Friday, January 25, 2008

A Snitch In Time

You ... agreed to become an informant for the government.”

Yes, sir.”

To do whatever they wanted you to do.”

Yes, sir.

To tell on whoever they wanted you to tell on.”

Yes, sir.”

-- Key exchange between defense attorney Leonard Goodman and Sherman Bell, a convicted drug dealer-turned- “cooperating” witness in the 1999 trial of nightclub entrepreneur Euka Wadlington.

Geneva France of Mansfield, Ohio was a 22-year-old single mother of three small children when she met Jerrell Bray. At the time, Bray was dating one of France's friends.

Perhaps in the interest of impressing France, Bray boasted that he could stuff her in the trunk of his car and take her to Cleveland – and she'd never be heard from again. He then immediately asked France out, an invitation she quite sensibly – and predictably – declined.

Using a thinly veiled murder threat is an odd come-on of the sort that would occur only to a psychopath, or perhaps to a government employee (or do I repeat myself?). Mr. Bray, a veteran drug dealer, may have been the former. He was definitely the latter, after a fashion: He was an informant working under the supervision of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Lee Lucas. On the basis of Bray's unreliable word alone, Geneva France and dozens of others were convicted on drug-related charges.

Last May, Bray – who was still selling marijuana while working as a DEA asset -- shot a man in Cleveland during a drug deal. After being sent to jail, Bray admitted that he had lied when he claimed that he had seen Geneva work as a drug courier. After sixteen months in prisons in West Virginia and Kentucky, Geneva was given $68 and a bus ticket.

Geneva has yet to receive an apology from the federal prosecutors who stole a year and a half of her life. During that time her children were deprived of their mother; her youngest daughter, Leelasha, was 18 months old when Geneva was incarcerated, and didn't recognize her mother when she returned. The family was evicted from its home after Geneva was sent to prison. Had an aunt not been available to care for the daughters, they would have been broken up and taken into the Foster Care system.

This week, fifteen innocent men from Mansfield who were convicted on the strength of Bray's federally suborned perjury were released from prison. Their aggregate prison sentence was 86 years. Even after Bray – whose testimony was the only “evidence” against these men – has been exposed as a liar, notes the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Prosecutors refused to characterize the men as innocent.” This is common behavior on the part of the anthropomorphic colostomy bags called federal prosecutors.

Geneva's case is particularly egregious, in that Bray's accusations most likely were retaliation for turning down the degenerate federal informant's request for a date.

Why me?” Geneva commented to the Plain Dealer. “Why should anyone be so mad at me? Of all the women in Mansfield, why me? Because I didn't go out on a date? Why do that to me over something so dumb?”

At the time Bray sicced the police on her, Geneva was struggling to pay the rent and keep the refrigerator stocked on a minimum wage job at a nursing home. She was getting her older daughters ready for school on the morning in November 2005 when Federal agents raided her home. They found not a particle of evidence that Geneva either dealt or used drugs.

Nonetheless, Geneva was arraigned on charges of selling more than 50 grams of crack cocaine to Bray. In court, Geneva, with a winsome and wholly misplaced confidence that justice is the objective of the “justice” system, refused a plea bargain agreement that offered her 3-4 years in prison for a crime she didn't commit; she was warned that she could be given a life sentence and never see her daughters again unless she took the deal.

The prosecution had no case; it had the unsubstantiated word of a single accuser, a paid government informant who was also an active drug dealer. Yet the federal jury convicted Geneva. This is a typical outcome, since the conviction rate for federal juries is higher than ninety percent.

Accordingly, Geneva went from earning minimum wage at a nursing home to earning 12 cents an hour for cleaning the prisons that confined her. Every penny she scraped together went to purchasing phone cards so she could talk to her daughters.

