Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Imperial Gangbangers

 Florida Republican congressional candidate Allen West has been accused of consorting with bad company, in the form of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. Whatever else can be said about the Outlaws, they are a far more reputable outfit than the gang Lt. Col. West used to hang with -- the armed forces of Washington's empire. 

For the most part, the Outlaws MC consists of hard-living but essentially decent people. Some of the club's members have used and dealt drugs -- which is foolish and self-destructive, but shouldn't be a crime. Others have been sent to prison for actual crimes of violence; those who have been incarcerated are numbered among the highly esteemed "One Percenters."

The important fact here is the Outlaws have never invaded and occupied a distant country, terrorizing innocent people and killing upwards of 100,000 of them. Allen West cites his participation in a world-historic crime of violence against Iraq as his chief credential for elected office.

West was reprimanded for an incident in which he terrorized an Iraqi detainee by discharging a firearm next to his head. West insists that his action was justified in order to protect the men of his unit, who faced the kind of dangers that should be expected by any armed gang that storms into a neighborhood where they're unwelcome. Though that action earned him a rebuke, a fine, and an early forced retirement from the military, it enhanced West's standing among the military-worshiping statists who compose the Republican Party's core constituency. 

At some public gatherings West has relied on bikers --including Outlaws -- for "security." This led to an incident straight out of Weimar-era Germany in which a group of leather-clad bikers -- acting on West's instructions to "escort" a videographer from a public gathering -- surrounded and threatened the young man, forcing him to leave:

In early September, West was a featured speaker at another biker-themed gathering, the "L10 Freedom Ride" rally in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. That event was held to express support for ten members of the U.S. military who have been incarcerated at Ft. Leavenworth prison for individual crimes committed within the context of the immeasurably larger state crime called the Iraq War. (One of them, Evan Vela Carnahan, is the son of a very close friend of mine from High School.) 

"We are going to free these men," West told the assembly. Expecting troops deployed on imperial errands overseas to exercise restraint is "political correctness," West insisted, since they confront "an enemy that has no respect for human life." 

It's a continuing source of wonder that the Empire always confronts enemies of that kind. From the Philippines to Vietnam to Iraq to Somalia to Afghanistan to Iraq once again, Washington's benevolent armed emissaries have always confronted the grim necessity of slaughtering countless thousands of barbarous people who have no respect for human life. 

Barbarians! How dare you resist the march of civilization?

Surveying the wreckage of a bombarded town in Iraq, a Marine Lieutenant commented to war correspondent Evan Wright that the carnage was produced by a new breed of nihilistic warriors.

"Did you see what they did to that town?" the officer asked Wright. "They f***ing destroyed it." Unlike the American fighting men during WWII, the fighters who had laid waste to that Iraqi city "have no problem with killing."

That is to say that they, unlike their forebears, were not inhibited by respect for human life. It must be remembered that the Lieutenant was describing, with obvious admiration, the Marines under his command, not the Iraqi "terrorists" who were fighting back.

The mindset Wright describes in his book Generation Kill is displayed in much greater detail in Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero, the battlefield memoir of Iraq veteran Marco Martinez. 

 A product of a military family from Albuquerque, Martinez enlisted in Latino street gangs as a teenager. He was "rescued" from a life of private-sector gangsterism through a federally funded, police-supervised school program called GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training), which eventually led him to enroll in the ROTC program at his High School. This curriculum prepared Martinez for a career as a state-authorized gang-banger.

"Salvation from a civilian existence is through these doors, boys," Martinez and several other enlistees were told as they assembled at the local recruiting station. Like most gang-bangers, Martinez was susceptible to an appeal based on tribal and territorial loyalties, so he was an apt pupil at boot camp. Discipline refined his instinct for violence; training enhanced his capacity to inflict it; and the potted platitudes of nationalism sanctified his urge to kill into something he believed was noble.

Reciting the Rifleman's Creed "got me so fired up that it put me into a blood lust," Martinez recalls. "I wanted to kill America's enemies. I could see and taste it."

That opportunity came in April 2003, one month after the Idiot King ordered the assault on Iraq. Corporal Martinez was part of a 42-man Marine platoon that was dispatched on a "contact patrol" in the town of Al-Tarmiya, a predominantly Sunni town about sixty miles north of Baghdad. 

A "contact patrol," Martinez explains, "is the most coveted of infantry patrols.... Marines on contact patrol become human wrecking balls, leaving maximum carnage in their path, as any person encountered, armed, is to be considered hostile and killed at will.'"

This was not the first time Martinez had carried out a mission of that kind. As a street thug, he and his buddies would often go out on "contact patrol" by rolling into a rival gang's turf, seeking to provoke a firefight by throwing gang signs and calling out their "sets" at their enemies. 

"You are to take out anybody displaying any type of aggression toward U.S. forces," explained the lieutenant commanding Martinez's platoon prior to the mission in Al-Tarmiya. How residents of a neighborhood could be guilty of "aggression" by displaying hostility toward armed invaders, the lieutenant didn't explain. In any case, the rules of engagement were clearly intended to bring about the result Martinez described: The Marines were being sent into Al-Tarmiya to provoke a firefight and kill as many people as possible. 

