and dirty tricks are well-known. During the 1992 race for the Democratic Party nomination, Jerry Brown repeatedly accused the Clintons of resorting to tricks worthy of Nixon. As noted by Michael C. Ruppert in Crossing the Rubicon, Ross Perot withdrew from the 1992 presidential contest, pressured into assuring a Clinton victory, after Perot and has family received death threats. (Ruppert, who worked for the Perot campaign, witnessed this firsthand.)

Any prominent political figure who dares vary an inch from the imperial geopolitical script faces threats; first to their reputations and careers, and then their lives. In the “godfather government” that is the United States, this is the rule. This same criminal stranglehold prevents “change” — even the slightest variance from establishment consensus. And even high-level representatives who operate well within the consensus must still defend themselves from “colleagues.”

No government can be trusted. Nor can government officials and elites trust each other.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

*********************************************

Here is my comment posted on the Dallas Star website in response to the original news article reporting this incident:

As the OnLine Journal makes clear in its article, “Did the Secret Service set up Barack Obama for assassination?”, Obama is a ruling class candidate. However, he was not supposed to have “slipped through the nominating process” with the kind of mass following, momentum, etc. With the likes of Kucinich, Paul, Nader, etc, it has always been easy to just look the door to the debate halls and exclude them. Or if they run as third party or independent candidates then the media marginalizes and ridicules and simply does not cover them. Or in the case of Dean who managed to get to Iowa with a head of steam but without endorsement of the ruling class, the party machine and the media took his exuberant shout and declared him “dead on arrival” as a result of a self inflicted wound (his shout in a campaign event). But what do you do when on the scene appears a charismatic leader like Obama who may be too savvy and suave to shoot himself in the foot much less the head as Dean did and who, worse yet, makes it all the way to Texas and Ohio with a long string of victories over the establishment’s candidate (i.e., Clinton, as in Bush 1, Clinton 1, Bush 2, Clinton 2)?. What does the ruling class do when a candidate who would dare to stand up and propose change manages to slip through the media/money/machine controlled process of the caucuses and looks like he may ride popular sentiment to a true mandate (not the 1% or less “mandates” that recent presidents have had)? What does the ruling class do? They call out the “assets” and ” secret teams” within the permanent government, not the permanent government of beltway bureaucrats but the permanent government of the Cheneys and Kissengers and others who represent the true interests behind real political power in this country. Let us not be naive again. David Brookbank

Posted in Freedom to Fascism, In Collective Self-Defense, Racism, Unanswered Questions, War Abroad & At Home | Leave a Comment »

WikiLeaks.org

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 1, 2008

U.S. Federal Judge fails in effort to censor WikiLeaks website…

More Twists and Turns in WikiLeaks Case (New York Times, 2/28/08)

The site describes itself as “developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis” and committed to assisting “people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.”

Judge Says WikiLeaks Site Can Have Its Web Address Back (New York Times, 2/29/08)

A federal judge in San Francisco said on Friday that he would withdraw an order that shut down the Web address for Wikileaks.org, a site that allows anonymous posting of documents to assist “peoples of all countries who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.” … The judge’s action drew criticism – and court filings – from numerous organizations concerned that the order violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

As an example of what you might find on the Wikileaks.org site, here is a link to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual for the “Soviet-style gulag” run by the U.S. at Camp Delta inside the unlawful torture and detention facility run by the United States government and military and CIA at Gitmo (Guantanamo) on Castro’s Cuba.  There on page 1.3 you will read curiously specific language stating that:

(quote)   Personnel are not authorized to use or have in their possession unauthorized weapons, including but no limited to,  firearms, knives, ,batons, sap gloves (lead filled padded gloves), kubatons, night sticks, PR-24s, collapsing/expandable batons and any other weapons not specifically authorized.  (end quote)

Any one who believes that they may be subject to unlawful detention or forced disappearance by the increasingly fascistic U.S. government or forces in its deploy (Blackwater-type mercenaries, for ex.) would be well-advised to thoroughly read this document to understand the rules for processing prisoners, medical care, access by International Red Cross, permissible use of force, etc. 

According to analysis of the document on the WikiLeaks site, the U.S. military manual lays out torture at Guantanamo at the Wikileaks site:

*quote*

The Miami Herald describes the manual and its importance and gives a flavor of its bureaucratic contents:

“A how-to manual, it draws back a curtain on the secretive, isolated base in 2003, more than a year into operation of the Bush administration prison. And it lays out — with typical military attention to detail — everything from when to use pepper spray to who should witness a cavity search to how to dig a proper Muslim grave. It also offers the mundane details of what detainees were given at the open-air prison camp overlooking the Caribbean, where the Pentagon today holds about 300 war-on-terror captives at Guantanamo for possible interrogation and trial by Military Commission. No hair dye, it says on one page. But a double amputee got to keep a bucket in his cell, it says.”

