Hey Kevin. I sent a freedom of information request to the Secret Service thugs asking the thugs to show me the information they were using to jail you. But the bastards send back this refusal saying I could not see any of the information. The bastards said I could not see any of the data they had on you unless you mail them a notarized permission slip saying that I can see it.
Freedom of Information Act my ass! This is a police state and the thugs in the government will only let us see the data they want us to see.
I believe this is a new amendment to the FOIA that was changed as a result of the police state Patriot Act.
this is a good example of how the police and governments usuall cant and usually dont prevent crimes. most of the time the cops only get involved AFTER the crime has been committed and they produce reports and sometimes arrest the people that committed the crime. and if this guy had not been a star football player the crime would not have even been in the news. it would have been on page 20 of section b of the tribune and would have been 6 lines that said a young blank man shot another young black man in a dispute over his girlfriend at a scottsdale night club.
Coach: Wade had girlfriend 'issues'
Koetter defends ASU's handling of player; Wade's ex had called police twice in past
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 29, 2005 09:00 PM
ASU football coach Dirk Koetter said Tuesday that he'd never connected the dots in Loren Wade's history of trouble with women in the athletic program.
He said he didn't refer the running back to counseling after incidents involving a female gymnast at ASU in November and Wade's ex-girlfriend earlier this month. He also reinstated Wade in the football program, allowing him to participate in spring practice.
Arizona State University officials expressed support for Koetter at a news conference Tuesday, the same day Wade was formally charged with first-degree murder. Koetter was defiant, defensive and still reeling from the shock of one of his players being accused of killing a former player outside a Scottsdale nightclub early Saturday.
Troubling details continue to emerge.
On March 3, three days before Wade and former ASU soccer player Haley van Blommestein broke up, van Blommestein called Chandler police and asked for an officer to meet her at her apartment, saying Wade was on his way and had threatened to destroy things.
On March 9, three days after the couple broke up, Chandler police were called again. Dispatchers reported that van Blommestein advised "her boyfriend told her he en route to the apartment to destroy the apartment."
That same day, a former soccer teammate called Scottsdale police to express her fears about van Blommestein's safety.
In other news Tuesday:
• ASU President Michael Crow said he stands behind Koetter and outgoing Athletic Director Gene Smith. "They're two of the straightest arrows I know," Crow said. "I have confidence in Dirk. I have confidence in Gene, based on the information that I have."
• Koetter acknowledged other allegations of misconduct against Wade, though the coach would not specify what they were, only saying they weren't "relationship issues."
"It serves no purpose at this point," he said. "It won't bring Brandon Falkner back."
• Neither Koetter nor Smith told Crow specifics about Wade's threats, even after Wade was arrested on first-degree murder charges Saturday morning.
"When I was talking with Dirk on Sunday, he was very upset, very upset," Crow said in an interview. " . . . He said that Loren had relationship issues. That's all he said."
But Koetter knew that the "relationship issues" would come to light soon enough. He knew it on Saturday when the media started asking about the high-profile murder.
"I knew in my heart that there were other things coming," Koetter said., "I knew there were more things coming down the line. It wasn't the right time to talk about them."
In conversations Sunday and Monday with Crow, he never told him the nature of the relationship issues. Crow first found out about them in Tuesday's Arizona Republic.
• Wendy Adams, a former athletic department employee who is a central figure in an ongoing investigation into whether Wade violated NCAA rules, said that Wade called her at approximately 2 a.m. Saturday, a half-hour before the shooting occured. Adams said that Wade sounded "off," and that she had difficulty comprehending what he was saying.
Arizona Board of Regents President Gary Stuart expressed confidence in ASU's athletic department, but wanted some questions answered.
"It seems to me to be necessary that the right questions are asked and asked quickly," he said. " . . . It's is something not so much from the perspective of this investigation, but to make sure the athletic department is properly managed."
At Ohio State, university officials said Smith had kept them apprised of the situation at ASU.
"Arizona State University and Gene Smith are handling this event with sensitivity and compassion. We fully support Gene during this difficult period and look forward to his arrival at Ohio State next month," a statement released by the university said.
Lack of counseling
Koetter directed Wade to counseling in September, when he walked into the coach's office and said he wanted to quit the football team because he was afraid of "being hurt."
He went a few times, but stopped. Wade was suspended from the team in the fall after an apparent NCAA violation involving receiving illegal benefits from Adams.
When Wade threatened gymnast Trisha Dixon in November after she told a friend that she had seen him with another woman instead of van Blommestein, Dixon's coach, John Spini, called Smith and Koetter.
Wade was not directed to counseling then, nor after a March 6 incident in which Koetter found himself on the phone with Wade and van Blommestein. Her friends were so scared of the 21-year-old running back they called ASU soccer coach Ray Leone and told him Wade had a gun.
Wade was in tears on that phone call, Koetter said, because the two were breaking up.
Wade, Koetter thought, was a player with "relationship issues."
Witnesses said Wade, upset over his ex-girlfriend talking to other men, strode across the parking lot of hip-hop club CBNC, and put his head into Falkner's BMW. Van Blommestein, was standing against the car. Then he reached into the BMW to hit Falkner, and the .38 in his right hand fired.
When Koetter was pressed Tuesday to answer whether Wade was directed to counseling after the incidents involving threats to women, the coach did not answer. He looked out at the crowd of media. He brushed his fingers over a yellow legal pad.
Crow answered instead, saying both coaches who had complained about Wade's behavior were satisfied with Koetter's response at the time.
When the allegations about threats came to light Tuesday morning, Crow called Koetter, Smith and the two coaches who had contacted Koetter - Spini and Leone - into his office Tuesday morning to discuss what had transpired over the past six months.
"All the coaches were satisfied," Crow said. "They felt they didn't have a guy who was out of control."
Falkner family anger
Miles away, Falkner's brother is just angry. Jelani Falkner thinks there's a double standard. His brother was thrown off the team after he drove on a suspended license, then had a warrant out for him when he didn't appear in court. Wade, Jelani Falkner said, did far worse things, but it was tolerated.
Koetter, who said that his team had what he called "not a good practice" on Monday, hopes his reeling program can soon get back on track.
He said two players were dismissed from the team Tuesday morning for an undisclosed incident that happened last week.
Jonathan Lehmann and Brent Russum, redshirt freshmen offensive lineman, were released from the team. Neither of them had played an official down for ASU.
Republic reporters Emily Bittner, Paola Boivin and Andrew Bagnato contributed to this report.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-8097.
Women told ASU of Wade threats
By Kristina Davis, Kristina Davis and Irene Hsiao
Three women in five separate incidents complained to ASU officials as well as Chandler and Scottsdale police about threats by football player Loren Wade in the weeks before a former player was shot and killed.
Woman’s allegations lead to arrest of ASU players
Athletes’ code: Keep it in-house first
Walter never saw it coming
Two of the complaints involved fears of a gun Wade owned.
Arizona State University officials were aware of the threats against at least two of the women, current and former ASU athletes, but did not contact police or dismiss Wade from the team. Football coach Dirk Koetter said he also was aware that Wade was involved in other conductrelated issues, but would not specify them.
No one could predict Wade was violent, Koetter and others said during a news conference Tuesday, while acknowledging they failed to "connect the dots."
"Our entire system had the opportunity to conceive of Loren Wade as a violent man capable of murder — and we just didn’t come to that con- clusion," ASU President Michael Crow said during a news conference attended by most of the university’s head coaches. "No one at the university, no one involved with the athletic department knew Loren Wade as a murderer waiting to act," Crow said.
Wade, 21, of Los Angeles, is accused of shooting Brandon Falkner, 25, of Tempe, in the parking lot of Club CBNC in Scottsdale. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint for first degree murder Tuesday afternoon. The matter is expected to go before a grand jury for possible indictment within 10 days.
Wade told investigators his gun "just went off" during a confrontation about his girlfriend, former ASU soccer player Haley van Blommestein. The Sun Devil running back was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time, court records state. He is being held without bond at Maricopa County’s Madison Street Jail in Phoenix.
Wade had a recent history of brandishing a gun, according to a Scottsdale Police Department field report released Tuesday. On March 9, a friend of van Blommestein complained to police that Wade was stalking the soccer player.
"The friend was fearful for Haley," said Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark.
Van Blommestein’s friend requested an officer watch over her house in central Scottsdale because the couple was headed to her home, where she lives with her roommate, and she was "scared that Wade was coming over," the report states.
The woman, whose name was not released, told police Wade carried a gun and had pulled it on van Blommestein earlier this month, the log said.
One of the women at the home told ABC15 that Wade had physically assaulted van Blommestein. After Wade could not reach van Blommestein by phone, he called one of the women, saying "I’m going to (expletive) kill you. I’m crazy," the woman told the news station.
Scottsdale police said they did not report the incident to ASU officials. An officer determined that no crime had taken place that night, Clark said.
Van Blommestein also called Chandler police twice earlier this month in fear of Wade, according to police records released Tuesday.
Van Blommestein called police at 6 p.m. March 3 reporting that Wade was at her Chandler apartment with a key, threatening to destroy her things. She called from a cell phone, saying she was headed to her apartment.
When police arrived, neither Wade nor van Blommestein were there, and a report wasn’t filed.
Six days later, van Blommestein called police again saying that Wade had threatened her life and he was on his way to her apartment to destroy things again, the records show. She did not report any weapons.
A half an hour later, she told the officers who arrived that she no longer wanted to file a report.
In between those two reports, on March 6, Wade argued with van Blommestein, causing other soccer players to become concerned for her safety, according to soccer coach Ray Leone.
Leone said Tuesday he told Koetter that Wade and van Blommestein were arguing and that soccer players told him Wade had a gun. Koetter left a telephone message for Wade, who returned his call two hours later. Wade told him he was breaking up with van Blommestein as they spoke.
Koetter said he then spoke directly to van Blommestein and asked her if Wade had a gun and whether she felt threatened. She said "no" Koetter said he then advised Wade to not make any poor decisions and met with him the next morning.
"Dirk did everything he possibly could," Leone said. "He talked to her. He talked to Loren. He got right back to me about it."
The football coach had already been through a similar experience involving Wade last year. In November, Wade threatened ASU gymnast Trisha Dixon, with whom he had a relationship, according to gymnastics coach John Spini, also present at Tuesday’s news conference.
Van Blommestein, Dixon and the third woman could not be reached for comment.
Spini said Dixon called him to report that a man told her to be careful walking alone.
"She was scared, but she would not tell me the name of the individual," said the gymnastics coach.
Spini eventually convinced her to disclose the name of the man. Dixon told her Wade made the threat, but she did not want police involved.
Spini next called Smith and the athletic director told him to call Koetter. Spini said, "She said she was afraid for her life, that he told her ‘Don’t be walking alone.’ "
Koetter said he spoke to Wade and Wade’s mother. The football player then called the gymnastics coach and apologized, saying he was angry about the relationship.
Wade then called Dixon, Spini said. "He apologized and there have been no other incidents and he has never been around her since," he said.
POLICE NOT CONTACTED
In early March, Koetter directed Wade to seek counseling after the player told him he was afraid of succumbing to a sports injury. The coach said Wade attended the sessions for some time, but stopped when he felt they were no longer beneficial. The counselors did not see any signs of potential violence, Koetter said.
Koetter said he believed the incidents reported to him by Spini and Leone involved personal relationships with the women, and that neither dispute appeared threatening.
"It becomes a lot of he said/ she said issues," Koetter said. "These are not necessarily life-long relationships that last forever. And they are at a time in their lives where they’re all at different phases maturitywise. So sometimes things are said and done that are not criminal in nature, but are hurtful in what comes out of their mouths."
ASU officials, including Crow, Koetter and outgoing athletic director Gene Smith, said they handled the threats internally, rather than contacting police.
"If I thought in any way, any kind of outcome like this would have happened, I would have acted differently," Koetter said.
Koetter and Smith also acknowledged that they failed to discuss the threats publicly until questioned about them by reporters Monday night. Earlier Monday, Smith said there was nothing in Wade’s past to suggest he was capable of violence.
Koetter said Wade was involved in additional, yet undisclosed, conduct-related issues. Koetter said the issues were not relationship-based, but he declined to elaborate further.
"There is no purpose at this point. You can’t bring back Brandon Falkner," Koetter said. ASU is not releasing funeral information to respect the privacy of the Falkner family.
Koetter also said he recently learned another football player knew Wade had a gun, but didn’t report it to him. He and Smith said they didn’t discuss the previous threats on Monday because they were still dealing with the shock of the killing.
The shooting has not affected Ohio State’s decision to hire Smith as athletic director, said Ohio State spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk.
"Arizona State University and Gene Smith are handling this event with sensitivity and compassion," she said in an emailed statement.
Contact Kristina Davis by email, or phone () -.
Contact Kristina Davis by email, or phone () -.
Contact Irene Hsiao by email, or phone (480)-970-2324.
30-year-old man shot by Mesa police
By Kim Smith, Tribune
A 30-year-old man was shot multiple times Tuesday by Mesa police officers investigating a report of a break-in.
Police received an anonymous tip shortly after 12:15 a.m. that a man was trying to break into a check-cashing business near Dobson Road and Main Street.
When officers arrived, they saw a man, later identified as Orin Ray Antone of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, in a parking lot south of the business and ordered him to stop and raise his arms, said police Sgt. Chuck Trapani.
"The suspect was uncooperative and began yelling profanities at the officers," Trapani said. "He then reached under his shirt and began holding an object that officers thought could possibly have been a weapon."
When Antone refused commands to drop what he was carrying and show police his hands, he was shot several times with a beanbag shotgun, Trapani said.
Antone continued to ignore commands and advanced on the officers, Trapani said, and two shot him when he got close. Antone fell, but got up and continued to walk toward the officers, prompting them to shoot again, Trapani said.
Antone had an object under his shirt, but detectives won’t disclose what it was until officers and witnesses have been interviewed, Trapani said.
Antone was identified through fingerprints because he had no identification and refused to give officers his name, Trapani said.
There was no evidence of a break-in at the check-cashing business, but the caller had said the culprit was scared away by an alarm, Trapani said.
The officers involved in the shooting, whose names were not released, will likely be placed on paid administrative leave, which is departmental policy, Trapani said.
Antone has been wanted in California since January 2003 on a probation violation stemming from a robbery, Trapani said.
He has also been wanted by Mesa police since December 2002, when he failed to appear in court on a false reporting charge.
Maricopa County Superior Court records indicate Antone was arrested in 2000 after he and a friend were accused of robbing a Scottsdale convenience store clerk at gunpoint.
The charges against Antone were dismissed in February 2001. His co-defendant pleaded guilty.
Contact Kim Smith by email, or phone (480) 898-6334
cops want more money to expand the police state.
Radio woes stymie Arizona security
Units not synchronized
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 30, 2005 12:00 AM
More than three years after the 9/11 attack, Arizona's terrorism response system remains stymied by a communications clog that also hampered rescue efforts in the World Trade Center.
Put simply, firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers sometimes cannot talk to each other because their radio systems aren't synchronized.
That problem emerged Tuesday as the dominant complaint at a statewide Homeland Security Summit that drew more than 200 Arizona civil defense leaders to downtown Phoenix.
Discussions were so dense with bureaucratic language, generalities and government acronyms that regular citizens might not have recognized the dramatic mission that was at stake. For instance, emergency officials repeatedly described the radio communication mess as a "lack of interoperability" - another way of saying that emergency agencies can't converse over the airwaves because they use different equipment and frequencies. Arizona's geography also hampers reception.
After hearing repeated complaints about the problem, Gov. Janet Napolitano declared, "We have just got to get to closure on this interoperability issue. . . . There's probably some 16-year-old out there who has the technical ability to fix this. But I don't."
Authorities say the solution involves a lot of money to buy new communications gear. But spending alone won't help, because there is no way to force agencies to purchase uniform equipment.
Frank Navarrete, state Homeland Security director, noted that Arizona has taken a significant step by spending $1.8 million in federal grants on a half-dozen specialized motor homes equipped with high-tech gear that eliminates the babble by patching radio systems together. But Napolitano said more work needs to be done and emphasized that the solution should be like an economy car that "gets you where you want to go" rather than a luxury vehicle with bells and whistles.
Funding, indeed, was the underlying theme at Tuesday's conference, as civil defense planners face a dwindling stream of federal dollars and growing competition for each buck.
Mark Howard, the state's homeland security grants administrator, said Arizona has received $100 million in federal terrorism preparation funds for equipment, training, drills and administration since 9/11. The money is funneled by the state to local police, fire, public works and public health agencies. But, this year, the grant levels dropped by more than a third, and Howard said more cuts are likely.
Napolitano and Navarrete have attempted to cope with the diminishing dollars by establishing advisory councils in the state so that anti-terrorism equipment and programs are shared by communities in five regions - north, east, south, west and central.
Members of the councils met privately Tuesday to discuss terrorism vulnerabilities - what they need to prevent attacks, and how they can best respond when catastrophe strikes. Besides solving the radio communications problem, they said, Arizona needs its border with Mexico secured, formal emergency-response pacts with Indian tribes and shared terrorism intelligence.
In a keynote speech, Napolitano stressed Arizona's progress since the Oklahoma City bombing nearly a decade ago. She noted that the state has pioneered intelligence sharing with the founding last year of an Arizona Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Center. She pointed to the state's 211 system that involves a phone hotline for public information during crises, as well as an Internet data system to advise the public on catastrophes. She also noted that Arizona has been selected as the site for a national drill - a mock attack that will test America's response to weapons of mass destruction from the White House on down.
Napolitano acknowledged a gnawing competition among community leaders for civil defense funds. She urged them to be smart about fighting terrorism, basing decisions on real needs and real threats.
"The notion of simply spreading out money to keep everybody happy is not acceptable," she said.
In a subsequent interview, Napolitano declined to give Arizona a grade in terms of terrorism vulnerability or readiness.
"We are in a better position (today) to protect Arizonans," she said, "albeit with the knowledge that you can never give a 100 percent guarantee."
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or (602) 444-8874.
arent the boy scouts the folks who always want to mix religion and government. seems like this boy scout leader has a lot in common with the preists that drool at the though of having sex with children.
Veteran Scout official charged in porn case
Mar. 30, 2005 12:00 AM
DALLAS - A longtime Boy Scouts of America official who directed a national task force to protect children from sexual abuse has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.
Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, was accused of receiving images over the Internet in February of children engaging in oral sex, intercourse and other sexually explicit conduct. The charges were filed by federal prosecutors March 21.
"We're shocked and dismayed to learn of this," said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, based in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas. "Smith was employed by the Boy Scouts for 39 years, and we had no indication of prior criminal activity."
Smith was a national program director and staff adviser of the Boy Scouts' renowned Youth Protection Task Force. Shields said Smith took over the task force a couple of years ago when another employee retired. Smith managed the distribution of literature, videotapes, a Web site and other resources that teach children and adults at schools, churches and Boy Scout troops how to detect and prevent child abuse.
Law-enforcement officials indicated the pictures did not show boys who were with the Boy Scouts, Shields said.
Smith's job did not involve working directly with children, Shields said. Smith was put on leave after officials learned of the charges, then chose to retire, he said.
Smith, reached Tuesday at his home in Colleyville, near Fort Worth, referred all questions to his attorney, Jack Strickland.