Shortly after the platoon was deployed, Martinez's squad was ambushed by a group of guerrillas. The squad leader was severely wounded. Martinez identified the source of the gunfire, threw a grenade into the nearby building, then stormed in and gunned down four Iraqis. 

That this was an act of individual courage is impossible to deny. Martinez's actions saved the life of his squad leader (who was left crippled by his injury, and actually became a public opponent of the Iraq War after leaving the military). But the word "heroism" isn't appropriate here -- unless we could apply it just as accurately to similar actions taken by a street-level gangster in an inner-city turf war. 

"I was glad we were in this firefight because to me, the more enemy you eliminate the easier it gets farther down the road," Martinez later commented. "I had such deep hatred for the cowards that did what they did [on September 11th] that you could say it was a joyous occasion for me because I was able to do my job and eliminate the enemy."

Of course, the Iraqis Martinez killed were his "enemy" only because the criminal Regime he served sent him to invade their city. Martinez and his fellow Marines had no legal or moral right to be where they were, and the Iraqis who ambushed them had every moral and legal right to do so. 

But for Martinez, and others who celebrate the Regime's killing apparatus, such acts of gang violence writ large are sanctified by the State's imprimatur. 

"All those times that I'd carried a gun as a teenager had been for sh*t," writes Martinez in Hard Corps. "My friends at the time and I were prepared to shoot and get shot at over girls, cars, money, or something as stupid as the way somebody looked at us.... But my Marine buddies and I carried weapons to defend our nation against its enemies. We, like millions who came before us, used the awesome might of America's military power for liberation, not conquest.... Terrorists knowingly and intentionally target civilians, people who never signed up for battle or chose to enter a military conflict. But every Ninja-pajama-wearing motherf***er who ambushed us that day had entered the battlefield with the full and complete knowledge of the consequences."

Of course, those people didn't "enter the battlefield"; they were on their home soil when they engaged an enemy who invaded their town.

In his memoir Martinez describes how, after returning to Albuquerque, he was invited to tag along with a Marine recruiter on a visit to his old high school. Spying a young gang-banger who resembled himself a few years earlier, Martinez tried out a sales pitch not all that different from the one used to entice youngsters into less murderous street gangs: Look at my bling, look at my cool ride....

"The Marine Corps has a lot of things to offer," Martinez told the teenager. "Look, man -- I got a Rolex, a nice car.....  You could get out of this place and see the world, bro."

"I don't want to go to war," the young man quite sensibly replied.

Martinez's profane, abusive reaction was precisely what one would expect from a street thug:

"I thought you were a straight-up gangster, homeboy. You're just a f*****g p***y." When the teenager took offense, Martinez decided to stage his own one-man "contact patrol": "What the f**k you going to do? I'll f**k you up in a quick second."

Such was the behavior of what the Navy Times describes as "a gangster turned hero," an individual who had been a "small-minded, petty and violent criminal" before experiencing "the redemptive power of military service." Somehow the "before" and "after" portraits of that supposedly dramatic transformation don't strike me as all that different.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

FBI: Bureau of Frame-Ups, Bullying, and Intimidation

Calling Card of the Surveillance State.

"We're going to make this much more difficult for you if you don't cooperate."

This stereotypically thuggish threat issued from a stereotypical thug named Vincent, an FBI agent who was among a half-dozen Feds and local police who descended on the Santa Clara home of 20-year-old Yasir Afifi earlier this month. A few days before that visit, Afifi had discovered a government-issue GPS tracking device attached to his car during an oil change. 

A few days later, one of Afifi's friends posted a photo of the unit (an Orion Guardian ST820 tracking device, which is sold exclusively to law enforcement agencies) to an on-line file-sharing site. This sent the Stasi scurrying to Afifi's home to reclaim the surveillance gear it had surreptitiously planted on his car. They also took the opportunity to bully and brow-beat the college student, whom they had pestered several months before following an anonymous tip that the natural-born U.S. citizen was a "threat to national security."

During the earlier visit Afifi stiff-armed the Bureau of Frame-ups, Bullying and Intimidation, telling them he would answer their questions if his attorney approved. The Feds appeared to lose interest in Afifi after his attorney contacted the Bureau. In fact, they were continuing to keep him and his friends under surveillance: Not only did they secretly place a tracking device on Afifi's car, they also kept track of his travel plans, his employment status, and even shadowed him when he took his girlfriend out on dinner dates.  

During their visit to reclaim their snooping device, the Feds seemed determined to wring from Afifi some kind of damaging statement about his friend Khaled, who had posted the photo of the GPS tracker. One of the interrogators produced a printout of a blog post written by Khaled that " had something to do with a mall or a bomb," Afifi related to Wired News. He was also told that the FBI had stationed other agents outside Khaled's house, a statement Afifi described as "weird.... I didn't really believe anything they were saying."

