Friday, May 27, 2011

"What Were You Guys Thinking? Why Did You Kill Him?"

"Why, why did you kill him?" a traumatized Vanessa Guerena begged to know as she was interrogated in a makeshift "command center" by detectives from the same Sheriff's Office that had just slaughtered her husband Jose. Her questioners, eager to exploit her trauma to extract information, initially refused to give her a straightforward answer. 

Jose, who had finished a graveyard shift at the Asarco copper mine, was sleeping when a SWAT team from the Pima County Sheriff's Office laid siege to his home on the morning of May 5. Vanessa was doing laundry, and the couple's four-year-old son Joel was watching "Transformers," when the SWAT raiders pulled up in a Bear Cat armored vehicle. 

The siren sounded for less than ten seconds; just a few seconds later, the order to "breach" the door was given because, as on-scene commander Deputy Bob Krygier later explained, nobody inside the house had "submitted to our authority."

Vanessa initially thought that there was an emergency "somewhere in the neighborhood," and called the police. When she saw armed intruders on her property, Vanessa screamed for her husband to wake up. Jose told Vanessa to take their younger son (whose older brother, Jose, Jr., was in school) and hide in the closet, while he went to confront the invaders. 

Seconds later, Jose was sprawled face-first in a pool of his own blood, shredded by more than sixty rounds fired by the SWAT team. That's how his four-year-old son would later find him. Joel was left alone after Vanessa, who had gone out to plead for someone to get medical help for her husband, was assaulted and brutalized by the SWAT operators and then detained for questioning. The child remained alone in the house with the body of his dead father while Krygier developed a "tactical team" to extract the child at minimal risk. That is, minimal risk to the berserkers who had just killed Joel's dad.

As the minutes dragged on, one of the SWAT operators --  according  to Krygier -- grew impatient over being forbidden to enter the home. 

"Might as well finish what I started," groused the armored assailant. I suspect he wasn't referring to the need to render timely medical aid, unless he intended to administer "one behind the ear" as a form of Kevorkian-style treatment.

Krygier and his little band of heroes were decked out in full SWAT regalia --  "I had my body armor on, a duty belt with a side holster, a ballistic helmet, clear sunglasses, [and] a handgun," he later reported. Yet the paramount consideration of "officer safety" prevented SWAT team members from rescuing Joel in a timely fashion, or even confirming first-hand that Jose was dead. Rather than rendering aid, or permitting the paramedics to treat Jose, the SWAT team -- bold, valiant badasses every one of them -- huddled in the BearCat and sent in a robot to poke and nudge the victim to make sure he was dead.

Despite the fact that one member of the squad, Deputy Jay Korza, is a medic, nobody went into the house and "physically" confirmed Jose's death, Krygier later explained to detectives. Instead, a call was placed to "our SWAT doctor, Dr. [Tammy] Kastre ... [who] pronounced him dead in the way that doctors do."

This indifferent and perfunctory confirmation was an appropriate coda to a SWAT assault that began with an entirely spurious search warrant. Michael Storie, the police union attorney representing Jose Guerena's killers, has admitted that neither Jose nor his home was specifically mentioned in the warrant, which was served as part of a "complex investigation" into an alleged marijuana smuggling and home invasion robbery ring. 

Three other homes were hit the same morning that the SWAT team gunned down Jose Guerena. But his was the only home devoid of anything resembling evidence in a criminal investigation. Thus it is remarkable that Jose, according to Krygier, was considered "the main bad guy" in this purported criminal syndicate, which was supposedly "hiring out to do rip crews -- to steal other people's marijuana and perform home invasions."

Assuming that gang actually exists, it would best be described as a private SWAT team, given that it would be carrying out exactly the same kinds of missions conducted every day by tactical police units in the "war on drugs." This would mean that the May 5 SWAT raids weren't so much a law enforcement exercise as a turf war between rival criminal gangs. 

Distant relatives of the Guerena family were killed in a home invasion robbery about a year ago; that fact was described by Krygier as a "connection" to a "double homicide." Other relatives are allegedly involved in narcotics trafficking, but Guerena himself has no criminal record. The former Marine worked long shifts on a predictable schedule at the local mine.

If Guerena was involved in criminal activity, a low-key arrest was eminently feasible, as was a conventional search of the home. But that's not how things are done in the American Reich. It's far more convenient -- and, one supposes, a lot more fun -- for the police to employ what will someday be known as the Jose Guerena Model: Lay siege to the home with a paramilitary death squad, gun down the suspect, and then interrogate his terrorized wife.

When the questioning began, Vanessa thought Jose might still be alive. She still harbored a faint, fugitive hope that the armed strangers who had invaded her home had taken her husband to the hospital. It wasn't until the detectives had begun the interrogation that she was able to learn that Jose had died.

Vanessa Guerena being interviewed on local television.
As the numbness of pure horror began to wear off, the newly minted 26-year-old widow started to feel the effects of injuries sustained when she had been roughly seized from her home, thrown to the ground, stepped on, and otherwise "treated like a criminal" by the death squad that had just poured at least sixty rounds into her husband. That treatment continued -- albeit in a more subtle fashion -- after she was placed in the custody of the detectives. 

