Tom Diaz

Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

THE MEWLING PUSSIES THAT WON’T AND CAN’T BARK–HOW “COMMON SENSE GUN SAFETY GROUPS” SURRENDER TO MORE GUN VIOLENCE IN AMERICA

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Concealed Carry, Cultural assassination, Ethics in Washington, Expendable Youth, Glock, Glock Semiautomatic pistols, Guns, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, Police, politics, Running Fire Fight, self-defense, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Starbucks, The Great Stupid, The So-called "News Media", Turf Wars, Washington Bureaucracy on June 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm
Foundation Babies 02

More Suckling Babies

Foundation babies

Foundation Babies on the Funding Nipples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Remember that?

It was the core of the wisdom that NRA vice president Wayne LaPierre emitted from his remarkably flaccid orifice at his notorious press conference following the savage slaughter of the innocents at Sandy Hook school in 2012.  “N.R.A. Envisions ‘a Good Guy With a Gun’ in Every School,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/us/nra-calls-for-armed-guards-at-schools.html?_r=0.

Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre,The NRA’s Orifice-in-Chief, Emits What Has Become “Gun Safety” Wisdom: The “Right” to Carry Guns Concealed

This is the gospel of the concealed carry licensing school. It teaches that more guns–not less–will solve America’s beyond evident gun violence problem. See, if a “bad guy” starts something evil, well, a “good guy” will just stop him. Problem solved.

Only most Americans understand that the problem of gun violence is the guns themselves. More precisely, it is the shameful failure of our moral, political and civic will to directly engage and staunch the flood of guns in America that has created our modern Noahide law of senseless violence. It tortures our soul.

In your heart, you know, I know, and the American people know that more guns really means just another foot or so of steel, more burning lead, more shocking death, more horrifying, suppurating wounds, more mutilated children cut down as toddlers, more grieving families, more hospital stench, and more funerals.  Send out as many doves as you please, they will come back without hope so long as “more guns” is the answer.

Survivors of Gunshot Wounds Suffer Pain, Indignity, and Often a Life of Daily Horrors

Survivors of Gunshot Wounds Suffer Pain, Indignity, and Often a Life of Daily Horrors

The nation was properly shocked at LaPierre’s solution. The “gun safety and/or gun violence reduction and/or common sense gun laws” movement also effected to be shocked.

A substantial amount of argumentation ensued over the fine point of whether any armed citizen — other than a law enforcement officer or armed security guard — had ever stopped a mass shooting.

Well, well. This Sunday past in Las Vegas, America finally got an unequivocal, clear-cut, wonderfully shining moment of a “a good guy with a gun”–and his predictably tragic and fatal failure. After Jerad and Amanda Miller murdered two police officers, they scuttled over to a nearby Wal-Mart –not incidentally well known as one of America’s great gun emporiums. Here, in sad brief, is what happened:

Joseph Wilcox, 31, standing in line and armed with a concealed weapon, sees them and tells a friend he is going to confront them. He moves toward Jerad Miller, not realizing Amanda Miller is with him. As he starts to confront the man, Amanda Miller shoots him in the ribs. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/06/09/police-give-details-on-timeline-shootings-las-vegas-officers-wal-mart-shopper/

This is only one of a number of tactical problems known to infest the concealed carry issue: failure to properly integrate the tactical environment under stress.  Sometimes, even among trained law enforcement officers, the same “fog of combat” results in one good guy shooting another good guy.

In any case, one would have expected — I most certainly did — that the “gun violence please go away” groups would have reacted en masse and forcefully to this incident, slamming a concrete and steel vault over the idea that concealed carry actually works. Case closed.

Instead, nothing. Not a word. Not a single mewl from the contented cattykins, nozzled snugly onto the copious teats of the two great mothers of all funding, Their Royal Tabbies Missy Joyce and Mister Mike.

Literally, the sounds of silence. Okay, maybe a little sucking noise.

I will explain precisely why this passive anemia has infected what was once a feisty movement shortly.

But let us first go to the record and  see what actually has belched forth from the “movement” (as of the time of this writing).

The feckless direct-mail fund-raising group Brady For Something or Other posted a limp paragraph, “Brady’s Reaction to the Las Vegas Shooting”:

BREAKING — Another day, another tragic mass shooting in our nation. First and foremost our thoughts are with the victims and their families who have now joined the ranks of the hundreds of thousands of families directly impacted by gun violence every year. This nation has had three mass shootings in two weeks. Each day 90 Americans are killed by bullets. Today, two of those victims were police officers who too often find themselves in the line of fire, but today were just eating lunch at a pizza restaurant. This problem persists because of the influence of the corporate gun lobby and the irresponsible politicians who do its bidding. We know solutions to the problem exist, solutions that are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. We at Brady will not rest until we make this the safer nation we all want it to be. http://www.bradycampaign.org/bradys-reaction-to-the-las-vegas-shooting.

In short, cornets, teddy bears, and pabulum. Tell us something we didn’t know, please. Tell us something forceful to actually do!

The Violence Policy Center [full disclosure: a place where I labored for many years] freshened up and re-issued a report on the NRA’s violent rhetoric:

The Consequences of the NRA’s Violent Rhetoric–One of the NRA’s greatest successes has been its ability to create a disconnect between the potential for violence fostered by its words and the actual acts of violence committed by “lone wolves” and others facilitated by the organization’s validating rhetoric. http://www.vpc.org/index.htm.

VPC Cover

2010 VPC Report, “Lessons Unlearned”

This is a retread of a report that VPC originally issued in April 2010: “Lessons Unlearned: The Gun Lobby and the Siren Song of Anti-Government Rhetoric.” [That report has been taken down from the VPC website, but see cover at right].  See also, “NRA Once Again Embracing Anti-Government Rhetoric,” PR Newswire, April 15, 2010.

Former Mayor and Still Billionaire Activist Against Super Sized Drinks Big Mike Bloomberg’s group–named either “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” or “Everytown” (which might also be an HBO original series) issued  a deeply profound “Statement on Las Vegas Shooting” by the Mayor of Everytown:

“Once again random gun violence has struck our communities in the places we eat and shop — our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three individuals who were killed today,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We are still learning all of the details of what happened in Las Vegas, but we are particularly saddened that two of the people targeted in today’s shooting were law enforcement officers, the very people who serve and protect our communities. We also know that 39 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns in states that require background checks on all handgun sales — which Nevada does not require. This event reminds us that gun violence can happen anywhere at anytime — and this is precisely why we are asking our political leaders to take action so that ‘not one more’ police officer, innocent bystander or even student on their way to class will be added to the daily toll of gun violence in America. http://everytown.org/press/everytown-for-gun-safety-statement-on-las-vegas-shootings/.