It is entirely reasonable to believe that every word uttered by a representative of the FBI is a deliberate falsehood. It's also something in the neighborhood of a certainty that Afifi's timely and unexpected discovery of the FBI's tracking device ruined the Bureau's plans to blackmail him into joining its ever-expanding stable of informant/provocateurs.

Niazi with relatives.
Just days before the FBI swarmed Afifi's home to recover its illicitly planted tracking device, federal prosecutors dropped charges against Afghan immigrant and Arabic language instructor Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, who was accused of concealing "ties to terrorist groups" in his citizenship application.

Niazi's supposed offense was neglecting to mention the fact that his sister was married to a Taliban leader who -- at the time -- was distantly allied with someone believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda. This would mean that Niazi, who had settled in Orange County, California, was "linked" to terrorism in the same way that Dark Helmet was connected to Lone Star in "Spaceballs" ("I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate").

As Niazi pointed out, he didn't choose his in-laws or be responsible for their chosen associations. But the FBI, like secret police in every despotism, are quick to capitalize on exploitable vulnerabilities of this kind.
Niazi was arrested by the FBI in early 2009.  Thomas J. Ropel III, a Special Agent assigned to the Orange County Joint Terrorism Task Force, claimed that Niazi had approached an "undercover informant" and offered to send him to terrorist training camps in Yemen or Pakistan.
In fact, just shortly before the FBI abducted Niazi the Bureau had presented him with what could be called the "Randy Weaver Ultimatum": Either become an informant, or (as Niazi summarized the demand) "we'll make your life a living hell."

Ironically -- or, perhaps, not -- two years before being arrested as a supposed terrorist suspect, Niazi had actually reported a potential terrorist threat to the FBI before being presented with that demand. That threat had been issued by Craig Monteilh, aka "Farouk Aziz," the career criminal who had been planted by the FBI as an infiltrator/provocateur in the Irvine mosque attended by Niazi.

The first Friday of June 2007, Niazi and Monteilh -- who was posing as an Islamic convert of mixed French-Syrian ancestry -- were sharing a ride to the mosque in a car driven by Mohammed Elsisy, an Egyptian-born software engineer. A story published a few weeks later by In Focus News (a periodical covering matters of interest to Muslims in Orange County) described how, apropos of exactly nothing, Monteilh "started talking about the Iraq war," according to Niazi. "He went off on a rant against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East."

Portrait of a Provocateur: Monteilh.
The FBI's provocateur then asked if either Elsisy or Niazi "knew of an `operation' he could be part of." This wasn't the first time Monteilh had made that pitch: Irvine resident Ashruf Zied, who also attended the mosque, recalled that the informant "approached him one day claiming to have access to weapons and asking if he wanted to join him in `waging jihad.'"

Two things are worth noting here.

The first is that, in keeping with standard FBI procedure, Monteilh's recruitment pitch focused on the real cause of Muslims resentment toward the United States -- Washington's imperial foreign policy -- rather than a supposed theological imperative to slaughter and subdue infidels.

The second critical point is that -- once again, as is common in cases of this kind -- the local Muslims wanted nothing to do with Monteilh once the provocateur began his campaign of incitement. Some of the people who attended the mosque to worship gave the FBI's inside man a wide berth; others simply stopped attending services.

Immediately after their unsettling conversation with Monteilh, Niazi and Elsisy approached Hussam Ayloush, director of the Southern California Chapter of the Committee on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). According to Ayloush, Niazi and Elsisy were worried that the guy they knew as "Farouk" had "gone crazy or is about to do something.... and they would be considered accomplices since they knew him."

Ayloush himself had been cooperating with the FBI since shortly after 9-11, in exchange for assurances (which, unfortunately, he accepted in good faith) that the Bureau would not infiltrate mosques and keep them under surveillance. He immediately contacted J. Stephen Tidwell, assistant FBI Director in Los Angeles, to warn him about "Farouk."

"I am calling to report a possible terrorist," Ayloush told Tidwell. "He is a white convert in Irvine."

"Okay -- thanks for letting us know," Tidwell curtly replied, cutting off Ayloush. What he should have said was: "I know -- he's one of ours." Instead, Tidwell dispatched Special Agent Ellis Kuppferman to interview Niazi, Elsisy, and several others who had met Monteilh. This was done to determine if the FBI could wring any more use out of its infiltrator, and also to learn if any of those who became suspicious of the undercover asset could be induced into becoming informants themselves.

Not content to allow the FBI to handle "Farouk," several members of the Irvine mosque -- including Niazi -- took out a restraining order against him. This prompted the FBI's asset to threaten retaliation in the form of a frame-up.

"There is a restraining order against me," Monteilh complained to Niazi in an e-mail. "The FBI has contacted me. They want to interview me about certain rumors.... Ahmad, I have evidence of the things we discussed. I have proof. And lots of proof. Now it's my turn. I'm very sorry it had [sic] come to this."

