The sources told the North County Times that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe centers on whether five to 10 Marines violated the laws of war.
"They have interviewed about 20 people so far and some have been read their rights," a source with direct knowledge of the probe said Friday.
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the killing of a captured enemy combatant who does not present a threat is considered murder.
Some of those being questioned are no longer in the Marine Corps, and at least one has hired a private defense attorney who specializes in military law, sources said. Because of the sensitivity of the matter, the five sources who spoke with the newspaper agreed to do so on the condition that they not be named.
The Marines are believed to have been involved in the deaths of as many as eight people who were captured during one of the largest battles of the Iraq war, according to the sources.
Questions the sources said that they could not immediately answer include whether the Iraqis had been declared prisoners, whether any or all were bound in any way and where specifically the slayings occurred.
The incident reportedly took place on or about Nov. 10, 2004, three days after the U.S. launched a major assault in Fallujah, an Anbar province city in western Iraq that at the time was under insurgent control.
One of the Marines has said that the troops believed they were carrying out the orders of their commanders when the insurgents were shot, according to one source.
A Marine Corps public affairs officer referred questions to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Washington, D.C.
Agency spokesman Ed Buice, who was presented with questions reflecting the essence of what the newspaper had been told, said Friday that no one would comment on the report. The Department of the Navy law enforcement agency is composed of civilian investigators who are not under Marine Corps control.
The sources said the Fallujah investigation arose as a result of the ongoing prosecution of three Camp Pendleton enlisted Marines charged with murder in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha on Nov 19, 2005. Four officers face charges of dereliction of duty for failing to fully investigate the deaths at Haditha.
In another ongoing Iraqi death case, five of eight Camp Pendleton troops have pleaded guilty for their roles in the abduction and shooting of a retired Iraqi policeman in April 2006. Three defendants in that incident face trial this summer.
None of the men being prosecuted in the Haditha or Hamdania cases are subjects of the Fallujah investigation, a source said.
The battle for Fallujah was one of the major fights of the Iraq war that came after the insurgency took control of the city after U.S. forces left it in April of that year.
On Nov. 6, 2004, a main group of troops from Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 1st and 5th Marine Regiments, along with supporting Marine units and U.S. Army forces, massed and launched an assault to take back the city the next day.
Intense fighting took place during the next week with the final resistance cleared by late December. Several Camp Pendleton Marines were later honored with awards such as the Navy Cross for valorous actions during the fighting.
Ninety-five U.S. servicemen were killed during the fight for the city and more than 600 were wounded. An estimated 1,350 insurgents were killed and an additional 1,000 captured, according to military authorities.
A movie about the battle, titled "No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah," based on a book written by Bing West is scheduled for release next year.
Lt. Gen. James Mattis, current commander of the I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton and head of Marine forces throughout the Middle East, is portrayed in the movie by actor Harrison Ford. Mattis helped lead the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was one of the top commanders at Fallujah.
Contact staff writer Mark Walker at (760) 740-3529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the words "not guilty," former sheriff's deputy Ivory J. Webb Jr. burst into celebration at San Bernardino County Superior Court on Thursday, free of the attempted manslaughter charge he faced for shooting an unarmed airman last year.
But Webb is not yet clear of possible criminal liability connected to the shooting.
A U.S. attorney's office spokesman said prosecutors there would now review evidence in the just-completed state trial to determine if there is a basis to charge Webb with a federal violation of civil rights under the color of authority.
The potential federal charge, which was used to convict Los Angeles police officers who were acquitted by the state in the Rodney King beating, is not taken lightly, said spokesman Thom Mrozek.
There is no timeline, once federal prosecutors receive the requested reports, for making a decision in Webb's case.
"It's unusual for us to even acknowledge we're interested in a particular matter," Mrozek said. "But with civil-rights violations, we want the public to know it's very serious and the federal government is going to do everything in its power."
Representatives of the Carrion family said Thursday that they plan to ask for federal prosecution of Webb. A federal civil lawsuit already has been filed.
Webb, 46, was set free after a four-week trial centering on the grainy amateur videotape that showed him shooting Elio Carrion after a car chase through Chino in January 2006. The former deputy became the first officer in San Bernardino County criminally charged for a shooting in the line of duty, and faced charges of attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm.
On Friday, members of the sheriff's union and the Sheriff's Department expressed relief at the acquittal.
During a question-and-answer session Friday, San Bernardino County Sheriff Gary Penrod called the shooting one of the toughest things he has dealt with during his decade-plus tenure. The verdict, however, was taken as good news throughout his department.
"Everyone was pretty thrilled," Penrod said.
But it doesn't mean that Webb will again work for the Sheriff's Department. Without revealing the specific reasons for Webb's exit last year, Penrod said the circumstances mean "we wouldn't reinstate him at this time."
Webb's plans remain unknown. His attorney, Michael Schwartz, did not return a request to comment Friday.
The head of Webb's union, however, said the former deputy has a right to reapply for a job if chooses, and the union would support him.
The acquittal also pleased union members, said William Abernathie, president of the San Bernardino County Employee Benefits Association.
"Sometimes you have to rely on the system," Abernathie said, "and judging from the verdict yesterday, the system works."
Prosecutors argued that Webb was reckless and had no reasonable cause when he shot and wounded the 23-year-old Carrion, who was a passenger in a Corvette that had led Webb on a high-speed pursuit.
The victim, an off-duty Air Force military policeman who later tested at twice the presumptive blood-alcohol level for drunken driving, appeared to be obeying orders to get up when he was shot.
But jurors favored the defense's argument that the video did not tell the entire story, and that Webb was in unfamiliar terrain dealing with two men who were not obeying his orders. At the moments prior to the shooting, Schwartz argued that Carrion appeared to be reaching into his jacket, a sign Webb took as meaning he may have been armed.
Penrod acknowledged that there were several decisions by Webb that night that "probably could have been done in a better way."
The position of Webb's patrol car was one, Penrod said, but Webb's decision to approach Carrion and the driver of the Corvette, Luis Escobedo, without backup was not second-guessed.
"What he did was the right action at the time," Penrod said, explaining that Webb did not know where his closest backup was.
The sheriff and Webb did not speak immediately after the verdict, but Penrod acknowledged the two had long exchanges after the incident and before the trial.
"He's a very nice, easygoing guy," Penrod said.
08:13 AM PDT on Thursday, June 28, 2007By RICHARD BROOKS
SAN BERNARDINO - Jury deliberations are set to begin this morning in the case of the first San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy to be prosecuted for an on-duty shooting.
"My client had an honest fear and a reasonable fear," defense attorney Michael Schwartz said Wednesday on behalf of ex-deputy Ivory Webb Jr., who is arguing self-defense in his wounding of a drunken off-duty military policeman.
Webb, 46, could be imprisoned for nearly 20 years if convicted of the most serious charge he faces, attempted voluntary manslaughter. Both sides agree that Air Force military policeman Elio Carrion was hit by three .45-caliber bullets fired by Webb following a January 2006 car chase and confrontation in Chino.
Webb had been under extreme stress, the defense argues, because the lone officer was facing two potentially dangerous suspects who had been driving at 100 mph so recklessly that any reasonable officer would have suspected they were desperate to escape.
A neighborhood resident videotaped the shooting, and the tape was enhanced by the Sheriff's Department and the FBI.
The tape begins with Webb holding Carrion at gunpoint, while Carrion is sprawled on the ground outside the crashed Corvette. And it appears to show Webb open fire as Carrion is complying with the officer's orders to get up.
"There is no issue, even though the defense would like you to believe there is, whether or not (Webb) asked Mr. Carrion to get up," San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope told the jury. "That's what's being said."
Webb emphasized the order by gesturing with his pistol for Carrion to rise, Cope said.
Rather than shooting in self-defense, Webb fired because he was angry and emotionally out of control, Cope said.
Webb says that the shooting was justified because he truly believed he had to shoot to defend himself against Carrion, who the defense says reached into his jacket -- as if grabbing for a gun -- and seemed to lunge toward the officer while rising off the ground.
Carrion was unarmed. But the deputy faced a tense, uncertain and rapidly changing situation that required him to make a split-second decision on whether to shoot, Schwartz told the jury.
"That's this case," said Schwartz. "Self-defense doesn't even have to mean (Carrion) had a gun."
What matters, the lawyer told the jury, is whether Webb reasonably believed he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury.
And Webb couldn't see Carrion's hand fully, Schwartz said.
"Deputy Webb, that night, wasn't watching an enhanced video," Schwartz argued.
As Schwartz tells it, it was Carrion -- not Webb -- who was angry that night, as well as uncooperative, defiant and threatening toward the deputy.
If Webb had lost all emotional control, as the prosecutor argued, the officer wouldn't have fired three controlled shots and immediately radioed for paramedics, Schwartz told the jury.
But the prosecutor warned the jury to be skeptical of Webb's version of events.
