Archive for the ‘Law Enforcement’ Category
[T]he failure of the Johnsen nomination is NOT and NEVER WAS about a lack of votes. No, it is completely and unequivocally about the failure of Barack Obama and his Administration to support their own nominee and stand up for the values she proffered which led them to select her in the first place. This is about Obama, not the Senate, not Republicans and not about obstruction.
The Office of Legal Counsel is the former home of legal hacks/moral monsters Jay Bybee and John Yoo and Dawn Johnsen is unacceptable to head up the OLC because she was critical of legal hacks/moral monsters Jay Bybee and John Yoo? Really?
If you were Barack Obama and were pursuing the policies that he ended up pursuing, would you want Dawn Johnsen in charge of the office which determines the scope of your legal authority as President?
I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t been looking in the right places or because there’s so much more of it around or because Barack Obama’s election made people – especially reporters and editors – braver about reporting this shit but there has been a mini-explosion of stories this week about racist cops, all of them ugly and all but one in the state of the union which I really wish we had let secede – Texas. Here are but three of them.
1. Take That, Granpaw
From The Field Negro comes a brutal and bewildering story out of Louisiana. You remember Louisiana, right? Jena? The nooses? The right-wing dismissing them as a “joke” or claiming racism doesn’t exist and it was all getting blown out of proportion? Well, this story from Homer may help put things in perspective.
HOMER, La.—On the last afternoon of his life, Bernard Monroe was hosting a cookout for family and friends in front of his dilapidated home on Adams Street in this small northern Louisiana town.
Throat cancer had robbed the 73-year-old retired electric utility worker of his voice years ago, but family members said Monroe was clearly enjoying the commotion of a dozen of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren cavorting around him in the dusty, grassless yard.
Then the Homer police showed up, two white officers whose arrival caused the participants at the black family gathering to quickly fall silent.
Within moments, Monroe lay dead, shot by one of the officers as his family looked on.
After a long, drawn-out battle with a state that was dead set against even considering the possibility that it had made a mistake, Troy Davis and his supporters won a major victory when they convinced a Federal court to hear arguments over whether there was enough evidence of a botched prosecution to justify a new trial. Today, that court heard those arguments.
Federal judges weighed Tuesday whether condemned inmate Troy Davis has presented enough evidence to stop his execution.Last month, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta halted Davis’s scheduled execution — the third time his life was spared shortly before he was to be put to death. The judges called their stay “conditional” and scheduled arguments on the appeal.
One judge, Joel Dubina of Montgomery, indicated Tuesday he did not think Davis’s claims are compelling enough to warrant a new court hearing. Another judge, Rosemary Barkett of Miami, said she would like to see Davis’s innocence claims fleshed out in court.
The third judge, Stanley Marcus of Miami, closely questioned lawyers as to whether Davis had cleared the enormously difficult legal thresholds needed to allow his appeal to go any further.
Sounds like a split court. Dubina, a Bush I appointee, thinks not. Barkett, a Clinton appointee, thinks yes. And nobody knows what Marcus, another Clintonite, thinks. He seems to be keying on technical aspects and they can go either way in a case like this.
Still, Troy Davis is still alive and his lawyers have a strong case to present to a Federal court that for once isn’t loaded down with W’s ultraconservative ideologues.
Davis deserves a new trial. The first one was a travesty that Georgia should be ashamed of.
As I noted elsewhere, the Bush/Reagan Supreme Court turned down Troy Davis’ appeal for a new trial and did so without comment, as if they didn’t need to explain why they’re allowing an execution to go forward in a case where the evidence was so insubstantial as to be non-existant and 4/5 of the witnesses recanted, claiming they’d been pressured by police and coached by prosecutors eager for a conviction.
The State of Georgia is owed very little respect for the way this has been handled. Along with its other shameful acts – trying to bar the teaching of evolution in public school science classes, or allowing the GOP to steal both Senate seats as well as the governorship with doctored e-voting machines, slime campaigns, and vote caging, for examples – it is prepared to execute an almost certainly innocent man on skimpier evidence than would be required to make you pay a traffic fine.
The GOP has gone way too far, and killing a man to keep from embarrassing the cops who were played for suckers by Red Coles and the prosecutor who may have intimidated witnesses to get a conviction is a good place to get them to stop. We’ve had enough of this revenge crap, we’ve had enough of innocent people dying so the Pubs can claim they’re fighting crime – a bad, sick joke considering how many of them have been caught breaking the law, right up to the president.
I’ve been saying for a while that it’s time to fight back but it was TMiss who came up with a way to do it. Let Sonny Perdue and Coke know we’ll start a boycott of Coca Cola if Davis dies.