At the time Monteilh -- a part-time personal trainer with a criminal history going back to 1987 that includes burglary and grand theft -- was being paid extravagantly by the FBI to harass, torment, and frame innocent Muslims, he was defrauding two local women out of more than $150,000. 

In a scam reminiscent of Nigerian e-mail fraud, Monteilh somehow persuaded the women to "invest" large amounts of money to obtain and retail human growth hormone and similar products. Neither the drugs nor the promised profits ever materialized, but Monteilh was able to profit handsomely: In addition to the cash, he got a new car and a plasma-screen television out of the arrangement, as well as an extra-marital affair with one of the victims.

Owing, no doubt, to interference from Monteilh's federal handlers, Irvine police permitted his scam to run long after the victims filed a complaint. In September 2007, charges were finally filed against Monteilh, who confronted a possible five-year prison term. Thanks once again to federal intervention with the prosecutor, the FBI's provocateur was given a 16 month prison sentence, half of which he actually served. His probation term was also cut short at the request of the local prosecutor, as a reward for his valuable "undercover work."

Monteilh was ruined as an informant, but he was already out of jail by the time the FBI turned its attention to Ahmad Niazi.
Scum in a suit: Monteilh after his cover was blown.
In June 2008,  an anguished Niazi went to Ayloush's CAIR office to report that the FBI was threatening to prosecute him for "perjury" because of his failure to report his distant, attenuated, inconsequential "connection" to terrorism.

Unlike Monteilh, Niazi had never harmed another human being -- yet he was told that he faced more than 30 years in prison unless he was willing to become an informant.

"I came to America thinking this was a free country and I'd be treated with dignity and humanity," a tearful Niazi told Ayloush. The FBI has done more than its share to disabuse many people of such comforting delusions.

Niazi's trial was scheduled to begin in November. He would very well be headed for prison if it weren't for another plot twist worthy of an Elmore Leonard novel: After spending years of harassing Orange County Muslims and denouncing both CAIR and the ACLU of being in league with terrorists, Monteih allied himself with them in a lawsuit against the FBI.

In September 2009, Monteilh filed a $10 million lawsuit against the FBI (which doesn't appear likely to proceed at this point). A 28-page deposition he filed in that suit described how his handlers "gave me a quota to collect contact information for ten new Muslims per day." According to Monteilh, Federal Joint Terrorism Task Forces were running many infiltration/provocation operations "in areas with the biggest concentrations of Muslim Americans -- New York; the Dearborn, Michigan area, and the Orange County/Los Angeles area."

A few months before filing that declaration, Monteilh had offered additional details in a motion he filed to set aside the CAIR restraining order.

In July 2006, while Monteilh was working as a "self-employed fitness consultant" -- a rather sanitized description of the previously described scam -- he was "contacted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was was asked by them to act as an informant, as to potential terrorist activities in Orange County," he testified under oath.

The real domestic terrorist threat.
 Monteilh's handlers were identified as FBI Special Agents Tracy Hanlon, Paul Allen, and Kevin Armstrong, who acted under the direction of "Assistant Director of the Los Angeles Region of the FBI, J. Steven Tidwell, along with Special Agent in charge Barbara Walls."

Monteilh's assignment was carried out "pursuant to a National Security Directive called OPERATION FLEX, which was signed by President Bush as executive order #12356," he claims in his affidavit. With amazing candor, Monteilh describes how he was instructed "to advance an agenda that involved organizing terrorist activities, making reference to `jihad' (Holy War) and organizing terrorist plots and activities":

"At the direction of the FBI he attempted to infiltrate and spy on the activities of the members of the [Irvine] Mosque in an effort to uncover potential terrorists and plots against the Government. He was instructed by his handlers to act in a manner that suggested that he was a terrorist.... His actions made many of the members of the Mosque uncomfortable and the Attorney for the Mosque[,] Omar Siddiqui[,] contacted him in an effort to get him to stop attending regular prayers." (Emphasis added.)

This simply can't be any clearer: It was the FBI's implanted thug who was advancing a terrorist "agenda" at the Irvine Mosque, and the faithful Muslims who  threw him out. Furthermore, the Muslim immigrant who dutifully reported the FBI's infiltrator was threatened with a long prison term if he didn't "volunteer" to serve as a replacement provocateur.

"If half of what he is saying is true," commented CAIR's Ayloush of Monteilh's claims, "Americans would come to the conclusion some FBI agents were being trained by the KGB." This isn't strictly true: Since July 1994, when then-FBI Director Louis Freeh signed an accord in Moscow with the leadership of the FSB (the KGB's successor organization), the political police in both Russia and the USSA have been full-fledged partners in "counter"-terrorism. As was the case with Orwell's allegorical pig-men, it's difficult to say which has been the more corrupting influence on the other.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Fallujah, U.S.A.

While commanding a Marine platoon occupying Fallujah, Illario Pantano gunned down two unarmed Iraqi men during a search of their vehicle. After perforating the bodies of his victims with more than 60 rounds from his M-16 (which means he had to reload), Pantano attached a sign to the corpses that read: "No better friend, no worse enemy."

