Sunday, January 30, 2005
Derailed, part 2
Reyna Barcena invited Juan Manuel Alvarez to spaghetti dinner Tuesday night.
He showed up the next morning, covered in blood, mumbling: "I'm sorry. A lot of dead people. A lot of people's dead. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."
"I didn't know what he was talking about," Barcena said.
Alvarez was crouched on her doorstep in Atwater Village, several blocks north of where rescuers had begun pulling the dead and injured from the trains mangled in Wednesday's crash. He was stabbing himself and making apologies for the people who had died. As he spoke, blood came out his mouth.
"He had no strength," she said. "The little strength he had, he kept poking himself in the chest over the heart."
Alvarez, accused of killing 11 people and injuring more than 180 when he parked his Jeep Grand Cherokee in front of a Metrolink train, appeared Friday bandaged and shackled in court, where his arraignment was postponed. He has been under suicide watch at County-USC Medical Center since the crash.
I want to remind you of the fact that 11 people are dead, including an LA County Sheriffs' Deputy, and more than 180 people are injured because he parked his Jeep Cherokee on a set of train tracks that commute thousands of people to and from Los Angeles on a daily basis. Why did he do it? Because he wanted to kill himself, only to chicken-out at the last minute. I'll explain the legal ramifications of this later, but first we have take a look at this. Here comes the typical liberal mentality of trying to personify a very bad people, in a move to mitigate what he did.
"I'm 52 years old and I have seen a lot of children in this life," Barcena said. "I think he was just troubled. He was alone. He didn't mean to cause what he caused. He was trying to commit suicide and he kills innocent people. He didn't plan it. It just happened. Unfortunately, he didn't die."
As the paramedics drove Alvarez to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Barcena went to check the duplex where he was staying. Below a broken kitchen window, Barcena found a Spanish-language Bible.
Barcena believes that Alvarez went to the duplex after the crash, Bible in hand. With his keys somewhere at the crash site, he broke into the duplex.
Inside, Alvarez left a sleeping bag, a blanket and a pillow, a black suitcase on rollers, a candle in a glass with a prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe and a CD of Mexican ranchero duets.
He had the book "The First Book of the Aztecs," belonging to Garfield High School, which he attended briefly after transferring from Roosevelt High in the late 1990s.
He also had a an English-language Bible. It has a handwritten notation on one of the first pages: Matthew 5: 22-25 — passages that warn of God's judgment against those who lash out in anger.
It reads in part: "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.
"Inside the Bible were photographs that appeared to be Alvarez in Aztec garb. Police later took a large serape drenched in paint thinner.
"That kid struggled the whole night with whether to commit suicide," Barcena said. "He believed in God. He had the Bible with him there. He had been reading it. My opinion is he was struggling not to kill himself."
Can you believe this? Let's take a look at the facts: Alvarez knew that if he parked his Jeep on the train tracks, he would be killed when the trains hit his truck. We can all agree on that. Knowing that, he also realized that by hitting his truck, the train would sustain damage. This isn't a nice guy we're dealing with. He tried to kill himself, and take others with him for the ride. Instead, not in a moment of clarity that made him realize the truth of the matter, but in a moment of fear, he jumped out of the Jeep and made it far enough away from the tracks as not to die, but killing 11 and injuring 180+ on the trains that were derailed.
I'm calling for the death penalty. This isn't a case of someone swirving out of control because of a wet road, and flying into a daycare. This isn't a case of a plane losing altitude and plowing into a house. This is a case of someone trying to kill himself with absolutely no regard to the human lives that are damaged because of his selfish actions. Alvarez knew something bad would happen to the train if it hit his Jeep, but, he was under the assumption that he would be dead when that happened and not have to face the legal consequences of his actions. But, he's still alive, and there is no way in the world I'm going to allow these bleeding-heart liberals to mitigate any factors in this case to serve their agenda, that agenda being that people should not be held responsible to their actions.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Sixty-four Border Patrol agents have been assaulted in the past three months along a 260-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border -- the country's busiest illegal entry point -- as the U.S. government continues its fight for "operational control" of the region.
As law-enforcement efforts have increased, so have the incidents of violence and the intensity of the attacks on the agents in the stretch known as the Tucson sector -- which are averaging one assault every two days and are on pace to increase this year by 80 percent.
Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame in Tucson said alien and drug smugglers have become increasingly aggressive in protecting their illicit cargoes of drugs and aliens.
"It is obvious the violence associated with smugglers has evolved from rock-throwing incidents to tactics intended to seriously maim or kill agents attempting to bring them to justice," Mr. Adame said. "They're starting to see some losses, and when you talk financial gain with smugglers and the loss of it, they're going to react violently."
The State Department this week issued a warning to Americans traveling into the northern border regions of Mexico, saying they should be "aware of the risk posed by the deteriorating security situation." The warning said violent criminal activity along the border, including killings and kidnappings, was on the rise.
As most of you know, I don't travel. I'm perfectly fine staying in Los Angeles. I have no problem going to a far-off land to fight for this country, but you're not going to see me digging through the Travel section of the LA Times, looking for great vacation deals. Going on a vacation is the last thing on my mind, and going anywhere outside of my 60-mile area of inhabitation isn't either. But that's besides the point. I know that most Americans do like to travel, and it's our God-given right to do what we want. Considering the entire nation of Mexico relies on the United States in order to avoid disappearing off the face of the planet by tomorrow morning, don't you think they would be a little more helpful when it came to ensuring the safety of their great neighbor to the north?