"You're not allowed to leave," explained Detective Dan Preuss, who insisted that this "doesn't mean you're under arrest." That was a lie, of course: Any time a police officer presumes to detain a citizen, the detainee is under arrest. That Preuss was deceiving Vanessa about this -- as he was trained to -- is demonstrated by the fact that he and his comrades took several minutes to Mirandize Vanessa in both English and Spanish. 

"We don't trap you in a room and say, `talk to us,'" Preuss assured Vanessa as he and his colleagues did precisely that. As Preuss worked to extract information from Vanessa that could potentially have been used to incriminate her, the detective repeatedly told the horrified young woman that her questions would be answered in due time. But the only question to which she wanted an answer was the one she asked immediately after the raid: "What were you guys thinking?"
A few minutes after the questioning began, Vanessa asked the detectives why there had been a search warrant for her family's home. In a moment of depraved creativity, one of them insisted that "I can't answer your questions" because at that point Vanessa hadn't been Mirandized -- an answer demonstrating, once again, that the young wife and mother, whose husband had just been killed while defending his family, was being treated as a criminal suspect.

"Is there anything in the house the police would be looking for?" pried Detective Preuss, who wouldn't have had to ask that open-ended question if he and his comrades were enforcing a constitutionally valid warrant. "Now, be honest with me ... we're gonna go in there.... Is there anything illegal in the house?.... Is there anything in those rooms that would be illegal? Drugs, guns? Monies?"

"These are important questions, 'cause obviously we're gonna find out one way or another," Preuss continued. "We also need to have information about ... people that you know, okay?.... Do you know if Jose was involved in any activity? Even if he's trying to make some money for you guys, so you can live good."

Vanessa, who had neither the time nor the presence of mind to contact a lawyer, replied that Jose was "working very hard" at the mine, that they had just bought the house and were doing everything they could to save money. This included taking the time to make home-made pinatas for their son's birthday party, as well as painting and refurbishing their fixer-upper house themselves, rather than hiring others to help. 

Preuss seemed to think that all of this was an elaborate plot to disguise Jose's life as a lieutenant in a narcotics cartel. His questions suggested that the young father's home improvements included "secret compartments," "secret doors," and other hiding places for drugs, guns, and money. He also insisted on batting away a statement that Vanessa made that an honest investigator  really should examine more carefully.

When asked about the AR 15 Jose reportedly brandished to defend his home from the SWAT team, Vanessa stated -- more than once -- that she "didn't see a weapon" in Jose's hands, and referred to the rifle found near his body as "the weapon that was thrown right there."

"Nobody planted a gun," insisted Preuss. How did he know this? Weren't Preuss and his associates supposed to ask questions, rather than provide the answers?

In all likelihood, the gun belonged to Jose, who had every right to use lethal force to repel lawless aggression against his home. However, it should be remembered that the Regime's home invasion squads -- both domestic SWAT teams and their equivalents deployed in Iraq and elsewhere -- are known to carry "drop guns" for the purpose of framing victims as "insurgents."

Jason Moon, who served U.S. Army in Iraq, testifies that a sergeant told his troops that "The difference between an insurgent and an Iraqi civilian is whether they are dead or alive." For the benefit of those for whom that comment is too opaque, Moon explains: "If you kill a civilian he becomes an insurgent because you retroactively make that person a threat." 

If the AR 15 had been planted next to Jose, that could explain why the safety was still on when it was found -- something otherwise difficult to understand, given that he was a Marine combat veteran. The "drop gun" scenario, while dubious, is quite a bit more plausible than the one suggested by Preuss, in which a young father who worked overtime at a local mine and made pinatas by hand to save money was actually a secret drug kingpin whose home was honeycombed with secret caches laden with guns and cash.

The possible existence of a "drop gun," while potentially quite significant, is not critical. The purpose of planting a gun is to provide an ex post facto rationale for an officially sanctioned home invasion that results in a homicide. The people responsible for the murder of Jose Guerena appear to be perfectly capable of retconning this atrocity without the help of hardware. 

A Timely Proposal

A decade ago I wrote a slender book entitled Global Gun Grab dealing with the subject of civilian disarmament -- primarily, but not exclusively, by way of the United Nations. I have a limited quantity available and would be happy to send a personalized copy to anybody who offers a donation of $10 or more to help me keep Pro Libertate up and running. 

Donations can be made via Pay Pal, or please contact me via e-mail (WNGrigg [at] msn [dot] com) for mailing instructions.

Once again, thank you so much to everybody who generously contributed to keep this blog on-line! God bless you.

Please tune in Sunday afternoon at 4:00-6:00 Central Time for Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network. 

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Death Squad Damage Control in Tucson (UPDATED with video, May 26)

Victims of an American death squad: Ex-Marine murder victim Jose Guerena with his wife and sons. Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (emphasis added)

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land…. No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law. 

Sections 3 and 8 of the “Declaration of Rights” from the Arizona State Constitution’s “Declaration of Rights”

People seeking to defend the manifestly indefensible often sabotage themselves by disclosing critical details that undermine their argument. Mike Storie, the police union lawyer representing the SWAT operators who murdered Jose Guerena in his home on May 5, did this during his May 19 press conference in an attempt to assign all of the blame for Jose’s death on the victim and his terrorized wife.

As reported by the Arizona Star, Storie insisted that if the Guerena family had permitted the armed intruders into their home, those inside “probably … wouldn’t have been arrested." This is because the "warrant was not directed at any particular person, and Guerena’s home was not mentioned, but it was targeting whoever might be inside the residence...."