Mesa pays $2.2 mil in stun-gun case
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 30, 2005 12:00 AM
Mesa paid $2.2 million to a man who fell out of a tree onto his head last year after he was hit with a Taser stun gun fired by a police officer.
The city paid another $200,000 to the hospital where Bruce Bellemore, 43, was treated after the Feb. 11, 2004, incident.
Bellemore, a West Valley resident, became a quadriplegic after he was shot twice with a Taser stun gun by Officer Maxwell Van Natter and fell about 10 feet from a citrus tree in front of a house.
"It is a sad case. No amount of money can really compensate for what he has gone through," Bellemore's attorney Scott Ambrose said.
The city settled the civil lawsuit on March 18, said Marc Steadman, a Mesa assistant city attorney.
Steadman said police were on a burglary-in-progress call and when they arrived, Bellemore fled and they found him hiding in a tree.
"Officers repeatedly told him to get down from the tree and to display his hands and show he wasn't armed," Steadman said.
"Mr. Bellemore ignored the police instructions. Several minutes later he was shot with a Taser and fell from the tree. Unfortunately, when he landed, he fractured his back and is now paralyzed."
Ambrose said Bellemore was in the area looking for a place to rent and fled into the tree to get away from vicious dogs in the area.
Ambrose said the police already had the situation under control with Bellemore in the tree and unarmed when Van Natter arrived.
"He had already told them he was injured and was coming down," Ambrose said.
He said Bellemore was trying to find footing to come down and was moving around but that he never refused to come down, as police claimed.
"The officer (that shot) was the last one to arrive and the first to shoot. It doesn't make any sense to me," Ambrose said. "At no time did he (Bellemore) make any threats."
Van Natter resigned from the department in January.
Councilman Siebert's link with Tasers fails the smell test
Mar. 30, 2005 12:00 AM
There's the legal test, and there's the smell test.
We won't quibble with Phoenix Councilman Dave Siebert about the legality of taking $3,500 to be Taser International's paid pitchman in San Francisco.
But . . . phew! This one stinks.
Siebert has undermined his credibility, undercut his work on the City Council and underestimated the significance of appearances. He also has set a troubling example for other elected officials.
Representing District 1 in far north Phoenix, Siebert heads the city's Public Safety subcommittee. He has been one of Taser's biggest supporters and asked the Phoenix Police Department to try out the electric stun guns in 2001.
He pushed to make Phoenix the first major U.S. city to arm all its police officers with Tasers, at a cost of more than $1.2 million.
Taser officials and their spouses contributed at least $1,750 to his campaign in 2003. We're not keen on officials getting campaign money from companies they deal with on the job. But it's a fact of life - and a far cry from actually going on the payroll.
As The Arizona Republic's Robert Anglen reported Monday, Siebert was hired last year to talk to members of the San Francisco Police Commission to address their concerns about the stun gun's safety. An ongoing Arizona Republic investigation has linked Tasers to at least 12 deaths nationwide and several injuries to police officers.
Siebert says he disclosed the payment, got approval from the City Attorney's Office and excused himself from any subsequent voting on the stun gun.
Now, though, it's hard not to view his previous support of Taser through a different lens.
Where Taser gained, Phoenix residents lost.
With a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and his experience on the Public Safety subcommittee, Siebert has a deep knowledge of law enforcement. Now he has put himself in a position where he must recuse himself on a major public-safety issue.
If Siebert felt so gung ho about Tasers and wanted to tell other cities, he should have done it for free.
So what's wrong with doing the same thing for cash?
Try picturing where this might lead.
One council member could pick up some extra bucks plugging the copiers the city uses. Another could make money promoting the cars driven by police officers. Or shilling for Phoenix's computer vendor. Or marketing the contractors from construction projects.
Sure, those jobs might all be legal.
Just pardon us while we plug our noses.
East Valley news briefs
Mar. 30, 2005 12:00 AM
Man with warrant is shot by Mesa officers
MESA - Two Mesa officers shot and injured an unarmed man suspected of threatening police after trying to break into a check-cashing store early Tuesday, police said.
Orin R. Antone, 30, a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community resident, was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn, where he was in stable condition.
Antone was wanted on an outstanding parole violation from a California robbery and on a warrant in Mesa for failure to appear on a false reporting charge, police said.
The incident began about 12:25 a.m. Tuesday. Police responded to a call about a man trying to break into the Southwest Check Cashing store near Dobson Road and Main Street, Mesa police Sgt. Chuck Trapani said.
Trapani said the officers told the man to stop and put his hands up but that he was "totally uncooperative" and yelled profanities. The officers fired and they said the man came toward them with his hands under his shirt. Trapani said the man did not have a gun.
Police shoot man outside Mesa business
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 29, 2005 01:45 PM
Two Mesa officers shot and injured a 30-year-old man suspected of threatening police after trying to break into a cash-checking store early Tuesday, police said.
Orin R. Antone, a Salt River Pima Indian Community resident, was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn where he was in stable condition Tuesday afternoon.
Antone was also wanted on an outstanding parole violation warrant from a previous robbery in California and on a Mesa city warrant for failure to appear on a false reporting charge, police said.
The incident began just after midnight Tuesday when a caller reported a man trying to break into the Southwest Check Cashing store near Dobson Road and Main Street, Mesa police Sgt. Chuck Trapani said.
Police arrived about 12:25 a.m. and found a man who fit the caller's description in a dark parking lot. Trapani said police told the man to stop and put his hands up but that he was "totally uncooperative" and yelled profanities at officers.
"Then he puts his hands under his shirt holding on to some type of object that the officers believed might be a weapon," Trapani said.
After numerous verbal commands, an officer fired a non-lethal beanbag gun, hitting the suspect, but it was "ineffective," police said.
"He started to walk toward the officers again keeping his hands concealed and under his shirt holding on to that object," Trapani said. Police say the suspect approached an officer who was providing cover for the beanbag officer.
"The officer felt threatened and shot his duty weapon. The man looked like he was falling to the ground and again advanced toward the officer and officers shot again and were able to take him into custody," Trapani said.
Police found an object hidden by Orin but it was not a gun. Trapani said additional details are being withheld until investigators complete interviews with several witnesses and officers.
Mesa resident Kevin Weston, 42, who said he refused to talk to police, said he was going to a nearby restaurant when he witnessed the shooting.
Weston agreed that Orin didn't obey officers' commands, but said he heard gunshots followed by a "boom" that he believed was the beanbag shotgun, and then more shots. He estimated hearing more than five shots. Officers said the beanbag gun was shot before any live-round weapons were fired.
"He wasn't advancing. He was trying to get away," Weston said. "That poor guy didn't have a chance."
The incident was Mesa's first officer-involved shooting this year.
Trapani said the officers will be placed on routine, three-day paid administrative leave, and police will conduct a criminal investigation that will be reviewed by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. After it is complete, an internal board of inquiry probe will be conducted to determine if the officers acted within department policy and procedures and if there are any training issues.
democracy at work! 8,300 voters force their will on 420,000 people. a classic case of tyranny of the minority (majority no - minority yes)
Low voter turnout on school district spending is disturbing
Mar. 30, 2005 12:00 AM
On March 8 the Mesa School District sponsored an election to increase spending beyond its budget. About 11,000 voters opted to take the time to vote on this highly important issue. Just over 8,300 of them agreed to let the school district spend taxpayer dollars beyond its budget.
In a city of 420,000 people it is unbelievable that only 8,300 voters are going to dictate our tax base for the next who knows how many years.
Taxpayers have been hit numerous times in recent years to increase school funding, and the schools are still failing to produce results, yet 8,300 voters are forcing the rest of us to front the schools even more money.
Next time I hear someone in Mesa complain about high taxes my immediate response will be, "Did you vote in the last election?" That will tell me a lot.
Edward F. Murphy
american empire busy helping to overthrow former soviet countries?????
.S. Helped to Prepare the Way for Kyrgyzstan's Uprising
By CRAIG S. SMITH
Published: March 30, 2005
ISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, March 29 - Shortly before Kyrgyzstan's recent parliamentary elections, an opposition newspaper ran photographs of a palatial home under construction for the country's deeply unpopular president, Askar Akayev, helping set off widespread outrage and a popular revolt in this poor Central Asian country.
The newspaper was the recipient of United States government grants and was printed on an American government-financed printing press operated by Freedom House, an American organization that describes itself as "a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world."
In addition to the United States, several European countries - Britain, the Netherlands and Norway among them - have helped underwrite programs to develop democracy and civil society in this country. The effort played a crucial role in preparing the ground for the popular uprising that swept opposition politicians to power.
"Of course, this infrastructure had an influence," said one European election observer. "People now believe they have rights, and they were not scared because the repressive capacity of the system was weak."
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan quickly became an aid magnet with the highest per-capita foreign assistance level of any Central Asian nation. Among the hundreds of millions of dollars that arrived came a large slice focused on building up civil society and democratic institutions.
Most of that money came from the United States, which maintains the largest bilateral pro-democracy program in Kyrgyzstan because of the Freedom Support Act, passed by Congress in 1992 to help the former Soviet republics in their economic and democratic transitions. The money earmarked for democracy programs in Kyrgyzstan totaled about $12 million last year.
Hundreds of thousands more filter into pro-democracy programs in the country from other United States government-financed institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy. That does not include the money for the Freedom House printing press or Kyrgyz-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a pro-democracy broadcaster.
"It would have been absolutely impossible for this to have happened without that help," said Edil Baisolov, who leads a coalition of nongovernmental organizations, referring to the uprising last week. Mr. Baisolov's organization is financed by the United States government through the National Democratic Institute.
American money helps finance civil society centers around the country where activists and citizens can meet, receive training, read independent newspapers and even watch CNN or surf the Internet in some. The N.D.I. alone operates 20 centers that provide news summaries in Russian, Kyrgyz and Uzbek.
The United States sponsors the American University in Kyrgyzstan, whose stated mission is, in part, to promote the development of civil society, and pays for exchange programs that send students and non-governmental organization leaders to the United States. Kyrgyzstan's new prime minister, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was one.
All of that money and manpower gave the coalescing Kyrgyz opposition financing and moral support in recent years, as well as the infrastructure that allowed it to communicate its ideas to the Kyrgyz people.
The growing civil society, meanwhile, began to have an awakening effect on the country's population just as Mr. Akayev and his family grew increasingly enamored of their power. "If none of this had been here, the family would have remained in power and people probably would have remained passive, as they have in other Central Asian countries," said Jeffrey Lilley, who runs the local office of the International Republican Institute, a United States-financed pro-democracy organization.
Alexander Kim, editor in chief of the opposition newspaper that printed the photos of the president's house, knows the problem well: in 1999, Mr. Akayev's son-in-law took control of Mr. Kim's first newspaper, which he and other employees had bought from the state during the privatizations earlier that decade.
He says the son-in-law used fraudulent means, but he was never able to prove it in court. So Mr. Kim went on to found another newspaper, which went through several incarnations as the government tried to prevent him from publishing. He has been helped by about $70,000 in American government grants, mostly to pay for newsprint.
The problem, though, was finding a press: they were all controlled by the government and refused to print newspapers from the opposition.
Then Mike Stone, Freedom House's representative in Kyrgyzstan, arrived.
"When Freedom House opened their printing press, it was the end of our problems," Mr. Kim said.
By January this year, Mr. Kim had begun national distribution of the newspaper, called MSN, for My Capital News. Opposition candidates in the parliamentary elections bought truckloads of the papers to distribute as campaign literature.
Those Kyrgyz who did not read Russian or have access to the newspaper listened to summaries of its articles on Kyrgyz-language Radio Azattyk, the local United States-government financed franchise of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Other independent media carried the opposition's debates. Talk shows, like "Our Times," produced in part with United States government grants, were broadcast over the country's few independent television stations, including Osh TV in the south, where the protests that led to Mr. Akayev's ouster began. Osh TV expanded its reach with equipment paid for by the State Department.
"The result is that the society became politicized, they were informed," Mr. Kim said. "The role of the NGO's and independent media were crucial factors in the revolution."
As corruption grew worse, the country's nongovernmental organizations began speaking out, and Mr. Akayev grew wary of the foreign pro-democracy assistance he had long allowed.
The published pictures of his house outraged him. Mr. Stone, who runs the printing press, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and berated.
A week later, just before the press began printing a 200,000-copy special issue of MSN, the power at the press went out. Radio Liberty was also taken off the air, ostensibly because the government was putting its frequency up for auction.
Mr. Akayev began suggesting that the West was engaged in a conspiracy to destabilize the country. A crudely forged document, made to look like an internal report by the American ambassador, Stephen Young, began circulating among local news organizations. It cast American-financed pro-democracy activities as part of an American conspiracy. "Our primary goal," the document read, "is to increase pressure upon Akaev (sic) to make him resign ahead of schedule after the parliamentary elections."
But Mr. Akayev, who had begun his presidential career as an advocate of democracy, did not go further.
The American Embassy sent Freedom House two generators the day after the power went out, allowing the press to print nearly all of the 200,000 copies of MSN's special issue. The power was restored on March 8, and Mr. Kim's newspaper became one of the primary sources of information for the mobilizing opposition.
MSN informed people in the north of the unrest in the south. The newspaper also played a critical role in disseminating word of when and where protesters should gather.
"There was fertile soil here, and the Western community planted some seeds," said one Western official. "I'm hoping these events of the past week will be one of those moments when you see the fruits of your labors."
Harsh Tactics Were Allowed, General Told Jailers in Iraq
Published: March 30, 2005
ASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) - The top United States commander in Iraq authorized prisoner interrogation tactics that were harsher than accepted Army practice, including using guard dogs to exploit "Arab fear of dogs," a memo made public on Tuesday showed.
The memo, dated Sept. 14, 2003, and signed by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the senior commander in Iraq, was released by the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained it from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.
The Abu Ghraib scandal, in which United States forces physically abused and sexually humiliated Iraqi prisoners at a jail on the outskirts of Baghdad, occurred under General Sanchez's command.
In the memo, General Sanchez laid out which interrogation techniques were permitted in Iraq, and said some required his prior approval. Some of the harshest techniques were disallowed the next month because of opposition from some military lawyers.
The memo also noted that the Geneva Conventions "are applicable" and that detainees must be treated humanely.
The fact that the Sanchez memo existed was previously known, but not its contents.
The memo allowed for military working dogs, or M.W.D., to be present during interrogations, saying the practice "exploits Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogations."
"Dogs will be muzzled and under control of M.W.D. handler at all times to prevent contact with detainee," the memo added.
The memo also permitted isolation, "stress positions" (in which prisoners are placed in potentially painful positions to try to get them to talk) and "environmental manipulation," like making a room very hot or very cold, or using an "unpleasant smell," or disrupting normal sleep patterns.
A military official who asked not to be identified said, "It's important to note that Lieutenant General Sanchez and his staff thoroughly reviewed the policy for compliance with Geneva Conventions prior to its approval."
The official said a Pentagon investigation into detainee policies led by Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III, released March 10, found that "none of the techniques contained in [General Sanchez's] interrogation policy would have permitted abuses such as those at Abu Ghraib."
The A.C.L.U. said the Pentagon initially refused to release General Sanchez's memo on the ground of national security.
"It is apparent that the government has been holding this document not out of any genuine concern that it will compromise national security, but to protect itself from embarrassment," said a lawyer for the group, Amrit Singh.
Yemeni Held in Guantánamo Was Seized in Cairo, Group Says
By NEIL A. LEWIS
Published: March 30, 2005
WASHINGTON, March 29 - Sometime in September 2002, a Yemeni businessman and intelligence officer was abducted on a Cairo street, then kept incommunicado for more than a year by United States authorities, and is now among those imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to an examination of his case by Human Rights Watch.
The case of Abdul Salam Ali al-Hila is an example of what human rights groups call "reverse renditions," in which a foreign government assists or cooperates in seizing someone who is then transferred to United States custody. John Sifton, the researcher at Human Rights Watch, the advocacy group - who compiled information on the Hila case from interviews with the man's family, his letters from Guantánamo and government statements published in news reports in Arab countries - said it was "another example of the United States stretching the laws of war and human rights principles to the breaking point.
"You can't just hold people incommunicado indefinitely just by declaring them enemy combatants," he added.
Mr. Sifton and officials from other human rights groups say there are dozens of such people, defined as those who are picked up far from the battlefield of the Afghanistan war and then wind up at the detention center at Guantánamo. Once there, they are considered unlawful combatants.
A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Michael Shavers, said it was the military's policy not to discuss the details of specific detainees at Guantánamo.
While much attention has been paid lately to the practice of the United States sending many prisoners detained as possible terrorists to other countries, the Hila case is new evidence of the practice in reverse: foreign authorities picking up suspects in noncombat and nonbattlefield situations, perhaps at the behest of American authorities, and handing them over to United States custody.
Included in this category, the rights officials say, are six Algerians arrested in Bosnia and Herzegovina by local authorities. The six men were freed by a local investigating judge, but were quickly seized by United States authorities and are now at Guantánamo. In addition, many Pakistanis at Guantánamo assert in recent court filings challenging their detentions that they were arrested in Pakistan by Pakistani officials, far from the battlefront in Afghanistan.
Barbara Olshansky, a senior official at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said there was no way to know how many people fit into this category. She said she believed the number was in the dozens.
Legal battles on several fronts have challenged whether the orders signed by President Bush after Sept. 11, 2001, provided the authority to detain people arrested and taken from any battleground. Lawyers for two of the Algerians have argued in federal court that the president's order does not provide any authority over them as they were not involved in any armed conflict against the United States. The Bush administration has argued that the nature of the campaign against terrorism is that it is fought throughout the world.
In the case of Mr. Hila, he spoke by telephone daily to his family on the first days of his September 2002 visit to Egypt. After his disappearance, the family did not hear from him again until April 2004, Mr. Sifton said.
The Yemeni foreign minister announced at that time that his country's embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, had received a letter from Mr. Hila that had been smuggled out of a prison in Afghanistan. The letter indicated that he was in a cell next to another Yemeni who had been arrested in Thailand.
Mr. Hila also wrote that he believed he was being held in Afghanistan by the Central Intelligence Agency. He said C.I.A. officials wanted him to share knowledge he obtained as a colonel in the Yemeni intelligence service about Islamists who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and then migrated to Europe. C.I.A. officials declined to comment.
Mr. Sifton said people who were seized in places away from the battlefield represented a "third slice of the pie," along with those who were transferred by the United States to other countries and those captured in and around Afghanistan and sent to Guantánamo and other places.
Suit by Detainee on Transfer to Syria Finds Support in Jet's Log
By SCOTT SHANE
Published: March 30, 2005
his article was reported by Scott Shane, Stephen Grey and Ford Fessenden and written by Mr. Shane.
WASHINGTON, March 29 - Maher Arar, a 35-year-old Canadian engineer, is suing the United States, saying American officials grabbed him in 2002 as he changed planes in New York and transported him to Syria where, he says, he was held for 10 months in a dank, tiny cell and brutally beaten with a metal cable.
Now federal aviation records examined by The New York Times appear to corroborate Mr. Arar's account of his flight, during which, he says, he sat chained on the leather seats of a luxury executive jet as his American guards watched movies and ignored his protests.
The tale of Mr. Arar, the subject of a yearlong inquiry by the Canadian government, is perhaps the best documented of a number of cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which suspects have accused the United States of secretly delivering them to other countries for interrogation under torture. Deportation for interrogation abroad is known as rendition.