It was never much of a chance, not with the robotic law-and-order types conservatives have been able to get assigned to the US Supreme Court filling up the seats, but it was a chance. If there was enough pressure, enough noise, enough people asking uncomfortable questions, maybe even Fat Tony Scalia might have reconsidered for the sake of his almost certainly unpleasant legacy the way he did over some labor law – which he hates – when a woman got screwed. Again.
But it wasn’t much of a chance and now it’s over. The Supreme Court has refused to hear Troy Davis’ appeal for a new trial.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for Troy Anthony Davis’ execution, declining to enter a contentious debate as to whether the condemned inmate was the real killer of a Savannah police officer in 1989.
The court, without explanation, refused to hear his appeal even though seven of nine key prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony since the 1991 trial. Just three weeks ago, the high court had halted Davis’ execution with less than two hours to spare.
The family of the dead officer, Mark MacPhail, is thrilled. They want Davis dead whether he’s the right guy or not, mainly because they want their part of this ordeal to be over.
The front page story – top dead center – of the Savannah Morning News wasn’t about Troy Davis’ stay of execution but about how disappointed Officer MacPhail’s family are that the execution has been put off.
Tuesday’s last-minute stay of execution for murder convict Troy Anthony Davis has left the victim’s family disheartened but still hopeful justice will be served.
“It hurt, honestly,” said Mark Allen MacPhail Jr. “It’s a big disappointment.”
I can understand why they’d want it to be over after all this but don’t they even want to make sure it’s the right guy before they fry him?
The thirst for revenge – on anybody, doesn’t matter who – is the reason the law was developed as an objective force rather than a nemesis. The hopelessly misguided (or deliberately obstructionist and vindictive) movement to make the families of crime victims “part of the process” has injected an element of revenge into our judicial process that is poisoning criminal law. It is less and less about justice than it is about getting back at somebody for a wound.
Frontier justice is attractive in the movies but only because they’re NOT REAL. In the actual world, it’s the next thing to vigilantism and shouldn’t be encouraged.
Five hours before Troy Davis was scheduled to die in the electric chair for a crime he almost certainly didn’t commit, the Supreme Court decided to consider whether or not to hear his plea for a new trial. A scant two hours before his execution time, the Justices ordered a stay until such time as they make that decision.
In its order, the U.S. Supreme Court said if the justices decline to accept Davis’ appeal, “this stay shall terminate immediately.” If the appeal is granted, the stay will remain in force until the high court issues its ultimate ruling on Davis’ appeal, the order said.
The decision is scheduled for Monday. As Thomas Nephew pointed out in his blog, newsrack, in turning down Davis’ appeals, the Georgia Board of Pardons and the State Supreme Court ignored some fairly heavy legal advice.
But the Georgia State Board of Appeals has already rejected a bid for clemency, unmoved by appeals from the pope, Jimmy Carter, and former FBI director William Sessions’s opinion that a closer look at the case is warranted.
The Georgia board can still change its mind; please urge them to do so here (Amnesty International USA). Meanwhile, if you’re the praying sort, now’s the time to start. Troy Davis’s execution is set for 7pm today.
The post was put up before the SCOTUS’ order, but the urgency isn the same. Troy Davis has one more week of life if the SCOTUS turns down his appeal. Click Thomas’ lionk and add your voice. We need everybody.
The one thing nearly everyone agrees on is that Troy Davis didn’t kill Savannah Police Officer Mark MacPhail.
On Sept 23, ten days from now, Troy Davis will die by lethal injection for the murder of Mark MacPhail.
If that doesn’t make any sense to you, consider it Georgia Justice.
In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”
This Administration appears to lie about everything, even the evidence – or lack of it – that it claims justifies holding men and even children in prisons withiout trial for 6 years. Like Ashcroft in Germany, the Bush Administration wasn’t refusing them their day in court because they were dangerous but because Bush didn’[t want us to know they weren’t, that the whole detainee thing had been a bust from the git-go. So why in heaven’s name should we believe them when they claim yet another detainee ought to be killed because he was behind the attack on the Cole?
A Pentagon official announced war crimes charges Monday against a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, suspected of helping to plan the attack on the Navy destroyer Cole in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors.
Military prosecutors said they were seeking the death penalty against the detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi who has long been described by American officials as Al Qaeda’s operations chief in the Persian Gulf and the primary planner of the October 2000 attack on the Cole.
Mr. Nashiri is one of three detainees who the C.I.A. has acknowledged were subjected to waterboarding, the interrogation technique that simulates drowning. Mr. Nashiri was interrogated in the agency’s secret prisons before he was transferred to Guantánamo in 2006.