That is to say that this was not a legitimate search warrant, under the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment (and expressly incorporated in Arizona law through the state constitution). The instrument used as supposed justification for the armed assault was akin to the "writs of assistance" used by British soldiers during the years leading up to the American colonial rebellion.

As Judge Andrew Napolitano summarizes, writs of assistance were "self-written search warrants" that "enabled [British] soldiers and government agents to enter any private building or dwelling and  search for whatever they had authorized themselves to search for." In this way, occupation forces could invade any home or business they chose, confiscate any item they suspected might be contraband, and haul away in irons anybody who attracted their malevolent  attention. 

The only material difference I can identify between that tyrannical practice and SWAT raids of the kind that resulted in the murder of Jose Guerena is the fact that British Redcoats were considerably more restrained in their behavior. 

Writs of assistance were conspicuous among the grievances that led the colonial Patriots to rebel against the British government, and they were the direct inspiration for the Fourth Amendment, a provision that as of May 16 is de jure dead letter in the American Imperium.

On that date, two rulings were announced -- one by the Indiana State Supreme Court, the other by the U.S. Supreme Court -- that formally vitiated constitutional impediments to warrantless intrusions by police. 

Those rulings simply formalized the state of affairs that has long existed in the United States; after all, owing the fraudulent, murderous enterprise called the "war on drugs," the Fourth Amendment has had no tangible relationship to public policy for decades.  Nonetheless, that Amendment remains on the books as part of the "supreme law" -- which means that the raid on the Guerena home was, in a literal, legally binding sense, a home invasion robbery. 

Michael Storie is a living illustration of the fact that there is no "mob lawyer" more drenched in disrepute than a barrister who prostitutes himself in the service of a police union. 

"Who's being evasive? I'm not being evasive! Why are you being evasive?"
Storie is lead criminal attorney for the Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs (AZCOPS). Through no fault of his own, Storie somewhat resembles Nathan Thurm, a fictional corporate attorney played by Canadian comic genius Martin Short.

In his performance at the May 19 news conference, Storie did a pretty creditable impression of Thurm, capturing the same odd combination of oleaginous dishonesty and prickly passive aggression that Short brought to his character, who was paid extravagantly well to protect the powerful and corrupt.

While he has been employed by AZCOPS, no member of that union "has ever been convicted of crimes relating to on-duty conduct," boast the organization. This isn't strictly correct: Storie represented former DARE officer Ramon Fernando Borbon, who was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman and a  16-year-old girl while he was on-duty. 

In the Borbon case, Storie employed a two-pronged defense strategy: He tried to depict the adult victim as a consenting party, and the child as a gold-digging opportunist. In other words: They were asking for it, and now they're just interested in money. He's using a variation on that approach in defending the SWAT team members who murdered Jose Guerena: It was all the victim's fault, and his family is now simply "trying to make money" through a lawsuit. 

The SWAT operators "had no choice but to shoot" after engineering a completely illegal raid, Thurm -- er, Storie insisted. After all, Guerena was armed with an AR-15, and several officers "did report that they saw a muzzle flash from the shooter" -- which means that their lives were in danger. 

Well, actually, they didn't see a muzzle flash, since -- as the Sheriff's Office has admitted -- Guerena never removed the safety from his rifle. Ah, but he could have, you see, and since the omniscient heroes on the SWAT team "know that [the] walls [of the Guerena home] are stucco ... if this man starts shooting his rounds, every neighbor in the vicinity is in danger, including possible innocent residents that are in the residence itself." 

So we're told that waiting even a few seconds before opening fire was too risky; the only safe choice was for the SWAT team to unleash a 71-round barrage, since, as everyone knows, high-velocity rounds fired by sanctified personages in police uniforms possess a magical property that prevents them from endangering innocent people. 

That magical property, incidentally, is "qualified immunity" -- and it protects the only "innocent" people that police unions care about: Police officers who injure or kill Mundanes.

Within seconds of violating the Guerena home, the invaders had perforated Jose’s body with at least 60 gunshots. While Jose bled to death, his killers refused to allow paramedics to treat him.  During that period the SWAT team actually inserted a remote-controlled robot -- another pricey toy provided by the Pentagon's LESO program -- to clear the house. While Jose was dying on the floor, the SWAT team found "everything they [thought]  they’re going to find in there," Storie insisted.

What, exactly, were they looking for, and what did they find? After scraping away the layers of dissimulation applied by Storie, we arrive at this answer: They were looking for nothing in particular, and that's exactly what they found.

They found no narcotics, no stash of suspected narcotics proceeds, no documentary or physical evidence of a crime of any kind. Neither Jose nor Vanessa has a criminal record. 

Yet Storie, who appears congenitally incapable of decent shame, has left the air clotted with insinuation: He reports that handguns, rifles, body armor, and “part of a police uniform” were found in the Guerena household, along with a picture of Jesus Malverde, described as a "patron saint" of narcotics traffickers. In other words, in terms of actual criminal evidence, they found nothing.

Guerena, recall, is a former Marine who served two combat tours in Iraq, so the presence of body armor – as well as a small gun collection – would hardly be inexplicable. It's quite likely that his gun collection was smaller than those of many other Arizona residents who never served in the military. 

