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When Irony Becomes Farce:

I'm a big fan of The Innocence Project, which assists individuals unjustly convicted of crimes. But I did a massive double-take when I saw that Janet Reno is on its board of directors. Janet Reno! She bears as much responsibilty as anyone for the child abuse witch hunt trials of the late 80s that claimed many innocent victims, including several prosecuted by her office, via the "Miami method" she pioneered. To my knowledge, Reno has never apologized for what we might euphemistically call the "excesses" of her prosecutorial tactics. But let's let two of her victims speak for themselves, via Frontline:

INTERVIEWER: At the moment of your liberation, had you been able to come face to face with Janet Reno and her prosecutors, what would you have said to them?

GRANT SNOWDEN: I don't have anything to say to them. I want to know what they have to say to me. I want to know what they have to say to me for taking my entire life away from me, 12 years in prison. I lost my children's childhood. I lost my wife, my home, everything that I ever owned. What do they have to say to me? They know they did wrong. They know they maliciously prosecuted me, and they sent me away for something I didn't do. And I'm- I'm not happy about it at all.

INTERVIEWER: If Janet Reno were to come into this room right now, what would you have to say to her? What would you ask her?

BOBBY FIJNJE: "Why?" That would be my one question. "Why? Why did you spend so much money trying to convict a 14-year-old kid? Why- why- why even try to place a kid that's 14 in a maximum-security prison? Why would you even think of doing something like that if you're a crusader for children?"

Oren:
Wouldn't an overly aggressive prosecutor be a wonderful asset to an organization seeking to overturn wrongful convictions?
4.16.2008 5:57pm
darelf:
Maybe it's a lingering sense of guilt...
4.16.2008 6:00pm
Houston Lawyer:
It was these prosecutions on which she made her name. But for these prosecutions, she wouldn't have been attorney general. We would have been better off with the scoff-laws that were nominated before her.
4.16.2008 6:06pm
EH (mail):
Ah, for the halcyon days of the Reno DoJ. I'll not expect her apology until some time after we hear one from Gonzales.
4.16.2008 6:10pm
dearieme:
Waco
4.16.2008 6:14pm
ejo:
waco-can't make an omelet without cracking a few eggs, don't you know. it was for the children.
4.16.2008 6:16pm
Bender (mail):
It's also worth remembering that, according to stories floated in the MSM at the time, Hillary Clinton lobbied hard for Reno's appointment based solely on the reputation that Reno had developed framing innocents for non-existent child abuse.
4.16.2008 6:17pm
Suzy (mail):
I guess I don't fully understand what Reno is being accused of that is relevant here. She instituted a new unit for prosecuting sexual battery cases, with different procedures that were supposed to take into account the fact that child victims of such crimes were receiving poor treatment under the system at that time. However, I can't imagine that this is the offense in question, since it wasn't a very good idea to have a number of untrained persons taking separate interviews of small children in these cases.

I assume it has more to do with her bringing in psychologists whose questionable interviewing techniques led to the overturned convictions of people like Snowden. However, to what extent was Reno aware of flaws with the psychologists' particular methods, and to what extent is she responsible for those flaws? Otherwise, from the information that was available to prosecutors at the time, it probably seemed that medical evidence and witness testimony supported continuing the prosecution of this case. Some relevant facts (e.g. regarding the reliability of the gonorrhea tests) came to light only later, as far as I know.

In line with Oren's comment, her experience in these very situations might lead her to be a very useful advocate and advisor for this particular group today.
4.16.2008 6:19pm
Matthew A:
Maybe she is trying to atone. If so, it would mean that she is not the Janet Javert I thought she was. I love being wrong in that way, so here's hoping!
4.16.2008 6:20pm
Uthaw:
Evil Women of History, from Jezebel to Janet Reno!
4.16.2008 6:21pm
Uthaw:
Incidentally, is there a "Guilt Project" that attempts to obtain proper punishment for criminals who escaped conviction on some lame technicality?

=)
4.16.2008 6:24pm
Gaius Marius:
Let us not forget how Janet Reno was responsible for the execution (yes, execution) of the Branch Davidians at Waco.
4.16.2008 6:27pm
Oren:
Uthaw, the cost of a false acquittal is vastly smaller than that a false conviction.
4.16.2008 6:27pm
autolykos:

Wouldn't an overly aggressive prosecutor be a wonderful asset to an organization seeking to overturn wrongful convictions?


Maybe. What's Mike Nifong doing these days?
4.16.2008 6:27pm
Oren:
Gaius, you should really look up words you are unfamiliar with instead of just assuming they mean what you think they mean.
4.16.2008 6:28pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Not only Waco, but remember this picture from her raid on Little Elian's house?
4.16.2008 6:31pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
her experience in these very situations might lead her to be a very useful advocate and advisor for this particular group today.

"Hi, I'm Janet Reno and I would be a good addition to the board because I've put many innocent people behind bars"?!?
4.16.2008 6:35pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Shamefully, the co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, Peter Neufeld defended disgraced prosecutor Michael Nifong's rogue prosecution of the Duke Lacrosse players, claiming that "the absence of evidence [of guilt] is not the same as evidence of absence."

The Innocence Project is no doubt a valuable resource for wrongly-convicted people who fit its stereotype of people oppressed by the criminal justice system (black people, poor people, etc.).

But my guess is that it will often turn a deaf ear to cases in which prosecutors railroad supposedly "privileged" people like the Duke Lacrosse players. That assumption is based on Peter Neufeld's disgraceful remarks, the Project's failure to speak out against Nifong's wrongdoing, the presence of Janet Reno on its board, and the fact that a North Carolina state judge tied to it defended Nifong as he was being subject to disbarment proceedings.
4.16.2008 6:41pm
lurker-999 (mail):
Are any of the Branch Davidian survivors still in jail? Maybe she could work on getting them exonerated. / sarcasm off.

What an evil B**ch she was!!
4.16.2008 6:42pm
George Weiss (mail) (www):
absolute discretion plus absolute immunity corrupts absolutely
4.16.2008 6:45pm
jccamp:
I have to say that the day Janet was announced for AG was a scene of much happiness and joy around our office, since we wouldn't have to deal with her any longer in Miami. IMO, she was the worst Dade County prosecutor in living memory. She was responsible for the legal theory "Better 100 guilty men go uncharged than the State Attorney's Office lose one trial." and the corollary "Unless there's a lot of publicity, in which case we'll charge anybody unpopular with anything that sounds good, damn the evidence."
As for the Innocence Project, they say that in a significant numbers of cases, they have not only exonerated a wrongfully convicted person, they have actually identified the correct offender. Much as I'd like, I can't argue with that. I don't think every case they champion is as open-and-shut as some of the physical evidence (DNA) cases they correct. But I guess no one's perfect.
4.16.2008 6:46pm
NotStarbucks:
the cost of a false acquittal is vastly smaller than that a false conviction.

It certainly depends on the crime. False acquittal of a serial killer who goes on to kill again is pretty costly; false conviction of a jaywalker is pretty cheap.
4.16.2008 6:51pm
b.:
any openings for Gonzales?
4.16.2008 6:57pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Some people have mentioned her role with Waco and Elian Gonzalez. I never really understood the objection to how the government acted in these incidents.

With Waco, I pretty much have a standing rule that I have no sympathy for people who fight back when the cops show up at their door. The place to protect your rights is in the court room, not behind the barrel of a gun. This isn't even a situation where you can say that the people in the Branch Davidian compound were confused and thought that someone was breaking into their home. They had plenty of time to surrender peacefully and if they did so, they would all be alive today. Instead they started a fire fight with police officers. In the end, the government will always have bigger guns than you and if you try shooting at them, you are basically deciding to commit suicide by cop.

With regard to Elian Gonzalez, I don't see anything wrong going into the house with overwhelming force. You can't exactly send one or two patrolmen to go pick up a kid in the middle of a giant protest and expect things to go smoothly. As it was executed, no one got hurt and this is almost certainly because the SWAT Team members that were in were well trained and prepared for the raid.
4.16.2008 7:07pm
Mike& (mail):
false conviction of a jaywalker is pretty cheap.

Unless that jaywalker is repeatedly gang-raped in prison before being murdered.

Your attempt at being too clever by half fails.
4.16.2008 7:09pm
Vernunft (mail) (www):
Jaywalkers are typically sentenced to life in prison, so your post makes sense.
4.16.2008 7:13pm
alkali (mail):
Janet Reno! She bears as much responsibilty as anyone for the child abuse witch hunt trials of the late 80s that claimed many innocent victims, including several prosecuted by her office, via the "Miami method" she pioneered.

I refer to my comment from the last go-around on who is to blame for the Satanic sex abuse hysteria:

Something to keep in mind about the Satanic ritual abuse cases of the 80s and early 90s is that they didn't come about because a whole bunch of county prosecutors independently came up with the idea. In 1984, Congress established the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 1985, the FBI held a seminar at Quantico on Satanic ritual abuse. In 1986, the Meese Commission's report on pornography recommended that "The Department of Justice should appoint a national task force to conduct a study of cases throughout the United States reflecting apparent patterns of multi-victim, multi-perpetrator child sexual exploitation." For good or for ill, this was a top federal priority for law enforcement for many years.
4.16.2008 7:17pm
Hans Bader (mail):
This is part of a disturbing pattern for the Innocence Project.