Now that their mother is free, Geneva's daughters react with acute anxiety every time she leaves, no matter how briefly. The family was evicted from its apartment when Geneva was incarcerated, and now lives in a smaller rent-subsidized apartment. Despite her innocence, Geneva is finding it difficult to get work, on account of the 16-month gap in her work history and a prison stint for which she still hasn't received complete exoneration.

For his part, Bray faces 15 years in prison for perjury and civil rights violations. Fret not for Jerrell Bray, however: He is “cooperating” with the Justice Department's inquiry into the Mansfield scandal, which probably means he will be able to arrange yet another deal. His erstwhile co-conspirator, Lee Lucas, is still on the job and thus far faces no repercussions of any kind for sending at least 16, and as many as a few dozen, innocent people to prison.

This outrage is not an anomaly. It is perfectly typical of the way the federal government and its local affiliates build drug cases and create statistical “successes.” And this helps explain the sometimes murderous “Don't snitch” ethic that has taken root in some urban black communities, which is a predictable and even, in some ways, healthy blowback from the exercise in state terrorism called the War on Drugs.

(Continues after jump)

Investigative author Ethan Brown explains that dynamic in his infuriating new book Snitch: Informants, Cooperators & the Corruption of Justice:

“The rise in anti-informant sentiment – and the government's increasing reliance on cooperators to make cases – can be directly traced to a series of anticrime bills passed by Congress in the mid-1980s and early 1990s that established severe mandatory minimums for drug offenders while offering the promise of drastic reductions in prison sentences for cooperators. Because the anti-crime bills established significant jail time for even low-level drug game players ... entering into cooperation agreements with federal prosecutors because a near necessity for many defendants.”

The key provision is section 5K1.1 of the federal sentencing guidelines, which permits “downward departure” from mandatory sentences to defendants who agree to testify against others. Andrew C. White, a former prosecutor for the Maryland US Attorney's office who is now doing penance as a defense attorney, describes the “5K” option as the “nuclear weapon” in the federal arsenal. It's also a handy time-saver for work- and risk-averse law enforcement officers and DEA agents: Rather than building cases based on shoe-leather investigative work, they can simply create a stable of informants and “cooperators” and manufacture drug cases ex nihilo using their “witnesses” as ventriloquist's dummies.

The attitude is, `We have ten informants; that's good enough; let's indict,” explains New York defense attorney Robert Simels. “Then, just before trial, they prep the witnesses. Very little investigative work is done.”

The Federal Rules of Evidence have been modified to facilitate bad convictions. Rule 404(b) of the Rules of Evidence permits trial prosecutors to introduce evidence relating to “other crimes, wrongs or acts” for which the defendant has not been convicted or even criminally charged; this is permitted in order to prove “motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident” behind an alleged crime. In practice this nullifies the Fifth Amendment prohibition against double jeopardy.

Former federal attorney Andrew White observes that this gives unscrupulous prosecutors (once again, forgive the redundancy) another huge advantage over defendants: “When I was a prosecutor, I had a defendant who was previously charged with a drug dealing crime in which he was found not guilty. Not only was I allowed to introduce evidence relating to that crime, I was also able to prevent the jury from hearing about the acquittal.”

But the whole process usually begins with an informant, aka “cooperator,” alias “incentivized witness.” This racket is well-known to both prosecutors and defense attorneys, and almost always described to juries in some detail. As the quote above illustrates, many informants blithely admit on the witness stand that they are offering testimony in exchange for “special consideration.” Some even admit that they're willing to perjure themselves in the service of the prosecution.

These people have a point: Yes, some urban criminals are drawn into the "Stop Snitchin'" movement for corrupt and self-interested reasons. But the really dangerous criminals are those protected by, and cooperating with, the Feds.

During the November 2005 trial of “Hip-Hop” impressario Irv Lorenzo on drug money laundering charges, defense attorney Gerald Shargel asked “cooperating witness” Philip Banks: “If telling a lie about Irv Lorenzo could get you out of jail and prevent you from facing the sentencing you're facing, you would do it?”