In papers filed in a New York court replying to Mr. Arar's lawsuit, Justice Department lawyers say the case was not one of rendition but of deportation. They say Mr. Arar was deported to Syria based on secret information that he was a member of Al Qaeda, an accusation he denies.
The discovery of the aircraft, in a database compiled from Federal Aviation Agency records, appears to corroborate part of the story Mr. Arar has told many times since his release in 2003. The records show that a Gulfstream III jet, tail number N829MG, followed a flight path matching the route he described. The flight, hopscotching from New Jersey to an airport near Washington to Maine to Rome and beyond, took place on Oct. 8, 2002, the day after Mr. Arar's deportation order was signed.
After seeing a photograph of the plane and hearing its path, Mr. Arar, 35, of Ottawa, said in a telephone interview: "I think that's it. I think you've found the plane that took me."
He added: "Finding this plane is going really to help me. It does remind me of this trip, which is painful, but it should make people understand that this is for real and everything happened the way I said. I hope people will now stop for a moment and think about the morality of this."
Records of the jet's travels also show a trip in December 2003 to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States holds hundreds of detainees, suggesting that it was used by the government on at least one other occasion.
If the plane was used to move Mr. Arar, it is the fourth known to have been used to transport suspected terrorists secretly from one country to detention in another.
Among the three identified in previous news reports is one owned by a company apparently set up by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to The Washington Post. Another, first described by The Chicago Tribune, is an ordinary charter jet that was also used by the Boston Red Sox manager between missions ferrying detainees and their guards to Guantánamo, with the Red Sox logo attached to the fuselage or removed, depending on who was aboard.
Maria LaHood, a lawyer for Mr. Arar, said the new information on the Gulfstream jet lent support to his lawsuit.
"The facts we got from Maher right after he was released are now corroborated by public records," said Ms. LaHood, who works for the Center for Constitutional Rights, a group in New York that advocates investigation of human rights abuses. "The more information that comes out, the better for showing that this is an important public issue that can't be kept secret."
She said Mr. Arar and his attorneys believe that American officials wanted him to undergo a more brutal interrogation than would be permitted in the United States in the hope of getting information about Al Qaeda.
After 10 months in a cell he compared to a grave, and 2 more months in a less confined space, Syrian officials freed Mr. Arar in October 2003, saying they had been unable to find any connection to Al Qaeda. The Syrian ambassador to the United States called the release "a gesture of good will toward Canada."
Charles Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, said the government had no comment on the case. The administration has refused to cooperate with the Canadian inquiry into Mr. Arar's case and has asked a judge to dismiss most of his lawsuit, saying that allowing it to proceed would reveal classified information.
President Bush has said it is United States policy neither to engage in torture nor to deliver prisoners to countries where they are likely to be tortured. Former intelligence officials say rendition is useful for cases in which secret information has identified a suspected terrorist but cannot be used for a public prosecution in an American court.
Mr. Arar has told a consistent story since his release: He was detained at Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sept. 26, 2002, while changing planes on the way back to Canada from a vacation in Tunisia. He was then held for nearly two weeks, awakened at 3 a.m. and taken to an airport in New Jersey, where he was put aboard a small jet.
Shackled in place, Mr. Arar says, he followed the plane's movements on a map displayed on a video screen, watching as it traveled to Dulles Airport, outside Washington, to a Maine airport he believed was in Portland, to Rome, and finally to Amman, Jordan, where he was blindfolded and driven to Syria.
According to F.A.A. flight logs for Oct. 8, 2002, only one aircraft flew from New Jersey to the Washington area to Maine to Rome: the 14-passenger Gulfstream III jet, operated by Presidential Aviation, a charter company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The jet left Teterboro, N.J., for Dulles at 5:40 a.m.; proceeded at 7:46 a.m. to Bangor, Me.; and left Bangor for Rome at 9:36 a.m.
The only conflict with Mr. Arar's story is that the Maine airport was Bangor, not Portland. And the logs cover only flights departing from the United States, so they document the trip only as far as Rome. Court records show, however, that immigration officials ordered him deported to Syria.
Nigel England, director of operations for Presidential, said he would not divulge who rented the Gulfstream that day or discuss any clients.
"It's a very select group of people that we fly, from entertainers to foreign heads of state, a whole gamut of customers that we fly and wouldn't discuss one over the other," he said.
The plane flew about 50 flights a month to various destinations in 2002 and 2003, according to federal records. Presidential's Web site says a similar jet would now rent for about $120,000 for an itinerary like the one on which Mr. Arar apparently was flown.
Records show that the plane was owned in 2002 by MJG Aviation, a Florida company that lists its manager as Mark J. Gordon, an entrepreneur who also owned Presidential at the time. Mr. Gordon could not be reached. The plane has since been sold and the tail number has been changed to N259SK, records show.
As for Mr. Arar, he said he felt the identification of the plane helped establish his credibility. "I don't know for sure but probably people had some doubts about what I said," he said. "This goes to prove and corroborate at least part of my story. I hope even more information will come forward."
Shane Scott reported from Washington for this article, Stephen Grey from London and Ford Fessenden from New York. David Johnston contributed reporting from Washington and Margot Williams from New York.
Bush critics blocked from presidential events
Tue Mar 29, 7:16 PM ET Top Stories - Knight Ridder Newspapers
By Ron Hutcheson, Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - Some of President Bush's supporters seem to be going overboard in their efforts to stifle dissent when he comes to town to talk about changing Social Security.
In Denver, three people say they were booted out of a presidential event last week even though they never uttered a peep, apparently because their car bore a bumper sticker denouncing the war in Iraq.
In Fargo, N.D., last month, local Republicans developed a blacklist of more than three dozen residents, including a city commissioner, who were to be banned from Bush's visit.
White House officials say they have nothing to do with the exclusions, which they blame on overzealous supporters.
"We welcome a diversity of views at the events," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday, although in fact participants at the events are carefully screened and dissenting voices are rare.
There was no welcome mat for Alex Young and his two companions when they showed up to see Bush on March 21 in Denver. Bush was there for one of a series of "conversations" about his plan to change Social Security.
Young and his friends, Karen Bauer and Leslie Weise, had barely gotten in the door before they were unceremoniously shown the exit by a man who refused to explain his actions. They thought he was a Secret Service agent because he had an earpiece and an official-looking lapel pin.
Young said he was later told by Secret Service officials that he and his friends had been ejected by a local Republican volunteer who'd been spurred to action by the bumper sticker on their car: "No More Blood for Oil."
"The thing that set them off was the bumper sticker," Young said in a telephone interview. "It was completely unprovoked. ... The whole time he was really pushing and shoving me. We were never told that only Republicans were invited."
Complaints about tight restrictions at Bush's events have become common. His presidential campaign used tight crowd-control screens last fall, and similar tactics now seem to be employed at official presidential stops, which unlike campaign events are paid for by taxpayers' dollars.
During Bush's Feb. 3 visit to Fargo, the local newspaper published a list of about 40 local residents who were supposed to be barred from the White House-sponsored event. City Commissioner Linda Coates, a Democrat, was on the list, along with her husband, Mike, but she got in anyway.
In a follow-up letter to the Fargo Forum newspaper, she called the attempted exclusion "one of those small dumb things" that is a symptom of a larger problem.
"It was jarring to realize that someone, somewhere, thought that making this list was the right thing to do. Sadly, the climate of keeping voices of disagreement at bay has become a well-known characteristic of this administration," she wrote.
In Denver, Young, a 25-year-old information-technology worker, acknowledges that he and his friends had initially intended to protest Bush's appearance. All wore "Stop the Lies" T-shirts under their outer clothing. They had planned to expose their shirts while shouting the slogan.
"It was kind of juvenile. When we got inside, we decided not to do that," he said.
Young said the man who ejected him had no way of knowing about the aborted protest because they kept their opinions to themselves during their brief time at the event. They got tickets to Bush's appearance through Rep. Bob Beauprez (news, bio, voting record), R-Colo., who handed them out without asking about party affiliation.
Still unclear is precisely who was behind the decision to eject the three people. Colorado Republican Party officials, the Secret Service and a spokesman for Beauprez all said they had nothing to do with it.
White House spokesman McClellan said: "My sense is that the volunteer felt that these individuals were coming to the event to disrupt it. If people are coming to the event to disrupt it, naturally they are going to be asked to leave."
But Dan Recht, a Denver lawyer says he's considering legal action on behalf of the ejected critics for what he sees as a violation of their free-speech rights. "They were punished for the speech that was on their bumper sticker," Recht said. "It just feels so un-American."
how to take out an american tank: Abrams' heavy armor is up front, however, insurgents sneak up from behind, fire from rooftops above and set off mines below.
Posted 3/29/2005 11:07 PM Updated 3/29/2005 11:10 PM
Tanks take a beating in Iraq
By Steven Komarow, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military's Abrams tank, designed during the Cold War to withstand the fiercest blows from the best Soviet tanks, is getting knocked out at surprising rates by the low-tech bombs and rocket-propelled grenades of Iraqi insurgents.
Abrams' heavy armor is up front, however, insurgents sneak up from behind, fire from rooftops above and set off mines below.
In the all-out battles of the 1991 Gulf War, only 18 Abrams tanks were lost and no soldiers in them killed. But since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, with tanks in daily combat against the unexpectedly fierce insurgency, the Army says 80 of the 69-ton behemoths have been damaged so badly they had to be shipped back to the United States. (Related graphic: Upgrading the Abrams tank)
At least five soldiers have been killed inside the tanks when they hit roadside bombs, according to figures from the Army's Armor Center at Fort Knox, Ky. At least 10 more have died while riding partially exposed from open hatches. (Related story: Tanks adapted for urban fights they once avoided)
The casualties are the lowest in any Army vehicles, despite how often the Abrams is targeted — about 70% of the more than 1,100 tanks used in Iraq have been struck by enemy fire, mostly with minor damage.
The Army will not discuss details of how tanks have been damaged by insurgents, lest that give tips to the enemy. "We have been very cautious about giving out information," says Jan Finegan, spokeswoman for Army Materiel Command.
Commanders say the damage is not surprising because the Abrams is used so heavily, and insurgents are determined to destroy it.
"It's a thinking enemy, and they know weak points on the tank, where to hit us," says Col. Russ Gold, who commanded an armored brigade in Iraq and now is chief of staff at the Armor Center.
Because it was designed to fight other tanks, the Abrams' heavy armor is up front. In Iraq's cities, however, insurgents sneak up from behind, fire from rooftops above and set off mines below.
A favorite tactic: detonating a roadside bomb in hopes of blowing the tread off the tank. The insurgents follow with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and gunfire aimed at the less-armored areas, especially the vulnerable rear engine compartment.
It's "a dirty, close fight," says an article in Armor, the Army's official magazine of tank warfare, by a group of officers led by Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli of the 1st Cavalry Division.
"Be wary of eliminating or reducing ... heavy armor" as the Army modernizes, the officers warn, arguing it is crucial against insurgents' "crude but effective weapons."
The Army says most of the "lost" tank hulls can be rebuilt and returned to battle someday. Meanwhile, the Army is upgrading the Abrams, including better protection for the tank's engine compartment.
people are starting to dislike george w hitler
Cae a su nivel más bajo la popularidad de Bush
Marzo 29, 2005
La aprobación del trabajo del presidente George W. Bush cayó al nivel más bajo de su presidencia, tras su decisión de intervenir en la batalla legal a favor de Terri Schiavo, la mujer del estado de Florida en estado vegetativo.
Una encuesta realizada por el periódico USA Today y la empresa Gallup, difundió que la caída sobre el nivel de aprobación del mandatario estadunidense fue significativa, con una diferencia de 10 puntos porcentuales respecto a semanas anteriores.
Bush contaba hace apenas una semana con un nivel de aprobación de 52 por ciento y ahora se colocó en 42 por ciento, el índice más bajo desde mayo pasado cuando registró 46 por ciento como resultado de la violenta situación en Irak, reveló el sondeo.
Tracey Schmitt, vocera del Partido Republicano sugirió que la caída podría ser consecuencia de los "difíciles temas" que Bush ha tomado entre sus manos recientemente, como la reforma del seguro social, la promoción de la democracia y la reforma energética.
Analistas políticos independientes dijeron a su vez que el descenso podría ser resultado de la decisión de Bush y el Congreso de intervenir en la batalla legal en torno a Schiavo, quien ha vivido en estado vegetativo desde hace 15 años.
Terri Schiavo, de 41 años, cumplió este viernes una semana desconectada del tubo que la alimentaba, bajo una orden judicial, a lo que sus padres se oponen y han apelado una y otra vez, una posición que ha defendido el presidente Bush.
5 to 20 years in jail for looking at dirty pictures??? thats criminal
Ex-Boy Scout official pleads guilty to child porn charge
Mar. 30, 2005 11:15 AM
FORT WORTH, Texas - A former high-ranking Boy Scouts of America official who ran a task force that worked to protect children from sexual abuse pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal child pornography charge.
Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, was accused of receiving images over the Internet of children engaging in sex acts. He pleaded guilty to a charge of possession and distribution of child pornography.
Smith entered his plea without making a deal with prosecutors. "He's willing to accept responsibility. ... Obviously, he wanted to get this behind him," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bret Helmer said.
Smith's only comments in court were one-word answers to the judge's questions.
"He is contrite," said Jack Strickland, Smith's attorney. "He has accepted responsibility."
Smith, who lives in Colleyville, near Fort Worth, faces five to 20 years in prison without parole and up to a $250,000 fine. He remains free until sentencing July 12.
Smith, who worked for the Boy Scouts 39 years, was a national program director and led the Youth Protection Task Force that worked to shield youth from sexual abuse. But he did not work directly with children, Boy Scouts officials said.
He was put on leave last month, immediately after the organization learned of the allegations, and then chose to retire.
Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, based in the Dallas suburb of Irving, said Tuesday that the organization was "shocked and dismayed."
"This is the action of one individual. It certainly doesn't represent our values or mission," Shields said.
Law enforcement officials indicated that the pictures did not show boys who were with the Boy Scouts organization, Shields said.
Authorities found 520 images of child pornography, including video clips, on Smith's home computer but none on his work computer, Helmer said. There was no evidence Smith had inappropriate contact with children, he said.
He received pictures and sent them to other people but did not sell them, Helmer said. Officials don't believe he sent the images to other Boy Scout officials.
Shields said Smith took over the task force two years ago. The task force had been launched in the mid-1980s and soon became widely admired as a model program that provided a Web site, videos, literature and other resources to adults and boys in the scouts, churches and schools.
The Boy Scouts have had other problems with their personnel, including volunteers. A California court case in the early 1990s revealed about 2,000 cases of sexual abuse of scouts and other boys that Boy Scouts officials in Irving had documented privately for two decades without telling law enforcement officials.
Smith's indictment was a result of an investigation launched last year by Operation Kinderschutz, a joint program started in 1997 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and German authorities that investigates child pornography distributed over the Internet.
Authorities said they found e-mails containing child porn from Smith on the computer of a German man.
More Iraqi kids hungry since ouster of Saddam
Mar. 31, 2005 12:00 AM
GENEVA - Malnutrition among the youngest Iraqis has almost doubled since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, a hunger specialist told the U.N. human rights body Wednesday in a summary of previously reported studies on health in Iraq.
By last fall, 7.7 percent of Iraqi children under 5 suffered acute malnutrition, compared with 4 percent after Saddam's ouster in April 2003, said Jean Ziegler, the U.N. Human Rights Commission's special expert on the right to food.
Malnutrition, which is exacerbated by a lack of clean water and adequate sanitation, is a major killer of children in poor countries.
Children who survive are usually physically and mentally impaired for life, and are more vulnerable to disease.
The situation facing Iraqi youngsters is "a result of the war led by coalition forces," said Ziegler, an outspoken Swiss sociology professor and former lawmaker whose previous targets have included Swiss banks, China, Brazil and Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
Overall, more than a quarter of Iraqi children don't get enough to eat, Ziegler told the 53-nation commission, which is halfway through its annual six-week session.
The U.S. delegation and other coalition countries had declined to respond to his presentation, which compiled the findings of studies conducted by other specialists.
In reporting the 7.7 percent malnutrition rate for Iraqi youngsters, the Norwegian-based Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science said in November that the figure was similar to the levels in some African countries.
Iraq was generally regarded as having good nutrition rates in the 1970s and 1980s, but problems emerged when the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
The United Nations later began an oil-for-food program, which allowed Iraq to sell oil to buy food and medicine.
That was credited with nearly doubling the Iraqi population's annual food intake and halving malnutrition among children.
dont you think they are doing this just a little too late. like a day after where they lose the lawsuit and ard are ordered to pay out a few million in damages.
Mesa puts new limits on Taser use
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 31, 2005 12:00 AM
MESA - A week after the city paid out $2.4 million in a civil lawsuit involving the use of a Taser, police are adding restrictions to its stun-gun policy for officers and providing specifics for when the weapon should be used.
Mesa Police Chief Dennis Donna approved changes to the Taser policy last Thursday, less than a week after Mesa paid $2.2 million to Bruce Bellemore, who fell 10 feet out of a tree onto his head in February 2004 after an officer fired a stun gun at him. The city also paid $200,000 to the hospital that cared for Bellemore, who was left a quadriplegic.
The new policy says the weapon should not be used when a suspect is in an "elevated position" where a fall is likely to cause substantial injury or death, among other restrictions. Mesa police Sgt. Chuck Trapani said the change is part of the department's annual use-of-force policy review and doesn't stem from any single Taser-related incident.
"We made the order more specific to give the officers more examples of when a Taser should and shouldn't be used," Trapani said.
"It's a relatively new tool, and through experience we're learning when best to utilize it in the field," he said.
Some of changes in the new four-page Taser policy include that officers should consider the suspect's age and physical condition, and it raises the level of force when a Taser can be used.
"Before, if someone clenches their fist, we could Taser him. Now, we have to wait for him to get in the fighting stance unless there are special circumstances," Trapani said.
Posted on Wed, Mar. 30, 2005
Albuquerque police chief resigns
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The police chief resigned abruptly Wednesday amid a scandal involving his department's alleged mishandling of evidence.
Chief Gilbert Gallegos had been under increasing fire over possible long-standing problems in the department's evidence room.
Last year an anonymous e-mail was sent to law enforcement officials claiming that weapons, drugs and jewelry were missing from the room. That e-mail helped prompt an attorney general's investigation, launched at Gallegos' request.
Gallegos said he will offer any information he may have to investigators.
Sam Thompson, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said Gallegos' resignation would have no effect on the investigation.
"This was the chief's decision ... I think he made the right decision," Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez said. "The chief has put his department's welfare ahead of his own."
Gallegos' resignation letter did not give a precise reason for his departure, saying only that he does "not want to hinder the future success of this department."
At a news conference, Gallegos, 61, said it was time to go. "I've been at it 40 years, and that's a long time," he said.
Chavez said he hopes to replace Gallegos, who took over as chief in December 2001, by the end of the week.
Recently, a former Albuquerque police lieutenant said he and his officers brought allegations of theft in the department's evidence room to Gallegos but that the chief waited two months to begin an internal criminal investigation and seven months to call in the attorney general.
