Summary: While the news media lulls us into a stupor, the world moves on.
Two Three Four articles from the front lines deserve your attention. Every day we slide towards ruin and tyranny, an ugly combination.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.
— From George Orwell’s 1984
… At that moment, the lawsuit charges, the chief had his boot on Officer Schoolcraft’s face.”
— From the New York Times (see #4 below)
- Fred Reed explains why we’re losing
- America begins to give in to its dark side: “Obama’s personal role in a journalist’s imprisonment”
- Virginia hides DNA evidence that exonerates inmates
- Our title story, our militarized police run wild
(1) Fred Reed explains why we’re losing
“Spinning Business as Usual“, Fred Reed (perhaps America’s sole remaining true guru), 13 March 2012 — Every day it becomes clearer that our wars will not end well for America. Conclusion:
If you suggest that such behavior isn’t a real good idea, the hardnosed will say, what the hell, tell them to get over it, we’ve got a war to fight. Thing is, Afghan men are as hard as any who ever lived, and they take mistreatment of their women seriously. They take the murder of their children for fun seriously. A horizontal butt-stroke to the face of someone’s wife means that you aren’t going to win your war. Pissing on Afghan dead, kicking their doors in at three in the morning, kill teams sportively murdering civilians, all the things that boot camp makes inevitable—they all mean you are not going to win your war.
Even Republicans can tire of killing, or conceivably can. But it is not just the weariness of Americans with endless war that threatens the Pentagon. The Afghans hate the United States, and their soldiers have begun killing US troops. The Pakis, furious at American intervention and random killing with those fun new drones, are at the point of revolt. The atrocities will continue because, after all the medals and stories of heroism at the O-club, the high-fives and the teary-eyed tributes to the fallen, atrocities are what armies do.
When you have trained men to behave in a certain way, don’t be surprised when they do.
(2) America begins to give in to its dark side
Slowly we become more like the Empire in Star Wars than anything the Founders imagined. This describes another big step by America towards the Dark Side (anyone pushing Yemen into barbarism is seriously evil): “Obama’s personal role in a journalist’s imprisonment“, Glenn Greenberg, Salon, 13 March 2012. It’s more evidence that Glenn Greenwald’s column at Salon belongs near the top of every American’s reading (above the reports of stenographers pretending to be journalists writing at the husks of our newspapers. Excerpt (emphasis in the original):
Despite that important journalism — or, more accurately, because of it — Shaye is now in prison, thanks largely to President Obama himself. For the past two years, Shaye has been arrested, beaten, and held in solitary confinement by the security forces of Saleh, America’s obedient tyrant. In January, 2011, he was convicted in a Yemeni court of terrorism-related charges — alleging that he was not a reporter covering Al Qaeda but a mouthpiece for it — in a proceeding widely condemned by human rights groups around the world.
“There are strong indications that the charges against [Shaye] are trumped up and that he has been jailed solely for daring to speak out about US collaboration in a cluster munitions attack which took place in Yemen,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, told Scahill. The Yemen expert, Johnsen, added: “There is no publicly available evidence to suggest that Abdulelah was anything other than a journalist attempting to do his job.”
Shaye’s real crime is that he reported facts that the U.S. government and its Yemeni client regime wanted suppressed. But while the imprisonment of this journalist was ignored in the U.S, it became a significant controversy in Yemen. Numerous Yemeni tribal leaders, sheiks and activist groups agitated for his release, and in response, President Saleh, as the Yemeni press reported, had a pardon drawn up for him and was ready to sign it. That came to a halt when President Obama intervened. According to the White House’s own summary of Obama’s February 3, 2011, call with Saleh, “President Obama expressed concern over the release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai.” The administration has repeatedly refused to present any evidence that Shaye is anything other than a reporter,
“The Exoneration of Bennett Barbour“, Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, 12 March 2012 — “Virginia knows it has DNA evidence that may prove the innocence of dozens of men convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Men just like Barbour. So why won’t the state say who they are?” Excerpt:
In September 2004, Mark Warner, then Virginia’s governor, ordered a random audit of 31 old criminal cases after a vast trove of biological evidence was discovered lying around in old case files saved by state forensic serologists. The testing of those 31 samples led to the exonerations of two convicted rapists. Warner, embarrassed by the revelations, then ordered in late 2005 that every sample obtained between 1973 and 1988 be rechecked. It amounted to thousands of files.