The co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, Peter Neufeld, responded to criticism of Michael Nifong's baseless prosecution of the Duke Lacrosse players, by claiming that "the absence of evidence [of guilt] is not the same as evidence of absence."

The Innocence Project is no doubt a valuable resource for wrongly-convicted people who fit its stereotype of people oppressed by the criminal justice system (black people, poor people, etc.).

But my worry is that it will often turn a deaf ear to cases in which prosecutors railroad supposedly "privileged" people like the Duke Lacrosse players. (Even "privileged" people can be railroaded, and if they can be railroaded, it sets a bad precedent for people with fewer resources and means to fight back).

My worry is based on Peter Neufeld's disturbing remarks, the Project's failure to speak out against Nifong's wrongdoing, the presence of Janet Reno on its board, and the fact that a North Carolina state judge tied to it apparently defended Nifong as he was being subject to disbarment proceedings.
4.16.2008 7:20pm
ithaqua (mail):

Uthaw, the cost of a false acquittal is vastly smaller than that a false conviction.

Rubbish. When an innocent person is convicted, it's a tragedy, yes, but it only hurts that one person. When a criminal goes free, it undermines our entire justice system, because it feeds the liberal claims that our police arrest innocent people, which leads to perversions like the "Innocence Project" and "fair trials" for terrorists captured on the battlefield.
4.16.2008 7:20pm
BU2L:
So, that's how the L&O: SVU idea came to be...
4.16.2008 7:23pm
Fub:
Suzy wrote at 4.16.2008 5:19pm:
I assume it has more to do with her bringing in psychologists whose questionable interviewing techniques led to the overturned convictions of people like Snowden. However, to what extent was Reno aware of flaws with the psychologists' particular methods, and to what extent is she responsible for those flaws? Otherwise, from the information that was available to prosecutors at the time, it probably seemed that medical evidence and witness testimony supported continuing the prosecution of this case.
As prosecutor, Reno undoubtedly had access to videotapes of her "expert psychologist's" interviews of alleged victims.

Partial transcript of one surviving videotape from one case is here, commented upon by a lawyer for one of Reno's targets.

Are there flaws in the interview? I'd say it is intuitively obvious that the "expert" is manipulating and intimidating the child to "remember" things that never happened. And I'd say that most any reasonable person except Reno and like minded witch hunting fanatics would conclude much the same.

If anybody deserves to serve time for child abuse, it is Reno and her "experts". Whether or not she knew what those charlatans were doing, she had a duty to know.
4.16.2008 7:24pm
Smokey:
As for the Innocence Project, they say that in a significant numbers of cases, they have not only exonerated a wrongfully convicted person, they have actually identified the correct offender.
Wow. I guess we can dispense with judges and juries now. The mangina simply knows who is innocent and who is guilty. As always.

I can't find too much technically wrong with the Elian Gonzalez snatch, but I do have a question for the folks who are defending Janet M. Reno and Waco: what flavor is today's Kool Ade?

/snark
4.16.2008 7:25pm
Uthaw:
Uthaw, the cost of a false acquittal is vastly smaller than that a false conviction.

Tell that to the people who are injured when the criminal goes out and commits additional crimes.
4.16.2008 7:25pm
Gaius Marius:
Oren, you should visit Auschwitz sometime and see the ovens firsthand as I have and then think about Janet Reno's decisions that ultimately led to the fiery death suffered by the Branch Davidians.
4.16.2008 7:33pm
Brett Bellmore:

With Waco, I pretty much have a standing rule that I have no sympathy for people who fight back when the cops show up at their door. ... They had plenty of time to surrender peacefully


I pretty much have a standing rule that when you stage a armed assault over the vague possibility that a victimless crime might have been committed, and go in guns blazing, you deserve to end up a bullet riddled corpse. But that's just me, I never did buy into this notion that a badge gives you the right to commit murder without worrying about people defending themselves.
4.16.2008 7:34pm
nomayo:
When a person is falsely convicted there is still a criminal walking the streets who may commit additional crimes.
4.16.2008 7:35pm
wm13:
I don't understand people who defend Reno's actions at Waco. There were a number of children in the compound who were burnt up. Is the claim made that they were supposed to overpower their parents and surrender the premises to the federal government?

It's especially disgusting that Reno claimed that part of the reason for the government investing so much energy in seizing the compound is that there were reports of child abuse. We sure as heck made those children better off, huh?
4.16.2008 7:41pm
yankev (mail):

Oren, you should visit Auschwitz sometime and see the ovens firsthand as I have and then think about Janet Reno's decisions that ultimately led to the fiery death suffered by the Branch Davidians.

So you are saying that the people who were rounded up and murdered at Auschwitz weren't REALLY murdered for being Jwish, or Roma, they were murdered because they were committing child abuse and polygamy and then started shooting at the police who came to arrest them? Pardon me while I get sick.
4.16.2008 7:43pm
jccamp:
Wow. I guess we can dispense with judges and juries now. The mangina simply knows who is innocent and who is guilty. As always.

As I'm sure you know, what the Innocence Project claims is that their post-conviction DNA testing has found on occasion the correct match in justice system databases. I don't like their self-righteous posturing either, and they certainly overstate the so-called failings of some cases (example? The Davis case from Georgia on their web site), but their idea of testing DNA samples with science unavailable at the time of original trial sounds good to me, and if they find compelling evidence of someone else's guilt at the same time that they exonerate some poor dumb SOB in jail for something he/she didn't do, why would anyone complain about that?
If their testing were somehow flawed, the samples contaminated, like that, don't you think prosecutors would be screaming, instead of co-operating with the testing? Or, if there really is some fault with the testing, i'd certainly be interested in hearing about that.
4.16.2008 7:47pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
ithaqua... just stop please. You're giving your side a bad image. Could you at least have someone else read over your post for the obvious errors? Maybe I'm being too generous here, but you couldn't possibly have meant that "When a criminal goes free, it undermines our entire justice system, because it feeds the liberal claims that our police arrest innocent people"
4.16.2008 7:47pm
lurker-999 (mail):
I have no sympathy for people who fight back when the cops show up at their door.

Yeah, like those 23 children who got burned to death at Waco. They definitely had it coming! But of course dear old Janet might have saved a couple of teen-aged girls from a 'fate worse than death,' so that makes everything OK.

"We had to destroy the children in order to save them."
4.16.2008 7:48pm
jccamp:
...and I have to confess, I just looked up mangina

That's a pretty nasty word to be calling people.
4.16.2008 7:50pm
Brett Bellmore:
1. The police came in, by their own admission shooting first, (At the dogs, they say, but how were the Davidians to know that?) not over charges of child abuse, but over the claim that the Davidians, who had both demilled grenade shells, and gunpowder for reloading, were making illegal hand grenades. Actually, they were making "Complaint Department, take a number" novelty paperweights. As could easily be verified.

2. When the Davidians figured out that the BATF was in town to investigate them, they extended an invitation for them to come over peacefully and conduct a search. Said invitation only resulted in the plans for a armed assault being accelerated.

3. The charges of child abuse and polygamy came up after the initial raid, reportedly because the agents knew those were Reno's hot buttons.

Pardon me while I get sick over people who drink the government's koolaid after murderous atrocities.
4.16.2008 7:50pm
john w. (mail):
The police came in, by their own admission shooting first,....

And I'm pretty sure (but not 100%) that Texas law explicitly states somewhere in their Penal Code that a citizen does have the right to use deadly force against a police officer if the officer initiates *unprovoked* violence against the citizen.
4.16.2008 7:57pm
Angus:
Of course, most of the above posters buy into the conspiracy theory that the government decided to set the Waco compound on fire. It couldn't be because the crazy cultists decided to commit suicide. Goodness knows cults never do that.
4.16.2008 8:05pm
john w. (mail):
Yeah! here's the section (9.31) of the TX penal code that I was trying to remember:

The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified:
(1) if, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search; and
(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer's (or other person's) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary.
4.16.2008 8:07pm
Le Messurier (mail):
john w.

And I'm pretty sure (but not 100%) that Texas law explicitly states...

And what has Texas law got to do with this raid/assault? It was an FBI operation. Janet Reno was acting under cover of Federal law; she was a Federal employee! Got it? Jeeees!
4.16.2008 8:11pm
wm13:
Angus, I don't believe that the government set the fire that killed the Branch Davidians. (If that were true, Janet Reno should be in jail, not merely in disgrace.) But the government did launch an armed assault, which was totally unnecessary, disproportionate to the purported crimes at issue, and massively fatal to a number of young children.
4.16.2008 8:18pm
lurker-999 (mail):
most of the above posters buy into the conspiracy theory that the government decided to set the Waco compound on fire. It couldn't be because the crazy cultists decided to commit suicide.

Of course it's possible that the cultists started the fire; it's also possible that it started by accident. But either way, the blood of those children is still on the Government's hands because they callously escalated trivial allegations of nonviolent crime into a deadly confrontation. Don't forget that the whole thing started as a BATF publicity stunt.
4.16.2008 8:21pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I assume it has more to do with her bringing in psychologists whose questionable interviewing techniques led to the overturned convictions of people like Snowden. However, to what extent was Reno aware of flaws with the psychologists' particular methods, and to what extent is she responsible for those flaws?"

