Friday, August 27, 2010

"Showtime Syndrome" Strikes Las Vegas

Bryan Yant during his 2002 coroner's inquest.
"He made me do my job," insisted Bryan Yant when asked to explain why he gunned down 21-year-old Las Vegas resident Trevon Cole last June in what was clearly an act of criminal homicide.

Yant, who is employed by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police as an undercover counter-narcotics detective, claimed that Cole -- who was accused of selling 1.8 ounces of marijuana -- "made an aggressive act toward me," which was "enough to make me fear for my life."

Cole's finance, Sequoia Pearce, offers a much different story. She maintains that Cole was cooperative, putting up his hands and saying "All right -- all right" in the instant before Yant fatally shot him. At the time, Pearce -- who was nine months pregnant with the couple's child -- was kneeling on the floor with a gun to her head.

Of the six-member narcotics squad involved in the late evening raid on the tiny one-bedroom apartment, Yant was the only one who claimed that Cole made a "furtive movement." Interestingly, he was also the only one carrying an assault rifle.

Unlike his comrades, who were armed with with department-issued handguns, the former Marine decided to bring along his personal AR-15. This isn't to say that the co-assailants earn points for restraint, given that the entire raid was an exercise in overkill. Trevon Cole's needless death was an outcome nearly as predictable as the result of the perfunctory coroner's inquest, which ruled that the murder was a "justifiable" exercise of lethal force.

On three separate occasions in the weeks leading up to the June 11 raid, police "arranged to meet with Trevon in the parking lot of his apartment complex" to conduct drug buys, attorney Andre Lagomarsino told Pro Libertate. "Trevon was never armed or dangerous, and he wasn't exactly a high-rolling dealer either, given the fact that he didn't even have a car." 

In the hours leading up to the raid, "the police had the apartment under surveillance, and they knew that there was a pregnant woman in that room," continues Lagomarsino. "They had already established that this guy wasn't a threat. They had probable cause to arrest Trevon; why didn't they simply arrange to meet him in the parking lot and cuff him, and then execute a search?"

Nevada law doesn't criminalize individual possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Each of the "controlled buys" the police set up with Cole involved amounts he could legally possess. The cops tried, without success, to bait Cole into selling larger amounts.

Although the police -- with the help of a camera crew from Langley Productions, which produces the execrable COPS "reality TV" series -- had captured Trevon Cole selling marijuana on video, the affidavit Yant filed to obtain an arrest warrant was fatally flawed. (Remember the COPS connection; we'll return to it anon.)

Trevon and Sequoia in happier times.
Yant misidentified the Las Vegas resident as another individual -- a Houston resident with a lengthy criminal record. The two men -- who had different birthdays and middle names -- looked nothing like each other. Trevon, a former college football player, was roughly 100 pounds heavier and three inches taller than the individual described in the affidavit. 

It's impossible to dismiss Yant's misrepresentation as an innocent mistake. He had all the necessary information from Cole's California driver's license. Rather than correctly describing the subject as a young man with no prior criminal record, Yant depicted him as a dangerous repeat offender. This, in turn, prompted a judge to approve Yant's request for an armed, night-time raid on Cole's apartment. Res ipsa loquitir.

 When the cops invaded Cole's apartment, the lights were out and a television offered the only illumination. In defiance of protocol, Yant -- acting without backup -- kicked in the bathroom door. He found Cole squatting in front of the toilet, apparently trying to dispose of a minuscule amount of marijuana. 
According to the story Yant told the inquest, Cole "turned towards me, rotated his body," and assumed a shooter's stance. The detective was supposedly able to see all of this despite the fact that it was dark and the barrel-mounted flashlight on his rifle wasn't working.

That account can't be reconciled with the findings of Dr. Lisa Gavin, a medical examiner with the Clark County Coroner's Office, who said that the physical evidence shows Cole was facing away from Yant when he was fatally shot. The bullet that killed Cole followed a downward trajectory through his cheek into his neck. 

During the inquest, Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens suggested that this was "consistent" with an accidental discharge of Yant's rifle as he kicked in the door. However, Pearce insists that Cole had sufficient time to raise his hands and signal his compliance before Yant gunned him down. Her account actually confirms Yant's testimony that the gunshot was a deliberate act, not an accidental discharge. 

When coupled with forensic evidence indicating that Cole was shot from behind, this looks suspiciously like an execution-style murder -- or at the very least, something that should be prosecuted as an act of criminal homicide. Thanks to a system designed to validate questionable use of lethal force by police, Yant may conceivably lose his job, but he won't be put on trial.

Lagomarsino, who is preparing a lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metro Police on behalf of  Cole's family and former fiance, describes the County Coroner Inquest procedure as "a kangaroo court and a dog and pony show." That is also the view of Don Chairez, a former Nevada District Court Judge who is a current candidate to be Clark County District Attorney. Chairez, who describes the typical inquest as "a search for justification of an officer's actions."

Inquest critic: DA candidate Chairez.
The inquest procedure was introduced in 1969. Since 1976, more than two hundred lethal force incidents have been examined by a seven-member jury. Only one of them was ruled "negligent" -- and that decision was overturned on appeal. This isn't a surprising result, given that the inquest procedure is designed to be collaborative, rather than adversarial: The D.A.'s office literally orchestrates the questioning with the police department prior to the hearing. 