In Pantano's retelling, the victims, Hamaady Kareem and Tahah Ahmead Hanjil, made a "threatening movement" in his direction after briefly conversing in Arabic. The intrepid second lieutenant, fearing for himself and the men under his command, shot them in "self-defense," leaving the sign as a "warning" to other "insurgents." That version was embraced by the militarist Right when Pantano confronted a court-martial in 2005.

During Pantano's 2005 Article 32 hearing at Camp Lejeune (the military equivalent of a grand jury), both sides stipulated that the supposed insurgents were unarmed; that they had been detained for over an hour while their sedan was thoroughly searched under Pantano's supervision; and that shortly before the shooting Pantano suddenly changed the "search" procedure, ordering the two unarmed Iraqis to search the car together after ordering two other Marines who were present to "face flank" -- that is, away from what would become the scene of a war crime.

In his summation at the Article 32 hearing, Pantano's defense attorney, Charlie Gittins, insisted that there were only two valid considerations.
Lt. Pantano.
The first was that whatever Pantano may have done in Fallujah on April 15, 2004, he was a Marine of irreproachable character. Presumably, this means he was simply entitled to waste a couple of unarmed Iraqi civilians.

"One of the great things about the military justice system is that character does count," Gittins insisted. "A military judge told me a couple of weeks ago that good character still is, alone, sufficient to result in an acquittal, that you can take [the] character of the accused, you can weigh it, and you can determine that alone provides you with sufficient reasonable doubt to acquit."

What this means, of course, is that Pantano could be exonerated of war crimes on the basis of who he supposedly was, rather than what he actually did.

The second defining consideration, Gittins continued, was that "you can't import civilian standards into a combat situation." Sure, there is a series of steps that military personnel are required to carry out when detaining a suspected "insurgent," but everything else is subordinate to the needs of "force protection."

Rather than being governed by the demonstrated facts of the case, Gittins insisted, the presiding officer should consider an "alternative scenario":

"Lieutenant Pantano is standing at the vehicle three or four feet away from these Iraqis. They converse in Arabic. They decide they're going to take his weapon and they're going to rush him.... Lieutenant Pantano might get a shot off, but one of them is going to get to him. And if that had happened, that would really be a crime. That would truly be a crime, to have a lieutenant of [the] Marines killed by two Iraqis."

"Under no circumstances would it be reasonable for Lieutenant Pantano to get within reaching distance of those two individuals," insisted his attorney. "Shoot. Aim center of mass, shoot to kill. Just shoot if you don't have time to go through the steps." There's nothing improper about pumping several dozen rounds into the targets as well, since "it's only the first shot that matters."

Nor does it matter that the victims were unarmed and outnumbered, Gittins maintained, since as "a matter of common sense -- and you can watch it on COPS, you can watch it on any show where they have actual video ... police officers on a day-to-day basis are killed by people who have no weapons."

This would seem to contradict Gittins' argument that it is "improper [to] import civilian standards into a combat situation." That apparent contradiction is resolved once it is understood that every encounter between domestic police and unarmed "civilians" is considered a combat situation.

Major Mark Winn, the officer who presided at the Article 32 hearing, dismissed all of the charges against Pantano. Elsewhere, the same military "justice" system that saw nothing wrong with Pantano's actions is pressing war crimes charges against Omar Khadr, who is accused of terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly throwing a hand grenade at at U.S. soldier during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. 

Please forgive a brief but relevant digression:

Khadr, a Canadian citizen whose relatives include Jihadis sympathetic to al-Qaeda, was 15 at the time he was wounded in Afghanistan and taken into U.S. custody. He has spent more than a third of his life in Gitmo, were interrogators used threats of gang rape to terrorize him into "confessing" that he had thrown a grenade that killed an American sergeant. His interrogator was later court-martialed for abusing detainees at Afghanistan's Bagram air base.
Thus according to the Regime's moral calculus, a partisan fighter who may have thrown a grenade at an armed U.S. soldier invading a foreign country is a "war criminal," but a Marine who guns down two unarmed Iraqis and then defiles their bodies in a premeditated act intended to "send a message" to insurgents is a war hero. 

Support Your Local War Criminal: Deputy Pantano.
Owing to the strength of his appeal to the militarist Right, Pantano is likely to be elected to the House of Representatives in a couple of weeks. His first career move following his exploits in Iraq was to serve briefly as a Deputy Sheriff in Wilmington, North Carolina

This is entirely appropriate, given that the mindset Pantano displayed in Fallujah -- "force protection" is the highest and most urgent consideration -- is substantively indistinguishable from the "officer safety uber alles" mindset that typifies contemporary domestic law enforcement. 

Despite the fact that law enforcement is a ridiculously safe occupation -- much safer than many forms of productive labor -- those who wear the habiliments of the state's coercive caste are relentlessly indoctrinated in the belief that they occupy a 360-degree battlefield, and that every Mundane they encounter should be treated as a potentially lethal threat. 

