Shooting news-again


Two very tragic stories to report about people and handguns and how the two sometimes end up in disastrous situations.  If you’re going to get a handgun or weapon of any kind please know how to carry yourselves with it and remember dont’ ever do what you see people do on television!

The first story is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where a pharmacist shot a robber as he and his cohort in crime attempted to rob a pharmacy,  chased the robber’s accomplice, returned and shot the prone robber again, five more times, killing him!  It also happened that the robber shot was unarmed, while the armed robber escaped and hadn’t been caught.  The pharmacist claims he was grazed by a bullet fired by the robber, but prosecutors say there was no evidence the robbers fired a weapon; it would be interesting to see if Jerome Ersland, the pharmacist suffered any wounds from the encounter.  Ersland claims he shot the robber to protect himself and several other people who were in the store at the time, but the district attorney asks why did he leave the fallen robber, who had no weapon, on the floor to chase the armed robber outside of the store?  Good question!  In this arm chair quarterback’s opinion, Mr. Ersland would have had a stronger case for not leaving his business and keeping an eye on the victim, yes, even covered him with his weapon, rather than walk past him twice before shooting him again.  I also agree with the DA who said the first shot was on the law as it were, ok for Ersland to fire because he was accosted by armed men, but once the threats were removed, he couldn’t seriously claim he was in fear for his life or for the lives of others in the store.  He should therefore be prosecuted.

The second story however is far more tragic than even the one above. An off duty New York City police officer was shot by a fellow officer as he, the victim, pursued someone who had broken into his car.  Unfortunately, he was running after the perpetrator with his service weapon drawn, and happened to catch the eye of a plain clothes fellow officer who fatally shot him.  In a city like New York, it’s probably not very smart to run around with a handgun in your hand in plain view to everybody, unless you’re wearing a law enforcement uniform so that wasn’t a very smart thing to do.  I don’t particularly like the idea of plain clothes officers confronting people on the street unless they make it very clear to someone that they are law enforcement officers, otherwise any confrontation could end up deadly, as it did in this case. I do believe this was an accident,  despite the racial overtones,  victim was black and the shooter was white, and the sloppy police work of the shooting officer,   that could have probably been avoided if the deceased hadn’t drawn  his firearm and run down the street chasing a petty burglar.  There won’t be a prosecution in this case and an innocent life was lost; my heart goes out to the family.

We were wrong!


Once again we are told our conduct during the war on terror was criminal in nature, and this time it comes from almost the top!  General David Petraeus went on live television, thank God it was live and not something that could be later edited out of an interview, and said the United States of America violated the Geneva Conventions, read that broke the law. Petraeus was appointed by the Bush administration to lead the war effort in Iraq and I think it’s significant he would come out so publicly and disavow the direction his boss took in carrying out the war on terror.  However, most of us knew that  long before Petraeus joined in this fracas, and indeed many have been saying so since the  inception of the war on terror; it  was a diversionary one meant to mask or cover up the real agenda of the people in power during the Bush years.

The whole issue of torture is also an indication of where America is as a Nation.  Sixty years ago, post World War II,  there would be no discussion of whether waterboarding was torture, and what the consequences are for those who participate in such illegal activity, let alone whether such tactics are effective.  Now however, a lot of time and effort has been put into describing this technique as ‘enhanced interrogation’ to make it as benign as possible and allow some a chance to escape from the penalty of law.  I’m glad to see someone on the front line of war and terror, Petraeus,  saying that it is a violation of international law, as opposed to the arm chair quarterbacks and political pundits who seem to make their punditry akin to the life and death of fighting in real wars proclaiming the opposite.

Now comes word that sugar free cookies went further to produce actionable intelligence than waterboarding.

The most successful interrogation of an Al-Qaeda operative by U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation, no slapping or “walling” and no waterboarding. All it took to soften up Abu Jandal, who had been closer to Osama bin Laden than any other terrorist ever captured, was a handful of sugar-free cookies.

Abu Jandal had been in a Yemeni prison for nearly a year when Ali Soufan of the FBI and Robert McFadden of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service arrived to interrogate him in the week after 9/11…..

While Abu Jandal was venting his spleen, Soufan noticed that he didn’t touch any of the cookies that had been served with tea: “He was a diabetic and couldn’t eat anything with sugar in it.” At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal’s angry demeanor. “We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him,” Soufan recalls. “So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures.”It took more questioning, and some interrogators’ sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda — including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers — but the cookies were the turning point. “After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans,” Soufan says. “Now he was thinking of us as human beings.”