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The Fraternal Order of Police Works Hand-in-Glove With the NRA to Block Strong Gun Control Laws. Guns Don’t Kill Cops…Bad Guys Do

Playing the “law enforcement card” is part of the “message” that the Gun Safety and Other Good Things Nubbins agreed upon during their “strategy” mass conference call.  It’s like being for apple pie. The only problem is that it has never worked before and it won’t work now.  Cops [see "Police, Fraternal Order of"] generally dislike gun control, and tend to blame such shootings on what everyone who is not a cop is known as in private, to wit, “assholes.” But…oh, well.

“Moms Demand Action”remains focused on its campaign to obliviate open carry demonstrations in big chain retail stores. Target is the target du jour.

Semi-automatic assault rifles don’t belong in the baby aisle—or anywhere else in Target. Yet gun extremists around the country have made it a point to bring their rifles into Target stores. Moms don’t want to feel unsafe and intimidated when we go shopping with our children. We’re asking Target to immediately end open carry in its stores. Target needs to follow in the footsteps of Starbucks, Chipotle, Chili’s, Sonic and Jack in the Box and put customer safety first. Nearly 90% of Target customers are women; they need to know we expect them to get gun sense. http://www.momsdemandaction.org/.

God bless ‘em, nothing wrong with this grass roots awareness campaigning, so go get ‘em, moms. Only a cranky cynic would note that to present knowledge, the open carry people have not actually shot anyone.  But…oh, never mind. It’s about negative branding.

Okay, now: why the studied silence on concealed carry from the Milling Groups Against Anything But Guns?

It puzzled me until I remembered an op-ed from last year written by two men well known behind the scenes–attorney and former gun industry lobbyist Richard Feldman (http://www.independentfirearmowners.org/2013/node/3) and the man generally recognized as the brains behind Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” (now possibly named “Everytown”), Arkadi Gerney, now gun guru in residence at the Center for American Progress. http://americanprogress.org/about/staff/gerney-arkadi/bio/. The two proposed a “grand bargain” on guns, sort of like the sale of Alaska, the Louisiana Purchase, or the Brooklyn Bridge.

Here is the intriguing part:

…[S]trongly held positions suggest potential for crafting a grander bargain on guns, a new set of policies that would be premised on two complementary goals: protecting the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners and gun sellers, while giving law enforcement better tools to deter and prosecute criminal access to guns.

So, let’s address all these concerns and come up with a system that requires checks for all gun sales but exempts transfers among family members, temporary transfers and a small set of other transactions. And let’s devise a uniform set of intelligent standards, including training and clean criminal records, for a national concealed-carry system. Richard Feldman and Arkadi Gerney, “A grand bargain on guns? Here’s how: Advocates of stricter laws and gun owners could come together on some basic reforms,” Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2013, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/dec/15/opinion/la-oe-feldman-gun-control-bargain-20131215.

Wow! This is major. A nation has lifted its lonely eyes to Tabbies Joyce and Mike, and those clever cats have given up and bought into a national concealed carry law! Now, that is American Progress!

Get your gun and start packing folks, if you truly want to stop the carnage. The NRA message trumps all.

Don’t expect a contrary message.

If there is one thing all those little foundation baby kitties know, it’s to “stay on message” and “get with the program.” Purrrrrrring.  Purrrrrring.

My serious suggestion is: invest in teddy bears, candle stores, and flower stands.  They are going to be a booming business in the “common sense gun safety” world.

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WHIFFLE BALL, OR HOW BARACK OBAMA, ROBERT GIBBS, AND RAHM EMANUEL GAVE A HOME RUN ON “OPEN CARRY” TO THE NRA

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Concealed Carry, Cultural assassination, Glock, Glock Semiautomatic pistols, Guns, Ignorance of History, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, politics, Running Fire Fight, self-defense, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Semiautomatic Rifles, Starbucks, The Great Stupid, The So-called "News Media" on June 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm
The Sultan of Swat Hits a Grand Slam on Open Carry

The Sultan of Swat Hits a Grand Slam on Open Carry

 

WAYNE LAPIERRE and the National Rifle Association just got a grand slam on the “open carry” issue.

They can thank the Obama White House Genius Bar for the opportunity for the NRA to look rational, Wayne LaPierre to sound “Presidential,” and the gun industry to cleverly knock “gun safety” foundation babies and nubbins off of their stride.

open-carry-tools

Typical Open Carry Nitwits

Five years ago, Barack Obama’s White House also had the bases loaded on open carry. It was tossed a floating pitch that it could have blasted out of the park. But President Barack Obama, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and his media marvel, Robert Gibbs, were playing Whiffle Ball in the Bigs. They collectively blew it, not only politically but to the nation’s great long-term harm.

Let’s be clear: the NRA’s admonition to the nitwits of the “open carry” movement was not a victory for the groundlings of the “gun safety and stuff like that” movement. It was as clear-eyed, coldly strategic a move as anything the NRA has ever done. The gun industry’s mouthpiece simply threw a small and annoying claque under the much larger and more successful gun rights train. The open carry movement has never been important to the gun industry or the NRA, as I described in my famous book, The Last Gun, published by The New Press. (See further below for the salient paragraphs.)

Let’s go to the tapes.

Here, in relevant part, is what the NRA posted this week chastising the “open carry” movement for its recent actions (toting assault rifles around in public):

…just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. In each case, gun owners would do well to consider the effect their behavior has on others, whether fellow gun owners or not.

Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.

But when people act without thinking, or without consideration for others – especially when it comes to firearms – they set the stage for further restrictions on our rights. Firearm owners face enough challenges these days; we don’t need to be victims of friendly fire.

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St. Emanuel of Chicago: Useless Then, Pathetic Now

Okay, you’re thinking, what’s your problem? Sounds good. The NRA is reining in the gun nuts.  No, actually, it’s not. It’s simply trying to excise a tiny number of people who are getting in the way of the big money in the gun industry: selling concealable handguns and accessories, and selling semiautomatic assault rifles and accessories. There is simply no value added to the gun market by open carry. (Politically, think of open carry nitwits as Trotskyites who have been purged by the NRA’s Stalinists.)

Here is what I wrote in The Last Gun, contrasting the huge concealed carry market with the desert of open carry:

An idea of how much fresh blood concealed-carry laws have pumped into the anemic gun industry is demonstrated by Florida’s experience. Before the new law, 16,000 Floridians were reported to have concealed carry licenses. As of August 31, 2012, Florida had dispensed 1,151,537 gun licenses, of which 963,349 were run-of-the-mill concealed-carry licenses. the remainder were for various specialized occupations, such as private investigators. Add to this growth the increased sales in all of the forty-one states that as of February 2012 have shall-issue laws similar to Florida’s, and it’s clear that the NRA’s gift to the gun industry was a big one, a gift that keeps on giving profits to the industry while taking innocent lives.

