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Air Force knew of pilot problems with F-22

Lets face it government doesn't work very well.

It's mostly about money and power, and almost nothing about being a "public servant"


Air Force knew of pilot problems with F-22

Leaders rejected fixes due to worries about costs

by Eric Talmadge - Sept. 27, 2012 10:58 PM

Associated Press

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan - Years before F-22 pilots began getting dizzy in the cockpit, before one struggled to breathe as he tried to pull out of a fatal crash, before two more went on television to say the plane was so unsafe they refused to fly it, a small circle of U.S. Air Force experts knew something was wrong with the prized stealth fighter jet.

Coughing among pilots and fears that contaminants were leaking into their breathing apparatus led the experts to suspect flaws in the oxygen-supply system of the F-22 Raptor, especially in extreme high-altitude conditions in which the $190 million aircraft is without equal. They formed a working group a decade ago to deal with the problem, creating an informal but unique brain trust.

Internal documents and emails show they proposed a range of solutions by 2005, including adjustments to the flow of oxygen into pilot's masks. But that key recommendation was rejected by military officials reluctant to add costs to a program that was already well over budget.

"This initiative has not been funded," read the minutes of their final meeting in 2007.

Minutes of the working group's meetings, PowerPoint presentations and emails among its members reveal a missed opportunity for the Air Force to improve pilot safety in the 187-plane F-22 fleet before a series of high-profile problems damaged the image of an aircraft that was already being assailed in Congress as too costly. Its production was halted last spring and the aircraft has never been used in combat. Some flight restrictions

The Air Force says the F-22 is safe to fly -- a dozen of the jets began a six-month deployment to Japan in July -- but flight restrictions that remain in place will keep it out of the high-altitude situations where pilots' breathing is under the most stress.

One of the working group's proposed fixes, a backup oxygen system, is expected to be in place by the end of the year. And the Air Force, which blamed the oxygen shortage on a faulty valve in the pilots' vests, says a fix to that problem is also in the works.

The working group also proposed changes in warning systems to alert pilots to system failures and urged enhanced tracking of potential health hazards to pilots and ground crew caused by the materials used to bolster the aircraft's stealth -- two more issues the Air Force investigations would later focus on.

More broadly, the Air Force now concedes that while its own experts were tackling the F-22's issues, it was too aggressive in cutting back on life-support programs intended to ensure pilots' safety. It is now in the process of rebuilding them.

The F-22's gradual return to regular flight operations follows an exhaustive investigation over the past year by the Air Force, NASA, experts from Lockheed Martin, which produces the aircraft, and other industry officials. In 2002, working group forms

But the documents obtained by AP show many of the concerns raised in that investigation had already been outlined by the working group that was formed in 2002, when the fighter was still in its early production and delivery stage.

It called itself RAW-G, for Raptor Aeromedical Working Group, and brought together dozens of experts in life support, avionics, physiology and systems safety, along with F-22 aircrew and maintainers.

The group was founded by members of the F-22 community who were concerned about how the unique demands of the aircraft could affect pilots. The fighter can evade radar and fly faster than sound without using afterburners, capabilities unmatched by any other country. It also flies higher than its predecessors and has a self-contained oxygen generation system to protect pilots from chemical or biological attack.

Former Air Force physiologist Kevin Divers believes the cost would have been about $100,000 per aircraft.

Pilot gear getting work

The link between oxygen saturation at lower altitudes and the recent spate of hypoxia-like incidents at high altitudes remains a matter of debate, and it is likely that there are other contributing factors. Both the Air Force and the NASA, however, now concur that the F-22's oxygen schedule needs to be revised.

The Air Force says it believes improvements now being put into place make the planes safe to fly under limited restrictions. It is now refitting all pilot life support gear, redesigning the vests so that modified versions can be introduced in the fall, and adding the automated backup oxygen system in the cockpit by the end of the year.

In the meantime, the F-22s in Japan must fly under 44,000 feet so that the flawed vests will not be required, and are on a 30-minute "tether," meaning they must be within 30 minutes of an emergency landing site.

"While we cannot eliminate risk from flight operations, we are confident the F-22 is safe now and on a path to being as safe as any other fighter we fly," said Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, a spokesman for the Air Combat Command at Virginia's Langley-Eustis Air Force Base.

Guatemalan President to world: Legalize drugs

I am all for 100 percent legalization of ALL drugs.

But I am kind of confused on why Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina is stepping up his "war on drugs" when he says they should be legalized??


Guatemalan President to world: Legalize drugs

Sept. 25, 2012 01:53 PM

Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS - Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina is advocating the international legalization of drugs even as he is moving to fight narcotics cartels with the biggest military buildup in the Central American country since its long and bloody civil war.

There's no contradiction, the president said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, a day before he plans to address the U.N. General Assembly.

"We can't take unilateral action, it will be gradual," Perez said, referring to his push for legalization. "Meanwhile, while we're taking these steps, we're not going to let Guatemala become an open corridor for trafficking and consuming drugs."

Perez Molina said he may be the first head of state to propose legalizing drugs before the General Assembly, but the Organization of American States already is studying the idea, with a report due in a year.

"With cocaine and heroin, for example, they're substances that are damaging and addictive," he said. "We would have to regulate the procedures for selling them: a prescription or series of things that would come out of the discussion."

The legalization proposal came just a month after the retired general took office in January with promises of an "iron fist" against crime, and it provoked strong criticism from the United States, as well as intense discussion within Guatemala.

The president said the traditional war on drugs had failed over the past half century, and that the United States' inability to deal with its drug consumption problem left Central America with no option but to promote legalizing drugs in some way.

Meanwhile, to battle Mexican drug cartels that have overrun parts of Guatemala, Perez said he needed military equipment, and put a top priority on ending a longstanding U.S. ban on military aid that was imposed over concerns about human rights abuses during the Central American country's 36-year civil war.

Perez Molina has approved the creation of two new military bases and the upgrading of a third to add as many as 2,500 soldiers. He also signed a treaty allowing a team of 200 U.S. Marines to patrol Guatemala's western coast to catch drug shipments.

He says the measures don't exceed limits imposed on Guatemala's military under the 1996 Peace Accords, which he helped negotiate.

Since the war's end, the military force has fallen by 60 percent, Perez Molina said, and the growth of the civilian police force has not been sufficient to fight the security threat.

"What you saw was an imbalance and parts of the country that were out of control of the state," he said. "Organized crime took advantage of those areas, as well as drug traffickers and criminals and now we're trying to take back that territory."

Mexican drug cartels or their local allies have taken over large swathes of Guatemala and other Central American countries, fueling some of the highest murder rates in the world.

A May 2011 report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service said that 95 percent of all cocaine entering the United States flows through Mexico and its waters, with 60 percent of that cocaine first coming through Central America.

The new Marine operation is the largest in Guatemala since President Jimmy Carter sharply cut U.S. military aid to the country due to concerns over atrocities committed during the country's civil war.

U.S. law says that Guatemala can regain military aid once Secretary of State Hillary Clinton certifies Guatemala's military is "respecting internationally recognized human rights" and cooperating with judicial investigations of former military personnel.

Since Guatemala's civil war ended in 1996, the U.S. has spent $85 million fighting drug traffickers in Guatemala. The level of spending was relatively low, less than $3 million a year, until 2007, when it shot up to $14 million. Last year spending peaked at $16 million, and is budgeted to decline to about $9 million in 2013.

The new operations fall under the Central American Regional Security Initiative, a multinational U.S. effort to fight crime in the region, so officials do not categorize them as direct aid to the Guatemalan military.

"We continue to uphold the military aid ban as well as the Leahy Act which prevents the US from training people suspected of having committed human rights violations," said William Ostick, a spokesman for the State Department's Western Hemispheric Affairs Office.

But he added that "narcotics trafficking is of great concern in the region ... it is clear that interdiction has demonstrable and measurable effects."

Perez said he plans to increase the national police by 10,000, allowing the military to focus on securing the borders and fighting drug trafficking.

Afghan war toll at 2,000

I guess Emperor Obama lied to us about winning the war in Afghanistan????


Afghan war toll at 2,000

Oct. 1, 2012 12:17 AM

Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan - The killing of an American serviceman in an exchange of fire with allied Afghan soldiers pushed U.S. military deaths in the war to 2,000, a reminder of the perils that remain after an 11-year conflict.

The toll has climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police -- supposed allies -- against American and NATO troops.

That has raised questions about whether countries in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan will achieve their aim of helping the government in Kabul and its forces stand on their own after most foreign troops depart in little more than two years.

"The tally is modest by the standards of war historically, but every fatality is a tragedy and 11 years is too long," said Michael O'Hanlon, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "All that is internalized, however, in an American public that has been watching this campaign for a long time. More newsworthy right now are the insider attacks and the sense of hopelessness they convey to many." 52 die in insider attacks

Attacks by Afghan soldiers or police -- or insurgents disguised in their uniforms -- have killed 52 American and other NATO troops so far this year.

"We have to get on top of this. It is a very serious threat to the campaign," the U.S. military's top officer, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said about the insider threat.

The insider attacks are considered one of the most significant challenges to the U.S. exit strategy from the country. In its latest incarnation, that strategy has focused on training Afghan forces to take over security nationwide -- allowing most foreign troops to go home by the end of 2014.

As part of that drawdown, the first 33,000 U.S. troops withdrew by the end of September, leaving 68,000 still in Afghanistan.

A decision on how many U.S. troops will remain next year will be taken after the American presidential elections. NATO currently has 108,000 troops in Afghanistan -- including U.S. forces -- down from nearly 150,000 at its peak last year.

The program to train and equip 350,000 Afghan policemen and soldiers has cost the American taxpayer more than $22 billion in the past three years.

The most recent attack came just days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said most U.S. and coalition combat units in Afghanistan returned to their practice of partnering with Afghan forces, nearly two weeks after the top U.S. commander put restrictions on such cooperation. Latest attack came Saturday

On Sunday, U.S. officials confirmed the deaths of two Americans, a service member and a civilian contractor killed late Saturday.

The fighting started when insurgents attacked a checkpoint set up by U.S. forces in eastern Wardak province, said Shahidullah Shahid, a provincial government spokesman.

He said the insurgents apparently used mortars in the attack.

The Americans thought they were under attack from their allies at a nearby Afghan army checkpoint and fired on it. The Afghan soldiers returned fire, Shahid said.

The Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman said the shooting broke out as a result of a "misunderstanding" while some NATO forces were on patrol near an Afghan army checkpoint.

NATO did not say whether it considered this an "insider" attack on foreign forces by Afghan allies. 2,000 deaths is 'milestone'

In Washington, Pentagon press secretary George Little said 2,000 deaths is one of the "arbitrary milestones defined by others " that the U.S. administration does not mark.

"We honor all courageous Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan to make the American people more secure," he said.

"The fact of the matter is that America is safer because of all of those who have served in this war, including our fallen heroes."

The number of American dead reflects an Associated Press count of those members of the armed services killed inside Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion began.

Some other news organizations use a count that also includes those killed outside Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the global anti-terror campaign led by then-President George W. Bush.

Supreme Court - 4th Amendment is null and void!!!!

I am sure this is one of the reasons the Founders gave us the 2nd Amendment. But I am sure the Supreme Court feels the same way about the 2nd Amendment.


Supreme Court rejects appeal on airport scanners

8:52 a.m. CDT, October 1, 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a Michigan blogger's challenge to the use of full-body scanners and thorough pat-downs of passengers at airport checkpoints.

Jeffrey Corbett complained that the Transportation Security Administration's use of the screening techniques violated passengers' protection against illegal searches under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

DNA evidence exonerates 300th prisoner nationwide

Ray Krone of Phoenix was the 100th person to be freed from death row after DNA testing proved he was framed by the Phoenix police for murder.

That number is up to 300 today.

I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg and that tens of thousands, and probably hundreds of thousands of people have been framed by the police for crimes they didn't commit.

I was framed for selling drugs by the DPS. At the time I thought it was a case of mistaken identity, but later I found out it wasn't a case of mistaken identity, I was intentionally framed because they thought I was a dope dealer. That came from the mouths of the pigs that framed me.

I lucked out and didn't get convicted because of a number of circumstances. But I suspect if I had gone to trial I would have been convicted and sent to prison. That is despite the fact that I was innocent.


DNA evidence exonerates 300th prisoner nationwide

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

October 1, 2012

A Louisiana man has been released from death row, becoming the 300th prisoner nationwide to be freed after DNA evidence showed he was innocent.

Of those 300 prisoners, 18 had been on death row, according to lawyers from the New York-based Innocence Project.

"It feels good. I'm still processing it," said Damon Thibodeaux, 38, when reached by phone in New Orleans.

A Jefferson Parish judge overturned his murder conviction Friday and ordered Thibodeaux released after 16 years in prison, 15 on death row. The decision was one of several recent exonerations across the country.

Last Monday, John Edward Smith was released from a Los Angeles jail nearly two decades after he was wrongfully imprisoned in connection with a gang-related shooting. In August, Chicago prosecutors moved to dismiss murder charges against Alprentiss Nash 17 years after he was convicted of a murder that recent DNA tests indicated he didn't commit. Earlier that month in Texas, David Lee Wiggins was freed after DNA tests cleared him of a rape for which he had served 24 years.

Thibodeaux, a deckhand, was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to death after he confessed to the July 19, 1996, rape and murder of his 14-year-old step-cousin, Crystal Champagne, in Westwego, a dozen miles southwest of New Orleans.

The girl was last seen alive by her family when she left their Westwego apartment to go to a nearby Winn-Dixie grocery store. When she failed to return, her parents alerted police and a search ensued.

Her body was discovered the next evening under a bridge, her pants pulled down, a wire ligature around her neck; she appeared to have been strangled. That night, detectives began interrogating potential witnesses, including Thibodeaux.

After a lengthy interrogation, Thibodeaux confessed to raping and murdering Crystal, a confession that became the primary basis for his conviction in October 1997.

He unsuccessfully appealed his conviction in 1999, arguing that he was coerced into giving a false, unrecorded confession after being interrogated for nine hours by Jefferson Parish sheriff's investigators. He also said that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and that he did not receive a fair trial.

"This is a tragic illustration of why law enforcement must record the entire interrogation of any witness or potential suspect in any investigation involving a serious crime," said one of Thibodeaux's attorneys, Steve Kaplan of the Minneapolis firm Fredrikson & Byron.

In 2007, Thibodeaux's legal team persuaded Jefferson Parish Dist. Atty. Paul Connick to reinvestigate the case, sharing half the cost, which ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars. DNA testing showed that Thibodeaux was not the killer and that Crystal had not been raped.

"District attorneys now recognize that the system doesn't always get it right and many, like Dist. Atty. Connick and his team, are committed to getting to the truth," said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, which also represented Thibodeaux. The case highlights the importance of California's Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty, on the November ballot, Scheck added.

Thibodeaux, who said he felt "great sympathy for the Champagne family" and hoped Crystal's killer "is found and tried," said he was grateful the district attorney was willing to reexamine his case.

"A lot of prosecutors, when they see a case like mine, they just turn away from it and say, 'We tried it in court, that's it,'" he said.

Louisiana pays those wrongfully convicted $25,000 for each year they were held in error for up to a decade. [Big stinking deal!!! That is a lousy $68 a day, or $2.85 for each hour spent in prison. Those crooked government b*stards don't even pay them the Federal minimum wage]

Thibodeaux plans to live in Minnesota, which he heard had a good reintegration program for former inmates.

After he walked out of prison, Thibodeaux said, he took the first step toward that new life, inhaling a deep breath of "free air."

"It's probably the best breath I've ever had," he said.


White House widens covert war in N. Africa


White House widens covert war in N. Africa

by Kimberly Dozier - Oct. 2, 2012 10:26 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Small teams of special operations forces arrived at American embassies throughout North Africa in the months before militants launched the fiery attack that killed the U.S. ambassador in Libya.

The soldiers' mission: Set up a network that could quickly strike a terrorist target or rescue a hostage.

The White House signed off a year ago on the plan to build the new military counterterror task force in the region, and the advance teams have been there for six months, according to three U.S. counterterror officials and a former intelligence official.

The effort indicates that the administration has been worried about a growing threat posed by al-Qaida and its offshoots in North Africa.

Too new for Benghazi

But officials say the military organization was too new to respond to the attack in Benghazi, where the administration now believes armed al-Qaida-linked militants surrounded the lightly guarded U.S. compound, set it on fire and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Republicans have questioned whether the Obama administration has been hiding key information or hasn't known what happened in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

On Tuesday, leaders of a congressional committee said requests for added security at the consulate in Benghazi were repeatedly denied, despite a string of less deadly terror attacks on the consulate in recent months. Those included an explosion that blew a hole in the security perimeter and another incident in which an explosive device was tossed over the consulate fence.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Congress in a letter responding to the accusations that she has set up a group to investigate the Benghazi attack, and it is to begin work this week.

As of early September, the special operations teams still consisted only of liaison officers who were assigned to establish relationships with local governments and U.S. officials in the region. Only limited counterterrorism operations have been conducted in Africa so far.

The White House, the CIA and U.S. Africa Command all declined to comment.

"There are no plans at this stage for unilateral U.S. military operations" in the region, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday, adding that the focus was on helping African countries build their own forces. Proceeding with caution

The go-slow approach with the unit run by Delta Force -- the Army's top clandestine counterterrorist unit -- is an effort by the White House to counter criticism from some U.S. lawmakers, human rights activists and others that the anti-terror fight is shifting largely to a secret war using special operations raids and drone strikes, with little public accountability.

The administration gets buy-in from all players who might be affected, such as the ambassadors, the CIA station chiefs, regional U.S. military commanders and local leaders.

Eventually, the Delta Force group is to form the backbone of a military task force responsible for combatting al-Qaida and other terrorist groups across the region with an arsenal that includes drones. But first, it will work to win acceptance by helping North African nations build their own special operations and counterterror units.

And nothing precludes the administration from using other military or intelligence units to retaliate against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 consulate attack in Benghazi. 'Haven't moved fast enough'

But some congressional leaders say the administration is not reacting quickly enough.

"Clearly, they haven't moved fast enough to battle the threat," said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich.

While Rogers would not comment on the special operations counterterrorism network, he said, "You actually have to hunt them (terrorists) down. No swift action, and we will be the recipient of something equally bad happening to another diplomat."

Only Yemeni al-Qaida attempted attack so far

The Obama administration has been concerned about the growing power and influence of al-Qaida offshoots in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and North Africa.

Only the Yemeni branch has tried to attack American territory directly so far, with a series of thwarted bomb plots aimed at U.S.-bound aircraft.

A Navy SEAL task force set up in 2009 has used a combination of raids and drone strikes to fight militants in Yemen and Somalia, working together with the CIA and local forces.

Report: Intelligence centers saving citizens data

I suspect this program is the one that pays the cops who will read this email and read this article after I post it on my web pages.

Lets face it, the American Homeland Security is just as evil as the Nazi Germany's Gestapo and the Soviet Unions KGB.


Report: Intelligence centers saving citizens data

by Matt Apuzzo and Eileen Sullivan - Oct. 3, 2012 12:00 AM

Associated Press

A multibillion-dollar information-sharing program created in the aftermath of 9/11 has improperly collected information about innocent Americans and produced little valuable intelligence on terrorism, a U.S. Senate report concludes.

What began as an attempt to put local, state and federal officials in the same room analyzing the same intelligence has instead cost huge amounts of money for data-mining software, flat-screen televisions and, in Arizona, two fully equipped Chevrolet Tahoes that are used for commuting, investigators found.

The lengthy, bipartisan report is a scathing evaluation of what the Department of Homeland Security has held up as a crown jewel of its security efforts. The report underscores a reality of post-9/11 Washington: National security programs tend to grow, never shrink, even when their money and manpower far surpass the actual subject of terrorism. Much of this money went for ordinary local crime-fighting.

What's been spent is unclear

Disagreeing with the critical conclusions of the report, Homeland Security says it is outdated, inaccurate and too focused on information produced by the program, ignoring benefits to local governments from their involvement with federal intelligence officials.

Because of a convoluted grants process set up by Congress, Homeland Security officials don't know how much they have spent in their decade-long effort to set up so-called fusion centers in every state. Government estimates range from less than $300 million to $1.4 billion in federal money, plus much more invested by state and local governments. Federal funding is pegged at about 20 percent to 30 percent.

The report recommends the Senate reconsider the amount of money it spends on fusion centers, but Congress is unlikely to pull the plug. That's because the program means politically important money for state and local governments.

Infringing on civil liberties

A Senate Homeland Security subcommittee reviewed 600 unclassified reports over a one-year period and concluded that most had nothing to do with terrorism. The panel's chairman is Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

"The subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot," the report said.

When fusion centers did address terrorism, they sometimes did so in ways that infringed on civil liberties. One center cited in the Senate investigation wrote a report about a Muslim community group's list of book recommendations. Others discussed American citizens speaking at mosques or talking to Muslim groups about parenting.

No evidence of criminal activity was contained in those reports. The government did not circulate them, but it kept them on government computers. The federal government is prohibited from storing information about First Amendment activities not related to crimes.

'What planet are you from?'

Inside Homeland Security, officials have long known there were problems with the reports coming out of fusion centers, the report shows.

"You would have some guys, the information you'd see from them, you'd scratch your head and say, 'What planet are you from?'" an unidentified Homeland Security official told Congress.

Until this year, the federal reports officers received five days of training and were never tested or graded afterward, the report said.

Lack of federal oversight

The Senate Homeland Security subcommittee's report is as much an indictment of Congress as it is the Homeland Security department. In setting up the department, lawmakers wanted their states to decide what to spend the money on. Time and again, that setup has meant the federal government has no way to know how its security money is being spent.

Counterterrorism money started flowing to states in 2003. But it wasn't until late 2007 that the Bush administration told states how to run the centers.

DHS ‘fusion centers’ portrayed as pools of ineptitude, civil liberties intrusions


DHS ‘fusion centers’ portrayed as pools of ineptitude, civil liberties intrusions

By Robert O’Harrow Jr., Published: October 2

An initiative aimed at improving intelligence sharing has done little to make the country more secure, despite as much as $1.4 billion in federal spending, according to a two-year examination by Senate investigators.

The nationwide network of offices known as “fusion centers” was launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to address concerns that local, state and federal authorities were not sharing information effectively about potential terrorist threats.

But after nine years — and regular praise from officials at the Department of Homeland Security — the 77 fusion centers have become pools of ineptitude, waste and civil liberties intrusions, according to a scathing 141-page report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations.

The creation and operation of the fusion centers were promoted by the administration of President George W. Bush and later the Obama administration as essential weapons in the fight to build a nationwide network that would keep the country safe from terrorism. The idea was to promote increased collaboration and cooperation among all levels of law enforcement across the country.

But the report documents spending on items that did little to help share intelligence, including gadgets such as “shirt button” cameras, $6,000 laptops and big-screen televisions. One fusion center spent $45,000 on a decked-out SUV that a city official used for commuting.