This sounds like the Catholic bishops who blamed their subordinates abuse of kids on psychologists.
4.16.2008 8:25pm
Jim T (mail):
"And what has Texas law got to do with this raid/assault? It was an FBI operation. Janet Reno was acting under cover of Federal law; she was a Federal employee! Got it? Jeeees!"

I see. So if someone enters your property guns blazing, you have to check their IDs before defending yourself. If they are from the State of Texas, go ahead and shoot them; if they are Feds, bend over.
4.16.2008 8:30pm
john w (mail):
And what has Texas law got to do with this raid/assault? It was an FBI operation. Janet Reno was acting under cover of Federal law; she was a Federal employee! Got it? Jeeees!

The point is that reasonable people (in this case, the Texas Legislature) believe that ordinary citizens do have a basic, God-given right to defend themselves against unprovoked attacks from rogue cops. It's not just wild-eyed anarchist Libertarians like me who feel that way.

In other words, I was trying to make a moral argument, not a legal argument. ... Oh, and by the way: Where in the Constitution is the Federal Government authorized to investigate allegations of statutory rape?
4.16.2008 8:33pm
Brett Bellmore:
Also on the government's hands, because the Davidians committed that mass suicide/homicide after a very extended period of deliberately induced sleep deprivation. They were quite literally driven insane by the government. At that point, anything they did was on the government's hands.

As I understand the chain of events, the BATF was looking to suffer badly at it's budget hearings, due to exposure of their participation in the "Good old boy's roundup", a sort of jamboree for racists. So they picked out a conveniently unappetizing patsy, and planned a spectacular armed raid on "dangerous cultists", timed for maximum media exposure right at budget time. Only to blow it big time, and end up having to call in the FBI to clean up their mess.

The FBI were fed a line about child abuse, to get Reno's dander up, and proceeded to take no prisoners. And the rest is history.
4.16.2008 8:42pm
JB:
It's not a dichotomy. When an innocent person is arrested, a guilty person goes free (assuming there was an actual crime).
4.16.2008 8:43pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I don't see anything wrong going into the house with overwhelming force.

Use of overwhelming force obviously bothers some people more than others. It disturbs me that Reno learned nothing from the Ruby Ridge fiasco (not on her watch but she had to deal with the aftermath). Why not sort things out man to man, not send three helicopters to fly over people's houses?
4.16.2008 8:45pm
rfg:
ithaqua- please say that your post was sarcasm or a typo.

I cannot believe that anyone could say that it is better for an innocent man to be convicted than for the guilty to go free.
4.16.2008 8:54pm
Alec:
This line from the PBS article was particularly amusing:


For example, let's say somebody calls and reports that their child has been sexually battered. The uniformed officer would go out and interview the child. The uniformed officer had absolutely no training in how to interview children. How to ask leading questions. How to be sensitive.


Training indeed, although I suppose the question could be construed as ambiguous (i.e., they meant how NOT to ask leading questions). The psychologists came around with their own garbage.

I do not blame Reno any more than any other prosecutor, though. A lot of otherwise sane individuals lose all trace of reason when child sex abuse is alleged. It is only the politicians (and DAs fall within this category) who are morally blameworthy for exploiting and exciting people's passions.
4.16.2008 8:54pm
Billy Beck (www):
Suzy: "I guess I don't fully understand what Reno is being accused of that is relevant here."

Start poking around and get hip to Bobby Fijnje's case.

That woman should count herself lucky if she were forced to walk the land in sack-cloth and ashes for the rest of her worthless life.
4.16.2008 8:54pm
Le Messurier (mail):
john w.


I was trying to make a moral argument, not a legal argument. ...

The moral argument was obscured by your legal citations. I have a feeling that your characterization of the Texas legislature as being composed of reasonable people stretches the meaning of reasonable, nonetheless, the attack by the FBI and Janet Reno was absolutely a gross misuse of force and a despicable example prosecutorial misconduct. Gonzalez is a saint compared to Reno and she walked scot free while Gonzalez has lost his career. There was absolutely no justification to make a forceable entry. A long waiting game was a very viable option. But we know that the controlling personality of typical law enforcement types (including prosecutors) won't allow for any defiance of their power. "YOU MUST OBEY ME" is their over-riding principal, and leads very often to bad but preventable outcomes.

Question: How many (if any) of the Assistant Attorneys that Gonzalez got fired were hired under Reno's tenure? Just asking.
4.16.2008 8:56pm
Billy Beck (www):
"Incidentally, is there a "Guilt Project" that attempts to obtain proper punishment for criminals who escaped conviction on some lame technicality?"

I don't think so, but there is a principle made to order here:

I would rather see ten guilty men go free than see a single innocent unjustly imprisoned.
4.16.2008 8:57pm
Displaced Midwesterner (mail):
I'm glad DB posted this. I had nearly forgotten about Janet Reno. Now I can remember to look over my list of "topics that turn most people into raving lunatics" and make sure she is on it. Do I file it between "Israel" and "Koran," or stick with the more conventional last name first and file it between "Quayle" and "Swift Boat?"
4.16.2008 9:01pm
Brett Bellmore:
Ah, we're both raving, but which side are the lunatics on? Heated arguments frequently DO have a right and a wrong side.
4.16.2008 9:04pm
Displaced Midwesterner (mail):
Of course heated arguments have a right and wrong side. And in many of them it is impossible to tell which is which because the lunatics are on both sides.
4.16.2008 9:06pm
Brett Bellmore:
At any rate, there was one positive fallout from Waco: The federal government no longer advises law enforcement to "Shoot the dogs so that they can't be sicced on you.", the cause of numerous fatal misunderstandings.
4.16.2008 9:12pm
AntonK (mail):
And none of this even touches on the mass-murder she orchestrated at Waco!
4.16.2008 9:14pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

"Incidentally, is there a "Guilt Project" that attempts to obtain proper punishment for criminals who escaped conviction on some lame technicality?"


The person with that job is called "the prosecutor".
4.16.2008 9:14pm
Smokey:
That's a pretty nasty word to be calling people.
Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Carry on.
4.16.2008 9:21pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Crackmonkeyjr:

Some people have mentioned her role with Waco and Elian Gonzalez. I never really understood the objection to how the government acted in these incidents.

I don't usually quote myself from other threads but this seems opportune:

With regard to the gas attack at Waco: AG Reno went on Nightline that night and stated flatly that the gas was aimed, not at the adults in the compound (who had gas masks), but at the children for whom no masks that fitted were available. The object was "to raise [the adults] parental instincts" by torturing their children, forcing them to surrender.

IANAL, but I make that out to be aggravated assault against the children, a felony that was very much not within the government actors' duties, and the deaths pursuant to that felony arguably to be felony murder. So far as I know, there is no statute of limitations that would shield any of the government actors from being charged even today.

However, because of the Constitution's 'Important People Clause', I don't expect to see any action on this.


I have nothing to say about Elian Gonzalez, although I expect others do.
4.16.2008 9:33pm
whit:
"the absence of evidence [of guilt] is not the same as evidence of absence."

great, but that wasn't the issue in the duke case, as neufeld should have known. heck, i knew it just from reading media reports.

there wasn't merely an absence of evidence, there was a LOT of evidence that pointed not just towards reasonable doubt but towards "this case stinks to hell and they almost certainly DIDN'T do it"

iow, long before nifong finally gave up, there were tons of factors that screamed that the "victim" was a crazy lying idiot, and that the guys didn't rape her.
4.16.2008 9:35pm
Gaius Marius:
YANKEV states:

So you are saying that the people who were rounded up and murdered at Auschwitz weren't REALLY murdered for being Jwish, or Roma, they were murdered because they were committing child abuse and polygamy and then started shooting at the police who came to arrest them? Pardon me while I get sick.

Yankev, I demand that you apologize for referring to Jewish people as child abusers and polygamists. Your insults closely mirror Adolf Hitler's epithets from the 1930s.
4.16.2008 9:37pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>There was absolutely no justification to make a forceable entry. A long waiting game was a very viable option.<<<

Ah, but the federal agents were getting "fatigued" after 51 days of siege!

Makes me think of Flavius Silva and Legio X at Masada.

Or Tiberius Gracchus in Spain, laying siege to a city where the city fathers told him they had 10 years of food stockpiled... and he retorted, "Fine, we'll take you in the 11th year."

And hey... neither Silva nor Gracchus had helicopters flying in cheesburgers and milkshakes for the troops every day.
4.16.2008 9:37pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: David Bernstein, et al.
RE: Let's Not Forget...

"Why would you even think of doing something like that if you're a crusader for children?" -- BOBBY FIJNJE, as cited by David B.

...how much she cared for all the dead children from the Waco Massacre.

There's no need for Bobby F. to ask the question, "Why?" It's blatantly obvious to the reasonably prudent individual that Janet Reno doesn't care one iota ABOUT children, except that she should make her career on their pain, blood and corpses.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out....even though it takes 30 years after Janet Reno is dead. But history will remember her accurately.]
4.16.2008 9:47pm
Alaska:
As I understand the Neufeld comment, he has since retracted it. Apparently it was twisted out of context when he was questioned about the Duke case while in its infancy.