Yes, sir,” Banks admitted.

Lorenzo was acquitted. Chicago nightclub owner Euka Wadlington wasn't so fortunate. He was convicted by a federal jury and given two concurrent life terms in prison as a drug dealer despite the complete absence of physical or surveillance evidence, and a case that was built entirely on the word of compensated informants and other “cooperators.”

Among the witnesses who “cooperated” was a troubled young man named Terrance Hood who originally told investigators that Wadlington “nagged him about staying in school and even told drug dealers to stay away from him,” recounts Brown in Snitch. “Hood then went on to describe players in the [drug] scene in great detail – without once implicating Wadlington.” But Hood's memory changed dramatically after he went to prison and was offered a “downside departure” in exchange for testimony against Wadlington: Suddenly Hood remembered the much-loved businessman as a vicious drug lord who would torture inept subordinates by hitting them with minute-long Taser blasts (which is actually the conduct one expects from a police officer, not a drug dealer).

Federal prosecutors went to the trouble of subpoenaing two of Wadlington's old girlfriends, pressuring them to implicate him as a drug dealer, and then terrorizing them with threats of long prison sentences if they didn't “cooperate.”

If I were you,” federal prosecutor Clifford Cronk told one of them, “I'd be afraid.” They eventually broke and gave the Cronkster and his cohorts what they wanted, and Wadlington – whose petition to the Supreme Court was denied – now sits in a federal prison.

Many victims of the Federal snitching apparatus are dead. Some of the victims perished in paramilitary police raids authorized by warrants obtained on the basis of informant testimony. Other victims are “dead men walking” -- death row inmates. Brown points out that “a 1997 study by the Northwestern University Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions found that 46 percent of wrongful death penalty convictions can be attributed to false information provided by `incentivized witnesses.'”

Today he'd wear a wire: Judas Iscariot, "cooperating witness," helps Roman officials arrest a known radical.

Brown writes that the “Stop Snitchin'” movement – death threats and other forms of intimidation included – is propelled “not by a reflexive anti-law enforcement mentality” or simple thuggishness, but rather a “real sense that the federal system is out of whack and that people are being put away for the rest of their lives” based on the purchased perjury of informants and other “cooperators.”

An increasing reliance on state informants is a reliable symptom of tyranny. Imperial Rome, like imperial America, was lousy with delatores (or informants) who collaborated with accusatores

(corrupt, malicious prosecutors), and wretched individuals of both types disfigure much of medieval history. Informants played an indispensable role in modern totalitarian states.

But the archetype paid informant was probably Judas Iscariot, who – like most “cooperators,” was eager to tell State authorities exactly what they wanted to hear, for a price. There's never been another defendant as innocent as Iscariot's Victim, but most informants are probably at least as craven as Judas.

Department of shameless self-promotion

My new book, Liberty in Eclipse: The War on Terror and the Rise of the Homeland Security State, is now available for sale on-line through The Right Source -- and will soon be available at a bookstore near you (I promise!).

Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...

It seems that stories like this and the very real possibility of torture if imprisoned may cause more people to kill rather than be captured. I predict the police officer job to become much more dangerous if we continue to have this kind of "justice" and the real threat of brutality and torture at the hands of those who "serve and protect".

It is the same for military situations. If you know you will be tortured if you surrender or are captured, will you think twice about that or fight to the death? Treating captors humanely has the opposite effect; combatants are more likely to surrender if given the opportunity, especially if their conditions for survival have deteriorated.

Louis Anderson

jurassicpork said...

William, this isn't the first time that we've actually paid idiots such as this with taxpayer dollars for giving bogus information.

And don't even get me started on Chalabi...

Kevin Craig said...

I'm curious: what keeps your book from being available on

Also, haven't heard anything about Korrin for over a month (that I recall). Please post the latest.

dixiedog said...