Just a thought.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Condoleezza Rice won confirmation as secretary of state Wednesday despite blistering criticism from Senate Democrats who accused her of misleading statements and said she must share the blame for mistakes and war deaths in Iraq.
The tally, though one-sided at 85-13, was still the largest "no" vote against any secretary of state nominee since 1825.
Separately, a Senate committee narrowly voted to send Alberto Gonzales' attorney general nomination to the full Senate. And Jim Nicholson and Michael Leavitt won confirmation as the new secretaries of veterans affairs and health and human services respectively as President Bush's second-term Cabinet began to fill out.
Rice, Bush's national security adviser for four years and perhaps his closest adviser on the war and terrorism issues that dominated his first term, becomes the first black woman to be America's top diplomat. She succeeds Colin Powell, a former Army general who clashed privately with some of the strongest hawks in Bush's inner circle.
Although Rice's nomination was never in doubt, Democrats mounted a lengthy and biting protest that showed she will not immediately match Powell's collegial relationship with Capitol Hill.
Democratic senators denounced Rice's job performance and truthfulness. Most criticism focused on Rice's role planning for war and explaining the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Some accused her of avoiding accountability for the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Others said she seemed unwilling to acknowledge errors in planning or judgment.
"In the end, I could not excuse Dr. Rice's repeated misstatements," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said of his vote against Rice.
Whatever. I'm getting real sick and tired of Democrats --- excuse me, liberals --- trying to prove a point by being extremely difficult. When it comes down to brass tacks, all they're doing is hurting themselves in the long run by proving what we've all known this whole time --- that they care more about holding a position, than doing anything with it. It's all a show to them, and their main interest isn't the best course for this country, but appeasing Europe and their other "allies" worldwide.
A suicidal man parked his SUV on the railroad tracks and set off a crash of two commuter trains Wednesday that hurled passengers down the aisles and turned rail cars into smoking, twisted heaps of steel, authorities said. At least 10 people were killed and more than 180 injured.
The SUV driver got out at the last moment and survived.
The collision took place just before daybreak on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Employees at a Costco store rushed to the scene and pulled riders from the tipped-over double-deck cars before the flames reached them. Dazed passengers staggered from the wreckage, some limping. One elderly man on the train was covered in blood and soot, his legs and arms apparently broken.
"I heard a noise. It got louder and louder," said passenger Diane Brady, 56. "And next thing I knew the train tilted, everyone was screaming and I held onto a pole for dear life. I held on for what seemed like a week and a half it seemed. It was a complete nightmare."
Dozens of the injured were in critical condition, and more than 120 people were sent to hospitals.
The wreck set in motion a huge rescue operation involving more than 300 firefighters, some of whom climbed ladders to reach the windows of the battered train cars. A triage center was set up in a parking lot, where the injured lay sprawled on color-colded mats - red for those with severe injuries, green for those less seriously hurt.
It was the nation's deadliest train accident in nearly six years.
Authorities said Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, of Compton, parked his sport utility vehicle on the tracks and got out before a Metrolink train smashed into it. The train then derailed and collided with another train going in the opposite direction. That train also jumped the tracks.
Alvarez was arrested and will face homicide charges, Police Chief Randy Adams said. Alvarez had also slashed his wrists and stabbed himself, but the injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, authorities said. Adams said Alvarez had a criminal record that involved drugs.
This guy is going to wish he took his own life after he takes a look at the charges we'll have lined-up for him.
The Theory of Crimes, part 1
Applying Theory to the Criminal Mind:
One of the main focuses I hoped to put together was the idea that crime could be described in a theory, and hopefully a single theory alone. After all, in the past four years, it seems that political candidates have described entire nations with a single line that is based on a single theory of "We're right, and you're wrong." The process of running an entire nation has to be more complex than the theory of why people do bad things, regardless of the fact that they could be harshly punished for committing an illegal act. I have always been a rather polarized thinker, and my ideas are based on experience rather than theory. In other words, I would rather see what something is about if I don't understand it, or have never seen it before. Outside of the basic ideas of crime, and the penal codes that govern jurisdictions, the segment that I found most useful in this chapter examined the cases for considering theory --- or rather, establishing if a theory will work for a certain case.
Basic theory is broken down in the questions of "how" and "why", which the author could easily use to describe the format of the entire textbook. In fact, theories of all shapes and sized could use the same basic idea --- "How" does something occur, and "why" is it happening? In the United States, although we have a set of Federal rules that control our conduct, we also have individual state and local rules that govern us further. So, in turn, we must add the research of crime, the policy it is controlled by (or rather, the policy it is trying to break free from the control of), and the practice that does it's best to stay one step ahead. By mixing and mingling these with the "how" and "why" of the theory, we come up with a basic model of crime, so long as we stay focused on a certain area. But, even when given stringent rules to dictate how we will manifest a theory, test it, and see if it proves to be true, a section from Understanding Crime rings
Although theory is the basic building block for the advancement of human knowledge, the testing of crime theories is problematic. In the natural sciences, such as chemistry and biology, theories can usually be subjected to rigorous laboratory testing and replication (e.g., testing the effects of certain chemicals on genetically engineered --- and nearly identical --- laboratory rats). The social or behavioral sciences are concerned with behavior that is peculiarly human, and testing is limited accordingly. We could subject rates to extreme levels of physical stress and then study their reaction to morphine. We would not, however, subject humans to similar levels of stress, expose them to morphine, and then see if they became drug addicts. Social scientists often must study the etiology of drug addiction in a more circuitous manner. (Winfree, Abadinsky, 2003)This rings true in the field of theoretical evaluation. Even though a theory can be tested over and over when it comes to crime and prevention, the lack of a controlled environment for testing a theory must be transferred to the real world, where variables are always shifting, thus making the playing field dynamic and ever-changing. This provides for an interesting, if not exciting, study in the thought process involved in the criminal justice system.
