Apr 20, 8:13 AM EDT
Some See Image of Virgin Mary at Overpas
CHICAGO (AP) -- A steady stream of the faithful and the curious, many carrying flowers and candles, have flocked to an expressway underpass for a view of a yellow and white stain on a concrete wall that some believe is an image of the Virgin Mary.
Police have patrolled the emergency turnoff area under the Kennedy Expressway since Monday as hundreds of people have walked down to see the image and the growing memorial of flowers and candles that surround it. Beside the image is an artist's rendering of the Virgin Mary embracing Pope John Paul II in a pose some see echoed in the stain.
"We believe it's a miracle," said Elbia Tello, 42. "We have faith, and we can see her face."
Tuesday morning, women knelt with rosary beads behind a police barricade while men in work shirts stood solemnly before the image, praying. A police officer kept the crowd of about three dozen from getting too close to the traffic but didn't stop them gathering around the stain.
The stain is likely the result of salt run-off, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The agency does not plan to scrub it off the wall.
"We're treating this just like we treat any type of roadside memorial," said IDOT spokesman Mike Claffey. "We have no plans to clean this site."
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago had not received any requests to authenticate the image as of Monday, spokesman Jim Dwyer said.
"These things don't happen every day," Dwyer said. "Sometimes people ask us to look into it. Most of the time they don't. (The meaning) depends on the individual who sees it. To them, it's real. To them, it reaffirms their faith."
But onlooker Victor Robles, 36, said he was skeptical about the stain's Virgin Mary resemblance.
"I see just a concrete wall and an image that could happen anywhere," Robles said. "If that image helps more people feel closer to God than maybe that is a good sign."
Worldwide, people have been drawn to images believed to resemble the Virgin Mary seen on windows, fence posts and walls.
Among the best-known in the United States was an image seen in office windows in Clearwater, Fla. Within weeks, a half million people had been to the site. Glass experts believe the image was created by a chemical reaction and corrosion of the metallic elements in the glass coating, but they could not explain why it took the shape it did. The windows were broken last year.
i just checked out the arizona public information law and it seems they have been changed to make any photos of cops that the government more or less secret and unaviable to the public.
you used to be able to request a photo thru arizonas freedom of information act as long as the cop wasnt working undercover. now they have more or less said they dont have to give you the photo if they dont want to for any reason.
this is a ARS 39-123
39-123 Information identifying a peace officer, justice, judge, commissioner, public defender or prosecutor; confidentiality; definitions
C. A law enforcement agency may release a photograph of a peace officer if either:
1. The peace officer has been arrested or has been formally charged by complaint, information or indictment for a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
2. The photograph is requested by a representative of a newspaper for a specific newsworthy event unless:
(a) The peace officer is serving in an undercover capacity or is scheduled to be serving in an undercover capacity within sixty days.
(b) The release of the photograph is not in the best interest of this state after taking into consideration the privacy, confidentiality and safety of the peace officer.
(c) An order pursuant to section 28-454 is in effect.
D. This section does not prohibit the use of a peace officer's photograph that is either:
1. Used by a law enforcement agency to assist a person who has a complaint against an officer to identify the officer.
2. Obtained from a source other than the law enforcement agency.
E. This section does not apply to a certified peace officer who is no longer employed as a peace officer by a state or local government entity.
PLEASE NOTE: In most BUT NOT ALL instances, the page and line numbering of bills on this web site correspond to the page and line numbering of the official printed version of the bills.
¦ REFERENCE TITLE: uninsured drivers; penalties; vehicle impoundment ¦
¦ State of Arizona ¦
¦ Senate ¦
¦ Forty-seventh Legislature ¦
¦ First Regular Session ¦
¦ 2005 ¦
¦ SB 1420 ¦-------------------
¦ Introduced by ¦
¦ Senators Waring, Bee, Harper, Leff, Martin; Representatives Barnes, Boone, Burton Cahill, Hershberger, Meza: Senators Allen, Arzberger, Bennett, Burns, Cannell, ¦
¦ Cheuvront, Flake, Gould, Gray, Hellon, Huppenthal, Jarrett, Johnson, Tibshraeny, ¦
¦ Verschoor; Representatives Garcia M, Lujan, Mason, McCune Davis, Pearce, Reagan, Stump ¦
AMENDING SECTIONS 28-3511, 28-3512 AND 28-4135, ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES; RELATING TO VEHICLE IMPOUNDMENT.
(TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Section 28-3511, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
28-3511. Removal and impoundment of vehicle
A. A peace officer may cause the removal and impoundment of a vehicle if the peace officer determines that a person is driving the vehicle while any of the following applies:
1. The person's driving privilege is revoked for any reason.
2. The person's driving privilege is suspended because of a driving under the influence conviction.
3. The person's driving privilege is suspended pursuant to the department's action based on a previous conviction for a violation of section 28-3473.
4. The person's driving privilege is suspended pursuant to section 28-3306, subsection A, paragraph 3.
5. ACCORDING TO DEPARTMENT RECORDS THE PERSON HAS NOT EVER BEEN ISSUED A DRIVER LICENSE OR PERMIT AND THE PERSON DOES NOT PRODUCE EVIDENCE OF A DRIVER LICENSE ISSUED BY ANOTHER JURISDICTION.
B. A PEACE OFFICER SHALL CAUSE THE REMOVAL AND IMPOUNDMENT OF A VEHICLE IF THE PEACE OFFICER DETERMINES THAT A PERSON IS DRIVING THE VEHICLE AND IF ALL OF THE FOLLOWING APPLY:
1. THE PERSON'S DRIVING PRIVILEGE IS CANCELED, SUSPENDED OR REVOKED OR ACCORDING TO DEPARTMENT RECORDS THE PERSON HAS NOT EVER BEEN ISSUED A DRIVER LICENSE OR PERMIT AND THE PERSON DOES NOT PRODUCE EVIDENCE OF A DRIVER LICENSE ISSUED BY ANOTHER JURISDICTION.
2. THE PERSON IS NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS OF CHAPTER 9, ARTICLE 4 OF THIS TITLE.
3. THE PERSON IS DRIVING A VEHICLE THAT IS INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT THAT RESULTS IN EITHER PROPERTY DAMAGE OR INJURY TO OR DEATH OF ANOTHER PERSON.
B. C. Except as otherwise provided in this article, a vehicle that is removed and impounded pursuant to subsection A OR B of this section shall be impounded for thirty days.
C. D. The owner of a vehicle that is removed and impounded pursuant to subsection A OR B of this section, the spouse of the owner and each person identified on the department's record with an interest in the vehicle shall be provided with an opportunity for a poststorage hearing pursuant to section 28-3514.
Sec. 2. Section 28-3512, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
28-3512. Release of vehicle; definition
A. An impounding agency shall release a vehicle to the owner before the end of the thirty day impoundment period under any of the following circumstances:
1. If the vehicle is a stolen vehicle.
2. If the vehicle is subject to bailment and is driven by an employee of a business establishment, including a parking service or repair garage, who is subject to section 28-3511, subsection A OR B.
3. If the owner presents proof satisfactory to the impounding agency that the owner's driving privilege has been reinstated.
4. For the spouse of the owner or any person who is identified as an owner of the vehicle on the records of the department, if the spouse or person was not the driver of the vehicle at the time of removal and impoundment and the spouse or person enters into an agreement with the impounding agency that stipulates that if the spouse or person allows an unlicensed driver to drive the spouse's or person's vehicle within one year after the agreement is signed, the spouse or person will not be eligible to obtain release of the spouse's or person's vehicle before the end of the thirty day impoundment period.
B. A vehicle shall not be released pursuant to subsection A of this section except on order of a justice court pursuant to A POSTSTORAGE HEARING UNDER section 28-3514 or on presentation of the owner's or owner's spouse's currently valid driver license to operate the vehicle and proof of current vehicle registration and, if the driving privilege of the person driving the vehicle was suspended due to a previous conviction for driving under the influence pursuant to section 28-1381, subsection K, paragraph 4, section 28-1382 or section 28-1383 and a certified ignition interlock device was required to be installed on the vehicle, on presentation of proof of installation of a functioning certified ignition interlock device in the vehicle. The impounding agency, storage yard, facility, person or agency having physical possession of the vehicle shall allow access to the impounded vehicle for the purpose of installing a certified ignition interlock device. The impounding agency, storage yard, facility, person or agency having physical possession of the vehicle shall not charge a fee for providing access to the vehicle or for the installation of the certified ignition interlock device.
C. The owner is responsible for paying all towing and storage charges related to the impoundment of the vehicle and any administrative charges established pursuant to section 28-3513, unless the vehicle is stolen and the theft was reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency. If the vehicle is stolen and the theft was reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency, the operator of the vehicle at the time of impoundment is responsible for all towing, storage and administrative charges.
D. The impounding agency shall release a vehicle to a person, other than the owner, identified on the department's record as having an interest in the vehicle before the end of the thirty day impoundment period if all of the following conditions are met:
1. The person is a motor vehicle dealer, bank, credit union or acceptance corporation or any other licensed financial institution legally operating in this state or is another person who is not the owner and who holds a security interest in the vehicle.
2. The person pays all towing and storage fees related to the impoundment of the vehicle unless the vehicle is stolen and the theft was reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency. If the vehicle is stolen and the theft was reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency, the operator of the vehicle at the time of impoundment is responsible for all towing, storage and administrative charges.
3. The person presents foreclosure documents or an affidavit of repossession of the vehicle.
E. Before a person described in subsection D of this section releases the vehicle, the person may require the owner to pay charges that the person incurred in connection with obtaining custody of the vehicle, including all towing and storage charges that are related to the impoundment of the vehicle and any administrative charges that are established pursuant to section 28-3513.
F. A vehicle shall not be released after the end of the thirty day impoundment period except on presentation of the owner's or owner's agent's currently valid driver license to operate the vehicle and proof of current vehicle registration and, if the driving privilege of the person driving the vehicle was suspended due to a previous conviction for driving under the influence pursuant to section 28-1381, subsection K, paragraph 4, section 28-1382 or section 28-1383 and an A CERTIFIED ignition interlock device was required to be installed on the vehicle, on presentation of proof of installation of a functioning certified ignition interlock device in the vehicle. The impounding agency, storage yard, facility, person or agency having physical possession of the vehicle shall allow access to the impounded vehicle for the purpose of installing a certified ignition interlock device. The impounding agency, storage yard, facility, person or agency having physical possession of the vehicle shall not charge a fee for providing access to the vehicle or for the installation of the certified ignition interlock device.
G. The storage charges relating to the impoundment of a vehicle pursuant to this section shall not exceed fifteen dollars for each day of storage.
H. The impounding agency shall have no lien or possessory interest in a stolen vehicle if the theft was reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The impounding agency shall release the vehicle to the owner or person other than the owner as identified in subsection D of this section even if the operator at the time of impoundment has not paid all towing, storage and administrative fees.
I. For the purposes of this section, "certified ignition interlock device" has the same meaning prescribed in section 28-1301.
Sec. 3. Section 28-4135, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
28-4135. Motor vehicle financial responsibility requirement; civil penalties
A. A motor vehicle that is operated on a highway in this state shall be covered by one of the following:
1. A motor vehicle or automobile liability policy that provides limits not less than those prescribed in section 28-4009.
2. An alternate method of coverage as provided in section 28-4076.
3. A certificate of self-insurance as prescribed in section 28-4007.
4. A policy that satisfies the financial responsibility requirements prescribed in article 2 of this chapter.
B. A person operating a motor vehicle on a highway in this state shall have evidence within the motor vehicle of current financial responsibility applicable to the motor vehicle.
C. Failure to produce evidence of financial responsibility on the request of a law enforcement officer investigating a motor vehicle accident or an alleged violation of a motor vehicle law of this state or a traffic ordinance of a city or town is a civil traffic violation that is punishable as prescribed in this section.
D. A citation issued for violating subsection B or C of this section shall be dismissed if the person to whom the citation was issued produces evidence to the appropriate court officer on or before the date and time specified on the citation for court appearance and in a manner specified by the court, including the certification of evidence by mail, of either of the following:
1. The financial responsibility requirements prescribed in this section were met for the motor vehicle at the date and time the citation was issued.
2. A motor vehicle or automobile liability policy that meets the financial responsibility requirements of this state and that insured the person and the motor vehicle the person was operating at the time the person received the citation regardless of whether or not the motor vehicle was named in the policy.
E. Notwithstanding section 28-1598 and Except as provided in section 28-4137, a person who violates this section is subject to a civil penalty as follows:
1. The court may SHALL impose a minimum civil penalty of two hundred fifty FIVE HUNDRED dollars for the first violation and may SHALL direct the department to suspend the driver license of the person and the registration and license plates of the motor vehicle involved for three months.
2. If a person violates this section a second time within a period of thirty-six months, the court shall impose a minimum civil penalty of five hundred SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTY dollars and may SHALL direct the department to suspend the driver license of the person and the registration and license plates of the motor vehicle involved for six months.
3. If a person violates this section three or more times within a period of thirty-six months, the court shall impose a minimum civil penalty of seven hundred fifty ONE THOUSAND dollars and SHALL direct the department to suspend the driver license OF THE PERSON and the registration and license plates of the motor vehicle involved for one year.
ARIZONA STATE SENATE
Forty-seventh Legislature, First Regular Session
FACT SHEET FOR S.B. 1420
uninsured drivers; penalties; vehicle impoundment
Requires a vehicle to be impounded if the driver does not have liability insurance and a valid driver license and is involved in an accident. Increases the civil penalties for failure to provide proof of liability insurance.
Arizona requires that every motor vehicle operated on our roadways be covered by one of the statutory forms of financial responsibility, more commonly called liability insurance, through a company that is authorized to do business in Arizona. Minimum levels of financial responsibility are $15,000 bodily injury liability for one person and $30,000 for two or more persons and $10,000 property damage liability. State law requires that the insurance company and the owner submit proof of insurance within 30 days after initial registration. Insurance companies are also required to routinely notify the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of all policy cancellations, renewals and new issuances. Failure to maintain proper insurance could lead to the suspension of the vehicle registration and/or driver license.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, four states use vehicle impoundment as a penalty for failure to show proof of financial responsibility. Arizona law enforcement is authorized to remove and impound a vehicle for 30 days if the person is driving on a revoked or suspended license and that suspension is due to a DUI conviction, a previous conviction for driving on a suspended license or the accumulation of too many points as a result of convictions for moving violations. The owner is responsible for paying all towing and storage charges related to the impoundment of the vehicle and any administrative charges, unless the vehicle was stolen. Impoundment charges are capped at $15 per day and administrative charges are capped at $150. The impounding agency may provide the owner, the spouse of the owner and any other person identified as having an interest in the vehicle with the opportunity for a poststorage hearing to determine the validity of the storage or consider any mitigating circumstances.
According to a Joint Legislative Budget Committee fiscal note, S.B. 1420 will increase revenues generated by individuals violating the state’s insurance requirement by approximately $36.2 million. This amount includes monies received by both state and local governments.
1. Requires a peace officer to remove and impound a vehicle for 30 days if it is determined that a person is driving the vehicle and all of the following apply:
a) the person does not have a valid driving privilege.
b) the person is not in compliance with the liability insurance requirements.
c) the person is driving a vehicle that is involved in an accident that results in either property damage or injury to or death of another person.
2. Requires the release of the vehicle before the end of the 30-day period under any of the following conditions:
a) the vehicle is a stolen vehicle.
b) the vehicle is a business vehicle only driven by an employee in the capacity of that business.
c) the owner has proof of driving privilege reinstatement.
d) the spouse of the driver enters into an agreement with the impounding agency that the spouse will not allow the unlicensed driver to drive the vehicle for one year.
e) the release is ordered by a justice court pursuant to a poststorage hearing.
3. Allows a peace officer to remove and impound a vehicle for 30 days if it is determined that the person driving the vehicle has never been issued a driver license or permit and the person does not produce evidence of a driver license issued by another jurisdiction.
4. Requires rather than allows the court to impose a civil penalty and direct MVD to suspend the driver license and registration for three months for the first and for six months for the second violation within a 36-month period of the liability insurance requirements.
5. Increases the minimum civil penalty for failure to produce evidence of liability insurance as follows:
a) to $500 from $250 for the first violation.
b) to $750 from $500 for the second violation within a 36-month period.
c) to $1000 from $750 for three or more violations within a 36-month period.
6. Makes technical and conforming changes.
7. Becomes effective on the general effective date.
· Updates fiscal information.
Senate Action House Action
TRANS 2/8/05 DP 5-0-0 TRANS 3/24/05 DP 8-0-0-1
3rd Read 3/7/05 28-1-1
Prepared by Senate Research
April 5, 2005
get this html editor
Judge to Accept Guilty Plea From Moussaoui
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and CHRISTINE HAUSER
Published: April 20, 2005
WASHINGTON, April 20 - A federal judge plans to accept a guilty plea from Zacarias Moussaoui in a court hearing scheduled for Friday, a court spokesman said today. Mr. Moussaoui is the only person accused in an American court of being part of the Sept. 11 conspiracy.
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema will preside over the hearing in United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., starting at 3:30 p.m., the spokesman, Edward Adams, said in a statement.
People involved in the case said on Tuesday that Mr. Moussaoui had indicated a willingness to plead guilty to terrorism charges in connection with the attacks. But they cautioned that his history of erratic statements, as well as questions about his mental competence, made such a plea far from certain.
A guilty plea would bring an unexpected resolution to the long-stalled prosecution, which has created headaches for the Justice Department and kept Mr. Moussaoui in jail for three and a half years without trial.
Numerous appeals and delays in the case centered on his unsuccessful demands to gain access to imprisoned leaders of Al Qaeda, who, he says, would clear him.
Discussions between the two sides were expected to continue in coming days. Mr. Adams said that he could not provide further information or say whether any meetings had taken place today.
Mr. Moussaoui indicated at least once before that he wanted to plead guilty, only to reverse himself. His volatile statements, often in rambling letters to the court filled with invectives against lawyers and the judge in the case, have made it difficult for lawyers to determine whether he is intent on admitting guilt.
"We've been through this before with him, so we'll have to see how it plays out," one person who confirmed the discussions said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because of a judicial order barring parties to the case from discussing details outside the courtroom.
Mr. Moussaoui has admitted in open court that he was a member of Al Qaeda and a follower of Osama bin Laden, but he has denied any involvement in the Sept. 11 plot or any direct knowledge of it.
Nearly three years ago, in July 2002, he sought to plead guilty to four terrorism charges. A week later, he rescinded the offer after a rambling and sometimes conflicting account of his intentions.
"I want to plead guilty, but you want to link me to certain facts that will ensure my death" and amount to a violation of the Muslim ban on suicide, he told Judge Brinkema then.
Mr. Moussaoui has filed several sealed motions in recent days, the court docket shows, but it is not clear what might have prompted him to reconsider his position on a plea. Prosecutors have insisted that he face the death penalty if convicted, and they are not believed to have wavered from that stand in the most recent discussions.
Several legal experts said Tuesday that it could be difficult for Judge Brinkema to establish that Mr. Moussaoui is mentally competent to plead guilty and so subject himself to the possibility of execution, particularly if his lawyers object.
"There will be real issues about whether Moussaoui meets the competence standard," said Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island who has written extensively about terrorism. "This is a man who's made erratic statements in the past and who's been confined for well over three years, and prolonged confinement can produce depression and cloud the decision-making process."