“In reality, the Subcommittee investigation found that the fusion centers often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever,” the report said.

The bipartisan report, released by subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking minority member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), portrays the fusion center system as ineffective and criticizes the Department of Homeland Security for poor supervision.

In a response Tuesday, the department condemned the report and defended the fusion centers, saying the Senate investigators relied on out-of-date data. The Senate investigators examined fusion center reports in 2009 and 2010 and looked at activity, training and policies over nine years, according to the report.

The statement also said the Senate investigators misunderstood the role of fusion centers, “which is to provide state and local law enforcement analytic support in furtherance of their day-to-day efforts to protect local communities from violence, including that associated with terrorism.”

The DHS statement also said that all of the questioned expenses were allowable under the rules.

Department officials have defended the fusion centers in the face of past criticism from the news media and internal reviews. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and other senior officials have praised the centers as centerpieces of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

Mike Sena, president of the National Fusion Center Association, an advocacy organization, called the report unfair. Sena, who manages the center in the San Francisco Bay area, said fusion centers have processed more than 22,000 “suspicious activity reports” that have triggered 1,000 federal inquiries or investigations. He said they also have shared with the Terrorist Screening Center some 200 “pieces of data” that provided “actionable intelligence.”

The Senate report challenged the value of the training and much of the information produced by the centers. It said that DHS analysts assigned to the fusion centers received just five days of basic training for intelligence reporting. Sena said they received an array of other training as well.

Some analysts at the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, which received the fusion center reports, were found to be so unproductive that supervisors imposed quotas for reports, knowing those quotas would diminish the quality of the intelligence, according to the Senate report. Many of those analysts at the DHS intelligence office were contractors.

Investigators found instances in which the analysts used intelligence about U.S. citizens that may have been gathered illegally. In one case, a fusion center in California wrote a report on a notorious gang, the Mongols Motorcycle Club, that had distributed leaflets telling its members to behave when they got stopped by police. The leaflet said members should be courteous, control their emotions and, if drinking, have a designated driver.

“There is nothing illegal or even remotely objectionable [described] in this report,” one supervisor wrote about the draft before killing it. “The advice given to the groups’ members is protected by the First Amendment.”

Financial questions were pervasive, with the report saying oversight has been so lax that department officials do not know exactly how much has been spent on the centers. The official estimates varied between $289 million and $1.4 billion.

A DHS official, who insisted on not being identified because he was not authorized to talk to the news media, acknowledged that the department does not closely track the money but said it conducts audits of the fusion spending. The official said that just under half of the fusion centers’ budgets comes from the department.

In the statement, the department said its Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the grants, provides “wide latitude” for states to decide how to spend the money.

“All of the expenditures questioned in the report are allowable under the grant program guidance, whether or not they are connected with a fusion center,” the statement said.

The Senate report said local and state officials entrusted with the fusion center grants sometimes spent lavishly. More than $2 million was spent on a center for Philadelphia that never opened. In Ohio, officials used the money to buy rugged laptop computers and then gave them to a local morgue. San Diego officials bought 55 flat-screen televisions to help them collect “open-source intelligence” — better known as cable television news.

Senate investigators repeatedly questioned the quality of the intelligence reports. A third or more of the reports intended for officials in Washington were discarded because they lacked useful information, had been drawn from media accounts or involved potentially illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens, according to the Senate report.

Senate panel criticizes anti-terror data-sharing centers


Senate panel criticizes anti-terror data-sharing centers

By Ken Dilanian and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times

October 3, 2012

WASHINGTON — A federal domestic security effort to help state and local law enforcement catch terrorists by setting up more than 70 information-sharing centers around the country has threatened civil liberties while doing little to combat terrorism, a two-year examination by a Senate subcommittee found.

The so-called fusion centers were created in 2003 after the Sept. 11 commission concluded that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies needed to collaborate more in counter-terrorism efforts.

Funded by federal grants, the fusion centers were intended to share national intelligence with state and local law enforcement and to analyze potential terrorist activity detected by police. Homeland Security Department officials have credited the centers for helping uncover terrorist plans, including a 2009 plot to bomb the New York subway.

But the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, in a 146-page report released Tuesday that reviewed intelligence reports from fusion centers between April 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010, "could identify nothing that uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution any fusion center made to disrupt an active terrorist plot."

Senate investigators concluded that Homeland Security liaisons to the centers "forwarded 'intelligence' of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism."

The investigators also found that some local analysts had written inappropriate and potentially illegal reports about constitutionally protected activities of American citizens. Homeland Security officials prevented most from being disseminated.

The Homeland Security Department could not say for sure how much federal money had been spent on the centers, the subcommittee found, providing a range of $289 million to $1.4 billion.

Homeland Security officials took issue with the conclusions, saying they resulted from a "fundamentally flawed" investigation. "The committee report on federal support for fusion centers is out of date, inaccurate and misleading," said spokesman Matthew Chandler.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has lauded the centers, which are located in nearly every major metropolitan area. In March 2010, Homeland Security Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Caryn A. Wagner praised them as "the linchpin of the evolving homeland security enterprise."

The Senate report rebuts statements by Homeland Security officials that the centers helped uncover terrorist plots, including a 2010 attempt to blow up a sport utility vehicle in Times Square, saying that the same work would have been done through previously existing channels.

One of the most significant terrorism cases in which officials have claimed a success for fusion centers was that of Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant who traveled in 2009 from Colorado to New York City, where he has admitted that he planned to blow himself up on the subway around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Napolitano claimed in a speech in 2010 that "it was a fusion center near Denver that played the key role in 'fusing' the information that came from the public with evidence that came in following the suspect's arrest by the FBI."

But that claim was not true, the investigation found. The Colorado Information Analysis Center's involvement consisted of checking a few public databases and addressing media inquiries. The crucial role, the report said, was played by Colorado state troopers assigned to the center who were also assigned to help the FBI. The report found that the troopers would have been doing what they did whether or not there was a fusion center.

In preparing the report, the committee reviewed intelligence that had been edited to protect classified information. Homeland Security officials said that these redactions limited the investigators' ability to assess the usefulness of intelligence generated by local analysts.

One of the country's largest federally funded fusion centers covers most of Southern California. The Joint Regional Intelligence Center in Norwalk has more than 80 full-time staff members and stitches together information from 166 law enforcement departments.

Deputy Chief Michael Downing, head of the LAPD's counter-terrorism bureau, said his department had gotten "a lot of value" from the increased cooperation: "There's a lot of white noise, but there are occasionally gold nuggets."

In the last year, Downing said, the Norwalk-based center has helped start terrorism investigations by sharing information about Muslim extremist literature found in the back seat of a car during a traffic stop and about an individual who went into a youth group meeting at an Islamic center and tried to recruit young Muslims to "kill infidels."

He did not know whether any of these cases had led to a conviction.

In some cases, the investigation found, fusion centers have also made embarrassing intelligence errors.

Last year, for example, the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center in Springfield published a report asserting that a hacker in Russia had stolen an unknown number of user names and passwords to sensitive utility control systems and used that information to break into a local water district's computerized control system.

In fact, the "hacker" was a utility employee who had accessed the system legitimately while on a family vacation, the report found.

A spokeswoman for the center, Monique Bond, would not comment on the report, but said, "Fusion centers and the information shared by local, state and federal agencies enhances law enforcement's efforts in fighting everyday crime and homeland defense."

The subcommittee report also pointed to fusion center reports on activities protected by the U.S. Constitution.

One draft intelligence report examined a reading list from a Muslim community group: "Ten Book Recommendations for Every Muslim." Four were written by individuals with records in a U.S. intelligence counter-terrorism database, the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, known as TIDE.

"We cannot report on books and other writings of TIDE matches simply because they are TIDE matches," wrote a Homeland Security reviewer of the draft report. "The writings themselves are protected by the 1st Amendment unless you can establish that something in the writing indicates planning or advocates violent or other criminal activity." The report was not published.



Jailing of 'Innocence of Muslims' creator raises free speech worries


Jailing of 'Innocence of Muslims' creator raises free speech worries

By Victoria Kim, Abby Sewell and Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times

October 2, 2012, 9:42 p.m.

As rioting over the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" spread across the Muslim world, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton both deplored the film's message but defended the free speech rights of its creators. In Clinton's words: "We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful they may be."

But now one of the film's creators, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is sitting in jail in downtown Los Angeles. He may face two years in prison for allegedly violating the terms of his probation through his actions surrounding the film's production. News of his arrest and detention has been widely covered around the world, causing some to worry about the perception that the United States was punishing Nakoula because of the content of his movie.

Government officials maintained that Nakoula was back in custody not because of the impact of the movie, which portrays the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a child molester, but because he had used aliases in producing the film and lied to probation officers.

Nakoula, who was on a type of probation known in the federal system as supervised release, served time in prison for a 2010 conviction for taking out bank and credit cards under myriad fake identities. He now faces eight charges of probation violation. The allegations include making false statements to authorities about the film — claiming his role was limited to writing the script — and denying he used the alias "Sam Bacile."

Authorities say they have proof Nakoula's role in the movie was "much more expansive" than that of a writer and that Nakoula could face new criminal charges for lying to federal officials.

Probation officials are recommending a two-year prison term for Nakoula, despite a guideline range of four to 10 months.

A federal judge ordered him held in protective custody without bail, saying he is a flight risk and poses "some danger to the community."

Some legal experts said the government was on firm legal footing and had little choice but to enforce the terms of Nakoula's probation once he came onto their radar.

Those on probation don't have the same rights as the average citizen, and authorities have wide discretion over their behavior, the experts said. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld speech restrictions as part of probation in specific cases. Nakoula was barred from using computers or the Internet without permission from his probation officer, though he has not been accused of violating those terms.

"Everything that has happened to him is really consistent with the way the probation office might act if he were doing a film about kittens," said Kenneth P. White, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner in the Los Angeles firm Brown, White & Newhouse.

But others question whether Nakoula's notoriety — and the global political fallout over the contents of the film — is placing more scrutiny on the filmmaker and prompting federal officials to be harsher with him.

"Certainly the sequence of events looks very much as though this man has been arrested and held on account of his producing a film," said Michael W. McConnell, a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit who now directs the Stanford Constitutional Law Center. "It sends exactly the wrong message abroad, because when people are becoming violent to try to pressure the U.S. to violate someone's constitutional rights, we ought to be going out of our way to make it clear that we will not accede to that kind of pressure."

Nakoula's court hearing after his arrest Thursday was anything but a routine probation violation proceeding.

The public was allowed to watch only through a video feed in a separate courthouse blocks away, and U.S. marshals kept the media away from the courtroom. Robert Dugdale, the criminal division chief for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, personally handled Nakoula's hearing, contending misrepresentations by Nakoula had caused "real harm" to those who signed on to work on the film. Vehicles marked "Homeland Security" closed off a stretch of Main Street as Nakoula was whisked away to the federal lockup after the hearing.

News of Nakoula's arrest prompted some critics to charge that the probation violation was a thinly veiled punishment for the film's message. A Wall Street Journal editorial called his detention a 1st Amendment affront saying that even speech that "causes the White House headaches abroad" is still constitutionally protected. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote on his blog that the case "raises obvious concerns that the Administration is again defending free speech while quietly moving to punish those who cause religious strife."

In an interview, Turley, a criminal defense attorney who has represented high-profile terrorism suspects accused of violent speech, said the charges against Nakoula had "common elements of pretextual charges." He said the government could have been hoping that putting Nakoula behind bars would appease those incensed by the film.

He said the arrest could send the wrong message to the public: "Even if you have a right to say something, the government can still choose to punish you on other grounds."

Neither Nakoula's attorneys nor the U.S. attorney's office would comment for this article.

But legal experts said they anticipate Nakoula's defense will attempt to show Nakoula is being punished for what was said in the film.

"His attorney is going to make the pitch that the government is trying to censor this guy," said Ellen Barry, a veteran criminal defense attorney and a former federal public defender who regularly handles probation violation cases. "The government's argument is going to be, this is exactly the same conduct he was convicted of — he's moving in that direction, make him stop."

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor and a vocal free speech advocate, wrote on his widely read blog in the early days of the uproar over "Innocence of Muslims" in defense of protections for blasphemous speech. Even so, he said actions against Nakoula do not illustrate a clear case of targeting someone on 1st Amendment grounds.

"I think it's interesting enough that people should be asking questions," he said. "It's not obvious what the answer is."




Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Mikey Weinstein is talking on Nov 11 at the Cedars Banquet Hall in Phoenix

Welcome Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Sunday, November 11, 2012
1:30 PM
Cedars Banquet Hall
1702 East Northern Avenue
Phoenix, AZ
We'll meet in the banquet room.
This is an historic event.

How great it is that, on Veterans Day 2012, we have Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), meeting with us!

Weinstein is a true patriot and the primary defender of the First Amendment rights of all military and other DoD members. His activities are both storied and heroic. His sacrifices and tenacity in the cause of freedom are humbling. His recent successes in fighting for civil rights are even more impressive!



The military in the U.S. intimately touches nearly all of us, either through personal experience or family members or friends. Battling religious indoctrination and discrimination is a fight we must all embrace. We have help!

Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of AU's Anne Mardick, on 11/11/12, Mikey Weinstein will address us and other affiliated groups. A (lively) Question & Answer session will follow, and his book(s) will be available for purchase.

There will also be membership and general information on display for progressive and like-minded organizations, such as AU-GP, FFRF, etc.

Please join us for this very important event!

More info at cedarsbanquethall.com.

Just west of Hwy 51, at the NE corner of 17th Street and Northern Ave.

This event is free of charge and open to the general public.

For more information on this event check out the America's United for Seperation of Church and state web site.

Speedy Airport Security: Should You Apply?

I wonder is this a violation of the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment which says all people must be treated equally by the government.

The "equal protection clause" of the 14th Amendment says:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Not that it would matter, because these searches are almost certainly a violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments.

Last but not least I wouldn't apply for this. Giving the government your personal information for faster, quicker service is like giving your personal information to a bank robber for faster, quicker service.


Speedy Airport Security: Should You Apply?


Published: October 3, 2012 Comment

WHO hasn’t stood in an airport security line shoeless, beltless, clutching a Ziploc bag and inching grimly toward a full body scanner? A few weeks ago, I decided I’d had enough. I applied for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program, which expedites passenger screening and customs declaration processes for fliers willing to undergo background checks and pay a $100 fee. If you’re already a member, you’ll soon be zipping through more airports. If you’re not a member, get ready to see a lot more travelers scoot ahead of you in line.

“The applications have grown dramatically,” said John Wagner, executive director of Admissibility and Passenger Programs for Customs and Border Protection. When Global Entry, one of several Trusted Traveler programs, began testing at three airports in 2008, Customs and Border Protection was receiving a few hundred applications a month. Today the program receives 25,000 to 30,000 applications a month.

If you are accepted for Global Entry, which expedites customs, you are also automatically qualified for the newer domestic screening program, T.S.A. PreCheck, which often (but not always) means you don’t have to remove your shoes, belt and jacket or take your laptop and liquids out of your carry-on. PreCheck is thriving, too. More than three million passengers have been screened since the program began tests last October, and the Transportation Security Administration said it plans to screen about a million passengers a month in 2013. Currently in 26 airports, PreCheck is aiming to be in 35 airports by the end of the year, according to Sterling Payne, a T.S.A. spokesman. (For the basics about Global Entry and PreCheck and the nongovernmental screening program, Clear, check out the Practical Traveler column that was published on April 18.)

Some in the travel industry are making it more compelling than ever to apply. On Sept. 24, Loews Hotels & Resorts announced that it would be the first hotel chain to pay the $100 application fee for its approximately 2,400 YouFirst Platinum loyalty rewards members if they apply by Nov. 23. That will cost Loews about a quarter of a million dollars, according to a spokeswoman for the brand. But Jonathan Tisch, chairman of Loews Hotels and himself a Trusted Traveler, said it’s worth it. “We are keenly aware that traveling today is a difficult proposition,” he said. “And we thought that it was in the best interest of our loyal guests that we team up with Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection to promote programs they have spent a long time figuring out that will speed up the travel process.”

Industry executives think more hotels will follow. Airlines, including American, Delta, United, Alaska and US Airways, have already promoted the programs. But many travelers and public interest groups have serious concerns. Should you apply? To help you decide, here are some of the most common questions about Trusted Traveler, and what the experts have to say.

Are we endangering our civil liberties by sharing our personal information with the government?

When Global Entry members return to the United States after an international flight, they do not fill out customs forms or wait in line to be interviewed by a customs official. Instead, they use an automated kiosk to scan their passports and their fingerprints. The kiosk has a touch screen that enables travelers to answer the customs declaration questions. Then it prints out a receipt for them to take to officials at the baggage claim.

To get this speedy service (along with the perks of PreCheck), you must submit a raft of personal data: your address, employment status, driver’s license, passport and travel history as well as proof of “admissibility,” like a birth certificate. If your online application is conditionally approved, you will then have an in-person interview with a Customs and Border Protection officer and have your picture and fingerprints taken.

For at least one colleague of mine, this engenders thoughts of secret police. Certainly, it concerns public interest groups like the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research center in Washington that focuses on civil liberties issues. In written comments to United States Customs, the center said Global Entry raises “substantial privacy and security issues,” like who exactly has access to the information and whether the program satisfies fair information practices (like enabling travelers to see and amend their personal information and ensuring that it is being used only for the purpose for which they provided it). You can learn more at epic.org/privacy.

In a privacy impact assessment available at tsa.gov, the Department of Homeland Security says that the information it collects is necessary for national security, enabling it to ensure that applicants are not on any watch list and that they are not misidentified as someone who is. “It’s really no different than the data we would collect from any one of the millions of people who enter the U.S. each day,” Mr. Wagner said.

The impact assessment contends that the information will be accessed only by people who must see it to do their jobs and who have passed a background check and completed privacy security training. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has said the department’s definition of who can access this information is too broad.

I’m concerned about privacy. At the same time, with the electronic trail that we all leave in the information age, the Global Entry application seemed only slightly more exhaustive than forms I’ve filled out for things like online banking and renewing my driver’s license. Time will tell if I was too trusting.

Doesn’t clearing people as Trusted Travelers create an opportunity for criminals to slip through the cracks?

“We do a pretty rigorous background check,” Mr. Wagner said, ticking off the sorts of things the government probes like criminal records, watch lists, and customs violations. Applicants’ fingerprints are run through F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security systems, he said. Additionally, members of the programs are still subject to random checks at the airport.

That said, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has noted that criminals with records could potentially collaborate with Trusted Travelers who do not have previous ties to terrorism.

A valid (and chilling) thought. Yet there is some comfort in knowing that even though Trusted Traveler makes navigating an airport less onerous, members and their bags are still screened to ensure safety. There is no bypassing the detectors.

If millions of people are eligible for expedited screening, will it really be all that fast?

Just as priority boarding lines have become interminable thanks to travelers with every kind of status imaginable, one wonders if something similar will happen as Trusted Traveler becomes widespread. The Global Entry process is supposed to take 60 seconds to complete. Not bad. While I have not gone through it myself, other travelers say this is fairly accurate.

As for PreCheck, after a year of testing the T.S.A. is expanding the program to the nation’s busiest airports. One of the biggest complaints about PreCheck is that members never know if they will be expedited. The program is not available at every checkpoint in participating airports (a list is at tsa.gov), and sometimes members are simply told to stay on the regular line. Still, David A. Castelveter, director of external communications for the T.S.A., said in a statement that “we have evaluated the results of the pilot program to ensure T.S.A. PreCheck is operationally ready for larger volumes of travelers.”

Here’s hoping.

Cops routinely lie to justify illegal searches???

Police officers routinely lie to justify illegal searches for drugs???

Odor chemist James Woodford says yes to that question.


Police say they smelled marijuana before search, but judge tosses out the evidence

By Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune reporter

October 4, 2012

After Chicago police curbed Jonathan Stoffels in December 2008, one of the arresting officers said he saw a leafy substance inside the Lincoln Navigator and also took note of a strong odor of marijuana.

That led to a search that allegedly yielded 10 grams of pot inside a mason jar, $8,600 in cash, what appeared to be drug recipes and a drug ledger — evidence that could have added to the drug manufacturing case that federal agents were already building against Stoffels, 36, of Plainfield, and his cohorts.

Last week, a federal judge tossed the evidence — in part because the jar had been destroyed while in police custody. But Stoffels' defense attorney had also raised an unusual challenge to the second reason for the search, that the officer caught whiffs of marijuana from Stoffels' car.

At a suppression hearing, a taste and smell expert on that skunky, funky weed testified that the odor was unlikely so strong the officer could smell it.

Defense attorneys who have had suspicions about the "strong odor of pot" justification for searches say it's a struggle to challenge the statements, claiming that judges tend to believe the officers and that it's hard to prove a negative.

As it turns out, there is a small scientific body of work and years of forensic research that has raised challenges to the ability to smell weed through containers, outside homes or, in this case, from a suspect's car.

"Usually there is never anybody who challenges it, and when it is not challenged, the judges just take it at face value," said James Woodford, an "odor chemist" and expert on drug scents. "When the police say, 'I smell marijuana,' if the defense doesn't say anything or bring in an expert, it becomes a fact."

Woodford is a chemist who specializes in odor molecules and how they can permeate barriers and how a smell dissipates in air. He has been called to testify on the issue numerous times over 20 years, often re-creating scenes to challenge officers' assertions that they could smell marijuana through packages, containers or car trunks. He said evidence in some of those cases was suppressed.

In Stoffels' case, Chicago defense attorney John A. Meyer challenged the officer's right to search the car by relying on the testimony of Richard L. Doty, who treats patients for disorders on taste and smell.

And although there were other problems with the evidence recovered in Stoffels' traffic stop, his defense attorney believes Doty's testimony was key.

"To this case, it was absolutely essential," Meyer said.

In 2004, Doty published the only study to examine use of marijuana odor as a reason for probable cause for searches. As part of his study, he examined how the characteristic marijuana odor develops in plants by having subjects sniff both mature and immature plants.

The study mattered in Stoffels' case because the government was alleging he was inside a grow house about an hour before his Dec. 11, 2008, traffic stop and that the scent of marijuana had lingered on his clothes.

The officer said he detected an "overwhelming odor" of cannabis emitting from inside the vehicle, according to the arrest report. The officer also claimed to see the jar, which contained a "crushed leafy green substance."

But the jar was destroyed by Chicago police after it was confiscated, and U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ruled that it could not be used to justify the search of the car.

Without that piece of evidence, the government resisted Meyer's challenge to the search by arguing that the officer had smelled the marijuana, Meyer said.

But the attorney said he found the story "preposterous" and started researching the topic, discovering Doty's research.

At the hearing over the challenge, the arresting officer testified that he smelled it, and a federal agent who was in the grow house also testified that the odor had lingered on his clothes after he left.