 …

If this boom from the NRA’s concealed-carry push made gun retailers happy, gun manufacturers and importers were tickled pink. Designing and marketing new lines of small but powerful “pocket rockets” in high calibers for the new concealed-carry market boosted manufacturers as well. This factor explains why the industry has never thrown its weight behind the “open-carry”  movement. Just about any gun will do for open carry. A handgun can be stuck into a waistband or shoved into a holster. A long gun can be slung over the shoulder. No special gun size or design is required for carrying a gun openly, no accessories are needed, and no specialized clothing need be worn. Thus open carry offers few new, if any, profitable marketing ploys to tempt [gun industry marketer] Massad Ayoob’s “walking cluster” gun buyer. (emphasis added here)

Makes Nice Speeches About Stuff

Makes Nice Speeches About Stuff

The marginal nature of the claque of open carry nitwits was completely misunderstood by the Obama White House five years ago, caught up as it was (and is) in the paralytic nonsense of the so-called “Third Way” movement.

Here is what I wrote about this shameful performance in The Last Gun:

The degree to which the gun lobby can control the political debate was starkly illustrated in August 2009 at a White house press conference. During that month, a spate of armed protestors began showing up at presidential events. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a man with a gun strapped to his leg stood outside a town hall meeting with a sign reading, “It’s time to water the tree of liberty.” The reference was to a letter in which Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” In Phoenix, Arizona, about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with an AR-15 assault rifle, milled around among protesters outside the convention center, where the President was giving a speech. A spokesman for the Secret Service admitted that incidents of firearms being carried outside Presidential events were a “relatively new phenomenon,” but insisted that the President’s safety was not being jeopardized.

But, one might fairly have asked, what about the safety of other ordinary citizens who aren’t carrying guns and don’t want to carry guns? What about their rights, and their preferences? What about the intimidation inherent in the open display of guns at political events by people who are, to put it mildly, clearly angry? What will be the effect of this precedent on future Presidents—and other public figures? What about the possibility of people showing up with more advanced firepower—such as freely available 50 caliber antiarmor sniper rifles?

 When asked about these events, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs spoke only to the parochial interests of gun enthusiasts, saying merely that people are entitled to carry weapons outside such events if local laws allow it. “There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally,” he said. “Those laws don’t change when the President comes to your state or locality.” But as commentator E.J. Dionne incisively observed at the time, Gibbs’s technical response missed the bigger point. “Gibbs made you think of the old line about the liberal who is so open- minded he can’t even take his own side in an argument. What needs to be addressed is not the legal question but the message that the gun-toters are sending.”

 It was a “teachable moment.” But instead of using these events as an opportunity to speak out about “the message that the gun- toters are sending,” Gibbs’s meek response only validated their threatening actions, further empowering them. Americans must demand that such appeasement of the gun industry and extremist gun enthusiasts end.

 Had the Obama White House seized the moment, they would have found that most Americans, even most gun owners, are not comfortable with whack jobs walking around public places openly carrying guns. More than that, Obama could have taken the high ground and pressed the issue forward, educating the nation about the even greater danger of the gun industry’s ruthless marketing system.

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The Beatification of Saint Rahm Emanuel the Sometime Fierce Defender of the Innocent (When It Suits Him)

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Concealed Carry, Ethics in Washington, Expendable Youth, Glock, Glock Semiautomatic pistols, Guns, Ignorance of History, Mexico, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, The Great Stupid, The So-called "News Media", Washington Bureaucracy on May 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm
rahm-emanuel-is-having-a-really-bad-summer copy

In Nomine Gloria Mundi

 

Behold!

And so, it has begun, my children.

Midst thunder of drum and blast of  trumpet, the earthly corpus of Rahm Emanuel–political hit man, career politician, erstwhile firm plug athwart progress in the gun control pipeline–is being elevated while yet breathing to the Glorious Pantheon of Saints of the Gun Control Movement.

Behold!

Blessed by The Highest Priests and Priestesses of The Movement, Emanuel is raised up to Glory, swathed in Blinding Raiment of Mindless Adoration of the Fervidly Forgetful. Look away! Look away, sinner!

Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest!

O, tremble ye Foundation Babies, for, yea verily, the slightest deviation in expression of True Belief and Adoration for He Who Dwells Among the Saints will dry up the honey from the rock. There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth among the lepers of the Unfunded Great Ideas and the Deserving Grants Denied. Sing for your supper, O Babies, sing Hosanna, Hosanna!

As in the case of some select few before him–whom we could name, and yea might yet, but choose not to for the bye–the inconvenient facts of his past Blasphemous Trashing of Gun Control and Gun Control Activists shall be expunged, erased, sent down to the Eternal Fires of the Memory Hole.

Forgive him, for he has sinned most grievously.

Or not, as is your wont.

I personally choose not to. But, then, I can afford to. Now.

Rahm_Emanuel_Oval_Office_Barack_ObamaHere are the facts, as reported then by an ever-vigilant news media (not so much now, however):

This spring, President Obama promised Mexican President Felipe Calderon that he would work to deter gunrunning south of the border. Behind the scenes, White House officials were putting the brakes on a proposal to require gun dealers to report bulk sales of the high-powered semiautomatic rifles favored by drug cartels.

Justice Department officials had asked for White House approval to require thousands of gun dealers along the border to report the purchases to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF investigators expected to get leads on suspected arms traffickers.

Senior law enforcement sources said the proposal from the ATF was held up by the White House in early summer. The sources, who asked to be anonymous because they were discussing internal deliberations, said that the effort was shelved by then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a veteran of battles with the gun lobby during the Clinton administration.

The plan – which officials knew would be strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association – was perceived as too volatile just before midterm elections, the sources said.

Sari Horwitz and James V. Grimaldi, “White House delayed rule on guns to Mexico,” The Washington Post, December 18, 2010.

The Hill (8/26, Cusack, 21K) reports, “Gun-control supporters are expressing frustration with the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress for not standing up to groups like the National Rifle Association.” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who “succeeded now White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the lower chamber, told The Hill, ‘I can’t even get a hearing [on gun control issues].’” Quigley added, “I’m not blaming the Republicans. I’m blaming [Democratic] leadership and the administration.” The Hill adds the “gun-control community is among several factions on the left that are upset with the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress.”

“Gun Control Backers Frustrated With Democratic Leaders,” The Frontrunner, August 27, 2010.

In the past, national political leaders might have raised troubling questions about how such an unstable character could obtain easy access to high-powered weapons. They might have been even more motivated given that Poplawski’s cop-killing spree was part of a near epidemic of mass homicides that have left 58 people dead over the past month. Or given that Mexico’s insanely violent drug cartels are arming themselves with high-powered assault weapons purchased at U.S. gun stores and later smuggled south of the border. Yet many past champions of stricter gun-control measures are silent. These include top Obama White House officials who have squelched any talk within the administration about pushing further gun-control measures. “It’s weird,” says Peter Hamm, the communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “When you see people like [Attorney General] Eric Holder or Hillary Clinton or [White House chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel become muted on this issue, you feel like you want to call up a friend and say, ‘What’s up?’ “

But Obama and top White House aides have all but abandoned the issue. Emanuel helped orchestrate passage of the original assault-weapons ban when he worked in the Clinton White House. Now he and other White House strategists have decided they can’t afford to tangle with the National Rifle Association at a time when they’re pushing other priorities, like economic renewal and health-care reform, say congressional officials who have raised the matter.