If prosecuting bad guys ever gets boring --- something I highly doubt will ever happen --- I'll just start writing textbooks and heading out on the college lecture circuit. Just kidding. The liberals would have me killed in two seconds flat. I think the crux of the matter lies in the fact that I'm getting old and the sight of 7,500 diplomas, awards, degrees, and recommendations plastered to my wall sounds like a cool idea. But even then, smacking the correct idea of criminal justice into the heads of the liberal elite just sounds like a darned cool idea.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Playing with guns
Police shot and killed three suspects Monday, bringing to four the number of men fatally shot in the last 48 hours in Los Angeles County, authorities said.
Three of the dead were shot fatally after they allegedly pointed weapons at police. The fourth man was a suspected robber who was shot by an off-duty police officer in Silver Lake.
A fifth man who police said pointed a gun at officers was shot and hospitalized.
"Violence toward police is escalating," Sheriff's Capt. Ray Peavy said. "These shootings are a reflection of that violence."
Observers said the high number of shootings by police was rare. Both Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and Los Angeles Police Department officers were involved.
I have to head to crime scenes all the time. Last week when I headed to one, uniformed officers had to shadow me and the newbie I was training because non-uniformed officers and investigators are being shot at on a regular basis. This is getting out of control. As I've said many times over, law enforcement agencies all across the nation need more feet on the ground, but the extremely difficult hiring process which takes 12 to 15 months (that's just the testing before they get into the academy), combined with the lack of budgeting for recruits makes it near to impossible. And why is this? We've got people like Maxine Waters who dislike law enforcement, and take the side of the criminals whenever possible. This leads to actions such as officers who have to "talk" a criminal into the radio car, and the inability to draw their weapons unless a bullet flies within an inch of their head.
This is getting out of control.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Run for the border
The Mexican Foreign Ministry on Tuesday defended a government pamphlet that offers advice to migrants illegally crossing the border into the United States, saying it was trying to help save lives without encouraging people to break the law.
"Last year, more than 300 Mexicans died on the border," Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Geronimo Gutierrez told the Houston Chronicle. "Our government has a commitment to defend the lives of its citizens."
In 32 pages of text and comic-book-style illustrations, the paperback, Guide for the Mexican Migrant, gives pointers on navigating deserts and swimming rivers safely.
"Crossing the river can be very dangerous, particularly if you are alone or do it at night," says an English translation of wording next to an illustration of three young men setting out from a river bank. "If you wear heavy clothes, they will become heavier when wet and this will make it more difficult for you to swim."
I thought this was my day off? Darn it, what a Monday we're dealing with here. I heard something about this a few weeks ago, but thought it was a rare fluke, but it ends up that it's true. Listen, no one is angrier about the fact that we have tons of illegals crossing the border on a daily basis than I am, especially when our own ICE/CPB isn't doing much to stop it, but we really need to put our foot down when the Mexican government is sitting there printing out pamphlets with step-by-step directions.
We're dealing with two major problems here, and both of them come down to bureaucracy. The first one is our lack of qualified sworn officers and agents that work in law enforcement. Now, don't read that incorrectly --- I'm not saying that the people we have aren't qualified for the job, but there aren't enough of them. It's like having four professors teaching everyone at Harvard when there should be 200 of them. To this day, I can say that Rafael Perez and the Rampart scandal is to blame for this. Because of him, becoming a member of any department around the country is like trying to qualify for flight status on one of NASA's ships.
Second, we have people in offices who wonder why the border patrol teams we have cannot do their job correctly, when these same people tell them they can't arrest those who are crossing the border because groups like the ACLU might come after them. To quote the ACLU:
According to the Mexican government, Operation Gatekeeper -- the strategy of “redirecting” undocumented foot traffic away from border cities and into ever more remote and punishing places -- resulted in 350 migrant deaths so far this year. The deaths continue to mount at the rate of one a day, mostly from dehydration and heat stroke.
“It is not a question of whether we have a right to control the border,” said the Managing Attorney of the ACLU of San Diego, Jordan Budd, who will be arguing the case. “But all that Gatekeeper has done, at an enormous cost in lives, is to give the appearance of a border under control.”
Operation Gatekeeper pushed illegal entrants steadily eastward from San Diego and into the mountains and deserts. The theory was that raising the physical risks would eventually deter migrants. As a recent General Accounting Office report concluded, it did not. Although the goal of shifting illegal entries away from urban areas has been achieved, that has not kept many migrants
from risking death by trying to cross the mountains, deserts and waterways, which straddle the U.S.-Mexico border.
In their arguments, the ACLU and CRLAF will ask the Commission to examine the current strategy and recommend to the U.S. government that it redesign its border enforcement policy so as to minimize the risk to life.