There hasn’t been a shred of evidence, ever, that Nashiri weas guilty of anything except by the Bush Administration’s unsupported word for it – a word that is worth less than nothing considering its total lack of credibility. Yet the Bush lawyers are demanding the death penalty. For war crimes. Talk about the pot and the kettle.
If one word of that so-called “evidence” came from Nashiri’s being tortured, then legally it has to be thrown out. A co-erced confession IS NOT ADMISSIBLE, not in a civilian court. Maybe in the Kangaroo tribunals the Bushies have dreamed up, but nowhere else in the civilized world. If that’s how they came by it, it’s hopelessly tainted and so is their whole case. Not that they seem to care. They’re going ahead with the trial despite the CIA’s admission, and after all, what do they really have to fear in the way of consequences? Not much, it seems.
A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Syrian-born Canadian man who had accused the United States of violating the law and his civil rights after he was detained at Kennedy Airport and sent to Syria under what he claims was an act of “extraordinary rendition.”
The man, Maher Arar, tried to win civil damages from United States officials in his suit, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled that because he was never technically inside the United States, his claims could not be heard in the federal courts.
While stating that “threats to the nation’s security do not allow us to jettison principles of ‘simple justice and fair dealing,’ ” the majority opinion ruled nonetheless that Mr. Arar, who had been seized as he tried to change planes at Kennedy Airport while flying back to Canada from Switzerland, had no federal standing in his case and that the government did not violate the Torture Victim Protection Act by sending him abroad.
I can hear Lil Dick and Dave Addington chuckling over it now. They got away with it again – on a technicality. They arranged to keep their bloody hands clean even though they arranged for an innocent man to be tortured because technically he wasn’t in the US at the time theyn had him picked up. Giggle giggle. What fun. Put it over on us again, didn’t you?
FISA should never be passed if for no other reason than because the govt can’t be trusted to look at any interests but its own or nopt use its power – whatever powers we give it – to get what it wants. Our experience with Bush proves it’s a HORRENDOUSLY BAD IDEA TO GIVE ANY PRESIDENT THAT KIND OF POWER.
So why is our Democratic Congress giving it to them? Hmm?
The City of Boston installed surveillance cameras in some high-crime areas like Chinatown three years ago, and now they’re citing two murder cases in which those cameras played a key role to justify the installation of even more cameras.
The department has 25 cameras, each costing about $20,000, that can pan, tilt, and zoom, and can be attached to a wall or roof in less than an hour. Regulations require approval from property owners before police can mount the cameras. The department purchased the devices in 2004, and they were first used at the Democratic National Convention.
But in point of fact, it isn’t efficacy that’s driving the camera surveillance boom in police work. It’s conservatives and their demands for low-taxes.
Chris Ott, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned the emphasis on fancy gizmos to replace old-fashioned police work.
“For whatever reason, there is a tendency to look at technical solutions to nontechnical problems,” Ott said. “We’d encourage people to ask questions about whether there are simpler methods, perhaps better lighting or more community policing.”
Dunford said that while community policing is a priority, the funds do not exist to put more police on the streets.
“The cameras are a force multiplier,” he said. “We try to put out as many walking beats as we can, and then enhance those units with the cameras.”
Simple as that. There’s no money, thanks to Prop 2 1/2 and the Big Dig, to add patrols even though everyone knows patrols are more effective than cameras.
Michael Wong, coordinator of Chinatown’s crime watch program, said how effective the cameras are remains a mystery to many area residents.
“After the police put them up, we haven’t heard anything from them. I don’t know if they have anybody to watch them,” he said. “The crime here has gone down a lot, but I don’t think it is because of the cameras. We’re walking the streets. If criminals see our crime watch, they go away.”
That’s bad enough, but buried inside the story is the news that Homeland Security also has a camera system installed in Boston, independent of the police system.
The department can also tap into other camera surveillance systems, including those provided by the Department of Homeland Security to monitor areas of the city that may be susceptible to terrorist attacks such as the harbor, parks, and evacuation routes.
This is an all-but-open admission by HS that it is allowing local police to access its surveillance equipment, equipment we were promised would be used only against “terrorists”. But like the rest of the Bush Administration’s promises, that one was a crock, too.
All of this in the name of saving money. Apparently we’re not only willing to trade our civil liberties for the illusion of “safety” and protection from imaginary hoards of Islamofascists, we’re prepared to sacrifice them for something as menial as lower taxes.
Maybe we deserve what we’re going to get.
There has been no scientific evidence of it up to now but recent developments in the Congress have, I believe, proved fairly conclusively that Alzheimer’s is viral in nature and suggests that the carrier of this dread disease is none other than Alberto Gonzales.