Also, what is a 'false acquittal'? If the government cannot prove a case, then the defendant should walk regardless of factual guilt. I can protect myself and my family from predatory criminals. It is much harder to protect oneself against the government. That is why criminal trials are weighed the way that they are.
4.16.2008 9:50pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
P.S. I noticed that shortly after the Waco Massacre, the FBI's mis-named but vaunted Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) changed it's name. I was referring to them as the Homicidal Rifle Team.

It seems that they had actually killed more people than they rescued. Tom Clancy even mentions it in his Jack Ryan series novel, The Sum of All Fears; published in 1991.
4.16.2008 9:52pm
Brett Bellmore:
There was no reason for a long waiting game, either; As I recall, the sticking point in negotiations was the Davidians' insistence that media be permitted in to photograph the interior of the buildings, to document evidence that supposedly contradicted the feds' version of events. The Davidians recalled how Weaver had gotten off in Ruby Ridge because press photos proved the FBI had falsified evidence in their effort to convict him. Unfortunately, the FBI remembered that, too, and were pretty stubborn about not paying THAT price for a surrender.
4.16.2008 9:53pm
jccamp:
Smokey,
i probably shouldn't have mentioned it either...and I did have to look it up, so it's not like I was immediately offended. No harm, no foul.

I have always (cynically) suspected that at least some of the DNA-based exonerations are actually ID'ing contaminants, since evidence handling protocol 20 years ago wasn't exactly pristine. But I can't find any substantiation, and I can't argue if they get a hit out of DOJ or state felon databases. Lately, they're using their poster children to hammer eyewitness identifications in toto. See the Davis case on the Innocence Project web site.
http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/1242.php
and then read the GSC decision. Hard to believe they're talking about the same incident.
http://www.gasupreme.us/pdf/s07a1758.pdf

Sorry, don't know how I got here from funny comments about the BIG WOMAN, as we used to call her in Miami. Actually, there was another adjective between Big &Woman, but I just chided you for bad language.
JC
4.16.2008 10:00pm
Gaius Marius:
The truth of the matter is that the Branch Davidians were outcasts from the Seventh Day Adventist church. Seventh Day Adventist "end time" theology, which is derived from the Book of Revelation leads many Seventh Day Adventists to believe that the United States is the second beast of Revelation 13, which will destroy church-state separation and use its police power to force everyone to worship the first beast of Revelation 13 (which represents an apostate church). Any minority sect or religion that opposes worshipping the apostate church will be targeted by the United States for destruction like the heretics of the Dark Ages. During the foregoing persecution, the last seven plagues of Revelation 16 will take place. Just when it appears that the first and second beasts are about to triumph and bend the whole world to worship them will the Second Coming of Christ occur to save the "remnant church."

Seventh Day Adventists look forward to the persecution because it will affirm their belief that the end of the world is fast approaching. However, the Branch Davidians viewed such end time with dread and chose to stock up with food, guns, and ammo to withstand a siege by the U.S. government. When the ATF and FBI surrounded the Branch Davidians' compound at Waco, it was as if the final prophecies of Revelation were being fulfilled.

Either the Feds were too stupid to do their homework on "end time" theology or they deliberately ignored it and decided to eliminate the Branch Davidian sect under the guise of rescuing children. All the Feds had to do was stand down and "retreat" for a lengthy period of time until the Branch Davidians let their guard down and resumed their daily routine in which case the Feds could have quickly secured the compound without loss of a single life. Janet Reno is not stupid and I know there was a Seventh Day Adventist theologian at the scene at all times advising the Feds what the Branch Davidians were thinking and how the Feds could defuse the situation. Instead, the Feds set up cross firing lines and executed everyone who tried to escape the fiery inferno.
4.16.2008 10:01pm
Uthaw:
The person with that job is called "the prosecutor".

The analogy fails. The "Innocence Project" is not the same as the public defender. If there is some dot org bent on reversing improper convictions, there should also be a dot org bent on reversing improper acquittals.
4.16.2008 10:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
If Reno was innocent of malicious prosecution because she was operating with the best knowledge available at the time (probably not true), then operating with the best knowledge available is not lying.
Right?
4.16.2008 10:26pm
Jerry Mimsy (www):
On the Waco/Reno theme, I recommend the book of another semi-regular commenter here; David Hardy's "This is not an assault".
4.16.2008 10:27pm
c.gray (mail):

The Davidians recalled how Weaver had gotten off in Ruby Ridge because press photos proved the FBI had falsified evidence in their effort to convict him


They must have "remembered" a divine revelation of that "fact", since Weaver's trial began after the siege started and didn't end until almost three months after the Waco compound burned down.
4.16.2008 10:38pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

Incidentally, is there a "Guilt Project" that attempts to obtain proper punishment for criminals who escaped conviction on some lame technicality


There sure is: Death Wish.
4.16.2008 10:40pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
When the ATF and FBI surrounded the Branch Davidians' compound at Waco, it was as if the final prophecies of Revelation were being fulfilled.


In the Fed's defense at that situation, only half or less of the 'seals' had been opened under that belief system.

That's not to say their actions were intelligent, but more idiotic from a "send heavily armed military forces against a bunch of paranoid isolationists over tax violations and possible but unsubstantiated child abuse", rather than the "send people against cultists". I'm willing to wager Reno would have had run into some issues if she encountered a bunch of (evidently justly) paranoid survivalist gun owners who happened to be agnostic and decided to send in the armed forces. There's just a certain issue of cross purpose when sending in military folk on one hand and trying to get a person to pay money they owe or protect children standing nearby. Military people are great at killing Y and anything including X within a couple dozen feet, stopping anything with a certain aspect from getting within a few dozen yards of location Z, and similar goals. Note that there's a rather problematic difference between those exceptional capabilities and the ability to get Y to pay back taxes or protect X.
4.16.2008 10:42pm
Oren:
I wrote,
Uthaw, the cost of a false acquittal is vastly smaller than that a false conviction.

Uthaw wrote back
Tell that to the people who are injured when the criminal goes out and commits additional crimes.
What about the people who are injured when a real criminal evades justice because some other person was convicted and then strikes again?

It is an absolute mathematical certainty that, given that a crime was committed, it is strictly better to acquit the guilty than to convict the innocent. In the former case, you do indeed have a criminal "out on the streets", in a position to commit more crime. In the latter case, however, you also have the criminal out on the streets PLUS the added injustice of putting an innocent man behind bars.

Avoiding wrongful conviction has just as much to do with keeping the streets safe (by convicting the right people) as the oft-cited (and wholly laudable) goal of not punishing the innocent.
4.16.2008 10:44pm
Fub:
Uthaw wrote at 4.16.2008 9:13pm:
If there is some dot org bent on reversing improper convictions, there should also be a dot org bent on reversing improper acquittals.
That dot org first would have to achieve a constitutional amendment to strike the Fifth Amendment's double jeopardy prohibition.

But you knew that already.
4.16.2008 10:51pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

The analogy fails. The "Innocence Project" is not the same as the public defender. If there is some dot org bent on reversing improper convictions, there should also be a dot org bent on reversing improper acquittals.


There was no analogy. The office of prosecutor remains. The office of the prosecutor is the government funded dot org bent on going after bad guys. If he can't get around the fifth, he should have done a better job the first time.
4.16.2008 11:29pm
Displaced Midwesterner (mail):
Gaius,

This is just a guess based on your posts, but you chose your name to demonstrate your support for repealing the 22nd Amendment and electing Bill Clinton president every four years, right?
4.16.2008 11:31pm
Bleepless (mail):
Professor Bernstein, I am curious. What sources have you for your high opinion of the Innocence Project? Anything independent of the Project and their supporters? I hope that you are correct.
4.16.2008 11:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Bleep, I've read enough about them and their cases to conclude that they've exonerated dozens of innocent defendants who were rotting behind bars. While the DNA evidence often gets the most attention, there are often also many other irregularities in the relevant cases that raise suspicions, from confessions by others not heeded by prosecutors, to dubious forms of eyewitness i.d., to "junk science" forensic evidence.
4.16.2008 11:33pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

I have always (cynically) suspected that at least some of the DNA-based exonerations are actually ID'ing contaminants, since evidence handling protocol 20 years ago wasn't exactly pristine.


Even with contaminated DNA, if markers of the suspect are absent it proves that the suspect made no contribution to the DNA. Contamination can only add markers, it cannot take them away.
4.16.2008 11:35pm
Gaius Marius:
Gaius,

This is just a guess based on your posts, but you chose your name to demonstrate your support for repealing the 22nd Amendment and electing Bill Clinton president every four years, right?


I chose "Gaius Marius" because it shares the same initials as General Motors.
4.16.2008 11:44pm
Displaced Midwesterner (mail):
Hmm, if that's what you are looking for, you should also consider "Groucho Marx." It's a pretty good one too IMO.
4.16.2008 11:50pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

There was no reason for a long waiting game, either; As I recall, the sticking point in negotiations was the Davidians' insistence that media be permitted in to photograph the interior of the buildings, to document evidence that supposedly contradicted the feds' version of events.


There was no reason for the waiting game because the feds could have sent two agents to knock on the door and ask to inspect the premises. There was no reason for an armed assault. Even if the Branch Dividians were a bunch of kooks, they showed no signs of a violent threat before the raid. The Feds could have backed off at anytime during the siege, the Davidians could have been tracked down later if necessary.