Furthermore, what, exactly, constitutes “part” of a police uniform? Might it be military-issue clothing in Guerena’s possession – the kind of combat couture affected by jock-riding poseurs of the kind who gravitate toward SWAT teams? Again, Storie hasn’t supplied the details, apparently in the hope that public perceptions will be governed by headlines, rather than details. 

Like everything else Storie said at the press conference, he extracted the detail about Jesus Malverde from the same bodily orifice he employs to dispose of used food. Malverde is not a Narcotrafficante, nor is he their proprietary saint. He is a semi-mythical Robin Hood figure venerated by ethnic Mexicans throughout the Southwest

By bringing up this inconsequential detail, Storie was trafficking in something that smells an awful lot like race-baiting. That comment could be a dog whistle directed at the segment of Arizona's population that considers Joe Arpaio a champion of law and order, rather than a viscous, opportunistic thug: Rather than seeing Jose Guerena as an honorably discharged Marine and (of infinitely greater importance) loving young husband and father, at least some Arizonans now have an excuse to suspect that he's an agent of the Reconquista plot.

The original story put out by the Pima County Sheriff's Office was that the raid in which Guerena was murdered was part of a large operation investigating a marijuana trafficking conspiracy. As outrage coalesced over Guerena’s death, the official line was revised: Now we are told that Jose and his family were somehow “connected” to an alleged home invasion robbery ring, as were three other homes targeted in the same May 5 SWAT rampage. 

Apart from the fact that Jose himself was murdered in a home invasion conducted under the color of supposed State authority, there is another connection to a previous crime of that kind: Two of their relatives were murdered a year ago in a home invasion of the non-government-approved variety. 

That fact might well have colored Vanessa’s perceptions of what was happening with a government-licensed home invasion crew materialized outside her home, began to vandalize the house, and threatened her life and that of her baby. It’s also quite possible that the murder of a relative, coupled with combat experience in Iraq, played a large role in Jose’s perceptions and actions on that horrible morning. 

 The search warrant has been sealed, and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department refuses to release details. Other than upbraiding local reporters who have abandoned stenography in favor of legitimate adversarial journalism, Clarence Dupnik, the Epsilon-grade personage in charge of Pima County’s Sheriff’s Office,has petulantly complained that the press has been “irresponsible” in “questioning the legality” of a military operation that resulted in the entirely avoidable violent death of a young father who was defending his wife and child against a feral pack of armed strangers. 

Like practically everybody else in the same racket, Sheriff Dupnik considers himself to be at war with the population his department ostensibly protects and serves. That's the only rational explanation for the fact that he is treating the details of this incident as if they were classified secrets in a combat zone, rather than facts he is obliged to provide to the public that employs him. 

While grousing that "it is unacceptable and irresponsible to couch ... questions with implications of secrecy and cover-up," Dupnik's office maintains that there is a "very real threat to innocent lives if ... details [about the killing] are released prematurely." Those "innocent" lives, we are entitled to suspect, are undercover police operatives -- informants and, what's much the same thing, provocateurs -- who helped precipitate the crime on May 5. 

 Storie peddled a similar line in his May 19 press conference, insisting that although Guerena was not individually targeted by a search or arrest warrant, detectives had concluded that someone at his residence had been keeping police investigators under "counter-surveillance."

"Now, what I mean by this is, at some point detectives, as is usually the case, were driving by this house to get some intelligence," Storie said. "At one point, when detectives were driving past this house once, the resident of this house, suspected to be Guereno [sic], jumped in his car and followed this detective. They then got a report from MVD" -- that's the Motor Vehicles Division, not the Soviet Ministry for State Security, despite the institutional kinship of those entities -- "that there was a hit on this license plate driven by this detective by someone. So, Guereno [sic!] or someone very similar to him, who followed this detective, searched the identity of this driver, who was the owner of his vehicle. This is known as counter-surveillance measures done by people who are in this type of business. OK?"

It is a credit to his composure, if not his character, that Storie could ladle out this is a greasy porridge of self-serving supposition and speculation with a straight face. How could "someone" -- just anyone, really -- get instant access to the information at the Motor Vehicles Division? Who was that "someone," incidentally? Who were the "detectives" who had been staking out Guerena's home, and stalking his family? For that matter, was it a detective, or more than one -- seeing that Storie can't seem to get that detail nailed down? What evidence, apart from inchoate suspicions, justified the initial surveillance of that home? For that matter, was the subject of surveillance Jose Guerena, or someone whose surname is "Guereno"? 

During the same press conference Storie admitted that the SWAT team "had no specific information about what particular kids were in this house, or if there were any" before laying siege to a home containing a young mother and her four-year-old son -- and a husband trying to get some sleep after pulling a long graveyard shift at a local mine. In other words, they knew nothing of any value about the home they attacked -- yet Storie, Dupnik, and the murderers themselves all insist that the violent death of Jose Guerena was an entirely appropriate outcome, and that only irresponsible people would suspect otherwise. 

UPDATE, May 26
The entire incident lasted less than a minute. The sirens sounded for less than ten seconds. The announcement was practically inaudible. And that much-discussed "portion of a police uniform" was a Border Patrol cap of the kind that can be purchased via Amazon:

Once again, thank you so much for your generosity in helping to keep Pro Libertate on-line! God bless. 