Listen, the last time I checked, niether the United States, in cooperation with Mexico, was offering any sort of "deployment insurance" to cover illegal immigrants who were trying to cross the border illegally. The ACLU, who goes down in my book as the most anti-American group in the United States, merging themselves with MoveOn.org and the US Communist Party, does their best to show America in the worst light possible, even if it means they're going to twist and tear words and facts in half to prove their point. Indirectly, the ACLU has the US government's border control wrapped around their finger, because the border patrol agents are so scared to take-down a single jumper for fear of legal reprisal that they cannot do their job correctly.
I'm called a racist on many occasions because of this stance I take, even though I'm a major proponent of legal immigration, and the right of anyone who wants to come to this wonderful country. But as with everything in life, it must be done correctly and by the law. Laws are in place to protect people, not to be jumped or avoided.
Times like these make me want to make the jump into Constitutional and civil rights law working on behalf, and protecting, the U.S. government.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
South Park Conservatives
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Serving justice, part 3
I truly wish I could have gone to Harvard, which is the school that Chertoff attended for his undergrad and law school degree. His career started as a Law clerk for Hon. Murray Gurfein, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in 1978 through 1979. After that, he movied over to Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.'s court at Supreme Court of the United States, from 1979 to 1980, still working as a law clerk. He moved into the private sector in Newark, New Jersey from 1980 to 1983, working at the worlds largest private law firm, Latham & Watkins.
He moved into law enforcement after getting used to litigating in open court. When the opportunity finally came up, he was sworn in as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1983 to 1987, and then First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the entire District of New Jersey from 1987 to 1990. Moving as high in the ranks as he could, he finished his tenure as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 1990 to 1994.
During the Whitewater investigation, he acted as Special Counsel for Whitewater Committee in the U.S. Senate from 1994-1996, and he went back into private practice from 1994 to 2001 before taking a job as the Assistant Attorney General afor the U.S Department of Justice, starting in 2001 and running through 2003.
On March 5th, 2003, he was nominated by President Bush to serve as a Judge for the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was confirmed on June 10th, 2003.
After the terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda on September 11th, Chertoff played an important part in the development of the PATRIOT Act, writing key parts and creating the blueprint for the Act. In a live address to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, he addressed exactly how the PATRIOT Act would dissolve the funding terrorists enable in order to raise money for terrorist acts. In the address, he stated:
As the members of this Committee are well aware, our country faces an extraordinary and grave threat to its national security and the safety of our citizens. As a result of the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, in which over 3,000 innocent civilians were murdered by terrorists in New York City, in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, the United States is actively pursuing a world-wide antiterrorism campaign today. Osama bin Laden has told the world that "the battle has moved inside America." Let there be no doubt: He and the forces of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups intend to continue their heinous acts of terrorism.
Accordingly, preventing future terrorist attacks and bringing terrorists to justice is now the top priority of the Department of Justice. Law enforcement is currently engaged in a cooperative effort to identify, disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks. Terrorism requires financing, and terrorists rely on the flow of funds across international borders. To conceal their identities and their unlawful purpose, terrorists exploit weaknesses in domestic and international financial systems. As this Committee well knows, therefore, curtailing terrorism requires a systemic approach to investigating the financial links to the terrorist organizations.
The PATRIOT Act, which is hundreds of pages long, includes the sections on financial dealings, and how a cooperative effort must be pushed by all law enforcement agencies to disrupt terrorism. One of the greatest lies of all time, constantly raised by the left, is how "America has never prosecuted anyone associated with 9/11," in a meager attempt to highlight their "war for oil" mantra. Chertoff continues with:
At the same time we established the FRG, the Department created a task force of prosecutors to work with the FRG and other law enforcement entities in developing terrorist financing cases, with an emphasis on non-governmental organizations and charities that may be providing cover for terrorist activity. This Terrorist Financing Task Force, located in the Terrorism and Violent Crime Section of the Criminal Division, also includes representatives from the Criminal Division's Fraud, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering, and Appellate Sections, the Tax Division's Criminal Enforcement Sections, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys from Virginia, New York, and Colorado.The bold font in the previous paragraphs were inserted by me to highlight the areas of interest in that rather long testimony.
The FRG has made substantial progress in tracing financing related to the September 11th attacks as well as the financial underpinnings of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization. Through financial information, we have established how the hijackers received their money, how and where they were trained to fly, where they lived and - perhaps most significantly - the names and whereabouts of persons with whom they worked and came into contact.
The Terrorist Financing Task Force and the FRG are working directly with the Anti-Terrorism Task Forces, or ATTFs, which the Attorney General created in each judicial district. The ATTFs are comprised of federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office, members of the federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the primary state and local law enforcement officials in each district. They coordinate closely with many of the existing FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs). The ATTFs form a national network, which is the foundation of our effort to coordinate the collection, analysis and dissemination of information and to develop the investigative and prosecutorial anti-terrorism strategy for the country.
The efforts of the FRG, the Terrorist Financing Task Force and the ATTFs, along with the work of the Treasury Department, have resulted in targeted law enforcement actions that are at the heart of the Administration's assault on terrorism. On November 7, 2001, the Attorney General announced a nationwide enforcement action against the al Barakaat network, including coordinated arrests and the execution of search warrants in Massachusetts, Virginia and Ohio. These actions were coordinated with Treasury's execution of blocking actions pursuant to the Executive Order 13224 against al Barakaat-related entities in Georgia, Minnesota and Washington State. More recently, on December 4, 2001, the President, along with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, announced the designation and blocking action against the Texas-based charity known as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, alleged to be a North American "front" for the terrorist organization Hamas. These actions demonstrate that our fight against terrorist financing is a broad-based effort extending well beyond the al Qaeda network.
