Free Markets, Free People

Crime

Anyone else getting mixed signals?

I’m sorry if I misunderstood, but for whatever reason, I was under the impression that this present administration was the administration of law and order which placed the rights of citizens and non-citizens alike in the forefront of any considerations it made.  No more of this “supreme executive” touting the law and  infringing on the rights of good Americans. Why, the administration even made a point of demanding Miranda rights be given insurgents and terrorists snagged on the battlefield.  It made a big deal (from which it has since backed away) about trying terror suspects in civilian courts to show the world we could handle those misfits in our court system.

So how did this suddenly morph into an administration which throws due process down the toilet and orders the assassination of a US citizen – even odious ones with ties to terrorism?

Look, to use one of Obama’s favorite rhetorical flourishes,  let me be clear – bad guys are not people I normally defend.  And I’m no fan of US citizens who’re engaged in activities I’d deem hostile to the citizenry of this country at large.  But that doesn’t mean you can arbitrarily throw “due process” under the bus because it is expedient to do so.  That is unless you also have no problem having that process thrown under the bus if you are deemed some sort of a threat (to be defined as needed later).  I mean this is mafia territory.  You just call Vinny and put a hit out on the guy.  Due process?  The supreme executive don’t need no due process.  Hit him.

Glenn Greenwald, not someone I’m normally in agreement right, fulfills the law of stopped clocks – they’re right twice daily.  He’s absolutely correct in his outrage at the Obama administration:

George Bush’s decision merely to eavesdrop on American citizens without oversight, or to detain without due process Americans such as Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, provoked years of vehement, vocal and intense complaints from Democrats and progressives.  All of that was disparaged as Bush claiming the powers of a King, a vicious attack on the Constitution, a violation of Our Values, the trampling on the Rule of Law.  Yet here you have Barack Obama not merely eavesdropping on or detaining Americans without oversight, but ordering them killed with no oversight and no due process of any kind.

We at this blog were quite clear about how we felt about Jose Padilla and his unconstitutional handling.  Yes, it’s harder than just being a nice nazi and ignoring the Constitutional provisions provided by our nation’s founding legal document.  But it’s harder for good reason – and this decision to assassinate a US citizen points to the very core of the reason.  Without due process as guaranteed by the Constitution, this is how those in power could act arbitrarily.  No longer the rule of law – it becomes the arbitrary rule of men.  And there’s nothing to say that US citizens such a regime couldn’t find “enemies” of the state to be marked for assassination  domestically as well.

Again, I have absolutely no love for this cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki.  Is he an enemy of the state?  That’s what due process is designed to determine.  What we do know is he’s a US citizen born in New Mexico.  Issue an arrest warrant.  Demand Yemen arrest and extradite him.  Drag his jihadist butt into court and try him on the charges.  Present evidence.  Let him face his accusers and try to refute the charges.  And if found guilty, punish him to the full extent of the law.  In this case, I absolutely agree that criminal court is the proper venue for this sort of trial.

But who the hell is Barack Obama to arbitrarily and unilaterally waive Constitutional due process (oh, that’s right, he’s a Constitutional law professor, isn’t he?) and order the assassination of a US citizen?  And as an aside – where are all the liberal voices who spent every waking hour worrying about George Bush’s eavesdropping and loudly denouncing it, forever and ever, amen?  Why are they, for the most part, silent on the subject of assassinating a US citizen?

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Does anyone in the media remember the “Weather Underground”?

Why is it suddenly fashionable to pretend that “antigovernment” is synonymous with “right-wing extremist?” Here’s the Christian Science Monitor:

John Patrick Bedell, whom authorities identified as the gunman in the Pentagon shooting on Thursday, appears to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent antigovernment feelings.

If so, that would make the Pentagon shooting the second violent extremist attack on a federal building within the past month. On Feb. 18, Joseph Stack flew a small aircraft into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. Mr. Stack left behind a disjointed screed in which, among other things, he expressed his hatred of the government.

Bedell was a truther – not a conspiracy theory popular with the right-wing. It is conspiracy theory popular with such “righties” as Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopie Goldberg and Van Jones.