Eric Lichtblau reported from Washington for this article and Christine Hauser from New York.
Apr 21, 4:30 AM EDT
Man accused of burning police officer at GOP Convention expects charges to be dropped
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A Tucson man accused of setting fire to a papier-mache dragon and causing severe burns to a police officer at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York expects the charges against him to be dropped.
Yusuke "Josh" Banno, 21, has maintained that he was wrongly accused since his arrest last August when he joined protesters at the convention that nominated President Bush for a second term.
Because the flaming dragon burned the hands of a police officer, Banno was charged with assault and reckless endangerment.
But last month, Banno's lawyer tracked down pictures taken by a newspaper photographer showing Banno was far from where the fire began.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office indicated at a court appearance Tuesday that they're "not planning on prosecuting," Banno said, adding that his $10,000 bail will be returned.
Over the last seven months, Banno said he, his family and friends have made six trips to New York and spent between $30,000 and $40,000 fighting the charges.
Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com
Helicopter shot down in Iraq, killing 6 Americans
Apr. 21, 2005 08:30 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A commercial helicopter contracted by the U.S. Defense Department was shot down by missile fire north of the Iraqi capital Thursday, killing six Americans and three Bulgarians, officials said.
The Mi-8 helicopter went down about 12 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. Embassy said. Video on television showed burning wreckage and personal belongings scattered across a wide area.
Elsewhere, relatives of Iraqis who have disappeared in a Sunni militant stronghold known as the "Triangle of Death" gathered at a police station to examine photographs of the bodies of dozens of Iraqis that officials said were pulled from the Tigris River in recent weeks.
The helicopter crew was Bulgarian, although no members of Bulgaria's 460-member military contingent in Iraq were on board, Bulgarian officials said.
The U.S. military said the helicopter was contracted by the Defense Department. At the Pentagon, a senior defense official said there were six civilian contract workers aboard the aircraft.
After a week of stepped-up violence, the country's most feared terror group, Al-Qaida in Iraq, claimed responsibility Thursday for a suicide car bombing that targeted interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's convoy but did not harm the Iraqi leader.
The attack on Allawi's convoy occurred Wednesday, a day of multiple bombings and shootings in Baghdad and elsewhere that killed at least 13 people and wounded 21.
The victims included an Australian security contract worker and two other foreign nationals killed by assailants firing at their vehicle in Baghdad, Australian officials said in Sydney on Thursday.
Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for several of the attacks, including the one on Allawi, in statements that surfaced on Web sites known for their militant content.
"Allawi escaped, but if one arrow missed its target, there are many others in the quiver," one of the statements said.
The authenticity of the claims could not be verified.
In a separate attack, a roadside bomb exploded on the highway leading to Baghdad's airport Thursday, heavily damaging three sport utility vehicles carrying civilians. Police Capt. Hamid Ali said two foreigners were killed and three wounded in the burning vehicles. But U.S. Embassy and military officials could not confirm the casualties.
Lately, much of Iraq's violence has occurred in the capital, as political leaders struggle to agree on a new Cabinet from the country's mix of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, nearly three months after Iraqis elected a 275-seat National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Defense Ministry identified 19 bullet-riddled bodies found Wednesday in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, as fishermen. Residents initially said they believed the victims were soldiers.
Investigations indicated the men came from the southern Diwaniya and Najaf provinces to fish in Tharthar lake when they were captured by insurgents, taken to the soccer stadium at nearby Haditha and shot, said chief ministry spokesman Saleh Sarhan. He did not say how the victims had been identified or why they might have been captured.
Residents heard gunshots Wednesday and rushed to the stadium, where they said they found the bodies.
Residents first said they believed the victims - all men in civilian clothes - were soldiers abducted by insurgents as they headed home for a holiday marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. But residents and an Iraqi reporter saw no military identification on the bodies.
In October, insurgents ambushed and killed about 50 unarmed Iraqi soldiers as they headed home from a U.S. military training camp northeast of Baghdad.
The photos of the bodies pulled from the Tigris were handed out at the police station in Suwayra.
"My cousin was kidnapped by terrorists, and he has been missing for two weeks," Jawad Hashim Shael said as he scanned the photos. "We have searched all nearby areas, but we still have no information about his whereabouts."
On Wednesday, interim President Jalal Talabani announced that more than 50 bodies were recovered, saying that was proof of claims that dozens were abducted from an area south of the capital last week despite a fruitless search by Iraqi forces.
Talabani did not say when or where the bodies were pulled from the river, but he said all had been identified as hostages.
"Terrorists committed crimes there. It is not true to say there were no hostages. There were. They were killed, and they threw the bodies into the Tigris," Talabani said. "We have the full names of those who were killed and those criminals who committed these crimes."
Shiite leaders and government officials claimed last week that Sunni militants abducted as many as 100 Shiites from the Madain area, 14 miles southeast of Baghdad, and said they would be killed unless all Shiites left town.
But when Iraqi forces moved into the town of 1,000 families, they found no captives, and residents said they had seen no evidence anyone had been seized.
Madain and Suwayra are both located in the "Triangle of Death," a region south of Baghdad where there have been numerous retaliatory kidnappings. Police and health officials said victims were sometimes killed and dumped in the river.
As summer approaches and temperatures start to rise, bodies have been floating to the surface, said Dr. Falah al-Permani of the Swera district health department. He said as many as 50 bodies have been recovered in the past three weeks. But it was unclear whether they were the bodies referred to by Talabani.
Phoenix government officials will steal some land to help ASU
Phoenix OKs buying parcels for campus
Ginger D. Richardson
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 21, 2005 12:00 AM
PHOENIX - City Council members on Wednesday authorized their staff to acquire three small parcels of land needed for the Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix Campus.
The properties, located at 501, 505 and 509 N. First Street, currently house a dry cleaners, a four-plex apartment building, a bar and a parking lot. All tenants would be eligible for relocation assistance once the land is under the city's control.
Eventually the land would be for student housing or academic space for ASU's University College, which would handle undeclared majors.
Phoenix officials did not disclose a potential purchase price Wednesday, nor would they say how much they believed it to be worth.
Staff will return to the City Council with a specific recommended purchase price before finalizing any agreement, said Ed Zuercher, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Phil Gordon.
Phoenix needs to acquire roughly 20 acres of land in the heart of downtown for the ASU campus, which will be bordered by First Avenue, and Third, Fillmore and Van Buren streets. Earlier this week, the city and ASU made public the details of an agreement that commits them to building the campus and outlines their financial responsibilities for constructing, operating and maintaining it.
For the city, that means committing $233 million for land acquisition and building renovation via a bond program that could go before voters in spring 2006. ASU will bear responsibility for maintaining, operating and furnishing the campus at an estimated cost of $40 million to $50 million a year.
Suspect's desire to condemn himself puzzles some officials
Apr. 21, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Zacarias Moussaoui's intention to plead guilty to all counts against him in the 9/11 terror attacks has left some observers baffled, considering the consequences.
Prosecutors so far have been adamant in refusing to plea-bargain away capital charges in a case with a direct link to the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history.
Unless such a deal is made, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema's acceptance of Moussaoui's plea will trigger a jury proceeding that could lead to his execution.
It also would short-circuit a trial that likely would air previously undisclosed information about the 2001 attacks and would hand the government a rare courtroom victory in a high-profile terrorism case.
"I can conceive of no reason why someone in his circumstance would rationally plead guilty to these charges ... unless you consider a desire for martyrdom rational," said Robert Litt, a former senior official in the Justice Department's criminal division.
Frank Dunham, one of Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyers, declined to comment, citing a gag order in the case. Justice Department officials also declined to comment.
Moussaoui's erratic behavior and mental competence have been recurring issues in the case. He has previously indicated a desire to plead guilty before changing his mind.
At various times in on-again, off-again court proceedings since December 2001, Moussaoui has launched incendiary written and oral tirades against Brinkema, former Attorney General John Ashcroft and his lawyers.
He also has tried to act as his own lawyer but was stripped of that right by Brinkema because of his outbursts.
In a ruling late Wednesday, Brinkema said that based on a closed hearing held earlier in the day, Moussaoui "is fully competent to plead guilty to the indictment."
But there is still a chance that Brinkema could decide that Moussaoui, although competent, nonetheless does not realize the ramifications of his plea, said Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland and a former deputy attorney general.
There has been some speculation that Moussaoui is pleading guilty in a misguided attempt to get the Supreme Court to take up his case, Greenberger said.
A guilty plea would eliminate the right to appeal his case to the high court, Greenberger said. If Brinkema determines that Moussaoui doesn't realize what he is doing, she could still reject the plea, setting the stage for a trial.
Moussaoui's expected plea seems all the more peculiar because the case against him is not airtight, Greenberger said. "I think he has a fighting chance to beat things back in a jury trial."
Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota on an immigration charge about three weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.
He has acknowledged membership in al-Qaida but denied involvement in or advanced knowledge of the attacks in which 19 men hijacked four jets, flying two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and one more into the Pentagon just outside Washington, while crashing a fourth jet into a field in Pennsylvania.
At one time, authorities described Moussaoui as the 20th hijacker, but they have since backed away from that characterization.
Justice Department official calls for strict prison sex-abuse laws
Republic Washington Bureau
Apr. 21, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Laws against sexual abuse of inmates by federal prison employees need to be strengthened, says the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general.
"Misdemeanor penalties do not adequately punish prison employees who commit this crime," Glenn Fine said in testimony before a commission on safety and abuse in America's prisons.
Fine told the commission this week that his office has found that many federal prosecutors are simply "not interested" in prosecuting sexual-abuse cases involving federal inmates, regardless of the strength of the evidence, because current law does not constitute many of these crimes as felonies.
He said that between Oct. 1, 2002, and Sept. 30, 2004, his office received 658 complaints of inappropriate relationships or sexual abuse of inmates at the federal Bureau of Prisons' 114 correctional institutions.
He said those offenses were the most common types of abuse allegations received from inmates involving Bureau of Prisons employees during that period. There also were:
• 508 complaints of unnecessary force or physical abuse
• 331 allegations of threatening behavior or verbal abuse
• 273 allegations of civil rights or civil liberties violations
In addition, there were 305 complaints of introduction of drugs, weapons, cell phones or other contraband into the prison.
Of the total 1,770 abuse allegations, Fine said, 194 were investigated by his office. Of those, 36 resulted in convictions, while others either resulted in administrative action or were not substantiated.
In all, the Bureau of Prisons is responsible for about 181,000 federal offenders, 160,000 of whom are in correctional institutions or detention centers. There are three federal corrections institutions in Arizona, located in Phoenix, Tucson and Safford. The Bureau of Prisons also has a contract with a privately run facility in Eloy.
Fine did not say what the 36 abuse convictions obtained by his office specifically related to, or at which prisons these incidents occurred.
But he said cases involving staff sexual abuse of inmates annually comprise about 12 percent of his office's total investigations.
Fine said one investigation by his office has determined that a correctional officer at a federal medical center had directed inmates to come to his office to place a fictitious phone call. While there, he locked them in and raped them. That officer was sentenced to 12 years in prison for aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a ward, abusive sexual contact and assault with the intent to commit a felony.
In another case, a BOP doctor assigned to a federal medical center was sentenced to 14 months incarceration and 12 months supervised release after investigators determined that the doctor had sex on several occasions with three female inmates in his office. In addition, he smuggled jewelry into prison for one of the inmates he sexually abused.
Despite such cases, Fine said current federal laws criminalizing staff sexual relations with federal prisoners are deficient because they classify many of these incidents as misdemeanors with a maximum prison sentence of one year, unless the prison employee uses force or threats. As a result, he said, many federal prosecutors are not interested in pursuing such cases.
But Fine noted that nearly half of the targets in his office's sexual abuse cases also had smuggled contraband into prisons for the inmates with whom they had sexual relationships.
"Because prison employees control many aspects of inmates' lives, in most cases prison employees obtain sex from inmates without resorting to the use of force or overt threats," Fine said.
He also said that current federal laws covering sexual abuse of inmates do not cover employees who sexually abuse federal inmates in state, local or contract facilities, and that state prosecutors inconsistently prosecute these cases.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.
Certification Revoked for Two Polygamist Police Officers
Mar. 23, 2005
ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Certifications are revoked from two police officers who are also polygamists.
Yesterday, the Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training Council voted to immediately revoke the certification of Colorado City's Police Chief Sam Roundy and officer Vance Barlow.
Roundy and Barlow are both long-time officers serving in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Washington County.
The Colorado City police department is contracted each year to provide law enforcement services to Hildale. Of the five full-time and two reserve officers currently working for the department, only Roundy and Barlow were targeted.
Most of the residents of the two towns are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which preaches polygamy as a central tenet.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
ST. GEORGE, Utah Colorado City's police chief has been stripped of his police officer certification in Utah because he's a polygamist.
The Colorado City Police Department also is under contract to provide police protection in neighboring Hildale, Utah.
Yesterday, the Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training Council voted to immediately revoke the certifications of Police Chief Sam Roundy and one of his officers, Vance Barlow.
Of the five full-time and two reserve officers currently working for the Colorado City Police Department, only Roundy and Barlow were targeted.
Most of the residents of Colorado City and Hildale are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which preaches polygamy as a central tenet.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
April 18, 2005, 7:45 a.m.
Pushing for Polygamy
Multiple marriage isn’t such a distant step away from gay marriage as many pretend.
By Megan Basham
Los Angeles Daily News guest editorialist Jonathan Drober recently echoed the view popular among gay-marriage proponents that polygamy is a canard of anti-gay-marriage family groups and that legal recognition of same-sex unions in no way promotes acceptance of plural matrimony. "No one is seriously posing simultaneous multiple marriages. We plan on keeping them traditionally serial — one spouse at a time," Drober wrote.
Perhaps he should have mentioned that to the Arizona and Utah residents who attended a town-hall meeting concerning two communities in those states a few days later.
On March 3, Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff and Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard held a joint summit in St. George, Utah, to deal with allegations of abuse, molestation, incest, and fraud coming from within the twin border cities of Hildale and Colorado City. Approximately 10,000 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) reside in the country's largest polygamist communities and for decades (thanks to a disastrous police raid in 1953) have remained largely beyond the short appendages of local law. The government offensive on the area that was then called Short Creek turned out to be a public-relations nightmare in which the press depicted the state as a malicious invader that ripped screaming children from the arms of their parents and separated loving husbands from their devoted wives. The event was defining enough that even 52 years later Goddard made a point of opening the conference by calling the Short Creek raid a "shameful mistake" and asking polygamists present to "let the past be the past." From that time on, both Utah and Arizona's tacit polygamy policy remained "don't ask, don't tell."
Recently though, reports of child brides giving birth in county hospitals, absconders seeking legal restitution, high rates of deformity resulting from incest, and rampant welfare and tax fraud have become too great for authorities to ignore. Now, as the attorneys general's offices seek to "build bridges" that will provide victims of the polygamist system the means to report abuse, they are making it clear they have no intention of indicting an "alternative lifestyle choice" even if it is the breeding ground for all manner of crime.
Of the more than 350 people who packed out the Holiday Inn ballroom for the two-hour public session, a large portion were practicing polygamists, and Shurtleff made it clear to them that while his office will investigate underage "spiritual marriages," as the FLDS calls them, it will not target their personal beliefs by prosecuting multiple unions involving persons over the age of 18. This assurance came in spite of the fact that under Utah law plural marriage between individuals of any age is a felony. For Arizona's part, Goddard echoed Shurtleff, stating, "We're here to address a very specific focus; we're not interested in condemning a lifestyle." Yet when both Shurtleff and Goddard pledged to those present that "they [would] not sit back and let people commit crimes," one polygamy opponent responded, "I'm confused, is polygamy not a crime?"
Perhaps it is a crime according to federal law, state law, and many states' constitutions — but not according to recent court decisions that necessitate endorsement of any kind of sexual arrangement. What this woman failed to take into account is that, crime or no, multiple marriage is now being characterized as a "life choice." And as Carol Smith of the Women's Religious Liberties Union, a pro-polygamy group, explained, "You can't discriminate against us because of our life choices."
Carolyn Spinelli, who moved to the southwest from New Jersey six years ago, is not a polygamist herself, but feels that a polygamous lifestyle can be a positive option for some if fanatical FLDS leaders are taken out of the equation. "If you would just open your mind," she said to the crowd, "polygamy is a wonderful thing." "Believe it or not there's a lot of happy women, and there are a lot of them here today," said another who declined to reveal whether she was one wife in a group of many.
For the most part, these sentiments were applauded by most of the single-marriage practitioners in the room, with many claiming they showed up "to extend a hand of acceptance." Their beef, they said, was not with the polygamists' lifestyle, but with the strain their multiple offspring put on the public coffers. One woman offered that polygamy wouldn't be a problem at all if the states would "cut back all this welfare and they [the polygamist parents] had to support all these children."
Other non-FLDS residents looked to pop-culture icons to support their polygamous neighbors. Drawing the precise correlation gay-marriage supporters claim is nothing but the hysteria of bigots, one woman cheerfully used her turn at the mike to assert this bit of common logic: "If Rosie O'Donnell can adopt children and that's legal, I mean c'mon. If two consenting adults want to have a family, three consenting adults, four... That's fine." In fact, the heartiest approval of the session came when one individual suggested that the best way to deal with polygamy's legal problems would simply be to decriminalize polygamy.
On February 3, 2005, former Hildale police officer Rodney Holm argued to have his 2003 conviction for bigamy and sex with a minor overturned partly on the basis that it violated his privacy rights. Holm's attorney Rodney Parker argued that in light of the Supreme Court's decision striking down sodomy laws, the Utah court should find that 32-year-old Holms had a constitutional right to take his 16-year-old sister-in-law as his third "spiritual wife." To that effect, Parker's brief stated, "Current demographics, domestic relations law, and religious diversity all accommodate plural marriage. Popular departure from traditional marriage has made our domestic laws on cohabitation and fornication anachronistic." A decision in this case is expected shortly.
In another Utah case utilizing Lawrence v. Texas early last year, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of G. Lee Cook, a Salt Lake City polygamist who wanted his multiple marriages to be legally as well spiritually valid. Steven Clarke, the ACLU's Salt Lake City legal director, publicized his chapter's endorsement of this position by stating, "Talking to Utah's polygamists is like talking to gays and lesbians who really want the right to live their lives, and not live in fear because of whom they love. So certainly that kind of privacy expectation is something the ACLU is committed to protecting." Ultimately, the court rejected the reasoning in this case, but the citizens of Hildale and Colorado City have not. Nor have those on the cutting edge of family law who seek to undermine marriage by opening it up to same-sex couples.
David Chambers, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, wrote in The Michigan Law Review that those who support plural marriage ought to also support gay marriage. He argued that rather than reinforcing a two-person definition of marriage, gay marriage would make society more accepting of further legal changes: "By ceasing to conceive of marriage as a partnership composed of one person of each sex, the state may become more receptive to units of three or more." Similarly, Alternatives to Marriage Project activist and University of Utah law professor Martha Ertman noted in The Harvard Law Review that legal and social opposition to polygamy is decreasing and that increasing acceptance of homosexual partnerships is slowly (and, to her mind, rightly) resulting in the final destruction of the traditional marriage ideal.