Lagomarsino observes that no cross-examination of police officers is permitted. "We were allowed to submit written questions, one at a time, to the prosecutor, but we couldn't cross-examine Yant" or even ask follow-up questions, he told Pro Libertate. The prosecutors don't bother to present a summation for the jury, and established procedures also permit judges to offer what Lagomarsino called "very vague" instructions to the jury. 

 Additionally, jury nullification would avail little in this setting, since the inquest -- unlike a grand jury -- cannot return an indictment. At the end of the inquest into the Trevon Cole shooting, comments Don Chairez, it appeared that the judge "was almost asking for a directed verdict."

This wasn't the first time a coroner's inquest has rescued Bryan Yant. In 2002, Yant,  at the time a 25-year-old street officer, shot robbery suspect Richard Travis Brown following a foot pursuit. Yant claimed that he had returned fire after Brown shot at him during the chase. Eventually Brown "buckled and fell face-first on the ground," Yant told the inquest. Sprawled on the ground with a "wild-eyed look," Brown supposedly pointed his gun at the officer, who unloaded the volley that killed him.

Brown was being pursued as a suspect in a violent crime. But he shouldn't have been summarily executed -- which is what apparently happened to him, given that the gun he supposedly pointed at Yant was found 35 feet from the spot where the officer shot him to death. This oddity didn't prevent the inquest from quickly validating Yant's actions as "justifiable."

Yant's "error" in describing an entirely different person in his arrest affidavit for Trevon Cole was hardly his first "mistake" of that kind. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Yant "is under investigation for apparently lying about drugs he didn't seize and actions he didn't take during a 2009 police raid that never happened."

More than a year before compiling an arrest affidavit that contained "gross misstatements about Cole's criminal history," Yant and fellow Officer David Goris falsely reported that "they sat in a car [and observed] ... while a confidential informant bought drugs from a man they identified as William Sigler," reports the Review Journal. "That alleged buy was used to justify a nighttime search of Sigler's home 12 days later. Police arrested Sigler and his girlfriend and seized prescription drugs, marijuana and cocaine from the home."

However, the charges were thrown out last week when it was established that "the informant did not buy drugs from Sigler." At the time the "controlled buy" purportedly took place, Sigler was in the Bahamas.

During the January 2009 raid on Sigler's residence, "Yant tore up and left three documents ... [describing] a different raid of Sigler's home, one that never took place," continues the paper. A "declaration of arrest" form claimed that police had detained suspects and collected evidence at Sigler's home in a December 2009 raid. "Evidence" supposedly collected in that fictitious raid supposedly tested positive for cocaine. All of this was was unalloyed perjury.

Ready for my close-up: Sheriff Gillespie.

At present, Yant remains on paid vacation. Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie insists that the coroner's inquest conducted by his office was the epitome of institutional transparency. Gillespie acknowledges that there is room for improvement in the procedure for serving narcotics warrants -- which is why this task will now be assigned to the Las Vegas SWAT team. 

Bear in mind that militarizing the execution of arrest warrants is presented here as a "reform" triggered by an incident involving the needless use of lethal force. It's not obvious how this policy change would reduce the likelihood of unnecessary civilian deaths. It is obvious, however, that SWAT teams are much more telegenic than run-of-the-mill counter-narcotics units -- and there's reason to believe that Sheriff Gillespie, like Detroit's recently ousted police chief Warren Evans, is playing to the "reality TV" audience

In May, the Las Vegas Tribune described a "mandatory meeting" called by Lieutenant Clinton Nichols that involved "more than thirty detectives" from the Metro Police Department. The detectives "were introduced to four civilian visitors, [who] were the production staff of the `COPS' reality show. All thirty-three detectives with the robbery division were ordered, by the supervisory staff ... to cooperate, participate and assist all four of those television producers while in Las Vegas...."

Detective Gordon Martines, a 36-year veteran police officer, was among those present at that gathering. Martines asked Langley Productions representative Susan Carney "who ordered the production." According to Martines and at least one other officer who witnessed the conversation, Carney replied: "The Sheriff ordered this; we are here to help him with his campaign for re-election."

That statement was greeted with expressions of stunned disbelief from the officers. Carney broke the awkward silence by asking if she had said something wrong.

Gordon Martines
"Maybe we should introduce you to Sheriff candidate Martines," one of the other officers tersely explained.

On May 7, continued the Tribune, Martines filed a complaint with Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller alleging that Gillespie had violated election laws by using the television production company as a taxpayer-subsidized propaganda vehicle.

By any rational standard, it's an act of corruption for a Sheriff or police chief to enlist the officers under his command as armed bit players in an election-year "reality" show -- and it's likely that Gillespie's torqued priorities contributed to Trevon Cole's eminently avoidable violent death.