But after examining photos and video of the marijuana inside the grow house, Doty testified that it was scientifically unlikely that anyone could have smelled marijuana on Stoffels during the stop. The plants, he said, were simply too young and had not grown to a stage of maturity, bringing that strong, familiar pot smell.

"Immature plants don't have a distinct marijuana smell," Doty explained to the Tribune. "… In looking at the plants, it was evident there wasn't any budding."

Late last week, Pallmeyer ruled in Stoffels' favor, suppressing the use of all the evidence from the car. Pallmeyer went out of her way to say she wasn't making a statement about the officer's credibility.

"All I need to do is say that the notion that this overwhelming scent came from Mr. Stoffels' clothing is not persuasive to me," Pallmeyer said, according to transcripts.

Meyer believes that the science mattered, and that without Doty's testimony, it could have been hard to challenge the officer who testified.

Doty has testified in at least a dozen cases since 2004, and in three cases, including this one, evidence was suppressed.

Even so, the drug manufacturing case is moving to trial with a lot of other evidence — including statements from both Stoffels and a co-defendant, surveillance of their alleged drug-making activities, alleged receipts for the purchase of grow materials and chemicals needed to manufacture other illegal drugs and emails a co-defendant was allegedly sending to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration website.

Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor, said testimony such as Doty's was rare and reflects the unusual set of circumstances that had Stoffels coming from a grow house with plants that could be analyzed.

Cramer, who now heads Chicago's office of Kroll Advisory Solutions, an international risk-assessment firm, also said that in his experience as a prosecutor, when an officer testifies to smelling pot, it's usually because there is some in the car.

But for Meyer and other defense attorneys, the ability to challenge the officer's claim with research goes to a broader issue about the Fourth Amendment. Even if illegal contraband is recovered, as it allegedly was in Stoffels' case, a search should be based on legitimate and defensible evidence by the police, they said.

Meyer said he wonders about the countless searches based on suspected marijuana odor in which police never find any contraband.

"People don't complain about it," he said. "This is just a fact of life that you might be stopped and searched. … It matters because the Fourth Amendment protects all individuals against warrantless searches, and once police start abusing that right, everybody is at risk."


Secret Cold War tests in St. Louis raise concerns


Secret Cold War tests in St. Louis raise concerns

By JIM SALTER | Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Doris Spates was a baby when her father died inexplicably in 1955. She has watched four siblings die of cancer, and she survived cervical cancer.

After learning that the Army conducted secret chemical testing in her impoverished St. Louis neighborhood at the height of the Cold War, she wonders if her own government is to blame.

In the mid-1950s, and again a decade later, the Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income housing high-rise, at schools and from the backs of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already-hazy air in predominantly black areas of St. Louis.

Local officials were told at the time that the government was testing a smoke screen that could shield St. Louis from aerial observation in case the Russians attacked.

But in 1994, the government said the tests were part of a biological weapons program and St. Louis was chosen because it bore some resemblance to Russian cities that the U.S. might attack. The material being sprayed was zinc cadmium sulfide, a fine fluorescent powder.

Now, new research is raising greater concern about the implications of those tests. St. Louis Community College-Meramec sociology professor Lisa Martino-Taylor's research has raised the possibility that the Army performed radiation testing by mixing radioactive particles with the zinc cadmium sulfide, though she concedes there is no direct proof.

But her report, released late last month, was troubling enough that both U.S. senators from Missouri wrote to Army Secretary John McHugh demanding answers.

Aides to Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt said they have received no response. Army spokesman Dave Foster declined an interview request from The Associated Press, saying the Army would first respond to the senators.

The area of the secret testing is described by the Army in documents obtained by Martino-Taylor through a Freedom of Information Act request as "a densely populated slum district." About three-quarters of the residents were black.

Spates, now 57 and retired, was born in 1955, delivered inside her family's apartment on the top floor of the since-demolished Pruitt-Igoe housing development in north St. Louis. Her family didn't know that on the roof, the Army was intentionally spewing hundreds of pounds of zinc cadmium sulfide into the air.

Three months after her birth, her father died. Four of her 11 siblings succumbed to cancer at relatively young ages.

"I'm wondering if it got into our system," Spates said. "When I heard about the testing, I thought, 'Oh my God. If they did that, there's no telling what else they're hiding.'"

Mary Helen Brindell wonders, too. Now 68, her family lived in a working-class mixed-race neighborhood where spraying occurred.

The Army has admitted only to using blowers to spread the chemical, but Brindell recalled a summer day playing baseball with other kids in the street when a squadron of green Army planes flew close to the ground and dropped a powdery substance. She went inside, washed it off her face and arms, then went back out to play.

Over the years, Brindell has battled four types of cancer — breast, thyroid, skin and uterine.

"I feel betrayed," said Brindell, who is white. "How could they do this? We pointed our fingers during the Holocaust, and we do something like this?"

Martino-Taylor said she wasn't aware of any lawsuits filed by anyone affected by the military tests. She also said there have been no payouts "or even an apology" from the government to those affected.

The secret testing in St. Louis was exposed to Congress in 1994, prompting a demand for a health study. A committee of the National Research Council determined in 1997 that the testing did not expose residents to harmful levels of the chemical. But the committee said research was sparse and the finding relied on limited data from animal testing.

It also noted that high doses of cadmium over long periods of exposure could cause bone and kidney problems and lung cancer. The committee recommended that the Army conduct follow-up studies "to determine whether inhaled zinc cadmium sulfide breaks down into toxic cadmium compounds, which can be absorbed into the blood to produce toxicity in the lungs and other organs."

But it isn't clear if follow-up studies were ever performed. Martino-Taylor said she has gotten no answer from the Army and her research has turned up no additional studies. Foster, the Army spokesman, declined comment.

Martino-Taylor became involved years ago when a colleague who grew up in the targeted area wondered if the testing was the cause of her cancer. That same day, a second colleague confided to Martino-Taylor that she, too, lived in the test area and had cancer.

Martino-Taylor decided to research the testing for her doctoral thesis at the University of Missouri. She believes the St. Louis study was linked to the Manhattan Atomic Bomb Project and a small group of scientists from that project who were developing radiological weapons. A congressional study in 1993 confirmed radiological testing in Tennessee and parts of the West during the Cold War.

"There are strong lines of evidence that there was a radiological component to the St. Louis study," Martino-Taylor said.

Blunt, in his letter to the Army secretary, questioned whether radioactive testing was performed.

"The idea that thousands of Missourians were unwillingly exposed to harmful materials in order to determine their health effects is absolutely shocking," the senator wrote.

McCaskill agreed. "Given the nature of these experiments, it's not surprising that Missouri citizens still have questions and concerns about what exactly occurred and if there may have been any negative health effects," she said in a statement.

Martino-Taylor said a follow-up health study should be performed in St. Louis, but it must involve direct input from people who lived in the targeted areas.

"Their voices have not been heard," Martino-Taylor said.

Obama asks businesses to break law so he can get reelected!!!!

More of the old "do as I say, not as I do" from our government masters.

Look I think it's a silly law that should be repealed, if it's not unconstitutional.

But Obama is asking employees to break the law to help him get reelected.

"The Obama administration has told defense contractors anticipating possible layoffs ... not to issue 60-day notices as is usually required by law"

"Political analysts have speculated that White House officials did not want warnings of mass layoffs by defense contractors being issued just before the Nov. 6 general election"


Massive defense layoffs in limbo

Employers told not to give 60-day notice

by J. Craig Anderson - Oct. 6, 2012 02:31 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

The looming threat of automatic defense-spending cuts in January has sparked a political battle over a law that requires large employers in Arizona and elsewhere to notify workers in most cases at least 60 days before instituting massive layoffs.

The Obama administration has told defense contractors anticipating possible layoffs as a result of the scheduled budget cuts, known as sequestrations, not to issue 60-day notices as is usually required by law.

Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., are calling the White House Office of Management and Budget's instructions a violation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, a law passed by a veto-proof majority of Democrats during the Reagan administration.

They say the lack of proper notification could place the financial burden of additional severance pay and legal costs on taxpayers if widespread layoffs occur.

"It's totally illegal. And they're saying that the taxpayers will pick up the tab for any legal problems that they have," McCain told The Republic. "I mean, that's the most outrageous thing I've ever seen."

Last week, several defense contractors, including BAE Systems, a British company with operations in Arizona, backed off threats to issue layoff notices to employees in the coming weeks, a move they had said might be needed given the threat of federal budget cuts mandated by 2011 legislation related to raising the national debt ceiling.

The change in direction was prompted by a White House memo issued in late September that directs contractors to follow the guidance of the Labor Department. In a July letter, the department said the WARN Act does not require contractors facing sequestration to send notices to workers that they could be let go.

In its new guidance, the White House said that if sequestration occurs and an agency terminates or changes a contract that results in a plant closing or mass layoff, the contractors' liability and litigation costs under the WARN Act would be "allowable costs" covered by the contracting agency.

Political analysts have speculated that White House officials did not want warnings of mass layoffs by defense contractors being issued just before the Nov. 6 general election.

Other contractors, including the Boeing Co., which also has significant operations in Arizona, said they never had planned to issue WARN Act notices prior to the automatic cuts actually taking effect.

Dan Beck, director of international business development and strategy communications for Boeing, said it has been the company's position all along not to issue WARN notices until after it receives detailed information from government customers about specific programs that would be cut.

That probably would not happen until after automatic cuts go into effect, if they go into effect at all, which many defense-industry insiders believe will not happen.

"It was never our intent to issue sequestration-related WARN notices prior to the general election," Beck said.

As one of the nation's top employers of defense and aerospace workers, Arizona faces a serious economic threat if Congress fails to meet its self-imposed January budget deadline to avert billions of dollars in automatic federal-spending cuts.

To accomplish that, Congress must pass a budget that reduces the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, either through spending cuts, revenue increases or both. Political analysts say it's likely Congress will take up the issue in its lame-duck session after the November elections.

If lawmakers fail to reach a compromise by the end of the year, they also could vote to extend the deadline for sequestrations by six months, a year or even longer.

Many political observers and economic experts, and some lawmakers, are confident there will at least be a short-term solution. But no one in the defense industry is taking it for granted.

If Congress fails to reach a deal to avoid the required $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts over the coming decade, including $500 billion in defense-spending cuts, the fallout could lead to more than 49,000 layoffs in Arizona and a $4.95 billion loss to the gross state product based on proposed spending cuts over nine years and their continuing ripple effect, according to a report by George Mason University in Virginia.

ATF & DEA thugs routinely commit crimes

ATF & DEA thugs routinely commit crimes with the approval of their bosses!!!!!


Crimes by ATF and DEA informants not tracked by feds

Brad Heath and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

The nation's top law enforcement agencies, facing new scrutiny after the Fast and Furious investigation, say they do not know how often their agents allow informants to commit crimes. whitey bulger

9:12PM EST October 7. 2012 - WASHINGTON — The nation's top drug and gun enforcement agencies do not track how often they give their informants permission to break the law on the government's behalf.

U.S. Justice Department rules put strict limits on when and how agents at the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can authorize their informants — often drawn from the ranks of the criminals they are investigating — to commit a crime. But both the ATF and DEA acknowledged, in response to open-records requests and in written statements, that they do not track how often such permission is given.

That routine, if controversial, tactic has come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the bungled "Fast and Furious" gun-trafficking investigation, which allowed 2,000 weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels and other criminals. A report by the Justice Department's Inspector General found that ATF agents failed to get authorization from their superiors before they allowed gun dealers to sell weapons to suspected cartel operatives.

The report, delivered in September, is the latest internal probe to find agents ignoring the rules. And the department continues to face accusations that its agents overlook crimes by their informants, including one case this year involving an alleged Boston mob captain who was working for the FBI.

"The way we use confidential informants is a huge aspect of the daily operation and also the legitimacy of the criminal justice system," said Alexandra Natapoff, a professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles. "It's insane that even the law enforcement agencies that actually carry out this policy may not always know how their operatives are doing it."

The ATF and DEA said in written statements that they are "in compliance'' with the rules for using informants, and that information about crimes by individual informants is "collected at both the field division and headquarters levels." The rules do not require the agencies to tally authorizations to engage in what the department calls "otherwise illegal activity" to determine how often it happens.

The FBI, by comparison, is required to collect information on how often each of the bureau's 56 field offices allows informants to break the law, though the bureau would not release those figures. (The FBI initially said in response to a request by USA TODAY that it, too, had no reports that would indicate how often informants are allowed to commit crimes.)

"There has to be some new accountability," said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., who introduced a bill last year to force federal law enforcement agencies to tell Congress about crimes by their informants. "There can be a big upside when informants are used and the FBI actually pulls bad people off the street. But no one is looking at the collateral damage."

Informants' work is a closely guarded secret, in large part because of the danger involved. But records suggest the government's network of cooperators is vast: In 2005, the DEA estimated it had 4,000 informants, and two years later the FBI said in a budget request that its agents had 15,000 more. DEA officials told the inspector general's office that "without confidential sources, the DEA could not effectively enforce the controlled substances laws of the United States."

As part of that work, agents have authorized their informants to do everything from buying and selling drugs to participating in Medicaid fraud rings. Agents are supposed to get supervisors' approval before they permit informants to commit even minor crimes; in more serious cases — involving violence or big drug shipments — they must also get permission from Justice Department lawyers.

The department tightened those rules a decade ago, after the FBI acknowledged that its agents had allowed accused Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger to run a crime ring responsible for extortion and murder in exchange for information about the mafia.

More on those jackbooted TSA thugs who pretend to protect us from terrorists.


Leukemia patient embarrassed by TSA pat-down

Oct. 9, 2012 11:41 AM

Associated Press

SEATTLE -- A leukemia patient making what she calls an "end-of-life" trip to Hawaii says she was embarrassed by security agents at Sea-Tac Airport who refused her request for a private pat-down when they made her lift her shirt and pull back bandages.

Michelle Dunaj also says an agent opened a saline bag, contaminating fluid she needs to survive.

TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis told KOMO-TV it's against policy to deny a private screening for passengers who request it. The agency is looking into the incident.

It happened last week as the Detroit-area woman was traveling through Seattle to Hawaii. Dunaj says she thought she had prepared, calling the airline ahead of time and requesting a wheelchair and asking how to send her medicines through security.

Korean TSA thugs are just as dumb as the American TSA thugs

Looks like the TSA morons in South Korea aren't any better then the TSA morons in the USA!

On the other hand I thought I read an article somewhere that said that in some countries that all flights to the USA are inspected by American TSA thugs. So these TSA morons in Korea might have been TSA thugs from the USA.

Last but not least I am just making fun of the TSA goons here. We don't need to have government goons searching everybody that boards an airplane, and in the USA, it is almost certainly a violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.


South Korea airport missed weapons

Officials never detected concealed smoke grenade in checked luggage

by Michael R. Blood - Oct. 10, 2012 10:59 PM

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - South Korean security officials screened a man with a bulletproof vest before he got on a flight to Los Angeles, but they never detected a banned smoke grenade concealed in his checked luggage with a cache of knives, handcuffs, a gas mask and other weapons, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

Yongda Huang Harris and his carry-on luggage were thoroughly searched, but authorities found nothing suspicious and he boarded the flight, said a Homeland Security official briefed on the investigation. The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Harris, 28, was arrested in Los Angeles last week during a stopover on a trip from Japan after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers noticed the bulletproof vest. A search of Harris' checked luggage uncovered the smoke grenade and an array of suspicious items, including leg irons, body bags, a hatchet, billy clubs, a collapsible baton, duct tape and a biohazard suit.

U.S. officials were working with South Korean authorities to determine how the grenade slipped through screening.

Harris is not cooperating with federal officials who are trying to determine why he was headed to Boston with the cache of weapons, authorities said. The smoke grenade was X-rayed by police bomb squad officers, who said the device fell into a category that is prohibited on board passenger aircraft.

Tom Blank, a former deputy administrator at the Transportation Security Administration, said the U.S. will likely look at whether the failure to detect the grenade on a U.S.-bound jet was a one-time lapse or part of a security vulnerability.

If the U.S. determines a country's airport doesn't meet U.S. standards, it can ask for stronger security measures and even prohibit flights from flying directly to the U.S. from that country.

"This clearly looks like an error. Something slipped through that should not have slipped through," Blank said of the grenade.

Many of the other belongings authorities say they found in Harris' luggage -- including the hatchet and knives -- wouldn't violate TSA guidelines for property in checked luggage. Bulletproof vests and flame-resistant pants like the ones Harris was wearing aren't among prohibited items aboard flights.

There is no indication that Harris, who does not have a criminal record, is linked to a terrorist organization or planned to damage the plane, and it's not likely a smoke grenade could bring down the aircraft, the federal official said.

But the smoke grenade is banned from planes under the United Nations' explosives shipping rules. Depending on the conditions when it is ignited, the grenade could fill the cabin with smoke or cause a fire.

Customs officers believed that the billy clubs and collapsible baton might be prohibited by California law, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

Rules, or the lack of them, that govern what passengers can do, carry or wear on flights can seem alternately reasonable or unfathomable. Increased airline security after 9/11 sought to armor flights against terrorist threats, but they can also test credulity for those getting on board.

An intrusive pat-down by security or the discovery of a too-big bottle of tanning lotion can leave a passenger feeling violated, while Harris, outfitted in a bulletproof vest, flame-retardant pants and knee pads underneath a trenchcoat, with a concealed arsenal in his luggage, appears to have triggered no suspicion before arriving in Los Angeles.

Torture cases rise sharply in Mexico

And please remember that Felipe Calderon's "war on drugs" is brought to you by the American government.


Torture cases rise sharply in Mexico, Amnesty International says

By Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times

October 10, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

MEXICO CITY — A leading human rights group contends that the Mexican government under outgoing President Felipe Calderon has "effectively turned a blind eye" to a dramatic increase in reported instances of torture and abuse by police and the military in recent years, as those forces have been pressured to come down hard on the powerful drug cartels threatening large chunks of the country.

In a report issued Thursday, Amnesty International noted that Mexico's National Human Rights Commission received 1,669 reports of torture and abuse by police and the military in 2011. That number has grown each year since 2008, when the commission received 564 complaints. Many observers believe that those numbers represent a fraction of the actual abuse cases because many victims are afraid to report them.

The torture of criminal suspects has played a role in the Mexican justice system for decades despite clear federal laws prohibiting the practice. In a 1984 report, Amnesty found evidence that Mexican police beat suspects, injected carbonated water into their nostrils, used electric shocks and sexually abused them, among other things.

But the issue has become more pressing of late with the growing power of the drug gangs and Calderon's decision, beginning in December 2006, to deploy the military to help restore public order. The armed forces were unprepared for domestic police work as they began to work beside an existing mix of local and federal law enforcement agencies that had a long history of abusing suspects.

Under the Calderon administrations, the torturers have "enjoyed almost total impunity," the report said, and coerced confessions continue to be entered as evidence in court.

Amnesty noted that the government has taken some steps to reduce torture. But the ineffectiveness of those efforts, the group argues, raises "questions about the political will at all levels of government" to eradicate the practice.

The Calderon administration did not respond to a request for comment from The Times. In the past, the president, who leaves office Dec. 1, has admitted that abuses occurred and has argued that the government has sought to legally punish the abusers.

Amnesty's suggestions for Mexico include reforms that would disallow evidence obtained through torture in criminal proceedings; a ban on the military carrying out police functions; and an end to the practice known as arraigo, in which those suspected of serious crimes can be detained for up to 80 days by officials without being charged. The group documented several cases in which suspects were abused during such periods.

Before the July 1 presidential election, the eventual winner, Enrique Peña Nieto, told Amnesty that his commitment to human rights would be "unwavering" and promised to take steps to end torture.

Doing so would require more than changes in the law, said Victor Clark Alfaro, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana. Clark said it also would require a change in the culture — and not just the culture of policing.

The violence and instability wrought by the drug gangs has left many Mexicans with little appetite to consider the rights of suspects in organized-crime cases, Clark said, even though innocents are sometimes rounded up by authorities as well.

Clark said drug suspects in northern Mexico often appear on television with visible bruises from beatings that appear to have been delivered by authorities. He said viewers often respond by saying: "How great that they beat them up. They deserved it."


US forces go to Jordan as a check on Syria

Will Obama invade Syria to get reelected???


US forces go to Jordan as a check on Syria

Defense secretary: We're helping monitor chemical weapons, deal with refugees

by Lolita C. Baldor and Karin Laub - Oct. 10, 2012 11:01 PM

Associated Press

BRUSSELS - The United States has sent troops to Jordan to bolster its military capabilities in the event Syria's civil war escalates, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday, reflecting U.S. concerns about the conflict spilling over allies' borders and about the security of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

Speaking at a NATO conference of defense ministers, Panetta said the U.S. has been working with Jordan to monitor chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria and also to help Jordan deal with refugees pouring over the border from Syria.

About 150 U.S. troops, largely Army special operations forces, are working out of a military center near Amman, two senior defense officials said on condition of anonymity. The troops have moved back and forth to the Syrian border as part of their work, which is joint planning and intelligence gathering, one official said.

News of the U.S. mission to Jordan follows several days of shelling between Turkey and Syria, an indication that the civil war could become a regional conflict. One of the U.S. defense officials said the extra planning is aimed at avoiding those kinds of clashes between Jordan and Syria.

Panetta has said that while the U.S. believes the weapons are still secure, intelligence suggests the regime might have moved some to protect them.

Syria is believed to have one of the world's largest chemical weapons programs, and the Assad regime has said it might use the weapons against external threats, though not against Syrians. The U.S. and Jordan share the same concern about Syria's chemical and biological weapons: that they could fall into the wrong hands should the regime in Syria collapse and lose control of them.

Jordan's King Abdullah II fears such weapons could go to the al-Qaida terror network or other militants, primarily the Iranian-allied Lebanese Hezbollah -- a vocal critic of Jordan's longstanding alliance with the United States.

Steven Bucci, an expert in chemical weapons at the Heritage Foundation, has told Congress there might be as many as 50 chemical weapons sites. He said in an interview Wednesday that Syria's stockpile is potentially "like a gift from God" for militants because they don't have the know-how to assemble such weapons, while some of Syria's chemical agents are believed to have already been fitted into missile warheads.

Pentagon press secretary George Little, traveling with Panetta, said the U.S. and Jordan agreed that "increased cooperation and more detailed planning are necessary in order to respond to the severe consequences of the Assad regime's brutality."

He said the U.S. has provided medical kits, water tanks and other forms of aid to help Jordanians assist Syrian refugees fleeing into their country.

Joint Chiefs chairman: It's not time for military yet

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Washington on Wednesday that the Pentagon was planning for "a number of contingencies" and was prepared to provide the administration with options on Syria, if needed.

"But the military instrument of power at this point is not the prominent instrument of power that should be applied in Syria," he said.

Much traffic at Jordan-Syria border

In Jordan, the biggest problem at the moment seems to be the strain put on the country's meager resources by the estimated 200,000 Syrian refugees who have flooded across the border -- the largest number fleeing to any country.