Bedell’s apparent plan was to attack and kill military members in the Pentagon. Again, not the usual territory of right-wing extremists. However, the Pentagon was the target of left-wing antigovernment groups in the ’60s such as the Weather Underground. In fact, some of that group blew themselves up preparing a bomb for an army post.  Ever hear of the Black Liberation Army?  M19CO?  Black Panthers?  Revolutionary Action Movement?  United Freedom Front?  All left-wing extremist groups and all were virulently antigovernment.  Has that all gone down the media memory hole?

Patterico points to a quote from Bedell’s online ranting that casts a different light on the Monitor’s claim:

This criminal organization would use its powers to convert military, intelligence, and law enforcement bureaucracies into instruments for political control, and the domination and subjection of society, while discrediting, destroying, and murdering honest individuals within those services, that work to root out corruption, and faithfully serve their fellow citizens. This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control. This collection of gangsters would find it in their interest to foment conflict and initiate wars throughout the world, in order to divert attention from their misconduct and criminality. The true nature of such a regime would find its clearest expression in the satanic violence currently ongoing in Iraq.

The “criminal organization” to which he’s referring is the Bush administration. This paragraph is the bread and butter of left-wing truther conspiracy theories. Does anyone remember the leftist claim that the World Trade Center destruction would be the basis for the Bush administration to impose martial law? Which side of the ideological spectrum consistently referred to the Bush administration as “criminal” and “war criminals”?

How then does a man who attacks the Pentagon, is a truther and uses the common language of the extreme-left of the past 8 years suddenly become a “right-wing extremist?”  What is driving that rewriting of history?

Oooohhhh:

The Pentagon attack and the destruction at the IRS building in Austin, Texas, come at a time of explosive growth in extremist-group activism across the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such organizations.

The number of US extremist paramilitary militias grew from 42 in 2008 to 127 in 2009, according to a just-released SPLC annual report.

So-called “Patriot” groups, steeped in antigovernment conspiracy theories, grew from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009 – an increase that the SPLC report judges as “astonishing.”

We’ve covered this. And this excuse for “journalism” by the Christian Science Monitor has twisted the Bedell attack into one from the right-wing as a pretext to further pimp the SPLC report. If it isn’t right wing extremism, the author can’t use the report as “proof” of the SPLC’s report’s validity. Apparently, that was the point of the article, not whether or not Bedell actually was a right-wing extremist.  Pretty pathetic in my estimation.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

You can’t make this stuff up

Really. 

A 45-year-old woman, charged with ending a domestic dispute by killing her 26-year-old husband of five days, is a registered lobbyist for a group fighting domestic violence.

I mean the questions abound – 45/26, 5 day old marriage, she pops him – but:

[R]ecords show she is a lobbyist for an organization called the National Declaration for Domestic Violence Order; its Web site says the group is pushing legislation to create a database of those convicted of sex crimes or domestic abuse.

Hey, in a sort of “silver lining” to all of this, she could be the first entry.

Witnesses told police that Bridges was wearing a nightgown and a shower cap as she argued with Rankins on the sidewalk on North Avenue near West Peachtree Street around 10:45 p.m. Monday.

And moments later, witnesses said, they heard shots. They said she then “calmly walked away.”

Nightgown and shower cap out on the street? Sounds more like an attempted escape than an argument.

Truth is surely stranger than fiction.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Terrorism = Burglary

Counterterrorism Czar John Brennan made a comparison this weekend that has landed him in hot water. Speaking at the Islamic Center at New York University on Saturday and apparently in response to a question about recidivism among the Gitmo inmates who had been released, he said the rate was about 20%.

Ok, that’s arguable, but it is a number that has been tossed around by any number of people. That isn’t what got him in trouble. If we stipulate that the 20% of terror suspects released have returned to extremism or outright participation in terror activities, most would consider such a rate unacceptable. In fact, most would not be happy with recidivism at all, but understand that 0% is most likely an unrealistic expectation.

But Brenan thinks 20% isn’t so bad:

“People sometimes use that figure, 20 percent, say ‘Oh my goodness, one out of five detainees returned to some type of extremist activity,'” Brennan said. “You know, the American penal system, the recidivism rate is up to something about 50 percent or so, as far as return to crime. Twenty percent isn’t that bad.”

Indeed, the recidivism rate for property crimes is quite high according to the Department of Justice:

Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%), burglars (74.0%), larcenists (74.6%), motor vehicle thieves (78.8%), those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%).

But violent crime, more akin to terrorism – not so much:

Within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide.