This is why I don't trust anyone anymore, other than close family or long-time associates to keep their mouth shut about serious matters that they know little or nothing about and that don't concern them, especially in public venues or involving government entities (people or buildings [the walls have ears...sigh]), when appropriate, or with anything else of a potentially sensitive nature for that matter. Not that it's necessarily completely risk-free, of course, but the risk is minimized at least.

It's not just bona fide informants or snitches either you have to watch out for, but neighborhood crows and buzzards who roam the streets in search of trivia and info, true or false, that they would love to spread around to the authorities as well as other commoners whenever they feel the urge. In short, a snapshot of the corrupt "anonymous" phone tipster, et al.

And thankfully, as much as you slam the State incessantly, albeit rightly, you're also finally revealing the cadre of ordinary citizens themselves, in this case informants, as the self-centered reprobates they are, rather than simply harping about the abstract State and its "incentives" utilized to attempt to create false witnesses. Don't blame prosecutors for someone becoming an informant. Blame the informant. The prosecutor may indeed be a corrupt specimen of humanity also, but he/she in no way controls another's decision making process.

After all, I've never been one to swallow the so-called "entrapment" nonsense in any context. They become informants because they already are simply corrupt individuals to start with and they choose to perform as such, whatever the so-called "incentives." I'd rather live caged or die free eternally by the truth rather than "live free" temporally by a lie, especially when the matter will directly affect another human being's fate.

Anyway, on a side note, I'm glad your book finally is out and I plan to purchase it soon, probably the end of next week. I hope it's successful and reaches many. Right now, I've got other pressing matters to attend to.

GG said...

Mr. Grigg, as a state law enforcement officer, I am appalled at these federal prosecutors actions. They truly are dishing out nothing more thatn Stasi style
"justice" to Americans. They are the one of the greatest threats to our freedom. It makes you somewhat understand why the Mafia and other criminal organizations hate snitches. Overall a great article.

Zachary said...

Just read about one David Olofson, now a federal felon, convicted in Wisconsin. Lent his ordinary semi-automatice rifle to a man who wanted to learn how to shoot. After 120 rounds, the gun malfunctions and discharges 3 rounds with one depression of the trigger. Some local jackboots were there and called the ATF. They come and confiscate it, examine it, and say "it is an ordinary rifle." Then they fire it using soft-primered ammunition, and when the gun got really hot, they got it to fire more than one round- a well documented defect in several civilian AR-15 type rifles. Anyway, Mr. Olofson was convicted of "illegally transferring a machine gun." Here, the DOJ simply made up its own law. The rifle did not have the receiver components that would classify it as a machine gun, but was a defective weapon, that when torture-tested with certain ammo, could randomly fire more than one round. In my opinion, this is a very frightening case.

Hank said...

"And this helps explain the sometimes murderous “Don't snitch” ethic that has taken root in some urban black communities"

Actually, it's common place in rural white communities too, at least in the Northeast...I'd guess there is no community where this isn't a growing ethic. Very few would actually murder a snitch, even fewer would care if someone did.

Anonymous said...

what about the juries in these cases? I know juries are no longer instructed that they are judges over the law,[unjust laws]. And some, I suppose are just plain stupid.
And it seems that prosecutors let the major criminals off easy and prosecute the underlings and innocent with no mercy or common sense. There is a guy who is doing 90 years for telling a friend where he could get pot. The actual dealers were given light sentences for thier "testimony".

Mike said...

The shakedowns (and not just for money) and the less than veiled threats that accompany them are also integral (and not just incidental) to the lawlessness, abuse and perversion you are documenting so well. The long term transformation of entire organizations originally created to protect the public good, while not yet complete (there are still good people), is far enough along now for the average person to 'see' the moral and legal corruption.
In their speech and actions these government (or government protected) indidviduals scarecely hide their immorality--vulgarity (or perversion)--abusiveness--and above all utter contempt for the rest of us...

Anonymous said...