The primary tactical difference between polygamist communities and gay-marriage activists is that the former have traditionally neither sought nor desired government recognition or even government involvement (with, of course, the exception of public assistance). But as the ideology of those on the frontlines of the gay-marriage debate trickles down to cloistered FLDS communities, they too are beginning to push for unqualified endorsement in the eyes of the law. And why shouldn't they, now that gay couples are starting to make great strides in the same direction? They may not be progressive lawyers authoring treaties in law reviews, but Hildale and Colorado City residents certainly understand the logic of their case.
— Megan Basham is a freelance writer in Phoenix, Arizona, and a current Phillips Foundation fellow.
The ACLU sent me a letter about a class action
lawsuit against Sheriff Joe because of the conditions in
the jails. They're having an informational meeting and
fundraiser to raise money for the suit. Here are the details:
When: May 7, 2005, 7:30 pm
Where: 22 W. Hayward Ave., Phoenix
How much: $100 (or more) per person
while i agree with many of the goals of the ACLU the one thing i dont like about them is they seem like a bunch of money grabbing creeps. i have never seen an even they put on that they charged less them $50 to attend. which keeps out all of the normal people.
BEIJING, April 21 -- Five Muslim-Americans have sued the US Homeland Security Department alleging racial profiling.
They say it happened when they were detained and fingerprinted by border agents after returning from a religious conference in Canada.
The three men and two women say they were held, along with dozens of other US Muslims, for more than six hours and interrogated, photographed and fingerprinted against their will in December last year.
The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs were singled out after telling customs officials they had attended a "Reviving the Islamic Spirit" conference in Toronto.
The annual Islamic conference draws thousands of Muslims from Canada, the United States and overseas.
The suit charges that the government violated the group's constitutional rights to practice religion and performed unlawful searches.
Donna Lieberman is executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is helping represent the plaintiffs.
She says the lawsuit is not about money damages, but about vindicating individual rights.
"What the government did here is a clear case of profiling, ethnic and religious profiling, which is antithetical to core American values and which is never okay," Donna Lieberman said.
Arsalan Iftikhar is National Legal Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
He's condemning what he calls "over-zealous and counter-productive ethnic and religious profiling".
He says it's encouraged by government security policies in the wake of the September 11th attacks.
"Unfortunately, again, it seems that in the post-9/11 world that we live in today, American Muslims are guilty until proven innocent," Arsalan Iftikhar said.
One of the plaintiffs, Sawsaan Tabbaa, an orthodontist from New York, says the experience at the border crossing was the most humiliating she has ever gone through.
Tabbaa refused to be digitally fingerprinted on the grounds that she had done nothing wrong, but was physically forced into compliance.
Tabbaa said, "It was unbelievable. I am proud of being American but I couldn't believe my eyes something like this could happen."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection defends the actions, saying that its priority mission is to prevent terrorists and their weapons from entering this country.
In the past, the agency has denied the use of profiling at the borders but says intelligence has shown that conferences similar to the one in Toronto have been used by terrorist organizations.
Pot-Smoking Jesus Cartoon In Court
13/04/2005 Karolos Grohmann A Greek court will rule on whether to allow sales of a cartoon book from Austria depicting Jesus Christ as a drinking buddy of Jimi Hendrix and a marijuana-smoking, naked surfer.
Cartoonist Gerhard Haderer was found guilty by a Greek court of "malicious public blasphemy" this year and received a six-month suspended prison sentence for his take on the life of Christ - but he can only be detained if he comes to Greece.
The book went on sale in Greece briefly in 2002, but the Orthodox Church was outraged and succeeded in having it immediately withdrawn through a provisional court order.
"This should never have happened if we were living in a real democratic society," said Athina Kouri of the book's Greek publishers Oxy. "Our position is that there should be no obstacle to the freedom of speech."
Haderer's lawyer Maria Mazioti is expected to file an objection to the ruling on Wednesday on the grounds that another European Union member, Austria, refused to charge the cartoonist after complaints in his home country regarding the same book.
"The Life of Jesus" has been translated into 10 languages.
Dozens of top Greek cartoonists are backing their colleague, saying the decision has harmed the image of their country.
A 1,000-signature petition, signed by international artists, including 2004 Nobel Literature Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, demanded the immediate lifting of the ban.
It was not clear whether Haderer, who has said he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, would be present at the trial.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2005
Constitutional Amendment Proposed as Check on Government Spending
PHOENIX-In a policy brief released today, Goldwater Institute senior fellow Clint Bolick argues that the Arizona Constitution should be amended to include a provision that would control government spending, known as a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR).
A TABOR amendment would require the legislature to keep increases in state spending in line with inflation and population growth. Should legislators want to exceed that growth rate, they would be required to get voter approval in a general election. Also, any excess revenues collected by the state would either be returned to taxpayers or placed in a "rainy day" fund.
Bolick notes that such an amendment would fit well in the Arizona Constitution. "Our state constitution is the principal charter of our liberties. Restraining government's propensity to spend too much of its citizens' money would cure a glaring omission in that document."
The policy brief illustrates that a constitutional change is the best way to protect the state's fiscal health and ensure the legislature is accountable to taxpayers. In states like Washington, which enacted a similar measure by statute rather than constitutional amendment, legislators are able to easily bypass budget requirements.
Over the last 10 years, Arizona state revenue has increased an average of six percent per year, while spending has increased nine percent per year, demonstrating the need for a TABOR measure. Had a limit been in place in 1994, Arizona would now have a $273 million surplus instead of a $698 million deficit.
Mark Brnovich, director of the Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Government, believes such a measure would "be in harmony with the rest of the Arizona Constitution by providing a powerful check on excessive government."
The report, A Taxpayer's Bill of Rights: A Natural Fit in the Arizona Constitution, is available online at www.goldwaterinstitute.org/article.php/625.html
Andrea Woodmansee, Director of Communications, Goldwater Institute, (602) 712-1257 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Brnovich, J.D., Director, Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Government, (602) 462-5000, email@example.com
If you would like to be removed from the Goldwater Institute e-mail notification system, please reply to this message and type “REMOVE” in the subject line.
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Mar. 13, 2005
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Two decades later, '1984' is all around us
Why are the Democrats -- the party of my youth -- so widely dismissed as pathetic poseurs these days?
Let's see. George W. Bush makes a big speech about how America promotes democracy throughout the world. How do the Democrats respond? By pointing out that our Founding Fathers purposely set us up with a Republic, while strongly warning against direct "democracy" as nothing but "mob rule," likely to vote the constitutional rights of minorities out of existence at the first opportunity?
Of course not.
Do Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi -- sitting there stiff-backed, our modern equivalents of Herman and Lily Munster -- calmly acknowledge, "OK, if Mr. Bush can figure out a way to promote participatory government in the Mideast, we'll admit that's a good idea and we'll do what we can to support him, even if we think selective bombardment and invasion under false pretenses should not be our preferred opening gambit.
"But let's be honest about this: It was a Republican administration that sent in Major Smedley Butler and the U.S. Marines to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua, forcing the legislature in Managua to sign a peace treaty in English as American warships loomed offshore, a treaty giving us the right to run the Nicaraguan railroads under the laws of the state of Maine.
"It was a Republican administration that overthrew the popular government of Mohammed Mossadegh, the 'weeping mullah,' in Iran in 1953, re-installing the Pahlavi shahs, whose secret police surely ranked them among the most repressive despots in recent history.
"Let's not even get started on the regime-change assassinations we backed in places like Chile and Vietnam, as little as 30 and 40 years ago. And if we're so in favor of democracy and self-determination, why is President Bush making nice with KGB assassin Boris Putin, when just last week the Russian special forces murdered Aslan Maskhadov, the last elected president of independent Chechnya?
"If we're really going to change our stripes now, a good start might be to acknowledge to our own people the things we did that caused our government to be so widely feared, hated and distrusted, out there in the world at large."
Do the Democrats say any of this? Not in public, they don't. And why? Because they're complicit. The Democrats have signed on to the old way of doing things; Bill Clinton set out on many a foreign lark (albeit far less effectively, being the distracted dilettante he was). They have no principled alternative plan or world-view to offer.
Loyal opposition? The only thing the modern Democratic Party can find to "oppose" are such irrelevant cosmetic features as the churchgoing habits and adopted Texas drawls of the ancient Connecticut banking family known for more than a century as the Prescott Bush clan, while shrieking about "tax cuts for the rich," when this other set of elite millionaires who hasn't done their own grocery shopping in decades secretly defines any private-sector slob who works hard enough to own a house as "rich."
The only guy they could find to run against Bush was another, less adept Yalie poseur from Skull & Bones, and the only "agenda" they have to offer is to require us to ban smoking, use helmets and seatbelts, sort our garbage into different colored baskets, and hand over our foreign policy to Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan. Meanwhile, they block economic development anywhere in this country under the rubric of "smart growth" and protecting any "geographically distinct population" of scraggly weed or bug their babbling ecofreak subsidiaries can locate.
Oh, and -- of course -- ever higher taxes.
-- Las Vegas police Lt. Steve Franks is concerned about the midnight smash-and-grab theft of 1,700 blank Nevada driver's licenses from the DMV office on Donovan Way on March 7 -- along with a digital camera and all the other paraphernalia necessary to turn them into realistic IDs -- asserting last week the purloined documents could easily be used to pass through airport security checkpoints, etc.
Kind of like the way all those Arab hijackers got through our security checkpoints by showing their fake IDs, three-and-a-half years ago?
This follows the conviction last year of a Nevada DMV clerk who took $300,000 in bribes to sell unauthorized licenses and IDs to some 1,000 illegal aliens -- that they know of.
So, do we have this straight?
1) All that billion-dollar "check-your-ID" crap at the airport has improved our safety and security not one iota, instead accomplishing nothing but creating jobs for thousands of new blue-gloved butt-gropers-in-training while further conditioning the American populace to be ready to show our "government-issued photo ID" on demand, any time, anywhere, and ...
2) The "driver's license" is nothing of the sort, but rather constitutes the nine-digit nationally coded "internal passport and travel document" which Franklin Roosevelt solemnly promised our Social Security numbers would never be turned into?
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "The Ballad of Carl Drega" and the forthcoming "The Black Arrow."
Mar. 20, 2005
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: May I see your travel papers, please?
There seems to be some fuss about the inadequate security that allowed the personal information of 8,738 people who received licenses or ID cards from the Department of Motor Vehicles this winter to be looted in the early morning hours of March 7 from the DMV office at Donovan Way in Northtown -- along with sufficient blank forms and computerized photo equipment to generate 1,700 really good fake IDs, presumably adequate to get your hypothetical terrorist and his non-X-rayed 50-pound carry-on deep into the serpentine line of tourists waiting to go through the metal detectors for the D Gates at McCarran on a given Sunday afternoon.
"The state is extremely sorry that this happened," intones Ginny Lewis, czarina of the internal passport division, making one wonder if the state can actually cry, and if so how large a hanky the state might need.
The state initially insisted the hard-drive of the stolen computer was regularly wiped clean. After actually checking with its computer contractor last week, however, the state said, "Whoops."
What no one has been asking, however, is why on earth we allow the government to collect all this sensitive ID data, in the first place.
I got my high school diploma in 1968, in an eastern land far, far away. In the ensuing 30-odd years, no one has ever asked to see it. I certainly have never been asked to send in money to get my high school diploma "renewed," or to report my new residential address so that could be permanently engraved on my "new, valid, Nevada" high school diploma, or to go on and pose for a "new diploma photo."
The one I got in 1968 is still considered good.
The year before I got my high school diploma, I got a driver's license. It was a plain piece of greenish cardboard with my name and date of birth on it -- no photo.
Why isn't that still good? When I change my address or grow a mustache or shave it off, does that alter my ability to remember the shape of a stop sign or how to parallel park?
Of course not. What passes for a "driver's license" today is just a way to squeeze more money out of us to keep a huge police-state tracking bureaucracy at work -- paying for our own bondage through an internal passport that allows the officer's onboard computer to access our Social Slave number and through it all the details of our lives, the very kind of "travel papers" that American audiences used to boo the Gestapo men for demanding of railway passengers in the old movies set in Nazi Germany or occupied France.
Next time you're asked for your "driver's license," try offering the nice officer your graduation certificate from a certified driver's education class. You'll find that's not what they want, at all. They want a standardized government document carrying an up-to-date address where you sleep, to make it more convenient for the men in the black ski masks if and when they choose to come arrest you in the night.
A reader writes in, referring to Sunni Maravillosa's lengthy interview on my new book at www.endervidualism.com/salon/intvw/vinandscott.htm :
"Vin -- You come across much less scary in an interview. Lots of good stuff here, but I think I'm most focused on this quote: 'The gun-rights guys think it's just great for the cops to lock up all the potheads, and the potheads think it's just fine for the feds to disarm the gun nuts.'
"I think it's been over 15 years now -- close to half my life -- that I've been saying it would be a horrible, tragic mistake to decriminalize weapons without decriminalizing drugs, or the other way around. I believe it would result in far greater bloodshed and violence, including innocents caught in the crossfire, than even the current situation. Only by decriminalizing weapons and drugs simultaneously will an unambiguous, moral message of responsibility be presented. The violence that resulted might be nasty and brutal, but it would certainly be short-lived.
"Thank you for your writing, even if it will never convince my sister. -- Ian R."
Hi, Ian -- The question seems moot, to me. Virtually all dealers in proscribed plant extracts have guns, right now, regardless of any law.
Since violence is caused primarily by Prohibition, and not by the drugs themselves (if heroin and cocaine were the price of sugar, why would anyone commit crimes to get them, any more than we commit crimes today to get our sugar, handed out free in coffee shops?), legalizing all drugs would result in a reduction of violence -- just as the end of alcohol Prohibition ended the violence of the bootlegging era in 1933.
To discuss the "schedule" on which we should "allow" people to start exercising certain of their unalienable rights is to join with the Prohibitionist enemy. This is like saying chattel slavery is bad, so we should start gradually freeing the slaves over a period of some decades, as we judge them "ready." You thereby take personal moral responsibility for every whipping, every death, every individual hour of misery and uncompensated toil, from the moment you propose your "gradual schedule" for restoring some limited amount of freedom. There is no "proper sequence."
The drug most likely to foment violence is alcohol, which is already legal. By your own theory, then, total machine gun decriminalization is 72 years behind schedule. -- V.S.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal. His Web pages are www.TheLibertarian.us and www.LibertyBookShop.us
Apr. 17, 2005
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Of rats and sinking Ponzi schemes
Last time, we promised to get to the assertion of visiting Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., ranking minority member of the House Budget Committee, that Social Security is "mandatory" -- an argument offered a bit heatedly when I asked him what would happen to all his schemes if younger workers simply refused to keep paying.
"I don't think it was voluntary to start with, in 1935, but I have no question today it is absolutely mandatory," Rep. Spratt told me on March 29. "There is no doubt in my mind that if you don't send in your Social Security taxes there will be tax liens filed against you."
Go to www.cjmciver.org/sapf/ and click on "Second response from the SSA."
There, you will find a letter dated Nov. 18, 1997, from Charles H. Mullen, associate commissioner in the Office of Public Inquiries of the Social Security Administration, to a former police officer of my acquaintance, reading in part:
"This is in response to your recent letter about the Social Security Number (SSN).
"The Social Security Act does not require a person to have an SSN to live and work in the United States, nor does it require an SSN simply for the purpose of having one. However, if someone works without an SSN, we cannot properly credit the earnings for the work performed."
Yes, an employer (with an EIN) is indeed required to ask for a number to complete (without compensation) federal tax-collection paperwork. But if the employer finds the employee has no such number, the employer need only submit the forms to the IRS with a statement that a number was requested but not received. This procedure is specifically laid out in 26 CFR 301.6109-1(c).
How then can the government functionaries (though never under oath) tell us the tax is mandatory?
Because it is -- in those island territories where the Congress has plenary jurisdiction, not subject to the constitutional restriction that "No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken" (Article I, Section 9), a requirement which has been found to bar a direct federal graduated wage or income tax, and which the Supreme Court in the Brushaber and Baltic Mining cases correctly ruled had not been affected by the purported enactment of the 16th Amendment, which does not seek to repeal the above cited section, but only allows an income tax to be enacted as an indirect excise.
You can look it up. Title 26, United States Code, Chapter 21, "FEDERAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS ACT," Sec. 3121 (b). defines "Employment" as "any service ... performed ... (I) within the United States ..."
But how does the Act then define "the United States"? It directs us at Sec. 3121(e)(2) that, "For purposes of this chapter ... the term 'United States' when used in a geographical sense includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa."
No other locations are named.
Nor are we or the courts or the executive free to infer that the authors "must have" meant "as well as the 48 states," since the U.S. Supreme Court in Gould v. Gould, 245 US 151, ruled: "In the interpretation of statutes levying taxes it is the established rule not to extend their provisions by implication beyond the clear import of the language used, or to enlarge their operation so as to embrace matters not specifically pointed out. In case of doubt, they are construed most strongly against the government and in favor of the citizen."
No federal court will or ever has allowed the top Treasury lawyers to be placed under oath and asked to explain why the FIC Act doesn't say "and the 50 states, those being Alabama, Alaska," etc., if that's what it means, and why on earth the law has never been amended to so read, despite legal scholars assiduously pointing out this devious little anomaly for 70 years.
Furthermore, even if participation in the "Social Security" intergenerational income-transfer Ponzi scheme were currently mandatory, then-Treasury Secretary William Simon warned in an article in the Nov. 3, 1976, Wall Street Journal that because the Trust Fund "has not been allowed to grow to more than a fraction of the required size" for long-term solvency. "When the current workers retire, they will be completely dependent upon future workers for their benefits. Their position is even more vulnerable, should anything go wrong with this delicate balance. ... Each generation has the power through the electoral process to refuse to pay."
I would argue not only that this becomes more likely as taxes go up and benefits are reduced, but that it could also happen de facto, whether or not a vote is allowed, through the mechanism of more and more young people simply performing more and more of their labor (online, perhaps) in the untaxed "gray market."
This -- not fear of enemy terrorism or evil drug dealers -- is why the federal government is now dragooning everyone from bank tellers to supermarket clerks to pawnbrokers into the uncompensated government spy service, trying desperately to track the movement of any sum of cash or valuables worth more than $5,000, introducing "Suspicious Financial Transaction Reporting Forms" and going so far as to create the new crime of "structuring" to nab anyone who goes from supermarket to supermarket, buying multiple $900 money orders on the same day.
They're afraid the rats are getting ready to abandon their sinking Ponzi schemes.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of "The Black Arrow." His Web sites are www.TheLibertarian.us and www.LibertyBookShop.us.
About Face - Ray Krone's got it all. A new look. Money. Problem is, he can't seem to forgive those who screwed up and put him on Arizona's death row
BY ROBERT NELSON
Spring is coming, and buds now speckle the granite gray woods of southeastern Pennsylvania with forest green. The sun is shining, the melting snow is glaring. It's all so bright that Ray Krone needs sunglasses.
He'd like some Oakleys. Something functional but stylish to go with the new hair and Chiclet-white new teeth he got from the television show Extreme Makeover. You know, something to wear on the way to all those speaking engagements. He will soon break out his sky-blue, mint-condition 1974 Corvette from the shed.
Off with the top. Spring air. New hair. Styling. Cruising.
It's a significant improvement over Arizona's death row -- where he lived from 1992 to 1995, after he was wrongfully convicted of the brutal murder of a cocktail waitress at a downtown Phoenix bar.