This apparent acceptance of 20% recidivism by terrorists has to inspire tremendous confidence in the public to know the guy who is supposedly engaged in fighting terrorists equates them with the kid who popped the lock on your car and stole your GPS and finds the 20% rate nothing to get excited about . Yes, to him a burglar and someone who blows up embassies are pretty much the same. And he’s quite satisfied that only 20% are going back to burglary, er, blowing up Americans.

Quite satisfied.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

An Arrogancy of Jurisdiction

Suppose I told you that there is an organization which claims to have worldwide jurisdiction (literally, “where the law speaks”) over all matters of criminal law and justice, regardless of who a person is? No I’m not referring to the ICC, but instead to the Obama administration.

The Obama administration is considering a criminal trial in Washington for the Guantanamo Bay detainee suspected of masterminding the bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed 202 people, a plan that would bring one of the world’s most notorious terrorism suspects just steps from the U.S. Capitol, The Associated Press has learned.

Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, was allegedly Osama bin Laden’s point man in Indonesia and, until his capture in August 2003, was believed to be the main link between al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah, the terror group blamed for the 2002 bombing on the island of Bali.

It’s not readily apparent what charges would be brought against Hambali, but a real question exists as to exactly what power our civil judicial system would have over him. In order to pass judgment on anyone, a court must have personal jurisdiction over the defendant, which essentially means that he has some nexus with the place where his trial takes place. With respect to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, there is at least a good argument that his alleged activities with respect to the 9/11 attacks and the World Trade Center bombings creates a connection with the court of record in New York City. In contrast, Hambali does not, as far as anyone has alleged, have any connection whatsoever with the District of Columbia, nor with anywhere else in the United States. So on what basis can a DC court claim to have any power over his person?

Yet that’s just what the Obama administration proposes to do. It is considering trying Hambali in a federal civil court, supposedly for his terrorist actions (which are legion, to be sure) elsewhere in the world. Most famously, Hambali is thought to be the mastermind behind the devastating bombings in Bali back in 2002. But Bali is in Indonesia, not the United States. Indeed, Jemaah Islamiya, of which Hambali is known to be the operations coordinator and chief liason to al Qaeda regarding its Southeast Asia conquests, has not been alleged to be involved in any actions in America or her protectorates. All of which should lead to the inexorable conclusion that our federal courts have no jurisdiction over Hambali.

Perhaps no real harm would come from a court reaching such a decision. It wouldn’t lead to a release of the prisoner, necessarily, since the question of guilt or innocence would never be addressed. But what if, instead, a ruling is made that there is personal jurisdiction over Hambali? Stranger things have happened — witness the vast expansion of judicial power created in Boumediene v. Bush, where the Supreme Court found that its jurisdiction for habeas corpus purposes extended to any person within America’s exclusive control. Should a DC court find it does have personal jurisdiction over a person who has no connection to America except for being captured by her soldiers, that would be paramount to declaring American law and jurisprudence the law of every land. In other words, we would be claiming that our laws “speak” everywhere and for everyone, whether you like it or not.

If you are inclined to believe that holding enemy combatants at GITMO directly aids al Qaeda’s recruitment efforts, how do you think the terrorist organization and her adherents will take to our claim that they, and everyone else in the world, are subject to our civil laws? How will the rest of the world view such an arrogant statement? Beyond satisfying some petty political aims, by taking such a misguided step as this the Obama administration is not doing the U.S. any favors, and is likely damaging our interests.

When Do “Show Trials” Become A Circus?

I don’t think there’s any real doubt that Eric Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 defendants in New York’s federal court was as much about politics as justice. President Obama’s remarks about KSM’s guilt and the outcome of the trial left little doubt this is to be a show trial. And while I’m certainly no fan of Sen. Lindsey Graham, I thought he made Holder look foolish during the Senate hearings into the matter. It was clear, at least to me, that this decision was not well thought out. It was also clear that Holder had no idea of the possible ramifications of his decision. He continually, but ineffectually, avoided Graham’s points – once these terrorists are brought into the federal court system there are a completely different set of rules at work. And while they may indeed get convictions with these particular defendants, it most likely won’t be pretty and it sets a precedent (criminalizing this war) that we may regret in the future.