The word didn’t get through to everyone in the administration, resulting in mixed messages–and blowback from the NRA. In February, Holder called for restoring the federal ban on assault guns to help curb the flow of weapons to the Mexican cartels…Within days, White House aides instructed Justice officials to stop talking about the assault-weapons issue, according to congressional and administration officials who asked not to be identified because of political sensitivities.

Michael Isikoff and Suzanne Smalley, “Obama Gets Gun-Shy; Despite a recent spate of killings, the president and fellow Democrats choose not to wage war on assault weapons,” Newsweek, April 20, 2009.

The Democratic Party, a slow learner but educable, has dropped the subject of gun control and welcomed candidates opposed to parts or even all of the abortion rights agenda. This vindicates the candidate recruitment by Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Chuck Schumer, chairmen of the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees, respectively.

John H. Fund, “Elbow Rahm,” The American Spectator, December 2008 – January 2009.

And so, my little puppy-eyed ones, this is how you have been betrayed in Washington. Over and over and over again.  The career politicians, you see, know how to get themselves re-elected…in order that they can…get re-elected again.

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Now that St. Rahm is mayor of Chicago, he is all about some goofy idea to video-tape gun sales. When he could have been a force, he was not. And now, he is just pathetic.

rahm1O, ye of too much faith, trust me, there is much unknown and unspoken deep beneath these waters. The unknown knowns, so to speak. And there are many in Washington, Chicago, California, New York, yea, “all over this land,” who know this truth. But they dare not call it what it is. They have mortgages, too.

I shall perhaps return of a sunny day to the political dynamics emanating with awesome wind power from Chicago that underlie the amazing grace Emanuel enjoys among the foundation babies and nubbins who effect to be advocates for gun control, or “common sense gun safety measures” as they prefer to call it.

EllenAlberdingCouncilOnFoundations

Hint: Present at the Creation

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Barack Obama’s Ukrainian Constitutional Law Class Was Always Standing Room Only

In Crimea, Ignorance of History, Obama, politics, Putin, The So-called "News Media", Transnational crime, Ukraine, War and Rumors of War on March 6, 2014 at 11:20 pm
Professor Obama's Class On Ukrainian Constitutional Law

Professor Obama’s Class On Ukrainian Constitutional Law

 

 

Cultural Change, Human Rights, and Gun Control in America

In Bushmaster assault rifle, Concealed Carry, Cultural assassination, Ethics in Washington, Expendable Youth, Glock, Glock Semiautomatic pistols, Guns, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, politics, Running Fire Fight, self-defense, Semiautomatic assault rifles, The Great Stupid, The So-called "News Media", Tired Old Republicans on December 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm
Melting Pot or Oil on Water?

The Future—Get Used to It

 

Cultural change may be solution to US gun crimes

 

http://www.shanghaidaily.com/Opinion/shanghai-daily-columnists/Cultural-change-may-be-solution-to-US-gun-crimes/shdaily.shtml

By Wang Yong | December 14, 2013, Saturday |  Print Edition

Editor’s note: The following is an exclusive interview of Shanghai Daily opinion writer Wang Yong with Tom Diaz, author of The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It.

Q: The September 16 shooting carnage at the Washington Navy Yard is the latest proof of what you call “a reign of terror” by gun activists who raise the false flag of constitutional rights. Will it push the US to better regulate guns?

A: It’s wishful thinking to suppose that any single incident – no matter how horrific – will inspire significant change in gun regulation in the US. No one in their right mind likes these incidents or accepts them as normal.  But, as in so many other areas, Americans are dramatically divided on what to do about it, and so we do nothing.

There are two strongly held and opposite points of view.

One side understands that the proliferation and types of guns available is the crux of the problem, not only of mass shootings but of daily “routine” shootings all over the country. Even “good” people with access to guns commit terrible crimes with them.

The other side is committed to the ideological and emotional view that the problem is “bad” people, not guns.

It so happens that these sides are in rough national political balance right now, which favors the pro-gun side because inertia makes change virtually impossible at the national level.

The hope is that, over a longer term, there will be real and widespread cultural change that will favor stricter gun control. In other words, we will reach a “tipping point” that will break the deadlock.

There is good evidence that this may be happening, as younger and more culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse communities within the US “grow into” political power. Guns do not have the same emotional and ideological appeal to these groups as they do to the old line white male population, whose grip on American politics is clearly fading.

Q: What are Obama’s chances and challenges if he really wants to make the US a safer place?

A: I have not seen and do not expect to see substantial change under President Obama. He certainly has made powerful speeches. He would clearly like to go in the correct direction.

That said, however, two factors work against administration-driven change.

One is the reluctance of the political “experts” in the Democratic party to take on tough gun control legislation.

The influence of this view reaches to the highest levels in Congress and the White House, and includes those who might otherwise be thought to be “progressive” or “liberal.”

It’s safer to keep one’s head down. Mere politics prevents bold action, and ultimately empowers the National Rifle Association and the gun industry it represents.

The other is the stark national political division that I referred to earlier.

The president has only so much “political capital” to spend, as the recent budget and debt limit confrontation showed.

It took an enormously disciplined and steel-nerved will to face down those who had locked down the government.

Yes, the president (and for that matter, the Democratic leaders in Congress) could in theory decide to make gun control an all-or-nothing fight.

But given everything that needs to be done just to keep the US functioning, I doubt that this fight will be engaged.

Q: Do you campaign for an outright ban on individual gun rights, or for better regulated individual gun rights?

A: The facts of gun violence dictate certain answers. If we really want to reduce gun violence of all types, we must limit access to guns. So, yes, I favor strong restrictions on access to and possession of certain types of guns: high-capacity semiautomatic pistols, semiautomatic assault weapons, and very high caliber (armor-piercing) sniper rifles.

Unfortunately, the “gun control movement” in the US has bought into the idea of pursuing much more limited goals.

This is because, to a large extent, the Democratic political establishment does not want an abrasive fight. The phrase “gun safety” has come into political favor and “gun control” has lost favor.

There is nothing “wrong” with most of the incremental change being pursued.  Better background checks, trigger locks, and other hardware changes all would have some small effect on gun death and injury. The facts, however, are quite clear.

The preponderance of the hurricane of gun violence in the United States comes from so-called “legal” guns and is committed by people who won’t be deterred by gadgets like trigger locks.