In 1995, he received a new trial, but then was reconvicted based almost completely on the word of a bite-mark expert who nine other forensic dentists said was wrong.
Even the judge, who gave Krone life imprisonment instead of the death penalty he had received at the conclusion of his first trial, was aware something was wrong:
"The court is left with a residual or lingering doubt about the clear identity of the killer," Superior Court Judge James McDougall wrote after sentencing.
It took six more years before a judge forced the police and prosecutors to turn over evidence in the case for retesting.
Numerous pieces of that evidence, which Phoenix police and Maricopa County prosecutors had been sitting on for 10 years, not only showed no link between Krone and the murder, it all clearly pointed to another man, Kenneth Phillips.
Krone was released from prison in 2002, fully exonerated.
He just won a $1.4 million settlement from Maricopa County for the bad work of county prosecutors. He still has a case against the City of Phoenix, which should bring him millions more for the stunning ineptitude of police and lab technicians in the case.
He plans to buy a farm near his Pennsylvania hometown and far away from the state that incarcerated him.
So, yes, he's happy -- most of the time.
And, yes, he can forgive -- most of the time.
But it's still situational forgiveness. How could it not be?
Just drop the name Noel Levy, the county prosecutor who slaughtered Krone's character and ignored testimony from genuine dental experts while twice landing a wrongful murder conviction on him.
Or Phoenix Police Department homicide detective Charles Gregory, who also ignored evidence pointing to the real killer.
Or forensic dental expert Ray Rawson, whose bogus testimony was the foundation of both of Krone's convictions.
Or crime lab technician Scott Piette, who for some reason never tested hair, blood and fingerprints taken from the crime scene that were left by the man now believed to have committed the murder, Kenneth Phillips, who is already in prison for other violent sex crimes.
As Krone learns more through his lawsuit against the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County, filed in 2002 soon after he was set free, it becomes clearer that these four men -- Levy, Gregory, Rawson and Piette -- are the reason Krone spent a decade in prison for a murder he did not commit.
A nor'easter is crawling up the coast toward eastern Pennsylvania this spring day, and Krone's knuckles turn white on the steering wheel.
It's the taxpayers who will have to pay for the incompetence of these men, he growls. It should be these guys who pay, he says. They should taste just a few moments of the decade of hell they put him through. Something.
"You know, if it was just a series of mistakes, and these guys would have stood up and apologized, I think I could completely get over it," he says as he drives. "But that's not what happened. They grabbed me and then built a case out of nothing, and then they covered it up. As I'm forced to see more clearly what they did to me, it's really tough not to be angry.
"And beyond that, as a citizen, it's just scary as hell."
Because as more is learned about the investigation and first conviction of Ray Krone in 1992 for the brutal murder of Kim Ancona, the more it becomes clear that police and prosecutors could have grabbed just about any Valley resident and escorted him to death row.
Just as bad, Phoenix police ignored numerous clues that pointed to the actual killer, Phillips, thereby leaving him on the streets to strike again.
Krone didn't lose 10 years, four months and eight days of his life. He had them stolen.
But here's the funny thing. Because local police and prosecutors screwed up so badly, because Krone was such a straight-up citizen when he got tossed on death row, because Krone learned so much living for 10 years with killers and gang-bangers while fighting for his freedom, because he was the 100th American freed after time on death row, he now is a highly sought and increasingly well-paid speaker on the topic of American crime and punishment.
Hell, he even spoke to the United Nations.
And he speaks very well. And now, with straight teeth, smooth skin and new hair, he's preppy good-looking.
He looks so much better now that you realize how lucky he was not to be this attractive in prison.
And this can be his new life, if he can keep anger from eating him up.
His knuckles take the color of flesh again. He sees an old pub he used to frequent with buddies back in the late '70s. He pulls in. He enters, and people turn to him, smile and welcome him like he's a squire.
And so he's back to what he has going for him, not what was taken.
"I am so lucky -- family, friends, everything now," he says. "It's just a matter of focusing on what is and not what was."
Kim Ancona had spent much of December 28, 1991, lying around the apartment with her live-in boyfriend. He later told Phoenix police that he and Ancona had made love three times before she went to work that evening at the CBS Lounge near 16th Street and Camelback Road.
Delores Kirkland, one of Ancona's best friends, was interviewed by Phoenix police the next morning. Kirkland said she had been in the CBS from about 10:30 p.m. until after closing at 1 a.m. Kirkland told police that not long before closing, Ancona had declined to serve a male Native American who was sitting alone because he was extremely intoxicated. Kirkland described the man as about five feet six inches tall; heavyset; between 30 and 35 years old, wearing shoulder-length black hair and clad in blue jeans.
Kirkland and two other friends of Ancona's left the bar at 1:10 a.m. Ancona asked one of the friends if he wanted to stay while she cleaned up. The friend asked Ancona if she needed help cleaning. She said no, and he decided to leave.
On December 29, 1991, a man later identified as Robert Fredrickson left a note for Phoenix homicide detectives. Fredrickson's note and numerous new pieces of evidence have been obtained as part of Krone's civil complaint against the City of Phoenix.
"Your [sic] looking for an Indian about 5'8" to 6'1". I seen him about 3:30 and 4:30 hanging around back of CBS, about 190-210 -- get him please. Black Hair -- Fat Looking -- Blue Jeans -- I was too far away to make him out good -- his face -- I don't want to go to jail or I would come forward -- I have a warrant [sic]."
Another witness, David Hensen, told police he saw a Native American male hanging around the vicinity of the CBS Lounge about 2 o'clock on the morning of December 29.
Other witnesses at the bar noted that a short, heavyset Native American guy with long black hair had been hovering around Kim Ancona as she served drinks.
Also, a woman who lived in the neighborhood reported to police that, 10 days before the murder, an "Oriental or Mexican male," about five feet eight inches tall, weighing 150 pounds and wearing long, straight black hair and no facial hair, had followed her while she was walking in the shopping center that houses the CBS Lounge. When the woman stopped to tie her shoes, the man came up to her and began shouting that he wanted to "fuck" her.
Kenneth Phillips, a short, heavyset, full-blooded Hopi with long black hair, lived less than half a mile from the CBS. Phillips couldn't go far from his home because he was on intensive probation for breaking into a neighbor woman's house and choking her while threatening to kill her.
Three weeks later, Phillips was arrested for sexually assaulting and attempting to strangle a 7-year-old girl. (Phillips, who is already in prison, has yet to be tried for Ancona's murder.)
The morning of December 29, Kim Ancona's body was found face up in a pool of blood in the men's restroom of the CBS Lounge.
She had been sexually molested and stabbed in the back several times. She was naked except for her dark blue socks. There were marks across her neck as though someone had held a knife hard to her neck.
It appeared she was stabbed from behind, stripped, thrown to the floor and raped as a knife was held to her throat to keep her quiet. She probably bled to death as she was being sexually assaulted, since an autopsy revealed that her left lung was filled with blood.
The knife used to kill Ancona had come from the lounge's kitchen.
Police investigators found 14 shoe prints in the kitchen area leading to and from the area where the knife used in the killing was kept.
The shoe prints were first determined to have been made by a size 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 Converse brand athletic shoe.
Phillips left fingerprints at the scene. Four of his hairs were found on Ancona's back, including one on a naked buttock.
Ancona had cleaned the floor just before she was attacked.
There was a drop of Phillips' blood on her panties.
These incriminating pieces of evidence, however, were ignored -- or buried -- for years after the murder investigation.
Phillips was not then investigated.
There was a jagged bite mark on Kim Ancona's left breast.
Gregory and another detective searched through Ancona's belongings the day after her body was found. They found her telephone book. Police say they found Ray Krone's number in that book.
The odd thing: The handwriting used to write Krone's number in the book doesn't look like Kim Ancona's.
One of Ancona's friends told police that, days earlier, when a group of friends and bar patrons went together to a Christmas party, Ancona had received a ride to the party from Ray Krone.
An acquaintance of Ancona's also told police that Ancona had told her she might be meeting someone after the bar closed. The acquaintance said she thought the guy's name was Ray.
Ancona's close friends told police she never mentioned any such after-work meeting.
At 2 p.m. on December 29, 1991, Detective Gregory visited Krone, who had no criminal history of any kind, at his home.
Gregory noted that Krone's upper teeth were extremely uneven.
At this point, almost everyone involved in the case understands how Phoenix police could consider Ray Krone a possible suspect.
But from that afternoon on, all signs led away from Ray Krone -- and cops and lab technicians and prosecutors ignored them all.
Krone said he sometimes played darts at the CBS Lounge. Ancona was an acquaintance, he told police, but they were not dating. He had once driven her to a Christmas party.
Krone's roommate informed authorities that Krone was home all night. Krone's shoes were all size 11, not 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 -- and he owned no Converse sneakers.
Gregory took Krone to Phoenix police headquarters for an interview.
"I'm there for two hours and 45 minutes," Krone recalls. "It's just going on and on, and he's asking me the same questions. Then he asks me for a hair sample, and they pull on different parts of my head for 15 minutes. So, you know, that's unpleasant. Then he's sitting there calling me a liar the whole time. Then he wants bite marks. So I bite into Styrofoam and they have me moving my mouth forward and backward and all around.
"When that's done, Gregory says, 'Now I'm going to take your blood.' I said, 'No you're not,' and he gets mad. He pulls out this search warrant with everything circled on it and says he's taking my blood. I wanted a nurse to take it, not this guy, because I'm not liking this guy much and don't trust him, and I don't want him poking me with no needle."
A nurse came in and drew Krone's blood.
Then Gregory got tough.
"He says, 'I know you're lying,'" Krone continues. "'We have people who say you had her over for dinner. We have people who know you took her to a Christmas party. It's time to come clean.'"
Krone had had enough.
"I said, 'Get whoever is saying this in here, and we'll introduce ourselves and get this straightened out. That isn't true. Talk to them. Where'd they hear this? I mean, get out there and do your damn job!'"
As the interview dragged on, Krone began to express more and more anger toward Gregory's questions.
Gregory clearly didn't appreciate Krone's insolence.
Based on a New Times review of police records in the case, it seems clear that Gregory, then others in the justice system, fell into what psychologists call "target fixation."
They began to believe that Ray Krone was the only possible culprit. They aimed their investigation toward finding only evidence that pointed to Krone as the killer.
They seemed to ignore any evidence, or any testimony, that pointed away from Krone.
They used a less-than-well-trained lab technician, Scott Piette, and a dentist, Ray Rawson, to create a façade of scientific credibility on evidence that more credible scientists stated emphatically was bogus.
This is how it happened. This is how an innocent man went to death row in America.
One day a policeman came to Ray Krone's door asking questions, and a few days later he was sitting in jail, and a few months later he was labeled a murderer, and a few weeks after that, he was in solitary confinement getting told he's going to be executed by lethal injection or, if he chose, poison gas.
By the end of 1992, Krone was having trouble remaining an optimist.
"That was a bad year," he says, smiling at the obvious understatement. "It's tough to keep your spirits up when you're on that kind of roll."
Still, he figured the truth would soon come out.
But the bad roll lasted 3,769 days.
It has been several months since Ray Krone appeared on ABC's Extreme Makeover.
His teeth were the focus of the show. He was wrongly convicted of murder primarily on Ray Rawson's contention that his crooked teeth matched the bite mark on Kim Ancona's left breast. The press labeled him the Snaggletooth Killer after his arrest in 1992.
The show's producers called him last year asking him to send in an application. Krone decided to play along. Amy Wilkinson, his sister, shot a four-minute video of him talking about his history.
In November, Krone got the word that he had been chosen to spend two months in Hollywood having his appearance reconstructed.
"There was a lot of anxiety; it didn't seem right," he says. But he says he considered the viewership of the show -- an estimated six and a half million people -- and figured it was his best chance ever to get out his message about the need for criminal justice reform.
"That was just too good of a forum to pass up," he says.
Four of his teeth were pulled. He received 17 caps.
The hair implant procedure took 10 hours.
He received a toupee to cover the hair implants until they grew out.
He was fed healthful food, he worked out with world-renowned trainers.
He was presented to his family on January 19 at a ballroom in Hollywood.
His family was impressed. They just hoped he hadn't changed inside.
"You know, we were fine with him the way he was," his mother says.
In the months since appearing on the show, Krone's belly has pooched out from drinking beer with his old hometown buddies and eating dinners at his mom and stepdad's house. He admits he gets stuck in the winter funk of southeastern Pennsylvania.
The point is, though he walked out of prison emaciated, all that's changed in nearly three years back in Dover.
"Now, guys just like to sit around in their garages drinking beer and talking," he says. "I've got to be careful or this gut will get pretty nasty."
So it's off to the Dover YMCA one morning. He pulls off his toupee, throws on some crapped-out gym clothes. It's time to get real.
At the Y, he asks the front-desk clerk about memberships. She tells him she knows his face from television, she knows his story from the local newspaper.
In the weight room, he draws the same stares he draws all over the pre-Revolutionary War township of 20,000 residents where he was raised.
He is comfortable with the weights. Krone is wiry strong. He was a wrestler in high school. And in blue-collar Pennsylvania, wrestling, along with football and anything else that involves rough play, is king.
His body, and his upbringing, helped protect him in prison.
"I guess I could play the part [of con] pretty well," he says.
Now, though, he's a little bit Hollywood, too.
He takes two dumbbells and lifts them up in a military press, then rotates his hands and brings them down out in front of his body.
"My trainer in California taught me that one," he says. "He said he learned it from Arnold Schwarzenegger. [The trainer told him:] 'Do it and you, too, can look like Ahh-nawld.'"
He smiles, and his perfect row of porcelain twinkles in the harsh fluorescent light.
He purses his lips as if a little embarrassed about the perfection.
"I'm still not quite comfortable with it all," he says. "It's still not me exactly."
Krone is staying in a small house his great-grandfather built on land the family still owns. He grew up in a house just a few blocks from where he lives now. His father still lives there.
His mother and father divorced in the early 1990s. His mother, Carolyn, later married Jim Leming.
Together, Carolyn and Jim spent about six years and $200,000 of money they didn't have trying to get Ray freed from prison. They lived in a friend's cabin down by a nearby river as they sold off their property to pay Ray's legal bills.
Once Ray was released, they bought a run-down old house in the country and remodeled it. Now they have a cozy home where Krone often goes for some of his mother's cooking.
He loves people in his hometown. Everybody has been great to him. But, then again, he's getting that itch again to travel. There's more than the obvious reason that he got a tattoo that says "Freebird" after his release from prison.
"I guess I like to keep on the move, see new things," he says. "But it's tough. This really is my home. These are the people I care about the most."
After high school, Krone left Dover to join the Air Force. He ended up at Luke Air Force Base working on computers. When he left the service, he decided to stay in Arizona.
"I loved it there," he says.
After the Air Force, Krone worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier. By 1991, he was a tenured employee making about $30,000 a year, a nice salary at the time for a bachelor.
His mom was hoping the 34-year-old might finally settle down.
But Ray still enjoyed his friends more than the idea of a wife and kids. He liked to travel, make his own schedule. And he loved playing darts with his friends, who, together, won numerous dart tournaments across the Valley in the 1980s.
That's why he was frequenting the CBS Lounge. He could walk over there from his house and play darts.
Sometimes Kim Ancona would serve him beers. They talked, she once rode with him to a Christmas party that a group from the bar was attending.
But they were never romantically involved, he says.
"[The trouble] all came from her hitching a ride with me to a party," he says. "[The cops] heard that, they looked at my teeth, and they ran from there."
For most of the past 15 years, Ray Krone has focused most of his bitterness toward police and prosecutors.
In the past two years, though, he has come to increasingly realize that, even though the cops and county attorneys screwed up and apparently tried to cover their tracks, they were also being badly misguided by police scientists.
To the extent they knew they were being misguided may never be known.
The most damaging and shoddy work in the case was done by Phoenix police crime lab technician Scott Piette.
Piette, who is now studying osteopathic medicine at a college in Philadelphia, did not return phone calls from New Times for comment on this story.
From a New Times analysis of his work in the case, it's clear that Piette had in his hands in early 1992 the means to both immediately exonerate Krone and immediately indict Kenneth Phillips.
Instead, he at best ignored the evidence pointing to Phillips while focusing on bits of hair that, analysis showed, actually could have come from any Caucasian in the world.
But Piette stated that fact differently. He said these Caucasian hairs were "consistent" with Krone's hair.
The devil is in the details of Piette's work.
For example, 17 human hairs were taken from Kim Ancona's body and turned over to Piette at the police crime lab.
The hairs were given designations of 15A through 15Q.
The ones labeled 15A through 15L, according to a police diagram of Ancona's body, came from her chest and belly. Three -- 15N, 15O and 15P -- came from her lower back.
The 17th hair, 15Q, should have screamed at investigators.
It was a long, straight black hair, clearly different from the others. It was found along the crease of her left buttock.
Its location suggested it had clung to her body after her clothes were removed. The floor had been cleaned before the attack, so its location would suggest it came from the killer.
Unlike the other hairs, 15Q also had what investigators call a "root sheath" or "skin tag," material from the follicle that could -- even in 1992 -- be tested for DNA.
Piette's lab notes, reviewed by New Times, are terse and mundane.
At the top, Piette writes "item #A-Q."
He then writes an inventory and analysis of each item below:
The report ends at P.
Q was never analyzed by Piette at the time, or at least never reported.
It was not analyzed until 11 years later, on August 11, 2003, when new crime lab investigators reexamined the evidence from the case, found the hair, and determined that it came from Phillips.
None of these hairs analyzed by Piette matched Krone's. They were, however, deemed to be hair from a white person (at the most basic level of analysis, hairs are identified as Caucasian, Negroid or Mongoloid).
Piette and then his Phoenix police supervisors described their finding as such: Analysis "found the hairs matched victim and Krone." Piette said the hair was "indistinguishable" from Krone's, even though it could have come from any white person.
Piette's words were what the jury heard before convicting Krone of the murder in 1992.
Piette also analyzed, or was supposed to analyze, any blood from the scene.
On Piette's official report, dated February 21, 1992, he stated that he examined Ancona's panties, and "No blood was detected on the woman's underwear."
So jurors in the first trial were led to believe there was no blood evidence.
In 1995, though, a second analysis of the panties by FBI scientists showed droplets of blood. The blood, the FBI proved then, didn't come from Ancona or Krone.
(That blood was again tested seven years later against a database of Arizona prison inmates. The blood matched that of Phillips, who was in prison for attempting to molest a child shortly after Ancona's murder.)
The fact that the blood didn't match Ancona's or Krone's was presented at Krone's second trial in 1995, which he got because the first conviction was thrown out on a technicality.
But the blood evidence apparently didn't matter to the jury.
That's because Ray Rawson swore again at the second trial that Krone's teeth matched the bite mark on Ancona's breast.
Since his release, knowing what he now knows, Krone has also grown to loathe Ray Rawson.
He says, "I don't know how the guy sleeps at night."
Forensic dentistry expert Skip Sperber wonders the same thing, as do several other leaders in the nation's forensic dentistry community.
"What Rawson did is despicable," Sperber says in a phone interview from Southern California. "He made a lot of money wronging Ray Krone [more than $50,000 -- 10 times more than the average forensic expert would have made testifying]. If he had any humanity, he'd give the money he made off that case back to Arizona and call Ray Krone and apologize."