… Now in its seventh year, the cost of the project hovers at $5 million. Nobody has any idea exactly how the Virginia Department of Forensics has conducted its work. Indeed, no one knows much about the specifics of the crime lab’s work at all. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, the state located approximately 800 biological samples of DNA that could be tested. Of those, only 214 were in sufficient condition to yield accurate results. Among these, more than 70 people — one commonly cited figure is 79 — appear to have been excluded as the perpetrators of a crime.
But the state’s authorities did not move quickly to suspend these sentences or contact the individuals or families involved. They did not publicize their findings. Indeed, they denied Freedom of Information Act requests that would have shed light on the problem. Rather, Virginia state officials appears to have devised a system of notifying current and former convicts that is almost guaranteed to lead to the fewest number of exonerations.
… Whatever the percentage of error on the part of Virginia’s criminal justice system, one thing is certain: Only a handful of the falsely convicted have received the exonerations they deserve. Since DNA retesting began in Virginia, two people have been formally exonerated and another, who is dead, was cleared of a rape he didn’t commit. When Barbour’s paperwork is processed, he will be only the fourth person to be exonerated, despite the fact that the state is aware of scores of others who may be innocent.
(update) For more information about our broken our forensics science apparatus:
Few aspects of our criminal justice system demonstrate its irrationality as do forensic experts. Underpaid, overworked, under-regulated — they are the opposite of the picture painted on TV (e.g., CSI and its clones, NCIS). Yet these exaggerated but confident opinions by government-sponsored experts, relying on what are often little more than urban legends, send people to jail — unless they have the money to hire opposing experts. For the rich it’s a contest of forensic gladiators; for the poor it’s kangaroo court.
- “Forensic Science: The Need for Regulation“, Randolph N. Jonakait, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Spring 1991
- “Forensic Science: Oxymoron?“, Donald Kennedy, Science, 5 December 2003
- “”How to Improve Forensic Science“, Roger Koppl, European Journal of Law and Economics, 2005
- “Forensic Science: Grand Goals, Tragic Flaws, and Judicial Gatekeeping” by Jane Campbell Moriarty and Michael J. Saks, Judges’ Journal, Fall 2005
- “Forensic Entomology: Myths Busted!“, Forensic Magazine, October/November 2006
- “CSI for Real: How to Improve Forensic Science“, Roger Koppl, Reason Foundation, 1 December 2007
- “The CSI Effect: Popular Fiction About Forensic Science Affects Public Expectations About Real Forensic Science“, N. J. Schweitzer and Michael J. Saks (Arizona State U), Jurimetrics, Spring 2007
- “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward“, National Academies of Science, 2009 — “With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, however, no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.”
- Trial by Fire – Did Texas execute an innocent man?“, David Grann, New Yorker, 7 September 2009
- “CSI Myths: The Shaky Science Behind Forensics“, Popular Mechanics, 18 December 2009 — “Forensic science was not developed by scientists. It was mostly created by cops, who were guided by little more than common sense. And as hundreds of criminal cases begin to unravel, many established forensic practices are coming under fire. PM takes an in-depth look at the shaky science that has put innocent people behind bars.”
- “Agents’ Secrets, The News & Observer, a series of reports in August 2010 — Horrific revelations about the NC State Bureau of Investigation (the State’s crime laboratory).
- “Scathing SBI audit says 230 cases tainted by shoddy investigations“, The News & Observer, 19 August 2010 — More revelations.
“An Officer Had Backup: Secret Tapes“, New York Times, 13 March 2012 — Red emphasis added. Excerpt:
One night in October 2009, a team of police officers, led by a deputy chief, raided the home of a police officer named Adrian Schoolcraft, and dragged him out of his bed and to the psychiatric emergency room at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. He was held for six days in a locked ward. No judge was involved. There was no hearing.
The decision to take him to the hospital was made solely by armed men who happened to be his superior officers in the Police Department with a vested interest in shutting him up.
… Told he was going to be suspended, the officer said that they should write him up. … The inspector and the chief said he was acting irrationally, and the chief ordered him handcuffed. As he was brought to the floor, a small recorder was discovered in his clothing.
“Recording devices, and everything else,” Chief Marino said. “So he’s playing a game here. Cute.” In fact, another recorder, on a bookshelf, was still running. “It didn’t have to be like this,” Chief Marino is heard saying.
At that moment, the lawsuit charges, the chief had his boot on Officer Schoolcraft’s face.
If you are not angry, then mourn for America. Or get angry. Events have proven that nothing else will push us towards reform. Not reason. Not respect for our history. Not a memory of our Christian heritage (for those that have such). Not our values.
For more information: look around the FM website.