Be sure to tune in for Pro Libertate Radio each Sunday afternoon from 4:00 - 6:00 PM Central time on the Liberty News Radio Network

Dum spiro, pugno!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Authentic Cruelty of a Synthetic Man

Yes, I'm willing to see you suffer, and throw you in prison -- but don't expect me to admit it.

Mitt Romney, a polymer-based life form of nearly limitless pliability, is as long on cash as he is short on genuine convictions. For the Power Elite's political brokers, few traits are more endearing in a potential president than malleability. Romney's suppleness of spine helps explain how he was able to soak up $10 million in promised campaign donations from politically connected oligarchs during a day-long marathon fundraiser in Las Vegas.

Seeking an issue on which Romney takes a binding, definitive stand often seems like trying to overtake the horizon. Clayton Holden, a wheelchair-bound man and long-time medical marijuana patient, may be the only person who has ever seen Romney perform a plausible impression of Martin Luther (“Here I stand, I can do no other") regarding any subject.

Holden suffers from Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, an affliction that has left him with a twisted spine, inflamed nerve bundles, and unremitting chronic pain. When Holden was 16, his suffering was compounded when he was hit by a car while crossing the street in his wheelchair.

Like many others who suffer from debilitating pain, Holden has found that marijuana offers him relief while inflicting none of the side-effects that accompany many government-approved drugs. On at least ten occasions, Holden has been confronted by police, who – to their credit – have been willing to flout what they are required to call “the law” in favor of elemental decency. It’s only a matter of time before some armed functionary will be found who is sufficiently vicious to throw Holden in a cage. That’s the outcome that Mitt Romney would favor.

During an October 7, 2007 Republican presidential forum in New Hampshire, Holden politely but forcefully confronted Romney to ask him the same question he had posed to other candidates (only one of whom – no extra credit for guessing which one – actually gave him an unequivocal answer): Since Holden has to use marijuana to treat his affliction, would Romney be willing to see him and his doctors arrested and carried off to jail? 

Romney, as is his habit, tried to take refuge in persiflage, insisting – on the basis of what qualifications, he didn’t say – that synthetic marijuana would work just as well. He then sought to ooze his way out of the question by quipping that he doesn’t “arrest anyone."

The most remarkable aspect of Romney’s encounter with Holden is that he displayed none of his characteristic equivocation in defending drug prohibition. He yielded not so much as a millimeter in his insistence that medical marijuana is a "gateway drug"; this means that Holden and other patients who use it either have to settle for useless or harmful government-approved treatments or endure the punitive wrath of the divine State. The Mittster didn't even seek to palliate the feelings of this powerless, suffering individual by deploying a sympathetic platitude.

Presidential politics in our putrefying empire deals in the infliction of wholesale cruelty -- through the destruction of wealth, the propagation of aggressive violence, and the constriction of individual liberty. Like most people who aspire to the imperial purple, Romney doesn't like to be seen dispensing cruelty on an individual basis, which is why he ended the conversation with Holden as quickly as possible, and was palpably angry that this uncomfortable moment was caught on camera.

Owing to the influence of big-money campaign donation "bundlers," and dubious bookkeeping of the sort that that is common among the politically protected Wall Street denizens whose favor he ardently courts, Romney has emerged as the fundraising front-runner among among GOP presidential aspirants.  As Romney campaign minion Chris Slick memorably put it during the day-long grovel-fest in Vegas: “Today we demonstrate our ability to raise excessive and ungodly amounts of cash while other candidates are still pattering about in bumf*ck, Iowa somewhere. No one can come close to what our machine can do. No one.”

 By "our machine," Slick wasn't just talking about Romney's political campaign; he was referring to an interlocking network of pressure groups, lobbyists, and political criminals that  support, sustain, and profit from the Warfare State.

Slick himself is director of online operations for "ACT! for America," an anti-Muslim pressure group whose founder and chief spokesperson, Lebanon-born Brigette Gabriel (nee Nour Saman), tirelessly evangelizes on behalf of a war of annihilation against Islam. In a 2007 address at Rev. John Hagee's mega-church, Gabriel insisted that Muslims "have no soul". This which would mean, of course, that Muslims aren't merely mistaken or sinful, but that they aren't genuinely human.

There are many pressure groups who promote various elements of the War Party agenda ala carte. Gabriel's group will settle for nothing less than the Full Cheney combo meal: Permanent war abroad, unlimited regimentation at home, indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, institutionalization of torture, and so on.

It's worth pointing out that during the 1980s, Gabriel -- under her birth name -- was a correspondent/propagandist for a television network affiliated with the South Lebanon Army (SLA). During the horrific Lebanese civil war -- a multi-sided conflict in which no belligerent had a monopoly on unspeakable acts -- the SLA was an Israeli-supported militia that ran a notorious torture dungeon called Al Khiam Prison. Many of the methods now employed by Washington's Homeland Security State -- those not devised by the CIA, or reverse-engineered from Soviet sources, that is -- were field-tested on detainees in the Al Khiam prison.

While Romney is connected to all of this by the only most tenuous of threads, it's important to remember that he has spoken of the supposed need to "double Guantanamo" -- that is, to expand the use of indefinite detention and the application of torture techniques that have been cloaked in the Gestapo-derived euphemism "enhanced interrogation."

Whatever  transgressions Romney has committed against the current GOP line, the hints of calculated cruelty behind his smarmy demeanor make him irresistible to at least some of those who want to make war against Islam the central organizing principle of American life.