For example, Webb's claims of being under extreme stress are wildly exaggerated because there's evidence that shows he lied about nearly having a head-on collision with the Corvette just before the crash and confrontation, Cope said.
"That simply didn't happen," said Cope, displaying photographs of skid marks at the crash scene.
Reach Richard Brooks at 909-518-4979 or rbrooks@PE.com
08:15 AM PDT on Thursday, June 28, 2007By DUANE W. GANG
As a San Bernardino County jury begins weighing a grainy videotape and hours of testimony in the case of a former deputy accused of shooting an unarmed Iraq war veteran, legal experts say jurors sometimes find it difficult to believe an officer would harm someone for no reason.
Closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday in the monthlong trial of Ivory J. Webb Jr., the first time in San Bernardino County history that a sheriff's deputy has been prosecuted for an on-duty shooting.
Webb is charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and firearm assault charges stemming from the January 2006 incident where he shot and wounded Elio Carrion, a U.S. Air Force senior airman.
Jurors could convict Webb of one or the other, but not both. Or, they may find him not guilty if they believe the shooting was a case of justified self defense.
Legal experts for more than a year have said the video taken by a bystander will prove key in whether Webb acted criminally when he shot three times after the brief high-speed chase through Chino.
The shooting took place in a matter of seconds and jurors must piece together what happened before and after the shots to help decide whether Webb is guilty, said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a former federal prosecutor who has closely followed the case.
Levenson said the video is important evidence but not enough alone for a conviction.
"No one thinks this video tells the whole story," said Levenson, who has reviewed the video more than two dozen times. "The jury has to reconstruct everything that is not on the video. This is like getting a book, but only every other chapter."
In the years since the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, the public has become more sophisticated in evaluating videotaped events, Levenson said.
"Rodney King really opened prosecutors' eyes, and the community's eyes, about how difficult these cases are," Levenson said.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Lane Liroff prosecuted that county's first homicide case against a peace officer in 35 years. He said Wednesday that prosecutors face an uphill battle in winning a conviction.
"Jurors when faced with a law enforcement officer involved in a shooting in the line of duty find it very difficult to convict," said Liroff, who lost a 2005 case against Mike Walker, an officer with the state's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.
"They don't want to second-guess them, and fear that blood of future officers will be on them."
But the fear of a loss in court should not deter prosecutors from pursuing police misconduct cases, Liroff said.
"It is terribly important that DAs don't use that as an excuse to not hold law enforcement officers accountable," he said. "That means some cases just have to be tried. It is a tough thing to do. I know that personally."
While each case is different, Liroff's post-trial interviews with jurors might give an indication of the mindset of the jury deliberating the case against Webb.
"They just kept saying they wanted something more. And boy did I have a strong case," Liroff said. "It wasn't what they said, so much as the difficulty they had in coming to the conclusion that a law enforcement officer can screw up and make a mistake."
Dennis Stout, a former San Bernardino County district attorney, said the jury is faced with a case where there is no rational reason for Webb's actions.
With that, Stout said, "It is hard for more people to believe a police officer would shoot someone for no reason."
San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos was at the California District Attorneys Association summer conference in Napa this week and was not available for comment.
Last year, when charges against Webb were announced, Ramos said the tape showing the shooting played a key role in the decision to prosecute.
Since 2000, the district attorney's office has reviewed more than 120 officer-involved shootings. Apart from the Webb case, four of those were deemed unjustified, but no charges were filed because the office had insufficient evidence to prove a crime had been committed, said Mike Risley, a former assistant district attorney.
When the charges were filed against Webb last year, Risley, who has since retired, said that both the videotape and the fact that prosecutors had a surviving victim made the case different from the others.
Bill Abernathie, president of the San Bernardino County Safety Employee Benefits Association, the union representing sheriff's deputies, said he sees the Webb case as an anomaly and doesn't expect to see more prosecutions of officers.
"I don't see a higher level of scrutiny," he said. "I think there's always a high level of scrutiny of the law enforcement profession just because of the nature of the profession."
Staff writer Imran Ghori contributed to this report.
Reach Duane W. Gang at 909-806-3062 or dgang@PE.com
"Those five wiretaps turned out to be very productive," U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said Saturday during an unusually open discussion of his work at the helm of the FISA court. Wadih el-Hage, the bin Laden aide, was tried and convicted in the bombings in 2001, and "all the evidence from those wiretaps that I authorized that night were used at the trial," Lamberth said.
Lamberth, known for his outspoken nature, was the court's chief judge from 1995 to 2002 and during that period was privy, he said, "to every deepest, darkest secret our country has." His presentation Saturday, at the American Library Association's convention, was probably the most revealing discussion to date of actions by the FISA court, which since 1978 has approved wiretaps and other secret surveillance activities involving foreign intelligence and terrorism cases.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the court shifted gears. "We changed procedures and put in all the orders from September 12 forward based on the oral briefing with the director of the FBI and the chief judge of the FISA court," Lamberth said. "The courts can respond in times of national crisis, and I think the courts have to, and we did."
One reason, he said, is that "if you move very quickly, that's when things are most productive, particularly in e-mails. As soon as an event happens, everybody is e-mailing everybody and you pick up the most productive tape."
Lamberth's defense of the court's speed and efficiency came after senior Bush administration officials said its procedures were too cumbersome to meet counterterrorism needs in the post-9/11 world, and created a system of warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency that did not include judicial review.
Taking direct aim at the administration's assertion, Lamberth noted that members of the court had approved almost 99 percent of the FISA applications presented. He added that he could not see a better way of conducting such surveillance.
"What the president did with the NSA," Lamberth said, was "a proposal for a worse way."
Lamberth recalled several other counterterrorism cases in which he played a key role, noting that he could speak because the court's involvement had been declassified during trials.
One case involved Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested at a Canadian border crossing with explosives in December 1999. He was later convicted of taking part in a plot to bomb U.S. sites during millennium celebrations. Lamberth said investigators found a "little piece of paper . . . with a phone number on it" in Ressam's wallet.
"The FBI came to me that same night for a warrant for that number. I gave it to them. It led to an apartment in New York. The tap on that apartment in New York led them to the cell in Montreal that had set Ressam on his way," the judge added. The apartment was raided on "a warrant that I issued under FISA . . . and they found bomb-making materials at the apartment."
Lamberth also talked about the summer of 2001, when, he said, "we knew from the intelligence we were gathering that we were going to be hit; we just didn't know when." But officials knew, he said, when "the first plane hit it was probably bin Laden, and when the second plane hit that it had to be bin Laden."
He said he was driving near the Pentagon on his way to work on Sept. 11, having been to the dentist, and recalled, "My car was engulfed in smoke, and I couldn't move." He called for help, and the FBI came "to get me in a position where I could get Justice to start approving FISA [warrants]. . . . By the time the FBI got to me in my car, I had already approved five."
As Lamberth described the FISA process, the chief justice of the United States chooses 11 district judges from around the country to serve on the special court. They rule individually on FISA applications for wiretaps, physical surveillance or search warrants.
The applications are written by a special group within the Justice Department and are based on requests from the FBI, CIA or NSA. The Justice group prepares a legal brief supporting the request along with an affidavit from the supervising investigative agent. That material is accompanied by a certification by the head of the agency making the request, usually the FBI. A final certification comes from the attorney general.
"That the attorney general had to personally sign on the dotted line that they had reviewed it and thought it was appropriate," Lamberth said, provided "the political accountability."
In a FISA court hearing, according to Lamberth, a Justice Department lawyer presents the application, usually 40 or 50 pages, and the investigative agent is put under oath. "I have the agent before me," Lamberth said. "I can question the agent. I can get into the nitty-gritty of exactly what we're doing and why."
During the Clinton administration, Lamberth said, members of the court learned that false affidavits had been filed. "Our judges thought of a real easy solution. We'll just bar that agent from ever appearing in our courtroom. So it didn't really matter if it was negligent or it was intentional. . . . And he's one of their top counterintelligence agents."
Louis J. Freeh, then director of the FBI, "came over and begged me to rescind the order, everything under the sun that could be done about that order," Lamberth said. "We never rescinded it. We enforced it. And we sent a message to the FBI: You've got to tell the truth."
Special Operations Prepared for Domestic Missions
The U.S. Northern Command, the military command responsible for "homeland defense," has asked the Pentagon if it can establish its own special operations command for domestic missions. The request, reported in the Washington Examiner, would establish a permanent sub-command for responses to incidents of domestic terrorism as well as other occasions where special operators may be necessary on American soil.
The establishment of a domestic special operations mission, and the preparation of contingency plans to employ commandos in the United States, would upend decades of tradition. Military actions within the United States are the responsibility of state militias (the National Guard), and federal law enforcement is a function of the FBI.
Employing special operations for domestic missions sounds very ominous, and NORTHCOM's request earlier this year should receive the closest possible Pentagon and congressional scrutiny. There's only one problem: NORTHCOM is already doing what it has requested permission to do.