This week, three citizens filed formal ethics complaints against Gallegos for his handling of the alleged problems.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Albuquerque Police Chief Resigns Amid Evidence Scandal
The Associated Press
The city's police chief resigned abruptly Wednesday amid a scandal involving his department's alleged mishandling of evidence.
Mayor Martin Chavez said at a news conference that he accepted the resignation of Chief Gilbert Gallegos, which is effective immediately.
"This was the chief's decision ... I think he made the right decision,'' Chavez said. "The chief has put his department's welfare ahead of his own.''
Gallegos, in a separate news conference at the police station about an hour later, said it was time to go.
"I've been at it 40 years, and that's a long time,'' he said.
Gallegos said he plans to ride his motorcycle and "just enjoy life.''
Chavez said he hopes to replace Gallegos, who took over as chief in December 2001, by the end of the week.
In a letter dated Wednesday, Gallegos did not give a precise reason for his sudden departure, saying only that he does "not want to hinder the future success of this department.''
"I believe in this department and my position of chief should not detract from the mission — the security and safety of all who live here,'' the letter said.
Police Department spokesman Jeff Arbogast said officers were surprised and upset by the chief's move.
"We're very, very unhappy,'' Arbogast said.
In recent days, Gallegos has come under increasing fire for his handling of possible long-standing problems in the department's evidence room.
Gallegos said he will offer any information he may have "to any investigation.''
Last year an anonymous e-mail was sent to law enforcement officials claiming that weapons, drugs and jewelry were missing from the evidence room. That e-mail helped prompt an attorney general's investigation, launched at Gallegos' request.
Sam Thompson, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said Gallegos' resignation would have no effect on the investigation. The investigator has completed the first draft of his report, which is being reviewed by attorneys "who may have some more questions for him about it,'' Thompson said.
She said it's difficult to say how long it will take for a final report to be made public.
Three federal lawsuits have been filed in addition to the attorney general's investigation.
Recently, a former Albuquerque police lieutenant said he and his officers brought allegations of theft in the department's evidence room to Gallegos but that the chief waited two months to begin an internal criminal investigation and seven months to call in the attorney general.
On Monday, Arbogast issued a statement on Gallegos' behalf. The statement said that concerns listed in various memos have been or are being addressed.
Also this week, three citizens filed formal ethics complaints against Gallegos for his handling of the alleged problems in the evidence room.
Retired cop points finger at Chief Gallegos
ALBUQUERQUE -- A retired Albuquerque police lieutenant says Chief Gilbert Gallegos waited two months to begin an internal investigation after the lieutenant and others alleged problems in the evidence room.
And former Lieutenant Kyle Baxter says it was seven months before Gallegos called in the attorney general.
He says he doesn't know why Gallegos didn't act sooner.
A spokesman for the department has issued a statement on Gallegos' behalf.
It says memos from officers in the department are being addressed as part of an investigation ordered by the chief.
The statement says some of the issues are part of a criminal investigation.
It says those findings will be included in a future final report.
Federal Jury Says Former Milwaukee Police Chief Discriminated Against White Lieu
Milwaukee - The City of Milwaukee comes out on the short end of a lawsuit filed by 17 white Milwaukee police officers. The 17 served as lieutenants during Arthur Jones' seven year tenure as Chief of Police. They contended they were discriminated against and denied promotion to the rank of captain while less qualified minorities were promoted. A federal jury ruled in their favor Tuesday afternoon. Jones, along with the City of Milwaukee and the Fire and Police Commission were named in the suit. The officers are seeking 300-thousand dollars a piece and immediate promotion to the rank of captain for those still with the department. The penalty phase of the trial gets underway next Monday.
Jones' defense faltered early on
Subjectivity guided promotions, he admitted in court
By DERRICK NUNNALLY and GINA BARTON
Posted: March 30, 2005
The ill-fated defense of former Police Chief Arthur Jones' record against a federal discrimination lawsuit fell apart early on, several attorneys said Wednesday.
Case at a Glance
The verdict: An eight-member federal jury decided that the Milwaukee Police Department, under former Chief Arthur Jones, discriminated against 17 white male lieutenants who were passed over for promotions.
What’s next: The jury will reconvene Monday at 9 a.m. for the penalty phase of the trial. Testimony in this phase is expected to last three days. The plaintiffs are each seeking $300,000 in compensatory damages plus punitive damages and promotions to captain.
Other cases: A number of discrimination suits against the department and city are pending from the Jones era, including two filed against the city by Jones himself. Jones is seeking $2 million in damages in each of his suits.
Jones himself was the first witness called by William Rettko, attorney for the 17 white men who sued alleging that Jones discriminated when they were his lieutenants by passing them over to name less-qualified women or minorities for captaincies. And Jones freely admitted that his criteria for choosing captains was highly subjective. Most choices, he admitted, were made without consulting the supervisors' evaluations he mistrusted, the résumés he felt didn't explain a person's aptitudes, or the department's own personnel records.
Nominations were made, Jones said frequently during his testimony, "because I felt that they were the best qualified person."
Such admitted subjectivity crippled from the start Assistant City Attorney Miriam Horwitz's attempt to say Jones' discretion, though authorized by law, promoted people who could objectively be called among the most deserving, race and gender notwithstanding. He ended up naming 41 captains, 21 of whom were white men, during a time when 80% of the pool of lieutenants was white men, but testified that he had no objective criteria to back it up.
That sank the case immediately, several discrimination and employment-law attorneys said Wednesday.
"The lesson here for employers is that if you don't have fair and object promotion criteria, whether it's a white chief or a black chief, it's going to come back to bite you," said Jeff Hynes, co-chair of the Wisconsin Employment Lawyers' Association. "Certainly the handwriting was on the wall for the defense the minute this evidence comes in. This is right out of the case law."
Hynes, who has worked as a defense and plaintiffs' attorney in more than 20 years of handling discrimination lawsuits, said Jones' admission that he used subjective criteria enabled the jury to then contemplate other elements of Jones' record - such as his hiring statistics and his usage of racially loaded language such as Massa (referring to then-Mayor John O. Norquist, who is white) and Uncle Tom (for black members of the Fire and Police Commission).
"Why is this bad?" Hynes asked rhetorically. "We always, when we're looking at these cases, have to say to ourselves that if the tables were turned and if this was a white chief (sued by black lieutenants), how would we view this?"
The discrimination was found by a jury of three white men, three white women, one black woman and one woman whose race was not apparent. Jones had testified that "race was not a factor" in his promotions, and even denied that he had a goal of diversifying the department, but the jurors checked off 144 instances in which the 17 white male plaintiffs were individually passed over during 19 promotions in which Jones eventually named a woman or a non-white person as a captain.
Vastly changed department
The department Jones was booted from in 2003 has a dramatically different racial makeup today than it did when Jones took the helm in 1996. That year, 22 of 25 police captains were white males. As of December - the latest date for which statistics were available - nine of 24 police captains were white males.
Labor and employment-law attorney John D. Finerty Jr. said Jones couldn't admit openly to having any intention to diversify the Milwaukee Police Department.
"Otherwise, he walks straight into the argument that white candidates couldn't be promoted because of their race," Finerty said.
He and several other attorneys said police chiefs are generally given wide latitude to pick command staff members, "just as the president of the United States would choose his own cabinet," but there are specific exceptions.
"The law says race would be one consideration that you can't use," Finerty said. "I think juries understand that they have to give deference to managers in making those decisions, but once you demonstrate race was a deciding factor, you're in trouble."
Damages phase ahead
Ellen Basting Dizard, who is on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Bar Association's labor and employment law section, said the damages phase of the trial, which starts Monday, could rely heavily on the jury's assessment of the number of times each plaintiff was passed over when Jones hired a woman or member of a racial minority.
But she doubted that U.S. District Judge Thomas Curran will go out of his way to force the Police Department to change how captains are appointed, a process that currently allows chiefs to nominate anyone they want - almost always a lieutenant - and send only that candidate to the Fire and Police Commission for review and ratification.
"Typically, courts shy away from dictating specific process changes to a department," Dizard said.
It is highly unusual for a department Milwaukee's size to allow promotions to captain to be based solely on the chief's wishes.
"That's how you pick your top commanders, but captains are not top commanders. They're middle managers," said D.P. Van Blaricom, a police practices expert based in Bellevue, Wash.
More commonly, candidates for promotion take a civil service exam. The scores, along with other qualifications, help determine who is promoted, he said.
Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska, said the lack of job postings for captain's positions in Milwaukee hurt the city's chances in the civil suit.
"The city was in a vulnerable position because there were no criteria" for the positions, he said.
That vulnerability was significant enough that Rettko was able to win despite what other attorneys viewed as incredibly long odds just because of the type of case. Successful racial-discrimination cases are hard matters to litigate, much more so when the victim is white, lawyers said, and wrongful-promotion cases are harder cases than wrongful-termination ones. Over seven years as police chief, Jones' record was enough to overcome all those obstacles in the jury's eyes.
"The chief, though perhaps well-intentioned, seemed to be trying to implement his own version of affirmative action," Hynes said. "Given the current status of the law, that will tend to backfire."
Leonard Sykes Jr. of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
U.S. pre-emptive policy takes hit
Apr. 1, 2005 12:00 AM
The latest intelligence-failure report to land on President Bush's desk raises serious questions about his policy of pre-emptive action against potential foes. How can he order such strikes if he doesn't have solid information?
Findings by the special presidential commission could also complicate American efforts to mend fences with allies who opposed the Iraq war. U.S. officials might have a hard time persuading other nations to accept new American intelligence on the world's next hot spot after being "dead wrong," as the panel put it, on Iraq.
"Obviously, the report creates severe doubt about the administration's ability to implement a policy of pre-emption," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based think tank.
"The past failures of our intelligence system have already alienated key allies. Now these findings seem to signal that we can't rely on available intelligence to make such decisions in the future," Thompson said.
Report: Spy agencies flawed
Lack data on threats
Apr. 1, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - A damning report by a presidential commission concluded Thursday that the United States knows "disturbingly little" about nuclear and biological threats from dangerous adversaries, years after the Sept. 11 attacks and the nation's intelligence missteps on Iraqi weapons.
Urging dramatic changes in the U.S. spy agencies, the commission called crucial intelligence judgments on Iraq "dead wrong" and said the flaws it found "are still all too common."
"Our collection agencies are often unable to gather intelligence on the very things we care the most about," the panel concluded in its unsparing report.
Though he initially opposed the panel's creation, President Bush promised immediate action at a news conference with retired Judge Laurence Silberman, a Republican, and former Democratic Sen. Charles Robb of Virginia, the commission's co-chairmen.
"To win the war on terror, we will correct what needs to be fixed," Bush said.
The commission offered 74 recommendations aimed at changing the structure and culture of the nation's 15 spy agencies. It called for more clarity in the powers of the newly created national intelligence director, an overhaul of national security efforts in the Justice Department and dozens of changes in intelligence collection and analysis.
"There is no more important intelligence mission than understanding the worst weapons that our enemies possess, and how they intend to use them against us," the commission said. "These are their deepest secrets, and unlocking them must be our highest priority."
The report, approved unanimously by the bipartisan nine-member panel, followed the failure of U.S. inspectors in Iraq to turn up weapons of mass destruction. The existence of stockpiles, detailed in dozens of intelligence reports before the March 2003 invasion, was the administration's leading argument for toppling Saddam Hussein.
Numerous blue-ribbon panels since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have investigated intelligence shortfalls. This commission, in the bluntest of terms, provided the most comprehensive look so far.
The report painted a picture of a clumsy intelligence apparatus struggling to penetrate Iraqi operations and wrongly concluding that Saddam had weapons capable of causing catastrophic damage. Commissioners found intelligence collectors didn't provide enough information or were deceived by discredited sources and analysts relied on old assumptions about Saddam's intentions and overstated their conclusions.
"On a matter of this importance, we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude," said the report, which exceeded 600 pages.
Robb and Silberman said they found no evidence that senior Bush administration officials sought to change the prewar intelligence in Iraq. The report was silent on whether the administration manipulated the data for political purposes, as Democrats have contended, with commission members saying they were not empowered to examine that.
The commission warned John Negroponte, whom Bush nominated to coordinate the spy community, of the intelligence agencies' "almost perfect record of resisting external recommendations."
The commission found the spy community ill-prepared to penetrate adversarial nations and terror groups. It said agencies must do a better job of preventing attacks with biological agents and learning about the spread of nuclear weapons.
The commission saved for a classified report details about U.S. knowledge of weapons programs in Iran, North Korea, China and Russia.
But in the unclassified section, the report said, "We found that we have only limited access to critical information about several of these high-priority intelligence targets."
At home, the commission said, the FBI has not done enough to beef up intelligence operations. It warned of potentially ominous consequences from lack of cooperation between the CIA and FBI on terrorism cases that shift from overseas to American soil.
On al-Qaida, the commission found that the intelligence community was surprised by the terrorist network's advances in biological weapons. Previously, U.S. officials have said they found evidence in Afghanistan that the group was working on anthrax weapons.
but of course he wont be punished like one of us peons would be if we committed the same crime.
Berger plans to plead guilty
Ex-security adviser took classified papers
Apr. 1, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger will plead guilty to taking classified material from the National Archives, a misdemeanor, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Berger is expected to appear in federal court in Washington today, Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra said.
The former Clinton administration official previously acknowledged that he removed from the National Archives copies of documents about the government's anti-terror efforts and notes that he made on those documents. He said he was reviewing the materials to help determine which Clinton administration documents to provide to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. advertisement
He called the episode "an honest mistake" and denied criminal wrongdoing.
Berger and his lawyer, Lanny Breuer, have said Berger knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket and pants and inadvertently took copies of classified documents in a leather portfolio. He returned most of the documents, but some still are missing.
The charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
The materials related to a 2000 report on how the government reacted to the terror threat before the millennium celebrations.
Berger stepped down as an adviser to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign last July after the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department was investigating the matter.
Many Democrats, including former President Clinton, suggested that politics was behind disclosure of the probe only days before the release of the Sept. 11 commission report, which Republicans feared would hurt President Bush.
Police-scandal payouts likely to cost LA $70 mil
Apr. 1, 2005 12:00 AM
LOS ANGELES - The city said Thursday that it will pay about $70 million to settle lawsuits that alleged misconduct or brutality by corrupt police officers in an anti-gang unit.
Since the allegations surfaced more than five years ago, 214 lawsuits have been filed mostly by drug dealers, gang members and other criminals who said they had been framed, shot and beaten by the unit's officers in the Rampart division.
Twenty-seven claims were dismissed and eight are pending settlements, which are part of the $70 million total payout, said Frank Mateljan, a City Attorney's Office spokesman. advertisement
The settlements mark the "end of an unfortunate and dark chapter in our city's history," City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said.
"The rapid and fair disposition of these cases has brought justice to those wronged by a handful of rogue officers," he said.
The Rampart corruption scandal once involved the investigation of 82 incidents involving 50 officers and the reversal of more than 100 criminal convictions.
Despite the criminal backgrounds of many of the plaintiffs, city lawyers concluded when reviewing the records of the officers involved that more than three-fourths of the cases were too risky to let them proceed to trial.
The average settlement was $400,000. Javier Francisco Ovando, a gang member who was shot by police and left paralyzed, received the largest settlement: $15 million. He had been sentenced to 23 years in prison after two officers testified he was armed when he was shot. His conviction was eventually overturned.
As a result of the scandal, more than a dozen officers left the force. Some were fired and others resigned amid investigations of misconduct.
LAPD Settling Abuse Scandal
Payments to alleged Rampart victims will total $70 million. L.A. was sued more than 200 times, often by criminals claiming mistreatment.
By Scott Glover and Matt Lait, Times Staff Writers
Virtually all civil lawsuits stemming from the Rampart Division police scandal have been settled for a total of $70 million, Los Angeles officials are set to announce today, five years after an anti-gang officer blew the whistle on widespread corruption and brutality.
The announcement marks the resolution of most remaining legal issues from a scandal that caused more than 100 criminal convictions to be overturned and more than a dozen officers to leave the force — some fired, others resigning amid investigations.
Police Chief William J. Bratton said he suspected that some officers who committed misconduct related to the scandal remained on the job.
"Knowing is not necessarily proving," he said.
The Rampart debacle also set the stage for the federal government to impose a consent decree on the Los Angeles Police Department, requiring extensive reforms. A blue-ribbon commission headed by civil rights attorney Constance L. Rice is still studying the scandal.
The city was sued more than 200 times, mostly by drug dealers, gang members and other criminals who said they had been framed, shot, beaten or otherwise mistreated by the police.
All but eight of the suits have been resolved, according to city lawyers. The expected expenditures in the eight cases are included in the $70 million, said Jennifer Roth Krieger, chief financial and administrative officer in the city attorney's office.
Despite the criminal backgrounds of many of the plaintiffs, city lawyers concluded when reviewing the records of the officers involved that more than three-fourths of the cases were too risky to let them proceed to trial.
"When you have a problem officer, it's very difficult to go forward," said Chief Deputy City Atty. Terree A. Bowers. "This has got to be a wake-up call for the city. It could have been worse."
The payout total was considerably less than the $125 million projected by then-City Atty. James K. Hahn in the early days of the scandal.
In the cases that resulted in payouts, the average settlement was $400,000. For many of the plaintiffs, the newfound riches have translated into luxury automobiles, large homes and investments in the stock market.
Convicted felon Roberto Candido, one of the plaintiffs, received an $860,000 settlement in 2000. He said the windfall inspired a spiritual awakening.
"I'm not telling you I'm a saint, but I'm trying to get closer to God," he told The Times. "I know he does everything for a reason, and I know I've got to repay him."
In all, 30 people have received settlements of $500,000 or more. In many of those cases, the LAPD had exonerated some or all of the officers involved before the city attorney decided to settle.
The Rampart scandal began in September 1999 when Officer Rafael Perez pleaded guilty to charges that he had stolen three kilos of cocaine from LAPD evidence facilities.
In exchange for a five-year sentence, he promised to tell authorities about a case in 1996 in which he and his partner shot a young Javier Francisco Ovando then planted a gun on him to justify the shooting. Perez also pledged to identify other corrupt police.
In the end, he and seven other officers from the Rampart Division's CRASH — Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums — anti-gang unit were convicted of corruption-related offenses as a result of information he brought to light. A judge overturned three of the convictions on procedural grounds.
Bowers of the city attorney's office said one of the main lessons learned from Rampart was the need to identify and track problem officers.
To that end, he said, the office's lawyers must now inform him of any instance in which they believe that a police officer has lied or committed other misconduct. Bowers then sends that information directly to the police chief, which has happened fewer than 10 times since 2001, he said.
The largest settlement, for $15 million, was paid in 2000 to Ovando, a member of the 18th Street gang whom the shooting left paralyzed.
He had been sentenced to 23 years in prison after Perez and Officer Nino Durden testified against him in court, insisting that he had been armed. His conviction was eventually overturned.
"The Rampart scandal was a stain on our otherwise outstanding Police Department," City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo says in a statement prepared for release today. "I know I speak for all the city leaders and our fine police officers when I say that we are thankful to put this chapter behind us."
On Wednesday, city leaders hailed the development as good news for both taxpayers and the victims of police abuse.
"The reality is, regardless of who the plaintiffs were, there was evidence of wrongdoing. That's what we had to recognize," said Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, chairwoman of the council's Public Safety Committee. "Civil rights are civil rights, and they apply to everyone across the board."