The meeting described by Martines occurred before the COPS film crew recorded the "controlled buys" outside Trevon Cole's apartment complex -- stings in which the police tried, unsuccessfully, to lure Cole into selling them cocaine and firearms. According to several accounts, the COPS film crew was supposed to be "embedded" with Yant's home invasion squad during the June 11 raid, but wasn't available. That would explain why the serial killer and impenitent perjurer who led that raid selected a big-ass gun that would look good on TV, rather than being content with his department-issued sidearm.

In a rational world, nobody would be punished (let alone killed) for selling or consuming marijuana. Trevon "most likely would have gotten probation, given his lack of a criminal background," according to Lagomarsino -- if his arrest had been carried out by peace officers, rather than paramilitary poseurs.
Gunned down: Erik Scott.

On September 22, the same inquest system that has repeatedly exonerated Bryan Yant will meet to ratify the actions of the Metro police officers who gunned down Erik Scott a month after the killing of Trevon Cole.

The 39-year-old West Point graduate was shot seven times by three officers in the parking lot of a Costco store. Metro Captain Patrick Neville said the police had responded to complaints that Scott was armed and behaving erratically.

Scott, who had a concealed weapons permit, was carrying two weapons at the time he was killed. Neville claims that "a dozen witnesses" saw Scott pull a gun. That account is disputed by many other eyewitnesses who were present at the crowded retail store on a busy Saturday afternoon. Significantly, the relevant security camera video has been withheld, and the police have suggested that the most crucial video evidence may be lost to a mysterious -- albeit oddly predictable -- "glitch. "

"Showtime Syndrome" probably didn't play a significant role in the killing of Erik Scott, which was most likely a product of police over-reaction to the presence of an armed citizen. His father, William Scott, is an aviation journalist of national stature with "extensive contacts in military and intelligence circles."

Thanks to William Scott's influence, there is an anorexically slender possibility that the coroner's inquest will be a legitimate investigation. If this does happen, more that a few Las Vegas residents will be prompted to ask why the same wasn't true in the case of Trevon Cole. That's when things could get really interesting....

Thank You

Once again I'm overwhelmed and profoundly grateful to those who have donated so generously over the past several days. This means more to me than I can adequately express. God bless each and all of you.

Please join me each Saturday evening from 8:00-11:00 (Mountain Time) for Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is the Muslim My Neighbor?

"Pure Religion, and undefiled," as practiced by an infidel: The Good Samaritan.
As violence raged through Gaza, Esther Najjar feared that her family -- which included two young girls -- would be the next target of the mob that had just firebombed the local Catholic church.

Riled up through the expert ministrations of professional agitators, the mob of Palestinian Muslims assaulted several Christian houses of worship in protest of papal remarks taken as an affront to those who revere Mohammed. Esther, like many other members of Gaza's embattled Christian minority, was all but helpless. If not for the intervention of their neighbors, she and her daughters may well have been massacred. 

"I was afraid," Esther later told a wire service reporter. "First they attacked the church, and then there was that protest against the pope.... Some of the protesters tried to come down this street, and we were terrified they'd attack the houses. But our Muslim neighbors stopped the protesters." (Emphasis added.)

Those who acted to defend the rights of Esther and her children didn't see them as adherents of an "infidel" religion -- one they might regard as the fighting faith of their political enemies. Instead, they saw those Christian Palestinians as neighbors threatened by criminal violence.  

Incomprehensible as it may seem to those whose bearings on reality are defined by Fox News and GOP-aligned talk radio, the government of the Palestinian Authority -- which, thanks to the Bush administration's intervention, was controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization created from the CIA-backed Muslim Brotherhood with the help of Israeli intelligence -- didn't exploit the controversy to call for a pogrom against the Christian minority. 

In fact, Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian Prime Minister at the time, did exactly the opposite, admonishing his fellow citizens to rally in defense of the besieged minority: "All Palestinian citizens must prevent all harm to all Christian churches on Palestinian land. Our Christian brothers are citizens of Palestine. They are Palestinians." 

An unlikely Samaritan: Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.
This incident could be mistaken for an updating of the parable in which Jesus of Nazareth used a Samaritan -- a member of a despised, heretical religion -- to embody the virtue of loving one's neighbor. 

But there is nothing hypothetical about the neighborly virtue displayed by the Muslims who protected Esther Najjar's family in Gaza four years ago, or about Haniyeh's commendable call for righteous interposition on behalf of Palestinian Christians.  

Haniyeh's actions were all the more remarkable, given that (not to put too fine a point on the matter) there is little in Hamas's ideology or established tactics that can be reconciled with the Sermon on the Mount.

Americans who profess to follow the One who taught the parable of the Good Samaritan should soberly consider this question: Can we display toward our Muslim neighbors the same kind of Christian love that was extended -- at least on that one occasion -- by Haniyeh, a senior political leader of Hamas? 

On the available evidence it would appear that a large portion of America's Christian population, in dealing with our nation's tiny and largely powerless Muslim minority, falls short of what we could call the Haniyeh Standard -- that is, recognizing them as fellow Americans and preventing harm to their houses of worship. In fact, many Christians consider it their neighborly duty to rescue American Muslims from religious error by relieving them of their burdensome individual rights.