When NORTHCOM was established after 9/11 to be the military counterpart to the Department of Homeland Security, within its headquarters staff it established a Compartmented Planning and Operations Cell (CPOC) responsible for planning and directing a set of "compartmented" and "sensitive" operations on U.S., Canadian and Mexican soil. In other words, these are the very special operations that NORTHCOM is now formally asking the Pentagon to beef up into a public and acknowledged sub-command.
NORTHCOM's compartmented and sensitive operations fall under the Joint Chiefs of Staff "Focal Point" program, a separate communications and planning network used to hide special operations undertaken by the Joint Special Operations Command, headquartered in North Carolina, and by CIA and other domestic compartmented activities.
Since 2003, the CPOC has had a small core of permanent members drawn from the operations, intelligence and planning directorates. In an emergency, the staff can be expanded. According to NORTHCOM documents, CPOC is involved in planning for a number of domestic missions, including:
-- Non-conventional assisted recovery
-- Integrated survey programs
-- Information operations/"special technical operations"
-- "Special activities"
What are all of these programs? CPOC's basic missions include responding to incidents of weapons of mass destruction, support for continuity of government, protection of the president, response to domestic terrorism and insurrection and (presumably) domestic intelligence collection. ("Special activities" is a euphemism for covert operations.)
A number of operations plans have been associated with these domestic operations:
-- CONPLAN 0300 is the basic contingency plan for combating domestic terrorism (and may have been folded into newer such plans now under the control of U.S. Special Operations Command).
-- "Power Geyser" is the contingency plan for incidents of weapons of mass destruction in the Washington area. This includes both recovery of a stolen nuclear weapon or disabling of an improvised weapon or dirty bomb.
-- USNORTHCOM Antiterrorism Operations Order 05-01 deals with domestic counterterrorism and domestic intelligence against groups intent on attacking military interests.
With all this going on, for NORTHCOM to ask permission now seems beside the point. Still, it's always better to ask. Isn't it?
At a preliminary hearing Thursday in Riverside Superior Court, Judge Judson W. Morris Jr. found there was sufficient evidence to try Donald Sevesind on three counts of lewd acts upon a teenager and one count of attempted rape.
Sevesind, 49, of Riverside, is a 25-year veteran of the Pomona Police Department, specializing in burglary investigations. He has been on administrative leave since his arrest.
Prosecutors say between summer 2005 and April 2006, the detective entered his then-15-year-old daughter's room and molested her.
Under cross-examination from defense attorney Virginia Blumenthal, sheriff's Detective Joel Morales said the girl, referred to as Jane Doe, asked her father to give her a back rub.
He said she fell asleep, only to wake up and find her shirt around her neck, her bra removed and her underwear down to her knees. He said she pretended to be asleep as her father caressed her breasts and genital area.
"She said she was scared and in disbelief," Morales said.
About a month later, she told detectives she woke to find her clothing rearranged
and her father fondling her for the second time. Again she said she pretended to be asleep, as she said she did when she woke to find her father fondling her a third time in October.
On April 25, 2006, Morales said, the girl told detectives she woke to find her blankets pulled down to the end of the bed and her clothing rearranged. But this time, she said her father was wearing only a T-shirt and was straddling her.
She said when he attempted to rape her she pulled away. Morales said she told detectives he tried to pull her back, then left the room.
Two days later, after reluctantly reporting the alleged incidents to a school counselor, she was taken to the sheriff's Jurupa Valley station by Riverside County Child Protective Services and questioned.
Morales said detectives videotaped her interview, and taped two calls they had her make to her father asking him about the incidents. Morales said he told her they would talk about it later.
Sevesind was arrested early the next day.
Blumenthal argued that the evidence presented was insufficient to bring Sevesind to trial, but Morris was unconvinced.
"I have to respectfully disagree," he said. "This is a pretty solid attempted rape."
Sevesind showed no emotion during the hearing. He remains out of jail on $100,000 bail, and is scheduled to be arraigned
If convicted, he faces up to six years in state prison.
Staff writer Mark Petix can be reached by e-mail at mark.petix
Prensa Latina: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced that the intelligence services have evidence on the existence of a US-orchestrated plan aimed at destabilizing the country, and called it a "slow fuse."
In a phone call to "Venezolana de Television," Chavez pointed out the intention is to pave the way for a large-scale conflict, and allow for international condemnations.
"They have tried to attract some military sectors but, fortunately, the Armed Force is well consolidated," he said.
The President indicated that an extreme right-wing ploy orchestrated by the US, to try to weaken the country and overthrow him, lays behind the recent student protests.
US contacts with students are unlikely to be direct, but evidence corroborates there is a covert strategy to incite violence, Chavez commented.
It is not a new ploy, but a change of strategy, stated the President.
“When the NRA and I agree on legislation,” oozed the incarnate glob of viscous evil known as Senator Chuck Schumer, “you know that it's going to get through, become law, and do some good.”
Schumer was referring to the measure passed in the House yesterday (June 13) -- by an unrecorded voice vote! -- that will expand the scope and funding of a national database used in background checks of prospective gun buyers.
The Quisling outfit called the National Rifle Association, ever eager to see that patently unconstitutional gun laws are faithfully enforced, supported the measure. Gun Owners of America, the only national gun rights group worthy of that description, did not. As GOA's Erich Pratt told the New York Times, this system is designed to force “law-abiding people ... to prove their innocence to a bureaucrat before they exercise their constitutional rights” to purchase and own a firearm.
The putative purpose of the measure is to prevent deranged people and other “mental defectives” like the Virginia Tech mass murderer Seung-Hui Cho from buying firearms. But this law, like every other gun law, will give criminals of that sort an additional competitive advantage over the law-abiding.
This, Schumer would insist, falls under the heading of doing “good.”
One must keep in mind that from Schumer's perspective, which differs from that of the Khmer Rouge only in relatively trivial matters of detail, doing “good” involves denuding individuals of their privacy and the means to resist the government.
To understand more fully Schumer's passion to reduce Americans to servitude, it's useful to picture him not as a Senator, freshly groomed and swaddled in an expensive, well-tailored suit, but rather as a grimy, unshaven patron of a malodorous strip club, his beady eyes fixed with unblinking, predatory lust on the hapless Chinese immigrant girl forced to perform for his amusement (her career as an “exotic dancer” being written into the contract with the Snakehead that brought her to the U.S.).
As the dancer, trembling from the effort to suppress her disgust, discards each layer of clothing, Schumer (the version in our example) becomes more agitated, his illicit appetites growing more insistent. He will not relent until that unfortunate girl is deprived of any modesty or decency, fully exposed to his inspection and subject to his whims.
In this respect, Schumer is not significantly different from most representatives of our political class, irrespective of the political brand name under which they conduct their assault on our liberties. In dealing with Americans who insist on defending their rights, Schumer emits a dense musk of unfiltered malice; his arrogance is palpable, as is his desire to reduce Americans to helotry. During the 1995 congressional hearings into the Waco Holocaust, Schumer gave the impression that he was disappointed that the federal mass murder at Mt. Carmel was a one-off event, rather than the opening shots of a campaign to annihilate gun owners nation-wide.
Schumer's demeanor and tactics in that hearing left me with the strong impression that he was somehow the product of a genetic experiment combining the salient traits of Soviet gulag master Lazar Kaganovich with those of the equally repellent Roland Freisler, the histrionic Communist-turned National Socialist who presided over Nazi Germany's “People's Court”:
Schumer's ideological ancestor Lazar Kaganovich, the "Wolf of the Kremlin" (left) and Nazi Judge Roland Freisler (below, right), whose demeanor and comportment uncannily matched those of New York's senior Senator.
The purpose of the Second Amendment, as I've pointed out before, is not merely to protect a clearly articulated individual right to armed self-defense, although this is certainly one of its important function. Its central purpose, I believe, is to make it clear that in the republic the Founders created (how I wish it were still in operation), the government did not have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
The people who wrote that Amendment, we should never forget, were pretty much the same group that took part in history's noblest act of sedition by signing a document setting out some of the conditions under which it was proper and necessary to “alter or abolish” the government that ruled them. The right to keep and bear arms must be viewed in that context: When the time comes for an oppressive government to be confronted and, if necessary, abolished, the people must be armed.
(A quick digression: Why is sedition – a word directly related to “separation” or “secession” -- considered a crime? It seems to me that when a government attempts to criminalize sedition, becoming a seditionist is the moral duty of every citizen.)
On the other hand, the reason why the Regime is intent on collecting as much information as it can on law-abiding gun owners is to make gun confiscation possible. This is theoretical only as it applies to the Regime's actions domestically: As I've documented elsewhere, the Regime has eagerly conducted gun confiscation programs as part of “peacekeeping” missions in Haiti, Somalia, and elsewhere. We shouldn't forget the effort to disarm victims of Hurricane Katrina.
And those who don't think that our rulers are capable of systematically destroying their disarmed victims really should acquaint themselves with the Federal Government's treatment of American Indians during the 19th Century. Once again, we're not discussing this issue in an abstract, theoretical realm.