Councilman Jack Weiss said it was premature to "close the books" on the Rampart scandal.
"It doesn't mean that when the ink is dried on the last check that the department has been cured," he said, while adding that he was pleased at the litigation's resolution. He said he eagerly awaited the findings of Rice's independent panel.
Attorney Gregory Yates, who won nearly $20 million in settlements for his clients in Rampart-related cases, said he was disappointed that none of the major lawsuits went to trial in front of a jury.
A trial, he said, "would have exposed how massive and widespread the corruption was."
He called the settlements part of the city attorney's strategy to "sweep this under the rug."
The city dragged the cases on for so long that many of his clients were "worn down" and simply settled to get the matters resolved, Yates said.
"The net result is the city got these settlements without letting the truth come out," he said. "That's the bottom line."
His disappointment was shared by others.
"For the victims and the city, it's a good thing to have it resolved," said Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who has studied the Rampart scandal. "But there is also a loss here that we didn't learn things that we might have, had we had a trial."
Rice called it smart to settle from both the city's and the plaintiffs' perspective. City officials do not want the publicity that would accompany a trial, she said, and the victims probably realize that public outrage over the scandal has dissipated.
"It's a gamble for both sides to go forward," she said.
She also believes that trials might have shed more light on the corruption.
"What's stunning to me is how little the city really knows about Rampart," she said. "How far did it go? Did it spread to other divisions?"
Rampart, by the numbers
Former Officer Rafael A. Perez, prosecuted for stealing cocaine from an evidence locker, turned informant in 1999 and implicated others from the LAPD's Rampart Division in abuse. Alleged victims of the police filed hundreds of claims and lawsuits against the city. All but eight cases have been resolved.
214 claims resolved*
3 on appeal
$70.2 million in payouts
Lessons learned, according to the city attorney's analysis:
• Improve tracking of complaints against officers.
• Investigate all uses of force.
• Bolster civilian oversight of LAPD.
• Increase supervisor-to-officer ratios.
• Improve screening and training of officers.
Source: Los Angeles city attorney
Los Angeles Times
* Some cases involve more than one plaintiff.
remindes me of the old days during the vietnam war when they would smuggle tons of the good vietnam weed into the usa on military cargo planes. also from other sources i understand the CIA smuggles coke into the usa to finance illegal military opperations in south american
5 GIs accused of smuggling attempt
Published April 1, 2005
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Five U.S Army soldiers are under investigation for allegedly trying to smuggle 32 pounds of cocaine out of Colombia aboard a U.S. military aircraft, American officials said Thursday.
The soldiers were detained Tuesday as a result of the investigation, said Lt. Col. Eduardo Villavicencio, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Southern Command in Florida.
He would not disclose where the five are being held, other than "in the United States."
Colombia's Defense Ministry confirmed an investigation was underway, but wouldn't discuss details of the case.
The United States has provided more than $3 billion in aid over the past four years to help Colombia battle Marxist rebels and drug trafficking that fuels the 40-year-old insurgency.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
Police suspects in Brazil massacre
27 people killed in crime-plagued suburbs of Rio
Apr. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Police incensed by investigations of brutality and corruption by "bad" cops may have carried out a massacre in two impoverished suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, killing 27 people, state officials said Friday.
Another victim was left brain dead in Thursday's onslaught in Nova Iguacu and Queimados, crime-infested suburbs 20 miles northwest of Rio, said Claudia Guerreiro, a spokeswoman for the Rio Public Safety Department.
In Queimados, gunmen mowed down 12 people, some in Bible Square and others in front of a carwash, she said. In nearby Nova Iguacu, they killed 15 people at a bar, she said.
"There are strong indications that the massacres could have been a reprisal ... for the arrest of eight police officers suspected of killing two men in police station" earlier this week, Guerreiro said.
The eight were caught on camera dumping the bodies of the two men outside the station, Guerreiro said.
Marcelo Itagiba, head of the Rio de Janeiro State Public Safety Department, said authorities were investigating whether police participated in Thursday's suburb slayings and if so, "we will be implacable." He said the massacre may have been the work of people "unhappy with our investigations into crimes committed by police officers and with our efforts to weed out corrupt and bad policemen."
One victim was 13-year-old Felipe Soares Carlos, who had had just returned from school.
"He went out to play with his friends and minutes later I heard shots," said his 17-year-old sister, Priscila. "I went out and saw a lot of bodies stretched out on the street and then I saw my brother. I touched him and his eyes rolled over, and I knew he was dead."
"One minute you see all these kids you have known for years playing in the street, and the next minute they are all dead," said Maria Jose, who owns a neighborhood bar. "It was shocking."
There was no other information on other victims.
The human rights group Amnesty International said the killings were reminiscent of massacres by Rio death squads.
Twelve years ago, death squads killed eight street children while they slept outside Rio de Janeiro's Candelaria church. A month later, 21 people in Rio's Vigario Geral shantytown were gunned down, apparently in retaliation for the killing of police officers allegedly involved in drug dealing.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most violent cities, with a homicide rate of about 50 per 100,000 residents.
messy yard cops want you to snitch on your neighbors. why dont these messy yard thugs patrol the streets and make EVERYONE obey these stupid messy yard laws? probably cuz we would revolt and kill the b*st*rds if they did.
Residents are warned about weeds
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
This year's heavy rains have promoted the growth of weeds throughout the city, and city officials are warning residents to keep yards trimmed and report lots with overgrown weeds to reduce the fire hazard. The city has warned residents about weeds and their dangers.
Inspectors are prepared to fine those who refuse to clean up out-of-control lawns and lots. In south and west Phoenix, many unoccupied lots need attention and have drawn the ire of residents.
Miriam Works, a 10-year resident of south Phoenix, never had much of a problem with the vacant lot next to her home at Seventh Street and Atlanta Avenue until this year. The extra rain has caused heavy growth that, she said, has affected her allergies and her daughters' asthma. But the real danger is the potential for fire. advertisement
"It's a matter of not letting it keep up and not letting it get out of hand or it gets worse," she said. "It's only going to cost some more in the long run if somebody's house burns down or it gets kids sick."
Fortunately, the owner noticed the growth and has started cleaning up the lot.
"This is clearly the responsibility of the property owners and now is the time to get out there when they're green and the ground is soft before they get brown and become a fire hazard," said Ken Lynch, a spokesman for Phoenix's Neighborhood Services Department.
Weed complaints from residents have jumped from a year ago, Lynch said. In February 2004, residents reported 910 weed complaints. This year 2,709 complaints were reported in February. To report a violation, call (602) 262-7844.
how do you tell if the pope is dead? smack him in head with a silver hammer then call out his baptismal name three times. if the pope doesnt answer he is dead! honest i didnt make this up!
Faithful alert for signs of a papal passing
Bronze Door closing, tolling bells among long-held traditions
William J. Kole
Apr. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
VATICAN CITY - A closed Bronze Door. Drawn shutters. Tolling bells. Somber music. They are all signs that a pontiff has passed.
Over the centuries, the most traditional and telling signal that a pope has died has been the tolling of the Vatican's bells, which prompts churches across Rome to join in.
But there is also the symbolic shutting of the Bronze Door, a massive portal beneath a portico off St. Peter's Square that is closed when a pope dies and is kept shut until a new pontiff is elected.
Its modern use is spotty. In 1978, when two popes died in rapid succession, the tradition was ignored. Under normal circumstances, the Bronze Door is closed every night at about 8 and reopened in the morning, making it unsuitable for a nighttime announcement.
And papal observers say it's not clear whether the shutting of the door even in daytime would precede or follow an official announcement.
Pope-watchers also are keeping a watchful eye on the shutters of the two windows at the side of Pope John Paul II's third-floor apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square. Some say the closing of the shutters can be the first tangible sign of a death.
Tradition dictates that the pope's vicar for Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, would make a formal announcement to Romans. The Vatican almost certainly would have made an earlier announcement to the media, either via Vatican Radio, which then plays somber music, or through the pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, meaning the world would know by the time Ruini read out the news.
The formal Vatican tradition goes like this:
When a pope dies, the prefect of the household, now American Archbishop James Harvey, tells the camerlengo, or chamberlain, who is the most important official running the Holy See in the period between the death of a pope and the election of a new one.
The camerlengo, now Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo of Spain, must then verify the death, a process which in the past was done by striking the forehead of the pope with a silver hammer. The camerlengo then calls out to the pope three times by his baptismal name. . When the pope does not respond, the camerlengo then announces, "The pope is dead."
The camerlengo uses the hammer to smash the pope's ring, the Ring of the Fisherman, and the dies used to make lead seals to preclude forgery of documents.
He then tells the vicar of Rome, who informs the people.
The prefect of the papal household then tells the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who then formally informs the rest of the college, ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, and heads of state around the world.
when i first read this yesterday i though it was just another chop shop. but reading this it could be that sheriff joe is up to his dirty tricks again.
Tow firm fighting Arpaio charges
Hires lawyers, assails politics
Senta Scarborough and Justin Juozapavicius
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
Operators of a Mesa towing company have hired a team of attorneys as investigators combed through 200 boxes of documents seized Thursday from their businesses and homes by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in a complex fraud investigation.
At least four attorneys experienced in white collar and criminal defense cases are defending Cactus Towing owner Lee Watkins and general manager Todd DeMasseo.
"You don't sit on your hands and say, 'I'm a good guy and have been working in the community for a long time,' and trust in law enforcement," said attorney Kent Nicholas, who represents Cactus.
Nicholas insists that the investigation is politically motivated.
Watkins and DeMasseo supported W. Steven Martin last year in his failed bid for sheriff. Nicholas said the raid had "a tinge of retribution" from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
But Arpaio said the investigation began Jan. 1 - after the November election - when his office received a tip.
"This is not politically motivated. I will not be intimidated by politics or any other forces," Arpaio said. "We are going to continue this investigation no matter where it leads."
Meanwhile, Nicholas said an affidavit listing the reasons for the raid is sealed, and he pledged to go to court to gain access.
But Lt. Paul Chagolla said search warrants were provided at the four locations where deputies hauled off two truckloads of records. He added the affidavit is not made public until filed in court when the warrants are returned.
Investigators said they have not sealed the affidavit and expect the search warrants to be returned next week.
A source close to the investigation told The Republic this week that the case goes beyond insurance fraud and involves an auto-smuggling ring that sends cars to Mexico, chops them up, and brings the parts back to the United States for resale.
Cactus attorneys said they know nothing of a car-theft ring, and Arpaio said auto theft was not yet part of the probe.
Watkins, a controversial political and business figure in Arizona for years, has owned Cactus Towing for 18 years, turning it into one of the 10 busiest towing firms in the state.
The state's prison construction chief under Gov. Evan Mecham in the 1980s, Watkins allegedly made a death threat to a former aide about to testify before a grand jury investigating the governor's finances. Watkins never was charged, but the incident was one of many factors that led to Mecham's impeachment in 1988.
In August 1988, Watkins' wife, Pamela, accused him of attacking and choking her.
In filing her petition for an order of protection, she accused him of physically and verbally abusing her at least 11 times, including attempting to run her over with his car. The couple reconciled the same month and no charges were filed. They divorced in 1996.
Cactus has exclusive contracts with Mesa, Chandler and the Arizona Department of Public Safety's East Valley area, which includes portions of U.S. 60, Arizona 87 and Loops 101 and 202.
Gilbert, which used Cactus on a rotation basis with other companies, stopped using the company pending the outcome of the investigation, Gilbert Lt. Joe Ruet said Friday.
Some Valley tow companies said news of the Cactus raid gave the industry a "black eye."
"Cactus Towing is the big guy, and everyone's always after the big guy," said Richard Thompson, owner of Valley Express Towing in Mesa. "I know them both and hope they haven't done anything illegal."
Pete Colantoni, owner of B&B Wrecking Service and ATR Towing and Recovery in Phoenix and Tempe, said he was blind-sided by news of the raid.
"I hope for their sake it's uneventful. You never know," Colantoni said. "I hope the allegations aren't true."
Customers who showed up at the Cactus lot in Mesa on Friday couldn't retrieve their vehicles because tow records and receipts were seized, Nicholas said.
"That is too bad if it causes some inconvenience," Arpaio said. "We have to investigate thoroughly and professionally."
military punishes this murderer with an iron fist. that will put fear in the eyes of other soldiers and prevent them from murdering iraqis. well probably not
U.S. officer convicted in shooting death of wounded Iraqi is dismissed from military
Apr. 1, 2005 07:10 AM
WIESBADEN, Germany - A U.S. Army captain convicted in the shooting death of a wounded Iraqi was dismissed Friday from the armed forces, but the military court did not impose a prison sentence.
Capt. Rogelio "Roger" Maynulet, 30, was convicted Thursday of assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter, which carries a 10-year maximum sentence. He argued the killing was "honorable" because he wanted to end the man's suffering.
Maynulet stood at attention as Lt. Col. Laurence Mixon, the head of the six-member panel hearing his case, announced the sentence. He then embraced his defense lawyers and his wife, who burst into tears.
Prosecutors had sought a three-year prison term for Maynulet in addition to dismissal from the armed forces, arguing that a strong penalty would send a signal to other U.S. soldiers that such behavior would not be tolerated.
"You commit a serious crime, you are out of the Army. This is not what we do here," prosecutor Maj. John Rothwell said before sentence was passed. "What kind of institution does the U.S. Army become if assault with the intent to commit voluntary manslaughter is an honorable act?"
In an emotional plea to the court for leniency, Maynulet's mother, Carmen, said she was "very, very proud" of her son.
"Please let my son come home," the Cuban immigrant said tearfully.
On May 21, 2004, Maynulet was leading his 1st Armored Division company on a mission near Kufa, south of Baghdad, when it was alerted that a car thought to be carrying a "high-level" target was headed its way.
No details of the mission have been released, but it has been widely reported the company was told radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led uprisings against U.S.-led forces in Iraq last year, was believed to be in the car.
The company chased the car and fired at it. A passenger who was slightly wounded fled and was later caught. The driver was pulled from the car with serious head injuries and pronounced untreatable by a medic.
Maynulet, praised by his peers during the trial as a dedicated soldier and promising officer, then shot the driver twice. The killing was filmed by a U.S. surveillance aircraft.
Maynulet's defense attorney, Capt. Will Helixon, called Maynulet an outstanding soldier who started many projects in Iraq and was responsible for the arrest of 1,000 insurgents. He said the conviction was penalty enough.
Maynulet was convicted of a lesser charge than the one he originally faced, assault with the intent to commit murder.
religious crack pots always say "do as i say!" not "do as i do."
on the other hand dont this cops have something better to do then posing as 14 year old girls offering horny men sex and then arresting the men when they take them up on the offer.
Fairborn Police Arrest Zanesville Pastor
POSTED: 12:21 pm EST March 30, 2005
UPDATED: 2:15 pm EST March 30, 2005
FAIRBORN, Ohio -- Fairborn police arrested a Zanesville pastor Tuesday night who they said was looking for sex from a 14-year-old girl.
Police said Graham Phillips 24, from North Terrace Church in Zanesville, traveled to Fairborn, where he planned to meet the teen for sex. The teen he was chatting with online turned out to be a Fairborn detective.
Authorities said that Phillips had been chatting online with the undercover detective around St. Patrick’s Day. They said he even used the church’s computer for the online chats.
Investigators said Phillips had a hotel room key on him and said that he had reserved a room that he was going to take the 14-year-old girl to. Phillips is being held in the Fairborn Jail.
According to church officials, Phillips has been suspended from his duties as pastor, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Copyright 2005 by WHIOTV.com. All rights reserved.
Zanesville Pastor Released After Posting Bond
POSTED: 3:46 pm EST March 31, 2005
UPDATED: 3:50 pm EST March 31, 2005
FAIRBORN, Ohio -- A Zanesville church pastor posted bond in Fairborn and is now out of jail. However, he cannot go back to work because church administrators suspended him.
Graham Phillips, 25, was arrested in Fairborn earlier this week after investigators said he used a church computer to chat online with whom he thought was a teenage girl. They said he drove to Fairborn to meet the girl for sex.
Authorities said the teenager Phillips had been chatting with online was actually an undercover detective.
Phillips must appear in court next week for arraignment.
Posted on Thu, Mar. 31, 2005
Youth pastor arrested on charges of soliciting sex with teen on Internet
ZANESVILLE, Ohio - A youth pastor has been arrested and charged with soliciting sex from an undercover police officer who posed as a 14-year-old girl in an Internet chat room.
Graham Phillips, 25, of Zanesville, was charged Tuesday in nearby Fairborn with felony charges of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and importuning, Fairborn police Detective Lee Cyr said.
Police said Phillips was arrested after he drove to Fairborn for sex with the person he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
Phillips, a youth pastor at North Terrace Church of Christ in Zanesville, was in the Fairborn city jail Wednesday with bond set at $7,500, Cyr said.
The arrest shocked North Terrace staff and members of the congregation.
"If you knew Graham at all, it would have seemed like the farthest thing from anybody's mind," the Rev. Bobby Jackson, pastor of the church, said Wednesday. Jackson said each of the church's pastors undergoes an extensive background check before beginning work at the church, and Phillips passed all of the checks.
Cyr said Phillips, who has been a children's minister at the church, had no prior arrests or convictions. He oversaw all ministerial duties to children in grades 1-5.
Phillips has been suspended from the church pending the outcome of the case, Jackson said.
"We definitely want to address the issues, when we know what the issues are to address," he said. "There's so little we know right now."
Zanesville is about 50 miles east of Columbus.
Shootings fuel push to ease gun laws
New York Times
Apr. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
Paul Bucher, the district attorney for the Wisconsin county where a man opened fire in a church service last month, killing seven people and himself, has one answer to the deadly mass shootings around the country in recent weeks: more guns.
"The problems aren't the guns, it's the guns in the wrong hands," said Bucher, a Republican who recently announced his candidacy for Wisconsin attorney general. "We need to put more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Whether having that would have changed what happened is all speculation, but it would level the playing field. If the person you're fighting has a gun and all you have is your fists, you lose."
Across the country, efforts to expand or establish laws allowing concealed handguns have been fueled by the horrifying shootings in the past month - of the family of a federal judge in Chicago; at the church service in Wisconsin; at courthouses in Tyler, Texas, and Atlanta; and the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota.
In Texas and Illinois, the shootings prompted new legislation to allow judges and prosecutors to be armed. Legislators in Nebraska and Wisconsin, which were already considering allowing concealed weapons, say they think the shootings will help their cause.
Even supporters of gun control acknowledge that the atmosphere is sharply different than it was in 1999 when the nation's deadliest school shooting took place at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo. Those shootings inspired a raft of gun-control proposals in Congress and in state legislatures and forced gun advocates to retreat from legislation they hoped to pass, including a Colorado bill to allow concealed handguns.
Then, the National Rifle Association scaled back its national meeting, held in Denver soon after the Columbine shootings, to one day from three, and with 7,000 protesters shouting outside, used the occasion to declare its support for trigger locks and "absolutely gun-free" schools. By contrast, after the recent shootings in Red Lake, NRA officials proposed arming teachers.
Supporters of gun control said their best chance now was to try to hold the line against more laws that would allow concealed handguns.