In addition to the coordinated shut-down of al Barakaat's operation on November 7th, the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts is prosecuting the principals of al Barakaat's Boston branch for operating an unlicenced money transmitting business. Between January and September 2001, while operating without a license under Massachusetts law, Barakaat North America knowingly caused the transfer of over $3,000,000 to banks in the United Arab Emirates. On November 14, 2001, a federal grand jury in Boston returned an indictment charging Liban Hussein, the president of al Barakaat, and his brother, Mohamed Hussein, with a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1960 (prohibition of illegal money transmitting businesses). Mohamed Hussein has been detained pending trial, and we are seeking to extradite Liban Hussein through a request made to Canada.
Many people think of law enforcement being police officers or plain-clothes investigators who handcuff and take-in criminals. But, to continue the process and make sure the bad guys never get out are the prosecutors who work on a local, state, and federal level. Mike Chertoff has a ton of experience in that realm, and has led entire teams of federal agents in the area of criminal justice. Because of the reasons listed above, his background, his experience, and the testimony included in this column, I fully endorse Michael Chertoff for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Serving justice, part 2
In the meantime, don't miss John Hawkins interview with Victor Davis Hanson.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
President Bush nominated federal judge Michael Chertoff as the new homeland security chief Tuesday, completing the second-term Cabinet with a former prosecutor who recently called for a new look at the tough terrorist detainee laws that he helped craft after the Sept. 11 attacks.If I polled 100 people who consider themselves to be in-tune with politics, I'd say five or six would know who Chertoff is. To me, he's a personal hero, as he is to many in the criminal justice system. He's a die-hard toughie who worked his way up, graduated from Harvard Law School, pulled himself up by his bootstrings by clerking at the Supreme Court, moved on to become an AUSA (Assistant US Attorney), and then moved on to his position as a 3rd Circuit Judge. All in all, people like him are who the justice system write books about. He knows the inside, the outside, and the dirty undercarriage of criminal justice, and knows what it takes to keep bad guys gasping for air.
Chertoff, who took his seat on the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals less than two years ago, is expected to easily win Senate approval. He has won confirmation three times during his career, as U.S. attorney in New Jersey, assistant attorney general and appellate judge.
"Mike has shown a deep commitment to the cause of justice and an unwavering determination to protect the American people," Bush told a White House audience that included Chertoff's wife, Meryl, and their children. "Mike has also been a key leader in the war on terror."
Chertoff would replace Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who helped build the new department after the terror attacks by combining 22 existing — and often competing — federal agencies. Ridge, often identified with the color-coded terror alerts, plans to step down from his post Feb. 1.
Ridge "leaves some very big shoes to fill," Chertoff said.
Known by colleagues as a fiery workhorse, Chertoff headed the Justice Department's criminal division at the time of the attacks. He said at the White House: "If confirmed as secretary, I will be proud to stand again with the men and women who form our front line against terror."
Major thumbs up on this pick. This second term has really put some smiles on my face.
Monday, January 10, 2005
The Memogate Analysis, Part 1
But I can't take credit for that alone. I've spent some time tonight browsing some of my favorite blogs, checking to see who really took the time to read into this situation, and who was just commenting for the sake of being included Google.com's search for the word "Rather." I agree wholeheartedly with Hugh Hewitt, who took note that bloggers aren't covering this final release with as much zeal as they did with the original scandal that changed the face of news forever. This brings me to my first point, which should help clear up my obvious disdain for this day in blogging.
We, as members of the blogosphere, provide one great resource to the world: A complete dose of opinions and analysis that cover the entire spectrum whenever an important issue is raised. While the AP, Reuters, and other wire services post a story for outlets such as the Los Angeles or New York Times to pickup, we'll take that story and separate the truth from the fiction, and detail it better than your obsessive eight grade teacher who reminded you for an entire nine months about correct paragraph format. What happened today has made me feel a little bit ill toward my bretheren. But, I know that our own system of checks and balances will clear this up by tomorrow morning.
The issue at hand is CBS's falsification of a memo in order to push a political agenda onto the dinner plate of America, demanding they accept it at face value. Luckily, we had great bloggers such as Charles of Little Green Footballs, who noted major inconsistencies in the typeface of the memo, and a plethora of other bloggers who did everything within their power to examine the validity of the memo, including cite checking, date analysis, and background investigating. All in all, it was a job worthy of a command post at my office as a criminal investigator. That was not the case today. When CBS released their report, consisting of an independent panel report, a reaction in the form of a statement from CBS News, and 51 exhibits, the blogosphere ran out to see who could get the scoop on reporting that CBS News had released the report, instead of actually investigating the report.
This, my friends, is where the problem lies.