Schumer and his loathsome ilk seek to strip us of all of our rights. They would love to denude us in a single paroxysm of violence, of course, but from their perspective a forced strip-tease works just as well. The outcome would be the same in either case.
Rep. Jerry Lewis' campaign committee failed to properly report more than $276,000 in stock earnings to the Federal Election Commission last year, campaign finance records show.
Campaign officials for Lewis, R-Redlands, filed a response to the election commission calling the discrepancy an oversight and saying they would amend their reports to fix the error.
Jim Specht, a spokesman for Lewis, said he is confident the amended report would resolve the issue. Days before November's election, Lewis cashed out a decades-old mutual fund account containing more than $500,000, Specht said.
Lewis, who had contributed heavily to individual Republican candidates in tight races, agreed to give $335,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee at the 11th hour.
The rest of the cash from the mutual-fund account was put back into the Lewis campaign fund.
In the end, Democrats won control of both the House and Senate and Lewis was hit with more than $108,190 in capital gains taxes stemming from the transaction.
The Lewis campaign paid those taxes, records show. But the $276,614.66 that the mutual fund account had earned over the years was not reflected on campaign-finance disclosure forms filed with the election commission in December.
Officials from Williams & Jensen, the Washington, D.C., law firm that handles Lewis' campaign finances, did not return calls seeking comment.
The discrepancy was discovered this spring, when federal election officials received Lewis' regular financial disclosure report and saw an unaccounted for increase in funds. On May 22, they sent the Lewis campaign a letter requiring an explanation.
Every year, the Federal Election Commission sends thousands of requests for information to members of Congress based on apparent finance mistakes or irregularities.
Thus, the discrepancy and subsequent correspondence are not unusual, said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a no
Defense attacks expert's testimony
By Rod Leveque, Staff Writer
SAN BERNARDINO - Attorneys for the former sheriff's deputy on trial for shooting an unarmed man at the end of a car chase worked Tuesday to soften the testimony of a police-tactics expert who earlier told jurors the shooting appeared inappropriate and unprovoked.
The witness, Joe Callanan, had testified for prosecutors that the deputy, Ivory J. Webb Jr., abandoned proper procedures and appeared to be out of control when he shot and wounded an off-duty Air Force enlisted man in Chino on Jan. 29, 2006.
But during cross-examination Tuesday, Webb's lawyers portrayed Callanan as a Monday-morning quarterback of sorts, who - unlike Webb - had the luxuries of hindsight and unlimited time in forming his opinions.
"You didn't have two drunks trying to divert your attention, did you?" defense attorney William Hadden asked him.
"No," Callanan said.
"Didn't have to worry about anyone taking your gun?" Hadden asked.
"That's true," Callanan said.
Webb is on trial charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm in connection with the shooting of Elio Carrion, who was the passenger in a Corvette that led the deputy on a high-speed chase.
The chase ended when the driver, Luis Escobedo, crashed into a wall on Francis Street in Chino. A tape of the shooting made by a resident shows Webb shoot Carrion as Carrion appears to comply with Webb's orders to get up.
Webb's lawyers have argued the shooting was legally justifiable.
They say Carrion did not comply with the deputy's orders to shut up, reached a hand toward Webb's gun, and also reached a hand into his own jacket, as though going for a weapon.
Carrion and Escobedo were legally drunk at the time of the shooting.
Callanan is a retired Los Angeles County sheriff's lieutenant and an expert on police tactics pertaining to the use of deadly force.
Prosecutors called him to testify on Monday to render his opinions on whether Webb's actions were consistent with how other reasonable and objective police officers would have behaved in similar circumstances. He remained on the stand Tuesday as well.
Under the questioning of Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope, Callanan gave a blistering critique of Webb's actions, slamming the former deputy for everything from his decision to give chase to his demeanor after the shooting.
"I would not see a reasonable officer or an experienced officer shoot under these conditions," he testified Tuesday before the start of his cross-examination.
Hadden barely began his questioning of Callanan before the trial was adjourned for the day.
However, he wasted little time in attacking Callanan's conclusions.
Callanan conceded that he has not personally been involved in a police pursuit or shooting since he retired in 1989.
He also admitted he formed his opinions in the comfort and safety of his office, while Webb had to make life-or-death decisions on a dark street and in the uncertainty and chaos following a high-speed car chase.
Cross-examination of Callanan will continue Thursday, when Webb's trial resumes in San Bernardino Superior Court.
Webb no longer works for the Sheriff's Department. He faces as much as 18 years in prison if convicted.
Carrion survived the shooting and has since returned to the Air Force.
Staff writer Rod Leveque can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at (909) 483-9325.
Following the Webb case
Jan. 29, 2006: Air Force Senior Airman Elio Carrion is shot three times by a sheriff's deputy after a high-speed chase that ends on Francis Street in Chino. The incident is captured on videotape by a nearby resident. The driver, Luis Escobedo, is arrested and booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of felony evading. Carrion is hospitalized at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. The deputy, Ivory J. Webb Jr., is placed on paid administrative leave.
Jan. 31: Escobedo is released without being charged. The FBI launches an investigation into possible violations of Carrion's civil rights at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office. The Sheriff's Department also requests the FBI's assistance to produce an enhanced copy of the videotape.
Feb. 3: Carrion's family demands the arrest of Webb. Carrion is released from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.
Feb. 10: The Sheriff's Department concludes its investigation into the officer-involved shooting and turns its reports over to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.
March 5: The District Attorney's Office, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department interview Carrion.
March 7: District Attorney Michael A. Ramos charges Webb with attempted voluntary manslaughter and Escobedo with felony evading and driving while under the influence. Carrion returns home to his family, but continues outpatient physical therapy.
March 8: Webb and Escobedo are arraigned. Both plead not guilty.
July 12: Carrion's attorney files a claim against San Bernardino County asking for unspecified damages for violating his civil rights.
July 19: Carrion receives the commendation medal for his service in Iraq, at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
Aug. 28: A judge orders Webb to stand trial for attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Sept. 11: At his arraignment, prosecutors add a second charge against Webb - claiming the former sheriff's deputy committed assault with a firearm.
Nov. 3: A trial date of Jan. 5 is set for Webb.
Dec. 27: Carrion files a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Gary Penrod and Webb.
April 30, 2007: Jury selection begins for Webb's trial in which 400 potential jurors were summoned.
May 29: Opening statements made in Webb's trial.
May 30: Escobedo testifies in the trial.
May 31: Recording of radio traffic from the night of the shooting played in court.
June 4: Carrion testifies that Webb ordered him to get up off the ground, and shot him when he tried to comply.
June 5: Carrion finishes testifying and Jose Luis Valdes takes the stand, saying that he started to tape the incident after he thought he saw Webb kick Carrion.
June 6: Valdes finishes his testimony and his wife, who also witnessed the incident, takes the stand.
Thursday: The first officers who reported to the scene testify Webb told them that Carrion lunged at him.
Monday: An expert in police tactics and training testifies Webb made critical mistakes and didn't follow proper procedures before the shooting.
Tuesday: Webb's attorney cross-examines the expert in police tactics, pointing out that he had the luxuries of hindsight and unlimited time in analyzing Webb's actions.
Oddly enough, the U.S. military in 1994 sought to create a hormone bomb that might turn enemy soldiers into rampant homosexuals, leading to an orgiastic gang bang.
Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project in Berkeley, Calif., used the federal Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the proposal from the Air Force's Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.
As part of a military effort to create nonlethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely nonlethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."
The documents indicate the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.
"The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistibly attractive to one another," Hammond said after reviewing the documents.
"The notion was that a chemical that would probably be pleasant in the human body in low quantities could be identified, and by virtue of either breathing or having their skin exposed to this chemical, the notion was that soldiers would become gay," Hammond said.
The Pentagon told CBS 5 News that the proposal was made by the Air Force in 1994.
"The Department of Defense is committed to identifying, researching and developing nonlethal weapons that will support our men and women in uniform," said a DOD spokesperson, who suggested that the "gay bomb" idea was quickly shelved.
Hammond said the government records he obtained indicate the military was keener on the idea than it is now suggesting.
"The truth of the matter is, it would have never come to my attention if it was dismissed at the time it was proposed," he said. "In fact, the Pentagon has used it repeatedly and subsequently in an effort to promote nonlethal weapons, and in fact they submitted it to the highest scientific review body in the country for them to consider."
Gay community leaders in California said Friday that they found the idea of a "gay bomb" both offensive and ridiculous.
"Throughout history we have had so many brave men and women who are gay and lesbian serving the military with distinction," said Geoff Kors of Equality California.
"So, it's just offensive that they think by turning people gay that the other military would be incapable of doing their job. And it's absurd because there's so much medical data that shows that sexual orientation is immutable and cannot be changed." (Stewart Who?, Gay.com U.K.)
kleinsecretroomsmallAT&T agreed to allow large portions of sealed documents that sit at the heart of an anti-spying case against the telecom giant which alleges the company illegally installed secret surveillance rooms in its internet facilities at the behest of the National Security Agency. The case brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in January 2006 relies on documents provided to the group by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician who took three documents home with him when he retired in 2004.