"We were very much more on the offensive after Columbine," said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "It's just the way politics have worked. I hate to be in this position, but we are."
phoenix rulers want to turn phoenix into a police state where you need a government issued photo id to buy cold pills
Frustrated Phoenix looks at meth
City considers its own rules for selling ingredients
Ginger D. Richardson
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
Phoenix officials say they are frustrated with state lawmakers who won't support a bill that aims to make it harder for people to buy the ingredients used to make methamphetamines.
So they are considering making rules of their own.
Some Phoenix City Council members plan to draft an ordinance that would mandate that over-the-counter cold medications used to produce meth be put behind the pharmacist's counter, just as the all-but-defunct House Bill 2175 proposed.
"Clearly, we are losing the battle at the state," Councilman Tom Simplot said. "And that defies logic."
The idea, Simplot says, is to create a Phoenix-area ordinance and then shop the rules around to other Valley cities in hopes that they follow suit.
"If we don't do this at the very least on a regional level, then we've accomplished nothing," he said.
Phoenix officials say they believe that making Sudafed and other cold medication tablets available only at the pharmacy counter will cut down on the production of meth in the city. Meth is considered particularly dangerous because everything needed to make it is readily available at local stores.
The key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, is found in common over-the-counter cold medications. So officials want to also require that buyers show identification and sign a logbook when purchasing the treatments.
The requirements would not apply to medications that come in liquid or gelcap form because the pseudoephedrine in them cannot be melted down to cook meth.
Pharmaceutical companies opposed the state legislation, which was proposed by Rep. Tom O'Halleran, R-Sedona, and backed by Attorney General Terry Goddard.
They say it unfairly restricts sales to those who use the drugs as they are intended: to treat a cold.
They also say that creating a logbook puts residents at a greater risk of having their identity stolen.
"We do not like for our products to be used to make meth," said Mike Gardner, a lobbyist for the Consumer Health Care Products Association. "But we don't want to go overboard and punish people who would use these products the right way."
Gardner said the association, which counts among its members such pharmaceutical companies as GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer Inc., is instead favoring a bill authored by Sen. Barbara Leff, R-Paradise Valley.
That bill would lower the amount of cold medication an individual could buy in a single transaction and increases the penalties for those involved in the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamines.
Current law allows residents to purchase 24 grams of cold tablets at any given time. The bill would lower that to 9 grams, which Gardner said is the equivalent of two to four boxes.
By comparison, the House bill that the city favors would allow only 9 grams of the medication to be purchased in a 30-day period.
City officials also believe Leff's proposed legislation is weak and without "teeth" because it doesn't require residents to sign the logbook.
"There's nothing in there to stop a person from hitting one store after another until they get all they need to produce this drug," Phoenix Councilman Dave Siebert said, adding, "I wish the Legislature understood how much damage this does to our communities."
Leff's bill passed out of the Senate and is poised for a House floor vote as early as this week.
This is not the first time Phoenix has tried to address a public safety issue by rallying other Valley cities and urging them to follow.
In 1995, officials decreed that all spray paint cans be placed under lock and key. Tempe and Tolleson were two of several cities that followed suit. And in December, officials passed rules banning scooters and motorized bikes in all public places.
Now, other Valley municipalities, including Mesa, Scottsdale and Chandler, have or are considering similar bans.
But it's not clear whether Phoenix will get the same kind of support on this issue.
Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman, for example, said that communities that remove legal drugs from their shelves are trampling on free enterprise and could become vulnerable to lawsuits by manufacturers.
"You don't watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and take chainsaws off the shelf because of what they can do to people," Berman said.
He added, "At some point, water is used to grow (marijuana), I'm sure. So should we then outlaw water?"
But residents who grapple with the problem in their neighborhoods say they are absolutely in favor of Phoenix taking its own action.
"Anything we can do to keep this stuff off this street I am in favor of," said Marilyn Kalandek, president of the Jade Park North Block Watch in far northwest Phoenix. "To me, it's the children we have to protect," Kalandek added.
Samuel Jennings, leader of the Park Ridge Estates Block Watch in southeast Phoenix, agrees.
"This stuff is just everywhere, and it's absolute poison," Jennings said. "If there's anything I could do to help Phoenix get this through the Legislature, just tell me and I'd do it."
City officials couldn't say when the council's Public Safety Subcommittee will take up the issue but said they will wait until the Legislative session is over.
Staff reporter Chris Ramirez contributed to this article.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-2474.
Evidence sets prisoner free after 13 years
Apr. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A man has been freed after 13 years in prison for a death authorities thought was caused by a blow from a whiskey bottle, but which new evidence suggests occurred when the victim was hit by a motor home.
Larry Souter, 53, was tried in 1992 and sentenced to 20 to 60 years in prison for the death of 19-year-old Kristy Ringler. She was found in the middle of a road in 1979 and later died from head wounds.
For years, medical experts disagreed about how Ringler was injured. One said she was probably hit by a vehicle, another said the wound matched the shape of a whiskey bottle found on the road.
In January, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found "sufficient doubt" about Souter's guilt to order a federal judge to determine if he deserved a new trial.
Then a new witness came forward. The woman read about Souter's appeal and recalled that her father's motor home had a broken mirror in 1979 and had refused to talk about how it was damaged.
Michigan man seeks to start afresh after release
Posted on : 2005-04-03| Author : Peter Goodyear
Justice delayed is justice denied, but Larry Souter, 53, who spent 13 years in prison, after being convicted of killing a minor in 1979, is not a bitter man. Instead he says he is very happy to be free and is looking forward to starting afresh.
In 1979, Souter was supposed to have hit Kristy Ringler, with a whiskey bottle, which caused her death. She was found on of M-37 in Newaygo County and later succumbed to her head wounds. Doctors were divided over what exactly caused the head wound; some were of the opinion that it was caused by a car while others threw in their lot behind a whiskey bottle that was found near the site.
Souter was convicted in 1992 when another expert said that the wounds conformed to being hit by a whiskey bottle. He has always maintained that Ringler refused to let him drive her home and after she went on her way, he returned to the bar. The court did not buy his version of events and he was sentenced to 20 to 60 years in prison.
His lawyers however continued their appeals against the conviction and finally their attempts were fruitful in January when the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a federal judge in Grand Rapids to review the available evidence.
This time a new witness came forward with an amazing revelation that her father had a broken mirror on his Dodge Champion motor home as a result of some accident in 1979. The woman’s name has been withheld and her father died about five years ago. He had always refused to talk about what caused it. After a check of records it was found that the man was he was driving on M-37 during the time Ringler was hit. This new evidence was enough to convince the U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist to release Souter.
Souter's attorney John Smietanka said, "They are convinced he should have his conviction set aside. They're not going to try him again."
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. A man who spent 13 years in prison for murder has been freed.
Fifty-three-year-old Larry Souter says he's NOT a bitter person. He says he's very excited and very emotional. He was released from prison yesterday.
He was convicted in 1992 of killing 19-year-old Kristy Ringler back in 1979 by hitting her over the head with a whiskey bottle in Newaygo County.
Medical examiners have disagreed about whether the head trauma that killed her was more likely from a traffic accident or homicide.
But in January a federal appeals court found enough evidence to cast doubt on his guilt, and since then a new witness has come forward.
Souter's lawyer says the witness remembers her father having a broken mirror on his motor home that summer, and records show he was driving in the area at the time. Ringler was just taller than the mirror. The witness' father died about five years ago.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
'A sad day for the system'
Sunday, April 03, 2005
By Cami Reister
The Grand Rapids Press
The unexpected release of a West Michigan man who served 13 years in prison for a homicide he maintained he did not commit has triggered myriad emotions for those involved with the case.
Convicted in Newaygo County in 1992, Larry Souter was released Friday after new evidence showed the victim he was accused of hitting in the head with a bottle was more likely hit by the side mirror of a passing motor home.
While Souter, 53, is home with his family in the Grand Rapids area and "excited and very emotional," the victim's family is struggling with disbelief.
"It's all a bunch of lies," said Eloise Symons, mother of victim Kristy Ringler, who died in Newaygo County in 1979 at age 19. "There's absolutely no truth to the story ... about her being hit by a vehicle."
Symons cited the way in which her daughter's body was found in the middle of M-37 near White Cloud. That also was cited by Alan Rapoport who, as Newaygo County Assistant Prosecutor in 1992, successfully convicted Souter.
"It was the middle of the road, head on the center line, perpendicular to the line of travel and arms at her sides lying on her back," said Rapoport, now a semi-retired lawyer in Muskegon. "There was some testimony that that could not have happened accidentally."
But a Grand Rapids woman has a vivid memory of her father removing the damaged side mirror of the family's RV, hours after Ringler's death, and not wanting to discuss why. Reading in January about Souter's efforts to get a new trial, it all came back to her, including her efforts to talk to police about her father.
She came forward with her information, triggering Souter's attorneys, John Smietanka and co-counsel Anne Buckleitner, to file a Freedom of Information request with the Newaygo County sheriff's department.
The documents included a handwritten note from the woman, which supports her claim that she approached investigators in 1979, and proof of an interview between police and the woman's father. The documents were not given to Souter's trial attorneys in 1992.
Rapoport said they probably were not turned over to him, either.
"I certainly wish I would have known about that at the time, because the last thing that anybody wants is for an innocent person to be convicted of a crime," he said.
"I hope that Mr. Souter can get on with his life and put this behind him," he said. "It's a sad day for the system when something like this happens."
U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist, who ordered Souter's release Friday, lauded Smietanka's efforts for his client.
The federal courts regularly see appeals from people who are convicted of crimes in state courts and claim their constitutional rights were violated.
"Most of them lack merit," Quist told Smietanka on Friday. "To find one that has merit -- you are to be highly commended for it."
Smietanka, a former federal and state prosecutor, said: "This is the best thing I've ever done as a lawyer."
Press reporter Ed White contributed to this report.
© 2005 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission
laws are for citizens to obey, not government rulers. mayor dave munson will continue to rule despite breaking the citys laws
Mayor Munson Addresses Questionable Spending
The mayor of South Dakota's largest city will continue to serve. That's what Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson told a crowd at City Hall Friday that gathered to hear his response to questionable spending on city projects.
Munson says he'll recommend the city council pursue an independent audit of the financial situation.
Mayor Dave Munson didn't specifically talk about why he signed city contracts that approved $2.7 million additional for Phillips to the Falls. But he did address a lack of communication with city council members about the projects and says he regrets it.
Munson says, "I am not going to resign." And applause followed.
Enthusiasm filled the lobby of City Hall as Mayor Dave Munson talked publicly about questionable spending on city projects. To an audience of his supporters, about half the city council and many local officials, Munson reminded the crowd of his election promise to finish Phillips to the Falls.
Munson says, "I knew the city had the funds available to do the project and once we received an agreement with the railroad to relocate the lines, I was ready to move forward."
But Munson says he moved too fast and didn't officially ask the city council to approve the extra money until December. He says, "I wish I had gone to the council. I had gone to the council formally with a monthly update inviting conversation about it. I have been criticized for not doing so and that criticism is fair. I accept it."
Now Munson says City Attorney Gary Colwill will no longer investigate the spending. Instead, he recommends council members approve an independent audit.
Munson says, "I encourage the members of the council fiscal committee to participate actively in this and with their assistance we can assure the citizens the safeguards are in place to prevent this."
Munson closed his press conference without taking questions. Instead, he put rumors of his resignation to rest.
He says, "We have a lot to do in this city in the years to come, and I look forward to continuing my work with the council and the citizens of Sioux Falls to make this an even greater place to live."
Munson says he will talk about the issue after Monday's city council meeting. City Council Chairman Gerald Beninga also spoke at Friday's press conference.
He released financial records showing the City Council was given information about Phillips to the Falls and Pasley Park in August of last year. Beninga says, "If these reports were read we were aware of both projects funding concerns informally through these reports last summer."
Beninga says council members also receive monthly financial statements on every capital improvement project. He also says it's not uncommon for the council to approve transfers of funds at the end of the year, which is what happened in this case.
And he says it's been that way for at least three years and he believes it dates back to when the charter was revised in 1995.
If you'd like to read the mayor's entire statement, it's posted here:http://www.siouxfalls.org/mayor/subpage.asp?ID=1497
© 2005 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.
Munson will not resign
Mayor to answer questions today about city contracts, adviser says
Documents signed by Mayor Dave Munson in February 2004 reveal he approved a higher price tag for the Phillips to-the-Falls street project. A month later, he officially committed nearly three times more public money than the City Council had authorized for the year.
The paperwork - bids filed with the city's engineering division - pushes back the date at which Munson knew of the difference between money budgeted and the actual project cost.
He repeatedly has said that he did not know the contract outspent agreed-upon levels when he signed it and that he went to council members in November, the moment he found the problem.
The contract's signing and the delay in notifying council members are potential violations of the city charter. They could cost Munson Sioux Falls' highest office, but supporters said the mayor made an honest mistake, and all city money is accounted for. Munson will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. today in the old council chambers of City Hall.
"There is no resignation. There will be no resignation," said Ray Trankle, a longtime friend who spent much of Thursday afternoon in closed-door meetings with the mayor, other close friends, advisers and lawyers.
The mayor himself would not comment on the growing controversy as he left Thursday evening. "We'll be around tomorrow," he told reporters gathered outside his office. "I'm looking forward to it."
'He ... wants to do right thing'
Munson's upbeat attitude was a marked change from earlier in the day, when council member Kermit Staggers said the mayor had been a bit down. Council Chairman Gerald Beninga described Munson as "mentally and physically, very, very tired," but said the mayor was "rejuvenated" by the steady flow of friends. As they left, most went on the offensive, telling reporters Munson is a good, honest man who will be vindicated today when all the facts are laid out.
"He is a person of great integrity and wants to do the right thing," said Staggers, while fellow council member De Knudson thanked Munson for his hard work and told him to "hang in there. The mayor has admitted mistakes," she said. "He has flaws like I do."
Those council members, skeptical a day earlier, were more reserved Thursday. They said they wanted to hear the mayor's explanation before pressing for anything beyond an outside investigation.
"I'm just not comfortable expressing an opinion on what decision the mayor should make," council member Kevin Kavanaugh said. "I don't know what he should do."
Chairman Beninga spent Thursday evening reviewing what the council as a whole knew, and when. "I'm going to use that to explain the council's position," he said, adding that he hoped he could play a role in today's press conference. "The mayor is putting together his documentation, and it will show, frankly, why he made the decisions he did."
Council members eagerly await the mayor's message, but most say an outside investigation is necessary to reassure the public and sort out what went wrong. In December, feeling they had no choice but to honor contracts for work already completed, councilors agreed to move an extra $2.74 million to cover Phillips to the Falls and nearly $500,000 for a railroad underpass at Pasley Park. Most came from other departments, but $160,000 of the Phillips money was taken from cash reserves in the sales tax fund.
City Attorney Gary Colwill has been studying the matter for more than two months, though council members asked for an internal review only Monday. The focus shifted to an independent inquiry after finance director Eugene Rowenhorst revealed Munson made "a deliberate decision" not to come to the council for extra money until later in the year. That contradicted Munson's timeline and led council members to question whether it was fair to ask their top legal adviser to investigate the man who'd appointed him.
Phillips to Falls, Pasley Park
The bid documents from early 2004 cement the need for a fresh eye, council members said. The city charter states that anyone who knowingly commits public money beyond levels approved by the council may be removed from office and held personally liable for expenses.
Munson's signature first appears Feb. 17, 2004, on a bid request citing a Phillips Avenue estimate of $3.8 million - more than three times the $1.16 million appropriated. The two figures are listed side-by-side.
Not quite a month later, on March 10, Munson was the last to sign the sheet identifying the project's low bid, a price trimmed by then to $3.09 million. The same day, Munson signed the contract obligating the street money.
The pattern repeated itself later that spring, when Munson on May 12 approved a $1.88 million estimate for a railroad underpass at Pasley Park. The council had authorized only up to $1.42 million for the technically complicated project.
The low bid of $1.33 million, noted June 8, came in below the scheduled amount. But it wasn't the final cost. Munson agreed to reimburse the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad Co. for bridge materials, taking the project up to $1.99 million.
Munson's is one of several signatures on each sheet. Directors from public works, engineering and parks signed off on the dollar figures before the forms went to the mayor. The finance department, however, is absent.
Munson said he's since corrected the system gap, issuing a February 2005 executive order that requires the city's money manager and attorney to review all contracts.
The provision could become permanent through a charter revision commission and a public vote during the April 2006 city elections.
Timing at issue
"We'd just like an explanation of how this process fell apart and why the council wasn't notified at the time," said Vice Chairman Andy Howes. The charter states the mayor must report shortfalls to councilors "without delay."
"There are going to be people who say, 'Why didn't the council ask questions sooner?', or, 'Why didn't those department heads speak up?' " Howes said. "The reality is we pass budgets that include hundreds of items. Our responsibility is to set those amounts and trust the budget will be followed."
Council members all agree they should have been told about the shortfalls earlier. They say their first indication of the higher costs came in late November, when Munson sent them a memo detailing why cash reserves would need to be tapped for several capital improvements.
Council member Knudson, though, said she's perplexed why it "took some of my colleagues several months to become so agitated about this matter.
"The council does have a fiscal committee, and that committee is responsible for bringing these serious concerns to our attention."
Howes leads that committee and said the group was notified about the higher costs along with other members. "The recent discrepancies about when different individuals knew there was an overrun was not communicated to us when it could've been," Howes said. "Had we been told earlier in the year, we certainly could've worked through the committee to address some of those issues."
At the end of the day, council member Darrin Smith said, everyone has to work together.
"The taxpayers deserve better than what's taken place," he said. "The City Council is on top of it, and we will figure out the process for an independent investigation. ... I don't consider Dave a criminal. I never will."
Council member Bob Jamison, another fiscal committee member, said he's sure any errors on the mayor's part were unintentional.
"I'm sure he feels very, very hurt by the situation. I'm sure it is devastating," said Jamison. "I hope it was an honest mistake. We have had bigger things than this here."
Munson's backers reiterated that message to news media throughout the afternoon.
"No money is missing. No one got hurt," Trankle said. "It's all about process."
While Trankle was holding his last press briefing, Munson visitor and local lawyer Scott Heidepriem left the meeting. He slipped past reporters, declining comment on the reason for his presence.
Trankle clarified Heidepriem's role: "I don't think he has been retained as legal counsel, but just wanted an opportunity to visit with the mayor."
Reach reporter Jennifer Sanderson at 575-3629 or David Kranz at 331-2302.
an easy way to make the government and military unaccountable for their actions.
By P. W. SINGER
Published: March 29, 2005
From the March/April 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs.
P. W. Singer is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Project on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry and Children at War.
UNDERSTANDING THE PRIVATE MILITARY INDUSTRY
The tales of war, profit, honor, and greed that emerge from the private military industry often read like something out of a Hollywood screenplay. They range from action-packed stories of guns-for-hire fighting off swarms of insurgents in Iraq to the sad account of a private military air crew languishing in captivity in Colombia, abandoned by their corporate bosses in the United States. A recent African "rent-a-coup" scandal involved the son of a former British prime minister, and accusations of war profiteering have reached into the halls of the White House itself.