Several dozen refugees in Jordan rioted in their desert border camp of Zaatari earlier this month, destroying tents and medicine and leaving scores of refugee families out in the night cold.

Jordanian men also are moving the other way across the border, joining what intelligence officials have estimated to be around 2,000 foreigners fighting alongside Syrian rebels. A Jordanian border guard was wounded after armed men -- believed to be trying to go fight -- exchanged gunfire at the northern frontier.

No free speech for people that hate crooked police officers


UK man jailed for wearing offensive T-shirt

Associated Press Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:35 PM

LONDON — A British man who wore a T-shirt that glorified killing police hours after the deaths of two officers has been sentenced to four months in jail.

Barry Thew, 39, was arrested for wearing a shirt bearing handwritten messages saying

“One less pig perfect justice”
in Radcliffe, near Manchester, on Sept. 18.

His arrest came hours after two police officers in the northwest England city were killed in a gun and grenade attack that shocked Britain.

Thew was sentenced to four months in jail Thursday after earlier pleading guilty to a public order offense. He received another four months for breaching the terms of an earlier suspended sentence.

Civil liberties campaigners slammed the sentence as absurd and warned it would have a chilling effect on free speech.

Mexico condemns shooting involving border agent

Sadly the insane and unconstitutional American drug war has cause the murder of 1,000's of people over harmless drugs like marijuana.

I don't know what drugs the people that were murdered by the BP agents were accuse of smuggling, but it is insane to justify their murders because of any drug they were smuggling.


Mexico condemns shooting involving border agent

by Domenico Nicosia and Cassondra Strande - Oct. 11, 2012 10:15 PM

The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team

The Mexican government is reacting angrily to reports that a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot a suspected drug smuggler on the Mexican side of the Arizona border.

U.S. authorities confirmed that a young Mexican citizen was shot Wednesday night near Nogales after rocks were thrown at agents.

Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for the Embassy of Mexico in the United States, said his government strongly condemns and deplores the use of lethal force by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Alday would not elaborate or confirm any details of the incident.

The Spanish-language network Telemundo reported that the suspect died after being shot on Mexican territory.

Border Patrol officials had not confirmed his death Thursday night.

The shooting occurred after agents reportedly saw two suspected narcotics smugglers in Nogales drop a load of narcotics on the U.S. side of the border, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection document.

The suspects then fled to the Mexican side of the border and began assaulting the agents with rocks, the document said. When they ignored orders to stop, at least one of the agents fired at them, according to the document.

It was unclear how many shots were fired.

After the suspected smuggler was hit, agents secured the scene and notified the Mexican government, according to U.S. authorities.

Alday said in the statement that "it is imperative that the relevant U.S. authorities proceed with a timely and transparent investigation, and take it to its ultimate consequences. Mexican authorities will proceed accordingly within their jurisdiction."

Neither Border Patrol officials nor the FBI, which is leading the investigation, would comment aside from a statement released Thursday.

The shooting comes less than two weeks after the death of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie, who was killed by friendly fire Oct. 2. Ivie was based at the Brian A. Terry Border Patrol Station near Naco.

Was the death of Heriberto Lazcano staged by the Mexican government???

I wonder, did the Mexican government stage the capture, murder, and then theft of Heriberto Lazcano's body to prove they are a great government who can catch any criminal???

This case is kind of like the case where the American government claimed to have captured bin Laden, proved it by taking his fingerprints before killing him then dumping his body in the ocean.

In both cases the Mexican and American governments might be lying to make themselves look like heroes.


Autopsy: 2 shots in head killed Mexican drug lord

Oct. 11, 2012 11:40 PM

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY -- An autopsy carried out on the body of drug cartel leader Heriberto Lazcano before his body was stolen shows he died of six gunshot wounds, including two to the head, according to a forensic report released Thursday.

The Coahuila state prosecutors' office said the autopsy determined Lazcano died of brain injuries, hemorrhaging, shock and blood loss. Lazcano, known as "El Lazca," was a founder and one of two top leaders of the brutal Zetas drug cartel and was one of Mexico's most-wanted drug lords.

The head wounds stood out, given navy reports indicating Lazcano was shot at a distance of as much as 300 meters (yards) by marines during a confrontation in northern Coahuila state Sunday.

The autopsy report said Lazcano was shot once in the side or top of the skull and once in the back of the head. The four other wounds were in the buttocks, chest and arm.

Masked men stole his body from a funeral home early Monday. State forensic experts performed the autopsy at the funeral home Sunday evening, before the body was stolen.

Mexico's navy said its personnel had no idea they had killed the leader of the country's most-feared drug cartel until after his body was stolen. By law, military personnel in Mexico cannot keep or examine suspects or corpses, but must turn them over to civilian prosecutors. In areas where morgues are in short supply, medical examiners sometimes perform autopsies at funeral homes.

The navy says Lazcano was killed after marines tried to search a group of suspicious men in a truck outside a baseball stadium, after receiving a tip there were armed men in the area. The men fired when the marines stopped the truck. One suspect died where the truck was stopped, but the man later identified as Lazcano fled across a field, where he was reportedly cut down by marine fire.

Who is lying? Sheriff Joe or Paul Penzone?

Is Sheriff Joe lying??? Is Paul Penzone lying.

In this case Paul Penzone might be lying.

After Sheriff Joe's reign of terror for 20 years in Maricopa County he definably needs to go. But of course I don't think Paul Penzone is any better then Sheriff Joe.

Paul Penzone is an ex-narc and I suspect he will continue to terrorize the citizens of Maricopa County for victimless drug war crimes if he replaces Sheriff Joe.

Like Sheriff Joe, I suspect Paul Penzone will say anything to get elected, or in this case lie about anything to get elected.

If I was in Nazi Germany living under Hitler, I would certainly vote for Joe Stalin to get rid of Hitler. Not because I like Stalin, but because I would have been tired of Hitler terrorizing us.

I feel the same way about this election. I think both Paul Penzone and Sheriff Joe are police state thugs and I don't want either of them in office. But I would vote for Paul Penzone just to get rid of Sheriff Joe.

Here is a link to the commerical on UTube.



Arpaio ad on Penzone smacks of desperation


Thu, Oct 11 2012

Fresh on the heels of a poll showing Paul Penzone within four points of catching Joe Arpaio, Team Arpaio released a rather vicious campaign ad today, accusing Penzone of hitting his wife.

“For years, Paul Penzone was the face of Silent Witness," the ad says. “But in 2003, Paul Penzone pushed his then-wife against a door, injuring her in front of their child. He's tried to explain it away, but there's no excuse for hitting a woman. Now, the only silent witness is his ex-wife.“


Of course, there are just few things missing from Arpaio’s ad….

…Like the fact that Penzone is the one who called police and Penzone is listed by police as the victim.

...Like the fact that neither Penzone nor his then-wife was prosecuted, as it was a he-said, she-said affair. No independent witnesses (presumably, not even the child whom Arpaio says witnessed the fight.)

According to a Glendale Police Department report of the 2003 incident, the Penzones were getting a divorce and in the midst of a nasty custody battle. He called police, saying his wife had assaulted him.

The report says Penzone had gone to the house to pick up his son’s hockey gear and told police that his wife hit him in the face with a hockey stick. Police said he had a minor bruise on his face.

His wife then told police that she hit him because he pushed her first, causing her to hit her forehead on the door. Police said she had a minor bruise on her forehead.

City prosecutors declined to prosecute.

Penzone then filed for an order of protection against her, and a few days later, she filed one against him, recounting their versions of the story.

There are no records – at least, none that I have found -- to indicate that Penzone had ever previously or ever since been involved in a domestic violence.

Arpaio spokesman Chad Willems defended the ad, saying the records “speak for themselves.”

They certainly do.

If I were I Joe, I'd stick to investigating sex crimes.

Is Penzone being 'Saban-ed' by Arpaio?


Is Penzone being 'Saban-ed' by Arpaio?


Thu, Oct 11 2012

Before Paul Penzone became the closest thing to a challenger that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has had there was Dan Saban.

Arpaio beat him twice, in 2004 and in 2008.

Saban sued Arpaio, and lost, after a local TV station ran a story in 2004 in which Saban's adoptive mother alleged that he raped her 30 years earlier. Saban said that it was his adoptive mother who’d taken advantage of him and claimed that Arpaio's then-chief deputy, David Hendershott, leaked the story.

The whole sordid episode came up again in 2008, when Saban was running against Arpaio.

This time in a nasty anti-Saban TV ad.

Now Arpaio’s camp has released an anti-Penzone ad dredging up a domestic dispute between Penzone and his former wife that took place nine years ago. Police were called. He said one thing. She said another. He had a little bruise. She had a little bruise.

No one was prosecuted.

Nothing since.

That is, until the sheriff’s race got close. That’s how it goes in politics. It’s sad.

But even sadder, it sometimes works.

No trial, no nothing US declares MS-13 gang to be criminals

Look I think criminals sucks like everybody else does.

But when the government declares people to be criminals without even a trial and freezes their assets the government is just as much as criminal the the person they are alleging to be a criminal.

Of course if the government legalized drugs, the MS-13 gang would go out of business over night. So in the case as usual, the government created the problem.

And of course the remaining criminal business the MS-13 gang is involved in, smuggling aliens into the US would be eliminated if the US government allowed free immigration to the US from Mexico, like they did before they blamed the Mexicans for the Great Depression and locked up the US Mexico boarder in 1933.

Again the government is the cause of the problem.


U.S. targets violent, central American street gang

Oct. 11, 2012 11:58 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A Central American street gang known for using machetes to hack and stab rivals to death became the first street gang to be labeled a transnational criminal organization Thursday.

The Treasury Department formally designated MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational criminal organization in an attempt to freeze the ultra-violent gang out of the U.S. financial system and seize potentially millions of dollars in criminal profits from drug and human smuggling and other crimes committed in the United States.

The gang was founded by immigrants fleeing El Salvador's civil war more than two decades ago its founders took lessons learned from the brutal conflict to the streets of Los Angeles as they built a reputation as one of the most ruthless and sophisticated street gangs in the country. according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jason Shatarsky

With as many as 10,000 members in 46 U.S. states, the gang has expanded beyond its initial and local roots and members are accused of crimes ranging from kidnapping and murder to drug smuggling and human trafficking.

Shatarsky, an MS-13 expert assigned to ICE's national gang unit, said the group quickly established themselves in Los Angeles before later spreading across the country. The group's penchants for violence -- using a machete to hack a victim to death or shooting someone in the head in broad daylight for instance -- surprised authorities and rival gangs

The gang now has a large presence in Southern California, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia, all areas with substantial Salvadoran populations. And in any community where the gang operates, he said, its members often prey on their own community, targeting residents and business owners for extortion, among other crimes. The gang is also active throughout Central America and in parts of Mexico and authorities in Europe have reported evidence of MS-13 expanding operations there.

"They saw a level of violence that hadn't been seen before," Shatarksy said, adding that as the gang as expanded it has also become more sophisticated than many of its rivals.

Among the most high profile killings attributed to MS-13 in Virginia was the 2003 slaying of a pregnant teenager who left the gang and became an informant. Brenda Paz, 17, was stabbed to death and her body was left along the Shenandoah River. MS-13 members have also been linked to the 2007 execution style shooting deaths of three friends in a Newark school yard. One of the victims was also slashed with a machete before being shot. Six people have been charged in the case.

By labeling MS-13 an international criminal organization subject to sanctions by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, the government hopes stymie the gang's ability to funnel money back to its leaders in El Salvador or launder criminal proceeds through otherwise legitimate businesses.

David S. Cohen, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said while no specific members of the gang have been individually listed as part of the group's sanction, anyone identified as a gang member or associate trying to do business with gang members are subject to criminal prosecution.

By declaring the group a transnational criminal organization, the government is also making it more difficult for gang members to use banks and wire transfer services to move profits from the group's crimes.

ICE Director John Morton described the designation Thursday as a "powerful weapon" for his agency's ongoing effort to dismantle the gang. "This designation allows us to strike at the financial heart of MS-13," he said.

Other international criminal groups that have been subject to similar sanctions by the Treasury Department include the Yakuza, a Japanese organized crime group, and the ruthless Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas.


Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twittter.com/acaldwellap

Mexican mayor says boy shot by U.S. agent 7 times


Mexican mayor says boy shot by U.S. agent 7 times

Oct. 12, 2012 05:30 PM

Associated Press

A teenage boy apparently killed this week by a U.S. Border Patrol agent was hit seven times by gunfire and died on a sidewalk just across the Arizona-Mexico border, a mayor in Mexico said Friday.

"It was a burst of gunfire," Nogales Mayor Ramon Guzman Munoz told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It was a hail of bullets."

Munoz called the episode "deplorable" and urged a thorough investigation by both U.S. and Mexican authorities.

Meanwhile, the Border Patrol had not yet confirmed anyone was struck by the agent's bullets, only that "it appeared someone had been hit," agency spokesman Victor Brabble said Friday.

The Border Patrol said several agents responded Wednesday night to reports of suspected drug smugglers in Nogales, Ariz. The agents watched two people abandon a load of narcotics, then run back to Mexico, according to the Border Patrol. They were then pelted by rocks thrown from across the border. The agency said the people ignored orders to stop, and an agent open fire.

The Sonora state attorney general's office in Mexico said in a statement Thursday that Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, from Nogales, Sonora, was found dead at the border from gunshot wounds about midnight Wednesday.

However, the office didn't definitively confirm the boy had been shot by the Border Patrol, only noting that police received reports of gunshots, then found his body on a sidewalk near the border barrier.

A Mexican official with direct knowledge of the investigation confirmed the boy was shot by the agent, and said authorities were meeting Friday in Mexico City to discuss the case. The person also said the teenager had been shot multiple times in the back. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not yet authorized to discuss details of the case.

Mexico's Foreign Relations Department issued a statement Thursday saying it "forcefully condemned" the shooting and calling such deaths "a serious bilateral problem."

Border agents are generally allowed to use lethal force against rock throwers, and there are several ongoing investigations into similar shootings in Arizona and Texas.

"Drug war cops" now shoot down suspected drug smuggling planes

Cops are now shooting down airplanes suspected of smuggling drugs.

I have half seriously joked that when American cops start using drones they will order drone missile strikes to destroy the homes of suspected drug dealers in South Phoenix.

In Honduras, American financed drug war cops are already shooting down the airplanes of suspected drug smugglers.

The only question is when is this "drug war" insanity going to come to the USA and have cops murdering Americas suspected of "drug war" crimes?


U.S. Rethinks a Drug War After Deaths in Honduras


Published: October 12, 2012

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — The Honduran Air Force pilot did not know what to do. It was the dead of night, and he was chasing a small, suspected drug plane at a dangerously low altitude, just a few hundred feet above the Caribbean. He fired warning shots, but instead of landing, the plane flew lower and closer to the sea.

“So the pilot made a decision, thinking it was the best thing to do,” said Arturo Corrales, Honduras’s foreign minister, one of several officials to give the first detailed account of the episode. “He shot down the plane.”

Four days later, on July 31, it happened again. Another flight departed from a small town on the Venezuelan coast, and using American radar intelligence, a Honduran fighter pilot shot it down over the water.

How many people were killed? Were drugs aboard, or innocent civilians? Officials here and in Washington say they do not know. The planes were never found. But the two episodes — clear violations of international law and established protocols — have ignited outrage in the United States, bringing one of its most ambitious international offensives against drug traffickers to a sudden halt just months after it started.

All joint operations in Honduras are now suspended. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, expressing the concerns of several Democrats in Congress, is holding up tens of millions of dollars in security assistance, not just because of the planes, but also over suspected human rights abuses by the Honduran police and three shootings in which commandos with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration effectively led raids when they were only supposed to act as advisers.

The downed aircraft, in particular, reminded veteran officials of an American missionary plane that was shot down in 2001 by Peruvian authorities using American intelligence. It was only a matter of time, they said, before another plane with the supposedly guilty turned out to be filled with the innocent.

But the clash between the Obama administration and lawmakers had been building for months. Fearful that Central America was becoming overrun by organized crime, perhaps worse than in the worst parts of Mexico, the State Department, the D.E.A. and the Pentagon rushed ahead this year with a muscular antidrug program with several Latin American nations, hoping to protect Honduras and use it as a chokepoint to cut off the flow of drugs heading north.

Then the series of fatal enforcement actions — some by the Honduran military, others involving shootings by American agents — quickly turned the antidrug cooperation, often promoted as a model of international teamwork, into a case study of what can go wrong when the tactics of war are used to fight a crime problem that goes well beyond drugs.

“You can’t cure the whole body by just treating the arm,” said Edmundo Orellana, Honduras’s former defense minister and attorney general. “You have to heal the whole thing.”

A sweeping new plan for Honduras, focused more on judicial reform and institution-building, is now being jointly developed by Honduras and the United States. But State Department officials must first reassure Congress that the deaths have been investigated and that new safeguards, like limits on the role of American forces, will be put in place.

“We are trying to see what to do differently or better,” said Lisa J. Kubiske, the American ambassador in Honduras.

The challenge is dizzying, and the new plan, according to a recent draft shown to The New York Times, is more aspirational than anything aimed at combating drugs and impunity in Mexico, or Colombia before that. It includes not just boats and helicopters, but also broad restructuring: several new investigative entities, an expanded vetting program for the police, more power for prosecutors, and a network of safe houses for witnesses.

Officials from both countries have often failed to fully grasp the weakness of the Honduran institutions deployed to turn the country around. But the need to act is obvious. The country’s homicide rate is among the highest in the world, and corruption has chewed through government from top to bottom.

“We know that unless we really help these governments and address the complexities of these challenges they face, their people and societies would be further endangered,” said Maria Otero, under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights.

“Honduras,” she added, “is the most vulnerable and threatened of them all.”

A Country’s Cry for Help

The foreign minister, Mr. Corrales, a hulk of a man with a loud laugh and a degree in engineering, said he visited Washington in early 2011 with a request for help in four areas: investigation, impunity, organized crime and corruption. President Porfirio Lobo, in meetings with the Americans, put it more bluntly: “We’re drowning.”

In 2010, a year after a military coup eventually brought the conservative Lobo government to power, drug flights to Honduras spiked to 82, from six in 2006. Half the country, which is only a little bigger than Tennessee, was out of government control. Then last October, the mingling of corruption and impunity hit the front pages here with the murder of Rafael Alejandro Vargas, the 22-year-old son of Julieta Castellanos, the rector of Honduras’s largest university.

Mr. Vargas’s death stood out not just because he was the son of a prominent academic; he was killed by police officers, who appeared to have kidnapped him as he left a birthday party, and then killed him when they realized who he was. Many of the officers were not arrested.

“It was a wake-up call for all of Honduras of just how corrupt and infiltrated the police were,” Ms. Otero said.

Another State Department official said the killing — along with the soaring homicide rate and the increased trafficking — sounded alarms in Washington: “It raised for us the specter of Honduras becoming another northern Mexico.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton demanded a strong response, and William R. Brownfield, the assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, became the point man for what was created: a broad security program centered on rapid-response law enforcement activities organized by the D.E.A. and the Pentagon.

Known as Anvil, it was meant to work alongside efforts like outreach to youth and training for some police officers, prosecutors and judges. But the interdiction of cocaine was the immediate focus. Mr. Brownfield and other officials wanted to test whether they could keep drug planes from landing on Honduras’s isolated Caribbean coast.

The plan was for American and Colombian radar intelligence to guide D.E.A. agents working with the Honduran police. They would intercept drug planes once they landed, using State Department helicopters flown by Guatemalan pilots. “It was the most multinational law enforcement operation we have ever conducted,” Mr. Brownfield said.

They started in the spring, and several officials, including Ambassador Kubiske, said the program had succeeded in many ways. From April 24 to July 3, 4.7 tons of cocaine were seized, and the number of drug flights coming into Honduras fell significantly.

But the operation had evident procedural flaws. It was started without some simple measures that could have prevented deaths or allowed for swift investigations and a full public accounting when things went wrong.

According to a senior American official who was not authorized to speak on the record, there were no detailed rules governing American participation in law enforcement operations. Honduran officials also described cases in which the rules of engagement for the D.E.A. and the police were vague and ad hoc.

“In these kinds of situations, who can really say how the decision to shoot is made?” said Héctor Iván Mejía, a spokesman for the Honduran National Police.

And for a law enforcement program, investigations seemed to be an afterthought. On several occasions, crime scenes were left unsecured for more than 12 hours, until an investigator could be flown to them. After episodes in which suspects were injured or killed, it often took days — and significant public pressure — to begin inquiries about whether deadly force was justified, too late to create a full and credible account.

The Honduran authorities were not much help. After one previously undisclosed interdiction raid in July, soldiers refused to board an American military helicopter that had come to collect reinforcements.

More broadly, it was often unclear who was in charge. Sometimes neither Honduran nor American authorities seemed to know who was ultimately responsible for the policy.

The D.E.A.’s role was especially contentious. Its commandos were part of a tactical assault program known as FAST, for Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Team, which has been credited with victories against drug traffickers from Peru to Afghanistan. But a May 11 shooting in a town called Ahuas, in which gunfire killed four people whom neighbors said were innocent, led to concerns in Congress that the D.E.A.’s commandos were operating with impunity.

The agents were supposed to act as trainers. “During our operations in Honduras, Honduran law enforcement is always in the lead, and we play a support and mentorship role,” said Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for the D.E.A.

But American officials overseeing Anvil now acknowledge that turned out not to be the case. Members of the Honduran police teams told government investigators that they took their orders from the D.E.A. Americans officials said that the FAST teams, deploying tactics honed in Afghanistan, did not feel confident in the Hondurans’ abilities to take the lead.

Three of the five joint interdiction operations during Anvil included deadly shootings. In Ahuas, officials said the gunfire came from the Honduran police. In late June, D.E.A. agents shot and killed the pilot of a plane bearing drugs, and another pilot who landed farther inland on July 3. Anvil ended soon afterward, several days ahead of schedule.

“This operation was bungled in its conception, in its implementation and in its aftermath,” said Mr. Leahy, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s panel on the State Department and foreign operations.

Representative Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to Mrs. Clinton, “Unfortunately, this is not the first time the United States has come perilously close to an overmilitarized strategy toward a country too small and institutionally weak for its citizens to challenge the policy.”

Mr. Brownfield, the assistant secretary, said it was impossible to “offer a zero risk program for interdicting drugs in Central America.” He noted that the shootings during interdiction raids happened in the middle of the night, in remote locations that were hard for investigators to reach. Despite these challenges, he said that investigations were conducted and that he was “basically satisfied” that he knew what had happened.

But an aide to Mr. Leahy said members of Congress were not reassured. “One of several reasons funds currently are being withheld is that we have yet to see the results of any investigation, and there is little confidence that the next time would be any better,” the aide said.