As soon as I heard the first news about the raid (day one), I knew that the people in the compound would wind up dead. I happened to have lived near Oakland, CA at the time of Jonestown and the similarities were obvious. Unfortunately, not to the Feds.
4.16.2008 11:53pm
ithaqua (mail):
Not to interrupt the Reno hatefest, as she most richly deserves it, but she doesn't deserve *all* the blame. Her finger was on the trigger at Waco, yes, but monstrous violations of civil rights are SOP for the Federal Government, no matter who (or what party) is in control. For example, Ruby Ridge, which differed from Waco only in scale, and which occurred under Bush the Elder's administration; as well, there's the latest 'cultist' bruhaha, where four hundred odd wives and children have been kidnapped and are currently being held incommunicado because of one unsubstantiated report of 'child abuse'.

The Federal Government - especially the DoJ - is a blunt and destructive tool. This is excellent when turned against our enemies, but loathsome when used against American citizens.
4.16.2008 11:57pm
jccamp:
Gaius,
I find you last post very interesting. I never really understood the mindset operating inside the compound at Waco.

Prior to the incident, there was rumor in law enforcement that ATF was going to be reduced to a civil tax revenue agency, and that the FBi was going absorb ATF's criminal responsibility (mainly firearms) &investigative personnel. The talk was that ATF's management planned - maybe better described as they took advantage of an existing investigation - the Waco thing as a big splash of publicity for ATF, preventing the power grab by the FBI. Thus the media circus atmosphere of the beginning of the raid. Once the first Federal agent died, there was no way the government would back off what was in their view a crime scene, still occupied by homicide suspects, who remained armed and, if surrounded, not in custody. Eventually, the inability of either side to grasp the logic of the other made an unhappy ending inevitable. There was obviously poor decision making by the Feds, and the debacle was probably unavoidable once the first shots were fired. This is not to release the armed adults inside from culpability either.

BTW, this description of what happened is far from universally accepted, even among law enforcement types. just like the posts here, there remains substantial disagreement about who bears responsibility for the deaths, the ATF agents who showed up for a meeting, got briefed and just did their jobs as it was explained to them, unaware of what they were walking into, or the poor people inside who, if Gaius is right, thought they were at the cusp of the 2nd coming.

Pretty depressing no matter which way you see it.
4.17.2008 12:01am
Displaced Midwesterner (mail):
ithaqua,

the "latest 'cultist' bruhaha, where four hundred odd wives and children have been kidnapped and are currently being held incommunicado because of one unsubstantiated report of 'child abuse'" was done by Texas state authorities, not the feds.
4.17.2008 12:05am
John Thompson (mail):
Well at least Janet is PHYSICALLY attractive--if a morally depraved monster with the intellect of a lima bean. Can't have everything, ya know.
4.17.2008 12:14am
ChrisIowa (mail):

ithaqua,

the "latest 'cultist' bruhaha, where four hundred odd wives and children have been kidnapped and are currently being held incommunicado because of one unsubstantiated report of 'child abuse'" was done by Texas state authorities, not the feds.


And so far, no one has died.
4.17.2008 12:17am
Bob Goodman (mail) (www):
Wouldn't an overly aggressive prosecutor be a wonderful asset to an organization seeking to overturn wrongful convictions?

From what I know of Reno, I'd be afraid she'd seek to overturn rightful convictions! She struck me as a cutthroat.
4.17.2008 12:46am
Gaius Marius:
At the risk of starting a completely different subject, there are probably several Seventh Day Adventists dusting off their bibles off their shelves right now and re-reading Revelation 13 in light of the media publicity surrounding President Bush's welcoming of the Pope. (I'm married to a wonderful Roman Catholic woman so don't get any ideas that I am taking a cheap shot at the Catholic Church.)
4.17.2008 12:48am
jccamp:
Contamination can only add markers, it cannot take them away.

Chris,

That's not always accurate. If the organic material, sometimes decades old, was not dried and preserved correctly at the time of collection, bacterial contamination renders the original material unidentifiable (bacteria can actually consume the organic material). Mold can destroy the scientific value as well. As for contamination that introduces a new DNA, we are starting to learn that the most minimal contact can leave DNA traces. In the next few years, the test may be differentiating among a multitude of discrete DNA residue as collection science improves. Now obviously, if the DNA test of old evidence ID's a person not likely to have contacted the item (except via the crime itself), like a felon serving time, that is much more compelling than multiple unidentifiable fragments that might belong to 25% of the population, and probably came from the evidence being handled improperly back in 1985 or something. If that contamination falls outside the suspect's DNA markers, like 75% of the population, viola! it's not his DNA. he must be innocent. But suppose the detected DNA really belongs to that fat guy who used to check in evidence at the Police Department, before he retired to Arizona back in '92. I don't know this has happened, but I suspect it probably has.

The relative validity of analyzed samples is situational. A sterile swab from a body cavity taken under controlled circumstances has much more provenance than, say, a bloody shirt handled by a half dozen people, maybe sneezed or coughed over by a police photographer.

There is no doubt the Innocence Project has righted miscarriages of justice. However, in many (some? Who knows?) cases, I suspect (again - no certainty) that what they have done is raise serious doubt, not prove innocence. I guess what irks me is that they seem to use this "scientific certainty" aura to bludgeon law enforcement over other practices as well, as part of a larger agenda. Remember that one of the leading lights of the IP made his reputation destroying the value of DNA evidence in courts. His courtroom criticism of DNA collection, preservation and testing is often well founded. It would be unreasonable to expect pristine methodology in every single case that points to possible innocence.

Just a thought.

JC
4.17.2008 12:49am
Hoosier:
"When Irony Becomes Farce"

This would be the name of a reality TV show if FOX were a quality outfit.
4.17.2008 12:51am
marbledclay:
The Innocence Project does a lot of good work. Yet the extensive publicity, reporting, and discussion of their successes have the effect of feeding the popular opinion that any defendant who is not guilty should, when all facts of evidence are fairly and competently presented at trial, be able to prove that he is not guilty. That backward presumption should not apply even to trials in which DNA evidence is crucial. In most criminal trials DNA evidence is not presented.
4.17.2008 12:56am
EIDE_Interface (mail):

Displaced Midwesterner (mail):
I'm glad DB posted this. I had nearly forgotten about Janet Reno. Now I can remember to look over my list of "topics that turn most people into raving lunatics" and make sure she is on it. Do I file it between "Israel" and "Koran," or stick with the more conventional last name first and file it between "Quayle" and "Swift Boat?"



Everything to you is about Israel, isn't it. All David Bernstein has to do is post to get your frothing.
4.17.2008 1:07am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Tony Tutins: About that Elián photo...

I recommend you take a look at Will Saletan's piece on Slate published not long after the event:


The Elián Pictures


Seeing isn't always believing. Pictures don't always tell the whole story.

If you don't like the politics of the Elián case, that's one thing. But using the picture to make your argument is something else.
4.17.2008 1:34am
Displaced Midwesterner (mail):
EIDE_Interface,

I have no problems with DB's post here. But I have to admit I found many of the pile of comments it provoked to be pretty amusing examples of "frothing."
4.17.2008 1:52am
GatoRat:
John, thanks for the link to the article. It was very thoughtfully written and makes you really think about the pictures.
4.17.2008 2:11am
Malvolio:
Seeing isn't always believing. Pictures don't always tell the whole story.
Who you going to believe, me or your own lying eyes? The Saletan piece is mostly pedantry mixed with crap -- blaming the photographer, blaming the fisherman who rescued Elián, blaming the relatives, blaming "extremists", blaming everyone but Elián himself and of course the Justice Department for turning a civil custody case into the Bay of Pigs II.

Take just one example:
Elián isn't being removed from his home. He's being removed from the house in which his great-uncle and cousins, against his father's wishes and without legal custody, have kept him.
Where, pray tell, was Elián's home? His mother was a refugee and dead. His biological father he had never met. He was in the home of blood relatives who had been caring for him for months.

It's all like that. The DOJ wanted ink and it went after that goal with the same grace and finesse it showed at Ruby Ridge and Waco.

It's not entirely Reno's fault personally, but she obviously didn't stop it and probably exacerbated it.
4.17.2008 2:36am
glangston (mail):

I don't think so, but there is a principle made to order here:

I would rather see ten guilty men go free than see a single innocent unjustly imprisoned.



How valuable is this principle?

How about more than ten? A hundred? A thousand?

Just asking.
4.17.2008 2:47am
Soronel Haetir (mail):


How valuable is this principle?

How about more than ten? A hundred? A thousand?

Just asking.






I would be happy to go as high as every single criminal rather than knowingly keep one innocent person inprisioned.

Like the line from Starship Troppers, it doesn't matter whether it's one or one thousand, you fight.
4.17.2008 4:23am
Tony Tutins (mail):
John Burgess: I recommend you look at how a gun should be carried when it's not being pointed at some one.

Safely Carrying Firearms


Rule Number One of Gun Safety:
1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.


In contrast, the way that Heckler &Koch MP5 submachine gun is being carried endangers the lives of the little boy and the man who's holding him.
4.17.2008 4:58am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Well, my post appears to be proof that I should not try to write anything salient late at night.
4.17.2008 5:06am
Brett Bellmore:
C. Gray, it appears over the years I've gotten the dates reversed. Thanks for correcting me.
4.17.2008 7:19am
PersonFromPorlock:
Jerry Mimsy:

..."This is not an assault".