Incredible as these stories often sound, the private military industry is no fiction. Private companies are becoming significant players in conflicts around the world, supplying not merely the goods but also the services of war. Although recent well-publicized incidents from Abu Ghraib to Zimbabwe have shone unaccustomed light onto this new force in warfare, private military firms (PMFs) remain a poorly understood--and often unacknowledged--phenomenon. Mystery, myth, and conspiracy theory surround them, leaving policymakers and the public in positions of dangerous ignorance. Many key questions remain unanswered, including, What is this industry and where did it come from? What is its role in the United States' largest current overseas venture, Iraq? What are the broader implications of that role? And how should policymakers respond? Only by developing a better understanding of this burgeoning industry can governments hope to get a proper hold on this newly powerful force in foreign policy. If they fail, the consequences for policy and democracy could be deeply destructive.
PRIVATE SECTOR AND PUBLIC INTEREST
PMFs are businesses that provide governments with professional services intricately linked to warfare; they represent, in other words, the corporate evolution of the age-old profession of mercenaries. Unlike the individual dogs of war of the past, however, PMFs are corporate bodies that offer a wide range of services, from tactical combat operations and strategic planning to logistical support and technical assistance.
The modern private military industry emerged at the start of the 1990s, driven by three dynamics: the end of the Cold War, transformations in the nature of warfare that blurred the lines between soldiers and civilians, and a general trend toward privatization and outsourcing of government functions around the world. These three forces fed into each other. When the face-off between the United States and the Soviet Union ended, professional armies around the world were downsized. At the same time, increasing global instability created a demand for more troops. Warfare in the developing world also became messier--more chaotic and less professional--involving forces ranging from warlords to child soldiers, while Western powers became more reluctant to intervene. Meanwhile, advanced militaries grew increasingly reliant on off-the-shelf commercial technology, often maintained and operated by private firms. And finally, many governments succumbed to an ideological trend toward the privatization of many of their functions; a whole raft of former state responsibilities--including education, policing, and the operation of prisons--were turned over to the marketplace.
The PMFs that arose as a result are not all alike, nor do they all offer the exact same services. The industry is divided into three basic sectors: military provider firms (also known as "private security firms"), which offer tactical military assistance, including actual combat services, to clients; military consulting firms, which employ retired officers to provide strategic advice and military training; and military support firms, which provide logistics, intelligence, and maintenance services to armed forces, allowing the latter's soldiers to concentrate on combat and reducing their government's need to recruit more troops or call up more reserves.
Although the world's most dominant military has become increasingly reliant on PMFs (the Pentagon has entered into more than 3,000 such contracts over the last decade), the industry and its clientele are not just American. Private military companies have operated in more than 50 nations, on every continent but Antarctica. For example, European militaries, which lack the means to transport and support their forces overseas, are now greatly dependent on PMFs for such functions. To get to Afghanistan, European troops relied on a Ukrainian firm that, under a contract worth more than $100 million, ferried them there in former Soviet jets. And the British military, following in the Pentagon's footsteps, has begun to contract out its logistics to Halliburton.
Nowhere has the role of PMFs been more integral--and more controversial--than in Iraq. Not only is Iraq now the site of the single largest U.S. military commitment in more than a decade; it is also the marketplace for the largest deployment of PMFs and personnel ever. More than 60 firms currently employ more than 20,000 private personnel there to carry out military functions (these figures do not include the thousands more that provide nonmilitary reconstruction and oil services)--roughly the same number as are provided by all of the United States' coalition partners combined. President George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing" might thus be more aptly described as the "coalition of the billing."
These large numbers have incurred large risks. Private military contractors have suffered an estimated 175 deaths and 900 wounded so far in Iraq (precise numbers are unavailable because the Pentagon does not track nonmilitary casualties)--more than any single U.S. Army division and more than the rest of the coalition combined.
More important than the raw numbers is the wide scope of critical jobs that contractors are now carrying out, far more extensive in Iraq than in past wars. In addition to war-gaming and field training U.S. troops before the invasion, private military personnel handled logistics and support during the war's buildup. The massive U.S. complex at Camp Doha in Kuwait, which served as the launch pad for the invasion, was not only built by a PMF but also operated and guarded by one. During the invasion, contractors maintained and loaded many of the most sophisticated U.S. weapons systems, such as B-2 stealth bombers and Apache helicopters. They even helped operate combat systems such as the Army's Patriot missile batteries and the Navy's Aegis missile-defense system.
PMFs--ranging from well-established companies such as Vinnell and mpri to startups such as the South African firm Erinys International--have played an even greater role in the postinvasion occupation and counterinsurgency effort. Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown & Root division, the largest corporate PMF in Iraq, currently provides supplies for troops and maintenance for equipment under a contract thought to be worth as much as $13 billion. (This figure, in current dollars, is roughly two and a half times what the United States paid to fight the entire 1991 Persian Gulf War, and roughly the same as what it spent to fight the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Spanish-American War combined.) Other PMFs are helping to train local forces, including the new Iraqi army and national police, and are playing a range of tactical military roles.
An estimated 6,000 non-Iraqi private contractors currently carry out armed tactical functions in the country. These individuals are sometimes described as "security guards," but they are a far cry from the rent-a-cops who troll the food courts of U.S. shopping malls. In Iraq, their jobs include protecting important installations, such as corporate enclaves, U.S. facilities, and the Green Zone in Baghdad; guarding key individuals (Ambassador Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, was protected by a Blackwater team that even had its own armed helicopters); and escorting convoys, a particularly dangerous task thanks to the frequency of roadside ambushes and bombings by the insurgents.
PMFs, in other words, have been essential to the U.S. effort in Iraq, helping Washington make up for its troop shortage and doing jobs that U.S. forces would prefer not to. But they have also been involved in some of the most controversial aspects of the war, including alleged corporate profiteering and abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
The mixed record of PMFs in Iraq points to some of the underlying problems and questions related to the industry's increasing role in U.S. policy. Five broad policy dilemmas are raised by the increasing privatization of the military.
The first involves the question of profit in a military context. To put it bluntly, the incentives of a private company do not always align with its clients' interests--or the public good. In an ideal world, this problem could be kept in check through proper management and oversight; in reality, such scrutiny is often absent. As a result, war-profiteering allegations have been thrown at several firms. For example, Halliburton--Vice President Dick Cheney's previous employer--has been accused of a number of abuses in Iraq, ranging from overcharging for gasoline to billing for services not rendered; the disputed charges now total $1.8 billion. And Custer Battles, a startup military provider firm that was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in August 2004 has since been accused of running a fraudulent scheme of subsidiaries and false charges.
Still more worrisome from a policy standpoint is the question of lost control. Even when contractors do military jobs, they remain private businesses and thus fall outside the military chain of command and justice systems. Unlike military units, PMFs retain a choice over which contracts they will take and can abandon or suspend operations for any reason, including if they become too dangerous or unprofitable; their employees, unlike soldiers, can always choose to walk off the job. Such freedom can leave the military in the lurch, as has occurred several times already in Iraq: during periods of intense violence, numerous private firms delayed, suspended, or ended their operations, placing great stress on U.S. troops. On other occasions, PMF employees endured even greater risks and dangers than their military equivalents. But military operations do not have room for such mixed results.
The second general challenge with PMFs stems from the unregulated nature of what has become a global industry. There are insufficient controls over who can work for these firms and for whom these firms can work. The recruiting, screening, and hiring of individuals for public military roles is left in private hands. In Iraq, this problem was magnified by the gold-rush effect: many firms entering the market were either entirely new to the business or had rapidly expanded. To be fair, many PMF employees are extremely well qualified. A great number of retired U.S. special forces operatives have served with PMFs in Iraq, as have former members of the United Kingdom's elite sas (Special Air Service). But the rush for profits has led some corporations to cut corners in their screening procedures. For example, U.S. Army investigators of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal found that "approximately 35 percent of the contract interrogators [hired by the firm caci] lacked formal military training as interrogators." In other cases, investigations of contractors serving in Iraq revealed the hiring of a former British Army soldier who had been jailed for working with Irish terrorists and a former South African soldier who had admitted to firebombing the houses of more than 60 political activists during the apartheid era.
Similar problems can occur with PMFs' clientele. Although military contractors have worked for democratic governments, the UN, and even humanitarian and environmental organizations, they have also been employed by dictatorships, rebel groups, drug cartels, and, prior to September 11, 2001, at least two al Qaeda-linked jihadi groups. A recent episode in Equatorial Guinea illustrates the problems that PMFs can run into in the absence of external guidance or rules. In March 2004, Logo Logistics, a British-South African PMF, was accused of plotting to overthrow the government in Malabo; a planeload of employees was arrested in Zimbabwe, and several alleged funders in the British aristocracy (including Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of Margaret Thatcher) were soon implicated in the scandal. The plotters have been accused of trying to topple Equatorial Guinea's government for profit motives. But their would-be victim, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, is a corrupt dictator who took power by killing his uncle and runs one of the most despicable regimes on the continent--hardly a sympathetic victim.
The third concern raised by PMFs is, ironically, precisely the feature that makes them so popular with governments today: they can accomplish public ends through private means. In other words, they allow governments to carry out actions that would not otherwise be possible, such as those that would not gain legislative or public approval. Sometimes, such freedom is beneficial: it can allow countries to fill unrecognized or unpopular strategic needs. But it also disconnects the public from its foreign policy, removing certain activities from popular oversight.
The increased use of private contractors by the U.S. government in Colombia is one illustration of this trend: by hiring PMFs, the Bush administration has circumvented congressional limits on the size and scope of the U.S. military's involvement in Colombia's civil war. The use of PMFs in Iraq is another example: by privatizing parts of the U.S. mission, the Bush administration has dramatically lowered the political price for its Iraq policies. Were it not for the more than 20,000 contractors currently operating in the country, the U.S. government would have to either deploy more of its own troops there (which would mean either expanding the regular force or calling up more National Guard members and reservists) or persuade other countries to increase their commitments--either of which would require painful political compromises. By outsourcing parts of the job instead, the Bush administration has avoided such unappealing alternatives and has also been able to shield the full costs from scrutiny: contractor casualties and kidnappings are not listed on public rolls and are rarely mentioned by the media. PMF contracts are also not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. This reduction in transparency raises deep concerns about the long-term health of American democracy. As the legal scholar Arthur S. Miller once wrote, "democratic government is responsible government--which means accountable government--and the essential problem in contracting out is that responsibility and accountability are greatly diminished."
PMFs also create legal dilemmas, the fourth sort of policy challenge they raise. On both the personal and the corporate level, there is a striking absence of regulation, oversight, and enforcement. Although private military firms and their employees are now integral parts of many military operations, they tend to fall through the cracks of current legal codes, which sharply distinguish civilians from soldiers. Contractors are not quite civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, and fulfill other critical military roles. Yet they are not quite soldiers, either. One military law analyst noted, "Legally speaking, [military contractors] fall into the same grey area as the unlawful combatants detained at Guantánamo Bay."
This lack of clarity means that when contractors are captured, their adversaries get to define their status. The results of this uncertainty can be dire--as they have been for three American employees of California Microwave Systems whose plane crashed in rebel-held territory in Colombia in 2003. The three have been held prisoner ever since, afforded none of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Meanwhile, their corporate bosses and U.S. government clients seem to have washed their hands of the matter.
Such difficulties also play out when contractors commit misdeeds. It is often unclear how, when, where, and which authorities are responsible for investigating, prosecuting, and punishing such crimes. Unlike soldiers, who are accountable under their nation's military code of justice wherever they are located, contractors have a murky legal status, undefined by international law (they do not fit the formal definition of mercenaries). Normally, a civilian's crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the country where they are committed. But PMFs typically operate in failed states; indeed, the absence of local authority usually explains their presence in the first place. Prosecuting their crimes locally can thus be difficult.
Iraq, for example, still has no well-established courts, and during the formal U.S. occupation, regulations explicitly exempted contractors from local jurisdiction. Yet it is often just as difficult to prosecute contractors in their home country, since few legal systems cover crimes committed outside their territory. Some states do assert extraterritorial jurisdiction over their nationals, but they do so only for certain crimes and often lack the means to enforce their laws abroad. As a result of these gaps, not one private military contractor has been prosecuted or punished for a crime in Iraq (unlike the dozens of U.S. soldiers who have), despite the fact that more than 20,000 contractors have now spent almost two years there. Either every one of them happens to be a model citizen, or there are serious shortcomings in the legal system that governs them.
The failure to properly control the behavior of PMFs took on great consequence in the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse case. According to reports, all of the translators and up to half of the interrogators involved were private contractors working for two firms, Titan and caci. The U.S. Army found that contractors were involved in 36 percent of the proven incidents and identified 6 employees as individually culpable. More than a year after the incidents, however, not one of these individuals has been indicted, prosecuted, or punished, even though the U.S. Army has found the time to try the enlisted soldiers involved. Nor has there been any attempt to assess corporate responsibility for the misdeeds. Indeed, the only formal inquiry into PMF wrongdoing on the corporate level was conducted by caci itself. Caci investigated caci and, unsurprisingly, found that caci had done no wrong.
In the absence of legislation, some parties have already turned to litigation to address problems with PMFs--hardly the best forum for resolving issues related to human rights and the military. For example, some former Abu Ghraib prisoners have already tried to sue in U.S. courts the private firms involved with the prison. And the families of the four Blackwater employees murdered by insurgents in Fallujah have sued the company in a North Carolina court, claiming that the deceased had been sent into danger with a smaller unit than mandated in their contracts and with weapons, vehicles, and preparation that were not up to the standards promised.
The final dilemma raised by the extensive use of private contractors involves the future of the military itself. The armed services have long seen themselves as engaged in a unique profession, set apart from the rest of civilian society, which they are entrusted with securing. The introduction of PMFs, and their recruiting from within the military itself, challenges that uniqueness; the military's professional identity and monopoly on certain activities is being encroached on by the regular civilian marketplace.
Most soldiers thus have a deeply ambivalent attitude toward PMFs. On the one hand, they are grateful to have someone help them bear their burden, which, thanks to military overstretch in Iraq, feels particularly onerous at the moment. Even though the job of the U.S. armed services has grown, the force has shrunk by 35 percent since its Cold War high; the British military, meanwhile, is at its smallest since the Napoleonic wars. PMFs help fill the gap as well as offer retired soldiers the potential for a second career in a field they know and love.
Some in the military worry, on the other hand, that the PMF boom could endanger the health of their profession and resent the way these firms exploit skills learned at public expense for private profit. They also fear that the expanding PMF marketplace will hurt the military's ability to retain talented soldiers. Contractors in the PMF industry can make anywhere from two to ten times what they make in the regular military; in Iraq, former special forces troops can earn as much as $1,000 a day.
Certain service members, such as pilots, have always had the option of seeking work in the civilian marketplace. But the PMF industry marks a significant change, since it keeps its employees within the military, and thus the public, sphere. More important, PMFs compete directly with the government. Not only do they draw their employees from the military, they do so to play military roles, thus shrinking the military's purview. PMFs use public funds to offer soldiers higher pay, and then charge the government at an even higher rate, all for services provided by the human capital that the military itself originally helped build. The overall process may be brilliant from a business standpoint, but it is self-defeating from the military's perspective.
This issue has become especially pointed for special forces units, which have the most skills and are thus the most marketable. Elite force commanders in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all expressed deep concern over the poaching of their numbers by PMFs. One U.S. special forces officer described the issue of retention among his most experienced troops as being "at a tipping point." So far, the U.S. government has failed to respond adequately to this challenge. Some militaries now allow their soldiers to take a year's leave of absence, in the hope that they will make their money quickly and then return, rather than be lost to the service forever. But Washington has failed to take even this step; it has only created a special working group to explore the issue.
CAVEAT EMPTOR AND -- AND RENTER
As all of these problems suggest, governments that use PMFs must learn to recognize their responsibilities as regulators--and as smart clients. Their failure to do so thus far has distorted the free market and caused a major shift in the military-industrial complex. Without change, the status quo will result in bad policy and bad business.
To improve matters, it is first essential to lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds the private military industry. There must be far more openness about and public oversight of the basic numbers involved. Too little is known about the actual dollars spent on PMFs; the Pentagon does not even track the number of contractors working for it in Iraq, much less their casualties.
To start changing matters, clients--namely, governments that hire PMFs--must exercise their rights and undertake a comprehensive survey to discern the full scope of what they have outsourced and what have been the results. Washington should also require that, like most other government documents, all current and future contracts involving nonclassified activities be made available to the public on request. Each contract should also include "contractor visibility" measures that list the number of employees involved and what they are to be paid, thus limiting the possibility of financial abuse.
The U.S. military must also take a step back and reconsider, from a national security perspective, just what roles and functions should be kept in government hands. Outsourcing can be greatly beneficial, but only to the point where it begins to challenge core functions. According to the old military doctrine on contracting, if a function was "mission-critical" or "emergency-essential"--that is, if it could affect the very success or failure of an operation--it was kept within the military itself. The rule also held that civilians were to be armed only under extraordinary circumstances and then only for self-protection. The United States should either return to these standards or create new ones; the present ad-hoc process is yielding poor results.
A third lesson is self-evident but has often been ignored: privatize something only if it will save money or raise quality. If it will not, then do not. Unfortunately, the Pentagon's current, supposedly business-minded leadership seems to have forgotten Economics 101. All too often, it outsources first and never bothers to ask questions later. That something is done privately does not necessarily make it better, quicker, or cheaper. Rather, it is through leveraging free-market mechanisms that one potentially gets better private results. Success is likely only if a contract is competed for on the open market, if the winning firm can specialize on the job and build in redundancies, if the client is able to provide oversight and management to guard its own interests, and if the contractor is properly motivated by the fear of being fired. Forget these simple rules, as the U.S. government often does, and the result is not the best of privatization but the worst of monopolization.
Tapping simple business expertise would help the government become a better client. A staggering 40 percent of Defense Department contracts are currently awarded on a noncompetitive basis, adding up to $300 billion in contracts over the last five years. In the case of caci, the firm linked to abuses at Abu Ghraib, Army investigators subsequently reported not only that a caci employee may have helped write the work order, but also that the Abu Ghraib interrogators had been hired by simply amending an existing contract from 1998--for computer services overseen by the Department of the Interior.
When hiring contractors, the Defense Department must learn to better guard its own and the public's interest. Doing so will require having sufficient eyes and ears to oversee and manage contracts. So far, the military woefully lacks this capacity. The U.S. government has only twice as many personnel overseeing contractors in Iraq, for example, as it had during the 1990s for its Balkans contracts--even though there are now 15 times more contracts and the context is much more challenging.
The government should also change the nature of the contracts it signs. Too often, the "cost plus" arrangement has become the default form for all contracts. But this setup, in effect, gives companies more profit if they spend more. When combined with inadequate oversight, it creates a system ripe for inefficiency and abuse. In addition to insisting on more stringent terms, the government should start to use the power of market sanctions to shape more positive results. These days, the opposite seems to happen far more often: Halliburton and caci were both granted massive contract extensions for work in Iraq, despite being in the midst of government investigations.