In any encounter between a police officer and a mere civilian, advises Sgt. Matthew Koep of the South Plainfield, New Jersey Police Department, "What's going to cause the situation to get worse is for the fear factor to rise in that officer. The officer is more likely to cut you a break as long as you can reduce that fear." 

This is why, according to columnist Jennifer Waters (who synthesized advice offered by Koep and several other police personnel), motorists who are stopped by the police should behave as if they're being detained at a military checkpoint: "Don't make any quick movements, and don't turn to grab your purse or put your hands in your pocket or under your seat to retrieve your license -- until the officer instructs you to. Then do it slowly." 

If you do anything to startle the timid creature in a government costume, you may very well end up dead -- and it would be your fault.

Sure, it's a terrible thing when a Mundane is injured or killed as a result of excessive or entirely unwarranted police violence. However, to paraphrase Charles Gittins' defense of
Orphaned at a checkpoint in Fallujah.
Pantano's atrocity in Fallujah, it "would truly be a crime" for a sanctified personage in a policeman's uniform to come to harm.

Anchorage resident David Zellmer was treated to a display of that same mindset on the front porch of his home after an encounter with an animal control officer. Zellmer wasn't inclined to answer questions about his dog, so the dog catcher returned with three police officers in tow. In an transparent effort to bully their way into Zellmer's home without a warrant or probable cause, the officers demanded his ID. Zellmer -- who recorded the exchange -- offered to retrieve it, but the officers insisted that they be allowed into his home.

"You guys can stay out here and I'll go and get it," Zellmer told them.

"Actually, we're going to go inside with you," one of the tax-fattened functionaries asserted.

"No, you're not, unless you have a warrant," Zellmer replied.

"I don't need a warrant," lied the armed tax-grazer. 

Eventually one of the heroes in blue held up his portable torture toy.

"You see that red dot?" he sneered. "That's a Taser. You don't want that."

"Sir, you're not going to go into the house where you have access to a weapon without us going with you," added one of the Taser-wielding thug's boyfriends. "It's that simple."

Bear in mind that there were four police officers present, at least three of whom -- unlike Zellmer -- were armed. One of them threatened the unarmed man with a lethal weapon because he had correctly asserted his constitutionally "protected" rights. Yet the assailants were the ones who saw themselves as potential victims.

"We frequently remind the officers, and we train the officers, that once you make contact with a person at the front door, particularly if you can observe them, you have somewhat of a controlled circumstance," explained Derek Hsieh of the local police officers union. "Once the person leaves your view, you can end up with an uncontrolled circumstance."

This is exactly the same "force protection" doctrine Pantano successfully invoked to justify his war crime in Fallujah.

"Basically, they bullied me and the threatened to Tase me," Zellmer summarizes. "I sit in my living room and there are four cops standing in my living room. It was totally surreal. I just couldn't believe I was in America and this was happening to me."

The setting may be Fairbanks, Fargo, Frankfort, or Fallujah; it makes no difference. When the State's armed enforcers are trained to act as an army of occupation,  geography is inconsequential.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Nobody Gets Their Kids Back " (Major Update, October 14; critical clarification, May 15, 2011)

(See updates below.)

 The "Petition for Abuse/Neglect" filed on behalf of Cheyenne Irish by New Hampshire's Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) alleges that the baby, who was born on October 6, was "neglected" by her mother on that very day in the hospital where the infant was born.

What this means is that Stephanie Taylor's act of "neglect" was to give birth to her child, and that the only way she could have avoided that charge was to have Cheyenne killed in utero. Because Stephanie had neglected this supposed duty, the DCYF kidnapped Cheyenne a little more than 16 hours following her birth. 

Barring a near-miraculous outcome, Cheyenne's parents will never get their daughter back. So testifies New Hampshire resident Dorothy Knightly. Between August 31, 2005 and February 3, 2006, Dorothy (who prefers to be called Dot) saw three of her grandchildren abducted by the DCYF on the basis of spurious child abuse and neglect allegations. 

Dot's grandson Austin (who is now ten years old), was so traumatized by the kidnapping that he attempted suicide. As a result he was institutionalized and "medicated" with dangerous psychotropic drugs. Two of Dot's grandchildren have been adopted, and the DCYF won't permit any contact with the grandparents. Ally was placed with her father.

All of this began on August 31, 2005, when Dot's daughter Candy gave birth to a daughter named Isabella. At some point in the pregnancy Candy developed a condition called placenta previa. Although this usually requires that the child be delivered via C-section, Candy was put on a morphine drip and Isabella was delivered normally. Predictably, this meant that a urine test found morphine in Isabella's bloodstream -- a circumstance easily explained as a result of the circumstances of her birth, but was maliciously depicted as evidence that Candy had "abused" her baby through pre-natal drug use.


Believing that this matter would be quickly and easily cleared up, Dot and her husband applied for temporary custody of Isabella in their home. They eagerly and cheerfully cooperated with the DCYF out of  the common but tragically mistaken belief that agencies of that kind are operated by people who actually care about children, governed by laws, and burdened with scruples.