One of the feds' more Orwellian moments: I remember thinking at the time, "So what is it? Architectural massage and aromatherapy?"
4.17.2008 9:39am
ruralcounsel (mail) (www):
Crackmonkeyjr wrote:
"Some people have mentioned her role with Waco and Elian Gonzalez. I never really understood the objection to how the government acted in these incidents.

With Waco, I pretty much have a standing rule that I have no sympathy for ...

With regard to Elian Gonzalez, I don't see anything wrong going into the house with overwhelming force..."


Uh, Yeah. Maybe in a tactical sense, but I don't think that's what we're talking about. Should the people in the Warsaw Ghetto never have fought back? In fact,is it true that government is "always right" and should never be resisted? Government should always use the maximum amount of force to achieve their objectives, because ... because ... it has a nice "chilling effect" on the rest of the sheep. Huh?

And given where Reno ended up, we can be pretty certain that she'll never be brought to justice for her abuses. So much for fighting it out in the legal system. This is a case of wolves getting in with the sheepherders, and the sheepherders don't recognize what happened. Still don't.

A nighttime SWAT entry, where justified, should be done with overwhelming force. But that's the kicker ... where justified. Hardly anyone believes that it was justified to go in that way. They were "sending a message" to the community at large ... not doing it because it was necessary to get the boy.

Abuse of power is not best dealt with by submitting to that power.
4.17.2008 10:01am
Dan Weber (www):
As a point of order, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

It may not be proof. But it surely is evidence.
4.17.2008 12:22pm
Deoxy (mail):
Why was it murder when the Waco nuts were killed? Very, VERY simple (and without even touching on how it all started):

1. The BDs were using lanterns for light, as they had no electricity.

2. The gas the government used was highly flamable.

3. It was publicly stated IN ADVANCE that using such gas would cause the whole compound to catch fire due to the combination of 1 and 2.

So, when they did that, they did it KNOWING it would result mass death. They killed all those people on purpose, end of story.

How it got started is only slightly less clear. Janet Reno shouldn't be in prison, she should be executed.
4.17.2008 12:29pm
Displaced Midwesterner:
If you Google "federal conspiracy," VC is the 15th hit (not the main site, but a former post). I wonder...
4.17.2008 12:45pm
SIG357:
Oren

"the cost of a false acquittal is vastly smaller than that a false conviction"




I suspect the family of a dead victim would differ with you sharply on that. As would the dead victim, if he could speak.
4.17.2008 12:52pm
neurodoc:
nomayo: When a person is falsely convicted there is still a criminal walking the streets who may commit additional crimes.
Unless there was no crime in the first place, as many believe about the cases of alleged child abuse discussed here.
4.17.2008 12:54pm
Dan Hamilton:
And everyone should remember that David Koresh was OUTSIDE UNARMED waiting for the ATF. He was also SHOT BY THE ATF. Think about that. One of the first things the ATF did was shoot an unarmed man standing outside his front door. AND NOBODY CALLED THEM ON IT!!!

The LEO's even FED LEO's are NOT supposed to shoot unless they have a TARGET. They are not supposed to just shoot into a structure. But that is what they did. AND NOBODY CALLED THEM ON IT!!!

THE ATF FIRED FROM HELOCOPTERS into the BD COMPOUND. They denied this saying the Helocopters were not armed. Therefore the helocopters could not have fired. A very Clintonesque LIE. The people in the helocopters fired. AND NOBODY CALLED THEM ON IT!!!

At trial what were the BD's convected of? Using a machine gun in the commission of a felony!! THEY WERE NOT CONVECTED OF A FELONY. THe FIX was in.

NO FED was punished for ANYTHING that happened at WACO. Even the two ATF agents in charge that disobeyed orders and made the raid after they were told that the BD's knew they were coming were not punished.

If the web and blogs had been available then as it is now some justice might MIGHT have been gotten for what was done at Waco.

Full time SWAT should be outlawed. Dynamic entry should be outlawed. The militaration of the police should be stopped.
4.17.2008 1:03pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Deoxy.
If you look at footage of one day or another at the BD compound, you'll see the wind is almost permanently extremely strong, flags out straight, not even flapping much. The prarie or the plains, I guess.
Anything remotely flammable would burn like a shingle factory.
Wood buildings with flammable gas inserted?

Heard one line of questioning which led to the info that when fed agencies borrow military equipment, they have to pay to have it fixed up before they return it. Unless it's a drug issue, in which case the military eats the expense.
Surprisingly, there was a report of a suspicious, drug-related heat source in one of the buildings. Might have been an institutional coffee pot. A hot water heater. But no evidence of drugs. In fact, at the hearings, the boys admitted they'd not brought the sort of equipment they would normally bring to a drug bust.

Reno admitted the report of child abuse was false. No word on what happened to the evil son of a bitch who wrote it. Pension's secure, is my guess.
4.17.2008 1:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Possibly he was the same guy who (didn't) wrote the ROE for Ruby Ridge.
4.17.2008 2:01pm
hattio1:
jccamp says

If there is some dot org bent on reversing improper convictions, there should also be a dot org bent on reversing improper acquittals.


Besides the double jeapordy problem, you also have the issue that the Innocence Project is not a government supported entity. Its supported by people who believe in justice. You want to start an organization focused on improper acquittals etc. Easy. Go do it. Tell people what you want to do and see if you can raise money. If you can't, maybe there shouldn't be an analogous organization because people don't see that as quite as much of a problem.
4.17.2008 2:06pm
Oren:
I wrote
the cost of a false acquittal is vastly smaller than that a false conviction


Sig wrote:
I suspect the family of a dead victim would differ with you sharply on that. As would the dead victim, if he could speak.
He would absolutely not differ! In both cases (false conviction or false acquittal), the man that killed him goes free. In both cases, that criminal is on the streets capable of striking again. In both cases, justice has not been done for the victim.

Oh, and in the case of false conviction you get the added bonus of ruining an innocent's life and making a mockery of the notion of justice.
4.17.2008 2:12pm
whit:
"I would be happy to go as high as every single criminal rather than knowingly keep one innocent person inprisioned"

that evades the issue. the concept is better that 10 guilty go free than 1 innocent convicted.

that's because we know the process, knowledge, perception, etc. is imperfect and without a very high standard (beyond reasonable doubt) an unacceptable amount of innocents will be convicted.

however, the issue is not "knowingly" convicting innocents. the point is that it is a GIVEN that innocents will be convicted. there is absolutely NO solution to that. just out of sheer bad luck (not to mention lying witnesses, etc.) really really bad coincidence can cause somebody to seem guilty when they are not.

we accept that SOME innocents will be convicted , as long as the process is not unfair. or else we cannot convict ANYBODY because there is always a chance that somebody is innocent.

iow, like most aspects of politics and law - it's about tradeoffs.

but we have to accept that SOME innocents will be convicted OR just decide not to try anybody for any crime. because we don't have perfect knowledge.

so, again - what is the metric? ours is reasonable doubt, and the 10:1 principle.

we could raise the standard and the underlying principle (let's say 100:1) but where is the "sweet spot" is the point. surely, if we raise the standard fewer innocents will be convicted. but far far far more guilty will go free.
4.17.2008 2:23pm
Oren:
Full time SWAT should be outlawed. Dynamic entry should be outlawed. The militaration of the police should be stopped.
I've expressed a desire to see dynamic entry strongly curtailed -- I want a strong announcement rule combined with sufficient time for the residents to surrender peacefully. That said, a total ban on dynamic entry sounds like an encouragement for criminal to thumb their noses at the authority of the courts to issue warrants. The fundamental rule of a free society is that everyone submits themselves to the jurisdiction of the law; if the authorities have given you a sufficient chance to do so peacefully and you still refuse, you must be brought in by force.

The license to use force to carry out a duly issued warrant is not unlimited (yes, RA, the ROE at Ruby Ridge were outright criminal) and the government should make every effort to take recalcitrant suspects in peacefully. The strategy at WACO was poorly thought out and even more poorly executed (although Texas seems to have done alright with the child-rapists). These errors are certainly evidence in favor of reforming the method used to apprehend suspects but I don't see any relevance to the principle that, if the law is to have any meaning at all, everyone must submit to its jurisdiction on equal terms.
4.17.2008 2:31pm
whit:
"Prior to the incident, there was rumor in law enforcement that ATF was going to be reduced to a civil tax revenue agency, and that the FBi was going absorb ATF's criminal responsibility (mainly firearms) &investigative personnel. The talk was that ATF's management planned - maybe better described as they took advantage of an existing investigation - the Waco thing as a big splash of publicity for ATF, preventing the power grab by the FBI. Thus the media circus atmosphere of the beginning of the raid. Once the first Federal agent died, there was no way the government would back off what was in their view a crime scene, still occupied by homicide suspects, who remained armed and, if surrounded, not in custody. Eventually, the inability of either side to grasp the logic of the other made an unhappy ending inevitable. There was obviously poor decision making by the Feds, and the debacle was probably unavoidable once the first shots were fired. This is not to release the armed adults inside from culpability either"

im not sure if this is true, but it certainly passes the smell test and is consistent with my experience (both in law enforcement in general, and with my experience dealing with the feds and the ATF specifically)

you see this all the time in govt. agencies. fire depts, after the fire safety field got MUCH better (iow. they fight far far far fewer fires than back in the day) had to justify their existence - they moved into emergency medicine, etc.