"I'm still flabbergasted," says Dick Souviron, a leading forensic dentist in Florida who also reviewed the dental evidence against Krone that Rawson used to help convict Ray. "It was so clear, so obvious that Ray Krone's teeth didn't match the wound. But Rawson went right ahead saying it did. Stunning!"
Before Ray Rawson, there was John Piakis, a local dentist who served as the on-call forensic dentist for the city.
Piakis had no experience examining bite marks, no certification from any relevant board and was not a member of the American Board of Forensic Odontology. All Piakis had done was take a five-day class.
Piakis, still a dentist in Phoenix, also did not respond to requests for comment.
Piakis, although unqualified to assess the bite marks on Kim Ancona's breast, did say Krone's teeth matched the marks. His assessment was key to prosecutors' getting an indictment from the grand jury.
Prosecutors then went to a judge to block any bail for Krone. They succeeded in getting Krone held without bail by telling judge Michael Jones that "forensic evidence showed that the bite marks exactly matched the dental marks on the defendant."
But police and prosecutors decided they needed a better witness than Piakis for the trial. So Piakis suggested sending the evidence to one of his former dental instructors who was a leader in the field of forensic dentistry.
The evidence went to Skip Sperber, the man who started the National Identification System with the FBI and who's considered the father of forensic dentistry.
And Sperber wound up sending the evidence back, saying he could not endorse Piakis' opinion.
In fact, Sperber said Krone was not the person who made the bite marks on Ancona's breast.
"It could not have been clearer," Sperber says. "Ray Krone had two higher teeth than his incisors that would have marked when he bit. Those weren't there in the evidence."
Krone's defense attorney and jurors weren't told of Sperber's assessment.
Instead, prosecutors hired Ray Rawson, a Nevada dentist who, in a similar case before Krone's trial, had testified that a suspect's teeth matched marks on a victim's body that later were determined not to be teeth marks at all.
It also didn't bother prosecutors that a national study showed that bite-mark investigations resulting in positive matches were wrong two-thirds of the time.
Instead, one day before the first trial started in 1992, prosecutors notified Krone's defense attorney that prosecutors intended to use a videotape prepared by Rawson labeled "Bite Mark Evidence Ray Krone."
In the high-tech video, which Rawson narrated for jurors during the trial, CAT scans of Krone's dental casts, the Styrofoam impressions, and the dental casts themselves were shown overlaid on the bite wounds on Kim Ancona's breast.
Rawson also presented a 39-page color-illustrated report in which he concluded: "It is the opinion of this investigator that the teeth of Ray Krone did cause the injuries on the body of Kimberly Ancona to a reasonable medical certainty. This represents the highest order of confidence that no other person caused the bite mark injuries."
Rawson wooed the jurors. Krone ended up on death row.
In 1995, Krone got his second trial because a judge ruled that his defense in the first trial wasn't given enough time to mount a counterattack to Rawson's wizardry.
Before the second trial, Krone's new attorney, Chris Plourd, with the help of a cousin of Krone's, Jim Rix, went around the country showing photos and other pieces of bite-mark evidence in the case to the nation's top forensic dentists.
Nobody agreed with Rawson's assessment that Krone's teeth were responsible for the bite mark.
Before the trial, Krone's attorneys asked for the critical piece of bite-mark evidence, Kim Ancona's left breast, so it could be analyzed by competent forensic dentists.
They were told the breast had been lost.
It is still conveniently lost to this day.
Before Krone's second trial in 1995, prosecutors spoke with Sperber about his earlier assessment of Rawson's and Piatis' work.
"We all met at Chris Plourd's office," Sperber says. "[Prosecutor Noel] Levy just asked that I explain to him why I said what I did about the evidence. Then he ignored me.
"There were nine other leaders in the field saying Krone's teeth didn't match. Both Rawson and the prosecutors knew that. But they went forward anyway."
In the second trial, Plourd shredded the work of Piakis, Gregory, Piette and Rawson.
But Rawson testified again. He again stated that Krone was the man responsible for the bite marks.
Jurors afterward said it was Rawson's testimony that led them to reconvict Krone.
"I have never been shaken as badly as I was after that," Plourd recalls. "I still can't believe that all happened in a civilized society."
The forensic dentistry community also was stunned. And those who had reviewed the evidence were just plain mad.
Dick Souviron, the Florida dental expert, says he approached Rawson at a national convention before the second trial to talk about the Krone case. Souviron had looked at the evidence. He said it was clear, particularly from Krone's bottom teeth, that he was not the person who made the bite.
Souviron says he told Ray Rawson he needed to "get out of that case."
"He said, 'I know, but I'm in too deep,'" Souviron quotes Rawson as responding.
"I was shocked," Souviron says.
But Souviron didn't call Plourd, he says, because he figured "Krone was sure to be exonerated." When Krone was convicted again, Souviron told Plourd about the conversation and signed an affidavit detailing what Rawson told him.
Rawson denied in a letter to a national board of forensic medicine that he ever made the comment to Souviron.
Souviron scoffs at the idea that he fabricated Rawson's comments:
"What, I'm going to risk my credibility making that up?! He said it. All of this is just sick. It just plain makes me sick."
If anything besides his teeth has defined Ray Krone over the past 15 years, it's his optimism. Even on death row, he firmly believed that "the system would fix itself." Even after the second trial.
Even as the late '90s rolled into the early 21st century, even when it seemed nobody would ever be allowed to take a new look at the evidence.
He says he didn't fear death because he for some reason had "faith in the system" that put him there.
That doesn't mean, though, that he wasn't deeply depressed. After years with friends and family all around, he was alone in a tiny cell.
"It's so difficult to describe what happens to you [in prison]," he says. "So much of you just goes dead."
He spent some of his days building a model clipper ship, a piece of intricate craftsmanship that now is the centerpiece of his mother and stepdad's remodeled living room near Dover.
Every so often, he'd play Dungeons & Dragons with the other members of death row. One of the inmates rewired a boom box and several headphones into a string of headsets. After guards had completed their walk-through, inmates would reach through the bars and pass the string of headsets to the other players. One of the men would be the dungeon master and roll the homemade die made of soap.
"It was actually kind of fun," Krone says.
He also had a typewriter. He would write to family and friends. He would type letters asking for help.
Every so often, someone would be moved from death row to a separate holding area. A few weeks later, he would hear that the man had been executed.
In 1995, he was moved to Maricopa County jail for his second trial. As strange as it may seem, he began to miss death row.
"On trial days, they'd throw me into a holding tank with a bunch of drunks about 1 a.m.," he says. "I'd sit there until the next morning, or sometimes the next afternoon, whenever I'd go to court. It was hell. They seemed to want me to look and smell like crap."
After he was convicted again, he returned to Florence with his new life sentence. There, he was placed in the general population. He was stabbed once, he got into a few fights, but for the most part, he quickly learned how to survive in the yard.
"There's a clear prison code," he says. "Sometimes I still find myself living by it."
For example, in prison, the worst word you can say is "punk." If you are called a punk, you had better fight or inmates will begin treating you as if you really are a punk.
Krone recently threw a friend against a wall after his buddy called him a punk.
"He didn't mean anything by it," Krone says. "But I just jumped at him. It was ridiculous what I did. I haven't got rid of all the prison in me yet."
But life was better in general population. He made friends. He settled into the calm grind of life for guys doing hard time.
His mother, stepdad and sister came to visit as much as possible. Old friends came down from Phoenix when they could. Plourd, his attorney, came to see him.
To every visitor, he'd put on the happiest face he could.
"I knew it was tearing them up," he says. "So, you know, I wanted to be positive and upbeat with them. I didn't want them worrying more than they already were."
His mother says, "You could tell he was always trying to be in good spirits for us. Of course, we wanted to be in good spirits, too. I think all of us were trying not to let the others know how much pain we were all in so the others around us wouldn't worry."
In 2000, Plourd and the family hired Phoenix attorney Alan Simpson to help them with what had become a stagnant attempt to get evidence from the case retested.
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office fought hard against them.
On March 23, 2001, deputy county attorney Patricia Nigro argued in court that a judge should not allow DNA testing because "none of the scientific evidence used to obtain the conviction has been impugned or questioned. None of the scientific methods used to analyze the evidence in this case have been found invalid or unreliable."
Amazingly, that 2001 motion to block DNA testing still relied heavily on Rawson's testimony.
But finally, Plourd and Simpson got the items released.
Finally, that blood on Ancona's panties was tested.
Finally, her blouse through which her breast was bitten was tested.
Finally, that 17th hair was tested.
All of it pointed to Kenneth Phillips.
Krone walked from prison in Yuma on the sunny afternoon of April 8, 2002. Krone's release made more news than it might have, because death-penalty foes heralded it as the 100th time that a death row inmate had been exonerated since the death penalty was reinstated in
And unlike many of the dubious 100, Krone had no previous convictions, a sharp mind and a strong speaking voice. Death-penalty foes quickly were asking Krone to speak to audiences around the country about his case.
As he walked from prison, he borrowed a pair of his attorney's sunglasses to cope with the glare of freedom.
Ray Krone received a hero's welcome when he returned to Dover in 2002. The real heroes, he was quick to note, were his mother, his stepfather, his sister, and the thousands around Dover and nearby York, Pennsylvania, who supported the family and donated time and money to help get Ray freed.
The moment Ray Krone was imprisoned, his family began working for his release.
Early on, their friends and neighbors knew little of Ray's troubles.
"How do you explain it to people?" Carolyn Leming says over dinner at her home. "We just did what we could and figured it had to end soon."
They got some unexpected help from a distant cousin, Jim Rix, a small business owner in Lake Tahoe. He was casually told by his mother one day, "Did you realize you have a cousin on death row?" Rix, who didn't know Krone, decided to look into the case.
He wrote Krone a letter. Krone wrote back describing the case. Then Rix began looking into the evidence.
"At first, it was just curiosity," Rix tells New Times. "I figured he was guilty."
But, he says, he quickly saw something was amiss.
He bought transcripts of the trial. He began reviewing evidence firsthand.
"So I just kept looking deeper, and the more I looked, the crazier it got," he says. "Once I realized he was innocent, it became a mission to help him."
It was Rix who first began sending the dental evidence to other forensic dental experts, all of whom agreed Rawson was wrong.
Rix approached Chris Plourd because Plourd specializes in cases involving complex forensic work. Plourd was astounded by the evidence and took the case.
Back in Dover, Jim and Carolyn and Ray's sister began working feverishly. They, too, took the evidence to other dental experts. They wrote letters to other experts, legal and medical, asking for help.
They finally got Ray a new trial. By the summer of 1995, Plourd and the family were feeling that Krone would soon be free.
The newspaper in York began covering the story. The paper detailed the evidence at the time showing that Ray Krone didn't commit the crime. The community began rallying around Krone's family. Raffles and bake sales were held to help the Lemings, who were spending all their earnings and savings on legal and travel expenses.
After a few days of trial in June 1995, the community of Dover was already planning a "Welcome Home" party for Ray. That's how strong the case seemed to be.
But Carolyn Leming never began celebrating.
"Things had been so messed up for so long, I just wasn't going to believe he was going to be free until I saw him free," she says. "I had a sick feeling. And sure enough."
Sure enough, Rawson's testimony apparently drove the jury to the second conviction.
So Krone went back to prison. The story faded from the front pages. People got on with their lives -- except for Plourd and Ray's family.
Carolyn and Jim wrote a newsletter keeping people up to date on the case.
The Lemings were out of money. They were living at the friend's cabin by then.
"It didn't matter," Carolyn says. "We weren't going to give up."
In 2002, when DNA evidence exonerated Krone, the "Welcome Home" banners went up again. This time, there would be someone to greet.
"It was just amazing," Krone says. "I can't describe the feeling. Everybody was just so great. One minute you're in prison, the next you're in the arms of so many people you care about and who care about you and did so much for you. It's just an absolutely amazing feeling."
In the months that followed, Krone tried to relax amid a crunch of media and speaking requests. He spent a lot of time with friends "just talking about old times and joking." He began dating and soon had a steady girlfriend.
He and Jim built a dining room table together. Krone's neighbor helped him renovate a shed between their homes into a party room with hot tub, bar, TV and dartboard.
After a while, though, his mother started feeling like Krone might be spinning his wheels.
"It seemed like he was changing direction all the time," she says.
And every so often, Alan Simpson, Krone's attorney in the ongoing civil suits, would call him with a new piece of evidence.
"You can't help but get angry as you get the full picture of what they did," Carolyn Leming says.
"Do these people simply have no conscience?" Jim Leming asks.
"It really is hard to hear some of this stuff," Krone says. "You can't help but ask, 'Why?' Over and over. Why didn't you check this? Why didn't you check that? Why did you cover that up? How could you do this to another human being? I just don't get it. I don't think I'll ever get it."
Once again, though, Krone stops himself from going down that road.
Look at the present. Look to the future.
The biggest gift from Extreme Makeover came after the show was finished. That's when the show's staff quietly surprised Krone with a contract to work for the American Program Bureau.
Krone's primary job over the past year has been speaking around the country about criminal justice reform. Last year, he was even invited to make several speaking engagements in Europe.
But it was a job that wasn't earning him money. He was usually speaking for next to nothing -- say, the cost of the trip to the engagement.
This is about to change.
The Bureau's catalogue is a who's who of celebrities. And the contract meant that Krone could be making a few thousand dollars a month, instead of a few dollars.
"I think this is it," his mother says. "I think he's finding his calling."
On a recent afternoon, Krone was driving up to a small Pennsylvania college to give a talk on capital punishment.
"This just feels right," he says. "I think this is what I was meant to do. It's like it's all coming together.
"It's rare that people get the chance to turn something so awful into something good. That's ultimately how I have to look at the past. Without it, none of this would be happening. It was an education."
Then he laughs at his own gushy optimism.
"Okay, it was a really shitty education at a really tough school. But it was a unique education. We'll just say it was very unique."
Board cites Colorado City cops
By Kristina Davis, Tribune
The state police certification board decided Wednesday to take action against Colorado City’s top police official and a police officer after their certifications were pulled in Utah on accusations of having multiple wives.
Police Marshal Samuel M. Roundy and officer Vance W. Barlow will have 30 days to request a hearing with the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board or their state police certifications could be revoked, said executive director Tom Hammarstrom.
Roundy and Barlow, who live in the polygamous community of Colorado City on the Arizona-Utah border, also contracted police services to the neighboring town of Hildale, Utah. Their Utah police certifications were pulled March 22 on the grounds they were practicing polygamy, which is illegal in that state. No criminal charges were brought against them.
In Arizona, polygamy is not a criminal offense, but it is prohibited under the state Constitution.
"We are now taking action against their certification in Arizona based on the fact that they were decertified in Utah," Hammarstrom said.
Arizona courts tried a similar case against the town marshal there in the late 1980s that was based solely on accusations that he was practicing polygamy.
After lengthy litigation, an administrative law judge found that no action should be taken based solely on the practice of polygamy, concluding that the practice didn’t injure the public trust in that community.
About 9,000 people live in Colorado City, which was settled by a group of fundamentalist Mormons at the turn of the century after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints outlawed polygamy.
Contact Kristina Davis by email, or phone () -
Apr 22, 11:14 AM EDT
Former police dog euthanized after attacking man
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A retired Pima County sheriff's patrol and bomb dog was euthanized after attacking an 83-year-old man.
The victim, Alexander Dufour, had an arm amputated after the 10- or 11-year-old Belgian Malinois named "Bronco" got out of his yard and attacked him Tuesday on Tucson's northwest side.
The Pima Animal Care Center said the dog was involved in a similar incident in December 2001 while still in the service of the Pima County sheriff's office but while off-duty.
Bronco was retired from service in December, and ownership was transferred to his handler.
Sheriff's Department officials referred questions about the case to the Tucson Police Department, which has taken over the investigation.
Sgt. Carlos Valdez, a police spokesman, would say only that the case has been assigned to the aggravated assault detail.
Bronco worked with the Sheriff's Department from January 1998 to December 2004.
f*ck the 4th amendment!!!!!!
Drug dogs might come to schools
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 21, 2005 12:00 AM
SCOTTSDALE - Drug-sniffing dogs may be coming to Scottsdale high schools.
Drug deterrence is the ultimate goal, Kim Clark, an attorney for the district, told School Board members at Tuesday's meeting.
The discussion comes on the heels of a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office investigation that found that about 150 current and former students used or sold drugs at Scottsdale schools.
The random searches, if approved by the board May 10, would happen during class, not in the hallways, Clark said.
If the dog were to detect a scent, the student would be asked to leave class and open his or her locker. The consequences for possessing drugs on campus are suspension and potentially expulsion.
The Scottsdale Police Department will conduct the searches.
Board member Eric Meyer said he is skeptical about if the searches would curb drug use.
Board member Molly Holzer said she searches are an added tool.
"This sends a strong message that it's not allowed," she said.
However, Sheriff Joe Arpaio believes schools need to go one step further. Monday he sent letters to all Valley school board members asking that they support a random drug-testing plan.
OFFICER WHO LET LEWIS ESCAPE FINE IS REPRIMANDED
LATEST: A police officer who let former child star EMMANUEL LEWIS escape a speeding ticket in Georgia will now be reprimanded.
Former WEBSTER star Lewis was clocked driving at 70 miles per hour in a 45 miles-per-hour zone last week (ends15APR05), while he was towing a trailer loaded with a sports utility vehicle.
The 34-year-old actor got off with a verbal warning after handing over an autograph and posing for a photograph with police officer RON KIRK and the town's police chief.
Although police officers can use discretion in issuing tickets, the Warwick City Council concluded on Tuesday (19APR05) that Kirk's actions were improper. The council ordered that Kirk receive a written reprimand and that the police chief review his department's policies on giving verbal warnings.
Town lawyer TOMMY COLEMAN says he conducted an investigation and concluded the incident was "simply a mistake". Lewis didn't attempt to get out of the ticket, and Kirk didn't ask for anything before issuing the warning, the lawman explains.
of course if he had killed an iraqi civilian he would get a slap on the wrist!
US soldier guilty of murder in Kuwait grenade attack
21 Apr 2005 21:26:55 GMT
MIAMI, April 21 (Reuters) - A U.S. military court convicted an Army sergeant of murder on Thursday for killing two officers in a grenade attack on his comrades in Kuwait two years ago, military officials said.
The court found Sgt. Hasan Akbar, a former member of the 101st Airborne Division, guilty by unanimous vote on two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder, officials said in a written statement.
Akbar faces three possible sentences: death, life in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentencing phase of the trial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was scheduled to begin on Monday.
The charges stemmed from a nighttime attack at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait on March 23, 2003, as 101st Airborne soldiers awaited orders to move into Iraq at the start of the war. Akbar was accused of rolling grenades into soldiers' tents and firing a rifle at those who emerged.
Two officers were killed and 14 troops were wounded.
The last time a U.S. soldier faced a court-martial for murdering a comrade in wartime was during the Vietnam War and the last military execution was in 1961.
Akbar's mother and military lawyers said Akbar snapped in the face of relentless ridicule of his Muslim faith and harassment by fellow soldiers, according to a published report.
Akbar found guilty of murder
Soldier who killed Williams Twp. captain could face death penalty for attack on comrades in Kuwait.