"We let those people into our home," Knightly lamented to Pro Libertate. "We opened the door and greeted them with smiles. We offered them coffee and treated them well. We trusted them. We assured our daughter, `don't worry -- they're not going to take your baby.' We assumed that we had rights, that the law meant something, and that the people in the DCYF would have to obey the rules. We'll never make that mistake again, and we hope other people won't either."

Two weeks after Isabella was born, a false child abuse report was filed with the DCYF alleging that Austin and his sister Ally had been molested by their father, who was married to Dot's other daughter, Holly.When they were notified of the accusation, Dot and Holly immediately took the children to the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center to be examined for evidence of molestation. A comprehensive screening revealed no evidence of abuse of any kind.

Nonetheless, during a preliminary hearing regarding custody of Isabella on September 26, 2005, DCYF official Kate McClure unflinchingly committed perjury by claiming that the medically debunked molestation charge had been "confirmed," adorning that lie with a critical decorative detail: The purported act has supposedly taken place in the grandparents' home.

Once that charge had been made by the DCYF, the fate of Dot's grandchildren was settled, in everything but the details.

A DCYF document entitled "Notice to Accused Parent" explains the ground rules that govern New Hampshire's "family law" court system: "All Court hearings and records of abuse and neglect cases are confidential. The hearings are not open to the public and only people involved in the case, or invited by the parties and approved by the Court, will be admitted to the Court hearings." In practice this means that DCYF banishes from such hearings anybody who can speak effectively on behalf of the accused.
A "preliminary hearing" can result in the DCYF being awarded "protective supervision or legal custody" over a child, "which would give DCYF the right to temporarily remove your child[ren] from parental care and custody and determine where and with whom your child[ren] will live," explains the document.
At no point in the process is it necessary to prove that abuse occurred. Even at an "adjudicatory hearing" -- the equivalent of a criminal trial -- the standard is a "preponderance of evidence," rather than a requirement to demonstrate guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." But the threshold for a judicial decision to award custody of a child to the DCYF is merely the presentation of "evidence."

In substantive terms, an anonymous, unsubstantiated accusation of abuse qualifies as "evidence." In the same fashion, "temporary," as defined in New Hampshire child abuse cases, is a synonym for "indefinite." Once a judge has granted custody or protective supervision to the DCYF, the matter is placed beyond judicial remedy, and the child's fate will be determined by the child-snatcher bureaucracy. 

After Candy was charged with "neglecting" Isabella by receiving a morphine drip during a difficult delivery, the grandparents were forbidden to present evidence at either the preliminary or the adjudicatory hearing. On October 3, 2005, the DCYF seized Isabella, who at the time was a little more than one month old. She was never seen again by her grandparents.Candy was allowed brief, sporadic visits until March of 2006.

One particularly provocative aspect of this case involves Candy's refusal to apply for DCYF-administered welfare benefits. On September 2, 2005 -- less than a month after Isabella was born -- DCYF employee Melissa Deane tried to persuade Candy to apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Candy refused to do so, pointing out that she and Isabella would be living with the grandparents and wouldn't need welfare aid -- or the invasive government supervision that would come with it.

On September 28 -- two days after the preliminary hearing upheld the neglect charge against Candy -- Ms. Deane signed the application and filed it herself. A few days later, DCYF kidnapped Isabella from the hospital, eventually arranging for her adoption to another family. 

Dot Knightly points out that as long as Isabella remained with Candy, the DCYF would not be able to obtain federal welfare funding in her name. That problem was "solved" by filing an application over the objections of Isabella's mother, and then stealing her child.

The DCYF then turned its predatory attention to Dot's other daughter, Holly, and her two children, Austin and Ally. 

On January 19, 2006, Holly went to the hospital following a friend's suicide attempt. While there she was arrested for "belligerent behavior" by a police officer who believed that she was intoxicated. Although she was on various prescription medications (she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder), a test confirmed that there was no alcohol in her system at the time of her arrest. Regardless of that fact, Holly was charged with "child endangerment."

The arresting officer, Patrolman Josue I. Santia, delivered Holly's children Austin and Ally to Dot's home. Santia noted in his report that he and his partner "felt comfortable leaving the children in [the grandparents'] custody." On the following morning the grandparents were awarded temporary supervisory care over the children while the child endangerment charge was examined. That charge was eventually dropped, but DCYF wasn't willing to end its pursuit of Holly's kids.

Darren Hood Tucker, an attorney employed by DCYF, went "judge shopping" and "found another Judge willing to modify the court order" granting temporary custody to the grandparents, Dot Knightly recounted to Pro Libertate. Tucker was able to suborn a judge into ruling that it was inappropriate for Austin and Ally to have contact with Dot's daughter Candy -- whose only "offense" had been to give birth to a child who was later abducted by the DCYF. 

"They sent four police officers to our home and took those children away at gunpoint," Dot recalls. "Poor Austin was literally dragged down the street kicking and screaming as the neighbors looked on." Shortly after the siblings were placed in a foster home in Merrimack, Austin -- who had no previous record of behavioral problems -- tried to hang himself. 