It is now emerging that even if the administration adamantly denies that these are show trials, the terrorists in question know exactly what they are and plan on using them to propagandize what they did and why:

Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but “would explain what happened and why they did it.”

[…]

Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain “their assessment of American foreign policy,” Fenstermaker said.

“Their assessment is negative,” he said.

Fenstermaker met with Ali last week at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He has not spoken with the others but said the men have discussed the trial among themselves.

But don’t worry – the feds have it all under control. This will be a fair but orderly trial:

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said Sunday that while the men may attempt to use the trial to express their views, “we have full confidence in the ability of the courts and in particular the federal judge who may preside over the trial to ensure that the proceeding is conducted appropriately and with minimal disrupton, as federal courts have done in the past.”

Really? So how does Mr. Boyd and the Department of Justice plan on stopping a terrorist, to whom they just gave this right, from confronting his accusers in court and taking the stand to defend himself?

I mean if this is all about justice and not about, you know, a show?

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

More Valuable Than Gold?

If you’re one of those folks that asks for a seatbelt extender when you get on a flight, you may want to take Peru off your vacation destination list.  And not for the reason you might think:

A gang of killers who murdered to steal their victims’ body fat have been arrested in Peru.

Police said the three people held in the jungle province of Huanuco confessed to five killings and said they could sell one litre of fat for £10,000 to the cosmetic industry.

The men said the fat was sold to intermediaries in Lima, who police suspect sold it to companies in Europe.

No animals were injured in the manufacture of these cosmetics – not.

This is also not a new business:

It is believed six members of the gang are still at large, including leader Hilario Cudena, 56, who Castillejos said had been killing people to extract human fat for more than 30 years.

But:

Medical authorities said last night human fat is used in anti-wrinkle treatments – but is always extracted from the patient, usually from the stomach or buttocks.

There would be a risk of reaction that could lead to lifethreatening consequences if fat from someone else were used, said dermatology professor Dr Neil Sadick.

So the questions – if what Sadick says is true and this his been going on for 30 years, who in Europe is buying this stuff and why?

There’s obviously a market somewhere.

A little Sunday puzzler for you.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Media Continues To Ignore The Obvious In Ft. Hood Murders

Charles Krauthammer takes on the developing media spin about Ft. Hood murders.

That, of course,  is that Hasan’s religion had nothing to do with any of this – instead he had just heard so much from returning vets that he “snapped”. He, in effect, developed secondary PTSD. Says Krauthammer:

Really? What about the doctors and nurses, the counselors and physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who every day hear and live with the pain and the suffering of returning soldiers? How many of them then picked up a gun and shot 51 innocents?

And what about civilian psychiatrists — not the Upper West Side therapist treating Woody Allen neurotics, but the thousands of doctors working with hospitalized psychotics — who every day hear not just tales but cries of the most excruciating anguish, of the most unimaginable torment? How many of those doctors commit mass murder?

It is a pretty untenable and unbelievable attempt to divert attention away from the elephant in the room – the fact that Hasan was a radicalized muslim who proselytized for his religion (something his colleagues heard but neither reported or did anything about), had “SoA” (Soldier of Allah) on his business card and shouted “Allahu Akbar” when he began his murder spree.

As Krauthammer points out the religious aspect of this is something the politically correct crowd would prefer to ignore. Instead they literally invent something to replace it on the fly and in its stead:

Secondary post-traumatic stress disorder, a handy invention to allow one to ignore the obvious.

And the perfect moral finesse. Medicalizing mass murder not only exonerates. It turns the murderer into a victim, indeed a sympathetic one.

And it isn’t a recent attempt on the part of the media. Consider this – not even one full day after the massacre at Ft. Hood, Newsweek’s Andrew Bast wrote this:

What if Thursday’s atrocious slaughter at Fort Hood only signals that the worst is yet to come? The murder scene Thursday afternoon at the Killeen, Texas, military base, the largest in the country, was heart-wrenching. Details remained murky, but at least 13 are dead and 30 wounded in a killing spree that may momentarily remind us of a reality that most Americans can readily forget: soldiers and their families are living, and bending, under a harrowing and unrelenting stress that will not let up any time soon. And the U.S. military could well be reaching a breaking point as the president decides to send more troops into Afghanistan.