Military Justice Gone Awry

When the Honduran Air Force pilot took off from his base at La Ceiba on July 26, tracking a plane without a flight plan, the State Department helicopters used for interdiction had already returned to Guatemala. The D.E.A. agents were gone. Anvil had ended, but the broader mission of joint enforcement and the sharing of American intelligence had not.

From the moment the Honduran pilot departed in his aging Tucano turboprop, just before midnight, he was in radio contact with Colombian authorities, who regularly receive radar intelligence from the American military’s Southern Command.

Intelligence-sharing is a major component of the American approach to fighting drugs regionally, and military commanders said they were not especially worried about any mistakes as they watched the suspicious flight on their radar screens. Nearly a decade earlier, Honduran military commanders signed an agreement with the United States to abide by laws that prohibit firing on civilian aircraft. After all, small single-engine planes are used by local airlines, courier services and missionaries all over Honduras’s remote northeastern coast.

Yet Honduran and American officials said the Honduran pilots did not seem to be aware of the rules.

Mr. Corrales, the foreign minister, and some American officials have concluded that the downed planes amounted to misapplied military justice, urged on by societal anger and the broader weaknesses of Honduras’s institutions.

“It reflects a lot of frustration in the country, that they think this is a tool they need to use,” Ambassador Kubiske said. “If you had a law enforcement system and then a justice system that could reliably detain suspected narcos when they land — if they could seize the goods and put together a strong case.” She added, “If they had a strong functioning system, then this would look like a less attractive alternative.”

Creating a stronger system is at the core of what some officials are now calling Anvil II. A draft of the plan provided by Mr. Corrales shows a major shift toward shoring up judicial institutions with new entities focused on organized and financial crime.

Mr. Corrales said the plan was closer to what he had hoped for before Anvil, with a few protective fixes: each vetted investigative unit will include up to three embedded prosecutors, who will direct the activities of Honduran police officers and D.E.A. agents.

The D.E.A.’s role will also probably change. American officials say they are discussing how to keep it more limited, possibly by requiring FAST agents to stay on helicopters during raids, “more like a coach on the sidelines,” one American military official said.

Much of what is being proposed would be paid for with a national security tax Honduras recently established. The Americans have agreed to help Honduras determine how the money will be spent, and if Congress releases its hold on American contributions, joint security programs will accelerate quickly.

But many Hondurans worry that the pull of the familiar — of muscular, military-style interdiction — may be difficult to resist. In the handwritten notes on Mr. Corrales’s draft, he placed a No. 1 next to two items: intelligence-sharing, and a reference to training for 20 Honduran helicopter pilots.

Honduran officials have also resisted demands from Congress for a more thorough investigation of Juan Carlos Bonilla, the head of the Honduran police, who has been accused of running a death squad that killed at least three people from 1998 to 2002. (He was acquitted of a single murder charge in 2004, though critics say the case was hindered by corruption.)

Dr. Castellanos, the university rector, said the challenge for Honduras and the Americans would be staying focused on long-term problems like corruption. “It’s a tragedy; there is no confidence in the state,” she said, wearing black in her university office.

The old game of cocaine cat-and-mouse tends to look like a quicker fix, she said, with its obvious targets and clear victories measured in tons seized. Since Anvil ended, officials have seen a revival of suspicious planes heading to Honduras, with many landing inland, along rivers.

“This moment presents us with an opportunity for institutional reform,” Dr. Castellanos said. But that will depend on whether the new effort goes after more than just drugs and uproots the criminal networks that have already burrowed into Honduran society.

“There’s infiltration everywhere,” she said. “There is no guarantee it can be stopped.”

Propaganda from Sheriff Joe

Here is an editorial from the worst sheriff in the world on why he should be reelected.

I couple of days ago the Republic wrote an editorial saying Sheriff Joe has got to go. I think they let him respond to that editorial with this "My Turn" letter to the editor.

Please note, while I think Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the worst sheriff in America, I don't think Paul Penzone is much better.


Endorsement for sheriff ignores some key facts

by Joe Arpaio - Oct. 12, 2012 06:26 PM

The Arizona Republic editorial board's endorsement of one of my political opponents was no surprise to anyone familiar with this newspaper and its board ("Arpaio's record says: Elect Penzone," Editorial, Sunday). It has long opposed my policies regarding Tent City, as well as how I enforce illegal-immigration laws. This board joins the ultraliberal New Times newspaper as advocates for my ousting. [Hey, Sheriff Joe, the Republic has endorsed you for years. But you have screwed things up so badly they finally have started to call for an end to your reign of terror like us normal folks have been doing for years.]

There were a number of distortions and omissions by this editorial board, a move carefully calculated to unseat a conservative sheriff who upholds laws this newspaper despises.

This editorial board clearly advocates replacing me with Paul Penzone, a man it knows has little management experience and who isn't even endorsed by the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. PLEA supports me for sheriff. Why? It cites Penzone's lack of experience and knowledge as reasons they will not support him.

Instead, the paper's editorial writers recite reasons to vote me out yet conveniently omit facts that debunk their arguments.

They characterized investigations into various politicians as a terror-waged vendetta yet fail to remind readers those investigations resulted in the indictments of some and an admission by the U.S. Justice Department that the evidence was so lacking, they dropped the 3-year-long investigation. [Sheriff Joe, just because they didn't get enough evidence to prove you are a crook, doesn't mean you are not a crook!]

The paper asked readers to believe I misappropriated $100 million when it was an accounting error only. Deputies' salaries were paid out of the wrong fund. It was corrected by a journal entry. Taxpayers were not affected. [I think that is an outright lie. From what I have read the deputies salaries were paid out of a fund that was supposed to be used to purchase a new jail. Not a cent of that money has been paid back. It's lost]

They complain the jails cost taxpayers millions in lawsuits. All large jails do. Inmates sue all the time. Occasionally, someone dies in jail. What predictably follows is a lawsuit by the family. The fact remains, the legal costs associated with the running of my jails are far less than many large jails in the U.S. [Really, it would be nice to supply us with some numbers here.]

The editorial board claims my deputies embarrass Arizona by arresting people who are simply "driving while Hispanic." We do not racially profile, but we do uphold the state laws on illegal immigration. [I think you are lying about that! I have not heard of you having any patrols in Scottsdale to shake down all the White Canadian snow birds that come there for their "papers" like you do to the Latinos in Guadalupe and South Phoenix!]

Five weeks before my election, this paper did a huge series on our sex-crimes unit and problems we endured several years ago. Difficulties in investigating sex crimes are not unique to this agency.

Other agencies here and elsewhere have similar challenges yet The Republic has never offered an in-depth examination about those agencies' difficulties. When I learned about our problem, we reinvestigated the cases, arrested perpetrators, and put new systems in place to avoid a reoccurrence. Today, we have a larger sex-crimes unit with better-trained detectives, an improved case-tracking system and new state-of-the-art advocacy centers.

On Nov. 6, you have important choices to make including the Maricopa County sheriff's race. Despite what this paper tries to persuade you to think, I believe you know I do the job I was elected to do. Because of that, the areas my deputies patrol are the safest in the county.

I have had my share of difficulties, and like any experienced manager, I faced them head on and moved on. Too bad The Arizona Republic doesn't do the same.

Joe Arpaio is Maricopa County sheriff.

Flushing "free speech" down the toilet for "religious freedom"???

You have the right to free speech as long as you don't insult the religious nut jobs!!!!


Shut up and play nice: How the Western world is limiting free speech

Brian Stauffer for The Washington Post

By Jonathan Turley, Published: October 12

Free speech is dying in the Western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views. The decline of free speech has come not from any single blow but rather from thousands of paper cuts of well-intentioned exceptions designed to maintain social harmony.

In the face of the violence that frequently results from anti-religious expression, some world leaders seem to be losing their patience with free speech. After a video called “Innocence of Muslims” appeared on YouTube and sparked violent protests in several Muslim nations last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that “when some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected.”

It appears that the one thing modern society can no longer tolerate is intolerance. As Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard put it in her recent speech before the United Nations, “Our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred.”

A willingness to confine free speech in the name of social pluralism can be seen at various levels of authority and government. In February, for instance, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Martin heard a case in which a Muslim man was charged with attacking an atheist marching in a Halloween parade as a “zombie Muhammed.” Martin castigated not the defendant but the victim, Ernie Perce, lecturing him that “our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures — which is what you did.”

Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people — challenging social taboos or political values.

This was evident in recent days when courts in Washington and New York ruled that transit authorities could not prevent or delay the posting of a controversial ad that says: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

When U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said the government could not bar the ad simply because it could upset some Metro riders, the ruling prompted calls for new limits on such speech. And in New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority responded by unanimously passing a new regulation banning any message that it considers likely to “incite” others or cause some “other immediate breach of the peace.”

Such efforts focus not on the right to speak but on the possible reaction to speech — a fundamental change in the treatment of free speech in the West. The much-misconstrued statement of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that free speech does not give you the right to shout fire in a crowded theater is now being used to curtail speech that might provoke a violence-prone minority. Our entire society is being treated as a crowded theater, and talking about whole subjects is now akin to shouting “fire!”

The new restrictions are forcing people to meet the demands of the lowest common denominator of accepted speech, usually using one of four rationales.

Speech is blasphemous

This is the oldest threat to free speech, but it has experienced something of a comeback in the 21st century. After protests erupted throughout the Muslim world in 2005 over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, Western countries publicly professed fealty to free speech, yet quietly cracked down on anti-religious expression. Religious critics in France, Britain, Italy and other countries have found themselves under criminal investigation as threats to public safety. In France, actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has been fined several times for comments about how Muslims are undermining French culture. And just last month, a Greek atheist was arrested for insulting a famous monk by making his name sound like that of a pasta dish.

Some Western countries have classic blasphemy laws — such as Ireland, which in 2009 criminalized the “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” deemed “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion.” The Russian Duma recently proposed a law against “insulting religious beliefs.” Other countries allow the arrest of people who threaten strife by criticizing religions or religious leaders. In Britain, for instance, a 15-year-old girl was arrested two years agofor burning a Koran.

Western governments seem to be sending the message that free speech rights will not protect you — as shown clearly last month by the images of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the YouTube filmmaker, being carted away in California on suspicion of probation violations. Dutch politician Geert Wilders went through years of litigation before he was acquitted last year on charges of insulting Islam by voicing anti-Islamic views. In the Netherlandsand Italy, cartoonists and comedians have been charged with insulting religion through caricatures or jokes.

Even the Obama administration supported the passage of a resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Council to create an international standard restricting some anti-religious speech (its full name: “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief”). Egypt’s U.N. ambassador heralded the resolution as exposing the “true nature” of free speech and recognizing that “freedom of expression has been sometimes misused” to insult religion.

At a Washington conference last yearto implement the resolution, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared that it would protect both “the right to practice one’s religion freely and the right to express one’s opinion without fear.” But it isn’t clear how speech can be protected if the yardstick is how people react to speech — particularly in countries where people riot over a single cartoon. Clinton suggested that free speech resulting in “sectarian clashes” or “the destruction or the defacement or the vandalization of religious sites” was not, as she put it, “fair game.”

Given this initiative, President Obama’s U.N. address last month declaring America’s support for free speech, while laudable, seemed confused — even at odds with his administration’s efforts.

Speech is hateful

In the United States, hate speech is presumably protected under the First Amendment. However, hate-crime laws often redefine hateful expression as a criminal act. Thus, in 2003, the Supreme Court addressed the conviction of a Virginia Ku Klux Klan member who burned a cross on private land. The court allowed for criminal penalties so long as the government could show that the act was “intended to intimidate” others. It was a distinction without meaning, since the state can simply cite the intimidating history of that symbol.

Other Western nations routinely bar forms of speech considered hateful. Britain prohibits any “abusive or insulting words” meant “to stir up racial hatred.” Canada outlaws “any writing, sign or visible representation” that “incites hatred against any identifiable group.” These laws ban speech based not only on its content but on the reaction of others. Speakers are often called to answer for their divisive or insulting speech before bodies like the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

This month, a Canadian court ruled that Marc Lemire, the webmaster of a far-right political site, could be punished for allowing third parties to leave insulting comments about homosexuals and blacks on the site. Echoing the logic behind blasphemy laws, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled that “the minimal harm caused . . . to freedom of expression is far outweighed by the benefit it provides to vulnerable groups and to the promotion of equality.”

Speech is discriminatory

Perhaps the most rapidly expanding limitation on speech is found in anti-discrimination laws. Many Western countries have extended such laws to public statements deemed insulting or derogatory to any group, race or gender.

For example, in a closely watched case last year, a French court found fashion designer John Gallianoguilty of making discriminatory comments in a Paris bar, where he got into a cursing match with a couple using sexist and anti-Semitic terms. Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud read a list of the bad words Galliano had used, adding that she found (rather implausibly) he had said “dirty whore” at least 1,000 times. Though he faced up to six months in jail, he was fined.

In Canada, comedian Guy Earle was charged with violating the human rights of a lesbian couple after he got into a trash-talking session with a group of women during an open-mike night at a nightclub. Lorna Pardysaid she suffered post-traumatic stress because of Earle’s profane language and derogatory terms for lesbians. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled last year that since this was a matter of discrimination, free speech was not a defense, and awarded about $23,000 to the couple.

Ironically, while some religious organizations are pushing blasphemy laws, religious individuals are increasingly targeted under anti-discrimination laws for their criticism of homosexuals and other groups. In 2008, a minister in Canada was not only forced to pay fines for uttering anti-gay sentiments but was also enjoined from expressing such views in the future.

Speech is deceitful

In the United States, where speech is given the most protection among Western countries, there has been a recent effort to carve out a potentially large category to which the First Amendment would not apply. While we have always prosecuted people who lie to achieve financial or other benefits, some argue that the government can outlaw any lie, regardless of whether the liar secured any economic gain.

One such law was the Stolen Valor Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, which made it a crime for people to lie about receiving military honors. The Supreme Court struck it down this year, but at least two liberal justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, proposed that such laws should have less of a burden to be upheld as constitutional. The House responded with new legislation that would criminalize lies told with the intent to obtain any undefined “tangible benefit.”

The dangers are obvious. Government officials have long labeled whistleblowers, reporters and critics as “liars” who distort their actions or words. If the government can define what is a lie, it can define what is the truth.

For example, in Februarythe French Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a law that made it a crime to deny the 1915 Armenian genocide by Turkey — a characterization that Turkey steadfastly rejects. Despite the ruling, various French leaders pledged to pass new measures punishing those who deny the Armenians’ historical claims.

The impact of government limits on speech has been magnified by even greater forms of private censorship. For example, most news organizations have stopped showing images of Muhammad, though they seem to have no misgivings about caricatures of other religious figures. The most extreme such example was supplied by Yale University Press, which in 2009 published a book about the Danish cartoons titled “The Cartoons That Shook the World” — but cut all of the cartoons so as not to insult anyone.

The very right that laid the foundation for Western civilization is increasingly viewed as a nuisance, if not a threat. Whether speech is deemed imflammatory or hateful or discriminatory or simply false, society is denying speech rights in the name of tolerance, enforcing mutual respect through categorical censorship.

As in a troubled marriage, the West seems to be falling out of love with free speech. Unable to divorce ourselves from this defining right, we take refuge instead in an awkward and forced silence.


Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

The constantly expanding American Police State!!!

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit


10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

By Jonathan Turley, Published: January 13, 2012

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.

These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.

The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company.

Assassination of U.S. citizens

President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)

Indefinite detention

Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While the administration claims that this provision only codified existing law, experts widely contest this view, and the administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal courts. The government continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion. (China recently codified a more limited detention law for its citizens, while countries such as Cambodia have been singled out by the United States for “prolonged detention.”)

Arbitrary justice

The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice. (Egypt and China have been denounced for maintaining separate military justice systems for selected defendants, including civilians.)

Warrantless searches

The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records. The government can use “national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens — and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan operate under laws that allow the government to engage in widespread discretionary surveillance.)

Secret evidence

The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security — a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government’s actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.

War crimes

The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law. When courts in countries such as Spain moved to investigate Bush officials for war crimes, the Obama administration reportedly urged foreign officials not to allow such cases to proceed, despite the fact that the United States has long claimed the same authority with regard to alleged war criminals in other countries. (Various nations have resisted investigations of officials accused of war crimes and torture. Some, such as Serbia and Chile, eventually relented to comply with international law; countries that have denied independent investigations include Iran, Syria and China.)

Secret court

The government has increased its use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group. The administration has asserted the right to ignore congressional limits on such surveillance. (Pakistan places national security surveillance under the unchecked powers of the military or intelligence services.)

Immunity from judicial review

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has successfully pushed for immunity for companies that assist in warrantless surveillance of citizens, blocking the ability of citizens to challenge the violation of privacy. (Similarly, China has maintained sweeping immunity claims both inside and outside the country and routinely blocks lawsuits against private companies.)

Continual monitoring of citizens

The Obama administration has successfully defended its claim that it can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. (Saudi Arabia has installed massive public surveillance systems, while Cuba is notorious for active monitoring of selected citizens.)

Extraordinary renditions

The government now has the ability to transfer both citizens and noncitizens to another country under a system known as extraordinary rendition, which has been denounced as using other countries, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, to torture suspects. The Obama administration says it is not continuing the abuses of this practice under Bush, but it insists on the unfettered right to order such transfers — including the possible transfer of U.S. citizens.

These new laws have come with an infusion of money into an expanded security system on the state and federal levels, including more public surveillance cameras, tens of thousands of security personnel and a massive expansion of a terrorist-chasing bureaucracy.

Some politicians shrug and say these increased powers are merely a response to the times we live in. Thus, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) could declare in an interview last spring without objection that “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” Of course, terrorism will never “surrender” and end this particular “war.”

Other politicians rationalize that, while such powers may exist, it really comes down to how they are used. This is a common response by liberals who cannot bring themselves to denounce Obama as they did Bush. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), for instance, has insisted that Congress is not making any decision on indefinite detention: “That is a decision which we leave where it belongs — in the executive branch.”

And in a signing statement with the defense authorization bill, Obama said he does not intend to use the latest power to indefinitely imprison citizens. Yet, he still accepted the power as a sort of regretful autocrat.

An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.

The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely.

The indefinite-detention provision in the defense authorization bill seemed to many civil libertarians like a betrayal by Obama. While the president had promised to veto the law over that provision, Levin, a sponsor of the bill, disclosed on the Senate floor that it was in fact the White House that approved the removal of any exception for citizens from indefinite detention.

Dishonesty from politicians is nothing new for Americans. The real question is whether we are lying to ourselves when we call this country the land of the free.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

Whoppie, we won the war in Afghanistan!!!

Whoppie, we won the war in Afghanistan!!! Well at least that's what Emperor Obama told us!!!!


A U.S. platoon awaits the end of Afghan war

By Greg Jaffe, Published: October 12

JAGHATU, Afghanistan — The platoon sergeant poses a simple question to the men of 3rd Platoon: “What do you consider success on a mission?”

There is an uneasy silence in the dark chow tent. In a few months, the U.S. Army will bulldoze its portion of the base, part of America’s slow withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan. All that will remain here in this isolated place is a small Afghan army camp and a mostly empty government building with a mortar hole in its roof, the sum total of 11 years of U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in this district 65 miles south of Kabul.

Sgt. Gary M. Waugh, a soldier on his second Afghan tour, takes a stab at answering the question. “Us not doing a thing,” he says. “Not firing our weapon.”

A few of the soldiers rest their chins on the butts of their rifles. A diesel generator drones in the background as the platoon sergeant surveys his men.

“Right answer,” he replies.

America’s war in Afghanistan has consumed close to $500 billion and cost more than 2,000 American lives. By December 2014, the last American combat troops are scheduled to leave the country. American-led combat operations are expected to finish by the middle of next year. But the war is already ending at little outposts throughout Afghanistan as the U.S. military thins its ranks and tears down bases.

How does a war end? In Jaghatu, these soldiers are learning one way. It ends with resignation, isolation, boredom and the soldiers of 3rd Platoon striding out of the chow tent and into the bright light of a warm September day. Now that they had defined mission success, they had another question: What exactly was the mission anymore?

Isolated soldiers

The U.S. troops at Jaghatu are about as isolated as soldiers can be in Afghanistan. Surrounded by mountains and enemy-controlled terrain, the Americans receive almost all of their supplies by helicopter and weekly parachute drops.

Six months ago, before the current soldiers came, the troops’ mission was clearer: to rout the Taliban from the area. In May, a platoon of Americans in Jaghatu fought a four-hour battle with the Taliban for “Antennae Hill,” a large outcropping of rock, scrub and dirt with a commanding view of the valley to the south of the outpost.

When 3rd Platoon, part of 2nd Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrived this summer, its members watched the shaky, helmet-cam footage that their predecessors had taken as they cursed, sprinted and fought their way to the top of the hill without serious casualties. Pfc. Dillon Guillory, 24, played and replayed the video on his laptop, anxiously waiting for his moment.

Except for occasional patrols, Guillory has spent most of his deployment manning a guard post that overlooks a tattered Afghan flag and the crumbling government building. In Jaghatu, U.S. troops don’t charge up hills after the enemy anymore. They don’t search houses, and they rarely meet with Afghan village elders. Those jobs are supposed to be done by the Afghans.

The Americans’ main mission is supposed to be training the Afghan Army soldiers with whom they share the base, but Guillory is one of only a handful of 3rd Platoon soldiers who interact with Afghans.

“How are you doing?” Guillory asks as he checks the badge of an Afghan worker who speaks no English. “Done with work already?”

To pass the time, Guillory and the other soldiers lift weights and box on a small square of dirt to the screams of Rage Against the Machine’s “Street Fighting Man.” They eat Baskin-Robbins ice cream that floats to earth in weekly parachute drops.

Guillory speaks via Skype to his wife in Lafayette, La., as often as twice a day, more frequently than he talks to any Afghan and many of the soldiers in his platoon.

He watches on his laptop computer and coaches her as she removes the stitches from their recently neutered pit bull, Nelly. “You’re doing great,” he soothes as her hands shake. “You are not going to hurt him.”

She sends him video real-estate listings of houses that she dreams of buying when his enlistment ends. The latest is a four-bedroom home with triple-crown molding, a glass-enclosed fireplace and a $313,000 list price. “I’ve watched it three times, and I can see us living there,” he messages his wife.

In his three months in Afghanistan, Guillory has experienced only one moment when the war seemed real, immediate and dangerous. In late July, the platoon was sitting on a ridgeline watching some Afghan Army troops when a burst of enemy machine-gun fire exploded around them. Guillory threw himself on the ground, crushing his compass with his body armor, and slid to cover on his stomach.

“The whole thing only lasted 15 or 20 seconds,” he recalls.

One of the enemy rounds ricocheted off a rock and struck Pfc. Adam Ross, 19, in the back of the head just below his helmet. The medic worked to stanch the bleeding and called out the details of the injury to Guillory, who scribbled the information on his hand and then radioed the outpost.