What does that say about a country far more interested in torture and sadism to get information than cookies and respect?  This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that interrogation methods that stressed identifying with the prisoner, affording him his rights and treating him with respect got more information out of him than banging his head against a wall or waterboarding him.  Post 911 we were an angry country and some people in government took advantage of that rage to settle age old scores of tribes and jealousy which have had a devastating impact on the psyche of the country.  We have worsened this problem by refusing to admit it exists and/or addressing it and the ultimate abuse of the country is to allow the perpetrators of this criminal activity to go free.  Forgetting about the criminality and who did it does not spare the collective from our mental anguish.  American military personnel  felt perfectly justified posing and smiling next to dead bodies, or smearing human feces on people to take their pictures and laugh or as has been more recently asserted, raping and sodomizing women and children all under the guise of authorities of the United States.  We should not give any one that kind of power to abuse what the country has fought for and sustained for so many years until now.  Nothing will do more to drive that point home than for the citizenry to rise up and demand all people who participated in illegal activity in our name be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I hope you will join me in making that proclamation!

911 truth-It isn’t just for kooks anymore


Hat tip to Niqnaq.

Memory hole material-JOKE!


I’ve already commented before on the scam that was the new New York city terrorist bust of the pothead pseudo Muslims who were going to blow up Jewish synagogues and airplanes a la 911.  The New York Post reveals even more about these guys who were scammed while trying to scam.  The sad part about all this is how the FBI and US law enforcement burned bridges with the Muslim community throughout this once great Republic, either on purpose or by design, and how  this entire episode could have been avoided had they not done that.  It seems the leaders of the Muslim community in the cities and towns where the 4 defendants worshipped (?) told them to avoid the FBI’s informant repeatedly, and had taken steps to literally keep Maqsood, the informant,  out of the lives of their worshippers by banning him from houses of worship but their efforts were not successful.

This group of guys were worse than the Miami 7 who were recently convicted of their plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago.  Two of the four in New York are drug fiends and the third suffers from a bi-polar mental condition. Check out what their own family members and friends say about their tangential at best relationships with Islam and the informant.  It’s really a comedy of errors unparalleled in recent American Islamophobia journalism.

Baynes, 42, dated Cromitie — a career criminal who has been in jail more than 20 times — for six years. She said he converted to Islam during his last prison stint but wasn’t serious.

“James is a wannabe Muslim. He wasn’t real Muslin. He never prayed,” she said.

But during the course of the year, Maqsood kept trying to steer Cromitie down a path to jihad – giving him religious pamphlets, clothing and prayer rugs. In the end, it seemed that cash and gifts worked better.

She said Maqsood promised to get Cromitie jobs and once said he’d give him a black Mercedes Benz. On repeated occasions he gave Cromitie cameras, cash and even drugs.

Maqsood gave him a lot of marijuana,” she said.

Let’s not forget however, the precedent has already been set about drug wheeling and dealing Muslims.  Mohammad Atta was also a coke head who somehow was able to convince people of his sincerity towards Islam enough to identify him as a jihadist, so consuming large quantities of illegal drugs is somehow in the minds of most Americans equivalent to becoming a committed Muslim.  The fact that these guys were all gathered together the day of their planned terrorist plot, smoking weed and playing PlayStation is more a badge honor than an inconsistency when it comes to Muslim terrorists.  With a past President who it is slowly being revealed had the same inclinations before embarking on earth shattering events  is a sad  social commentary on todays America.  In any event, it’s quite funny reading and pathetic at the same time.  An FBI informant promises the disenfranchised the moon; a man they don’t know, have never met before, is able to influence them in a way a member of their own community who would have led them in prayer had they prayed, could not speaks volumes about the intellect of this party of men.  It is a sad commentary on where we are as a nation, and how law enforcement defines its role.

As bad as it gets


The Bush administration has done some pretty heinous things, from enslaving an entire nation through a war of aggression, to torturing it’s citizens, so this latest bit of news should come as no surprise.  Indeed, this  news is the very reason why many of us opposed the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, because war by nature grooms such behavior as the story below depicts.  War’s brutality is nothing new to the human experience.  We’ve been doing it ever since we first stepped foot on this earth, so why is it that leaders like Bush and now Obama who’ve never been to war are so quick to send people off to war when our inbred experience as well as what we’ve learned from others who’ve fought it tell us of the consequences upon the fighting men and women.  What makes a leader so callous and indifferent to the suffering his own people will face when they fight the leader’s wars and especially when they come to realize all too quickly that such wars are senseless, without reason, brutal and not in their interests as citizens of the world?!?!  Doing so, therefore makes such leaders damnable to hell for an eternity because of the suffering they inflict not just upon an enemy, but upon their own people.