Finally, more must be done to ensure legal accountability. To pay contractors more than soldiers is one thing; to also give them a legal free pass (as happened with Abu Ghraib) is unconscionable. Loopholes must be filled and new laws developed to address the legal and jurisdictional dilemmas PMFs raise. Laws should be written to establish who can work for these companies, who the firms can work for, and who will investigate, prosecute, and punish any wrongdoing by contractors. Because this is a transnational industry, the solution will require international involvement. Proposals to update the international antimercenary laws and to create a UN body to sanction and regulate PMFs have already been made. But any such international effort will take years. In the meantime, every state that has any involvement with the private military industry, as a client or a home base, should update its laws. One hopes that countries will coordinate their efforts and involve regional bodies to maximize coverage. The United Kingdom, for example, could coordinate its present efforts with the rest of the European Union, and the United States should do the same with its allies.
The forces that drove the growth of the private military industry seem set in place. Much like the Internet boom, the PMF bubble may burst if the current spate of work in Iraq ever ends, but the industry itself is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Governments must therefore act to meet this reality. Using private solutions for public military ends is not necessarily a bad thing. But the stakes in warfare are far higher than in the corporate realm: in this most essential public sphere, national security and people's lives are constantly put at risk. War, as the old proverb has it, is certainly far too important to be left to the generals. The same holds true for the CEOs.
Copyright 2002--2005 by the Council on Foreign Relations. All rights reserved.
a jobs program for highly paid nuclear weapons designers???
Fierce Debate on Atom Bombs From Cold War
By WILLIAM J. BROAD
Published: April 3, 2005
or over two decades, a compact, powerful warhead called the W-76 has been the centerpiece of the nation's nuclear arsenal, carried aboard the fleet of nuclear submarines that prowl the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
But in recent months it has become the subject of a fierce debate among experts inside and outside the government over its reliability and its place in the nuclear arsenal.
The government is readying a plan to spend more than $2 billion on a routine 10-year overhaul to extend the life of the aging warheads. At the same time, some weapons scientists say the warheads have a fundamental design flaw that could cause them to explode with far less force than intended.
Although the government has denied that assertion, officials have disclosed that Washington is nevertheless considering replacing the W-76 altogether.
"This is the one we worry about the most," said Everet H. Beckner, who oversees the arsenal as director of defense programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Some arms-control advocates oppose the 10-year overhaul program, saying it could produce not only refurbishments but also deadly new innovations. They like the replacement option even less, saying it could prompt the government to conduct underground detonations that would undo the global ban on nuclear testing and start a new arms race. Moreover, some argue that nuclear weapons are dinosaurs that have little use in American military strategy and that it makes no real difference if the W-76 is ineffective.
"That's why people are so passionate about this," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington.
The W-76, developed in the early 1970's for destroying large targets like military bases, now sits packed in clusters of up to eight atop hundreds of missiles in a dozen nuclear submarines. While the exact figures are secret, federal officials and private weapons experts agree that it is the nation's leading weapon by virtue of sheer numbers. The experts say that of 5,000 active warheads in the arsenal, 1,500 are W-76's. Each is meant to be about seven times as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
The W-76's importance is rising as the nation's nuclear force relies more on submarines and less on bombers and land-based missiles. "It's by far the most numerous" warhead, said Hans M. Kristensen, a weapons expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a private group in Washington that monitors nuclear trends. "It's the workhorse in terms of targeting."
Several factors lie behind the current worries and repair plans. The W-76 is one of the arsenal's oldest warheads. As warheads age, the risk of internal rusting, material degradation, corrosion, decay and the embrittling of critical parts increases.
The overhaul to forestall such decay is scheduled to go from 2007 to 2017. In all, it is expected to cost more than $2 billion, say experts who have analyzed federal budget figures.
Questions also surround the weapon's basic design. Four knowledgeable critics, three former scientists and one current one at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which designed the W-76, have recently argued that the weapon is highly unreliable and, if not a complete dud, likely to explode with a force so reduced as to compromise its effectiveness.
Federal officials, while denying that, disclosed in interviews that the warhead is being considered for a new program that intends to replace old warheads with more reliable ones. Congress and future administrations would have to approve a replacement for the W-76.
Officials would give no estimate for that endeavor's cost or length of time. But they acknowledged that they have carefully weighed the W-76's potential problems and the alternatives for fixing them.
"I've spent a lot of personal time on this," said Dr. Beckner, of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The W-76, and its troubles, were born during the cold war, when American bomb makers sought to win the arms race with designs that made nuclear arms lightweight, very powerful and in some cases so small that a dozen or more could fit atop a slender missile.
Where most nuclear powers had to make do with weapons that were ponderous if dependable, the W-76 epitomized the American edge. It was a hydrogen warhead - known as thermonuclear because a small atom bomb at its core worked like a match to ignite the hydrogen fuel. Standing shorter than a man, it had undergone an extraordinary degree of miniaturization.
"It was the tightest design we had," said one top nuclear scientist who did not want his name used for fear of retaliation for releasing confidential information. . "They crammed in everything with a shoehorn."
Tensions ran high, especially for senior designers like Charles C. Cremer, the leader of thermonuclear design at Los Alamos. In 1974, as W-76 plans took shape, Mr. Cremer committed suicide.
Richard L. Morse, a physicist at the weapons laboratory who directed advanced concepts for bomb design as well as a separate group devoted to laser fusion, said in an interview that much tension centered on the weapon's so-called radiation case. In usual fashion, it was to be made of uranium, which is nearly twice as heavy as lead.
Leaders at Los Alamos wanted the case to be as lightweight as possible, so they envisioned it as extraordinarily thin - in places not much thicker than a beer can (albeit with plastic backing for added strength).
Its physical integrity was vital. The case had to hang together for microseconds as the exploding atom bomb generated temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun, forcing it to emit radiation that kindled the thermonuclear fire. If the case deformed significantly or shattered prematurely, the weapon would fail, its thermonuclear fuel unlit.
From 1978 to 1987, about 3,400 W-76's rolled off the production line, said Mr. Kristensen, of the defense council. The design was considered so good that Britain made a variant of the W-76 for its submarines.
Even with their seeming success, arms designers continued to do underground tests to determine how cases would behave in the first milliseconds after the atomic blast. But in 1992, after the cold war, the United States joined a global moratorium on nuclear tests. It was no longer possible to detonate weapons to check their reliability.
In secret, experts and officials say, debate on the W-76 began almost immediately after the test ban; suggestions included an alternative design that would thicken the radiation case and give the new warhead a much longer life. By 1995, the work had become formalized in a joint effort between the Navy and the nation's nuclear weapons complex.
As the test ban persisted, American nuclear officials singled out the W-76 as the first warhead to undergo precautionary scrutiny. The program employed teams from Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, its archrival. Usually, the meetings were cordial.
But a vocal dissenter emerged. It was Dr. Morse, who had left Los Alamos in 1976 for the University of Arizona but returned in 1996 and aided the W-76 assessment.
Dr. Morse specialized in scientific explanations for the complex flows that curl through the extraordinarily hot gases known as plasmas, which lie at the heart of an exploding nuclear weapon. His main goal was to help scientists develop a giant laser that, in lieu of an atomic match, would fire on a tiny radiation case surrounding an even tinier pellet of hydrogen fuel, releasing a burst of nuclear energy. Heat from such miniature hydrogen bombs was envisioned as one day being used to make electricity.
But Dr. Morse found that nature had erected tricky barriers to that goal. In particular, he documented how a form of turbulence known as Rayleigh-Taylor instability (named after the physicists Lord Rayleigh and Geoffrey Taylor) could perturb the expanding plasma of the very hot radiation case, forming waves, ripples and whorls that blocked ignition of the thermonuclear fuel. He also found that extremely small variations in the case were responsible for the onset of turbulence, making it hard to eliminate.
In 1996, Dr. Morse brought similar analyses to bear on the W-76's thin case, arguing that it would probably fail. He said that for decades, officials had swept the issue under the rug and that Mr. Cremer, the designer, had struggled with the problem.
In an interview, Dr. Morse said he was soon "disinvited" from the evaluation and left Los Alamos for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. But he added that concerns about the W-76 only grew.
Dr. Beckner disagreed. He said the joint review found that the W-76 "looks like a pretty good weapon."
Even so, the government began preparing for an extensive refurbishment of the warhead in a bid to extend its life by 30 years. The planning started around 2000 and foresaw the installation of new fuses, electronics, batteries, cables, valves and the conventional high explosives that light the atomic match. It also sought to increase the warhead's accuracy and flexibility in targeting.
In 2003, amid preparations for the refurbishment, Dr. Morse once again sought to stir debate. He says he felt compelled to do so because of the W-76's rising importance to the nation's nuclear forces.
At a secret meeting in March 2004 at Los Alamos, Dr. Morse led four critics who laid out their concerns to lab and federal officials, including Dr. Beckner. Dr. Morse characterized the discussion as acrimonious.
"It was a verbal mud-wrestling match," he recalled. The lab and federal officials "would not be candid with us. We told them things they didn't know. It was very, very disappointing."
In contrast, Dr. Beckner said the meeting and subsequent analyses left him with "high confidence that this nuclear weapon is a good design, was built properly and will function if required."
In early July, news reports in New Mexico began to describe the dispute, and the director of Los Alamos days later scheduled a secret lab symposium to review the "technical challenges" to understanding how radiation cases act in the first microseconds of a nuclear blast, according to a synopsis of the planned meeting.
As the number of news reports grew, officials denied that there was any problem with the W-76. They cited a history of detonations of the weapon at the Nevada Test Site.
In late November, the dependability issue emerged nationally as Congress approved a small budget item that began a new weapons design effort known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead program. Its goal is to have weapons scientists design a new generation of nuclear arms that are more reliable and more durable, reversing the cold war trend of making small, lightweight, powerful weapons. If possible, the effort is to proceed without nuclear testing.
Dr. Beckner, of the nuclear administration, said the W-76 is a candidate for redesign. The current work to extend the warhead's life, he said, could expand to include more fundamental design changes. "That is not the plan at present, but that could happen," he said, adding that he could not discuss the issue of thickening the radiation case.
Thomas B. Cochran, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said a thicker, heavier case for the W-76 might force compensating cuts in the weight of the weapon's hydrogen capsule. And that, he added, would reduce the weapon's overall force.
Dr. Morse applauded the new federal interest. "What's out there in those boats," he said, "is at best unreliable and probably much worse."
Sandra Blakeslee and Kenneth Chang contributed reporting for this article.
From: "Terry" <***********@***********.***>
Date: Sun, 03 Apr 2005 23:55:23 -0700
Subject: Re: [lpaz-discuss] Re: 13-1213. Aiming a laser pointer at a peace officer; - damn didnt even know
Bennett Samuel Kalafut wrote:
>The classification of police as a separate class for purposes of laser
>mischief, however, seems to be shortsighted.
This isn't the only place in the Arizona Revised Statutes where 'peace officers' and other government officials are given preferential consideration. ARS 13-2401 makes it a class 5 felony to post personal information on the web regarding peace officers, justices, judges, commissioners, public defenders or prosecutors if it poses an imminent and serious threat to them and if the threat was reasonably apparent to the poster:
These statutes appear to be a violation of the Equal privileges and immunities clause of the State Constitution because they only apply to a
small subset of the citizenry as opposed to everyone:
"13. Equal privileges and immunities_
Section 13. No law shall be enacted granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal,privileges or immunities which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens or corporations."
Anyone know if there have ever been any challenges to either the laser or personal information statutes?
Priest in Mesa abuse case resigns
Apr. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
A former top official in the Phoenix Catholic Diocese has resigned amid allegations of sexual improprieties, according to a letter given to parishioners at an evening Mass on Saturday.
In his letter, Monsignor Dale Fushek, pastor of St. Timothy Catholic Church in Mesa and co-founder of a youth group, denied the allegations but said he resigned to protect parishioners from the "ordeal."
He said his resignation would be effective June 30.
Fushek was placed on leave after an attorney notified the diocese that a client claimed to have recovered a repressed memory involving sexual improprieties by Fushek in 1985.
A lawsuit in January named Fushek and Phil Baniewicz, president of Life Teen Inc. Former priest Mark Lehman, resigned Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, the Diocese of Phoenix and St. Timothy's in Mesa also were named in the suit.
The lawsuit expanded allegations brought to the diocese late last year by William Cesolini, who claims that at age 14 in 1985 he was sexually assaulted at St. Timothy's by Lehman while Fushek watched. The suit claims Fushek failed to report the attack.
Cesolini, 33, also claimed in the suit that he was sexually abused "on more than one occasion" in 1985 by Baniewicz.
The Life Teen program was founded in 1985 at St. Timothy's while Fushek was pastor.
"My resignation is in no way an admission, or even a suggestion, of guilt," Fushek wrote. "The 'repressed memories' that have brought about these circumstances are utterly untrue."
Fushek was a top aide to Bishop O'Brien, who resigned as head of the diocese last year after his arrest in a June 2003 fatal hit-and-run accident.
Phoenix Bishop Olmsted didn't mention Fushek's resignation when he met with reporters Saturday to talk about the death of Pope John Paul II.
Spokeswoman Mary Jo West did not say why the resignation was not mentioned Saturday.
kevin and laro are not the 1st political prisoners of the american government
Fred Korematsu, lost key suit on Japanese-American internment
Apr. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO - Fred Korematsu, who became a symbol of civil rights for challenging the World War II internment orders that sent 120,000 Japanese-Americans to government camps, has died.
Korematsu lost a Supreme Court challenge in 1944 to the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans but gained vindication decades later when he was given the Medal of Freedom, died Wednesday in Larkspur, Calif. Korematsu, who lived in San Leandro, Calif., was 86.
The cause was a respiratory ailment, said Don Tamaki, a lawyer for Korematsu.
When he was arrested in 1942 for failing to report to an internment center, Korematsu was working as a welder and simply hoping to be left alone so he could pursue his marriage plans. He became a central figure in the controversy over the wartime removal of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants from the West Coast to inland detention centers.
President Clinton presented Korematsu with the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, in January 1998.
Korematsu, a native of Oakland and one of four sons of Japanese-born parents, was jailed on May 30, 1942, in San Leandro, having refused to join family members at a temporary detention center.
A few days after his arrest, Korematsu was visited in jail by a California official of the American Civil Liberties Union who was seeking a test case against internment.
In summer 1942, he was found guilty in federal court of ignoring the exclusion directive and was sentenced to five years' probation. He spent two years at an internment camp in Utah with his family.
In December 1944, in Korematsu vs. the United States, the Supreme Court upheld internment by a vote of 6-3.
The case was revisited afterward when Peter Irons, a professor of political science at the University of California-San Diego, discovered documents that indicated that when it went to the Supreme Court, the government had suppressed findings that Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were not security threats.
In light of that information, Judge Marilyn Patel of U.S. District Court in San Francisco overturned Korematsu's conviction in November 1983.
Police chief gets 2 DUI charges in 1 day
Mar. 14, 2005 03:25 PM
STRASBURG, Va. - The police chief of neighboring Middletown was ordered held without bail Monday on charges of driving drunk twice in one day.
Middletown Police Chief Roger Ashley has been held in the Shenandoah County Jail since his arrest Saturday. An April 11 trial was scheduled after a court appearance Monday.
Ashley was arrested the first time in his unmarked police car and a second time, five hours later, in his personal vehicle, Strasburg Police Chief Marshall Robinson said.
Officers responded to the first arrest after Ashley's car had run into a vehicle on Route 11 in this northern Virginia community.
Ashley was arrested a second time in his personal vehicle, police said.
Ashley's status as chief of Middletown was to be reviewed by town leaders later Monday.
"Currently we cannot make any comment on this matter until after Town Council meets," said Sgt. Phil Breeden.
Middletown, which has a population of just over 1,000, has two full-time and four part-time officers, Breeden said.
Assisted by Steve Cornwell, WINC WOODSTOCK, Va. (AP) _ Middletown Police Chief Roger Ashley has been released from jail, after posting a five thousand-dollar secured bond.
Ashley was arrested twice in Strasburg on March 12th and charged with driving under the influence. He had been ordered held without bond by a General District Court Judge following a March 14th hearing.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter says that since his arrest, Ashley has undergone two psychiatric evaluations and was released on bond after the second evaluation.
Carter says Ashley is expected to go to a rehabilitation center for treatment.
He's due in court April 11th for a hearing on the D-U-I charges. The Middletown Town Council has suspended Ashley indefinitely.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Out of Jail
1:43 PM Mar 24, 2005
Middletown Police Chief Roger Ashley has been released from jail, after posting a $5,000 secured bond.
Ashley was arrested twice in Strasburg on March 12 and charged with driving under the influence. He had been ordered held without bond by a General District Court Judge following a March 14 hearing.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter says that since his arrest, Ashley has undergone two psychiatric evaluations and was released on bond after the second evaluation.
Carter says Ashley is expected to go to a rehabilitation center for treatment. He's due in court April 11 for a hearing on the DUI charges. The Middletown Town Council has suspended Ashley indefinitely.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
the feds own data says that the drug war is failing.
Report: Colombia coca cultivation remains
Copyright © 2005 AP Online
This story was published Friday, April 1st, 2005
By ANDREW SELSKY, Associated Press Writer
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - President Alvaro Uribe vowed on Friday to press ahead with U.S.-financed fumigation of cocaine-producing crops, even as a White House report found an aerial spraying offensive in Colombia last year failed to cut the acreage devoted to coca cultivation.
Critics of Washington's effort to crush drug production in Colombia - the world's main cocaine-producing country and a major supplier of heroin - say the report indicated the Colombian and U.S. governments are losing the war on drugs, which has cost more than $3 billion in U.S. aid here since 2000.
"The U.S. government's own data provides stark evidence that the drug war is failing to achieve its most basic objectives," said John Walsh at the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank critical of U.S. drug policies in Colombia.
The report by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said that despite a record-setting aerial eradication offensive, 281,694 acres of coca remained in Colombia at the end of 2004 - slightly more than the 281,323 acres that were left in 2003 after spraying.
Walsh pointed out that prices of cocaine and heroin have been steadily dropping over the years on U.S. streets, indicating availability of the drugs has not diminished.
Peasant farmers grow most of the coca, a bushy plant that provides the main ingredient of cocaine, convert it to coca paste and sell it to Colombian rebels, paramilitaries or other groups that traffic in drugs, who purify it into cocaine and export it.
Adam Isacson, a Colombia expert with the Center for International Policy in Washington, said the White House report demonstrates that the peasants - most of whom live in poverty and who have few alternate means of employment - are constantly replanting coca after their fields are sprayed.
"The inescapable conclusion we can draw from this data is that our fumigation program is not discouraging Colombian peasants from growing coca," Isacson said.
The Associated Press reported last month that large-scale coca production was moving for the first time into the extensive jungles of Choco state, in northwest Colombia, with peasant farmers felling chunks of virgin rainforest in order to plant millions of coca seedlings.
David Murray, a top official in the White House drug office, insisted there were positive signs, pointing out that coca cultivation is down from a peak of 419,575 acres in 2001.
"What you have now is hard-core cultivators ... who are faced with extinction of their business, and what they are doing is they're staying put and replanting as rapidly as they can and we're coming back and hitting them with eradication," Murray said in a telephone interview.
The United States said 337,427 acres of coca were fumigated last year, and Uribe told local RCN radio that the anti-drug campaign would be pursued. "Our will is to continue seizing the drugs and to continue with the fumigation," he said.
The White House drug office said that while the area under coca cultivation remained "statistically unchanged" last year, fumigation diminished potential cocaine output 7 percent to 430 metric tons, because newly planted fields produce less cocaine than mature coca.