By Steve Esack
Of The Morning Call
FORT BRAGG, N.C. | A military jury Thursday convicted Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar of killing Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert of Williams Township and another officer and wounding 14 others in a grenade and rifle attack at a base in Kuwait two years ago.
The unanimous verdict, reached after less than 21/2 hours of deliberation, means Akbar faces a possible death sentence for shooting Seifert, 27, and tossing a grenade that killed Air Force Maj. Gregory ''Linus'' Stone, 40, of Boise, Idaho.
Prosecutors said Akbar launched the middle-of-the-night attack, which came as the Iraq war began, because he didn't want U.S. troops to kill his fellow Muslims. Defense attorneys acknowledged Akbar's deed, but argued he was insane.
Akbar, who turned 34 Thursday, stood at attention and bit his lower lip when the head juror, a colonel, read the verdict at 3:45 p.m. It was Akbar's first outward sign of emotion since the general court-martial began April 11.
In a penalty phase that will begin Monday, the 15-member jury is expected to hear testimony from the victims' families and others before deciding Akbar's punishment. The jury must choose among three sentences: life in prison, life in prison without parole or death.
If sentenced to death, Akbar would become the first soldier since the Vietnam era to receive a death sentence for murdering comrades in wartime.
Lt. Col. Kurt Didier, a military lawyer, said for the jury to issue a death sentence, it must unanimously find two aggravating factors existed, including that Akbar made an overt attempt to kill more than one person. Those aggravating circumstances must outweigh any mitigating factors, including that Akbar might have been mentally unstable.
Three mental health experts testified at the court-martial that Akbar suffered from mild depression and a sleeping disorder but was not delusional at the time of the March 23, 2003, ambush at Camp Pennsylvania.
The jurors agreed, rejecting the defense argument that Akbar was insane or, in military parlance, had a ''lack of mental responsibility.'' The nine officers and six non-commissioned officers found him guilty of two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder.
Akbar's parents, John and Quran Bilal, who were in the courtroom during closing arguments in the morning, were not present when the verdict was read. Seifert's parents and Stone's mother were.
Helen and Tom Seifert and Stone's mother, Betty Lenzi, filed out of the courtroom and did not speak.
Maj. Rich Patterson, Fort Bragg spokesman, said the Seiferts and other victims' families have declined to comment until after the sentencing phase is complete. So have the three Army prosecutors and two defense lawyers, he said.
Unlike civilian criminal court, where the defense and prosecution each have a chance to present closing arguments, the military allows the prosecution two such opportunities. .
In his closing statement for the prosecution, Capt. Robert McGovern said Akbar valued his faith more than his uniformed comrades when he systematically attacked the top commanders of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team before they could direct a charge into Iraq.
''Sgt. Akbar's allegiance was not to the United States, it was to Islam,'' McGovern said. ''He's not insane. He's not incapacitated. Not then, not now. He's a cold-blooded killer.''
But the lead defense attorney, Maj. Dan Brookhart, urged jurors to set aside their emotions and recognize that Akbar has suffered from a lifetime of mental problems.
Brookhart said Akbar, who as a teenager was diagnosed with symptoms of paranoia, had lost sight of reality in the Army and could not have planned the attack prosecutors have described.
''Sgt. Akbar slowly disintegrated; his mental state was going downward,'' Brookhart said. ''He was operating on fear and confusion. There was no cool reflection.''
With Akbar's military-issued M4 rifle in front of the jury, McGovern told a tale of a soldier who took out his anger toward the Army on officers. He said Akbar, a combat engineer in the 326th Engineer Battalion, stole seven grenades and turned off a generator light outside the commanders' sleeping area.
In the darkness, McGovern said, Akbar systematically attempted to kill the leadership by rolling three grenades into three tents and firing his rifle at fleeing soldiers. Stone, in one tent, was riddled with 83 fragments as he slept; Seifert was shot in the back as he ran from another tent.
''There on that sand in Kuwait, and with his friends exhorting him to live for his family, Capt. Seifert lay dying of internal injuries thousands of miles from home,'' McGovern said.
With that, Helen Seifert wept silently, her husband's arm on her shoulder.
Brookhart countered that the government's so-called ''premeditated plan'' was in fact the last act of a desperate, crazed man who thought his fellow soldiers would kill him after combat started because of his religion.
A calculating person would not leave a large fingerprint on a generator light, Brookhart said.
He said a killer who wanted to hide his identity, as prosecutors alleged, would not have put on a helmet that had his name across the top, as Akbar did. And a merciless killer, would not have stopped killing, as Akbar did.
He also said prosecutors distorted passages in Akbar's diary. On the same days prosecutors say Akbar equated being in the Army with being an enemy of Islam, he also wrote of investing in the stock market and perhaps re-enlisting.
''You just can't pull out quotes one at a time. You have to put it into context,'' Brookhart told the jury. ''This was not a well-thought-out plan. … He acted out of emotion.''
In his rebuttal, the lead prosecutor, Lt. Col. Michael Mulligan, said Akbar's motive was his hatred for his comrades. Every soldier who testified described Akbar as a lazy soldier and poor leader, Mulligan said, but on March 23, 2003, Akbar pulled his seven years of training together to stop them from going into combat.
''He is not confused,'' Mulligan hollered. ''He's a cold-blooded killer.''
Jury Finds Soldier Guilty of Murder in Attack on Unit
by Adam Hochberg
All Things Considered, April 21, 2005 · A jury finds Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar guilty of premeditated murder Thursday at Fort Bragg, N.C. Akbar confessed to attacking his own unit with grenades and gunfire as it prepared to invade Iraq in 2003, killing two officers and wounding 14 others. Akbar faces the death penalty; he will be sentenced next week.
Lawyers: Moussaoui not competent to plead guilty
Apr. 22, 2005 10:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Lawyers for alleged Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui argued Friday that their client is incompetent to plead guilty to crimes that carry a possible death sentence.
The filing came just hours ahead of a hearing before U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who earlier in the week met with Moussaoui and determined he was competent to enter such a plea.
In the latest strange twist in a case that has been full of them, Moussaoui's lawyers filed papers under seal at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., titled, "Sealed Suggestion of Defense Counsel as to Defendant's Incompetence to Plead Guilty and for a Sentence of Death."
Moussaoui's lawyers declined to comment but previously had said such a filing was planned.
Moussaoui is the only person charged in the United States in connection to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. The hearing was scheduled after Moussaoui sent Brinkema a letter saying he wanted to plead guilty.
The mercurial Moussaoui still could change his mind about pleading guilty, which he did once before.
Arrested a month before terrorist hijackers crashed four jetliners into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, Moussaoui is symbolic of a conflict different from any the United States has ever fought.
A French citizen of Moroccan descent who was the product of a broken family, Moussaoui's path to one of Osama bin-Laden's training camps in Afghanistan apparently began when he moved to England and became involved with radical Muslim clerics.
"In London, he was far away from me" and "I was his only safeguard," Abd Samad Moussaoui wrote of his younger brother in a book, "The Making of a Terrorist."
Picked up in August 2001 after arousing suspicion at a Minnesota flight school, Moussaoui was transformed from an immigration violator into a terrorist defendant three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"Moussaoui was a missed opportunity for the United States," Tim Roemer, a member of the Sept. 11 commission, said Friday on NBC's "Today" show. Roemer said better communication by various agencies about Moussaoui "might have unveiled parts of this plot" before the attacks.
Moussaoui's criminal trial was to have been an evidentiary showcase detailing the horror of al-Qaida. Those plans would be scuttled by Friday's scheduled guilty plea to a six-count indictment.
Jumping past a trial, the lawyers Moussaoui tried to fire would eventually be defending him in a penalty phase proceeding, a sort of mini-trial before 12 jurors who will decide whether to spare his life.
Some legal experts say Moussaoui's decisions seem to make no sense, unless he wants to die.
One possibility is that "he was deprived of his martyrdom and feels the only way he can achieve that lofty state is simply to admit to the crimes," Washington defense attorney Richard Hibey suggested. It's an outlook that says "trust to Allah that he will be granted what he wants through the pronouncement of a court."
Criminal defense attorney David Schertler says Moussaoui "defies any conventional sense of what a defendant is and what a defendant is trying to accomplish. It seems that he is using the system to make a political statement regardless of what implications it has for him."
Moussaoui's scribbled diatribes attacking Brinkema, his own lawyers and the U.S. government litter the record of his court case and are posted on the Internet for all the world to see.
Moussaoui is charged with conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, commit aircraft piracy, destroy aircraft, murder government employees and destroy property. The first four charges carry a maximum sentence of death.
Two failed lawsuits in which Moussaoui sought $20 million each for alleged jailhouse abuse provide new glimpses into his thinking after three years of solitary confinement at the Alexandria, Va., Detention Center.
Moussaoui said a guard went berserk after Moussaoui tried peacefully to explain that the United States was cursed by God because of a Sodom and Gomorrah type of society.
In his motions, Moussaoui refers to himself as a "Natural Born Terrorist" and the "Unique Best Lawyer," an apparent tribute to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, whose first name is often spelled Usama, creating the initials UBL.
In the second case, Moussaoui apparently resisted efforts to take him to the courthouse for a scheduled deposition. Moussaoui has been difficult to handle at times, John Clark, the U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia, said.
"He can be somewhat moody," said Clark, adding that Moussaoui's allegations were overdramatic.
Whether Moussaoui was intended to be a participant in the Sept. 11 attacks is unclear.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the purported Sept. 11 mastermind, considered replacing the pilot of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania with Moussaoui, according to the Sept. 11 commission report. Mohammed, however, has told his interrogators that Moussaoui actually was being considered for a second wave of attacks still in the early planning stages.
On the Net:
Moussaoui court case file: http://notablecases.vaed.uscourts.gov/1:01-cr-00455/DocketSheet.html
Taser tag . . . tale of 2 airlines . . . passionate resort . . . ice cream
Apr. 23, 2005 12:00 AM
Tasers have caught national media attention in recent months because of questions about their safety.
Now the stun guns, which are made by Scottsdale-based Taser International Inc., have really hit the big time. They are the subject this week of a parody by theonion.com, an irreverent Web site that presents made-up versions of the news.
In its weekly man-on-the-street feature, What Do You Think?, the site asks its usual group of oddball "real people" if they think Tasers are safe. Here are some of their responses:
• Harold Wilson, sound producer: "You wouldn't be complaining about Tasers if you had a rubber bullet lodged within inches of your heart like me."
• Karl Gordon, police officer: "If you're a cop, deadly force is the last thing you want to use. However, if you're a really twisted cop, a weapon that leaves a suspect flopping about like an epileptic puppy is dead-bang perfect."
• Ellen Anderson, chef: "Tasers are too much of a hazard. I guess the police will just have to go back to using tractor beams."
• Sam Williamson, sheet-metal worker: "I only hope this controversy doesn't affect my soon-to-be-launched national family-fun franchise, Taser Tag."
Terrorist: Bin Laden picked me for D.C. hit
Moussaoui planned White House crash
Apr. 23, 2005 12:00 AM
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Zacarias Moussaoui pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring with the hijackers in the Sept. 11 plot and declared that Osama bin Laden personally instructed him to fly an airliner into the White House in a separate assault.
Over the objection of his lawyers, Moussaoui calmly admitted his guilt in a courtroom a few miles from where one of the hijacked planes crashed into the Pentagon in 2001. His admission set up a showdown with prosecutors, who quickly reaffirmed they will seek Moussaoui's execution.
"I will fight every inch against the death penalty," Moussaoui told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema as he became the only person convicted in a U.S. court in connection with the Sept. 11 plot that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The unshackled Moussaoui, wearing a beard and green prison jumpsuit, told the judge he had not been promised a lighter sentence for his guilty pleas. Then he added, "I don't expect any leniency from the Americans."
Moussaoui, a 36-year-old French citizen, pleaded guilty to six felonies, four of which carry the death penalty. They accuse him of conspiring with the 19 hijackers and al-Qaida leaders in a broad plot to kill Americans using commercial airliners as weapons. The conspiracy included the Sept. 11 attacks.
In a "statement of facts" compiled by prosecutors and signed Friday by Moussaoui, he acknowledged knowing about the plot to fly planes into prominent U.S. buildings, then lying to federal agents after his arrest in August 2001 to avoid exposing the plot.
But in his court appearance, Moussaoui hinted at a possible death-penalty defense. He tried to distance himself from the specific events on Sept. 11, saying that nothing in the statement he signed declared he was "specifically guilty of 9/11."
The pleas ended a three-year legal drama during which Moussaoui attempted to fire his lawyers, ranted against Brinkema and prosecutors and produced arguments over national secrets and access to captured al-Qaida leaders that reached the Supreme Court.
Before accepting the guilty pleas, Brinkema complimented Moussaoui, who in the past had derided her in handwritten court filings.
"He has a better understanding of the legal system than some lawyers I have seen in court," the judge said.
Prosecutors will seek Moussaoui's death, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference shortly after the terrorist's hearing ended.
"The fact that Moussaoui participated in this terrorist conspiracy is no longer in doubt," he said, hailing Moussaoui's "chilling admission of guilt."
Moussaoui was arrested on immigration charges in August 2001 after drawing attention at a Minnesota flight school because he had said he wanted to learn to fly a Boeing 747 even though he had no pilot's license. He was in custody on Sept. 11.
Cracks some jokes
In contrast with previous court appearances where he angrily taunted his accusers, Moussaoui on Friday occasionally joked, calmly answered questions and described for the first time how he was being trained to fly a jet into the White House. It was not clear when that attack was to take place.
"How do you plead?" Brinkema asked him for each of the six felony counts. Each time, he answered, "Guilty."
The judge asked Moussaoui to review the lengthy statement of facts in which prosecutors laid out their case against him. He appeared to carefully review it as hushed court spectators watched intently. Brinkema asked if he understood it.
"Yes, I have read more than 10 times this statement," he said. "I pondered each paragraph and find it factual."
In the statement, Moussaoui said bin Laden had personally selected him to take part in an attack on the White House with a commercial airliner.
Bin Laden told Moussaoui, "Sahrawi, remember your dream," according to the statement. Abu Khaled al Sahrawi was one of the names Moussaoui used.
Brinkema asked defense lawyer Alan Yamamoto, the only attorney Moussaoui has been willing to talk to in recent weeks, if he was satisfied his client understood what he was doing by pleading guilty.
"When I have spoken to him, we have disagreed," Yamamoto said. "He is facing the possibility of death or life in prison. He has told me that he understands that."
4 top officers cleared in Iraq prison abuse
New York Times
Apr. 23, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - A high-level Army investigation has cleared four of the most senior Army officers overseeing prison policies and operations in Iraq of responsibility for the abuses of prisoners there, congressional and administration officials said Friday.
Among those exonerated was Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was the top commander in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004. He was the highest-ranking officer to face allegations of leadership failure in connection with the scandal but has not been accused of criminal misconduct.
Barring the discovery of new evidence, the inquiry by the Army's inspector general and judge advocate general effectively closes the Army's book on whether the highest-ranking officers in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal should be held accountable for command failings that past reviews have described.
Only one of the top five officers, whose roles the Senate Armed Services Committee had asked the Army to review, has received any punishment. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, an Army Reserve officer who commanded the military police unit at the Abu Ghraib prison, was relieved of her command and given a written reprimand. She has said repeatedly that she has been scapegoated for the failures of superiors.
The findings come nearly a year after shocking photographs of American military police stacking naked Iraqi prisoners in a human pyramid and other abuses first aired on national television, and an internal Army report chronicled the virtual collapse of the command structure at the Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad. The misconduct took place in fall 2003.
Only a small number of mostly enlisted soldiers have faced courts-martial for their actions at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, while dozens of others have faced administrative discipline for abusing detainees at other detention sites and battlefield interrogation stations across Iraq.
The review found "unsubstantiated" allegations against Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, former chief intelligence officer in Iraq who oversaw the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib, and Col. Marc Warren, the command's top legal officer. .
Some Democratic Party aides on Capitol Hill, civil rights groups and lawyers for lower-ranking soldiers who have been disciplined voiced dismay and outrage Friday at the Army's findings, which they said would fuel the perception that the Army was trying to protect its senior leaders and scapegoat junior officers and soldiers.
Marana mayor, friend indicted in extortion plot
Apr. 23, 2005 12:00 AM
A federal grand jury indicted Marana Mayor Bobby Glenn Sutton and a friend Friday on charges of conspiracy and attempted extortion in connection with a scheme to blackmail the country's largest garbage hauling company.
Sutton, 35, is accused of using his power to force Waste Management, a multistate company based in Texas, to hire Richard "Rick" Arthur Westfall without giving him any real job, according to the indictment.
If Waste Management refused the men's demands of up to $60,000 a month for Westfall, the pair planned to use Sutton's position to make the company's business suffer, the indictment said.
Westfall, 43, also was charged with making false statements. Both Westfall and Sutton live in Marana.
Westfall once worked for CSU Transportation Inc., which hauled garbage from Waste Management's Marana transfer station. Westfall claimed in a 2002 lawsuit that CSU fired him after he complained to the Arizona Department of Public Safety that trucks were leaving the station grossly overweight.
"This is the first time in the history of our country that the federal government has indicted a public official who wasn't trying to get any financial benefit, but was just standing up for a constituent who was a whistleblower," said Sutton's attorney, Michael Piccarreta.
Piccarreta said Waste Management and FBI Special Agent Clifford Goodman have "created a crime when none existed."
Westfall's attorney, Stephen M. Weiss, had not seen the indictment Friday afternoon and couldn't say much.
"We are going to defend this case vigorously, I can tell you that," Weiss said.
Piccarreta is familiar with Goodman after clashing with him over the investigation of former Tucson police Detective Joseph Godoy, who was cleared of allegations that he lied in two death-penalty trials. At the time, Piccarreta called Goodman "a rogue agent conducting a witch hunt."
Goodman was transferred to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands in 2002.
Neither Westfall nor Sutton returned calls seeking comment.
"Mayor Sutton has a million comments he would like to make," Piccarreta said. "But I've instructed him not to make any public comments until we get to court."
Sutton, who became Marana's first directly elected mayor in 1999, did issue a statement maintaining his innocence.
Marana Town Manager Michael A. Reuwsaat issued a statement backing Sutton's actions in defending Westfall as a whistleblower.
"The town is not aware of any evidence that the mayor ever demanded or received payment or anything of value," the statement read.
Former Marana Town Manager Mike Hein, now Tucson's city manager, said the indictments surprised him.
"The town has very little interaction with Waste Management because the town doesn't do waste," Hein said.
"This is a little bit of a mystery to me," Hein said. "I'm anxious to see what the facts are."
"What role could the mayor have played? What powers does the mayor have that would lead a company like Waste Management to feel pressure?" Hein said.
"The powers of mayors are very limited in towns. They set the agenda for council meetings and break ties. And there were very few ties to break."
another unconstitional law. you can point a stun gun at anybody but a cop. and if you point a stun gun at a cop it is a felony
Governor signs bill on use of stun guns
By Tony Natale, Tribune
April 23, 2005
A bill that makes it a felony to point a stun gun at a police officer was signed Wednesday by Gov. Janet Napolitano.
HB2713, introduced by Arizona House Speaker Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, also requires sellers of stun guns to register the identity of consumers who buy them.
The bill was introduced Jan. 26 by Weiers and becomes official 90 days after the Legislature ends its current budget hearing session.