Thus it is that Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, perhaps the most influential Religious Right organization, demands that the government forbid the construction of any new mosques anywhere in the United States. Although he's studiously coy about the matter, Fischer clearly would prefer to see the demolition of every existing mosque as well, since he considers them to be "improvised explosive devices" rather than actual houses of worship.

"If a mosque was [sic] willing to publicly renounce the Koran and its 109 verses that call for the death of infidels, renounce Allah and his messenger Mohammed, publicly condemn Osama bin Laden [and] Hamas ... maybe then they could be allowed to build their buildings," sniffs Fischer.  "But then they wouldn't be Muslims at that point, would they?" 

Fischer apparently believes that the only right Muslims possess is the right to refudiate their rights (as St. Sarah might put it). 

What Fischer insinuates, Peter J. Johnson states with admirable candor. Johnson, a legal analyst for Fox News, is the living incarnation of Ellsworth Toohey, a columnist from Ayn Rand's definitive novel The Fountainhead who serves as the fictional embodiment of collectivism.  

Collectivism incarnate: Fox News legal analyst Johnson.
 Standing in front of the site of the proposed Cordoba House in Lower Manhattan, his voice lacquered with cloying, condescending sanctimony, Johnson used his August 20 Fox & Friends commentary to urge Muslims to prove that they are "good neighbors" by commiting metaphorical self-immolation

"We are proud that we are one of the few countries in the world which allows the free exercise of religion," mewled Johnson. Of course, this was merely a prelude to the inevitable qualifying conjunction -- "but" -- that nullifies everything coming before it: "... but when we resort to legalisms instead of common sense, or compassion, when we invoke our First Amendment as a sword, not a shield, it means we have lost sight of and broken faith with our national identity and strength."

In a fashion that would have caused a knowing smile to crease Toohey's overfed face, Johnson thus defined an unqualified assertion of individual liberty as a form of aggression against the collective. He then asserted that sacrifice of one's individual rights is "the essential principle of our nation's endurance": "When it comes to our national interest, we are neither Christians, nor Jews, nor Muslims; we are Americans first, who make sacrifices for each other."

There is nothing essentially "American" about that formulation; in fact, it could very easily be transposed into the idiom of Soviet propaganda during Stalin's "Great Patriotic War": "When it comes to our national interest, we are neither Christians, nor Jews, nor Muslims; we are Soviet citizens first, who make sacrifices for each other."

What distinguishes the American ideal from any variety of nationalist collectivism is the sanctity of individual rights, not the supposed virtue of self-sacrifice in the service of the putative common good. Johnson, however, is firmly committed to the Soviet perspective.

"Why has the notion of `we' been replaced by `me'?" whines Johnson, who -- borrowing a riff from Big Brother's "Two Minute Hate" --  goes on to offer a tortured insinuation that the Park51 community center would have some connection to "our implacable enemy,  the nation of Iran." (Note that he indicts the "nation," not the government ruling that country.) 

The only way that those seeking to build the Park51 facility can behave as "neighbors becoming good neighbors," according to Johnson, is to surrender their rights. 

"Any American can assert a right," Johnson concludes. "Great Americans give up their rights to help those they share nothing else with but a love of this country."

Like Rand's literary creation Ellsworth Toohey, Johnson appears to have made a deliberate choice to evangelize on behalf of collectivism in terms calculated to appeal to the basest impulses of the mob. After all, if "sacrifice" is a virtue, why doesn't Johnson urge critics of the Cordoba House to offer their hurt feelings as a sacrifice in the defense of individual rights?The logical answer is that Johnson is paid to promote statist militarism, not individual liberty -- and do so in a nearly pitch-perfect imitation of Toohey. 

"Look back at history," commented Toohey in The Fountainhead. "Look at any great system of ethics. Didn't they all preach the sacrifice of personal joy? Under all the complications of verbiage, haven't they all had a single leitmotif -- sacrifice, renunciation, self-denial? Haven't you been able to catch their theme song -- give up, give up, give up? Every system of ethics that preached sacrifice grew into a world power and ruled millions of men." 

In the parable taught by Jesus, the Good Samaritan exposed himself to risk by ministering to the victim of mob violence; he likewise used his own funds to obtain lodging and treatment for his wounded neighbor. This was compassionate charity. It was not the collectivist counterfeit called "altruism." The Samaritan's generosity didn't involve a renunciation of his own individual rights and fundamental worth; rather, they were carried out in harmony with the Great Commandment to love one's neighbor "as himself."

Ayn Rand may have had a similar distinction in mind when she warned: "Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others.  These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible.  The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice -- which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction --- which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as the standard of the good."

Some might insist that Rand would be offended by the suggestion that her individualist ethics can be reconciled with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. I suspect that Rand would take much greater offense over the fact that her supposed "intellectual heir," Leonard Peikoff, is up to his wattled neck in subjectivist heresy regarding the "Ground Zero Mosque." In his comments about the contrived controversy, Peikoff has asserted the primacy of hurt feelings over the principle of property rights -- to the point of suggesting that in the event the facility is actually built it should be destroyed in an act of state terrorism.

Rand's description of altruism as metaphorical self-immolation is uniquely appropriate to this discussion.