AT&T acceded to the disclosure only after the EFF threatened to ask a federal appeals court to unseal documents that had been published by Wired News and Frontline, which would have forced the company's lawyers into the embarrassing position of arguing that documents available on the internet for more than a year were secret, according to Cindy Cohn, the EFF's legal director.
Those documents, along with a signed declaration from Klein and an interpretation of the documents by internet expert J. Scott Marcus, were kept mostly under wraps by court order that applied to the parties in the case. However, Wired News was able to independently acquire significant portions of the wiring diagrams, equipment list and task orders, and published them in May 2006. Today's newly released portions of the Hepting documents confirm that the Wired documents are the same as those under seal.
The document release comes as AT&T, the EFF and the government prepare to battle in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in August, where the government and AT&T seek to overturn lower court order allowing the case to proceed. The government argues that the case must be thrown out since it involves national security matters, while AT&T says it can't defend itself without spilling classified information. Federal district court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled last July that the case could proceed because the president admitted the existence of the NSA's warrantless wiretapping of Americans' overseas communications.
"Dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security," Walker wrote.
The interpretation of Klein's documents by Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former advisor to the FCC, are the most interesting documents released today.
"This configuration appears to have the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic," Marcus wrote.
AT&T likely has 15 to 20 of these rooms around the country, shipped data out of the rooms via a separate network to another location and collectively, the rooms were able to keep tabs on some 10% of the nation's purely domestic intenret traffic, according to Marcus.
The obvious and natural design for a massive surveillance system for IPO-based data, and the one most cost-effective to implement, would in my judgment be comprised of the following elements: (1) massive data capture at the locations where the data can be tapped, (2) high speed screening and reduction of the captured data at the point of capture in order to identify data of interest, (3) shipment of the data of interest to one or two central collection points for more detailed analysis, and (4) intensive analysis and cross correlation of the data of interest by very powerful processing engines at the central location or locations. The AT&T documents demonstrate that the equipment that is well suited for the first three of these tasks was deployed to San Francisco, and, with high probability, to other locations. I infer that the fourth element also exists at one or more locations.
Cindy Cohn hopes the new documents will let people see that there case is grounded in fact and that the government's argument that national security is at risk is overblown.
"It really paints them in to a corner how unreasonable their claims of state secrets are," Cohn said. "I'm hoping [the document release] demonstrates we are right and know what we are talking about and that we don’t need much more to win our case. We are much claoser than people think."
AT&T did not respond to questions about the quality of Marcus' analysis. Instead a company spokesman re-issued its long-standing, canned statement: "AT&T is fully committed to protecting our customers' privacy. We do not comment on matters of national security."
Wired News, which AT&T called a "scofflaw" for publishing the documents, unsuccessfully attempted to get the documents unsealed.
PDF documents: Klein statement released today. Wiring diagrams released today. Marcus declaration released today. Klein documents published by Wired News last year. EFF argument to appeals court.
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Trent Lemmon, 36, of Rancho Cucamonga died Feb. 12 after being shot by Deputy Joseph Parker.
The District Attorney's Office on Monday ruled the killing was legally justified because he had an immediate and apparent great bodily injury or death threat.
Inside the report, Parker said Lemmon told him, "I have a gun, I'm going to kill you" after he was told to "let me see your hands."
Lemmon then repeated the phrase more than once and shoved his hand into his pocket. Parker saw a silver or gray object that appeared to be metal and then fired his gun.
- Wes Woods II, (909) 483-9378
The deputy, Ivory J. Webb Jr., erred in virtually every move he made, from the moment he gave chase to the fleeing car right through his decision to pull the trigger of his pistol, according to testimony from Joe Callanan, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff's training officer and police use-of-force specialist.
Callanan said Webb acted that night like "a one-man task force," and characterized the former deputy's decisions as "a disaster."
"This is not what you expect from a trained, professional, experienced peace officer," he testified. "It simply is not reasonable, and there is no explanation for it."
Webb is on trial in San Bernardino Superior Court for attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm in connection with the on-duty shooting of Elio Carrion.
Webb shot Carrion, an Iraq war veteran and Air Force senior airman, three times on Jan. 29, 2006, after chasing a Corvette in which Carrion was a passenger.
The chase ended when the Corvette crashed on Francis Street in Chino. Carrion crawled out of the car onto the ground as a local man videotaped the incident from his front yard.
The tape appears to show Webb shoot Carrion as Carrion complied with the deputy's orders to "get up."
Prosecutors called Callanan to testify Monday as an expert witness on police training and procedure.
Callanan spent about 20 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, rising to the rank of lieutenant before he retired in 1989. During that time, and since, he helped craft procedures regarding police use of deadly force that have become the standard for law-enforcement agencies across the country, he said.
He now works as a private consultant, billing $120 to $250 per hour for his services.
He previously testified for prosecutors during grand jury proceedings for the LAPD officers indicted in connection with the infamous Rodney King beating, though he said it's rare he works for the prosecution.
Most of his work is done on behalf of officers or police agencies involved in use-of-force incidents, he said.
Callanan said he reviewed the videotape of Webb's shooting, scores of police reports, witness interviews, police radio logs and other evidence in reaching his opinions on the Webb incident.
In his testimony Monday, he spared no criticism of the former deputy's actions. On several occasions, he said any cadet who tried to use Webb's tactics during training exercises at the academy would probably flunk.
"These are things that are taught to them in the earliest academy days," Callanan testified.
According to earlier testimony, Webb never reported over his police radio that he was engaged in a pursuit. His first transmission was to report that he was holding two suspects at gunpoint.
Then he gave backup officers at least two erroneous reports of his whereabouts, leaving them unable to find and help him.
Callanan told jurors that Webb probably shouldn't even have given chase to the Corvette, given the danger of pursuing such a fast car through a residential area. And once the chase began, Webb should have reported it over the radio, along with the reason for the chase and his speed.
He also should have constantly updated his location. If he wasn't sure where he was, he should have told his colleagues and given a general description of the area, Callanan said.
Once the Corvette crashed, Webb parked his squad car at an angle almost parallel to it, with his own door toward the two suspects. He then walked right up to Carrion with his gun drawn. Webb stayed within several feet of Carrion through the time of the shooting.
Callanan said this, too, was a mistake.
Webb should have parked his squad car pointed at the Corvette so he could use his headlights and spotlights to illuminate the area for safety. He then should have armed himself with a shotgun, stood behind his door in a defensive posture and shouted commands to the suspects over his loudspeaker until backup arrived, Callanan testified.
By not doing so, Webb failed to utilize the best and safest tools he had at his disposal, Callanan said.
"He should not approach the Corvette, and he should not approach the man on the ground," Callanan said.
Webb continued to worsen the situation by shouting confusing, insulting and vulgar commands at Carrion, Callanan said. Officers are trained to be calm and assertive, but Webb appeared to lose his cool with his suspect for no clear reasons, the witness said.
An officer's goal should be to calm and subdue suspects. Webb's words to Carrion, in which he called him a "punk" and used a stream of curse words, were more likely to agitate the situation, Callanan testified.
"It's just abusive treatment, and nobody likes it, period," he said.
The tape of the shooting appears to show Carrion disobey Webb's orders to "shut up." It also shows Carrion repeatedly lift his hands off the ground as he tried to tell Webb he means him no harm. At one point, a hand appears to come close to Webb's gun.
Still, Callanan said he didn't see Carrion make any moves that would have justified Webb to shoot him - especially after telling Carrion to "get up."
"There's not a threat relative to the man on the ground that would indicate that such a high level of force - deadly force - be deployed," he said.
Callanan also said that the manner in which Webb fired the gun appeared deliberate, and is not consistent with "panic fire."
Webb's personnel records show that the deputy had been repeatedly trained in proper techniques for use of deadly force. Webb, in fact, had just attended refresher classes in August 2005, about five months prior to the shooting, Callanan said.
Webb's lawyers will get their chance to cross-examine Callanan when testimony in the trial resumes today. Defense attorney Michael Schwartz on Monday declined to comment on Callanan's testimony thus far.
Webb's legal team is likely to call their own experts in the trial, as well.
Webb's attorneys have previously argued the shooting was justified.
They say Carrion repeatedly ignored orders from the deputy and reached a hand into his black Raiders jacket, as though he were grabbing for a weapon.
Webb no longer works for the Sheriff's Department. He faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted.
Carrion has returned to light duty at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
Staff writer Rod Leveque can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (909) 483-9325.
Article Launched: 06/10/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT
WASHINGTON - Hollywood party girls don't have a monopoly on trouble in California. A disproportionate number of the state's congressional Republicans are facing ethics questions that threaten to sink their careers and their party's political fortunes too.