In my view, the diversion of energy to these palliatives is a serious mistake.

The proliferation of assault weapons in the US could have been cut short as late as 1994 if the Congress and then-President Bill Clinton had acted forcefully and intelligently. Instead, they compromised on a weak law that has since expired. Now we see the results at elementary schools, movie theaters and other public places.

Q: You write: “Every year, more Americans are killed by guns in the United States than people of all nationalities are killed worldwide by terrorist attacks.” As terrorist attacks are threats to human rights, would you also call gun crimes an abuse of human rights, especially in the case of racial hatred toward non-white immigrants?

 A: I have no doubt that some of our domestic gun violence is driven by fear, anger and hatred that has its roots in some of the racial and ethnic theories that have stained our history. It certainly fuels the desire to own military-style guns.

However, one must be cautious and specific in how one articulates the case for calling gun violence a case of human rights abuse. To me, the key is the extent to which the government per se is complicit in the abuse, and I see little of that in our domestic problem.

The three greatest examples of human rights abuse within the United States that I would cite all involved overt government complicity: the genocide of the Native Americans, the institution of slavery and so-called “Jim Crow” laws that followed its formal end, and explicitly racist national laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and subsequent “quota” restrictions on immigration.

So far as domestic gun violence goes, governments in the United States can be faulted for passivity politically, but I can’t think of a case in which the government has overt responsibility for or encourages the violence. There is, however, a different case to be made for the gun violence that occurs in other countries because of our government’s lax controls on the export and smuggling of guns.

The citizens of Mexico, Canada and other countries all over the world have suffered because of these weak export and law enforcement policies and practices.

There are many things that the federal government in particular could have done and can do today to effectively prevent much of this traffic, but chooses not to do for pragmatic reasons. That is complicity.

Guns from the United States not only take lives and injure innocent people, they have provided infrastructures through which criminal and other non-government organizations can confront legitimate governments and deprive ordinary people of the free exercise of their human rights.

Frankly, it amazes me that none of these affected governments has made an aggressive case in international courts or elsewhere based on the theory that the United States is directly complicit in these abuses. Every now and then someone talks about it, but no one really does anything.

Q: You call for the creation of a comprehensive reporting system regarding gun crimes. Has there been progress to that effect since the publication of your book?

]A: I favor not only a comprehensive data system about gun “crimes,” but also about gun violence of all sorts, which would include suicides and incidents of “road rage” and “domestic violence,” which many people think is somehow different from cases in which someone sets out to use a gun to commit another crime and kills or injures a victim.

Only a little progress has been made, largely at the direction of the president. The NRA and the gun industry have a vested interest in preventing such information from being gathered, much less made public.

Ignorance, for them, is power.

 

 

OVER TO YOU, AMERICA!

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Glock, Glock Semiautomatic pistols, Glock smeiautomatic pistols, Guns, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Tired Old Republicans on January 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm

obama_biden.jpg.aspx copy

Big, huge A+ for the President Obama and Vice-President Biden for their strong start out of the blocks today on a comprehensive gun control package.

Confident, tough, and smart.  Sure, you can natter about what might have been in or out, but this is laying down a super package.

President Obama nailed it: this is not going to happen unless the American people demand it.

Start demanding!  Don’t let the midgets on the Hill kill it.

THE ROAD FROM SERFDOM–THE POLITICS OF GUN CONTROL

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Corruption, Ethics in Washington, Guns, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, Police, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Tired Old Republicans, Washington Bureaucracy on January 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Schumer's Bird

The year was 1861. An enlightened French nobleman was visiting a Russian nobleman on the latter’s vast estate. The two were out for a morning ride.  The Frenchman pointed to a cluster of serfs—poorly clothed, filthy, ignorant, and doomed to a brutish life little better than that of the animals among whom they lived and bred.

“But, my dear Alexey,” the French nobleman asked the Russian nobleman. “Don’t you care for the health of your serfs?”

“Of course, I do care, my dear André,” replied the Russian noble, flicking his riding crop impetuously as if offended by the very question. “I care very much that they be healthy enough to dig potatoes, but not so healthy as to dig my grave before I am ready to die.”

The challenge of what to do about gun violence in America presents two questions of fundamentally different natures.

  • The public health and safety question: What would successfully reduce gun death and injury among Americans?
  • The political question: What, if anything, can the politicians in Washington nurse through the Congress of the United States of America?

The questions are so radically different that they compel answers as different as the comparison of Hyperion to a satyr (see, http://voices.yahoo.com/literary-analysis-classical-allusions-shakespeares-8833327.html) or of the sun to the moon.

The Public Health and Safety Question

Culex quinquefasciatus

The answer to the first question is so thoroughly answered by an impressive body of research—even though hindered by sabotage from the National Rifle Association and junk scholarship from the gun industry, for which the NRA is a mere potty-mouthpiece—that having to ask it at all ought to be embarrassing to any educated American.

This body of careful assembled scientific knowledge points unerringly to the sea of guns in which we are awash as the problem.  Not video games.  Not movies.  Not secularism.  But guns.  Guns. (See, e.g. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/; http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun-policy-and-research/; http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/ficap/. )

Guns, and particular types of guns, are the vector, the microbe, the bacillus, the virus, the disease that has infected America with an epidemic of needless, senseless, relentless death and injury.

The proliferation and easy availability of guns not only empowers the mentally ill, the mass shooter, and the criminal. They thrust guns into the hands of law-abiding but angry husbands and boyfriends, fatally curious children, self-appointed vigilantes, the despondent, the angry driver, and the bitter extremist.

The dark, rotting specter of that infection stalks our homes, our schools, our shopping malls, our places of worship, our hospitals, our workplaces, our highways, our restaurants, our courts, our parks, our police stations, even the White House, our Capitol, and our military bases.  Its putrid breath wafts over every one of us every single day.

No other advanced—I dare say it, civilized—nation in the world tolerates this madness.

The Political Question

devil tray 02The Moloch’s slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School (see, http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/dec/15/our-moloch/) put starkly to the newly and powerfully reelected President of the United States the greatest domestic political question any President has faced since Abraham Lincoln decided what to do about the secessionist threat.

I do not make that comparison lightly. Insurrectionists today dance to theology from the NRA, around the totem of military-style guns from the gun industry.

Barack Obama handed over this profound political question—inspired by the unimaginably torn flesh and blood of Innocence itself—to Joe Biden, a crown prince among America’s putatively progressive political “gun control nobility.”

Vice-President Biden is today “all about” how he personally wrote and passed the monstrously ineffective 1994 assault weapons ban, as part of the epically bloated and pork-laden Clinton Crime Bill.  (See, e.g., Peter Baker, “Biden Is Back for a 2nd Run at Gun Limits,” The New York Times, December 29, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/us/politics/newtown-task-force-returns-biden-to-gun-control-arena.html?_r=2&.)