Peter J. Johnson Jr. Esq. didn't urge Imam Rauf and the others behind the Cordoba Initiative to strap on dynamite vests and blow themselves to a bloody mist, in the fashion of "martyrs" deployed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. However, his formula for self-sacrificing "patriotism" -- "great Americans give up their rights" -- is close kindred to the exhortations used by schismatic Muslim clerics to recruit suicide bombers. 

Whatever else can be said about the teachings and practice of Islam, this much should be understood: The evil practice of murder-suicide bombing has been condemned by traditionalist Islamic clerics as an apostate innovation of recent vintage that is incompatible with Koranic teachings condemning suicide and assaults on innocent non-combatants.  This reflects the fact that terrorists and those who support them account for a tiny percentage of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims.

By way of contrast, most conservative American Christians support unending military aggression against the Muslim world, including the use of tactics (such as bombing civilian population centers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the imposition of murderous blockades against Iraq and Gaza) that can only be described as state-sponsored terrorism against the innocent. 

Muslim extremists are the ones who countenance criminal violence against the innocent -- whether they're "infidel" Christians and Jews, or Muslims perceived to be apostates. The marginalized "extremists" among American Christians are those of us who see American Muslims as our neighbors, and oppose criminal aggression against the rights of Muslims living abroad. 

(Note: The final paragraph was slightly expanded from the original version. Also, the fifth paragraph has been expanded with additional details regarding the origins of the Hamas terrorist organization. )

                                                              A personal note

It has been roughly one year since my near-death experience and, coincidentally, the end of my most recent long-term freelance writing gig. Since that time, this blog has been my family's only consistent source of income. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity.

There is a very good chance that in this coming week I will be starting a new part-time editorial position that will provide a consistent, if modest, income. This is a timely and most welcome development. 

In recent weeks I've been working at various part-time jobs as they have become available, and not merely as a writer or editor: I recently spent a Saturday morning collecting, and disposing of, canine digestive residue -- something I was eager to do, because there was a paycheck involved. 

Even in better times it is a challenge to provide for a family of eight, even when the sole breadwinner has a steady job. Even in better economic circumstances my employment options would be limited on account of Korrin's difficulties: My wonderful wife is a diagnosed schizophrenic who often simply cannot function as a mother. This helps explain the occasional irregularity of my output here at Pro Libertate.

Assuming that everything falls into place, my new job will relieve some of the pressure -- but we've reached a point in our household finances where the bucket is bringing up sand from the bottom of the well. 

Korrin is receiving assistance for her medical needs (a decision that was taken from me the first time she was hospitalized in 2006), but I have refused to make a hypocrite of myself by accepting food stamps or other forms of government "welfare." 

Where I can offer charity, I eagerly do so; when it is offered to my family, I thankfully accept it. But as far as I have any say in the matter, I will not knowingly receive stolen property.  My family and I will be profoundly grateful for any help any of you can offer us to get through the coming month. Thanks again, and God bless you always.

Be sure to tune in for Pro Libertate Radio each Saturday night from 8:00-11:00 Mountain Time on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Of Motes, Beams, and Holy Wars

 In his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, James Madison famously denounced the proposal that Virginians -- or, for that matter, Americans anywhere else -- be compelled to pay so much as "three pence" to support the establishment of religion.

A lawsuit filed in late 2008 by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Iraq War veteran Kevin J. Murray accuses the federal government (particularly Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors) of violating Madison's "three pence" standard by indirectly financing "Sharia-Compliant" investments by way of the American International Group (AIG).

By the time it was nationalized in September 2008, AIG was practically worthless, as its former CEO Maurice Greenberg admitted. It was useful only as a way to facilitate a "backdoor bailout" of Goldman Sachs. Once AIG was nationalized -- an action that was unconstitutional on its face, in addition to being a world-historic crime -- some of the wealth plundered from taxpayers ended up being used to fund and promote "Sharia-compliant" financial services in Muslim markets.

PBUH: Sharia's champion in Iraq.

"As a Christian, a federal taxpayer, and a former U.S. Marine veteran of the war against Islamic terrorism, Plaintiff objects to and is harmed by the appropriation of disbursement of public funds to AIG and being forced as a taxpayer to contribute to the propagation of Islamic beliefs and practices predicated upon Shariah law," insisted the original version of the lawsuit, which named former Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman CEO) Henry Paulson as a plaintiff.

Murray "objects to and is harmed by the United States government's policy and practice of approving, endorsing, promoting, funding, and supporting Sharia-compliant finance," asserts the lawsuit. "The government's endorsement of Islamic law sends a message to Plaintiff, who is a non-adherent to Islam, that he is an outsider, not a full member of the political community, and an accompanying message to those who are adherents to Islam that they are insiders, favored members of the political community," continues the brief, which was written by someone who is a stranger to concision.

The specific amount extorted from Murray to subsidize AIG's "Sharia-compliant" investments may be infinitesimal, but under Madison's "three pence" standard, it's the principle that matters, not the size of the injury.

 A demand for summary judgment filed by the More Center earlier this year invoked the Supreme Court's 1947 ruling in Everson v. Board of Education that "No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion."