The soldiers did not learn that Ross was dead until they were back in their tent. There was no cursing or screaming. Just silence. Guillory, who had not known Ross well, snapped a picture of the writing on his left hand. He had been so shaken that instead of writing “Back of Head,” he had scrawled “Head Back.”

The next day, the medic carved Ross’s last name and the date of his death into a piece of splintering wood in Guillory’s guard shack. Guillory added the 173rd Airborne’s winged insignia in white marker and wondered how he had not been struck, as well.

Weeks passed and the memory gradually faded, until it became just another memorial scratched into a piece of wood and surrounded by graffiti from previous units’ tours.

Now the video real-estate listing from his wife seems as real as anything in his life. It is sundown, and Taliban gunfire pops in the distance. Afghan Army troops respond with a machine-gun blast. “Why would you need a fireplace in Louisiana?” Guillory wonders aloud.

Their next patrol

Sometimes, the soldiers at Jaghatu have days when they don’t feel like soldiers at all. Second Lt. Andrew Beck, the leader of 3rd Platoon, calls his men together to brief them on their next patrol, which involves sitting on a ridgeline while Afghan police search a small village.

They meet in front of Beck’s hooch, a windowless metal container ringed by six-foot-tall barriers built to shield against incoming rockets and mortar shells. Beck, 25, urges his men three times to be cautious. “The general in charge of Afghanistan’s intent is not to destroy the Taliban,” he says, unintentionally overstating the top commander’s guidance. “I know that sucks. His intent is to minimize civilian casualties.”

Beck’s platoon sergeant speaks next: “You guys have been here more than two months. Just keep doing what you are doing.”

What exactly are they doing? Even their commanders are not sure. The Jaghatu outpost was built in 2010 to interdict Taliban fighters who were believed to be moving weapons through the area and into Kabul. But there were never enough U.S. or Afghan troops to pacify the district or find the enemy weapons caches. Even the addition of about 450 Afghan soldiers this spring has not improved security.

Today, U.S. troop levels are falling, and American commanders are realizing that there are severe limits to what they can accomplish in the time they have left in Afghanistan. Beck feels those constraints most acutely when he passes through the Jaghatu bazaar and stares through bulletproof glass at the rickety stalls and bearded shopkeepers.

“Every time I drive through the bazaar, I wonder what is going on 100 meters outside the base,” he says. The Americans pull some intelligence from the district police chief, but never enough. “You feel useless,” Beck adds.

It is a little after 11 a.m. when Beck and his platoon return from three uneventful hours of watching the Afghan police search the village to the west of their base. He gathers his 28 paratroopers in the outpost’s conference room to discuss what they have seen on the patrol.

“Because we have limited missions, we have to make every one of them count,” he says.

Beck graduated near the top of his West Point class in 2011 and had his pick of units; he chose the 173rd Airborne because he knew it was headed to Afghanistan. He expected that he would be leading his soldiers on helicopter-borne assaults and hoped he would be responsible for the security of a few Afghan villages.

The lieutenant asks his men if they noticed anything unusual when they were sitting on the ridgeline watching the village. Silence. “Okay, the pattern of life looked normal, surprisingly normal for what we thought could be an insurgent haven,” he says.

Soldiers stare blankly or doodle in field notebooks. Chairs squeak. The soldiers steer the conversation to a larger issue: They do not understand why they are doing so little.

For weeks they’ve been told that their primary mission is to help the Afghan army and police units in Jaghatu improve. A young private complains that they barely ever see or speak to the Afghan troops. A more senior sergeant echoes him.

There is a new Afghan battalion commander at the base, and Beck suggests that he may be more open to allowing his men to train with the Americans, though it is too soon to tell. “If the Afghans don’t want to take advantage of working with the best Army in the world and the best platoon in this brigade, it is their fault,” he says.

A loyal ally

On a Friday in which no patrols are scheduled, Beck pays a visit to America’s longest-serving and most loyal ally in Jaghatu — the district’s 24-year-old police chief. He walks through Guillory’s gate and into an adjoining, walled compound that houses the government center building with the hole in the roof.

Beck and a few of his soldiers have come to take pictures of the police chief’s men decked out in new body armor, helmets and goggles that the Americans had given them earlier that morning. The Afghan police stand stiffly between a flower bed and a wall scorched from insurgent rocket-propelled grenade blasts. A U.S. soldier adjusts a helmet that is slightly askew.

“A picture with your gun?” the police chief asks one of Beck’s men.

So far this year, Afghan soldiers or police officers have been accused of killing more than 50 U.S. and allied troops. There’s an awkward pause as the soldier glances at Beck for guidance and then strikes a last-second compromise, popping the magazine out of his gun, checking the chamber for a stray round and handing it to the police chief.

The chief doesn’t seem to register the soldier’s move as a slight, but it bothers Beck. “He is the guy we trust most, and we have to take the magazine out of the rifle,” Beck says.

Beck hands the young police chief his loaded M-4. “One more picture by the truck,” he says.

“When you guys leave, you are going to take everything?” the chief asks. “All of the helos and the armor?”

“I don’t know,” Beck replies. “You’ll probably know before me.”

“I think your Army is tired,” the chief says.

Before Beck returns to his base, the police chief has one more request. There’s a pile of cardboard left from one of the American airdrops that morning, and the chief asks if he can have it. They are out of propane gas and need something they can burn to cook their dinner.

Expecting a firefight

Finally, after weeks of waiting, Beck’s soldiers get word that at last there is going to be a mission. It will be their biggest since arriving in Afghanistan. More than 100 Afghan soldiers, 15 Afghan police and about 40 Americans will return to the area where Ross was killed. Everyone is expecting a firefight.

The night before they leave, Guillory talks to his wife on Skype. “Hey, babe, I got to wake up early for work tomorrow,” he tells her at 8:15 p.m. He flips off the light in his bunk, but his wife keeps talking. He tries again 14 minutes later: “Okay, I need to go to bed, babe. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

After two more tries, she says goodnight around 8:40 p.m.

By 3 a.m. the tent is bustling. Boots thump on the plywood floor, and soldiers stuff bottles of water and prepackaged meals into their assault packs.

By 3:30 a.m. they are gathered in front of their trucks. The platoon sergeant double-checks the soldiers’ body armor, thumping the ceramic plates with his fist and tugging on loose straps. The medic reminds the men that they need to act quickly to stabilize wounded colleagues. “Stop the bleeding and then go to the airway,” he says. “If you lose the airway, you lose the patient.”

Beck speaks last, and this time he does not preach caution. “It is going to be a good day,” he says. “The enemy . . . has never seen this much Afghan army or coalition forces coming at them. We are going to knock them on their a--.”

The platoon’s trucks roll through the outpost gate, pausing on the edge of the desert. One by one, they test fire their heavy machine guns as the sun peeks over the mountains of the Jaghatu bowl. The .50-caliber gun on Guillory’s truck is one of the last to shoot, the loud ca-chunk thundering through the valley.

“The terrorists are up now,” Guillory yells.

“All right, let’s fire these weapons at the f---ing Taliban,” the gunner says.

The armored trucks lumber down the deeply rutted dirt road past a handful of wary-looking Afghan families. At first the soldiers joke with one another to stay loose, but as the truck edges closer to the insurgent-controlled villages the chatter ebbs.

Over the radio, there is an order to halt the convoy. The armored vehicles edge to the side of the road and wait for more instructions. A few minutes later, they receive a second order: Return to base.

Hundreds of miles away in Helmand province, Taliban fighters dressed in Army uniforms have penetrated the heavily defended Camp Bastion, where they killed two Marines and incinerated six U.S. fighter jets, each worth about $25 million. Senior military officials in Kabul are advising their field commanders to scale back missions with Afghan forces for a few days.

The platoon sergeant and Guillory climb down from their armored vehicles and walk back to the outpost. The soldiers who had steeled themselves to fight are once again preparing to sit.

“We look really bad to the Afghans right now,” the platoon sergeant says to Guillory. “We are supposed to be supporting them, and we left them.”

“I don’t understand why we aren’t just going out anyway,” Guillory replies.

Instead, Guillory returns to his war: a view of the mortar hole in the government building and a guard post with little to do. He chews through a pack of gum. There are six months left in his tour and 26 months left before U.S. combat troops leave Afghanistan. “I am sure there are people that have a bigger understanding of the war than us little guys,” he says. “But at my level, it seems so stupid.”

On the other hand, they didn’t fire their guns at the enemy. They didn’t do a thing. The mission was a success.

Arizona National Guard Corruption

I don't know what the National Guard is supposed to do, but from these articles it sure sounds like we don't need it.

On the other hand if you are a criminal that enjoys stealing stuff, raping woman and bullying people it sounds like the National Guard is a great place to get a job.

This is a link link to the series of articles.

About 'Letting down the Guard' series


About 'Letting down the Guard' series

by Dennis Wagner - Oct. 13, 2012 11:45 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

The Republic series, "Letting down the Guard," began when several high-ranking Arizona National Guard officers approached reporter Dennis Wagner with allegations that corrupt conduct had spread within the military organization because of lax discipline and leadership failures.

During a five-month investigation, The Republic employed sources and Arizona's public-records law to obtain more than a dozen military investigations, police reports, court files and other records. Wagner also spoke with at least 30 present or past Guard members, as well as outside experts on military affairs and ethics. Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, the Guard's adjutant general, was interviewed in person and via e-mail.

Early this month, The Republic submitted questions about its findings to Gov. Jan Brewer's office. Through a spokesman, the governor announced plans to commission a full, independent review of National Guard operations and disciplinary practices.

Allegations against National Guard uncovered


Republic special report: Allegations against National Guard uncovered

by Dennis Wagner - Oct. 13, 2012 11:48 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

A five-month investigation of National Guard conduct and culture by The Arizona Republic has uncovered a systemic patchwork of criminal and ethical misconduct that critics say continues to fester in part because of leadership failures and lax discipline.

According to interviews with military officers and records obtained by The Republic, Arizona Army National Guard members over the past decade engaged in misbehavior that included sexual abuse, enlistment improprieties, forgery, firearms violations, embezzlement, and assaults.

The wrongdoing, most of which has not been previously disclosed, was concentrated among military recruiters who often visit high schools in search of teenage recruits. National Guard investigators found that non-commissioned officers, known as NCOs, engaged in sexual misconduct, collected recruiting fees to which they were not entitled, forged Guard documents, and committed other offenses such as hunting the homeless with paintball guns.

Investigators asserted that National Guard commanders failed to hold subordinates accountable, in part because many supervisors also engaged in unethical behavior. Many high-ranking officers contend an atmosphere of disdain for discipline persists.

After The Republic shared its findings with Gov. Jan Brewer's office, she announced plans for a wide-ranging inquiry directed at Arizona military operations by a high-ranking National Guard officer from another state.

"The governor is calling for a full, fair and independent review of the Arizona National Guard, its operations, the personnel and discipline handed out in response to some of these incidents," said Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer.

The National Guard is a state organization of more than 9,000 military and civilian personnel serving their state and nation. Most are part-timers assigned to weekend duty. Corruption and other misconduct appear to be confined to a small minority of the roughly 2,300 soldiers and airmen who are full-time employees. Many of these were in the Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Command, according to The Republic's review of more than a dozen military and police reports.

Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, the Arizona National Guard's top officer, said in an interview that a rogue atmosphere in recruiting was detected and quietly addressed in the past few years.

"I acknowledge there was a problem," said Salazar, who has been adjutant general for four years and was second in command before that. "We should have had more command emphasis. We should have paid more attention ... It would be ridiculous of me to say we are not going to have some misconduct in the National Guard. We have people who do stupid things. (But) I do not believe we have an ongoing problem in the National Guard."

Salazar was appointed by Brewer as the Guard's top officer, or adjutant general, in April 2009 to complete a term that expired this April. Because of a change in Arizona personnel law this year, he now serves at the pleasure of the governor with no set term, Benson said.

Salazar said recruiting operations were reorganized with greater command oversight, and the most culpable soldiers were discharged or demoted. Training has improved, all misconduct reports are investigated and officers strive to mete out appropriate discipline.

In an opinion article published in The Republic Monday, Salazar emphasized the good service of Guard members and said "it would be a gross injustice if the mistakes of a few individuals were used to impugn the character and service of the entire Arizona National Guard."

But other high-ranking officers who talked with The Republic disagreed that problems have been dealt with. They said the National Guard suffers from lax discipline, cronyism, cover-ups, whistle-blower abuse and other systemic flaws. To this day, they note, the Guard has never successfully court-martialed an officer or soldier despite serious wrongdoing uncovered by investigators.

Lt. Col. Rob White, who conducted a command climate investigation in 2009 to assess whether commanders were at fault, said he is sickened by the failure of National Guard leaders to root out misconduct and impose punishment.

"The way the Arizona National Guard is today, I would not trust it with my son or daughter," said White. "It disgusts me ... People don't get fired, they get moved."

White, who oversees future operations at the Guard's Arizona Joint Forces Headquarters, is a soldier of 23 years with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He and others said attempts at reform have repeatedly failed, in part because appeals to Brewer or the National Guard Bureau's inspector general have been simply referred back to Arizona Guard headquarters.

"The organization is there to take care of soldiers. That's what we're supposed to do," White said. "But what they're doing is taking care of good ol' boys. And, when victims come forward, the Arizona Guard turns on them and eats them."

Benson, the governor's spokesman, said Brewer remains confident in Salazar but believes an in-depth inquiry is needed. "If you're going to get to the bottom of something like this," he said, "you have to bring in somebody from the outside."

A few bad apples?

White and several other officers came to The Republic with their grievances out of frustration that the problems were not being addressed. Others shared their views confidentially for fear of losing their jobs.

"I'll probably get retaliated against," White said. "I'll be gone. I think they're already going for me."

Lt. Col. Paul Forshey, who recently retired as the National Guard's top lawyer, or JAG officer, said he was dismayed that a list of reforms suggested by a panel of high-ranking officers was disregarded by top leaders. "I have never seen a board like that ... where command did not follow the recommendations of three senior officers."

The Guard last week accused Forshey of violating attorney-client privilege and threatened him with a state Bar complaint for speaking with The Republic, but he said he won't be silenced. He said an ethical breakdown has created a culture of arrogance.

"It's hubris," added Forshey, who reviewed disciplinary cases as part of his job. "They (wrongdoers) know nothing's going to happen. Nobody can touch them ... This is the inbred stepsister of the active-duty military."

White, who was among three officers who uncovered widespread misconduct in the Recruiting and Retention Command during 2009, said recommendations were mostly discarded and culpable soldiers received minimal discipline.

Salazar denied ignoring recommendations for reform. He said suggestions were carried out, though with modifications. He also rejected inferences of a problematic culture.

"We do not have a corrupt command climate in either the National Guard or in recruiting," he said. "We address misconduct. The criticism is neither fair nor true."

Asked what message he would offer to potential recruits and to family members who might have concerns, Salazar said: "Don't view the organization according to a couple of bad apples. I'm extremely proud of the AZNG, and we do some amazing things ... Military service will make you a better person regardless if you serve three or 30 years."

The Republic's inquiry focused on issues in the state's Army Guard. However, similar problems in the Air Guard, which also serves under Salazar, resulted in the dismissal of five top officers in recent years. As The Republic reported in September, commanders of the Guard's F-16 wing were fired in connection with harassment of a female fighter pilot, and leaders of the Predator surveillance group were fired after auditors uncovered what they alleged were fraudulent expense payments totaling $1.1 million.

Salazar relieved the Air Guard's commander, Brig. Gen. Michael Colangelo, after an Air Force inspector general report found Colangelo abused his authority and retaliated when he fired the subordinate officers. An Air Force spokeswoman, Capt. Candice Ismirle, said questions concerning Salazar's conduct were referred to the Secretary of the Army's inspector general.

Colangelo has denied allegations against him and, in letters of appeal, claimed he was ousted for trying to uphold the military code of conduct.

Salazar said any portrayal of the National Guard as being corrupt would be inaccurate and a disservice to thousands of honest and courageous personnel serving their state and country.

"We do not tolerate misconduct. We don't ignore complaints," he said. "There are a lot of people doing great things. I hate the fact that a few are going to tarnish the image of the organization, because the National Guard doesn't deserve that."

Questions of discipline

The Republic filed public-records requests and obtained more than a dozen military investigative files dating back to 2006, many of which show recommendations for reform and tough discipline. Yet, in interviews and sworn testimony, Guard officers say egregious offenders frequently face minimal consequences.

Non-commissioned officers caught driving drunk in military vehicles were given reprimands. Recruiters found to have forged enlistment records or taken fraudulent bonus pay received transfers. Sergeants who had affairs with teenage recruits were given counseling.

One NCO who allegedly got drunk with privates and had sex with a female enlistee was allowed to deploy overseas, where he was disciplined for inappropriate sexual relations with two more subordinates. Instead of being discharged from the military, records show, he transferred to the California National Guard as a recruiter.

Some who sought to uphold Army standards by reporting unethical behavior were shunned, harassed and threatened with demotions.

Records obtained by The Republic also describe how a former prison inmate allegedly was used to retaliate against one whistle-blower. Police records contain allegations that the ex-con, who now faces criminal harassment charges, issued a death threat, obtained stolen personnel records, made false criminal accusations and posted derogatory fliers near the National Guard headquarters.

Hostility and paranoia escalated to the point where, in violation of National Guard regulations, some NCOs in the Recruiting Command sneaked guns into their offices at a shopping mall out of fear of a violent reprisal, records show.

Corrupt conduct is described in numerous investigative reports by military officials. One completed in 2009 by Maj. Nathaniel Panka focused on fraud and improper relationships. It noted: "Several comments were made by an alarming number of NCOs in this (recruiting) command. The two most troubling were: 'It doesn't matter how much you investigate, nothing is going to happen ...' and 'I don't want to make a statement because, if I do, the first time I screw up and don't make mission, I'll be fired. There is a network of people that have dirt on each other here, and if you're not 'in' then you have to watch your back.'"

Panka wrote that soldiers gave similar answers when asked why they allowed wrongdoing to go unchecked: "Every single one of the NCOs we interviewed said, 'It will cost us our job if we bring this up.'"

Over and over during investigations in 2009-10, soldiers testified that high-level commanders in the National Guard were in no position to reprimand subordinates because some of them had fraternized with subordinates in violation of Army Command Policy which prohibits other-than-professional relationships between officers of differing ranks, officers and enlistees or soldiers and prospective recruits.

White said the Guard's full-time work force of about 2,700 employees is equivalent to a high school student population, except that most of the personnel have been together for more than a decade. The result: Friendships, promotion powers and mutually destructive information make it difficult to root out wrongs -- especially sexual misconduct.

"It's good ol' boys," White said. "It's like a college fraternity. It's not an Army organization. It's a frat house." Litany of offenses

Allegations of criminal or ethical violations are the subject of military reviews known as 15-6 investigations, command-directed inquiries and inspector general reports. Documentation typically includes detailed interviews, findings and recommendations.

Behavior at the Arizona National Guard documented in military records include:

"Bum hunts" -- Thirty to 35 times in 2007-08, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Amerson, a former "Recruiter of the Year," drove new cadets and prospective enlistees through Phoenix's Sunnyslope community in search of homeless people.

Military investigators were told that Amerson wore his National Guard uniform and drove a government vehicle marked with recruiting insignia as he and other soldiers -- some still minors -- shot transients with paintballs or got them to perform humiliating song-and-dance routines in return for money. During some of these so-called "bum hunts," female recruits said, they were ordered to flash their breasts at transients. Homeless women, conversely, were offered food, money or drinks for showing their breasts.

Amerson, during military interviews, denied paintball assaults but admitted to some wrongdoing. He was demoted to private and given an other-than-honorable discharge. Amerson declined to be interviewed for this story except to say that allegations against him were untrue.

Sexual misconduct -- Military investigative records describe multiple cases of sexual relations, abuse or harassment by male recruiters against female cadets and enlistees, as well as fraternization in violation of military regulations.

In a case last year, two investigators concluded independently that an NCO in the National Guard's Human Resources Office had retaliated against a female soldier after she rebuffed his alleged attempt to kiss her while at work.

According to military records, both investigators found that Chief Warrant Officer Jerardo "J.C." Carbajal was unfit to supervise any personnel, especially women. Earlier this year, Carbajal was assigned as the Army Guard's TAC officer (training, advising and counseling) for enlistees striving to become warrant officers. Salazar said Carbajal no longer has supervisory responsibilities.

Recruiting violation -- Investigators uncovered several schemes where recruiters collected unwarranted bonus pay.

Under a Pentagon program known by the acronym GRAP (Guard Recruiting Assistance Program), soldiers credited with enlisting others can collect awards of $2,000 each.

In 2008, Sgt. Cirra Turpin admitted $12,000 in bonuses for which she was not eligible. Although investigators recommended termination, 29 supervisors and colleagues wrote letters saying Turpin should not be so severely punished. She was reassigned as a military police officer.

During a 15-6 inquiry, officers asked the recruiting commander, Lt. Col. Keith Blodgett, to explain.

Question: "What if she had robbed a bank?"

Blodgett: "That would've been a crime..."

Question: "What's the difference?"

Blodgett: "Good question."

Military records contain no evidence that Turpin was referred for criminal prosecution. Blodgett testified that he notified the Defense Department's National Guard Bureau of the improprieties. "It sounded like they weren't very concerned about it at all, which to me, indicated that that was something that was common," he said.

In an interview with The Republic, Blodgett said Turpin expressed remorse, paid back the money and had an otherwise clean record.

Today, GRAP fraud is the subject of a nationwide probe by the Department of Defense. According to a March report in the Washington Post, more than 1,700 recruiters are suspected of engaging in fraud. Salazar said fewer than 10 Arizona Guard recruiters are under suspicion, and he believes one will be referred for a full criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, Turpin allegedly used a Department of the Army stamp to falsify military documents and wound up getting discharged, according to National Guard records.

Turpin could not be reached for comment. She now is founder and owner of a Phoenix non-profit group known as Cirra's Cloud, which says it raises money for financially distressed families of deployed soldiers.

Forgeries -- Investigators also found that recruiters falsified academic documents, medical files and fitness tests to make potential enlistees eligible for service, or to qualify for promotions.

One Tucson recruiter forged the signatures of commanders on numerous documents and lied about it when first confronted, according to investigative records. He received a reprimand as discipline.

Blodgett was asked by an investigator, "Do you think that set a new standard inside the organization -- that forgery and lying equals keep your job?" Blodgett's answer: "When you put it like that, perhaps."

Drunken driving -- Several National Guard recruiters cited for DUI in military vehicles were either sanctioned lightly or faced no discipline.

One example: In October 2010, a top recruiter in Tucson was arrested on suspicion of DUI with other Guard members in his government vehicle. Military records indicate it was a repeat offense. The NCO initially was given a letter of reprimand, which was withdrawn and replaced with a less severe letter of concern.