The bill addresses a weapon manufactured by Scottsdalebased Taser International and used by more than 6,000 law enforcement agencies nationally and internationally, including nearly all police departments in the East Valley.
The bill also:
• Gives citizens and law enforcement officers a legal defense in cases where deadly force is used against criminals who use stun guns.
• Allows a judge to consider use of a stun gun during the commission of a crime as an aggravating factor, leading to a greater sentence.
"Police officers and lawabiding Arizonans can now be assured they will be able to use a Taser system or similar device in self-defense without fear of prosecution," Weiers said.
Passage of the bill was applauded by Tom Smith, president of Taser International, whose company has experienced first-quarter financial losses as well as criticism aimed at safety issues about the Taser stun gun.
"We are very pleased that Arizona took the initiative to pass Speaker Weiers’ bill to permit citizens’ responsible use of Taser technology and provide increased penalties should our product be misused," Smith said.
Contact Tony Natale by email, or phone (480) 898-6541
I love My Vagina
Students' buttons create stir at high school
Apr. 22, 2005 07:30 AM
WINONA, Minn. - The off-Broadway hit "The Vagina Monologues" has gotten two high school students into trouble.
The students were admonished for wearing buttons inspired by the show that say "I (heart) My Vagina."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota has offered to help students fight any consequences from their actions.
The trouble started last month after student Carrie Rethlefsen saw Eve Ensler's play about female sexuality and sexual violence against women. Rethlefsen and fellow student Emily Nixon soon began wearing the buttons.
"We can't really find out what is inappropriate about it," Rethlefsen, 18, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. "I don't think banning things like that is appropriate."
As a show of support, more than 100 students have ordered T-shirts bearing "I (heart) My Vagina" for girls and "I Support Your Vagina" for boys.
Principal Nancy Wondrasch said some in school find the buttons offensive.
"We support free speech," she said. "But when it does infringe on other people's rights and our school policies, then we need to take a look at that."
these piggies get shot up with cocain and then zapped with a taser.
from the sunday april 24 issue of the mesa tribune
PETA protests Taser tests
By Irene Hsiao, Tribune
Brandon Kawecki, 25, wiped the sweat off his face as he removed the head of his furry pink pig costume Saturday afternoon.
"It’s a small discomfort to get the message out," he said as members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other activists protested a proposed experiment of using stun guns on pigs injected with cocaine.
About 15 people holding signs reading "Pigs are loving animals not science" and "Stop Cruel Tests" stood outside Taser International’s annual conference at the Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains.
A $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will be paying for the experiments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but a company spokesman said Taser International is not involved in them.
"We’re hoping to stop some of the experiments they have planned," said Leila Sleiman, 22, a PETA activist and an Arizona State University student.
She pointed out that Scottsdale-based Taser International, which sells the electrically charged stun weapons, has used dogs and pigs in past experiments even if they aren’t conducting any testing now.
"You can’t compare a human on drugs that’s scared to a four-legged animal that’s been anesthetized," she said.
Steve Tuttle, a Taser spokesman, said he is not aware of any tests conducted since the end of 2003, and he said the previous experiments followed protocol.
"It is standard for pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies to use dogs and pigs," he said.
The controversial lessthan-lethal weapons have contributed to the deaths of about 100 people in the United States and Canada, according to an Amnesty International report.
Contact Irene Hsiao by email, or phone (480)-970-2324
U.S. Prison Population Soars in 2003, '04
By SIOBHAN McDONOUGH, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — Growing at a rate of about 900 inmates each week between mid-2003 and mid-2004, the nation's prisons and jails held 2.1 million people, or one in every 138 U.S. residents, the government reported Sunday.
By last June 30, there were 48,000 more inmates, or 2.3 percent, more than the year before, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The total inmate population has hovered around 2 million for the past few years, reaching 2.1 million on June 30, 2002, and just below that mark a year later.
While the crime rate has fallen over the past decade, the number of people in prison and jail is outpacing the number of inmates released, said the report's co-author, Paige Harrison. For example, the number of admissions to federal prisons in 2004 exceeded releases by more than 8,000, the study found.
Harrison said the increase can be attributed largely to get-tough policies enacted in the 1980s and 1990s. Among them are mandatory drug sentences, "three-strikes-and-you're-out" laws for repeat offenders, and "truth-in-sentencing" laws that restrict early releases.
"As a whole most of these policies remain in place," she said. "These policies were a reaction to the rise in crime in the '80s and early 90s."
Added Malcolm Young, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which promotes alternatives to prison: "We're working under the burden of laws and practices that have developed over 30 years that have focused on punishment and prison as our primary response to crime."
He said many of those incarcerated are not serious or violent offenders, but are low-level drug offenders. Young said one way to help lower the number is to introduce drug treatment programs that offer effective ways of changing behavior and to provide appropriate assistance for the mentally ill.
According to the Justice Policy Institute, which advocates a more lenient system of punishment, the United States has a higher rate of incarceration than any other country, followed by Britain, China, France, Japan and Nigeria.
There were 726 inmates for every 100,000 U.S. residents by June 30, 2004, compared with 716 a year earlier, according to the report by the Justice Department agency. In 2004, one in every 138 U.S. residents was in prison or jail; the previous year it was one in every 140.
In 2004, 61 percent of prison and jail inmates were of racial or ethnic minorities, the government said. An estimated 12.6 percent of all black men in their late 20s were in jails or prisons, as were 3.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.7 percent of white men in that age group, the report said.
Other findings include:
* State prisons held about 2,500 youths under 18 in 2004. That compares with a peak, in 1995, of about 5,300. Local jails held about 7,000 youths, down from 7,800 in 1995.
* In the year ending last June 30, 13 states reported an increase of at least 5 percent in the federal system, led by Minnesota, at about 13 percent; Montana at 10.5 percent; Arkansas at 9 percent.
Among the 12 states that reported a decline in the inmate population were Alabama, 7 percent; Connecticut, 2.5 percent; and Ohio, 2 percent.
On the Net:
Bureau of Justice Statistics: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs
Incarceration rate rising since 2000
Group questions drug policies
Apr. 25, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Many of the growing numbers of those incarcerated in the nation's prison's and jail are not serious or violent offenders but are low-level drug offenders, according to Malcolm Young, executive director of the Sentencing Project.
Young said one way to help lower the number is to introduce drug treatment programs that offer effective ways of changing behavior and to provide appropriate assistance for the mentally ill.
According to the Justice Policy Institute, which advocates a more lenient system of punishment, the United States has a higher rate of incarceration than any other country, followed by Britain, China, France, Japan and Nigeria.
There were 726 inmates for every 100,000 U.S. residents by June 30, 2004, compared with 716 a year earlier, according to the report by the Justice Department. In 2004, one in every 138 U.S. residents was in prison or jail; the previous year it was one in every 140.
In 2004, 61 percent of prison and jail inmates were of racial or ethnic minorities, the government said. An estimated 12.6 percent of all black men in their late 20s were in jails or prisons, as were 3.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.7 percent of white men in that age group, the report said.
Other findings include:
• State prisons held about 2,500 youths under 18 in 2004. That compares with a peak, in 1995, of about 5,300. Local jails held about 7,000 youths, down from 7,800 in 1995.
• In the year ending last June 30, 13 states reported an increase of at least 5 percent in the federal system.
Rent flap dividing Tempe
By Dennis Welch, Tribune
Nearly a decade ago, when officials with Tempe Sister Cities wanted to stop paying rent for use of the Hackett House, they called then-Mayor Neil Giuliano.
The historic city-owned building needed repairs, and leaders of the international exchange program said rent relief would offset their maintenance costs. S o Giuliano directed his city manager to take care of it.
Without the needed approval of the City Council, Sister Cities was told they wouldn’t have to pay.
It stayed that way for the following nine years, until an internal investigation of city contracts was ordered.
Now the city wants its money — $20,000 in back rent for the years 1996 to 2004. It’s a relatively small amount for a city that recently recommended approval of a $500 million capitol improvements budget.
But the squabble ignited a strong response from traditional Tempe power brokers who claim the organization has been unfairly targeted by City Hall and the community’s new political leadership.
"Now that we have a new administration, we’re being asked to pay for this," said Richard Neuheisel, president of Tempe Sister Cities. "Someone at City Hall is clearly out to cause trouble."
Neuheisel, a councilman from 1968-72 and president of the Tempe Sports Authority, said the organization has offered to pay more than $11,000 to settle the issue. But city officials said they are still investigating the organization’s financial records.
When the program moved into the house in 1986, Sister Cities signed a contract obligating it to pay 20 percent of its annual profits to the city for use of the building. It won the contract for the Hackett House on a competitive basis against several other organizations.
The Sister Cities program has long been an organization for Tempe’s political and social elite. Its membership consists of former council members, board and commission members and other high-profile community residents.
Harry Mitchell, a former Tempe mayor and current state senator, serves as vice president of the program.
So, when Jane Neuheisel, wife of the organization’s president, contacted Giuliano in 1996, she was speaking with a friend.
It was a different time, Giuliano said. Back then, the city had a better relationship with the organization. Those times are gone now, he said.
"I think it’s a mistake of energy and resources to go after something that happened 10 years ago," he said. "You have to keep this in perspective."
Now, political enemies are out to tear down the program, he said, because there are those who are still upset with the amount of support for former mayoral candidate Dennis Cahill, a strong supporter of the program.
During last year’s mayoral contest between Cahill and Hugh Hallman, Cahill was accused of making two trips to China at taxpayers’ expense. In a piece of campaign literature last year, Hallman compared Cahill with former President Richard Nixon. The political piece stated Nixon only went to China once on taxpayers’ money while Cahill traveled there twice.
Cahill, who won the endorsement of Giuliano, many of the council members and every living former Tempe mayor, went on to lose the election.
City Manager Will Manley said the investigation into the program is not politically motivated. He said he ordered the city’s internal audit department to review the city’s contracts two years ago, before Hallman was elected.
Manley said auditors randomly selected 25 to 30 contracts and found that more than half were not in compliance, including the Sister Cities agreement with the Hackett House.
The lack of oversight cost the city about $100,000 in revenue over the past several years, Manley said.
The audit prompted the city to create a new staff position to review and enforce the city’s contracts. But, Manley said they discovered no other cases similar to Sister Cities.
According to current city officials, a former aide to Giuliano was responsible for oversight and enforcement of the Sister Cities’ Hackett contract.
But no one, including Giuliano, can remember what actions were taken to absolve the program from paying.
Although the organization’s officials said the former city manager told them not to pay, any change to the contract requires a vote by the council.
Change made without its authorization is a violation of the city charter.
Current Mayor Hugh Hallman would not comment on the issue, saying only that he supports the work Sister Cities has done over the years.
Despite their differences over how much money is owed in back rent, the city has continued allocating $20,000 a year to support the organization’s efforts, according to city records.
That money is used to help the organization with its printing, mailing and various administrative duties, said city communications director Jeff Kulaga.
Ken Jones, an auditor with the city, said Sister Cities has agreed to pay, but the two are continuing to negotiate the amount.
Because the financial records provided to the city by Sister Cities were so general and incomplete, Jones said he has asked for detailed financial statements.
If the organization refuses to pay by May 15, the city will turn the issue over to the city attorney’s office to pursue a breach of contract, Jones stated in a letter to Sister Cities.
In addition, he is asking the organization to provide an annual financial report to the city by June 15, the letter stated.
Contact Dennis Welch by email, or phone (480) 898-6573
killer cop daniel lovelace wants his job back
Lovelace hearing set to resume
By Chris Markham, Tribune
Former Chandler police officer Daniel Lovelace is expected to testify this week as a city personnel board resumes hearing testimony on whether the fired officer should return to work.
Lovelace fatally shot Dawn Rae Nelson on Oct. 11, 2002, while she attempted to fill a fake prescription at a Chandler drugstore.
He was fired about a month later, after a Chandler Police Department investigation determined he was guilty of four city personnel violations.
Lovelace was later tried and acquitted by a jury in Maricopa County Superior Court on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and endangerment in Nelson’s death.
Chandler’s Merit System Board is scheduled to meet Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with six witnesses — including four Chandler police officers and a city prosecutor — slated to testify on Lovelace’s behalf.
Lovelace himself is also expected to testify at some point during the hearings, said city spokesman David Bigos.
Once the hearings are closed, the board will deliberate in closed session on what recommendations to make to City Manager Mark Pentz, who will ultimately decide whether to reinstate Lovelace.
Contact Chris Markham by email, or phone (480) 898-6486
post office says it is not liable for its actions
Apr 25, 1:20 PM EDT
Court Takes Case of Fallen Postal Customer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider the case of an injured postal customer who slipped and fell on mail delivered to the porch of her home instead of to her mailbox.
Barbara Dolan, who is suing the U.S. Postal Service for the back and wrist injuries she suffered, lost in the lower courts when the government successfully argued it is immune from claims for negligent mail delivery.
Dolan's lawyer pointed out that different federal circuits have defined mail delivery differently, requiring the nation's highest court to resolve the matter.
The case involves a federal law which bars claims arising out of the "loss, miscarriage or negligent transmission of letters or postal matter."
The exclusion was not meant to prevent people from negligently placing letters, packages and magazines in such a way that they cause someone to fall and suffer serious injuries, Dolan's attorney said in papers filed with the Supreme Court.
Federal courts in eastern Pennsylvania, where Dolan lives, decided on an expansive definition of negligent transmission, saying that it ended when the postal service deposited the material on Dolan's porch, thus barring her claim.
Federal courts in New York say that negligent transmission is limited to the loss or mis-carriage of postal material, a more narrowly defined exception which would seem to allow claims like Dolan's.
Apr 25, 10:27 AM EDT
Supreme Court Declines to Hear POWs' Case
By HOPE YEN
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider whether U.S. prisoners of war who say they were tortured during the 1991 Gulf War should collect a $959 million judgment from Iraq.
The justices let stand a lower court ruling that threw out the lawsuit by the 17 former POWs and 37 family members. That ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last year, said Congress never authorized such lawsuits against foreign governments.
The dispute pitted the Bush administration, which argued the money was needed to rebuild Iraq, against former service members.
The decision by the appellate court "runs roughshod over decades of United States dedication to the laws of war, and sends a message to United States military personnel that while they protect their country, their country will not protect them," wrote the National League of POW/MIA Families in a friend-of-the-court filing.
The administration countered that the courts should defer to the executive branch on foreign policy decisions. It suggested in filings that the president may seek compensation for the POWs through diplomatic means once the new Iraqi regime is "firmly established."
At issue was a 1996 federal law that allows Americans to collect damages for hostage-taking, torture or murder committed by officials of foreign states who are designated as "state sponsors of terrorism" by the State Department. At the time, Iraq was listed as one such state.
The 17 POWs filed their lawsuit in 2002, alleging that they endured severe beatings, starvation, electric shock, threats of amputation and dismemberment and continual death threats.
Nearly 125 pages of the complaint detail the servicemen's stories, including those of Marine Maj. Michael Craig Berryman, who said his legs were beaten with a metal pipe and a wooden ax handle; Marine Col. Clifford Acree, who said he was so near starvation he could "feel his body consuming itself;" and Navy Cmdr. Lawrence Slade, whose body was described as so blue from bruises that it was "as if he had been dipped in indigo dye."
The Iraqi government never appeared in U.S. court to argue its case, leading to the default judgment in 2003 that the POWs planned to obtain from $1.7 billion in assets frozen by the U.S. government.
By then, however, the U.S. had invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein from power. Soon after, the Justice Department intervened in the lawsuit, saying the money was needed to rebuild Iraq.
Government lawyers also argued that the POWs weren't entitled to the judgment because President Bush made an official determination in May 2003 that a statute allowing payment from frozen assets wasn't applicable to Iraq because it no longer supported terrorism after Saddam was overthrown.
The D.C. appeals court agreed, saying the federal statute only allows lawsuits for pain and suffering if they are filed against agents and officers of those foreign states responsible for the torture who are not acting on behalf of their government.
The case is Acree v. Iraq, 04-820.
On the Net:
Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/
Apr 25, 3:04 AM EDT
Suspect escapes from Tucson police car
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A handcuffed suspect escaped from the back of a police squad car after he was found with a stolen handgun, authorities said.
The man, who was not identified, remains at large, said Sgt. Kerry Fuller, a Tucson Police Department spokeswoman.
The incident began Saturday night when police pulled over a rental car driven by a woman at a gas station. The man was a passenger in the car.
During the investigation, police found a stolen weapon in the vehicle's glove box, Fuller said.
The man and woman were handcuffed and placed in the back of different squad cars, Fuller said.
When police were escorting the woman to the bathroom, the man escaped, Fuller said.
It is not known how the man got out of the vehicle.
Gov. Janet Napolitano also thinks the 2nd amendment should be flushed down a toilet
Guns-in-bars bill vetoed
Napolitano sides with tourism industry rather than NRA
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 26, 2005 12:00 AM
Gov. Janet Napolitano said no on Monday to mixing guns and alcohol in Arizona nightspots.
Napolitano rejected a bill that would have allowed patrons to carry loaded guns into bars, nightclubs and restaurants as long as the patrons didn't imbibe. She delivered that veto along with eight others, rejecting more bills in one day since the 16 budget measures she vetoed last month.
The governor risks angering the National Rifle Association, which claims 100,000 members in Arizona and has lobbied for two years so gun owners could dine in restaurants that served alcohol without leaving their guns behind.
Napolitano said she is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but she chose to side with Arizona's tourism and hospitality industry, the powerful lifeblood of the state's economy, and with major law enforcement organizations. They all opposed the bill, saying it would invite deadly altercations.
"Arizona's law enforcement organizations have consistently opposed this legislation, and their concerns have not been addressed by the sponsors of this bill," Napolitano wrote in her veto letter. "I am also sympathetic to the concerns of property owners, including the owners of bars and restaurants that would have been adversely affected by this bill."
Although Republicans hold majorities in the House and Senate, overriding the veto would seem unlikely. Lawmakers would need 40 of 90 House votes and 20 of 30 in the Senate. The bill passed with 36 House votes and 17 in the Senate.
Todd Rathner of Tucson, a member of the NRA's national board of directors, said that the bill will return next year and that he doesn't envision any attempt to water it down. He also said the veto could harm Napolitano's chances for re-election in 2006, adding that "law-abiding gun owners in Arizona have a very long memory."
"She says she supports the Second Amendment and supports law-abiding gun owners," Rathner said of Napolitano. "This was her first real test on that, and she failed it miserably."
But bar and restaurant owners such as Phil Miglino of Phoenix were ecstatic.
"We're happy she recognized that it's dangerous for our employees and for the industry as a whole," said Miglino, who owns Nixon's at the Esplanade. "It is also exciting for the recognition of the hospitality industry and how important it is to the state. You can't mess with the golden goose, which is tourism in Arizona."
Added Don Isaacson of the Arizona Restaurant Association, "We believe the state is safer today with the governor's veto."
But gun owner Rick DeStephens of Phoenix, an epidemiologist and "self-defense activist," said Isaacson and other opponents of guns in bars cannot point to any documented incidents of trouble with armed patrons in the 33 other states with laws similar to the vetoed Senate Bill 1363.
"What the (restaurant) association actually fears is that their members will no longer be able to hide behind a blanket no-firearms prohibition," DeStephens said.