Warbots gag on these...
 Murray's contention that no American should be forced to subsidize Sharia in any form is incontestably correct, as is his objection to the utterly unconstitutional federal takeover of AIG. However, it's difficult to see how he has standing to sue, given that he volunteered his services to establish Sharia law in Iraq and Afghanistan -- a fact proudly detailed in his lawsuit.
"From March 2003 to October 2003, Plaintiff was deployed overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom," recounts the lawsuit. "During this time, Plaintiff served as a Marine infantryman and was tasked with providing security for vital refueling and arming points throughout the initial combat phase of the war. These duties consisted of countless and stressful hours devoted to convoy security, manning perimeter defensive positions, and conducting combat patrols in hostile enemy territory in numerous locations throughout southern Iraq." 

Thanks to Murray's efforts, and those offered by hundreds of thousands of other Americans in uniform -- not to mention an estimated $3 trillion stolen from American taxpayers -- Sharia law is now firmly established in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This fact is acknowledged by Stephen C. Coughlin, an attorney and Major in the U.S. Army Reserve who is, according to his bio, "often cited as the Pentagon's leading expert on the nexus between Islamic law and jihad."

"The direct subordination of the law of the land to Shari'ah is reflected in the national constitutions of many Islamic countries, including the Constitutions the United States Government had oversight in drafting -- both Afghanistan and Iraq," writes Maj. Coughlin:

"For example, Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution states that `Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation.[...] No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.' The Constitution of Afghanistan makes the association as well in Article 2 [Religions] where it states (1) The religion of the State of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam (2) Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law" -- the latter qualification effectively defining out of existence the "free exercise" clause immediately preceding it.

... but swallow these in a single gulp.

Maj. Coughlin's analysis is devastating to Murray's argument, which rests on the idea that he suffers a tangible and continuing injury by being forced to subsidize, in minuscule amounts, some peripheral business dealings by AIG.

How can it be an unendurable affront to be forced to surrender "three pence" to promote Sharia-compliant investments, when the Regime ruling us has spent three trillion (and counting) to impose Sharia law at gunpoint?

Ironically, Coughlin's cogent summary of Washington's role in promoting Sharia comes in a statement he filed as an "expert witness" on behalf of Murray's lawsuit.

Those seeking to define, by illustration, the expression "testimony against interest" need look no further.

Just weeks ago, Wadea Al Handal, chairman of Iraq's Ashur International Bank,  announced that he was awaiting approval from the country's Central Bank to offer "Islamic banking services."

"There is certainly clear interest in the Islamic market in Iraq but it is still a new idea for many," Handal told Reuters. "It's an education process ... we didn't really have much Islamic banking before."

What he meant, of course, is that there wasn't much of an Iraqi market for Islamic banking "before" Kevin Murray and his colleagues were sent to inflict a Sharia-centered government on that long-suffering country. Now, however, Handal has new opportunities to offer "lending services on a Sharia-compliant basis in order to tap growing interest in the market."

Washington remains deeply involved in taxpayer-subsidized "reconstruction" projects in Iraq designed to entrench and strengthen a government rooted in Sharia law. Why isn't the Thomas More Center suing to end that ongoing outrage? Why doesn't it file a suit seeking redress of damages inflicted on Murray as a result of deceiving him into risking his life in order to promote Islamic rule?
Yerushalmi in Israel with the late Jack Kemp.
One possible answer is suggested by the fact that David Yerushalmi, the Arizona-based attorney acting as co-lead counsel in the AIG case, is General Counsel to the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a Pentagon front group headed by febrile neo-con war hyena Frank Gaffney. Both Gaffney and his group energetically supported the war in Iraq, in which thousands of Americans (and tens of thousands of Iraqis) died to create a political order ruled by Sharia law.

Yerushalmi is one of the War Party's most energetic social networkers. He is a co-founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an insta-demagogue group (just add flying spittle!)  working to drive the terminally credulous into a frenzy over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque

Yerushalmi considers it "morally reprehensible and intolerable" to forbid the torture of "terrorists," a term he uses as a functional synonym for "Muslim." He is the founder of a secretive vigilante group calling itself the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which has set out to "map" every center of Islamic worship and culture in the United States on the assumption that each of them is involved in a plot to overthrow the government.

 The co-founder of SANE, which is headquartered in Yerushalmi's Arizona law office, is Dave Gaubatz, who served 12 years in the U.S. Air Force's Office of Special Operations. Three years ago Gaubatz made the remarkable -- and completely unverified -- claim that he "discovered" Saddam's WMD bunkers, which (he insists) were vacant after the illicit weapons had been shipped to Syria, Iran, and other likely targets of armed "liberation" by Washington.

Shortly after its creation, SANE's leadership enacted a resolution calling on Congress to enact legislation making it "a felony punishable by 20 years in prison" knowingly to "act in furtherance of, or to support the adherence to, Shar'ia."

If Yerushalmi were serious about that proposal, wouldn't he have to seek the imprisonment of his client -- as well as the elected and appointed officials who dispatched him (and hundreds of thousands of other Americans) to promote Islamist rule in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The War Party's New Torchlight Parade

Contrived Controversy: Protesting the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque."