Of 201 House Republicans, at least six are known to have attracted the attention of federal investigators - and four are from California. Their woes come in the wake of the lurid corruption scandal that sent ex-GOP Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of San Diego to prison last year for taking $2.4 million in bribes.
Although their situations have a few common threads, some analysts attribute the cluster of California cases to coincidence, plus the state's large size and district lines drawn to protect incumbents.
"When your seat is so safe that you're not concerned about perception, you become too wedded to Washington and you lose touch with your constituency, and you lose touch with your real purpose," said Karen Hanretty, a Republican strategist and former California Republican Party spokeswoman.
Rep. John Doolittle, a nine-term Northern California conservative under investigation in the influence-peddling scandal around jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has his own theory about why federal corruption investigations seem to be concentrated in California.
"I think it's part of this manufactured culture of corruption that the Democrats have come up with and they decided to, given what's happened with Duke Cunningham, they decided that California Republicans on the Appropriations Committee would be a great place to start," said Doolittle, who plans to seek re-election next year.
The ethics cloud is discouraging the party faithful who've already watched the GOP shrink to minority status in California. And they add to the dilemmas of Republican strategists aiming to retake Congress next year following election losses blamed partly on GOP ethics problems.
"There is a sort of feeling among Republican activists who work hard to elect Republicans of, `What the heck is going on here?"' said Los Angeles GOP analyst Allan Hoffenblum.
Republican Rep. Richard Pombo was chairman of the House Resources Committee when he lost in a GOP-leaning Central California district last November amid questions about his ties to Abramoff.
That reduced the number of Republicans in the nation's largest congressional delegation to 19, the lowest since their numbers shrank from 24 once district lines were redrawn after the 2000 census.
There are 33 Democrats from California, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, and none are known to be facing active FBI scrutiny. A 34th California Democratic seat is vacant after the cancer death in April of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald.
Article Launched: 06/10/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT
SAN DIEGO - Charges against a Marine lawyer accused of failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha should be dismissed, the officer's attorney said the investigating officer in the case has recommended.
Capt. Randy W. Stone, 34, was charged with failing to report and investigate the deaths of the men, women and children in a deadly sweep on a chaotic day of battle in the village. The battalion lawyer is one of four officers charged in the killings.
His attorney, Charles Gittins, said Saturday that investigating officer Maj. Thomas McCann concluded in a report to the commanding general overseeing the case that Stone should not face court-martial, and the matter should be handled administratively.
The recommendation is nonbinding. A final decision will be made by Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the commanding general overseeing the case.
Stone, from Dunkirk, Md., faces up to
2 1/2 years in prison and dismissal if his case goes to trial and he is convicted.
Camp Pendleton spokesman Lt. Col. Sean Gibson declined to comment until Mattis makes his final decision.
Also on Saturday, one of Stone's fellow officers, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, made an unsworn statement in preliminary hearings to determine whether he should face trial on charges of dereliction of duty and violating a lawful order for failing to investigate the deaths in Haditha.
The two dozen people were killed as a Marine squad went house to house looking for those responsible for a roadside bomb that killed one Marine and hurt two others.
The Marines have said they believed they were taking fire from the houses. They used fragmentation grenades and machine guns to clear the homes, but instead of hitting insurgents, they killed civilians.
During the statement, which took fewer than 10 minutes to deliver, Chessani told the officer overseeing his hearing that he believes he broke no laws in the aftermath.
"Hindsight is 20/20," Chessani told Col. Christopher Conlin. "I did not believe that my actions and my decisions were criminal, sir."
To the world public opinion: we hope that you will help us … We need fair treatment, a fair investigation and finally, a fair trial. Please help us.
We have been (text not clear) for a long time and we have been cut out of our families, no contacts or phones, no letters, even no parcels sent to us by our families and not one given to us.
Other than Saddam Hussein, Tariq Aziz was the most recognizable face that the western world saw from Iraq between 1990 and 2003. Many times, he appeared in press conferences giving the Iraqi side to the stories fabricated by the U.S. He was eloquent by any standards in a language that was not his first (English). Watching him speak was a treat to those of us who did not buy into the U.S. fabrications about Iraq. When he finished a speech, the listener came away with not only his current message, but information about world history and sociology as well.
For instance, about six months before the illegal March 2003 invasion, a speech by Aziz was carried by the U.S. network C-SPAN, that was an in-depth lecture about how revolution and terrorism were opposing forces. This was during the time when the Bush administration was giving a full-court press to the absurd concept that Saddam Hussein and Osam bin-Laden were in cahoots in attempting to destroy the U.S.
I was mesmerized by Aziz' mastery of the English language as well as the sociological information he brought forth. No U.S. or British professor could have exceeded his eloquence.
Today, Tariq Aziz rots in a prison cell. He does not know where he is and neither does his family. His incarceration, as well as that of the other imprisoned Iraqi government officials, is a blight that the world should be ashamed of.
Part of the U.S. arsenal is to humiliate people beyond the norms of human behavior. Aziz is now in the middle of such a program.
Much of U.S. culture is based on humiliation. In sports, business, education, and many other cultural pursuits, this humiliation is standard fare in the American psyche, so it is easy to see why the administration uses these methods against its "enemies." I once wrote a piece concerning how the U.S. tried to humiliate President Saddam Hussein in depicting his capture; showing him to be a coward on the run. Fortunately, the truth did emerge and it differed considerably from what was shown on TV and published in the print media. Saddam was captured at a friend's house while shooting it out with U.S. military personnel.
Demonizing a leader who disagrees with the U.S. is a successful manner in which to con the U.S. public. Despite all the truth eventually emerging, the citizenry of America still believes the lies every time they are told. And, the lies are big: the bigger, the more the U.S. public believes them.
Saddam Hussein was crazy. Psychologists (in all probability U.S. administration employees posing as doctors) wrote that he was nuts because his left eyebrow was at a different angle from his right one. The public bought it. Saddam was a madman who must be stopped.
Manuel Noriega, the former president of Panama was depicted in the same terms. And, he was kidnapped by the U.S.
In 1993, the U.S. went into Somalia and after a few months changed strides and began to demonize Mohamed Aidid. Instead of being a nationalist who was fighting for his country, Aidid was again portrayed as a madman.
A little-known fact behind the demonizing of Aidid is the identity of the author of the scenario. The infamous April Glaspie, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in 1990 who met with Saddam Hussein in July of that year and made the statement, "We (U.S.) take no opinion in Arab to Arab matters," was assigned to Somalia in June 1993 to up the ante. She created anti-Aidid propaganda and the so-called humanitarian mission changed into a manhunt for Aidid.
The U.S. is masterful at creating enemies and depicting them as crazed madmen. It is also masterful at kidnapping and assassinating foreign leaders. Saddam Hussein had been the target of many a U.S. missile or bomb since 1991, as well as CIA-inspired plots from inside Iraq. He survived all and only could be put down by a bogus court that was set up by the U.S. Even seconds before his death, he was defiant and refused to "repent" to U.S. demands.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq was declared illegal by the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan. We all know that is was illegal. If so, how can the U.S. be allowed to kill or kidnap members of a legal government and not be held accountable? This is the question that the world should be discussing.
Instead, most countries ignore the plight of the imprisoned leaders. Many are outright afraid of a U.S. reprisal, either in the form of military action, or the taking away of funds used to buy off the countries. Others, such as Arab countries who once benefited from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, are just willing to keep their mouths shut because their leaders do not want to lose the money the U.S. gives them and by not speaking up about Iraq, they are allowed to keep their medieval societies in place without opposition from U.S. propaganda. So much for the U.S. crusade for "democracy" in the world.
The current state of the imprisoned Iraqi government officials transcends the plight of a dozen or so individuals. Several suffered the same fate as Saddam and ended up at the end of the hangman’s noose. Others are being tried and will also be hanged because of the verdict of a kangaroo court. The world has been sent a message that is even more dire than that of the invasion of Iraq: it has been given notice that the U.S. can and will do anything it wants at any time it wants and there will be no opposition. Never in the history of the world has such power been given to any one nation.
The peace groups who once massed in cities worldwide to protest the impending war against Iraq are now mute on the subject of the incarcerated Iraqi government. Most have bought into the administration's line of "what's done is done." They have taken their signs home and thrown them in the trash.
We should be seeing a worldwide movement that could define the history of this planet. We should be seeing massive numbers of people protesting the plight of Tariq Aziz and his comrades. Baghdad should be the destination of millions of fair-minded people to create an atmosphere of protest that no one can ignore. Instead, we hear silence.
There are a few leaders who have stood up for justice in Iraq. Presidents Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela are two. However, they both are in the cross-hairs of U.S. policy and they know they will be targets, but they have let their integrity rule, instead of fear or greed. How long will they stay alive?
Terrorism is rampant today in the world. Never have their been so many terrorist activities; daily and worldwide. The headquarters for the largest, most efficient, most well-armed and most dangerous terrorist organization in the world are located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
CALIMESA - As a former San Bernardino police detective sits in jail on suspicion of killing his wife, the woman's brother says her family stands behind him.