It is in Romney's profitable relationship with former U.S. Ambassador to Italy Mel Sembler that these separate strands of cruelty are woven together like the braids of a torturer's whip. In 2008, Romney appointed Sembler to serve as one of his ten national campaign fund-raisers.  Sembler, a retired shopping mall magnate from Florida, also served as chairman for the legal defense fund established on behalf of convicted felon Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. 

In addition to being an architect of the war in Iraq, Libby helped devise the legal framework for the globe-straddling archipelago of CIA torture facilities. In 2007, Libby was found guilty of perjury and obstruction in the case of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame; his prison term was commuted by George W. Bush, who --like Romney -- is someone whose sympathy for the powerful and corrupt is inexhaustible.

Long before the administration of Bush the Dumber made torture an official federal policy, Mel Sembler and his wife were promoting the use of torture and indefinite detention in the "war on drugs." In the early 1970s, they created a behavioral modification program called “Straight” that targeted youngsters who either had drug or alcohol addictions, or were considered to be “at risk” of falling prey to addiction. Many of the teenagers put into Sembler's program complained of physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse.

 Teen inmates at a Behavior Modification facility.
 "Straight" grew out of a federally funded pilot program called “The Seed,” which according to a 1974 Senate Judiciary Committee investigation used methods similar to the “highly refined `brainwashing' techniques employed by the North Koreans” against US prisoners of war. 

Thus Sembler's "Straight" program was, in a sense, a progenitor of the Bush-Cheney "enhanced interrogation" regime.

“The Seed” was shut down in the mid-1970s, but Sembler's network (nine clinics in seven states) continued to receive funding from the same federal agencies that had underwritten the Communist-derived initiative. "Straight" was closed down in 1993, but by this time it had planted seeds of its own that sprouted up across the U.S. and abroad, where "drug rehabilitation" facilities employed "treatment" techniques that were indistinguishable from the criminal abuses carried out in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

A "Straight"-inspired drug "treatment" dungeon in Mexico.
 In her valuable book Help at Any Cost, investigative journalist Maia Szalavitz documented how programs constructed from Sembler's template had employed "punishments banned for use on criminals and by the Geneva Convention."

"Beatings, extended isolation and restraint, public humiliation, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, forced exercise to the point of exhaustion, sensory deprivation, and lengthy maintenance of stress positions are common," continued Szalavitz.

Some teenagers selected for forced enrollment in BM programs have been treated exactly like terrorist suspects -- snatched from their homes or the streets by rented thugs and then sent by way of “extraordinary rendition” to isolated detention facilities, often in foreign countries. The best-known professional child-napper is Rick Strawn, a retired Atlanta police officer whose personal history includes alcoholism and domestic abuse, as well as repeated accusations of child sexual exploitation.
The very model of authoritarian piety, Strawn conspicuously wears his "What Would Jesus Do?" wristband as he places handcuffs on the wrists of a teenager being forcibly conveyed to a distant, inaccessible dungeon. Often this is done with the knowing consent of criminally credulous parents following a "hard sell" by a pitchman for a behavior modification (BM) program, which is usually portrayed as an enhanced summer camp intended to impart "respect for authority" in a beautiful natural setting.

More than a few of the teenagers consigned to those facilities -- which have been uncovered in several states, as well as Mexico, Jamaica, American Samoa, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere -- had no documentable problem with drugs or alcohol, or any other self-destructive behaviors. But just as we're told that practically any development justifies "expanded vigilance" against terrorism, just about any adolescent problem or behavior can be depicted as an indication that the youngster is "at risk," and thus needs to be confined in a BM facility to get “straightened out" through means that include unambiguous torture.

At one BM facility in Puerto Rico, “teens were found bound and gagged with nooses around their necks,” reports Szalavitz. At "High Impact," a Mexico-based facility run by  the Utah-based World-Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS), teenage detainees were locked in dog cages. One survivor of that gulag was nearly drowned to death by a group of older kids who -- having been made feral through prolonged mistreatment -- hoped that the murder would shut the program down. 

"The Hobbit."
Amberly Knight, former director of the WWASPS-affiliated Dundee Ranch in Costa Rica, testifies that food deprivation was commonly used to punish inmates, and particularly rebellious kids were taken to a tiny isolation room and forced to kneel on concrete for up to 14 hours a day.

Inmates at a WWASPS program in Samoa were sometimes held for hours in an "ISO Box," a three-foot by three-foot box akin to a North Vietnamese “tiger cage.” Others were hog-tied with duct tape or beaten by staffers. When the Samoan government began a child abuse inquiry, WWASPS hastily shut down the facility.
WWASPS's Spring Creek Lodge in Montana featured a tiny disciplinary cubicle called "The Hobbit" in which some inmates were confined for weeks or months at a time and fed nothing but beans and bananas. One counselor at Spring Creek was charged with sexually molesting two boys who had been imprisoned in The Hobbit.

Robert Lichfield.
In 2006, more than two-dozen families filed a lawsuit against WWASPS, alleging that inmates of the residential programs were “subjected to physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.” Many of them had been directed to the program through Teen Help, a business operated by Utah businessman Robert Lichfield that served as a processing center for WWASPS. 

As it happens, Lichfield was co-chairman of WWASPS, and as of 2006 he was pulling in an estimated $90 million a year by funneling teens into a globe-spanning network of detention camps. At least some of that money used to fuel Romney's presidential ambitions. 