The most powerful patron of radical Islam is not Iran, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia. It is the government headquartered in Washington, D.C., which for more than a half-century has diligently cultivated Islamic terrorism. Yet millions of Americans are suffering what amounts to a collective loss of bladder control over the purported threat embodied in the proposed Cordoba House -- the Islamic equivalent of a YMCA -- in New York City.

Allowing the "Ground Zero Mosque" to be built, insists Newt Gingrich, would be tantamount to "surrender" in a struggle against those implacably committed to our destruction. New York gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino, a New York crony capitalist who anointed himself a paladin of the Tea Party movement, has made opposition to the "Ground Zero Mosque" the central plank of his campaign. Paladino, who has profited handsomely from government's redistribution of wealth, promises that if elected he will confiscate the property used for the Muslim Community Center through eminent domain and use the land to erect a war memorial.

Writing in National Review, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy insists that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf -- the Kuwait-born U.S. citizen who leads the Cordoba Initiative -- is pursuing a "stealth jihad" as a fellow-traveler of the Muslim Brotherhood. "The Ground Zero project is a test of America's resolve to face down a civilizational jihad that that aims, in the words of its leaders, to destroy us from within," maintains McCarthy.


According to Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (AFA) the problem isn't the proposal to build a Muslim cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero. Rather, it's the fact that the government ruling us permits the existence of mosques anywhere in the United States. 

Since "every single mosque is a potential terror training center or recruiting center for jihad," Muslims "cannot claim First Amendment Protections," maintains Fischer (who, in addition to supporting case-specific abolition of the First Amendment, has previously called for the abolition of the habeas corpus guarantee as well).

Rather than focusing exclusively on the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, the AFA and like-minded organizations have instigated a nation-wide campaign to protest construction of Muslim houses of worship in more than a half-dozen states. Like McCarthy, Fischer treats Imam Rauf as an asset of the Muslim Brotherhood, which (according to Fischer) is "at the heart and center... the soul of Islam in America."

Here's a quick digest of the charges leveled by Fischer, which are typical of this manufactured controversy:

Islamic houses of worship serve as recruiting centers for soldiers of jihad, who will kill and die on behalf of Sharia Law. Many Islamic clerics, including Imam Feisal, are joined at the hip with the Muslim Brotherhood -- the most powerful element of the international Islamic terrorist network.

Jihadist at work? Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (right).

Stipulating that those concerns are genuine, and that the proper course of action would be to target the greatest offenders first, the campaign to shut down the global jihad should target the United States Government -- and the Republican-dominated Evangelical Churches that serve as military recruiting stations for the Regime in Washington.

During the past decade, a Middle Eastern nation of roughly 30,000,000 people once ruled by a secular government succumbed to Sharia Law. The predictable results of that catastrophe included a dramatic increase in religious violence, such as the persecution of professional women whose dress and conduct are now seen as unacceptable. More than half of the Christian population of that country -- which includes congregations tracing their roots back to the original disciples -- was driven into exile. 

That nation is Iraq, which suffered for decades under Washington's loathsome subcontractor Saddam Hussein before Saddam's employer decided to remove the middleman.

For a dozen years after the 1991 Gulf War -- which followed the Washington-instigated Iraqi assault on Kuwait, which itself was a sequel to the Washington-abetted Iraqi war with Iran -- the country was suffocated by a murderous embargo punctuated with the occasional terror-bombing. After being softened up for more than a decade, Iraq was invaded and occupied by U.S. troops who killed and died in order to install an Islamist government whose new constitution formally enshrines Sharia Law.

When American jingoists offer misty-eyed tributes to the soldiers who died in the course of "liberating" Iraq, it could be said that they are, in effect, praising the efforts of men and women who are martyrs to the cause of Sharia Law.  

This outcome is not an historical anomaly. For the past six decades, the Anglo-American elite (with Washington assuming the senior partner role after World War II) has assiduously promoted the most violent strains of revolutionary Islam, often -- but not exclusively -- as a strategic weapon in the context of the Cold War. 

Professional revolutionary: Afghani.

The Muslim Brotherhood -- which grew out of the late-19th Century agitation of Persian-born professional revolutionary Jamal Eddine al-Afghani -- has long been one of the Anglo-American elite's most important strategic assets, as well as the talent pool that was used to staff the deadliest terrorist network in the Muslim world.

While he was superficially the most devout and pious of Muslim believers, Al-Afghani, writes Robert Dreyfuss in his valuable book The Devil's Game, "a heterodox thinker who was a Freemason, a mystic, a political operative, and above all ... someone who believed in the `social utility of religion.'" 

After serving as a Russian agent in the 1860s, Afghani defected to the British. He was in London's employ when he made a disciple of an Egyptian Sugist named Mohammed Abduh

During the 1870s, Afghani and Abduh used Cairo's storied Al-Azhar mosque as a recruiting center for a revolutionary network, which gathered cadres from throughout the Middle East and Europe. Afghani also founded a lodge of his Arab Masonic society, which became the headquarters of what Egyptian police called "young Thugs" -- a description invoking India's notorious Thugee Cult, an oath-bound fraternity of murderers. 