Why anyone would actually want to claim authorship of that abortive piece of legislation—Dr. Frankenstein could have assembled a more effective assault weapons ban using random scraps from the burial notices of those from whom he assembled his monster—passes understanding. Perhaps Dr. Biden doesn’t really understand his law’s fatal flaws, or perhaps he is counting on the fact that not one out of ten thousand Americans does either. In either case, what Joe Biden does not so freely share is the fact that in the darkest days of the final conference negotiations over that 1994 Crime Bill, when President Clinton’s senior staff member George Stephanopoulos was skulking around the conference meetings on Capitol Hill, urging conferees to dump the assault weapons provision to “save” the Crime Bill that Clinton desperately needed as an example of something—anything—the President could get done, Sen. Biden was encouraging his fellow conferees to do just that. What kept the assault weapons ban in the crime bill was the unflinching resolve of the late Senator Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, whose position was resolute: no assault weapons ban, no crime bill. (Sen. Dianne Feinstein was equally resolute, but she was not a conferee.)

This gun control nobility are the career politicians—and their respective trains of career advisers, well-paid consultants and pollsters, and assorted opportunistic camp followers—who have similarly gamed the question of what to do, and mostly what not to do, about guns and gun control to their political benefit over the last several decades.

Yes, gamed. Gambled.  Played at.

a-combination-of-12-handout-pictures-shows-12-of-20-young-schoolchildren-killed-at-sandy-hook-elementary-school-in-newtown-conn-on-friday-dec-14-2012All of them trade on their putative (but usually shockingly thin) knowledge of guns and of the real drivers of the gun violence problem, and on their professed paternal concern for you and me. They appear in an endless procession of Sunday morning shows and at controlled media events.

But, as the continuing and growing torrent of gun violence in America conclusively demonstrates, what has been good for this gun control nobility has not been equally good for America.  Like the nobility of imperial Russia, the gun control nobility have lurched through a series of clever retreats and cynical concessions, all designed to ensure that they stay in political office to do…what?

This political tactic of always skulking around the edges of the gun control battlefield but never stepping up to the fight has actually been reduced to doctrine and received wisdom in Washington by the likes of such appeasement-oriented organizations as Third Way, founded and run by a gaggle of career political functionaries, liverymen of the career political nobility.

“Not too liberal…not too conservative…but right in the middle.” That’s the third way.  Okay, so maybe staying in the middle third means that some more kids will have to die, but we’ll still be in office to do…what?

The barons of gun control have stayed in office.  But they have failed to protect Americans and, in a profound and real way, America itself.

Put aside the mass shootings and the daily dead. Their hand-wringing, self-serving equivocation, fainthearted piety, and backward-stepping has enabled the growth and arming of a significant insurrectionist paramilitary faction in America.  The country is in vastly more danger of armed political violence than it would have been had they screwed up the will and the courage to act decisively years ago.

Thus, the Prospects of a Sell-Out Look…Good

political-handshake-lgGiven the tender hands within which the fate of the country now rests, there is faint cause for hope.

There are really only two forces that count on this issue in political Washington. One is the power of the office of the President of the United States.  We have seen what Barack Obama chose to do with that, although it must be said that he still makes a fine speech.

The other is the National Rifle Association.

There is no in-between moderating force.

Either the President goes to war with the NRA and mobilizes the nation for a long fight comparable to that of, say, the civil rights struggle, or the NRA wins.

The so-called gun control movement—or “gun safety”, or “gun violence prevention,” or whatever the evasive semantic fashion of the day happens to be—is not a force to be reckoned with.

It is a prop.

These nubbins of candle light vigils and teddy bear mounds have no boots on the ground. None. None of them can reliably deliver that vital spark of local influence that drives the votes of the hard-eyed men and women who run Washington.  Many decision makers in Washington secretly believe that the “groups” are basically useless.  I would murmur that not all are useless.  The Violence Policy Center—where, yes, I worked for 15 years—has contributed a virtual online encyclopedia of knowledge about the gun industry and its depredations.  (See, http://www.vpc.org/.)

The rest of these nubbins can fend for themselves in the court of public opinion.

Thus, reality.  Unless and until a real grass roots gun control movement is created in the form of one that can deliver the same thing that the NRA delivers day in and day out—not campaign money, but local clout to be heard by politicians—all the calculations of the third or fourth or fifth way, and all the marches of a million this and a million that (truly, more like a few thousand this and a few thousand that) do not amount to a heap of toasted nubbins on the scale of hard, cold power.

Unless, of course, the President stands up and takes off the gloves for a real fight.

Obama weeping

For an easy guide to 10 ways to tell the American people have been sold out..again…on gun control, see the companion post here http://tomdiazgunsandgangs.com/2013/01/14/ten-ways-to-spot-a-sell-out-on-gun-control/.

TEN WAYS TO SPOT A SELL-OUT ON GUN CONTROL

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Ethics in Washington, Guns, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Washington Bureaucracy on January 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Biden and Obama copy

The Ten Ways

Vice-President Joe Biden will within days flash his beautiful teeth (only his orthodontist knows for sure what his barber already knows) and deliver the conclusions of the ponderous machinery of his task force (or whatever it’s officially called).

One would like nothing so much as a powerful legislative drone strike against the NRA and the industry it represents as the opening round in a long and relentless war against gun violence.  But the NRA is not crouched in the dust behind a hill in Yemen. What we are most likely to see is a frizzante of accommodation, an artfully-contrived punch, served up as the gun control nobility whirl about in the kind of grande valse brillante that passes for action today in Washington, DC.

Here are ten signs—among many that one could state—to watch, in order to know at the end of the day whether you have been sold out once again by the political nobility of gun control.

 