During the 2008 campaign, Lichfield was appointed by Romney to head his fundraising efforts in Utah.  In that capacity he helped raise $2.7 million for Romney, including $300,000 at a single event in St. George. All of this happened after Richfield's role in WWASPS was known. Romney dismissed Richfield in late Summer 2007 after a second lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than one hundred of the organization's victims. At about the same time, a "counselor" at a WWASPS facility was found guilty of assault and false imprisonment.

The lawsuit against WWASPS coincided with the housing bust. Like many other criminal enterprises that prospered during the bubble, WWASPS has gone out of business, even as the attorneys for Lichfield and his cohorts have employed every dilatory maneuver in their arsenal to hold the lawsuit in abeyance. 

In spite of all this, there still seems to be a market for a business specializing in teen "rehabilitation" through torture: Narvin Lichfield, Robert's brother and partner in crime, recently re-opened a WWASPS-inspired facility in South Carolina that had been shut down amid an avalanche of civil lawsuits and criminal charges. 

Apparently, there are still people who can scrounge up nearly $3,000 a month to purchase the services of people who specialize in "therapeutic" child abuse, and state officials willing to countenance such operations as an adjunct to the "war on drugs." There is a lot of ambient cruelty in late-imperial America, and Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations will depend on his ability to catalyze that cruelty into hard cash.

Once again: Thank you!

I wish to reiterate, and amplify, my thanks to everyone who has responded to my recent appeal; this has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family, and we are deeply grateful. I've made a start at expressing individual thanks to each of you who have donated to us, and I promise that I will get in touch with all of you as soon as I can. Thanks again, and God bless.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Why Did Police Kill My Dad?"

Jose Guerena's murders lock down the scene of their crime.

"Mom, was my dad a bad guy?" four-year-old Joel Guerena plaintively asked his mother Vanessa after her husband, 26-year-old Jose, was killed in a withering barrage of gunfire during a SWAT invasion of their home. "They killed my dad! Police killed my dad! Why? What did my dad do?" 

To the extent the question posed by that traumatized child dealt with a moral justification for the killing, a good and sufficient answer would be: "Nothing." Jose Guerena was killed because he had the temerity to defend his family from a criminal assault carried out by armed strangers.

When the stormtroopers arrived shortly after 9:00 a.m. on May 5, Jose had just surrendered to well-earned slumber after working the graveyard shift at the nearby Asarco Mine.
Jose, a former Marine who served two combat tours abroad, had taken that job to provide for his young family after mustering out of the Corps. Jose had devoted the last hours of his life to producing wealth. Meanwhile, his killers were planning to lay siege to several homes in the neighborhood as part of the Regime's Narcotics Price Support Program, the murderous charade sometimes called the "War on Drugs."

Jose was able to get just a tiny amount of sleep before being startled awake by the terrified screams of his wife, who had seen a large party of armed men approaching them. One of them pointed a rifle at her; another shattered a window. None of them, she insists, identified himself as a police officer – not that this would make a substantive difference in moral or even legal terms.

“I saw this guy pointing me at the window,” Vanessa recalled in a subsequent television interview. “So, I got scared.  And, I got like, ‘Please don’t shoot, I have a baby.’ I put my baby [down]. [And I] put bag in window. And, I yell ‘Jose! Jose! Wake up!’”

He was murdered while protecting his family: Jose Guerena.
According to his wife, Jose's last words were: “Vani, go into the closet with the kid. Go!” He then grabbed his AR-15 and went to confront the people who threatened his family. Seven seconds later, he was dead. His killers unleashed a fusillade of 71 shots

Given that the marksmanship of the typical tax-feeder is on a par with that of the Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars, it’s likely that only a handful of the gunshots hit their marks, but that was enough. Jose was killed before he could pull the trigger. That doesn't alter the fact that he died on his feet, with his face to the enemy as he shielded his family against criminal aggression.

In the immediate aftermath of the murder, Jose’s killers -- in keeping with established custom -- began to traduce the victim's reputation, claiming that the slain husband and father was a violent suspect who had fired the first shot, and that a ballistic shield had probably saved the life of one of the assailants. This version of events was dutifully regurgitated by an initially uncritical local media.

Jose’s reputation was allowed to steep in that falsehood for several days before the PCSO grudgingly admitted the truth. “A deputy’s bullet struck the side of the doorway, causing chips of wood to fall on his shield,” recounted the Arizona Daily Star, paraphrasing an account provided by PCSO functionary Michael O’Connor. “That prompted some members of the team to think the deputy had been shot.” 

In the "war on drugs," she's a war widow: Vanessa Guerena.
The PCSO wasn’t through bemerding the memory of Jose Geurena, however. 

In the new version peddled by the department, Guerena supposedly used his final seconds this side of eternity to channel Tony Montana, crouching down and growling: “I have something for you!”

The people who gunned Jose down – who are hardly disinterested witnesses – claim that he knew that he was drawing bead on law enforcement personnel. This is not what happened, even though Jose had  every moral and legal right   to use lethal force to defend his home from an unlawful invasion. 