Blodgett told investigators he requested an Article 15 proceeding -- a formal, non-judicial disciplinary procedure in the military -- which might result in discharge or severe punishment, but was overruled by the Guard's chief of staff. Records show that, after the recruiter was convicted and sentenced to jail, he was transferred to a transportation unit and demoted to staff sergeant.

The outcome seemed fair, Blodgett said, because higher-ranking soldiers also had been arrested for driving while intoxicated and were not fired.

Dishonesty -- In many of the documented cases of misconduct reviewed by The Republic, soldiers lied to investigators. Dishonest National Guard personnel in those investigations typically kept their jobs.

By comparison, outright dishonesty at civilian jobs often results in termination, said Steven Mintz, a professor and ethics specialist at California Polytechnic University. "Lying or covering up is always worse than the crime itself because it raises issues of trust and reliability."

Mintz said workplace discipline depends on employment contracts or conduct codes. However, in reference to the Guard issues, he added, "In private industry, those things would be firing offenses."

Salazar said it is misleading to compare civilian disciplinary standards with the Guard's. He said most non-military jobs are "at-will," which means a person can be fired without cause. By contrast, soldiers have extensive due-process and appeal rights under Arizona law and military regulations.

The goal of most Guard discipline, Salazar said, is not to punish or set an example, but to rehabilitate the offender. 'Numbers, numbers'

Recruiting and Retention Commands are unique in the military structure.

Often based in strip malls, recruiters deal directly with the civilian community, visiting high schools and family homes. They work without direct supervision and face pressure to meet enlistment quotas of two or three recruits per month -- especially in a post-9/11 military with no draft.

In over a dozen interviews, officers told The Republic the conditions produce an environment in which military regulations and ethical standards are eclipsed by a "mission-first" mentality. As one soldier put it, "We need to up the numbers. We want people in boots."

Enlisting new soldiers is a tough job. Those who succeed are lionized and rewarded. Many fail and are dismissed from full-time jobs in the Army Reserve Guard, becoming weekend warriors.

The high turnover makes recruiting nearly the only easy gateway into full-time employment with the National Guard. And it means commanders, who are measured by recruitment statistics, are hesitant to get rid of top performers.

During one investigation, Master Sgt. Keith Stall described how an NCO arrested for drunken driving got the proverbial slap on the wrist because he'd been named a top recruiter. "They looked at production, you know, how well you've done," said Stall. "Production, production, production. Numbers, numbers, numbers."

Sgt. Maj. Donald Wilcox Jr., with 27 years of military service, told investigators the recruitment mission trumped other values, with this message emanating from the Pentagon's National Guard Bureau: "If you drink our Kool-Aid, then we'll take care of you."

"I've gone to recruiting conferences where they had Michael Jordan as the speaker, Kid Rock, ice sculptures, crazy trips to spring break," Wilcox added. "Setting up, to me, an atmosphere of, 'Hey, if you're a recruiter, you're a rock star.'" Accountability questions

In late 2008, Lt. Col. White and two other officers conducted an investigation of leadership in the Recruiting Command.

They found numerous NCOs were dishonest and complicit in corruption. They found that Blodgett, the former recruiting chief, had failed to uncover gross wrongdoing or to take appropriate action when it was exposed.

Salazar, the adjutant general, initially reprimanded Blodgett for dereliction and "inexcusable" leadership failures, blocking promotion. But Salazar months later removed the letter to a restricted file, enabling Blodgett to this year win a coveted appointment to the Army Senior Service College, where he is virtually assured advancement to full colonel.

"How can this be?" White asked. "He failed as a commander. How is this in keeping with Army values?"

Salazar said under military regulations a reprimand is meant to rehabilitate, not punish. He said Blodgett did not engage in misconduct but failed to detect an outlaw culture. That merited corrective action, Salazar said, but not a permanent black mark for an officer with an otherwise clean record.

"A lot of this is subjective," Salazar added. "And I get second-guessed a lot ... (But) Col. Blodgett is a good officer. He works hard. He's conscientious. And since he was taken out of Recruiting Command, he has performed above and beyond."

Records show Blodgett argued he did the best he could after inheriting a recruiting operation where soldiers had no concept of Army standards. "I was aware of a pattern of unethical and illegal conduct going back at least two commanders and took aggressive action to eliminate this pattern," he wrote in protest of the reprimand. "My efforts to instill discipline and ethical standards were consistently impeded when my disciplinary action requests were downgraded, delayed or not acted on."

Blodgett told The Republic that much misconduct escaped his attention because of derelict subordinates. "I should have asked more questions," he added. "You trust, but verify. I should have verified more."

Like Salazar, Blodgett said recruiting oversight has improved.

But White and other officers said they've lost faith, especially when it comes to protecting female service members from harassment and sexual abuse. They said leadership is compromised, the Defense Department's inspector general is a "toothless tiger," and complaints to the Arizona Governor's Office are punted back to Maj. Gen. Salazar.

"As a female, you don't have any outlet," said one NCO who reported sexual harassment and retaliation. She asked not to be identified for fear of further reprisal. "Nowhere to go ... They don't want to be accountable. I don't think they want to do a damned thing."

Reach the reporter at dennis.wagner@arizonarepublic.com.

History of Arizona National Guard scandals


History of Arizona National Guard scandals

by Dennis Wagner - Oct. 13, 2012 11:45 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

The Arizona National Guard's newly disclosed problems are an extension of a troubled history.

Previous scandals include:

A 2005 FBI probe, Operation Lively Green, unveiled a southern Arizona narcotics smuggling ring of military personnel, prison guards and others. During a sting operation, Arizona soldiers working for a supposed Mexican cartel drove an Army National Guard Humvee to a clandestine airstrip, loaded 60 fake kilograms of cocaine and drove to a Las Vegas hotel to rendezvous with a federal operative posing as a buyer.

The FBI's case evolved from an initial tip about enlistment fraud in the Army National Guard. Ultimately, 57 suspects were convicted, including about a dozen soldiers and airmen. Some convicted personnel were allowed to resign with honorable discharges.

In 2006, Col. Donald Wodash Jr., then the Arizona Guard's deputy chief of staff, went on a military training trip to Arkansas. According to court records, Wodash contacted a 14-year-old girl on his Army computer, used a webcam to display his genitals, then arranged a rendezvous.

It turned out the "girl" was a police undercover detective. Wodash was sentenced to four years in prison, but was not fired. Instead, the colonel was allowed to collect his paycheck while awaiting trial.

Wodash eventually was reprimanded for misuse of a government computer, but with a notation that "this letter is not imposed as punishment." He was discharged "under honorable conditions" and retired with his pension.

Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, the current National Guard commander, said a predecessor, Adjutant General David Rataczak, acted out of compassion: "He just felt why should he punish the family -- the spouse?"

National Guard Chaplain Kurt Alan Bishop was convicted in 2010 for falsely adding a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other prestigious awards to his military record over two decades. Bishop, who profited because the false honors led to increased pay, received an other-than-honorable discharge, pleaded guilty in federal court and was sentenced to probation.

More recently, a Guard emergency fund for financially struggling families of deployed soldiers was nearly wiped out. In February, retired Col. James E. Burnes pleaded guilty to embezzling $2 million as resource manager for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, an umbrella agency over the Arizona Guard. The admitted gambler drew a 3.5-year prison sentence.

Officer serves in Arizona National Guard despite complaints


Officer serves in Arizona National Guard despite complaints

by Dennis Wagner - Oct. 13, 2012 11:45 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Two military investigators last year concluded that the Arizona National Guard should never place Chief Warrant Officer Jerardo "J.C." Carbajal in a position of authority over women. Yet, months later, he was assigned to a unit that trains prospective warrant officers.

Carbajal's appointment to the training unit is one among many decisions listed by critics who say the Arizona National Guard has repeatedly failed to protect female soldiers and airmen from sexual misconduct.

Investigative files obtained by The Arizona Republic show Carbajal was accused of sexual harassment and retaliation after an August 2011 incident involving Staff Sgt. Carrie Armstrong, a non-commissioned officer in the National Guard Human Resources Office.

Armstrong told investigators that Carbajal approached her from behind in a stairwell and attempted to kiss her while saying, "I want you." Armstrong said she pulled away, and there were no immediate repercussions. But after the rebuff, she alleged, Carbajal and other soldiers launched a campaign of harassment that escalated once a formal complaint was filed.

Armstrong complained that co-workers spread rumors questioning her mental health and fabricated accusations against her that led to probation, a blocked promotion and outcast status.

In one e-mail to a commander, Armstrong wrote: "I am subjected to dirty looks, snide comments and rudeness throughout the day. The most appalling part of all this is that this atrocious behavior is being done by officers in this state, and I feel as though senior leaders are standing by, not only watching it happen, but allowing it."

A formal military probe of Armstrong's complaint, known as a 15-6, was ordered in November 2011.

The investigator, Lt. Col. Laurence Bishop, obtained statements from other soldiers and reviewed e-mails and phone records.

Carbajal supporters described him as an excellent warrant officer and portrayed Armstrong as a troublemaker. But other female soldiers told of being stalked or intimately involved with Carbajal.

Carbajal declined interview requests, but emphasized in an e-mail that the accusation that he attempted to kiss Armstrong was not substantiated.

Armstrong declined comment for this story.

As the inquiry into Armstrong's allegations proceeded, Bishop uncovered additional allegations of misconduct and advised commanders that "a more sweeping investigation (should) be done into possible inappropriate behavior/fraternization ... I am up to 13 people who (may) have involvement due to the intermingling of relationships."

Bishop eventually concluded that, without witnesses, the attempted kiss was unproven but credible because of Carbajal's "clearly established pattern of making advances on females in uniform."

He described Carbajal as "a manipulative womanizer, unafraid to pursue anyone regardless of their position or rank ... guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and insubordination, at the least. He ... is not suitable to be an officer and leader of the Arizona Army National Guard."

Bishop determined that the evidence proved Armstrong was a victim of retaliation.

In the 15-6 report completed last December, Col. Ellen Reilly, the human resources commander, described the National Guard as infested with improper relationships, cronyism and dishonesty.

"All in all, my impression is that there are layers and layers of misconduct, fraternization and manipulation that have been going on for some time in this organization," she said. "I believe there needs to be a swift and decisive punishment to make a statement."

Bishop recommended that Carbajal be removed from his paid position in the Army Reserve Guard, writing: "His continued presence undermines good order and discipline while providing exactly the wrong role model for junior officers and NCOs to emulate. His disdain for authority and contempt for others further reinforce that he is incompatible with military service. This officer personifies all that give the National Guard (and indeed the military) a bad reputation."

But Carbajal had served 18 years in the military, and was protected from firing by a regulation known as "sanctuary," which insulates soldiers from termination as they near retirement. "If there is no way to remove him due to sanctuary," Bishop noted in his report, "then strip CW3 Carbajal of any position of authority and influence."

An Equal Employment Opportunity investigator issued similar recommendations after completing a parallel inquiry, also in December. No matter what, she wrote, Carbajal "should not be in a supervisory or leadership role, and should not supervise females in any capacity."

Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, the Arizona National Guard commander, said Carbajal was reprimanded, given a non-judicial punishment known as an Article 15, and notified that his services are no longer needed.

It is not clear what happened after that. But Carbajal remains in the National Guard. Salazar recently confirmed that Carbajal was assigned as the training, advising and counseling (TAC) leader for soldiers striving to become warrant officers.

Lt. Col. Rob White and other officers critical of National Guard disciplinary practices said Carbajal initially was placed directly over trainees and in contact with new recruits.

"To put him back there is, to me, outrageous. It scares me," said White. "That is the epitome of what's wrong with this organization."

Salazar said Carbajal has a desk job and does not directly supervise trainees. In an e-mail, Carbajal confirmed that his duty is confined to scheduling, logistics and paperwork.

Sexual misconduct has been a problem for the military nationwide.

In May, after the Pentagon reported 6,350 sexual-assault cases over a two-year period, chiefs of all U.S. services issued a memo ordering commanders to prevent and combat abuse, saying: "Sexual assaults endanger our own, violate our professional culture and core values, erode readiness and team cohesion and violate the sacred trust and faith of those who serve and whom we serve."

Misconduct doesn't define Arizona Guard


Misconduct doesn't define Arizona Guard

by Hugo E. Salazar - Oct. 7, 2012 06:44 PM

I am proud of the brave men and women who serve in the Arizona National Guard on American soil and around the world. Our brave soldiers and airmen embody our motto: "Always ready ... always there."

I could fill this page with the awards and combat-service medals earned by our Arizona National Guard personnel, including several who've received national recognition for their individual achievement. Taken together, the exemplary efforts of our servicemen and women are what make it possible for the Arizona National Guard to be, in my opinion, one of the nation's best.

I say all of this not because I believe the Arizona National Guard is perfect. It's not. Recently, The Arizona Republic has chosen to highlight the misconduct of a small number of officers who've been removed from leadership posts at the Arizona National Guard, including a brigadier general who believes he was wrongly terminated. I expect Republic readers will see similar stories in the days ahead, in some cases detailing service-member incidents and misbehavior that dates back several years.

Organizations are composed of human beings, and human beings have faults. As the leader of this organization, all I can do is pledge that the Arizona National Guard will act swiftly, fairly and appropriately to address all allegations of misconduct. That's exactly what I've done since becoming adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard in December 2008. Every misconduct allegation brought to my attention has been fully investigated and adjudicated, with service members held accountable for their actions.

For example, in early 2009, my command staff and I discovered misconduct among some of our recruiters. The allegations and incidents varied from misuse of a government vehicle to inappropriate relationships with trainees and fraud. Making matters worse, there was evidence the individuals in question attempted to cover up their activities and suppress or intimidate military witnesses.

In the most egregious case, the recruiter -- a senior, non-commissioned officer -- was reduced to the lowest military rank (E1), removed from military service with an other-than-honorable discharge and forced to forfeit all military benefits. A handful of other individuals implicated in lesser recruiting misconduct received discipline ranging from reduction in rank to loss of full-time status.

To help prevent this kind of situation from happening again, I allocated additional management resources and reorganized recruiting to report directly to the assistant adjutant general. Additionally, I developed an action plan that includes development of an agencywide ethics program.

I won't make excuses for misconduct, nor will I tolerate it. But it would be a gross injustice if the mistakes of a few individuals were used to impugn the character and service of the entire Arizona National Guard.

The Arizona National Guard takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. I hold our servicemen and women to the highest standard. Nine times out of 10, they meet or exceed that standard. When they fall short, we have investigations -- with findings based on fact, not rumors, speculation or the sort of idle gossip trafficked in by disgruntled current or former service members.

I only wish newspapers would meet the same standard.

Maj. Gen. Hugo E. Salazar is the adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard.

Whistle-blower who exposed National Guard misconduct had 'target on his back'

More on Arizona National Guard corruption


Whistle-blower who exposed National Guard misconduct had 'target on his back'

by Dennis Wagner - Oct. 14, 2012 11:06 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

On the morning of May 28, 2009, Staff Sgt. Chad Wille, a recruiter for the Arizona Army National Guard, was confronted at a Phoenix gas station by an angry bicyclist.

The bicyclist pointed to the soldier's military Humvee with distinctive camouflage paint, noted its license plate and said he'd seen that same vehicle drive down Seventh Street six weeks earlier while its occupants shot pedestrians with paintballs.

Wille, who had been away at recruiting school during that period, returned to his office in Sunnyslope and reported the allegation to 1st Sgt. Lucas Atwood, his supervisor in the Recruiting and Retention Command.

Wille also questioned Master Sgt. Joseph Martin, a colleague in the recruiting unit who had custody of the Humvee keys at the time of the alleged paintball attacks. According to military records, Martin said he had given the keys to another recruiter, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Amerson, then asked Wille, "You're not aware of the bum hunts?"

Over the next year, Arizona National Guard commanders would learn about clusters of alleged criminal and unethical behavior by Guard members that included patrols through north Phoenix to assault and humiliate homeless people. Witnesses alleged Amerson and other soldiers were involved in sexual misconduct, recruiting improprieties and cover-ups. Military investigators ultimately substantiated allegations, concluding that the recruiting office was infected with corruption because of command leadership failures.

But as the investigations progressed, Wille became a target, military and police records show. Instead of being rewarded for integrity, he was subjected to a two-year campaign of harassment. Records show he was falsely accused of groping a teenage girl and threatened with a bullet to the head. His confidential military records were provided to an ex-convict. His National Guard photograph was stolen and posted on derogatory fliers outside National Guard headquarters, known as the Papago Military Reservation, in Phoenix. He was subjected to other allegations, investigated and pressured to resign, but refused.

Pandora's box

This story, drawn from interviews, police records, court files and thousands of pages of military investigations, begins with the "bum hunts."

Wille, a former Indiana reserve police officer, told military investigators that the bicyclist's allegations, if true, amounted to criminal assault, misuse of a government vehicle and other offenses.

Atwood told him that Amerson denied knowledge of paintball attacks. No other soldiers talked. The issue was closed. Atwood told Wille, "Just let it go."

Wille insisted on filing a written report. Within hours, he began getting calls from fellow officers. They demanded to know if he was a team player, then warned him to back off. According to National Guard case files, Amerson sent Wille a taunting text: "Ha, ha, ha ... First Sgt. Atwood ain't going to do anything."

Wille later told investigators he was outraged by pressure tactics and challenges to his integrity. "I got a little angry, and the police department (training) came back out of me," he noted.

Wille started talking with young enlistees. Within hours, a 17-year-old private admitted taking part in missions targeting the homeless. (A recruit may sign up at age 17, the minimum age, with a parent's signature.) The teenager said she and other female cadets were pressured by Amerson to cruise with him and flash their breasts at indigents, who were induced to dance, sing or show their own bosoms for money.

In one case, the private said, Amerson offered a homeless woman $10 to expose her breasts, refused to pay, then screeched away as the lady grabbed onto the recruiting vehicle's passenger window. "The female was pulled along and then spun off the car, landing on the ground," notes an investigative report. "She (the soldier) did not know if the female was hurt because they did not stop."

Wille took the cadet to a supervisor, where the allegations were repeated. More soldiers were interrogated. Some received phone calls from colleagues as they were being interviewed, warning them to lie or remain silent, according to military records.

But the Pandora's box had opened. Witnesses eventually testified that Amerson, while in uniform, led 30 to 35 nighttime raids through north Phoenix to harass homeless people. At least a dozen Guard members and recruits took part, while others looked away.

Confessions led to more disclosures of wrongdoing, more investigations. One private, who was enlisted by Amerson and joined in the escapades, told investigators: "I wasn't following the Army Code of Conduct -- the rules of the Army -- and I guess I sort of got that idea from Sgt. Amerson that 'You can do whatever you want, as long as people don't know.' "

Reached by phone, Amerson declined to be interviewed. "There was nothing behind any of that," he said before hanging up.

'Bum hunts'

Military witnesses later testified that Amerson, a top recruiter, was known for bragging and exaggerating.

Lt. Col. Keith Blodgett, then commander of Army Guard recruiting operations, told a panel of officers Amerson was "a big muscular guy, kind of like Johnny Bravo, you know, that cartoon character."

Even Atwood, Amerson's supervisor and friend, testified that the sergeant was "one hell of a bulls--tter," adding, "That's why he was a good recruiter."

All testified they had heard Amerson describe bum-hunting expeditions, but claimed to believe the tales were fabricated. Martin, a supervising officer, heard the stories so many times he was able to recite a detailed anecdote about the abduction of a homeless man.

"Supposedly he was like a Vietnam veteran or something, and that's why they named him 'Checkpoint Charlie,' " Martin told investigators. "So they buy coffee and Checkpoint skips out on the tab, so now they're pissed at him. So the story goes, 'Hey, we're going to take you out in the desert, dump you out in the desert.' Maybe to scare him. I don't know.

"Checkpoint had his cell phone and was going to call the police. So Amerson swung around the back seat, grabbed his cell phone, was going to smash it. Then they get back to wherever it is that they picked up this Charlie guy at, and they're all standing around and Checkpoint has like a railroad tie (spike) or something and grabs (another soldier) puts him in a headlock and says, 'I'm going to kill you.' I guess somehow Amerson diffused the situation or something to that affect (sic)."

Martin told investigators that he never believed the stories -- even after Wille began asking questions. When Amerson was suspended after young soldiers confirmed the bum hunts were real, Martin testified, he and other recruiters became so fearful of retaliation that they brought guns to their office in a Phoenix mall, violating Guard regulations.

"He (Amerson) had his own guns," Martin explained. "I started wearing my pistol to work, kept it in my backpack."

Chicken fights

Fraternization offered yet another sign that some in recruiting command were out of control.

Military command policies prohibit fraternization, or non-official relations, between National Guard officers and subordinates or prospective enlistees.

In January 2007, Blodgett, who oversaw recruiting, published a command philosophy that warned of danger areas. "Do the right thing," Blodgett wrote. "Be self-policing and hold each other accountable when you see your brother or sister slipping. Guard your integrity jealously."

Yet, according to National Guard records, Amerson avoided discipline throughout a years-long series of improper relationships with recruiting prospects and cadets.

During military inquiries known as 15-6 investigations, soldiers told military investigators that Amerson held pool parties where potential enlistees and new soldiers -- male and female -- were served alcohol and engaged in topless "chicken fights." One recruit, only weeks in the National Guard, wrote a letter to the commander giving notice that she was quitting because Amerson pressured her to take part in bikini parties.

A teenager in training claimed Amerson took her into his private office alone and instructed her to remove her shirt so he could determine whether she was pregnant. According to investigative records, she wept describing how he used a tape measure and fondled her, making her feel "dirty and disgusted," then took her to a pharmacy to get a pregnancy test, which came out negative.

Amerson acknowledged to investigators that another prospective recruit moved into his home as a minor, according to his 15-6 interview. The relationship was exposed when the teen was accused of stealing a credit card from the residence. Amerson received no formal punishment. The female, by then a new soldier, was ostracized and subsequently agreed to be discharged.

Finally, witnesses told of another recruit who became Amerson's third wife. Sgt. Atwood denied being derelict in oversight but acknowledged serving as best man at the wedding. Atwood told investigators he had counseled Amerson repeatedly for conduct issues, but never imposed or recommended formal discipline because his bosses did not instruct him to do so.

Atwood declined comment for this story.

Sgt. 1st Class Marie Ann Neilson told investigators she reported an Amerson affair with a teenager, but supervisors reacted by forcing the female soldier to quit the National Guard. "Everybody was yelling at her for an inappropriate relationship," Neilson told them. "But he (Amerson) was the guy: 'Hey, good for you. You got the young girl.' And that was their attitude.

"This is a very young, naive girl ... You look at her and think she's a high-school cheerleader, the president of the glee club. Her career is over and nobody cares because Amerson was a superstar at the time. It was just washed under the rug."

Trumped-up charge

Within days after exposing corrupt conduct and lax supervision in recruiting operations, Wille was rebuked for breaching the chain of command. He also was given a reprimand because he had fallen one enlistment shy of his recruiting quota.