  1. Failure to stop production, import, and transfer of ownership of semiautomatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines.  If either of these bans is out, the fix is in.  A high-capacity magazine ban would be a useful advance, but if the guns themselves are not addressed, a thriving trade in contraband magazines is guaranteed to ensue.  By the way, there is nothing magic about the number ten.  A reasonable case can be made to define a high-capacity magazine as any magazine holding more than, say, five, rounds of ammunition.  The current chatter about 10 rounds is political.
  2. “Grandfathering” existing assault weapons and/or high-capacity magazines.  Any law that “grandfathers” (exempts) existing guns and high-capacity ammunition magazines is meaningless as a practical matter.  This was one of the great defects of the 1994 law.  Millions of military-style weapons would remain in legal circulation. Production and imports would ramp up feverishly to build up legal stocks before the deadline.Should the banned guns be confiscated?  No.  That is not a realistic or, given the tense facts on the ground in America, wise course. But further transfers of banned guns can be halted, meaning, if you own one, you cannot sell it, give it away, or leave it to your heirs.  The guns could be brought under the highly restrictive regime of the National Firearms Act, which requires registration and an extensive background check.
  3. Allowing “exceptions” or “waivers.”  The gun industry loves waivers and exceptions.  For example, an assault weapons ban could allow the Attorney General or some other executive authority to “waive” the prohibition on a firearm classified as an assault weapon, for one or another reason.  Were that to be in the law, the industry would build its guns toward the waiver and its lobbyists would work the halls of the bureaucracy to open a fatal gap in the ban.
  4. Exceptions for “small” calibers.  It will be tempting to make an exception for assault weapons and magazines in small calibers, e.g. 22 caliber, that are associated in the popular mind with sporting use and thought to be relatively benign.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Multiple rounds from an assault weapon in any caliber are extraordinarily lethal.
  5. Contingency and/or sunset clauses.  Contingency clauses, suspending the law’s effectiveness “unless and until” X event or Y data occur, simply open up running room for equivocation, challenge, and litigation.  The “sunset” (automatic expiration) of the last ban was a foolish concession allowing the gun industry to bide its time and wage an assault in what was essentially a entirely new legislative fight—with a President who sat on his hands.
  6. Cosmetic features test.  It is well understood that the 1994 law was a failure in large part because its definition of what constituted an assault weapon was a fanciful agglomeration of “bells and whistles,” most of which had absolutely nothing to do with what makes assault weapons so dangerous.  An effective law will focus on one prime feature—the ability to accept a high-capacity magazine.
  7. Private sales to law enforcement personnel.  Allowing individual law enforcement officers to make private purchases of banned guns is a bad idea.  If an agency decides such guns are necessary, it should purchase and issue them.
  8. “Relics” and “museum” exceptions.  Some existing gun laws are written so as not to cover guns made before a given date or period of time.  The flaw is obvious: as time passes, more and more truly modern and exceptionally lethal guns become treated as relics, which they are not in any real sense.  Moreover, similar provisions allowing trafficking in guns designated by jerry-rigged “museums” as “curios” simply opens the door to fraudulent certifications of phony curios by fake museums.
  9. Expanded background checks without funding for implementation, and better definitions of what is disqualifying (especially mental health status).  The question of mental health will be explosive, as some mental health advocates will argue that it is not “fair” to restrict the “civil rights” of persons with mental health problems.  But a better definition and working practice is essential
  10. Failure to greatly strengthen the legal definition of gun trafficking, the definition of what constitutes “dealing” in firearms, and to expand funding of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The NRA and the gun industry have deliberately starved the ATF and weakened its authority.  It is time to insist that it be given the funds and power to deal with its mission.

For an analysis of the deeper questions and politics of gun control, see the companion post here http://tomdiazgunsandgangs.com/2013/01/14/the-road-from-serfdom-the-politics-of-gun-control/.

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MAJOR NIDAL MALIK HASAN’S RAMPAGE SPELLS “CAREER-ENDER” AS SEARCH FOR FALL GUYS TO PIN TAIL ON GRINDS ON

In bad manners, Ethics in Washington, Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Obama, politics, Terrorism, Terrorism and counter-terrorism on November 11, 2009 at 4:15 pm
richardson

Admiral James O. Richardson Testifies Before Congress On His Career-Ending Opposition to Forward Basing of U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor

As Congress, civilian leaders, and the public demand more accountability from service members and our military leaders, the Washington politics can involve cannibalistic witch-hunting at the highest levels. The pressure to be perfect, the one-mistake service, can take its toll on all members of the armed forces; from the airman and seaman to the service chief himself.

John J. Sproul, Major, USAF, Research Report, Air Command and Staff College, Air University, CSAF V. CNO: Core Values and  Their Career Ending Impact (April 1998).

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Admiral Richardson in Better Days

The summary of the career of Admiral James O. Richardson at the Naval Historical Center’s photo page is crisp and about as scrubbed of controversy as one can get:  “Beginning in January 1940, he was Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, holding that position during a stressful period marked by the fleet’s forward deployment to Pearl Harbor. Relieved by Admiral Husband E. Kimmel in February 1941, he served at the Navy Department into 1942.”

What it leaves out is one salient detail of that “stressful period” and its impact on Admiral Richardson’s career.  In October 1940 Richardson told President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that continued deployment of the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor was a bad idea for a number of reasons.  This military advice did not go down well with the Commander-in-Chief, who had his own plan and his own impression of himself as a naval strategist.  With months, Admiral Richardson was replaced by Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, on whose watch the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Day of Infamy,  occurred on December 7, 1941.

Adm. Kimmel is said also to have not been enthusiastic about the fleet’s basing, but having got the message, he saluted and sailed on.

The rest is history.

One is sure that the matter was infinitely more complicated than that tiny summary.  But what is not complicated is that — as is the case in all publicly known government disasters — the final stage of every project is the hunt for someone to blame.  This involves a lot of perfect hindsight mixed with the bowel-chilling perception of participants (think the 3:00 a.m. phone call) that this could be their own personal career-ender.

Thus, one is sure that some very angry arguments have been going on — at the “highest levels” — of Washington’s military and civilian establishment.  Cynics would say that the risk of summary beheading is usually in inverse proportion to one’s rank.  Agents and investigators are expendable.  Generals and directors are not.

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What Kind of Innocent Contact Could a U.S. Army Officer Have With This Man, Anwar al Awlaki, Who Is LInked to Numerous Home Grown Terror Plots?

In that context, the following post from Strategypage.com about the case of Ft. Hood’s apparent-jihadist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, seems to combine just the right film-noir-like mix of real-world experience and knowing resignation.  The full text is about the use of statistical techniques for predicting terrorism, but the excerpt here deals (speculatively, to be sure) with the problems inherent in Major Hasan’s case for everyone involved:

Ignoring The Threat Does Not Make It Go Away

November 11, 2009: Even before September 11, 2001, counter-terrorism experts sought to use statistical techniques to predict where the next big terror attack would occur….

In the United States, these techniques still suffer from a shortage of data (terrorists.) With enough data, you can test your model by successfully predicting the past, and then turn it on the future. But with insufficient data, you have to rely on human judgment. This is subject to other factors, like the political atmosphere. An example of this was the recent terror attack in Fort Hood, Texas. There, a Moslem army officer, shouting “God Is Great”, murdered 13 soldiers and civilians, and wounded over thirty others. The major had previously been detected by the counter-terror intelligence system (both via emails to known terrorists and his public calls for attacks on non-Moslems.) When the FBI (which handles counter-terror intelligence inside the U.S.) urged the army to do something, the army declined. The FBI did not press the matter. One can imagine army commanders, confronting what the FBI described as a “potential” terrorist, realizing that in the current political climate, disciplining (or discharging) a Moslem army officer would endanger the careers of the generals involved in such a decision. So nothing was done, until the terrorist made his move.

It should be noted that at this writing the Department of Defense denies that anyone in the military establishment above the grade of an investigator detailed to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (sound effect here: chop, chop) was ever informed of the information that had been developed about Hasan.