i know tons of DEA agents, and many think marijuana enforcement is a waste of time, and many even support decrim/legalization, but no agent in his right mind would publically advocate for that... cause it affects the bottom line and their career.

and the ATF was kind of a 2nd tier "what exactly do they do" type agency before ruby ridge, waco, etc. although they got major 2nd (or 3rd wind) expost 911

i've even seen this with local PD SWAT, where they have to justify their existence (especially as a fulltime unit), so they will try to influence the criteria in which SWAT is called out/used, so as to make it SEEM like they are more needed than they are - in many cases for incidents that are better handled by patrol or other units.

this has even affected training. columbine is the perfect example. columbine was the grossest example of institutionalized police cowardice i have ever seen. another was mardi gras riots in seattle. in both cases (i am much more familiar with the latter, since i read the post incident reports, etc.), orders were given for street cops NOT to 'engage'. in the former, it was a "wait for SWAT". this is also how the academies TRAIN now. it's the politically correct training - wait for SWAT in cases like this. iow, "be a coward and let somebody get shot" principle.

did SWAT units and commanders affect that training? absolutely. in the old days, if a few people were shooting up a school, cops would have ran in, not be ordered to stand outside like frigging cowards. and in the aftermath, training changed to ASAP (Active Shooter...) protocols where patrol is again expected to do their frigging job.

ATF needs their piece of the federal pie, so of course they are going to want to overemphasize the need for them in various law enforcement situations.
4.17.2008 2:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I agree with Oren that the law should be enforced.
Unfortunately, in these two cases, it wasn't.
Only those who were not The Right Sort suffered any sort of punishment. The fed casualties were part of the screwup, not any punishment under the law.
Nobody, whether it was the entrappers in Idaho, the DA who deliberately backdated the court order, the shooters, nobody.
Ditto, only worse (because there were so many actors) in Waco.

In addition, the double standard of the chattering classes was infuriatingly obvious. Media, columnists, politicians, the clergy who are constantly bewailing this, that, or any other injustice. Quite literally, they didn't care.
4.17.2008 3:01pm
Oren:
RA, we're back to the original point (aside from constantly regurgitating this "right sort" bullshit):

Even if the warrants were bogus, even if the DA deliberately backdated an order, even if the branch dividians never touched a gun or a drug in their lives and were perfect saints targeted by a vengeful government -- they are still required to submit peacefully to the jurisdiction of the court. There are no exceptions.
4.17.2008 3:34pm
K Parker (mail):
whit,
i've even seen this with local PD SWAT, where they have to justify their existence
This seems like the most obvious thing in the world, theoretically, so it's good to have some confirmation from the inside that it's actually happening in practice. What would you think about abolishing all the local SWAT units and having that function handled at the state level?
4.17.2008 3:51pm
nomayo:
neurodoc said:
Unless there was no crime in the first place, as many believe about the cases of alleged child abuse discussed here.

I agree with you completely. Oren's post at 9:44pm does a much better job making my point than I did.
4.17.2008 3:58pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
fire depts, after the fire safety field got MUCH better had to justify their existence - they moved into emergency medicine, etc.

Here three vehicles respond to every EMT call: A (contracted) ambulance, a paramedic truck, and, for no reason that I can see, a pumper truck. It's nice to see all the gleaming chrome and the mysterious dials though.
4.17.2008 4:54pm
Dan Hamilton:

Even if the warrants were bogus, even if the DA deliberately backdated an order, even if the branch dividians never touched a gun or a drug in their lives and were perfect saints targeted by a vengeful government -- they are still required to submit peacefully to the jurisdiction of the court. There are no exceptions.


I fully agree, almost. If they walk up and serve the warant like the Texas Rangers said they would have, or like the Waco sheriff had done before Yes you are absolute correct. The BD's were willing to submit to peacefully to the jurisdiction of the court. Why else would Koresh have been OUTSIDE and UNARMED? Why else would Koresh have INVITED the ATF to come out and search. They didn't even need a warrent!

BUT!! When you are ATTACKED for NO good reason. When the attackers open fire FIRST. When you are fired upon from helocopters. When the DUBM (&()*(*@&#^)&%^)&ATF has a 60second plan of BATTLE and NOTHING ELSE. When the BD's were on the phone to 911 trying to stop the shooting and 911 COULDN'T contect to the ATF. When the ATF expected the BDs to just roll over and beg for mercy. I am sorry the time has come to fight. Under Texas Black Letter law the BD's commited no crime.

Also the BDs STOPPED shooting as soon as the ATF asked for a truce!! Why did the ATF ask for a truce??? BECAUSE THEY WERE OUT OF AMMO!!!! WTF were they shooting at, that they ran out of AMMO?? Look at the pictures. No one was visible inside the compound.

When the LEOs screw up that bad they deserve to be shot at. It is the only thing that can stop them from screwing up like that. Dynamic entry causes one of two reactions. Socked so that you can do NOTHING or FIGHT like HELL. SWATs normal reaction when they were in the wrong and they killed people is "Sorry about that" and NOTHING else.

But according to you that is JUST fine. Get on your knees and beg for mercy. The Imperial Federial Stormtroopers have arrived.
4.17.2008 5:07pm
Suzy (mail):
I guess I'm not following why the assertion that Reno was an overly zealous prosecutor, on the basis of these child abuse cases, and thus is a poor choice to be assisting the Innocent Project, has inspired almost exclusively replies related to the Waco incident. Let's grant that what Reno did there was wrong, ok? Now, back to the issue of the overzealous prosecution for a moment:

If as a prosecutor you encounter a defendant who has a prior conviction for sexually abusing a 9 yr old, is currently married to a teenager, and 3 diff children are claiming he has abused them, with medical evidence backing two of the claims, are you really overstepping your bounds so far if you pursue that case vigorously? I would say Reno is clearly guilty of one thing here: accepting the claims from psychologists like the Bragas that their methods were reasonable. I'd agree she should have known better, now that I've read a little more about them. On the other hand, they were being presented as alternatives to a system that was already failing, and in a way that was probably allowing guilty defendants to go free and continue abusing other kids. Other psychologists and experts were supporting people like the Bragas. So although I blame Reno to some extent, at least I can see many reasons beyond malice, lunacy, etc. for her decisions.

Do others agree that we should take this as a cautionary about embracing new theories, but nevertheless that other changes Reno's office made with respect to gathering evidence from alleged victims were a good idea? Or is that issue simply too trivial to be considered, when Waco can be discussed again?
4.17.2008 5:15pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Actually, Reno's actions went beyond believing a new theory.
You don't have to be a genius to watch kids being manipulated into agreeing with what they had earlier denied and come to the conclusion that something is wrong. I would have to reread some of the reports, and I may be getting them mixed up with other atrocities. But in some of them, other factors like no actual access, were passed over as inconvenient.

But, anyway, Oren is right that if you are arrested you must submit.
There are two other issues here. One is that neither the Weavers or the BDs were criminals except for the conniving of the federal government. And in both cases, the feds shot first.

If you think, for whatever reason, that the feds intend to kill you instead of arrest you, there's no real reason not to fight back.

And in both cases, the feds shot first, hitting and killing some of the potential subjects.

You'll notice the feds, having gotten a bit of Weaver fever, waited out the Montana Freemen and the Republic of Texas nutcases. Nobody got killed. I'm sure some of the cowboys were disappointed, but life sucks, sometimes.
All of which is to say they could have waited out Weaver and the BDs, or, heaven forfend, not connived at making them criminals in the first place. They chose not to.
But you can't have everything.

I don't see how this history can be put aside and only a few bogus prosecutions considered against Reno as an adviser to the Innocence Project. Bogus prosecutions are supposed to be wrong. I read that someplace.
4.17.2008 5:29pm
Oren:
But according to you that is JUST fine. Get on your knees and beg for mercy. The Imperial Federial [sic] Stormtroopers have arrived.
Yes, that is my position, except that it's customary to get all the way down on your face with your arms at your side (ask Whit about the SOP for a felony stop).

The difference between this and your references to dystopian futures, however, comes in what happens after the arrest. You have the right to remain silent, you have the right not to have "enhanced interrogation techniques" used against you, you have the right to counsel, you have the right to be brought before a neutral magistrate within 48 hours to have your jailer explain the charges. You have the right to sue the SWAT team under Bivens/S1983 if they didn't get a warrant or for any other violation. You have the right to a fair trial before a jury of your peers. You have the right to exculpatory evidence. You have the right to subpoena witnesses. You have the right not to be deprived of due process. You have the right to habeas corpus in a Federal court that is empowered to remedy violations of the above rights.

The protections afforded you by the Constitution, while vast, are not exercised at the point of police entry, they are exercised in a court of law.
4.17.2008 5:43pm
Dan Hamilton:

The protections afforded you by the Constitution, while vast, are not exercised at the point of police entry, they are exercised in a court of law


Only if you live past the police entry!!

Or don't you know about all the mistakes that SWAT makes where people DON'T live to get to court? And SWATs answer is NOTHING but Sorry about That!!!

What part of "David Koresh was OUTSIDE and UNARMED, yet was still shot" don't you understand??
4.17.2008 6:16pm
Oren:
File a wrongful death suit against the government. That's why we have courts instead of taking the law into our own hands. You want to fight the FBI with guns, be my guest but I assure you that, in all instances, you are better off fighting them in court.