Geneva France's story could just as well be the 11th chapter, or the 1,011th chapter, of the 10-part Pittsburgh Post-Gazette series "Win at all costs," which detailed consistent lawbreaking by federal agents and prosecutors.

France's story is also reminiscent of a 1999 case, in which almost the entire black population of the West Texas town of Tulia (consisting of several dozen people) was arrested on the false testimony of a narc named Tom Coleman. After years of predictable opposition by prosecutors and judicial foot-dragging, they were finally exonerated, with considerable publicity.

But such cases tend to be used as a smokescreen, to give the impression that the system is policing its own errors. As William Grigg so ably documents, the system is designed with incentives for corruption. Random fixes here and there do nothing to address the rot at the core.

There's really no such thing as constitutional rights when an accused felon can win a sentence reduction by falsely implicating you or me. Welcome to freaking East Germany, comrade. Got friends in high places?

Larry said...

The exchange you relate at the beginning of this post is chilling. Just last night I watched the 2007 German film "The Lives of Others" which revolves around the Statsi surveillance of a playwright in East Berlin during the 1980's. At one point his girlfriend is recruited to snitch on him and the exchange between her and the Statsi officer is eerily similar to the one in your post. When I first read it in fact I thought you may be quoting dialog from the movie!

Scary when the tactics of the Statsi and our local law enforcement are so similar.

Tax Slave said...

“Without justice, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers?” -- St. Augustine

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable." -- attributed to JFK (probably a speech writer surrogate)

The choice is in the hands of the people. Will we continue to acquiesce? Will we continue to shun jury duty? Will we continue to allow our children's minds to be indoctrinated by the gov't at their barbed wire, metal detecting, Ritilin peddling, yellow bus, condom distribution centers?

And for those who know something is seriously wrong, will we continue to go astray on such kook-ball tangents such as 911 "truth" movement etc. or loony UFO cover-up stories. They love to get us to waste our time and energy of perifrial things that don't approach the core. Such things only serve to discredit those who resist in any way. We should object on philosophical grounds to neo-mercantilism, socialism, statism, redistribution schemes, empire-ism, fascism, etc. Let us not get caught up in the minutia of where the redistributed funds go, who benefits such as Haliburton, Blackwater, Planned Parrenthood, NES, federal AIDS research, global warming research, etc. It doesn't matter who in particular was stellar or incompetant in their duties at FEMA, Homeland Security, the drug war, the Federal Reserve, the war on poverty, UN, NAFTA, GAT, global carbon tax, IMF, World Bank etc. We should object to the whole mess in toto basing our arguments on the very legitimacy of their existence at all. We should object on philosophical grounds only. Who cares if an illegitimate institution is being run inneffeciently or with great effectiveness? Who cares if their audit comes in squeeky clean or if it is rife with corruption? I don't want to waste one bit of my energy thinking or argueing about those irrelevent things. In short, keep foccused.

Do everything you can to get on a jury. Make them think you are a mind numbed statist who will comply without question to orders from a judge, police, prosecutor etc. Do everything you can to sneak past their jury screening process. It is you they are afraid of, not the Jerry Springer, Oprah watching drones. Whatever you do, don't wave your nullification flag during the jury selection process. And even during deliberations, should it get that far, just quietly vote to acquit with the rationale given that you aren't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. You want to remain in the jury selection pool for the future, plus judges can remove jurors even during deliberations for specious and arbitrary reasons citing that they were "tainted".

Bill Anderson said...

Once again, you demonstrate conclusively that the emperor has no clothes. There also is another aspect to this glorification of the lie that seems to be a staple of the federal government: many of these policies have been implemented or approved by evangelical Christians, of which I am one.

Think about it; people who supposedly believe in the Commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," are a driving force to permit the law to accommodate "false witness." Can it get any worse than that?

Thank you for standing up for what is right.

bill anderson said...


I will add one more thing. Christians make a big show of wanting to have the Ten Commandments displayed everywhere.