The buck is thus in furious circulation now.

The Los Angeles Times has an excellent piece today (Thursday, November 12, 2009)(“Fort Hood suspect’s contact with cleric spelled trouble, experts say,” by Sebastian Rotella and Josh Meyer).  Here are relevant excerpts:

The radical cleric contacted by accused Ft. Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan has such unmistakable connections to past terrorist plots that his e-mail exchanges with the American should have triggered an all-out investigation, a number of officials and experts now believe

….

Awlaki has left a well-documented trail of influence in a string of recent terrorism cases in North America and Europe.

“It seems that the American investigators had difficulties detecting signs of worrisome conduct,” Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a veteran French anti-terrorism judge, said in a telephone interview. “It may also be that, because of the respect for religion, and the excesses by the U.S. services in recent years, that today there’s a tendency to be too prudent — perhaps less vigilant.”

Bruguiere is a giant in counter-terrorism, having been instrumental in the cases — among many others — of Carlos the Jackal and the Libyan mid-air bombing of UTA Flight 772 over the Sahara Desert in 1989 with the loss of 170 lives.

Stratfor.com has a thoughtful and informed analysis here. This is a relevant excerpt, but the whole piece covers many more angles:

So far, the Hasan shooting investigation is being run by the Army CID, and the FBI has been noticeably — and uncharacteristically — absent from the scene. As the premier law enforcement agency in the United States, the FBI will often assume authority over investigations where there is even a hint of terrorism. Since 9/11, the number of FBI/JTTF offices across the country has been dramatically increased, and the JTTFs are specifically charged with investigating cases that may involve terrorism. Therefore, we find the FBI’s absence in this case to be quite out of the ordinary.

However, with Hasan being a member of the armed forces, the victims being soldiers or army civilian employees and the incident occurring at Fort Hood, the case would seem to fall squarely under the mantle of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). From a prosecutorial perspective, a homicide trial under the UCMJ should be very tidy and could be quickly concluded. It will not involve all the potential loose ends that could pop up in a federal terrorism trial, especially when those loose ends involve what the FBI and CIA knew about Hasan, when they learned it and who they told. Also, politically, there are some who would like to see the Hasan case remain a criminal matter rather than a case of terrorism. Following the shooting death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah and considering the delicate relationship between Muslim advocacy groups and the U.S. government, some people would rather see Hasan portrayed as a mentally disturbed criminal than as an ideologically driven lone wolf.

Despite the CID taking the lead in prosecuting the case, the classified national security investigation by the CIA and FBI into Hasan and his possible connections to jihadist elements is undoubtedly continuing. Senior members of the government will certainly demand to know if Hasan had any confederates, if he was part of a bigger plot and if there are more attacks to come. Several congressmen and senators are also calling for hearings into the case, and if such hearings occur, they will certainly produce an abundance of interesting information pertaining to Hasan and the national security investigation of his activities.

Round and round it goes.  Where it will stop, nobody knows.

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Likely U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles Wins Wide Support

In Obama, politics on November 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm
AndreBirotte

LAPD Inspector general Andre Birotte Jr. Has Broad Support to be Next U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles

André Birotte, Jr.

LAPD Inspector General

Mr. Birotte joined the Office of the Inspector General in 2001. In 2003, he was appointed Inspector General of the Los Angeles Police Department by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. Mr. Birotte and his staff of approximately 32 employees, which include lawyers, professional auditors and former law enforcement executives, are responsible for conducting and overseeing LAPD internal investigations and audits to ensure compliance with both LAPD policies and mandates from the Federal Consent Decree. Mr. Birotte holds an undergraduate degree from Tufts University and a J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law. Following law school, Mr. Birotte worked as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles where he represented indigent clients charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses in several phases of criminal proceedings including preliminary hearings, pretrial conferences, arraignments and over 30 trials. He then joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he investigated and prosecuted numerous violent crime, fraud and narcotics trafficking cases. Thereafter, he joined the Quinn Emanuel law firm, where he represented clients in white-collar crime and commercial litigation matters.

LAPD Inspector General’s Internet Website

Los Angeles is buzzing this week, awaiting a new police chief.  But another nomination, perhaps  just as important, is in the wind.

Last week the Los Angeles Times floated a trial balloon for the likely nomination of Andre Birotte, Jr., the Los Angeles Police Department’s Inspector General, to become the next United States Attorney for the Central District of California (Los Angeles and much of Southern California).

LAPD’s inspector general likely choice for U.S. attorney in L.A.  Andre Birotte Jr. emerges after months of speculation as the presumptive nominee to be appointed to the vacant post by Obama.

The news of Birotte’s pending appointment prompted praise from diverse quarters.  Smart, moderate, and soft spoken, Birotte has successfully navigated the shark-filled waters of L.A. politics and come out strong with his integrity intact.

Social justice maven Celeste Fremon headlined her WitnessLA social justic blog:  “Andre Birotte Jr. 4 US Attorney? Please, Let it Be So!”

Here are her thoughts on Birotte:

I’ve got my fingers firmly crossed that Andre is indeed the nominee.  Honestly, I can’t think of a better choice for LA’s U.S. Attorney. He’s respected by a broad spectrum of people in and around law enforcement.

Plus, with basically no real power in his position as  inspector general for the Los Angeles Police Department, he has still managed to have a real influence in helping the LAPD transform itself into a department that the city can once again be proud of.

The LAPD command staff holds him in high regard.  At the same time,  Andre made a point of reaching out liberal-leaning law enforcement watchers like me—not to garner press attention or advance any agenda—but simply to talk about issues.

Andre is one of those rare people with a truly nuanced intelligence who seeks to understand any problem before him at a deeper and more complex level than what the surface presents.

And, hey, the guy also has a good sense of humor—mandatory in this business, in my humble opinion.

Let’s hope he’s our new U.S.  Attorney.

Bruce Riordan, one of Birotte’s former colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s office and now Chief, Gang Division, Los Angeles City Attorney, likewise knows Birotte well and offered this assessment:

I have known and worked with Andre for more than a decade.  First as an Assistant United States Attorney,  then as a Deputy Inspector General, and finally as the Inspector General for the LAPD.  In every capacity in which he has worked he has served with real distinction.  He has an innate sense of fairness, a strong moral compass and he is also decisive.  If he is indeed nominated and confirmed for the position of United States Attorney, then it is my firm opinion that the District will see not only a very good man, but also a very good leader.  The District will be in good hands.

If Birotte lands the job, he’ll have his hands full from the first minute.  In addition to pending cases handed off from former U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien, he’ll have to lead the way in one of the nation’s most prestigious — and hottest — law enforcement environs.

With the generally positive reviews of all the finalists for chief, and that spectrum of opinion supporting Birotte’s likely nomination, things should be looking up for the City of Angels on the law enforcement front.

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