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Archive for April, 2015

Why South Carolina Cop Got Caught Killing Unarmed Walter Scott

Michael Slager

By Scott Lemieux
The Week

He probably would have gotten away with it.

That’s the sobering reality of the video of South Carolina police officer Michael Slager shooting Walter L. Scott as he ran away, not posing the slightest threat to the officer. The utter indifference to human life evident in the video, shot by Feidin Santana, is horrifying. As Scott’s father put it, “The way he was shooting that gun, it looked like he was trying to kill a deer.” After Scott was felled by at least one of eight shots, Slager occupied himself with handcuffing Scott and possibly trying to plant evidence rather than making any immediateattempt to save his life. The phrase “cold-blooded killing” could have been invented for this shooting.

After the video surfaced, the relevant local authorities, to their credit, actedpromptly and justly. Slager was fired by the police department and charged with Scott’s murder by the district attorney. The killing was denounced by South Carolina’s Republican governor and its two Republican senators. In this case, clear video evidence pierced the thin blue line.

And yet, if it wasn’t for the pure chance of Slager’s actions being videotaped, he probably would have gotten off scot-free. Without videotaped evidence, stories of officers fearing for their lives before using deadly force can be difficult to dispute, and local police departments have little incentive to conduct extensive, critical investigations of the self-justifications of officers who kill. Even worse, they do have incentives to cover up even the most serious police misconduct.

“Americans are bombarded with evidence that police officers who use excessive or fatal force will go to great lengths to protect themselves and make sure they face no legal repercussions,” says Heather Ann Thompson, a professor of history at Temple University who specializes in issues of criminal justice. “From the state police’s bloody retaking of Attica in 1971, to the recent police officer killing of a citizen in South Carolina, cover-up is the first line of defense.”

This tendency to cover up represents a very serious systematic problem. A great deal of the criminal justice system depends on the honesty of law enforcement officials. Many criminal prosecutions depend on police testimony, and we often must rely on the investigations of local police when potential cases of misconduct arise. Pervasive dishonesty both lets individual bad actors escape punishment and undermines essential law enforcement activities.

FBI Arrests Louisville Man Accused of Threatening to Blow Up Building

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Louisville man is accused of threatening to blow up an unidentified building and has been arrested, the FBI announced.

Agents arrested Robert Paul Cardwell, 30, while working with the FBI’s Detroit Division.

The FBI released the following statement:

SAC Howard S. Marshall announced today the arrest of Robert Paul Cardwell on Tuesday April 7, 2015 by FBI Agents in Louisville, KY without incident. The arrest was made in coordination with the Detroit Division of the FBI. Cardwell is charged with 18 U.S.C. 844(e), Threatening to Maliciously Destroy Building by Explosive Device.

Investigators declined to release more information or discuss the nature of the alleged bomb threat.

FBI Informant Code-Named Mellow Was Anything But As he Helped Bust 24 Suspects

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Don’t let his code name with the FBI fool you.

Informant “Mellow,” as he’s code-named by the bureau, is anything but mellow.

MassLive.com reports that David Rodriguez, a former Latin Kings ember, helped target 24 suspected drug and gun dealers for the FBI in the less than a year in Massachusetts.

Rodriguez began working for the bureau after his third arrest for possessing crack cocaine in 2012.

He was paid $40,000 for his work, and his criminal case was dropped.

Rodriguez is the prosecutors’ star witness in a case against Luzander Montoya, who is accused of distributing heroin.

Guilty! Jury Will Now Consider the Death Penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston Marathon Bombing

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As expected, a federal court jury has found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty in the Boston Marathon bombing, the Washington Post reports.

The same jury will now decide whether he spends the remainder of his life in prison or is executed under a federal death penalty statute.

Tsarnaev stood with his head bowed and his hands clasped as the verdicts were read, the Post reported.

 

Is Your Website at Risk of ISIS attack? FBI Warns About Vulnerabilities

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is warning that hackers claiming to be ISIS sympathizers are attacking websites with security vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins.

PC World reports that some of the plugins were providing an easy back door for some hackers to gain access and inject scripts or install malware.

The hackers targeted news organizations, religious institutions, government websites and businesses, PC World wrote. 

“Although the defacements demonstrate low-level hacking sophistication, they are disruptive and often costly in terms of lost business revenue and expenditures on technical services to repair infected computer systems,” the advisory said.

The hacking is particularly concerning because the perpetrators are voicing support for ISIS “to gain more notoriety than the underlying attack would have otherwise garnered,” the FBI said.

 

Judge Declines to Lift Hold on President Obama’s Immigration Plans

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation received another setback Tuesday after a judge refused to lift a temporary hold on the executive action.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville declined the administration’s request to lift the preliminary injunction issued on Feb. 16.

Without the injunction lifted, the administration is barred from implementing its new immigration policies.

The Justice Department also has appealed the court’s original hold on the actions, and arguments could begin as early as April 17.

Despite Recent Mishaps, Secret Service Teaches Obama Daughter to Drive

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service had a recent mishap behind the wheel at the White House, but that hasn’t stopped the agency from teaching President Obama’s oldest daughter how to drive, The New York Daily News reports. 

“The Secret Service (taught her) actually, because they wouldn’t let me in the car with her,” the First Lady told television host Rachel Ray in an interview airing Thursday.

To get a true sense of the road, 16-year-old Malia has driven outside White House grounds, but never without security.

The president said the driving lessons give Malia “a sense of normalcy.”

“My kids have got to learn how to live in the world like normal kids,” Obama said.

Buffalo News: FBI, Congress Must Improve Anti-Terrorism Performance

The Buffalo News
Editorial Board

The good news – and it is good news – is that the FBI has made great strides in transforming itself since the 2001 terror attacks. In a new report by the FBI 9/11 Review Commission, the agency is credited with significantly improving the number of analysts qualified for their jobs and better foreign language ability.

Yet some of the finding are also puzzling, so many years after the attacks. While the bureau was credited with having improved its foreign language ability, it also notes the continuing need for more linguists.

That imperative was made public within weeks of the Sept. 11 attacks. How hard can it be, especially when the need is so obviously critical? Schools have churned out 14 years of graduates over that time; surely enough to have produced sufficient numbers of trained linguists – assuming the pay is commensurate with demand. Specifically, the report notes that while the bureau has enough linguists in its large offices, they are in “short supply” in other parts of the country.

And therein lies a problem. Congress has also played a destructive role in – bluntly – keeping the country less safe than it should be. Budget cuts, such as those included in the mindless sequestration policy that took hold two years ago, have “severely hindered the FBI’s intelligence and national security programs,” the report concluded. Among the report’s three principal authors is Edwin Meese III, who was attorney general in the Reagan administration and can hardly be dismissed as a reckless government spender.

The report also notes that the FBI needs to improve its abilities at analysis and to develop a deep roster of informants.

These are areas where the FBI needs to improve, and Congress must play a role, along with the bureau’s leaders. Still, on balance, the report was positive and as one observer noted, periodic evaluations such as this will help keep it on track.

To read more click here.