Yet, they also acquiesce in the destruction of those commandments. God wants obedience, not just a religious show.

Anonymous said...

Strange but true - I read recently that after being pressured by tax feeding the U.S drug warriors, the Philippine government is installing small drop boxes everywhere so that ordinary citizens can conveniently submit the names of drug users and dealers. Although the measure obviously provides a golden opportunity for many people to harm those they simply dislike as well as business competitors, their ruler has nonetheless threatened to "disappear" many whose names appear on the slips of paper collected from the boxes.

TGGP said...

I take this to mean you're not a fan of Bob Black.

Anonymous said...

The disgusting thing to me is that some don't need to be recruited to become government snitches. The snitching tendency is apparent in some as early as pre-school. They have a need to mess up others while they curry favor with "The Power". The phenomenon becomes stronger as state power increases. Look at the old East Germany.

I live in a place with lots of elderly retirees, hence a large potential fogy pool. The crime rate here has been rising sharply(from a level of ~0 in 2000) in the last few years, mainly due to "demographic changes". Whoopee--an excuse for the cops to do what they do best.

There is now (in a typical guvmint malresponse) a law for everything here. How/when/where you can: park your car, park a boat, put out your garbage, put out your recycle, mow your grass, plant a tree, listen to music, wash your car, wash your boat, water your lawn, shoot off a firecracker...etc., etc. You can get 30 days in jail and massive fines if your automatic sprinklers turn off 10 minutes too late.

And the fogy informers and their cop enablers are licking their vile lips.

Griz said...

Mr Grigg is usually on the mark but I am afraid he misses a little on this one. Jerrell Bray didn't snitch - he flat out LIED. There is a difference. And what exactly is "snitching"? Certainly we don't want busybodies calling the police every time they see someone jay walking but we also should recognize that good citizens shouldn't keep quiet to protect the guilty, which is what I think the "urban" Stop Snitching campaign is more about rather than protecting the innocent. Having said that, I would agree that Mr.
Grigg's point on government informants being coerced into testifying against others in order to reduce their own sentences is contemptible. But again I call for good citizenship via the jury to put a stop to this abomination. There is one other aspect of this issue which, frighteningly, may evolve into the feds passing laws REQUIRING people to snitch on their fellow citizens. The law would possibly be read as "So and so should have or reasonable should have known that the suspect was involved in illegal activity and failed to report said behavior..." All of which would be left open to any law Nazi (DA) to prosecute at will any and all. Then we really would see the jaywalkers getting reported ad nauseum.

Ned said...

The problem also lies with judges.

I worked on a case where a judge found "non problem" with documented evidence of perjury by a federal agent.

William N. Grigg said...

Ned, for reasons that should be obvious, I'd really like to hear more about the case you mentioned. Could you contact me via WNGrigg [at] msn [dot] com?

Lemuel Gulliver said...

Dear Mr. Grigg,

One can hardly stand to read yet another of your essays on official police, court, and prosecutorial corruption (which would include the corruption of knowingly and callously victimizing the innocent public whom they are supposed to protect.) Their knowingly jailing the innocent in order simply to score a few points which might advance their careers is beyond a criminal act - it is a moral atrocity worthy of the worst retribution Satan can exact upon their souls. May their sojourn in Hell be long and arduous.

This story sickens me to the stomach. What is WRONG with this country?

In 1995, I sat in the visitor's gallery in the legislature in Cape Town, (20 yards away from Mr. Mandela, which was a great treat - he is my hero) and listened to a speech by member Mac Maharaj. Maharaj wondered aloud why South Africa was sinking (even then) into an apparently bottomless pit of lawlessness and crime. He concluded that when a government (he was referring to the recently deposed apartheid regime) flagrantly breaks, with egregious abandon, the very laws it is supposed to uphold, it creates a contempt for law and order at every level of society. He said, an attitude takes hold in the collective psyche of the people of "Every man for himself, and f***k all the rest of you." (He did not use that word - that word is only used on the floor of the legislature by US Vice Presidents, but that was the gist of his meaning.)