In a rush to be the next Little Green Footballs, 99% of the people who exposed this scandal for what it is, and what it was, failed to see the whitewashing the CBS News has done in the pages of this 234 page report. Even news aggregate Matt Drudge at the DrudgeReport posted a picture on the front page of his website highlighting where his name is mentioned in the report. At best, CBS News combined the confusing words of corporate lawyers K&LNG : Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP , the crafty copy of public relations liasons, and 51 different exhibits that most people will pass-by, and shoved it across the table, offering it as a plea bargain to allow them to stay in the news market. JimK over at Right-Thoughts had a few choice words about it, as he and Michelle Malkin tied-up any loose end associated with Memogate.
I haven't had a change to read through all 234 pages of the CBS News report --- yet. That's on-deck for Saturday morning, and you can expect a full report detailing what I find to be inconsistencies and outright lies in the indepedent panels findings. The only independent panel I trust is a Grand Jury, and even then it takes at least a week of hard work to do some convincing to get your point across. But, I have had time to dig through the response from CBS News, and I found some parts to be extremely suspicious. Let's take a look:
The Panel finds that the report was "crashed" – rushed onto the air – to beat the perceived competition, and it further says "the fact is that basic journalistic steps were not carried out in a manner consistent with accurate and fair reporting, leading to countless misstatements and omissions." Indeed, there were lapses every step of the way – in the reporting and the vetting of the segment and in the reaction of CBS News in the aftermath of the report.
That throws a big, giant, glowing red flag in the air. I haven't read through the report yet, but as I trace the steps back to September 8th, I remember that Mary Mapes has significant ties to the DNC, and the Memogate scandal was a tool to bring Kerry into light, and hurt President Bush. In terms of this being a rush to air in order to beat the other news networks, we can look to the fact that Mapes was in contact with her source, who was sitting around waiting for her to run it. It wasn't a rush to air, it was a rush to slander.
I'm already looking forward to the weekend, so I can get to this report and tear it limb from limb. I never though an investigation outside of the office would be so much fun.
I don't know how much longer CBS News will host the report, but I've downloaded all parts of it and complied them into one ZIP file. You can download it here (right click + "Save Target As", 25.6MB)
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Required Reading: January 2005
Schweikart and Allen are careful to tell their story straight, from Columbus’s voyage to the capture of Saddam Hussein. They do not ignore America’s mistakes through the years, but they put them back in their proper perspective. And they conclude that America’s place as a world leader derived largely from the virtues of our own leaders— the men and women who cleared the wilderness, abolished slavery, and rid the world of fascism and communism. - A Patriots History Of The United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery To The War On Terror, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen
You'll be hearing screams of pain and anguish from the liberal elite in about two minutes. A copy of this book is on the way to my house as we speak.
West coast rains, part 2
DAILY RAINFALL TOTALS OVER THE NEXT 72 HOURS WILL LIKELY BE 1 TO 2 INCHES FOR THE COAST AND VALLEYS AND 3 TO 7 INCHES IN THE FOOTHILLS AND MOUNTAINS. TOTAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS FROM FRIDAY THROUGH TUESDAY ARE EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM 4 TO 8 INCHES ACROSS COASTAL AND VALLEY AREAS...WITH 10 TO 20 INCHES IN THE FOOTHILLS AND MOUNTAINS. THERE WILL LIKELY BE LOCAL TOTALS IN EXCESS OF 24 INCHES ALONG SOME OF THE OROGRAPHICALLY FAVORED SOUTH AND SOUTHWEST FACING SLOPES.
Two feet of rain? Holy smokes, that's a lot of water to be falling from the sky.
Friday, January 07, 2005
Creating the Taliban
Journalists in the United States not only regulated themselves, but the best-of-the-best were sent on missions to find the true story that was breaking before their eyes. Not only did they have credentials that made the digital camera toting, PDA scrambingly pseudo-writers of today look like trash, but they took pride in what they were writing, and rarely --- with the exception of those who deemed themselves as "opinion columnists" --- took a stance on either side of the isle.
Which brings me to the topic of the day --- the Taliban. I was reading a few columns over at Right Thinking, when one of the regulars, a gentleman by the name of Sean M. brought up the facts and figures behind the Taliban, and the myth that they were born and bred out of American minds. Many left wingers have been pushing the lie that the Taliban was an American creation, and that we created and funded them, thus making America the founder of modern terrorism. In fact, if you listen to lefties, you will start to believe that America deserved the attacks because we created the Taliban.
This is anything but the truth. In fact, this is as far from the truth as anything in the world.
Just as the journalists of today are creating the news as they see fit (please see my post about how they created their own facts to link President Bush directly to Abu Ghraib), the liberal elite create their own set of "facts" to push on the American public. Here's the truth about the Taliban:
One of the greatest criticisms of U.S. policy, especially after the rise of the Taliban, has been that the CIA directly supported Arab volunteers who came to Afghanistan to wage jihad against the Soviets, but eventually used those American arms to engage in terrorist war against the West. However, the so-called "Afghan Arabs" only emerged as a major force in the 1990s. During the resistance against the Soviet occupation, Arab volunteers played at best a cursory role.
According to a former intelligence official active in Afghanistan during the late 1980s, the Arab volunteers seldom took part in fighting and often raised the ire of local Afghans who felt the volunteers merely got in the way. In an unpublished essay, a military officer writing under the name Barney Krispin, who worked for the CIA during its support of the Afghan mujahidin's fight against the Soviet Army, summoned up the relationship between Afghan and non-Afghan fighters at that time:
The relationship between the Afghans and the Internationalists was like a varsity team to the scrubs. The Afghans fought their own war and outsiders of any stripe were kept on the sidelines. The bin Ladin's of this Jihad could build and guard roads, dig ditches, and prepare fixed positions; however, this was an Afghan Jihad, fought by real Afghans, and eventually won by real Afghans. Bin Ladin sat out the 'big one.'