"They will have to come out of the closet and state to everyone whether they want gun owners' money or not. They suspect that gun owners will take their money elsewhere, and they're correct in that suspicion."
Sen. Jack Harper, who sponsored the bill, hinted that Napolitano's opposition was rooted in an association early in her career with former Attorney General Janet Reno, whom Harper said "opposes the Second Amendment."
"I believe she is the same liberal she was in the '80s," said Harper, R-Surprise.
Eric Edwards, executive director of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, said, "Guns don't mix with booze any better than driving has."
Posted 4/24/2005 11:43 PM Updated 4/24/2005 11:45 PM
Police on weapon company payrolls
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of police officers nationwide also are on payrolls of companies that supply weapons, riot gear and other equipment to the officers' departments, creating possible conflicts of interest.
The arrangements have involved officers who advise their departments on what equipment to buy, according to a survey of at least a half-dozen companies by USA TODAY.
Taser International, the nation's leading maker of stun guns, says it pays at least 270 officers to conduct training seminars for other police. It also sends money to the survivors of police who are killed while on duty. (Related story: Taser contributes to police families)
When contacted by USA TODAY, several other private companies that supply equipment to police — including Armor Holdings, which makes bullet-resistant clothing; ASP, a police baton manufacturer; and PepperBall Technologies, a maker of pepper-spray repellent — said they also pay officers to train other police to use the companies' products.
Much of the debate over such arrangements has focused on Arizona-based Taser, which in recent months has defended the safety of its products amid reports by Amnesty International and The Arizona Republic that more than 80 people have died after being shocked with electrical stun guns. About 7,000 of the nation's estimated 16,000 police agencies use the device.
Taser's hiring of police as trainers has come under scrutiny in several communities. Police officers in Arizona and Minnesota were being paid as Taser trainers while they were involved in making stun-gun purchasing recommendations for their departments. Last year, Minneapolis police closed an investigation when the officer took a full-time job with Taser. In a separate inquiry, the city of Chandler, Ariz., found no violations. That officer also went to work full time for Taser.
Such arrangements between equipment providers and police have generated no formal allegations of wrongdoing. Taser International President Tom Smith says police are paid about $600 plus travel expenses to oversee a two-day training session on their days off.
"We bring in officers for their expertise," he says. "You don't have nurses train pilots."
Armor Holdings spokesman Michael Fox says the employment of police is "widely accepted" in a competitive industry.
Law enforcement analysts say the arrangements are troubling.
"You have police officers who are supposed to be looking out for their departments when they have another competing interest" in a private company, says David Harris, a University of Toledo law professor who has studied police conduct.
Hartford, Vt., Police Chief Joseph Estey, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, says the arrangements are "a kind of minefield" for police executives. Estey says he "probably would not" allow an officer to work for a supplier.
Equipment suppliers say the police who work for them are not involved in sales. "Police officers learn best from other officers," says Terry Naughton, ASP's director of corporate sales.
One major supplier to police, gunmaker Smith & Wesson, does not employ active-duty officers. "I see it as somewhat of a conflict of interest," spokesman Paul Pluff says. "We don't do it."
i dont have anything against bigamy, a person should be able to have as many wifes or husbands as they want. but those religious zelots always seem to have double standards. one for them and one for the rest of us
Albuquerque man accused of bigamy in Arizona
Apr. 25, 2005 08:45 AM
ALBUQUERQUE - An Albuquerque man known for distributing Bibles to prison inmates has been arrested on a charge of bigamy.
Robin Rushlo, head of a nonprofit company that distributes Bibles to prisoners, was arrested last week in connection with bigamy charges filed in Arizona. Authorities allege Rushlo, 49, has a wife in New Mexico and a wife in Arizona.
He was released from prison in Los Lunas in 2004 after serving about nine years for second-degree murder stemming from the death of his third wife, state Corrections Department officials said.
After his release, he was allowed to pass out Bibles to inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas. Normally, the Corrections Department doesn't allow convicted felons to volunteer in prisons, but made an exception for Rushlo, said Tia Bland, a spokeswoman for the department.
Arizona police issued a warrant for Rushlo in 2001 when his fifth wife discovered her husband, who was then in prison, was still married to his fourth wife in New Mexico.
Arizona authorities allege Rushlo at one point had forged divorce documents from his fourth wife.
"It looks like he forgot to get a divorce and tried making up the paperwork," said Mesa, Ariz., police Sgt. Chuck Trapani.
The fifth wife was able to get the marriage dissolved later in 2001.
A Web site describes Rushlo as president of Matthew Chapter 25 Inc., a nonprofit group that distributed 2,500 Bibles at the Los Lunas prison last year. He was trying to raise money to pass out 17,000 Bibles throughout New Mexico's prison system.
too bad. i think the dozer should be put in a museum as warning to government tyrants that unarmed people can over throw them.
Dozer used to destroy town now faces its own destruction
Apr. 19, 2005 12:00 AM
GRANBY, Colo. - For the past two weeks, machinist Blair Corder has been tearing apart the infamous Granby bulldozer, wrenching welded steel plates off the cab and ramming the war machine with a forklift and jackhammer to chip away thick concrete.
The armored D-9 Caterpillar, used by Granby resident Marv Heemeyer in a June 4 rampage that caused an estimated $5 million in damage and left a huge swath of the small town mountain in rubble, is undergoing complete destruction to stymie novelty hunters.
"At least it's going to be gone," said Corder, who volunteered for the effort in hopes of making a little money off the salvaged materials.
In allowing the Grand County Sheriff's Department to seize the bulldozer under the state public-nuisance law, the local district court offered two options: auction it or destroy it.
"We figured if we asked for it to be sold at public sale, we would lose control of it. Therefore it would be out there for somebody to sell on e-Bay or put it on display," said Sheriff Rod Johnson.
Don Woster, executive director of the Grand County Historical Association, had recommended preserving the tank-like creation for posterity.
"It's a significant event in Grand County's history, and 50 years from now, they're going to be sorry they didn't save it," Woster said. "History is not just the good things that happen. History is what happens."
Heemeyer's slow-moving, hourlong demolition, fueled by his anger at local officials and business owners who supported construction of a controversial cement batch plant, left 13 buildings demolished or damaged and ended when he committed suicide inside the cab that he had welded shut.
He had spent almost a year fortifying the bulldozer with steel plates and 4-inch-thick concrete, finishing it with a layer of grease to prevent anyone from climbing on board.
Sheriff Johnson said he believes the overwhelming community sentiment was to destroy the bulldozer, although there had been talk of putting it on display to help pay for reconstruction.
"To have it where people would see it every time they drove by probably was not a real healthy thing," he said.
With the dozer now sequestered at Midwest Auto Salvage, Corder and his friend, Rich Loos, have been using a special welder that melts the steel with carbon rods and then cracking the concrete off with the tines of the forklift.
Some U.S. Security Agents Chafe Under Speech Limits
By ERIC LIPTON
Published: April 26, 2005
WASHINGTON, April 25 - It would be natural to expect that as president of an employee association that represents more than 1,000 federal air marshals, Frank Terreri would be a reasonably outspoken guy.
But since Mr. Terreri became the association's president two years ago, he has been effectively prohibited by the rules of the Federal Air Marshal Service from speaking in public about airline safety matters. He has never been quoted in a newspaper article or written letters to the editor or to members of Congress outside his district.
These limitations - based on a ban, imposed on all federal air marshals, on speaking about their work without explicit permission - set off a feud last year between Mr. Terreri and the marshal service, part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Terreri, who was suspended from active duty in October after sending a personal e-mail message to another air marshal that was critical of a colleague, picked up his badge and gun Monday after being told that he would soon be back patrolling the skies.
Four days earlier, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Mr. Terreri's behalf in United States District Court in Riverside, Calif., claiming that the department was violating his free speech rights and jeopardizing public safety by preventing agents from serving as whistleblowers.
"He has serious concerns about policies that he believes threaten the effectiveness of the Federal Air Marshal Service that make us more vulnerable to another 9/11-type attack," said Peter J. Eliasberg, a civil liberties lawyer representing Mr. Terreri, 38, who lives in the Riverside area.
The case may end up serving as a test of restrictions imposed on workers throughout the Department of Homeland Security, whose rights to speak out publicly are often compromised, employee leaders say, because of excessive concern about the possibility that their comments might compromise public safety.
"They are abusing the power they have under the guise of national security," said Shawn Moran, vice president of National Border Patrol Council local in San Diego.
The rules given to air marshals are quite explicit. A 2002 employee policy statement says they may not "criticize or ridicule" the agency "by speech, writing or other expression," and they may not "address public gatherings, appear on radio or television, prepare any articles for publication" or release any information about the agency unless explicitly authorized to do so by management.
Limits on public comments by Border Patrol agents are not as well defined, but union leaders say that many agents fear they will be fired if they speak publicly.
David M. Adams, a spokesman for the Federal Air Marshals Service, said the restrictions were necessary because marshals work in plain clothes, ready to step forward only in the event of a hijacking or other emergency.
"Obviously there are certain perimeters about discussing our policies in the media because of the need to ensure the safety of our work force and the flying public," Mr. Adams said.
Mr. Terreri's lawyer said his client had no interest in discussing matters that might compromise national security. In fact, the e-mail message that resulted in his removal from active duty criticized another air marshal who, with permission from management, had appeared in a People magazine article that disclosed operational details Mr. Terreri believed should not have been made public. The article reported that air marshals board the plane before passengers do.
Shortly before Mr. Terreri was removed from active duty, his employee group, the air marshals' division of the Federal Law Enforcement Association of Lewisberry, Pa., called for the resignation of Thomas D. Quinn, the agency director. In a statement released by an individual who does not work for the service, the group said that by requiring marshals to dress conservatively and cut their hair in a military style, and to identify themselves when checking into hotels to get a discount rate, the agency was compromising safety.
Mr. Adams said the complaints came from a small minority of air marshals. He also said that the decision to reinstate Mr. Terreri had nothing to do with the lawsuit.
"There is no longer any reason not to put him back into flight status at this present time," he said, adding that an investigation had been completed into the e-mail message.
Mr. Terreri's lawyer said his client was determined to pursue the lawsuit.
"Secrecy can be the enemy of accountability and security," Mr. Eliasberg said.
Justices Side With Gun Owner Who Concealed Arrest in Japan
By DAVID STOUT
Published: April 26, 2005
WASHINGTON, April 26 - When Gary Small walked into a sports store in his hometown of Delmont, Pa., to buy a pistol, he probably did not see himself as the central figure in a Supreme Court case. But that is what he became.
Before walking out of the store with his 9-millimeter pistol on June 2, 1998, he filled out the mandatory federal form. It asked whether he had ever been convicted "in any court" of a crime punishable by a year or more in prison. Fatefully, he answered "no."
In fact, Mr. Small had never been convicted of any crime - in the United States. He had, however, run afoul of the law in Japan. The Customs authorities there became suspicious of him in 1992, when he shipped three electric water heaters from the United States to Japan, supposedly as gifts.
When he picked up the third water heater at the Okinawa airport, the authorities opened it and found two rifles, eight pistols and more than 400 rounds of ammunition, according to court papers. Mr. Small was convicted in Japan in 1994 of smuggling guns and sentenced to five years in prison there.
Paroled in the spring of 1998, he returned to the United States and his rendezvous with legal history.
His conviction in Japan turned up in a routine survey by the federal authorities of purchases at gun dealers. Not long after he bought the 9-millimeter pistol, a search of his southwestern Pennsylvania home, business premises and car turned up another pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.
Indicted in 2000 on charges of making false statements and for possessing guns and ammunition as a convicted felon, Mr. Small moved through his lawyers to have the charges thrown out, arguing that the term "any court" meant any American court.
A federal district court rejected his argument, and Mr. Small entered a conditional plea of guilty, receiving an eight-month sentence but remaining free on bail while he appealed the district's court's refusal to dismiss the charge. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, based in Philadelphia, agreed with the district court.
But today, the Supreme Court sided with Mr. Small, ruling 5 to 3 that the phrase "convicted in any court" applies only to convictions in the United States. "Congress ordinarily intends its statutes to have domestic, not extraterritorial, application," Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for a majority that also included Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
To include foreign convictions, the majority reasoned, would raise the possibility of tainting a person who had been caught up in a legal system lacking American standards of fairness. Singapore imprisons people for up to three years for vandalism, the majority noted by way of example.
In dissent, Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy said, among other things, that "any" means what it says. "Indisputably, Small was convicted in a Japanese court of crimes punishable by a prison term exceeding one year," Justice Thomas wrote. "The clear terms of the statute prohibit him from possessing a gun in the United States."
As for foreign court procedures, the dissenters said, the majority "constructs a parade of horribles" and "cherry-picks a few egregious examples" like the Singapore vandalism law.
"And it is eminently practical to put foreign convictions to the same use as domestic ones," the dissenters said. "Foreign convictions indicate dangerousness just as reliably as domestic convictions."
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist did not take part in the case of Small v. United States, No. 03-750, which was argued last fall while he was undergoing treatment for cancer.
The Supreme Court accepted Mr. Small's case because federal circuit courts had come to different conclusions on the relevance of foreign convictions in cases like his. Today, the five justices in the majority resolved those conflicts - while noting that theirs might still not be the last word.
Even though they held that the phrase "convicted in any court" applies to any domestic court, the majority said, "we stand ready to revise this assumption should statutory language, context, history or purpose show the contrary."
"Congress, of course, remains free to change this conclusion through statutory amendment," the majority added pointedly.
Council of Europe Panel Condemns Treatment of Guantanamo Prisoners
By VOA News
26 April 2005
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has urged the United States to end what it calls torture and inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The resolution was adopted Tuesday in Strasbourg by delegates from the Council's 46 member states. It said the United States has betrayed its own highest principles in the way it has prosecuted the war on terror.
U.S. authorities are holding about 500 terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.
Last year, a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross said the U.S. military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion on prisoners. The report said the U.S. treatment of detainees is "tantamount to torture."
U.S. officials rejected the accusations, saying the prisoners are treated humanely.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Group condemns U.S. 'torture'
European body says detainees at Guantanamo Bay treated unlawfully.
By JAN SLIVA
The Associated Press
STRASBOURG, FRANCE – Europe's human rights body condemned the United States on Tuesday for using what it termed "torture" on terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and called on European countries not to cooperate in interrogating Guantanamo detainees.
In a resolution, the Council of Europe also urged the United States to cease the practice of secret detentions and to investigate all instances of unlawful treatment of detainees at the naval base in eastern Cuba.
"The circumstances surrounding detentions by the USA at Guantanamo Bay show unlawfulness on grounds including the torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees," said the resolution, adopted by the Council's Parliamentary Assembly.
While supporting the United States in its efforts to fight terrorism, the resolution said Washington had "betrayed its own highest principles in the zeal with which it has attempted to pursue the war on terror."
A Pentagon spokesman said the United States was running "a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantanamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terror." The U.S. government has denied using torture at the base, but investigations into alleged abuse there continue.
About 520 prisoners remain at Guantanamo. As many as 234 have left: 167 have been released outright, and 67 have been transferred to the control of other governments.
Rights Group Condemns U.S. Over Guantanamo
By JAN SLIVA
Associated Press Writer
April 26, 2005, 8:00 PM EDT
STRASBOURG, France -- Europe's human rights body condemned the United States on Tuesday for using what it termed "torture" on terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and it called on European countries not to cooperate in interrogating Guantanamo detainees.
A Pentagon spokesman said the United States was running "a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantanamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terror."
In a resolution, the Council of Europe also urged the United States to cease the practice of secret detentions and to investigate all instances of unlawful treatment of detainees at the naval base in eastern Cuba.
"The circumstances surrounding detentions by the USA at Guantanamo Bay show unlawfulness on grounds including the torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees," said the resolution, adopted by the Council's Parliamentary Assembly.
While supporting the United States in its efforts to fight terrorism, the resolution said Washington had "betrayed its own highest principles in the zeal with which it has attempted to pursue the war on terror."
The U.S. government has denied using torture at the base, but investigations into alleged abuse there are ongoing.
"U.S. policy condemns and prohibits torture," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico said. "U.S. personnel are required to follow this policy and applicable law."
He said Guantanamo detainees receive adequate shelter and clothing, culturally appropriate meals, the Quran, prayer beads, access to mail and reading materials, and medical care.
Also Tuesday, the Pentagon announced it transferred two Guantanamo detainees to the custody of the government of Belgium. It released no details on their identities.
About 520 prisoners remain at Guantanamo. Some 234 have left: 167 have been released outright, and 67 have been transferred to the control of other governments: 29 to Pakistan, nine to the United Kingdom, seven each to France and Russia, five to Morocco, four to Saudi Arabia, two to Belgium and one each to Spain, Sweden, Kuwait and Australia.
Detainees are released when they are determined no longer to pose a threat and to have no further intelligence value, the Pentagon says.
"What we see in Guantanamo has nothing to do with justice," council member Boris Oliynik said. "The conditions there are medieval."
The resolution also criticizes the practice of "rendition," or removing suspects to other countries without judicial supervision for purposes of interrogation or detention.
It also calls on European countries to refuse to comply with U.S. requests for extradition of terrorist suspects to the camp and urges the United States to stop violating Guantanamo detainees' rights relating to their status as prisoners of war.
"The situation of prisoners at Guantanamo is very far from acceptable international standards," said Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian Duma's international affairs committee and member of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.
"Those who fought under the Taliban flag against the United States should be granted POW status."
Subject: Re: Kevin's new address at the 4th Avenue Jail
From: "proton36" <proton36@********.ru>
Date: Tue, Apr 26 2005 9:46:15 PM +0400 (MSD)
Thank you for informing me about Kevin. Please, transmit him my regards if possible.
I wish you all the best.
Rights Group: Abu Ghraib Abuses 'Tip of Iceberg'
Published: April 27, 2005
Filed at 1:51 p.m. ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A rights watchdog said on Wednesday the abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison were just the ``tip of the iceberg'' of U.S. mistreatment of Muslim prisoners.
The abuses at Abu Ghraib are part of a larger pattern of U.S. rights violations of detainees in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.
Its summary of accusations of abuses came on the eve of the first anniversary of publication of photos showing humiliation and mistreatment of prisoners at the Iraqi jail.
``Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg,'' Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
``It's now clear that abuse of detainees has happened all over -- from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay to a lot of third-country dungeons where the United States has sent prisoners. And probably quite a few other places we don't even know about.''
The group said it was concerned the United States had not stopped the use of what it called illegal coercive interrogation.
It said nine detainees were known to have died in U.S. custody in Afghanistan. At least 11 al Qaeda suspects have also ``disappeared'' in U.S. custody, with no evidence of where they are being held.
It said there was growing evidence that prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on suspicion of links to radical Islamic groups ``have suffered torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.''
Abuses there include chained detainees being forced to sit in their own excrement, Human Rights Watch said.
The CIA has also transferred up to 150 prisoners to countries in the Middle East known to practice torture routinely, the group added.
The U.S. military says its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is humane and justified and says it has changed some of its policies in Iraq since the abuses at Abu Ghraib, which included sexual humiliation of detainees.
The photographs depicting U.S. forces mistreating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, once a notorious prison under Saddam Hussein, triggered international criticism of U.S policies.
The former U.S. commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, was cleared of wrongdoing by an army panel last week. The head of the military police unit at Abu Ghraib received a letter of reprimand and was relieved of her command.