It’s hard to draw too many conclusions right now, but we do know this: Thursday night, authorities shot and then apprehended the lone suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. A psychiatrist who was set to deploy to Iraq at the end of the month, Hasan reportedly opened fire around the Fort Hood Readiness Center, where troops are prepared for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. And though this scene is a most extreme and tragic outlier, it comes at a time when the stress of combat has affected so many soldiers individually that it makes it increasingly difficult for the military as a whole to deploy for wars abroad.

Not even a full day after the murders, you have the stage being set for precisely what Krauthammer notes – medicalizing (stress, PTSD, victim) the tragedy instead of pointing to the real reason – or even mentioning it.

Fast forward to yesterday and an AP story:

Rising suicide rates and a shooting spree last week by an Army psychiatrist at a base in Fort Hood, Texas, have raised new questions about the effects of combat stress and the state of the military’s mental health system.

For most, Hasan’s “shooting spree” has raised few questions about the effect of combat stress and the state of the military’s mental health system.

Instead it has raised questions about the media’s insistence on crediting the obvious for his “shooting spree” and why they’re so afraid to confront it? Does combat raise stress – yes, of course it does. It always has. This is nothing new. But given what we’ve learned, that’s not why Hasan murdered 13 people.

Yet, as the AP story shows, that’s still the track some in the media prefer over the apparent truth of the matter.

Political correctness.  As we’ve learned now, it kills.  Unfortunately, not all of us have learned that as AP, Newsweek and a whole host of other poilitically correct apologists for Hasan’s motives continue to prove.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Ft Hood: I Think This Is About Right

Steven Taylor says it:

It strikes me at this stage that trying to generalize from this event about a particular class of persons is no different than taking the Oklahoma City Bombing and assuming that because a right-wing white male was the perpetrator that there ought to be some blanket assumptions that could automatically be made. Or, perhaps a better analogy, those who have tried to blame things like abortion clinic bombings or anti-gay violence on conservative Christianity. In the absence of an actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence, the responsibility for an event like this falls squarely on the shoulders of the person who engaged in the violence, and blaming others (based on religion, ethnicity or anything else) is blatantly unfair.

And yet, people are making wild assertions about the event, as if we really can know much of anything less than 24 hours after the event.

I’m not saying that there isn’t an “actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence” (I don’t know), but until and unless that can be proven, it seems to me that the same broad brush we all condemn when, as Taylor points out, people try to make the same sort of unfounded assumptions about “right-wing” groups, etc is being used by some in this case.

Sometimes a nut is just a nut. And I think we all agree this guy is an absolute scumbag.  But, in reality, given what happened today in Orlando and what we know about Hasan, you could argue that we have seen two disgruntled employees who happened to be mentally unstable try to settle their scores with lethal violence. Unfortunately we have a long and rich history of such events.  We call it “going postal” from all the incidents of disgruntled postal employees shooting up their places of work.

Bottom line? Let’s not make more of this than it is until we have more proof. And no that’s not being politically correct – it is being factually correct.  If he’s a radical Islamist jihadi directed by an al Qaeda master (or some like scenario), then I’ll be the first to point that out and condemn it.

But at the moment, he seems more like a nutjob who went over the edge and acted out violently. Until I learn more about him and what caused him to do what he did, I’ll continue with that tentative conclusion. Because that’s the only conclusion supported by the evidence right now.

That said, my heart and prayers are with the victims of his rampage. And a special word of thanks to Sgt. Kimberly Munley who heroically stepped into harm’s way and an insane situation and ended it with a few well places shots. She was wounded in both legs and her hand. I wish her a speedy and complete recovery so she can be up and about to testify when they try this scumbag and send him to his just reward.

HT: Below The Beltway

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Because The LA Prosecutor Should Be Spending His Time Pursuing Bin Laden

A rather long title to introduce probably the single most absurd rationalization for not bringing Polanski to justice I’ve yet read.

You have to read it just to understand how intellectually bankrupt some people can be.  The false premises and pretzel logic in this particular article is remarkable.  So is the moral relevance.  And notice too how he avoids the real charge (rape) in favor of a charge that was never made (statutory rape).  Note too he completely avoids the problem of lack of consent from the girl. All the way through you continue to think, “this has to be a farce”.  Frankly, for a while, I thought it was.  But it clearly isn’t.

I have no idea who George Jonas is, but I do know that’s the last article of his I’ll ever bother reading.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!