Blair Christopher Hall was arrested Thursday after his wife, Cristi Lynne Hall, died in a hospital. She had been found about an hour earlier unconscious in the couple's backyard spa in Calimesa.
Riverside County sheriff's detectives said they have enough evidence to arrest Hall in connection with the death of his 46-year-old wife. Hall reported the incident himself.
Cristi Hall's brother said Saturday he does not believe his brother-in-law is involved.
"It's not something that's in his character, and we just want to say that we believe in him 100 percent," Lance Carlton said. "He should be home with us during this time."
Carlton said there is an explanation for his sister's death that he hopes the district attorney's office sees when it reviews the case Monday. The couple was remodeling the bathroom at their Belle Road home, and Cristi Hall was unable to use it while getting ready for work at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where she was an X-ray technician.
So she chose to bathe in the backyard spa after turning down an offer to use the shower at her parents' home in Banning, Carlton said. She went to the outdoor spa with her bath products just after 6:30 a.m., Carlton said.
"She was taking a bath in the Jacuzzi, and she slipped and fell," Carlton said. "And that's the end of the story."
But after nearly 12 hours of investigation, detectives arrested the husband on suspicion of murder. He is being held at Southwest Justice Center. Bail is set at $1 million.
The 48-year-old Hall, who runs a private-investigation firm in Yucaipa, retired from the San Bernardino Police Department in 1994 after being injured during a robbery while working as an undercover narcotics detective.
Hall, his wife and three children moved to Idaho, where he became police chief of Cascade, a town of 1,000 people. He worked there several years in the late 1990s, but quit shortly before being convicted of embezzling $19,000 from a drug task force fund.
Neighbors say Hall and his wife of 29 years had a loving relationship, and Carlton agreed.
He said his sister was not unhappy, and that Hall is not a killer.
"Chris is our family," Carlton said. "He doesn't deserve this."
Reach Paul LaRocco at 909-806-3064 or plarocco@PE.com
Stacia Glenn, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/08/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT
CALIMESA - The wife of a retired San Bernardino police officer was found floating face-down in their backyard hot tub Thursday morning, and the husband was arrested on suspicion of homicide.
Cristi Lynne Hall, 46, was found unresponsive at 6:48 a.m.
Riverside County Sheriff's deputies pulled her from the water and administered first aid. She was rushed to San Gorgonio Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 7:35 a.m.
Sheriff's homicide detectives uncovered enough evidence, they said, to arrest Blair Christopher Hall, 49. He was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
For most of the day, the Sheriff's Department withheld the names of the victim and the suspect, saying only that the death was suspicious and under investigation by the homicide unit.
The home where the incident occurred is listed in the report as in the 1200 block of Belle Road.
This is not Blair Hall's first run-in with the law.
A few years ago, he pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $19,000 from a state-administered federal grant intended to train a drug-enforcement task force, while he was police chief in Cascade, Idaho.
Though he told the judge he intended to pay it back, Hall admitted spending the money on a TV satellite dish, clothing and a room at Cactus Pete's casino in Nevada, court records show.
Hall started his career as a police officer in San Bernardino, where he was hired in 1982. He was promoted to narcotics detective in 1988 and medically retired in 1994 after being shot in the leg by a would-be carjacker.
He moved to Idaho to become police chief the following year with his wife and three daughters. He resigned in 1998.
From there, Hall took the same post in Emmett, Idaho, where he lasted fewer than 100 days.
He then became a security officer at San Manuel Bingo & Casino, where he was working when the embezzlement charges were filed.
Hall most recently ran a private-investigation agency in Crown Village Center in Calimesa.
The family could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call investigators Darren Wills of the sheriff's central homicide unit at (760) 836-1632 or John Mott at the Cabazon Station at (951) 922-7100.
Contact writer Stacia Glenn at (909) 386-3887 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
The first backup officer to arrive that night, Chino police Detective Brian Cauble, testified Thursday he came upon the scene to find the deputy, Ivory J. Webb Jr., standing above a wounded Elio Carrion with his gun drawn.
Cauble said he immediately asked Webb what was going on.
"He told me the subject had tried to attack him," Cauble said.
Richard Swigart, a San Bernardino County sheriff's sergeant who also went to the scene, testified Webb told him a similar story.
"He said the guy lunged at him and he shot three times," Swigart testified.
Webb's statements from that night were the central issue Thursday as his trial continued in San Bernardino Superior Court.
Prosecutors contend the statements are contradicted by a videotape of the shooting that appears to show Webb shoot Carrion just after ordering him to get up.
They also claim that after the video of the shooting surfaced, Webb changed his story to say he shot Carrion because he believed Carrion reached into his jacket for a weapon.
Webb's lawyers contend the shooting was justified. They say Webb has been honest about what happened from the beginning, and his statements at the scene were cursory and made in the heat of a stressful situation.
Webb is charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm in connection with the Jan. 29, 2006, incident. He faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted as charged.
Carrion was the passenger in a car that led Webb on a high-speed chase. After the driver, Luis Escobedo, crashed on Francis Street in Chino, Carrion crawled out onto the ground and Webb held him a gunpoint.
A local resident videotaped the following encounter from his front yard.
The recording appears to show Carrion and Webb shouting back and forth at each other. Carrion is on the ground as he tells Webb he means him no harm. Moments later, Webb appears to order Carrion to "get up." As Carrion rises, Webb shoots him.
Swigart testified Thursday that he was a supervising sergeant at the Chino Hills sheriff's station on the night of the shooting. Swigart said he responded to Francis Street after hearing radio traffic from deputies about a car chase and shots being fired.
When he got there, Carrion was on the ground wounded, he said.
Swigart approached Webb and asked for a brief statement about what happened, he said.
Webb told him that Carrion had repeatedly defied his orders to stay on the ground, he said. Webb said he had kicked Carrion down and warned him that he would be shot if he tried to get up again.
Webb claimed Carrion disregarded that order, Swigart testified.
"He said the guy tried to get up quickly in a lunging motion, so he shot him," Swigart testified.
Swigart said Webb appeared coherent but was also noticeably upset over having shot someone.
Cauble testified Thursday that he was on patrol when he heard a radio call about an officer needing assistance. When he got to Francis Street, Webb was still holding Carrion and Escobedo at gunpoint. Carrion had already been shot.
As Cauble approached Webb, the deputy immediately said Carrion tried to attack him, Cauble said.
After hearing the statement, Cauble said he activated an audio recorder on his belt.
Prosecutors played the recording for jurors Thursday morning.
On it, Webb makes an additional statement about being attacked.
"Mother (expletive) gonna get up trying and (expletive) attack me!" he says in an angry tone.
Cauble testified Webb made the above statement while walking toward Escobedo, who was still in the driver's seat of the car.
Escobedo is then heard on the tape challenging Webb's statement.
"He told him to get up!" Escobedo shouts.
The retort appeared to agitate Webb, who then repeatedly shouted at Escobedo to shut up.
Cauble then asks Webb to "settle down, man."
San Bernardino County sheriff's Detective Leland Boldt, who supervised the investigation, testified Thursday afternoon that he and his team first saw the video of the shooting about three hours after it occurred.
He said the man who made the video, Jose Luis Valdes, invited about five detectives into his home and played the tape on a large, flat-screen television mounted on his wall.
"When he stopped the video the room was dead silenced for a few moments," Boldt testified.
Boldt said his detectives then took the video to the Chino Hills station, where it was played repeatedly for supervisors.
Testimony in the trial is scheduled to resume Monday. Prosecutors plan to rest their case by Tuesday, and Webb's lawyers will begin calling their witnesses by the middle of next week.
Staff writer Rod Leveque can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (909) 483-9325.
U.S. Army War College professor Steven Metz argues that American forces should stop trying to fight complex insurgencies
Contemporary insurgency has a different strategic context, structure, and dynamics than its forebears. Insurgencies tend to be nested in complex conflicts which involve what can be called third forces (armed groups which affect the outcome, such as militias) and fourth forces (unarmed groups which affect the outcome, such as international media), as well as the insurgents and the regime. Because of globalization, the decline of overt state sponsorship of insurgency, the continuing importance of informal outside sponsorship, and the nesting of insurgency within complex conflicts associated with state weakness or failure, the dynamics of contemporary insurgency are more like a violent and competitive market than war in the traditional sense where clear and discrete combatants seek strategic victory.
This suggests a very different way of thinking about (and undertaking) counterinsurgency. At the strategic level, the risk to the United States is not that insurgents will “win” in the traditional sense, takeover their country, and shift it from a partner to an enemy. It is that complex internal conflicts, especially ones involving insurgency, will generate other adverse effects: the destabilization of regions, resource flows, and markets; the blossoming of transnational crime; humanitarian disasters; transnational terrorism; and so forth. Given this, the U.S. goal should not automatically be the defeat of the insurgents by the regime (which may be impossible and which the regime may not even want), but the most rapid conflict resolution possible. In other words, a quick and sustainable resolution which integrates insurgents into the national power structure is less damaging to U.S. national interests than a protracted conflict which leads to the complete destruction of the insurgents. Protracted conflict, not insurgent victory, is the threat.