Rape and sodomy therefore are a part of the Iraqi war.  It was done in our name, in many cases by Americans or witnessed and  allowed to be carried out by Americans and forever leaves an indelible stain upon our Republic which no longer stands ‘under God with liberty and justice for all.’    In order to remove that stain, and to restore our own self- confidence, the most important of all, as well as the confidence of the world community towards us, every American who has engaged in such illegal and immoral behavior must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  We must start from the very top with our President who sent his  own troops in harms way, his vice president who commissioned them to commit illegal acts of torture, the advisors who gave excuses for these war crimes and finally to every soldier who followed their orders.

This is what was done in our name.

Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.

Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

In April, Mr Obama’s administration said the photographs would be released and it would be “pointless to appeal” against a court judgment in favour of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr Obama changed his mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk.

Earlier this month, he said: “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

It was thought the images were similar to those leaked five years ago, which showed naked and bloody prisoners being intimidated by dogs, dragged around on a leash, piled into a human pyramid and hooded and attached to wires.

Mr Obama seemed to reinforce that view by adding: “I want to emphasise that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.”

The latest photographs relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. Mr Obama said the individuals involved had been “identified, and appropriate actions” taken.

Maj Gen Taguba’s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found “credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses.”

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

The translator was an American Egyptian who is now the subject of a civil court case in the US.

Three detainees, including the alleged victim, refer to the use of a phosphorescent tube in the sexual abuse and another to the use of wire, while the victim also refers to part of a policeman’s “stick” all of which were apparently photographed.

No comment


The two faces of American policy


The more the Obama Administration takes its journey into  American history, the more it should be apparent that the President is a figurehead to corporate interests which have just as big a role in shaping American policy as the office holder.  That was made apparent earlier this week when Microsoft decided to block access of its popular software Messenger to Sudan, Iran, Cuba, Syria and North Korea.  When the news was first announced, everyone asked why these countries and why now?  Of course the logic goes they are state sponsors of terrorism, and it’s true they are recognized as such, but it’s equally true they have been so designated for over a decade and all during that time their citizens were able to use the Microsoft product, so why now?

To this observer the reason is because corporate interests do not want to see a rapprochement between the US and these countries and because Obama started his administration talking that way, this is the business world’s way of nixing any such peace deals.  The president has been cut off at the knees by those interests who would rather see a continuation of hostility between America and these countries and there is no better way to promote that than to deny them a product they had been accustomed too at a time when they are trying to restore normal relations with the corporate headquarters of said business.

Sudan, in a report released in April, 2009  has been proclaimed by the State Department as taking  significant steps towards better counter terrorism cooperation with America.  The report went on to say

During the past year, the Sudanese government continued to pursue terrorist operations directly involving threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan. Sudanese officials have indicated that they view their continued cooperation with the United States as important and recognize the benefits of U.S. training and information-sharing.

What better way to sabotage such cooperation than to undermine it with a business boycott few would say Sudan deserves.

Obama has made major outreach proposals to Iran, while America’s petulant and strident ally, Israel, has threatened that country at every turn.  Despite the saber rattling, even as recently as this week, Iranian president Ahmedinajad in one of his strongest declarations to date against nuclear weapons said, the prospect of acquiring nuclear weapons ‘is politically retarded’ and not in his nation’s interest.  This coming on the heels of another attempt by Israel to get international pressure to bear on Iran after floating a story that several South American countries are supplying Iran with uranium to make the bomb.  Nevermind that both countries denied the accusation, once made it sticks and is difficult to remove, much like the WMD claim that still resonates with some even today.  This all happens at a time, however, when Israel is coming under increasing pressure from the Clinton led State Department, and by extension the Obama administration, to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, something that has not been a part of American policy as it relates to Israel, before now.

We are all aware how the Obama administration has pledged to allow more open and free travel between America and Cuba, another thaw in an otherwise cold, and hostile relationship.  It is probably accurate to say that Cuban leadership will undergo a drastic change in the next several years, with the Castro brothers getting older by the day, and that change is apparent and tangible.  Yet despite the thaw, a corporate entity inserting itself between two countries, nay, five with a decision that is not only ill-timed but suspect will have a negative impact on the direction a sitting administration is trying to take.

It’s a dangerous yet calculated game Microsoft is playing with this decision because it upsets a delicate balance the official policy arm of America, a politically elected administration, is trying to make.  One could even question whether such a move on the part of Microsoft is even in its best interests; allowing the countries affected to seek IT solutions with Microsoft competitors.  One thing it does show is how interests beyond the government can insert themselves in a way that affect positively or negatively the interests of countries worldwide.