I believe this is what has happened to us. The Russians have a saying: "The fish rots from the head." It might have begun for us with the pardon of Nixon, or with the corruption of Vietnam, or with Iran-Contra, and with Oliver North having the brass balls to make a run for the US Senate, or with the lying that got us into Iraq, or with President Bush attaching several times more signing statements, that he will not be bound by the laws that cross his desk, (must be approaching 1,000 by now) than every other President in history all combined put together.

This President and his circle (to include Scooter Libby - who committed a crime which threatened the very United States itself, and was let off scot free by this President - a man who as Governor of Texas actually JOKED to Tucker Carlson about the inmates on Death Row in Texas, mimicking an inmate whining and pleading for their life,) have committed so many high crimes and felonies, it is impossible to count them any more. And these are not just little fibs to a jury about a sexual encounter, these are crimes that have cost the lives of over a million people, and have plunged this country into an economic catastrophe, and have made it a feared and hated pariah among nations.

And then we the people, in hopes of a better day, elected the Democrats in 2006 to remedy this situation, and the Democrats said, "We will not impeach, or even whisper a word of criticism, for these crimes." In law, that is called misprision of a felony. The Democrats, too, care not a rat's ass about law and order. They have held the laws of this nation in utter contempt by their failure to punish flagrant and egregious crimes committed at all levels of the regime, and have thereby stained their hands in complicity.

And the result is we have a society that is breaking down, decaying and rotting like a corpse and falling apart into a myriad of little stinking fragments. Soon all that will be left of The Once Great United States Of America will be a pile of moldy bones for the forensic archaeologists to wonder at.

Let us leave poetry aside and look at history. If you examine the history of every empire that has come and gone, and we have many examples to study, the decline of every empire began when the empire became so rich and powerful that unbridled greed took hold, the rich classes became obscenely rich, and the poor lost any sense of it being THEIR society. The empire belonged to only a few, and it would be up to those few to hang onto their goods in the face of the encroaching barbarians. The masses could not care less. When it comes to oppressors, one oppressor is much the same as another, (which is why the Iraqi people are not much invested in the success of the US occupation.)

And every time - yes, this is true, I mean every time - the rich classes turn to mercenaries to defend them. It happened in Rome, it happened in Byzantium, and it is happening before our eyes in America. But mercenaries like Blackwater, fighting for pay, are never as committed to the cause as citizen soldiers fighting for their mothers, wives and daughters.

And in every empire at such a stage of incipient decay, crime flourished, partisan cliques formed, law became inapplicable to the rich and merely a means of opressing the citizenry, and treason against the state became the most profitable enterprise, after looting the public treasury itself. Dealing with the enemy paid handsomely. How many Byzantine and Roman aspiring emperors allied themselves with foreign enemies in hopes of seizing power? The number is beyond reckoning.

And this present story of Mr. Grigg's is just a tiny symptom of this great sickness afflicting our society.

Can we recover? Yes, but only with wisdom and understanding. We can only begin with our own selves. We get the kind of leaders we deserve. If we are so stupid and inattentive as to believe what the media tell us, we will suffer for it. We must start within our own hearts. Goodness is contagious, just as much as selfishness. Josef Stalin had a saying, "You can throw a stone anywhere in the pond, the ripples will travel everywhere." The ripples of our generosity of heart will propagate just as readily as the ripples of our selfishness.

It is up to us, what kind of country we want to live in.

Kind wishes,
Chris Taylor
Arlington, VA

Chuck said...

There is no way to stop this thing that's happening. I wish there were, but all the survival books and revolutions in the world can never stop it. It is the end of days and these things have to happen for prophecy to be fulfilled. I have great respect for your courage and plan to get your book this week. Thank you. And may God richly bless you.