Milton Bearden, former CIA station chief in Pakistan, was equally blunt, writing:
Despite what has often been written, the CIA never recruited, trained, or otherwise used the Arab volunteers who arrived in Pakistan. The idea that the Afghans somehow needed fighters from outside their culture was deeply flawed and ignored basic historical and cultural facts.
Bearden continued to explain though that while the Afghan Arabs were "generally viewed as nuisances by mujahidin commanders, some of whom viewed them as only slightly less bothersome than the Soviets," the work of Arab fundraisers was appreciated. (Rubin, 2002)
I have no idea where these rumors started, but they had no problem building speed after the attacks on the World Trade Center. In fact, Mona Charen was quick to debunk it as soon as the rumor started, stating:
It's not true. The American Enterprise magazine reports: "The anti-Soviet Mujahedin funded by the U.S. consisted of seven factions. Some were fundamentalist Muslims who envisioned an Islamic state along the lines of Saudi Arabia. About as many had a cosmopolitan orientation and wanted a Westernized state similar to Turkey. The Taliban were not among the Mujahedin factions at all, and all of the Taliban's important leaders, including Mullah Omar, were out of the country, mostly in Pakistan, during the war against the Soviets." (Charen, 2001)
From what I gather, this idea that we (the United States) were the "creators" and "benefactors" of the Taliban were probably started by the same people who swear that President Bush rigged the election, and that Iraq is a "war for oil." As Thomas H. Henrikson stated, "Like other accepted historical myths—Paul Kennedy’s American "imperial overstretch," CIA knowledge of a contra–drug dealers connection, or the "accidental presidency" of George W. Bush—the Afghanistan blowback myth has taken on a life of its own. A putative CIA term, blowback has insinuated itself into a variety of pundits’ pontifications." In other words, you can make up whatever version of history you like, but that doesn't mean it's going to be right, or going to be true.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
South Central America
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - A U.S. man was shot and killed on the Caribbean coast of Honduras while trying to save a neighbor whose house was being robbed, authorities said Wednesday.
Lloyd Ernest Hardy, 62, was on his way to visit a neighbor and apparently saw four robbers tie the man to a chair, then roam through the house taking cash and valuables.
Hardy entered the home to rescue his friend, but was spotted by the robbers, who shot him and fled, said Tomas Matute, a spokesman for police in Armenia Bonito, a coastal community 220 miles north of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
Hardy, who was building a home nearby with his Honduran wife, was still alive when authorities arrived on the scene, but died shortly after reaching a hospital, Matute said.
I'm sure the left will place the blame on the victim and chalk it up to oppression by the "eeeevil AmeriKKKans." How much do you want to bet if a Honduran was shot in America, Michael Moore would be making a movie about how violent murders in the U.S. are raging out of control.
Here we go again
In 1995, a one-eyed drifter named Henry Lee Lucas was headed for execution by injection in a Texas prison for the murder of an unnamed woman, one of hundreds he confessed to killing in a crime spree lasting more than a decade.
The task of recommending whether then-Gov. George W. Bush should grant a reprieve or commute Lucas's death sentence fell to Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush's counsel. In a memo to Bush dated March 13, 1995, Gonzales marshaled a case for Lucas's guilt. He noted that Lucas had given a sheriff a drawing of the victim, and attached a record of Lucas's eight other Texas murder convictions, each of which led to lengthy or life prison sentences.
Left out of Gonzales's summary was any mention of a 1986 investigation by the Texas attorney general's office that concluded that Lucas had not killed the woman, and that he had falsely confessed to numerous killings in an effort to undermine the veracity of his confessions to the crimes he did commit.
While the six-page memo factually summarizes Lucas's court appeals, "it does not really address in any way . . . all the questions that were raised about his guilt," said Jim Mattox, the Texas attorney general from 1983 to 1991, who instigated an investigation of police conduct in the case. He said that if the memo had been prepared for him, he would have chastised the author "for allowing me to make a decision on partial information."
Senate hearings today on Gonzales's nomination to become the next U.S. attorney general are expected to focus on his work as White House counsel. But his memos for Bush on Texas clemency matters illustrate how Gonzales approached another momentous task: endorsing the taking of a life.
I've worked on a number of death penalty cases, and I can tell you first hand that if we're putting someone to death, it's because we have the evidence to prove it. I've sat through more debates and listened to more pundits talk about the death penalty than you can imagine, and one thing is always made apparent to me: These people dislike the death penalty because they believe it's unfair to take a life, and claim moral superiority because of that opinion. Now, mark my words --- if these people fell subject to any of these vicious murderers we have to deal with on a daily basis, and see their families slaughtered, their children abused, their friends murdered, or any number of incidents that I could fill a book with, they would change their opinion about it in a second.
It's our job to prevent that from happening. Believe me, I can't think of anyone in the criminal justice system who wants to see any other innocent human being harmed in any way. But when you take away the tools we use to do our jobs, the threat of violence increases, and in turn, we get blamed for it.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Throwing the book at 'em, part 17
One of France's top terrorism suspects and five of his alleged accomplices went on trial here Monday, accused of plotting to blow up American targets in France three years ago, a charge that all six men deny.