Consider: ever since Gonzo’s first appearance before the House Judiciary Committee when he uttered the phrases “I don’t remember” or “I can’t recall” some 55 times in the course of the first 2 hours, a rash of Administration witnesses have appeared who were unable to remember key sections of their lives. Monica Goodling, GSA Administrator Lurita Doan, Kyle Sampson, and what seems like dozens of others appear to have lost access to their memory centers, saying they “can’t recall” who they are, what they’re doing in the White House, or what exactly the “Constitution” might be.
Mr Gonzales’ case seems from his latest testimony to have advanced to the stage where he can barely remember his own name. He can’t describe his position, his duties, or his role in the government, answering as if he thinks he works for Karl Rove in the political office. He became confused whenever anyone referred to him as the “Attorney General”, insisting that he worked for the president directly in much the same capacity as Bebe Rebozo used to work directly for Nixon – getting him coffee, fluffing his pillows, and answering “Yes sir” to anything Bush says.
In the “I’m Holding the Top of My Head to Keep It From Exploding, That’s Why” Dept, via TPMmuckraker, comes this Republican rationale for NOT handing out the subpoenas:
Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) laid it all out. There is “no evidence” of wrongdoing by the White House in the U.S. attorney firings, he says. And since there’s no wrongdoing, it’s likely that Congress will lose its battle with the White House in court. And if they lost, he says, future claims of executive privilege by the White House would be much stronger, since they’d be resting on the Supreme Court’s decision. And that would “make the presidency in America, a much stronger, imperial office.” Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) agreed, saying that Congress was in danger of handing the White House “a blank check.”
There oughta be a sign over the entrance to the Republican side of the House chamber that says, “Abandon All Reason, Ye Who Enter Here” since that is clearly their reigning philosophy these days.
Either that or it has finally dawned on them that the next president is going to be a Democrat.
The Georgia State Parole Board granted Troy Davis a 90-day stay of execution after a commutation hearing on evidence suggesting very strongly that he’s innocent.
The state parole board on Tuesday temporarily halted the execution of convicted cop killer Troy Anthony Davis less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.
The board issued a 90-day stay of execution after a 9-hour closed-door clemency hearing where last-minute questions of his innocence were raised. The board did not release its vote.
Davis still faces execution unless the parole board commutes his sentence to life in prison, with or without parole, before the stay is up. Davis’ lawyers also have appealed his case before the Georgia Supreme Court, seeking a new trial.
So we have one rational move from the Georgia justice system. That’s one out of a dozen, not exactly a streak but something to build on, at least. Now the State Supreme Court needs to grant a new trial and the parole board needs to extend Davis’ SOE until that trial is over and a decision is reached.
Anyplace else (except Texas), we could assume a new trial and the PB’s extension, but this is Georgia, the home of conservative justice where everybody is guilty until and maybe even after he’s proved innocent, and we can’t assume they’ll be rational. Most of them haven’t been so far.
This is conservatism all over: they believe things that aren’t true, and when you prove they aren’t true, they just shut their eyes and yell louder, “I’m right! I’m right! I’m RIGHT!” like a little kid caught in a lie.
That’s bad enough. What’s worse is they’re perfectly willing to let other people die to protect them from having to admit a mistake.
Sound familiar? There’s a pattern here….
It seems that Georgia’s whole justice system is a travesty equal to if not surpassing the abortion of what’s laughingly called “justice” in Texas. Not content with throwing a 17-yr-old in jail for 10 years for having consensual sex with a 16-yr-old girl that she initiated, convicting him under a statute that was meant for career sex offenders, tomorrow it plans to execute a man for a crime it’s patently obvious to everyone he didn’t commit. And there’s one thing Genarlow Wilson and Troy Davis have in common that won’t surprise you: they’re both black.
Troy Davis was convicted of killing a police officer in 1989 on the basis of testimony from the man who was probably the actual killer and from eyewitnesses who now say they were browbeat by police when they tried to tell the truth.
Key witnesses have [said] that police prodded them to implicate Davis. The affidavit from Darrell Collins, the friend who was with Davis that night, was typical.
“I told them it was Red and not Troy who was messing with that man, but they didn’t want to hear that,” Collins, who was 16 at the time, said in his 2002 statement. “The detectives told me, ‘Fine, have it your way. Kiss your life goodbye because you’re going to jail.’ After a couple of hours of the detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke down and told them what they wanted to hear.”
Seven of the nine witnesses at Davis’ trial tell similar stories and have recanted their original statements, now admitting that it was Sylvester “Red” Coles who fought with and then killed Officer Mark MacPhail. State AG Thurlow Baker’s office investigated the shooting (because a cop was the victim) and came to the same conclusion.