Still, the wheels of military justice churned with inquiries. Soldiers were punished for misconduct. Some non-commissioned officers were reprimanded or demoted.

Wille became a pariah. At one point, he told an investigative panel he was shunned for trying to do the right thing. "Now I'm the narc," he said. "Now I'm the one going wrong."

On June 25, 2010, a man named Don Lee Scott called the recruiting command and requested a meeting to discuss soldier misconduct. At a coffee shop near National Guard headquarters, Scott told Master Sgt. Daniel Cardiel that a 16-year-old girl had met a recruiter weeks earlier while stopped at a traffic light. He claimed the National Guard officer got the girl's phone number and arranged a rendezvous on a later date, where he touched her breast. The officer Scott accused: Chad Wille.

According to military files and Phoenix police records, Scott gave Cardiel handwritten pages containing Wille's Social Security number and Army records that could only have been obtained from confidential military files. In a written statement, Scott said discipline of Wille should be "nothing less than discharge from the Arizona National Guard."

Cardiel reported the accusation to his supervisors. An inquiry was assigned to Capt. Reinaldo Rios.

Wille told Rios he didn't know Don Scott, had never met the alleged victim, and didn't know what was going on.

Scott did not make the girl available for an interview, and declined to tell how he obtained military records protected under federal privacy laws. Rios reported to his supervisor that the story was suspect: Scott had not filed a police report about the alleged fondling, and provided no evidence for it.

Rios concluded that Wille was being set up. National Guard records show Rios then became the subject of an investigation, and received a reprimand, because he provided information to Wille about Scott.

Maj. Benjamin Luoma was assigned to a deeper probe of Scott's accusation. Once again, Scott failed to cooperate. Luoma found "no credible evidence" of sexual abuse by Wille.

While that inquiry was under way, three other recruiters filed unrelated complaints against Wille, claiming he violated recruiting protocols, made inappropriate comments and misused a government vehicle.

On July 1, 2010, Wille was ordered to meet with superior officers, including the recruiting commander. Upon arrival, Wille said he was pressured to quit the National Guard and handed a pretyped resignation letter. Wille refused to sign, left the meeting, and returned later with his own letter alleging that he was a victim of retaliation.

A parallel investigation was by then under way to determine how a civilian had obtained Wille's confidential military records, a breach so serious that the Arizona National Guard was locked out of the Pentagon's personnel system for a week.

Scott, who claimed to be a former U.S. Marine, told investigators Wille's personnel information was given to him by someone "back East." When pressed for details, Scott announced he wanted the entire probe dropped.

The military investigator recommended a full inquiry by the Department of Defense. He also concluded that Wille "was likely the target of a personal grudge."

Death threat

On Oct. 1, 2010, Wille received an anonymous call at work. He put his cellphone on speaker mode so other soldiers could listen. According to a Phoenix police report, the caller warned that at an unexpected moment he would "walk up behind (Wille) and put a .45 against his head and blow his brains out."

Soldiers who heard the conversation were later given a recording of Don Scott's voice and filed sworn statements declaring that it sounded the same as the threat call.

Scott denied responsibility when police contacted him.

A month later, someone taped fliers in public places outside National Guard headquarters on McDowell Road. The posters featured Wille's military photograph with disparaging information, including a warning that the sergeant was "a professional tattle-teller."

Wille delivered them as evidence to Phoenix police, asking for fingerprint tests. The National Guard verified that the photo was stolen from Wille's personnel file, though investigators could not identify the thief.

Wille sought an anti-harassment order against Scott in Phoenix Municipal Court. A hearing was held Dec. 8, 2010. According to a police report, as Wille exited the court afterward, he overheard Scott on a cellphone speaking with Brig. Gen. Alberto Gonzalez, the National Guard's chief of staff.

Phoenix police Officer Jonathan Alberta visited Gonzalez, who confirmed that he spoke with Scott but said the call was not about Wille. Rather, Gonzalez said, Scott called to complain that Capt. Rios, who first investigated the groping allegation, testified in court on behalf of Wille. Gonzalez told Alberta that he and Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, the top officer in the Arizona National Guard, "had told Don he could call them anytime with any concerns he may have."

Salazar said he was dealing with a civilian who had lodged a serious complaint against a soldier, and sought to be open and transparent.

Amid the turmoil, Capt. Scott Blaney, the National Guard's deputy judge advocate general, or JAG, was assigned to investigate Wille's retaliation complaint. Blaney found "no evidence that the AZNG or any of its members have taken an unfavorable personnel action" against Wille.

Blaney also rejected Wille's complaint that someone in the National Guard stole his personnel records. Instead, the captain suggested, Wille may have been "a little careless in safeguarding his own personnel documents."

Fingerprints and calls

On Jan. 20, 2011, Phoenix police-lab testing of adhesive tape used on disparaging posters contained a print "identified to the right middle finger of Donald Lee Scott."

According to the police report, Scott suggested that Wille must have "gone to his house, gone through his recycling bin, found an aluminum can, lifted a fingerprint ... and placed it on a flyer in order to frame him." Scott also denied knowing any recruiting officers in the National Guard.

The police probe escalated. Officer Alberta joined forces with Juan Concha of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, who was trying to learn who stole Wille's personnel records.

Several NCOs in the Recruiting Command were ordered to appear for questioning at the JAG office. They were told that they were not suspects and, for reasons that remain unclear, they were not given Miranda warnings. All of them, including Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Martin, denied knowing Don Scott.

Wille, meanwhile, had submitted a public-records request for National Guard cellphone records. In February 2011, he received a list of eight recruiting officers whose phone records showed repeated contacts with Don Scott, some before Wille was accused of sexual misconduct. According to police, a phone assigned to Sgt. Martin was linked to 173 calls to Scott's phone.

Alberta wrote that Martin "lied" about not knowing Scott. He concluded that "members within the Army National Guard conspired with Don Scott to have Chad Wille demoted or removed."

Martin could not be reached for comment, and his attorney declined to be interviewed.

Scott was charged in March 2011 with misdemeanor use of a telephone to terrify and with harassment. The case is pending.

Court files include a rambling, 16-page memo by Scott that accuses Wille of harassment. In September, Scott was ordered to undergo a mental-health screening. A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

According to court records, Scott has criminal convictions for harassment, endangerment and aggravated assault dating to 1987. Arizona Department of Corrections records show a 1999 conviction for harassment and a yearlong term in prison for probation violations.

In a recent interview with The Republic, Scott said he suffered a head injury in March and lost all memory of the past five years.

Nevertheless, he discussed the National Guard controversy in detail, claiming he based his knowledge on written notes and official records.

He admitted being friends with recruiting command officers before he accused Wille of sexual abuse. He acknowledged receiving personnel files from a National Guard officer. But he claimed to be a victim of harassment, not a perpetrator.


Numerous recruiters tied to Sgt. Wille's case have been demoted or reprimanded. Among them, according to military records and Maj. Gen. Salazar:

Investigators found Amerson culpable for fraternization, vehicle misuse, recruiting improprieties and dishonesty. He was demoted to private and given an other-than-honorable discharge. He was not criminally prosecuted or court-martialed. His discharge evaluation says: "Failed every soldier, NCO and officer in the command by using his position for his own pleasure and personal gain."

Atwood was found to be derelict, demoted and discharged from the National Guard.

Martin is the only soldier to face court-martial. He was charged with being an accessory to Scott's harassment campaign, making false statements and general misconduct. Salazar said he believes it was the first court-martial case in Arizona Guard history. "I wanted to go after him. I wanted to send that signal," he said.

In April, charges against Martin were dismissed after a military judge suppressed Martin's statements because investigators failed to read him his Miranda rights.

Salazar said Martin was near retirement age at the time, and therefore in a protected status known as "sanctuary." Under military regulations, firing him would have required approval from the Secretary of the Army. So Martin was reduced in rank for misuse of a government cellphone. He was placed on leave, then retired with benefits.

Wille said in an interview earlier this month he feels betrayed by National Guard colleagues and leadership.

He said he was forced to conduct investigations in his defense for two years. He said he filed complaints with the Defense Department's inspector general, but got no response.

He said a staffer with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., set up an interview at the Governor's Office that was later canceled because, he was told, Maj. Gen. Salazar was dealing with the matter.

"They don't try to do the right thing," Wille said of the Guard. "They're too busy looking out for the agency and trying to cover up."

Salazar said each allegation and complaint by Wille was investigated, and National Guard leaders tried to accommodate his needs under the stress.

"To allege that this organization reprised against anyone, to include Sgt. Wille, is unfounded," Salazar added. "I am not saying Wille didn't have a target on his back. Somebody was out to get him ... (But) we made every effort to try to protect him ... To be honest, Wille just never felt that we did enough."

Salazar said he recently updated the National Guard's whistle-blower policy and ordered training to clarify prohibitions against reprisal.

Reach the reporter at dennis.wagner@arizonarepublic.com.

Arizona Army National Guard recruit says sergeant sought to hide fraternization


Arizona Army National Guard recruit says sergeant sought to hide fraternization

by Dennis Wagner - Oct. 14, 2012 11:47 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

In early 2007, Staff Sgt. Lloyd Stenglein began recruiting a high-school girl from Scottsdale. Twenty days later, the teenager enlisted in the Arizona Army National Guard.

The cadet later told investigators, their friendship included going out to movies, meals and, on one occasion, to a strip club.

Personal relations between recruiters and cadets are expressly banned under Army Command Policy 600-20.

Around midnight on March 2, 2007, the teen was riding on the back of Stenglein's motorcycle when it crashed. She suffered double-compound leg fractures.

According to military investigative records, the accident was concealed from the National Guard even though the teen repeatedly missed required training exercises. Ten months later, while being disciplined because she still could not handle physical drills, the cadet blurted out her story.

Stenglein declined comment for this story.

An investigation of alleged fraternization, known as a 15-6, was conducted by Capt. Scott Lay.

Stenglein told Lay his relationship with the recruit was purely professional and did not involve movies. The night of the crash, he said, she called him from a party asking for a ride, so he agreed to help.

The recruit's hand-scrawled account in an investigative file differs dramatically. She wrote that she and Stenglein had exchanged calls that day about seeing a film, and wound up going to "Ghost Rider," about a stunt motorcyclist who sold his soul to the devil.

On the way home, she wrote, Stenglein wore the helmet as the bike hit speeds of 120 mph on a freeway. "Down my street to my grandma's house there are speed bumps. I just remember him saying, 'Hold on,' and he did a wheelie and gassed it. The next thing I remember was picking myself off the ground."

Besides a broken leg, the cadet suffered a head injury, bruises and road rash. Her written statement says Stenglein "freaked" as she lay bloody on the ground. "He said, 'What if I were to leave you here and you can call the cops and say someone ran you over?' I shouted at him, saying he's not going to leave me there."

No ambulance was called. Stenglein took her to a Scottsdale hospital, where she underwent surgery.

The recruit said Stenglein convinced her to claim that her foot had slipped off the motorcycle peg, and to provide a false story for an insurance-claims agent. She alleged he also persuaded her to go along with plans to accept military pay while concealing her absence from weekend duty until her leg healed.

Lay, the Guard investigator, checked phone records and found that Stenglein and the recruit had exchanged 362 calls, 13 of them on the day of the accident. He concluded that Stenglein was untruthful in sworn statements, had an "inappropriate" relationship and falsified pay documents for the cadet.

Lay recommended Stenglein's ouster from officer-candidate school, where he was enrolled at the time. He urged commanders to consider removing Stenglein from his paid position in the Army Reserve Guard, and to convene a court-martial or discharge board.

Stenglein was given notice of separation from the military -- effectively, a termination -- in 2008. Records provided to The Arizona Republic do not clarify what happened. But today, Sgt. 1st Class Stenglein leads the Guard's Ultimate Fitness Challenge.

During the 15-6 investigation, Stenglein denied the cadet's account and invoked his right to not answer questions.

After concealing her accident and her role in the subsequent cover-up, military records say, the cadet had a second improper relationship with a recruiting sergeant, which she lied about. Still, Lay concluded that she remained "trainable," and should face only an administrative reduction and undergo mentoring. Her status today could not be ascertained. The second recruiter, found guilty of fraternization and false statements, was recommended for other-than-honorable discharge. Available records do not indicate his status.

Lay also determined there was a failure of leadership in the Recruiting and Retention Command. He recommended additional training in ethics and leadership.

Arizona National Guard reform hard even with Brewer's support


Experts: Arizona National Guard reform hard even with Brewer's support

by Dennis Wagner - Oct. 15, 2012 11:39 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Gov. Jan Brewer's decision to launch an independent evaluation of the Arizona National Guard represents a first step in reform efforts advocated by insiders and experts on military conduct.

The governor's call for a review of the Guard comes in response to an Arizona Republic report detailing allegations of sexual abuse, recruiting improprieties, forgery, whistle-blower retaliation and other misconduct in a Guard with about 9,000 personnel, including 2,300 full-time soldiers and airmen.

"The governor's staff needs to look into it and perhaps make some tough decisions about leadership," said retired Maj. Gen. Glen W. "Bill" Van Dyke, a past adjutant general of the Guard. "It's crisis management."

That assessment was echoed by other officers and retired military members reacting to the Republic report and to a recent leadership battle among its top commanders.

Retired Col. Karen Bence, who served as mission-support commander for the Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing, said the state military organization suffers from "a severe lack of checks and balances all the way from state headquarters to the Governor's Office."

"If I was governor, I would clean house," Bence added. "Then, I would go after my liaison and say, 'Why didn't I know about this?' "

Bence and Van Dyke said the Guard appears to need an overhaul. Lt. Col. Rob White, who oversees future Guard operations, agreed, saying, "Clean it out at the top."

Brewer serves as commander in chief of the Arizona National Guard.

Details of her organizational review have not been released, but Matthew Benson, a spokesman for the governor, said a top National Guard officer from another state will likely be brought in to conduct a "full, fair and independent review."

Benson added that Brewer still has confidence in Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, the state's top military officer, who disputes assertions that the Guard suffers from a flawed culture or disproportionate unethical conduct.

In an interview and an opinion piece published by The Republic on Oct. 8, Salazar described the Arizona National Guard as "one of the nation's best." He acknowledged past problems with the recruiting unit. But he insisted that rogue officers were rooted out, operations were reorganized and a new, agencywide ethics program was created.

"We do not have a corrupt command climate," Salazar said. "We address misconduct. ... It is very unfortunate that the organization is going to be dealt with in that kind of negative perception when in no way is that what the organization is about."

White and numerous colleagues listed a gamut of behavioral problems in recent years -- fraud, sexual harassment, embezzlement, fraternization and retaliation against whistle-blowers -- as evidence to the contrary. Numerous officers said wrongdoing spreads because of lax discipline in an agency that sometimes functions as "a good-old-boy network."

Retired Maj. Glenn MacDonald said the Arizona National Guard produces a steady flow of scandals for his Internet site, militarycorruption.com.

"The nature of National Guards lends itself to cronyism, favoritism and fraud," MacDonald added. "I've seen some of the most incompetent people raised to high ranks simply because they were friends with a governor." A command tussle

A fight between two top commanders pushed Arizona's leadership controversy into the public spotlight last month.

Brig. Gen. Michael Colangelo, who headed the Air National Guard, was fired by Salazar after the Air Force inspector general concluded that Colangelo abused his authority by firing subordinates for misconduct.

Colangelo said he was dismissed for trying to uphold military standards. He said he sought help from Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and asked Brewer to intervene, but she declined.

"I spent four years in that job trying to reverse a bad culture," Colangelo said. "I was a hired gun brought in to fix problems with the unit. And I paid for it."

Retired Col. Felicia French, who left the Arizona National Guard in 2010 after 32 years of military service, said she believes the organization is laced with corruption and cronyism.

"Without a doubt," French said. "It's different in the regular Army. You're not with the same people all the time. And they (federal military) are harsher. ... The active Army's not nearly this bad."

Col. Louis Jordan Jr., deputy director of the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, said military organizations are a microcosm of society, and when the climate of any unit becomes fouled, the protocol is simple: Allegations get investigated; leaders take remedial action.

Jordan, who served in the Arizona Guard from 2001 to '08, said he is familiar with some of the wrongdoing documented by The Arizona Republic. "It takes human beings to make command decisions," he said. "In this case, that's the adjutant general or governor." A different workplace

In a 2003 paper for the Strategic Studies Institute at the Army War College, Steven M. Jones said healthy organizations breed high ethical expectations and accountability. On the other hand, he wrote, "When the professed principles of leaders do not align with their actual practices, trust and confidence are degraded and overall effectiveness is compromised."

Officers in the regular Army are routinely transferred to new commands worldwide, working with unfamiliar bosses and colleagues. State Guard outfits, by contrast, operate with just a few thousand full-time soldiers and airmen working side by side with little turnover.

Without skills of high value in the civilian market, said Van Dyke, non-commissioned officers cling to comparatively "juicy jobs" in the Guard, especially in a sour economy, creating a network of cronyism.

White said full-time assignment to the Active Guard Reserve is sometimes referred to as "the job-for-life program" because employees so seldom leave. In the state's Air Guard, for example, more than half of full-time officers have been in place at least two decades.

The result is an environment where members build longtime friendships, form rivalries and compete for promotions. They also work long hours -- men and women together -- sometimes on training exercises, where human nature leads to fraternization and affairs.

In that atmosphere, Van Dyke said, leadership is tested when an officer does wrong.

The supervisor responsible for meting out discipline may be a longtime friend of the person needing discipline. The accused might have damaging information about the boss, or connections higher in the chain of command. This sometimes results in a superficial probe and a quiet reprimand that gets torn up months later, or verbal counseling that amounts to a wrist-slap.

"When people work together for so many years, they build up baggage," Van Dyke noted. "It can become a problem."

High-level officers in Arizona's Guard said disciplinary failures are compounded by another concern: Blame for misconduct flows uphill, so a commander who uncovers deep-rooted problems may fear being accused of dereliction.

Moreover, National Guard records reviewed by The Republic indicate that those charged in recent years with misconduct sometimes file countercomplaints against their accusers.

Even when investigations are launched, the Guard's insular nature becomes problematic.

With just 2,376 full-time military personnel -- about the enrollment of an urban high school -- the subset of those qualified to investigate wrongdoing is tiny. Officers know one another or share friends and foes, so investigations may be biased or carry an appearance of unfairness.

Van Dyke said the Guard benefits from a corps of experienced officers who have worked together for years, but it also pays a price. When paychecks and post-retirement pensions are based on rank, keeping a scandal under wraps may benefit friends and avoid taint.

"That's an inherent problem with the National Guard," he said. "Stability is an asset, but it's also a liability. It is very difficult."

Dealing with trouble

The National Guard Bureau, which oversees state military organizations nationwide, declined interview requests and did not respond to questions submitted by e-mail. Instead, a spokeswoman sent this comment:

"The National Guard has been serving this country for more than 375 years and we take that responsibility seriously. Our service members are a representation of society and as such, their successes and failures are a reflection on us all. ... When poor choices are made or problems are brought to our attention, we are just as eager to investigate and take appropriate action to hold members accountable and prevent future infractions."

Experts and insiders said Brewer's planned review may result in efforts to reform the organization, but Guard culture is so resistant to change that even a command shuffle might not succeed.

Van Dyke and others spoke of an unwritten military code that says misconduct -- even felonies -- should be dealt with inside the Guard. Records reviewed by The Republic indicate that some offenses go unreported and that serious wrongdoing is not made public.

White added that fraternization by high-level officers may be quietly resolved with a transfer or retirement. "They just sweep it under the rug," White added. "They claim they're protecting the organization, but they're not. They're protecting themselves."

Salazar defended his Arizona command, saying soldiers and airmen are held accountable. But he said the Guard works under military regulations that give suspected wrongdoers more protections than civilian workers. In all but the most serious cases, for example, discipline is issued to rehabilitate a perpetrator, not as punishment or to set a public example. As a result, even written reprimands are often erased from permanent records within months.

The Arizona National Guard is not alone in grappling with these problems. The California National Guard has been rocked by fraud scandals involving recruiters. Other state organizations have struggled with sexual harassment and assaults.

Only a court-martial or Article 15 proceeding can result in punishment. And legal requirements are so complex, Van Dyke said, "There is a certain avoidance in getting into one of those fur balls." In fact, the Arizona National Guard has never had a successful court-martial, and Article 15 proceedings are rare.

Van Dyke said the overall system may send an unfortunate message: In the National Guard, you can get away with wrongdoing.

Reach the reporter at dennis.wagner@arizonarepublic.com.

More on this topic

Guard at a glance

The Arizona National Guard has more than 9,100 personnel. Nearly 5,200 belong to the Army Guard, 2,477 are in the Air Guard and 1,460 are civilians. Most are part-time service members who have weekend duty or training. The full-time military staffing totals 2,376.

The National Guard system, which evolved from colonial militias, is 375 years old. Nationwide, the Guard is budgeted for 464,900 members: 358,200 in the Army National Guard, and 106,700 in the Air Guard.

Soldiers and airmen deploy on U.S. combat missions as needed, assist in disaster response and serve their respective states in crime-fighting, border security and other roles.

State Guards are headed by the governor (commander in chief) who appoints an adjutant general as the top military officer. When called to serve federally, however, Guard members report through Pentagon channels, ultimately to the president.

Do we really need 9,100 military employees in Arizona???

One good question is why on earth does the state of Arizona need the 9,100 people in the National Guard, of which 2,376 are full time employees? I suspect they all could be fires and the state of Arizona would continue to function without any problems.

The Arizona National Guard has more than 9,100 personnel. Nearly 5,200 belong to the Army Guard, 2,477 are in the Air Guard and 1,460 are civilians. Most are part-time service members who have weekend duty or training. The full-time military staffing totals 2,376.


Experts: Arizona National Guard reform hard even with Brewer's support

by Dennis Wagner - Oct. 15, 2012 11:39 PM


More on this topic

Guard at a glance

The Arizona National Guard has more than 9,100 personnel. Nearly 5,200 belong to the Army Guard, 2,477 are in the Air Guard and 1,460 are civilians. Most are part-time service members who have weekend duty or training. The full-time military staffing totals 2,376.

The National Guard system, which evolved from colonial militias, is 375 years old. Nationwide, the Guard is budgeted for 464,900 members: 358,200 in the Army National Guard, and 106,700 in the Air Guard.

Soldiers and airmen deploy on U.S. combat missions as needed, assist in disaster response and serve their respective states in crime-fighting, border security and other roles.

State Guards are headed by the governor (commander in chief) who appoints an adjutant general as the top military officer. When called to serve federally, however, Guard members report through Pentagon channels, ultimately to the president.















Arizona National Guard Corruption

I took the whole series of articles from the Arizona Republic on the corruption in the Arizona National Guard an I put them in this URL.

Previous articles on the American War Machine.

More articles on the American War Machine.

Homeless in Arizona

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