Jamal Beghal, a French-Algerian suspected of links to the Qaeda terror network, is alleged to have masterminded a radical Islamist cell in southern Paris and a number of its planned operations, including a foiled suicide attack on the American Embassy in 2001. The others, four of whom are also of Algerian descent, are alleged to have helped with logistics and organization.
All six defendants face prison sentences as long as 10 years, if convicted. A verdict is expected on Feb. 16.
I did a little bit of research about the French legal system way back when, but I can't really tell you much about it at this point in time. I work in domestic law, and international law is a totally different ballgame. All I know is my eyes will be glued to the details of the trial, and I'll try to give you as much plain-English about it as possible. I do remember that France uses the Bastille system of law, which means a person is guilty until proven innocent. Also, their equivalent of our District Attorneys are combination investigators and lawyers, who can keep someone locked-up as long as possible if it means they can dig-up evidence to put them away. So in my professional opinion, if these guys are being brought to trial at this point, that means the French have enough evidence to lock them up for a good, long time.
As for the ability to determine when a verdict will be handed down, and to name a specific date, that's a feat that is near to impossible in a trial of this magnitude in one of our courts. This tells me that the trial will be presented before a magistrate, and not a jury, which allows for a set date for the verdict, as well as a time limit for each side (the prosecution and defense) to present their case. One of my coworkers just got back from a law residency in the EU, so I'll make sure to ask her about it tomorrow so I can share the lowdown on the French legal system.
UPDATE - 12:06 AM:
I just dug through my personal library and grabbed one of my few international law books. All of our digital legal research tools, such as LexisNexis and FindLaw only contain domestic law, but Basic Documents in International Law by Ian Brownlie has some wonderful information and cross-references that I followed. Here's a key selection that should clarify things a little bit.
"France's inquisitorial system is very different from the English accusatory one, and some French examining magistrates say that it protects those in power. When a crime is suspected, no investigation may begin without the written consent of a prosecutor. If he decides there will be an investigation, he appoints an examining magistrate. The French examining magistrate has nothing in common with the English magistrate (an unpaid justice of the peace who ensures the proper functioning of the law at its primary level). The French magistrate is a legally trained "detective" with enormous power. He or she can summon anyone in the land, except the president, and keep a suspect in prison for months without trial. (It was revelations about the state of the French prisons experienced by members of the elite awaiting trial in the late 1990s that helped to tip public opinion against the magistrates.) The constitution demands that the examining magistrate be independent. But the person who gives the magistrate his cases, the prosecutor, is not independent. His career depends on maintaining a good relationship with his superiors in the ministry of justice. If he gets the feeling that the ministry would prefer a particular case not to come to court, he can split it into two or more components, allocating each to a separate magistrate, possibly in different parts of the country. According to Renaud van Ruymbeke, one of France's most experienced magistrates, this saucissonnage is the reason we never hear of some very important cases.
When opening an investigation, the prosecutor defines its parameters and the examining magistrate must not go beyond them. If, during an investigation into a false invoice for 10,000, the magistrate discovers other invoices, he can't look into them, seize evidence or interview suspects without further permission from the prosecutor. In a politically sensitive case, his request will almost certainly be taken to the justice minister, who can sit on it for a few weeks and then simply refuse it. At no time is anyone obliged to say why they have made a particular decision.
This could either be really good, or be really bad. Depending on the political ties of the magistrate, these guys could have an overwhelming amount of evidence found against them, or a few stacks of paper and some junk e-mail. I don't know much about the French Ministry of Justice, and they seem to be the deciding factor in how this will turn out.
I'll make sure to post more as I unravel this situation.
West coast rains
LOS ANGELES - Rain-soaked California got even wetter Monday as another storm dumped heavy snow in the mountains, eroded beaches and shut down a 40-mile stretch of the state's major north-south highway.
Flooded roads turned Southern California's morning commute into a white-knuckle obstacle course, while mountain snow left the peaks above Los Angeles capped with white.
About 2 feet of snow fell in the Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles, stranding some drivers and shutting down a section of Interstate 5. It was not clear when the pass would reopen.
"It's pretty slippery," driver Ravinder Singh told KTLA-TV. "We didn't know it was going to be snowing. We're kind of stuck."
One man died in the San Fernando Valley when his car went off a road and slammed into a palm tree. Another man was killed in Pomona when he tried to run across the San Bernardino Freeway and was struck by two vehicles.
In Goleta, near Santa Barbara, surging high tides washed away tons of sand deposited last year as part of a $2 million beach-preservation project.
Most of the 80,000 cubic yards of sand used to curb erosion has been swept away, leaving a jagged wall of sand and dirt and forcing officials to close part of the coastline as a safety precaution.
California has been battered over the past week by severe storms that caused widespread street flooding. More storms are expected later in the week.
Average yearly rainfall totals, measured from July 1 to June 30, have already been surpassed in some areas. Los Angeles has received 15.4 inches of rain since July 1, compared with a yearly average of 14.7 inches, the National Weather Service reported.
The city recorded the single-wettest day in December last Tuesday when 5 1/2 inches fell. It also marked the third-wettest day on record since 1921.
The liberal elite issued a statement that the rain was really a conspiracy brought on by the HAARP weather system weapon in Alaska to flood California so Halliburton could gain another contract and steal our oil.