When Afghani was eventually expelled from Egypt, his disciple Abduh remained, eventually rising to become the nation's Mufti (supreme interpreter of Islamic law) in 1899. Like his mentor, Abduh considered revolution to be his religion, and the Islamic faith to be a vessel for his political ambitions. Among those who fell under Abduh's influence was Hassan Al-Banna, the schoolteacher who gave tangible form to Abduh's revolutionary designs by founding the Ikhwan al-Mulimeen (Islamic Brotherhood) in 1928.

Disciple and organizer: Abduh.

Reflecting the influence of Afghani and Abduh, Banna organized the Brotherhood into cells (called "families") of five to seven members. 

The Brotherhood "was more than a movement," writes Dreyfuss. "It was a cult, it was a revivalist party, it was an intelligence operation, it was a paramilitary unit, and it was an international organization that was rapidly building branches in many Middle Eastern countries." During World War II, Dreyfuss continues, Brotherhood cadres were recruited by British, Nazi, and Soviet intelligence agencies. 

"In the eastern regions of the Soviet empire, where the Nazis were more interested in oil than ethnic cleansing, the Third Reich mobilized Muslims and other ethnic minorities to fight for the liberation of their homelands," writes Eliza Griswold in The New Republic, summarizing the findings in Ian Johnson's recent book A Mosque in Munich. "The Nazis plucked Muslims from German prisoner-of-war camps; some Muslims became German soldiers, members of the SS; some, professional propagandists.... Once World War II ended, many of these men, stuck in Germany and having lost their homelands, found a new employer: the United States."

Brotherhood founder al-Banna.

A CIA-created propaganda arm called Radio Liberty employed "many of these former Nazi sympathizers," Griswold points out. In 1953 -- the same year the CIA and MI6, working through a network of Islamic radicals, brought down the Iranian government of Mohammed Mossadegh -- the White House hosted 27-year-old Said Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood's chief international organizer in addition to being son-in-law to Hassan al-Banna's son-in-law, who had been assassinated in 1949.

In subsequent years, many adherents of the Brotherhood -- including former Nazi sympathizers who worked with the CIA -- affiliated with the Al-Quds Mosque in Munich. Among them was Mahmoud Abouhalima, a Brotherhood member who became a leader in the CIA-funded Afghan mujahadeen and later played a prominent role in the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center

Abouhalima, who spent the late 1980s networking with radicals among American Muslims, sponsored the 1990 visit of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, later convicted of "seditious conspiracy" in the 1993 WTC attack. Despite being on a State Department terrorist watch list, Sheik Omar was granted a visa at the U.S. consulate in Khartoum: As something other than coincidence had it, the CIA station chief personally attended to the matter by substituting for the consular official who was usually in charge of issuing visas. 

Ike and Ikhwan: Brotherhood leader Said Ramadan is at the far right, holding papers.

Like practically everyone else involved in the 1993 WTC plot, Omar had also been an asset of the U.S. Government.  The same is true of former U.S. Army Special Forces Captain Ali Mohammed, who -- according to investigators -- most likely "called the shots" in the bombing conspiracy. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- that fact, Mohammed went on to become a "privileged asset" of the FBI. 

In 2001, Mohammed pleaded guilty -- "in exchange for considerations" -- to charges arising from the 1998 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. He then disappeared into the witness protection program, where he remains to this day. 

The extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood is (in Bryan Fischer's phrase) "the soul of Islam in America" reflects the tireless efforts of our rulers to nurture radical Islam as a strategic asset -- both for prosecuting war abroad and making war on us at home by terrorizing us into supporting its corrupt, needlessly bellicose foreign policy. 

In his eagerness to strip American citizens who profess the Muslim religion of their rights, Bryan Fischer offers an analogy to the recent arrest of the so-called Hutaree Militia in Michigan on charges of seditious conspiracy.  "The fact that they were a Christian militia did not stop them from being locked up,"Fischer told an interviewer

Had his research into the Hutaree case been more exhaustive than scanning headlines, Fischer may have discovered that the rapidly disintegrating case against that group was built entirely on the claims made by an informant-provocateur employed by the FBI. The same is true of practically every recent "terrorism" case involving American Muslims

If there is reason to be suspicious of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, it would not be his sensible criticism of Washington's foreign policy; instead, it would be his willingness to cooperate with the FBI, which seems more interested in manufacturing "terrorist plots" than interdicting them.

Not having access to his unspoken plans and motives, I cannot say whether Imam Rauf is sincere or duplicitous in his efforts to encourage mutual respect and understanding among people of different faiths. However, I am impressed by the answer he gave in 2006 when asked what his "Ramadan wish" would be for the world:

"[I would wish that] we would remember that the two greatest commandments that God gave us through the mouths of his many prophets and messengers, including Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed  -- to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbors. It also means do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you. If that can be the criterion of our foreign policy, I guarantee you that our foreign policy will be successful and wildly popular." 

As the treatment given to its Author demonstrates, preaching the Golden Rule will always provoke the murderous hostility of the ruling elite.  Apparently, the last thing many American Christians can abide is the spectacle of an American Muslim leader who -- whatever else he may be up to -- insists that we abide by the central moral tenet of the Christian faith. 

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