News of the suicide attempt sent Holly rushing to the hospital, where she was intercepted by DCYF caseworker Anna Salvatore. The caseworker "threatened my daughter Holly by stating that if Holly didn't sign Austin's admission to Anna Philbrook Psychiatric Hospital ... the Judge would sign a court order terminating Holly's parental rights," Dot Knightly relates. 

Just days earlier, Austin had been a bright-eyed, friendly, cheerful little boy.
Austin's disposition and physical appearance changed dramatically after he was seized by armed strangers and forced to take mind-altering drugs.

During the four months that DCYF caseworker Anna Salvatore was on maternity leave (remember that detail; I'll return to it momentarily), Dot, her husband, and Austin's mother were able to have one brief phone call with Austin and his attending physician at the Psychiatric Hospital. The doctor told Dot that "after Austin spoke to his family his whole demeanor changed ... and he was not the same violent little boy as when he was admitted." When DCYF Supervisor Tracy Gubbins learned of that phone call, she issued instructions that there would be no further contact between Austin and his grandparents or his mother. 

Austin with his Grandpa.

The only reason Dot was able to talk to her grandson was because the newly single caseworker was on maternity leave. Dot believes that Anna Salvatore -- who is now known as Anna Edlund -- may have become pregnant as a result of an affair.

"Holly and her husband had been having problems, but after this whole mess began they actually moved into a new apartment and seemed to be starting over," Dot told Pro Libertate. "The caseworker, or `home-wrecker,' Anna Salvatore found out about this and had them separated again within a week. Then Salvatore started to visit Holly's husband on nights and weekends, with or without the children, which eventually ruined her own marriage. And then she ended up divorced and pregnant -- after tearing my daughter's family apart." 

The record should reflect that Ms. Edlund strenuously and categorically denies this aspect of Dot's account.

After Austin was placed in a "pre-adoptive" home, Dot -- with the help of the new caseworker -- was able to arrange a few brief, supervised visits with Austin. During one of them, the traumatized little boy quietly informed his grandmother:  "They told me that Holly's not my mother anymore."

"Honey, Holly is still your mother and will always be your mother," Dot replied -- thereby triggering the DCYF's retaliation reflex.

"From that time, all further visits were canceled," she recalled to Pro Libertate.

Not even this could be considered the crowning act of cruelty inflicted on this long-suffering family by New Hampshire's child "protection" racket.

By 2008, Dot -- who still hoped that she would be permitted to care for her grandchildren -- had completed her coursework to be a state-certified foster parent, but was refused a license. She was told by DCYF official Lorraine Bartlett that she would never be permitted to care for Austin out of fear that she would take him off the toxic psychotropic drugs he was forced to take. 

Through a steady series of dilatory and obstructionist maneuvers, the DCYF made it impossible for Dot to qualify as a foster parent for her grandchildren. When it was decided that Austin would be adopted by another couple, Dot and her husband were instructed by Bartlett to write a good-bye letter to their grandson in order to bring "closure" to the atrocity. This gesture reminds me a bit of the way that firing squads employed by Ethiopian despot Mengistu Haile Mariam would force families of the victims to pay for the ammunition used to murder their loved ones.

Dot insisted that she would continue her legal efforts to get Austin back.

"Nobody gets their kids back in New Hampshire," replied the DCYF official. "The government gives us the power to decide how these cases turn out. Everyone who fights us loses."

(Note: This is a slightly edited version of the original essay; some details have been changed in the interests of clarity.)


According to a source on the ground in New Hampshire who is very close to the principals in the story, Cheyenne Irish was not sexually abused. She was rushed to be examined by a specialist dealing with victims of child sexual abuse; that specialist reportedly concluded that no abuse had occurred.

In interviews today, Jonathan Irish's father has made it abundantly clear that he considers his son to be a disturbed and potentially dangerous individual. That view is reportedly shared by other people long acquainted with Mr. Irish. Assuming -- for now -- that  there is merit to that characterization, we're still left with this question: If the father is the problem, why was the mother charged with neglect for the act of having the baby?

UPDATE, October 14: Sometimes, They Do Get Their Kids Back...

... if the parents in question can create a nation-wide controversy over the kidnapping. Reports the New Hampshire Union- Leader:

"Johnathan Irish and Stephanie Taylor emerged from a closed family court hearing Thursday afternoon with smiles on their faces and indicated they may be getting back their daughter Cheyenne, whom state officials took from them hours after her birth last week."

A local TV report unequivocally states that Cheyenne has already been returned to her parents:

Interestingly, Johnathan Irish's mother was on hand in what appears to be a supporting role. This contrasts sharply with the attitude of Mr. Irish's biological father, who has conspicuously approved of the DCYF's action in abducting Cheyenne.

Point of editorial privilege....

This report relies heavily on a significant quantity of documents not available on-line. I intend to archive them and make them available as soon as possible. 

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Dum spiro, pugno!