Why was a SWAT team used to serve search warrants -- apart, that is, from the fact that this would give the mirror-abusing, rifle-fondling poseurs something to do?
“Tucson is notorious for home invasions and we didn’t want it to look like that,” insisted PCSO spokesman O’Connor, exhibiting the dull-witted refusal to acknowledge the obvious that typifies tax-feeders of his station. SWAT raids of this kind are nothing other than government-licensed home invasions. The only difference is that when a State-chartered gang meets armed resistance, it won't relent until it -- and whatever allies it can recruit -- has annihilated the target. 

How they see themselves: The PCSO SWAT team that murdered Jose Guerena.

Between 2005 and 2008, seven counties in Texas were terrorized by a gang that carried out a series of home invasion robberies while dressed in SWAT attire and packing high-performance weaponry. 

The robbers would burst into a targeted home shouting "Search warrant!" The victims would be beaten and zip-cuffed at gunpoint, and then the raiders would help themselves to anything of value they could find. On some occasions, when an initial search would turn up empty, the gang would employ what Dick Cheney and his groupies call "enhanced interrogation techniques," such as attacking vulnerable anatomy with pliers, or waterboarding a victim to break down his resistance. All of those tactics were directly inspired by the exploits of those who serve in the Regime's apparatus of armed repression -- both here and abroad.

“I never imagined I would lose him like that, he was badly injured but I never thought he could be killed by police after he served his country,” lamented Vanessa Guerena. The grim fact is that we shouldn't be surprised that a Regime capable of sending Americans abroad to terrorize Iraqis in their homes would employ the same state terrorism against Americans here at home. Jose, who had left the Regime's employ in favor of an honest life of productive labor, was murdered in his own home by an Empire he had served abroad. 

As Vanessa observes, Jose was badly wounded -- but his injuries may have been survivable, if they had been treated in a timely fashion. The SWAT team's behavior immediately after the shooting eliminates any doubt that this was, at very least, a case of criminal homicide through depraved indifference.

During the assault on her home, Vanessa called 911, and a team of paramedics was dispatched by the nearby Drexel Heights Fire/Rescue department. Medical personnel arrived within two minutes of that call. After emerging from her hiding place, the terrorized woman pleaded with the SWAT team to allow the rescue workers to treat her husband. Rather than doing so, they held help at bay for over an hour -- until their victim was dead -- supposedly in the interest of “security.”

Several days after the killing, Tucson ABC affiliate KGUN obtained the emergency call records for Drexel Heights Fire Rescue. They disclosed that the agency received a 911 call at 9:43 a.m.; a unit arrived two minutes later. However, “deputies told rescue workers to stay put.  That’s standard to be sure they won’t walk into danger. But they waited until 10:59.  Then heard the radio call `Code 900′; that means they were no longer needed because the person was dead. One hour and 14 minutes went by. Drexel Heights indicates they were never allowed to even examine Jose GuereƱa.”

Then again, the PCSO SWAT team, which was co-created by future Surgeon General Richard Carmona, has long boasted that its members include highly trained field medics who can render life-saving medical assistance on the scene of a shootout. Carmona told KGUN that "the care is not [rendered] according to good guy or bad guy or suspect. Whoever needs the care, gets the care as quickly and safely as possible."

Jose Guerena received no care of any kind for over an hour. Those who share my cynical cast of mind might suspect that the goons who murdered Jose may have been more interested in devising a suitable cover story than in saving the victim's life.

Owing to its proximity to the border with Mexico, Tucson is considered a high-activity "corridor" for smuggling drugs and unauthorized immigrants. During the past five years, nearly 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico on account of the proxy narcotics war being waged in that country by Washington. This ever-growing body count has provoked concern about the possibility that Mexico's drug-related violence might overflow the border.

This is exactly what happened to Jose Guerena and his family.

In recent weeks, tens of thousands of Mexicans have joined peaceful protests to demand an end to the demented "war on drugs" that is tearing their country apart. The skimpy U.S. media coverage of those protests has largely focused on speeches and slogans condemning the depredations of Mexican narcotics kingpins, who are typical of the criminal scum that rises to the top whenever government-imposed prohibition is inflicted on a society. But this is just one aspect of the multi-faceted ugliness on display in Mexico.

An American Amtrak terminal, May 2011: This is how we live now.
 Since the administration of Felipe Calderon began its U.S.-abetted drug war in 2006, observes Louis Hernandez Navarro of Mexico's La Jornada, "Tens of thousands of people have been murdered. Many of them were unarmed, and had not picked a fight. They were not killed as part of the all-out war between rival drug cartels or during clashes between the military and/or the police and organised crime gangs. Their deaths were crimes committed in a country where vast areas are under a non-declared state of siege, patrolled day and night by thousands of police and military."

What Navarro describes are scenes from the southern front of the Regime's longest war -- the one waged against its own citizens in the name of drug prohibition. He is also offering a preview of what life will soon become on this side of the border, as well.

The murder of Jose Guerena by a federally subsidized death squad would fit very nicely into that bloody Mexican milieu -- and it's a harbinger of the kind of state terrorism that will become increasingly commonplace until the Regime is put out of our misery.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My earnest and heartfelt thanks to all of you who are contributing to keep this blog up and running; you are a tremendous blessing to me and my family, and I intend to offer individual thanks to each of you for your wonderful generosity. Thanks again, and God bless.

By way of reminder: Podcasts of  Pro Libertate Radio are available at the website of the Liberty News Radio Network. And sometime in the next week or so (hopefully) I'll begin contributing essays at

Dum spiro, pugno!