*end quote*

Posted in Freedom to Fascism, In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Law, Solutions, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

U.S. Police State — 1 in 100 Americans in Jail, per studies reported in NY Times

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 1, 2008

Excerpt –

The report points out …. that prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not reflect a parallel increase in crime, or a corresponding surge in the nation’s population at large. Instead, more people are behind bars principally because of a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through popular “three-strikes” measures and other sentencing laws, imposing longer prison stays on inmates.

Pew Report Finds More than One in 100 Adults are Behind Bars

Release Type: Pew Press Release

Pew Contact: Jessica Riordan, Communications (215) 575-4886; jriordan@pewtrusts.org

Washington, DC – 02/28/2008 – For the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison—a fact that significantly impacts state budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety. According to a new report released today by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project, at the start of 2008, 2,319,258 adults were held in American prisons or jails, or one in every 99.1 men and women, according to the study. During 2007, the prison population rose by more than 25,000 inmates. In addition to detailing state and regional prison growth rates, Pew’s report, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, identifies how corrections spending compares to other state investments, why it has increased, and what some states are doing to limit growth in both prison populations and costs while maintaining public safety.

As prison populations expand, costs to states are on the rise. Last year alone, states spent more than $49 billion on corrections, up from $11 billion 20 years before. However, the national recidivism rate remains virtually unchanged, with about half of released inmates returning to jail or prison within three years. And while violent criminals and other serious offenders account for some of the growth, many inmates are low-level offenders or people who have violated the terms of their probation or parole.“For all the money spent on corrections today, there hasn’t been a clear and convincing return for public safety,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project. “More and more states are beginning to rethink their reliance on prisons for lower-level offenders and finding strategies that are tough on crime without being so tough on taxpayers.”

According to the report, 36 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons saw their prison populations increase in 2007. Among the seven states with the largest number of prisoners—those with more than 50,000 inmates—three grew (Ohio, Florida and Georgia), while four (New York, Michigan, Texas and California) saw their populations dip. Texas surpassed California as the nation’s prison leader following a decline in both states’ inmate populations—Texas decreased by 326 inmates and California by 4,068. Ten states, meanwhile, experienced a jump in inmate population growth of 5 percent or greater, a list topped by Kentucky with a surge of 12 percent.

A close examination of the most recent U.S. Department of Justice data (2006) found that while one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, the figure is one in nine for black males in that age group. Men are still roughly 13 times more likely to be incarcerated, but the female population is expanding at a far brisker pace. For black women in their mid- to late-30s, the incarceration rate also has hit the one-in-100 mark. In addition, one in every 53 adults in their 20s is behind bars; the rate for those over 55 is one in 837.

The report points out the necessity of locking up violent and repeat offenders, but notes that prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not reflect a parallel increase in crime, or a corresponding surge in the nation’s population at large. Instead, more people are behind bars principally because of a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through popular “three-strikes” measures and other sentencing laws, imposing longer prison stays on inmates.

As a result, states’ corrections costs have risen substantially. Twenty years ago, the states collectively spent $10.6 billion of their general funds—their primary discretionary dollars—on corrections. Last year, they spent more than $44 billion in general funds, a 315 percent jump, and more than $49 billion in total funds from all sources. Coupled with tightening state budgets, the greater prison expenditures may force states to make tough choices about where to spend their money. For example, Pew found that over the same 20-year period, inflation-adjusted general fund spending on corrections rose 127 percent while higher education expenditures rose just 21 percent.

“States are paying a high cost for corrections—one that may not be buying them as much in public safety as it should. And spending on prisons may be crowding out investments in other valuable programs that could enhance a state’s economic competitiveness,” said Susan K. Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States. “There are other choices. Some state policy makers are experimenting with a range of community punishments that are as effective as incarceration in protecting public safety and allow states to put the brakes on prison growth.”

According to Pew, some states are attempting to protect public safety and reap corrections savings primarily by holding lower-risk offenders accountable in less-costly settings and using intermediate sanctions for parolees and probationers who violate conditions of their release. These include a mix of community-based programs such as day reporting centers, treatment facilities, electronic monitoring systems and community service—tactics recently adopted in Kansas and Texas. Another common intervention, used in Kansas and Nevada, is making small reductions in prison terms for inmates who complete substance abuse treatment and other programs designed to cut their risk of recidivism.

Pew was assisted in collecting state prison counts by the Association of State Correctional Administrators and the JFA Institute. The report also relies on data published by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Association of State Budget Officers, and the U.S. Census Bureau.

To view the entire report, including state-by-state data and methodology, visit the Public Safety Performance Project’s web Site.

Launched in 2006 as a project of Pew’s Center on the States, the Public Safety Performance Project seeks to help states advance fiscally sound, data-driven policies and practices in sentencing and corrections that protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs.

The Pew Charitable Trusts applies the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Our Center on the States identifies and advances effective policy approaches to critical issues facing states. Online at www.pewcenteronthestates.org.

ASSOCIATED REPORT:
One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008

Posted in Freedom to Fascism, Know Your Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, Racism, Statistics | Leave a Comment »

 
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