If, in fact, insurgency is not simply a variant of war, if the real threat is the deleterious effects of sustained conflict, and if it is part of systemic failure and pathology in which key elites and organizations develop a vested interest in sustaining the conflict, the objective of counterinsurgency support should not be simply strengthening the government so that it can impose its will more effectively on the insurgents, but systemic reengineering. This, in turn, implies that the most effective posture for outsiders is not to be an ally of the government and thus a sustainer of the flawed socio-political-economic system, but to be neutral mediators and peacekeepers (even when the outsiders have much more ideological affinity for the regime than for the insurgents). If this is true, the United States should only undertake counterinsurgency support in the most pressing instances and as part of an equitable, legitimate, and broad-based multinational coalition. (emphasis mine)
By Rod Leveque, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/04/2007 10:48:56 AM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO - The Air Force senior airman who was shot by a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy at the end of a high-speed car chase in Chino testified today that he was following the deputy's orders to get up off the ground when the deputy shot him.
Elio Carrion said the deputy, Ivory J. Webb Jr., told him twice to stand up.
"I repeated, 'I'm going to get up,'" Carrion testified. "As I get up, he shoots me."
Carrion took the witness stand Monday as Webb's trial resumed in San Bernardino Superior Court.
Webb is charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm in connection with the shooting.
Carrion was the passenger in a Corvette that led several sheriff's deputies in a high-speed chase on Jan. 29, 2006. The driver, Luis Escobedo, eventually lost control and crashed into a fence on Francis Street in Chino.
A videotape of the altercation that followed appears to show Webb shoot Carrion as the unarmed man followed the deputy's orders to stand up while he surrendered.
Prosecutors say the tape is evidence of Webb's guilt.
Webb's lawyers claim the shooting was justified.
They say Carrion did not follow the deputy's commands to surrender and reached a hand toward his jacket, as though he were grabbing for a weapon.
Carrion, who was shot three times, came to San Bernardino Superior Court on Monday wearing a black suit over a white dress shirt and red tie. He wore his hair in a short, military-style cut.
He described the altercation calmly from the witness stand.
Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope again played the videotape of the shooting for jurors while Carrion was on the witness stand.
He will continue to testify throughout the day.
Carrion required months of rehabilitation to recover, and has since returned to light duty at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
He is here on leave to testify.
Staff writer Rod Leveque can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at (909) 483-9325.
Sued earlier on similar grounds by the Center for Biological Diversity, now joined in a separate case by the Sierra Club and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, reports USA Today writer John Ritter, the county passed its updated growth plan in March, prompting state Attorney General Jerry Brown to file an April suit under the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act, which treats greenhouse gases as any other pollution.
''San Bernardino has never seen a project it didn't like,'' said Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Brendan Cummings. ''They rubber-stamp development. It's very much a frontier mentality.''
The Attorney General and other plaintiffs, the writer reports, want the county to augment its plan's environmental impact section with provisions for measuring greenhouse gases and reducing their emissions.
''It's ground-breaking,'' commented University of California-Berkeley's Center for Environmental Law and Policy Executive Director Richard Frank. ''California is just leading the way for other states and jurisdictions that will ultimately follow.''
Indeed, states that have also taken aggressive steps against climate change are closely watching the unprecedented lawsuit, the writer observes, mentioning Massachusetts, New York and Washington.
If the suit is successful, he writes, ''California cities and counties could be forced to take steps to limit sprawl, promote compact development, require builders to design energy-efficient houses that offer solar power, and encourage less driving, more mass transit and use of alternative fuels.''
Bernardino County spokesman David Wert expressed disappointment over the state lawsuit, saying the county has no control over 85 percent of its land, which is under municipal, state and federal jurisdiction, and its plan to combat global warming has already been redone.
Still, he promised to make sure that employment and housing centers are near transportation corridors and to step up efforts to promote compact development and mass transit.
San Diego lawyer and planning consultant Cary Lowe calls the climate-change suits against San Bernardino County ''a wake-up call'' for other jurisdictions, saying, ''They know there's a good chance they'll get sued.'' -- USA Today 6/4/2007
In the presentation originally made to a DIA conference in Colorado on May 14, Terri Everett, an Office of the Director of National Intelligence senior procurement executive, revealed that 70% of the total Intelligence Community budget is spent on contractors. (This was reported by Tim Shorrock on Salon.com.) Everett also included a slide depicting the trend of award dollars to contractors by the Intelligence Community from fiscal year 95 through a partial year of fiscal year 06 (i.e. through August 31st of FY06.) Because these figures are classified, a scale of the total number of award dollars was omitted from the Y-axis of the bar chart. The PowerPoint presentation was first obtained by Shorrock for Salon.com and it was later posted on the DIA's website where I downloaded it. Although it would not have been visible to the conference attendees, the data underlying the bar graph--the total amount of Intelligence Community funds spent on contractors--is readily available in the actual presentation. By double clicking on the bar chart, a small spreadsheet with the raw classified data appears:
(To view this spreadsheet in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's actual PowerPoint presentation, make sure you are opening the presentation in the PowerPoint program and not a web browser, view slide #11 and, depending upon your version of PowerPoint, making sure you're not on the 9/11 image object double-click on the chart or right click on it and choose Chart Object/Open.)
Here are the dollar amounts in tens of millions spent by the US Intelligence Community on contractors, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as embedded in the spreadsheet data underlying the bar graph (pictured above):
Note: FY06 data as of 31 August. (The numbers are in tens of millions of dollars, although this is not noted, but it is previously known that the amount spent on contracts is a double-digit billion plus dollar figure.)
This 70% of the Intelligence Community budget spent on contractors most likely includes all Intelligence Community direct acquisitions from contractors, including satellites and other very expensive hardware programs as well as more mundane supplies in addition to contracted services--(e.g. "green badgers" or staff contracted to the CIA.) The remaining 30% of the Intelligence Community budget most likely includes both personnel (i.e., civilian federal employee) and as well as intergovernmental operations and maintenance and supplies (e.g. payments by some Intelligence Community elements to GSA to lease office space and acquire government pens and office supplies.) By taking the 70% of the intelligence community budget that now goes to contractors in conjunction with the actual dollars spent on contractors, it is possible to reverse-engineer the budget using simple algebra.
This top line $60 billion figure is 25% above the estimated $48 billion budget for FY 08. It is quite probable that this total figure was not even known by the government until recently. Greater control and oversight of the Intelligence Community budget was a hallmark of the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 that created the position of the Director of National Intelligence and gave it the mandate to get an overview of the entire amount spent on intelligence government-wide. To this end, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has recently gathered all parts of the previously fragmented Intelligence Community budget together for the first time as part of its Intelligence Resource Information System (IRIS). In the report from the Select Senate Committee on Intelligence released last Thursday, the committee praised the Office of the Director of Intelligence for creating a "single budget system called the Intelligence Resource Information System." It also recognizes their efforts in helping create what "will be used for further inquiry by the Committee’s budget and audit staffs and will be a baseline that allows the Congress and DNI to derive trend data from future reports."
Earlier, lower estimates were most likely only included what fell directly under the Director of Central Intelligence and which would have omitted parts of NSA, NRO. A total Intelligence Community number, with the Intelligence Community as defined by 50 U.S.C. 401a(4), would also now include the various military intelligence services (e.g. Army Intel, Navy Intel, etc.), each with its respective weapon technology intelligence exploitation shop. A total budget would also include a large portion of the budget of the Department of Homeland Security which was previously fragment across multiple government agencies. A $60 billion government-wide Intelligence Community budget is not at all out of line with the post 9/11 organizational reality. It seems that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is just now getting a clear picture of the fragmented intelligence community budget.
The overall Intelligence Community budget has long been a well kept secret and this classification did once have relevance when a large shift in the budget could have indicated to the Soviets an addition or cancellation of a major defense program. Now that our greatest adversaries are stateless entities that run on a shoestring budget and strike soft targets, signals of changes in high-dollar defense systems hardly seem worth hiding. Nonetheless, the federal government has frequently gone to court to keep the amount of the national intelligence budget secret. Only the budgets for 1963, 1997 and 1998 have been officially revealed, largely in response to FOIA lawsuits. And in 2005 a US News reporter picked up an apparent slip of the tongue by an official of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence at a conference when it was stated the national intel budget was $44 billion, but it was not clear which fiscal year this was in reference to and the DNI refused to confirm if the figure was accurate or the release accidental. At this time, they would not have had total dollar figures through the new IRIS system. But with such a staggering budget, it does seem that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would be well advised to find some room in the Intelligence Community budget for a staff training on PowerPoint and OPSEC.