Policies should be put into place that ensure (1) accurate targeting raids on people with warrants and (2) adequate notice for those inside to surrender peacefully. If you don't surrender peacefully (as is more than apparent in the case of Waco). If you refuse to surrender peacefully after being given a fair warning then you can take your chances with the SWAT.

This is somewhat ironic in the context of WACO, perhaps, since the Branch Dividians had advance knowledge of the raid (leaked by the press) and somehow didn't take the chance to surrender peacefully you can't even claim that they were surprised. That advance knowledge is the most damning evidence because it means that every branch dividian that was holding a gun when the raid came knew that he was taking up arms against the agents of the US gov't serving a lawful warrant.
4.17.2008 7:44pm
Brett Bellmore:
Now, that's just plain silly. It takes two to surrender peacefully, just one to get gunned down. The feds started shooting first. They admitted to not having any contingency plan for dealing with a peaceful surrender. The Davidians actually offered to allow the feds in peacefully, and the response was a cattle car of guys in ninja suits firing automatic weapons. What were they supposed to think, that if they laid held their hands up the bullets would bounce off them?
4.17.2008 8:00pm
Oren:
Brett, the ATF offered peaceful surrender numerous times. As I recall, Koresh agreed to surrender if the FBI broadcast his message on the radio. The FBI did so. He did not surrender (he told negotiators that god told him to wait, a clear sign that he wasn't playing with a full deck of cards to begin with, although I'll admit that a wiser government would have understood that their ham-fisted attempts were only making him more delusional). What was the government supposed to do? Ask him to make more demands in exchange for surrender? Say "pretty please"?

There were hundreds of video cameras and a strong desire from the Federal government to have the whole thing end peacefully. If the BD came out with their hands up, they'd still be alive.
4.17.2008 8:16pm
K Parker (mail):
Oren,

Brett it talking about how the Feds started shooting in the first place.
4.17.2008 8:22pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
alternatives to a system that was already failing, and in a way that was probably allowing guilty defendants to go free and continue abusing other kids.

The problem was that Reno's solution to your supposed guilty defendants going free was to prosecute and imprison innocent defendants. Do you see why this would be unsatisfactory?
4.17.2008 8:42pm
Oren:
Brett it talking about how the Feds started shooting in the first place.
Roundly discredited, by the test stipulated to by the Branch Dividians in their wrongful death lawsuit. Even more damning, why the hell did the BD have weapons on their persons at the time of the raid (given that they knew it was coming)? What possible motivation could one have for arming oneself in the face of an impending government raid except to resist that raid by force?

There is a whole hell of a lot to criticize about the FBI's handling of the Waco Seige. They were stubborn, wrong-headed, counter-productive and their tactical officers repeatedly undermined and impeded the negotiating teams. They misunderstood the mindset of the BD from the very beginning, labeling them criminals instead of religious nuts. These errors, however, do not remove the bulk of the responsibility from the BD for their abject and utter failure to submit peacefully to the law.
4.17.2008 9:50pm
whit:
"This seems like the most obvious thing in the world, theoretically, so it's good to have some confirmation from the inside that it's actually happening in practice. What would you think about abolishing all the local SWAT units and having that function handled at the state level?"

a terrible idea. there is a belief among many that the wider the jurisdiction, the more competent the authority. NOTHING can be further from the truth. the wider jurisdiction (state vs. county/city or feds vs. state) usually have better resources (better crime labs, more money) note: usually, but not always.

but the idea that they are more competent, more respectful of civil rights, etc. is simply false. now, granted i am a libertarian type guy, so i automatically lean towards local is better than state, and state is better than federal for almost anything (i admit that bias), but it's also true in my experience.

why should the state step in have THEIR SWAT team serve a warrant, if it's a city or county case?

what possible benefit would there be? not to mention, i again don't assume that a state SWAT is more competent. fwiw, i used to work in a state where there WAS no state law enforcement agency (Hawaii- the only state with that distinction), and currently work in a state that doesn't have a state POLICE, but has a state PATROL - iow, concrete commandos (traffic cops), not "real cops". GREAT with traffic stuff, pursuits, etc. not so much with any type of other crimes.

generally speaking (again, as a capitalist, libertarian d00d). competition is GOOD. having ONE state SWAT agency eliminates sharing of information among different agencies (a much better process for vetting successful tactics and training), eliminates local control (bad bad bad), eliminates local accountability (bad bad bad), insures that the state SWAT guys will have almost no chance of knowing about the suspect's, and local issues in the lab or whatever is being raided, etc. etc.

small agencies with insufficient resources will of course either pool resources and go with a regional swat, or contract with county or state. but the idea of ELIMINATING all SWAT's but the state is an incredibly bad idea imo both based on my experience with state and federal agents, and based on principals of local governance and accountability.

not to mention that in many SWAT responses, and this is KEY, response time is incredibly important.
4.17.2008 10:32pm
Brett Bellmore:
I don't think anybody has managed to discredit the fact that one of the BATF agents SAID after the raid that they shot first, and that SOP at the time WAS to shoot first, at any dogs present, so that they couldn't be sicced on the agents. The exact way the bloodshed was started at Ruby Ridge.

And nothing can change the fact that there never would have been any bloodshed, had the BATF not deliberately launched an armed assault on the Davidians, purely for PR purposes after their participation in the Good Old Boys Roundup was exposed. Based on evidence which barely would have justified a guy in a suit dropping by to have a chat.

Just as a bank robber is, quite properly, considered responsible for any deaths which occur as a result of his crime, even if he himself didn't commit them, the BATF is responsible for the deaths at Waco, even the ones they didn't personally pull the trigger for. That may not be the law of the matter, but it's the moral truth.

But, yes, it can be darned difficult to prove the feds have done wrong using evidence the feds themselves have had custody of. They proved at Ruby Ridge they were willing to falsify evidence, and the same clowns were in charge at Waco.
4.17.2008 10:36pm
Oren:
I don't think anybody has managed to discredit the fact that one of the BATF agents SAID after the raid that they shot first, and that SOP at the time WAS to shoot first, at any dogs present, so that they couldn't be sicced on the agents.
Ok, I thought you were referring to shooting at people. You know, the ones that have Constitutional rights. . .

You also have yet to explain why the entire male population was even armed to begin with when the ATF arrived.

Based on evidence which barely would have justified a guy in a suit dropping by to have a chat.
I thought this point was beaten to death but apparently not. The sufficiency of the evidence, the veracity of the charges, the malfeasance of the prosecutor and any and all such claims are irrelevant at the time of the raid. Bring them up in court.

Just as a bank robber is, quite properly, considered responsible for any deaths which occur as a result of his crime, even if he himself didn't commit them, the BATF is responsible for the deaths at Waco, even the ones they didn't personally pull the trigger for. That may not be the law of the matter, but it's the moral truth.
That's an excellent moral theory. Those people that committed the crime of resisting arrest by a lawful authority were indeed responsible for the deaths of the fellow Davidians.
4.17.2008 11:17pm
jccamp:
Suzy,
Your point re: the discussion is well taken. So, i'll try, since I really don't like JR much.

When she was a state prosecutor in Florida, her office had a well deserved reputation for setting impossibly high standards before taking a felony case that, to use a phrase from "The Wire', happened in the wrong zip code. No threshold of evidence, no eyewitness would suffice. The office theory was that an assistant prosecutor cold look bad by losing a trial, but can't be criticized for not taking a case to trial. You can always blame the cops for not enough evidence. But if there was some high publicity case, her office seemed ready to railroad any poor fool who looked guilty in the press. A lot of the people thus prosecuted may have been guilty. But her lawyers couldn't know that, since they did not have the proof.

The impossibly high burden of proof and the evidentiary standards suddenly suffered. No witness was too shaky or too disreputable. No science was too new or too gimmicky. Those ethical responsibilities of a prosecutor about believing in a case seemed to fall away as well. It was all about winning, the truth be damned. If the truth happened to coincide with the prosecution, well, that was fine, But it was hardly a requisite. The people actually handling the courtroom duties for such cases were normally some of her chief assistants, although she actually took to the floor personally a few times. She must have known of the tactics of a few of her lawyers, since everyone else in the business knew. Some of her best (ethical) trial lawyers were uncomfortable with the nature of some prosecutions. She had some great attorneys on her staff. But you'd never see their names on some high profile cases.

Certainly the allegations in the case you mentioned should have been investigated, maybe even prosecuted. The truth is gone forever, though, never to be found, because of the nature of the prosecution. No one could have watched those interviews and been comfortable taking the children's' statements into court - let me rephrase...no one but a defense attorney could have been comfortable taking such coached and clearly unreliable testimony into court. The prosecutors are supposed to be the good guys. They don't get to put on testimony they don't believe to be truthful (unlike defense attorneys). Prosecutors have to believe their prosecutions are based in fact, or ethically, they must dismiss, or at least, continue and investigate more. Really, it was like this. The most dangerous place in Dade County was to find oneself between Janet Reno and the front page of the Miami Herald.

Her AG record was hardly more distinguished. So some find it ironic to find her on the board of a group seeking to free those persons improperly imprisoned by over-zealous prosecutions. My first reaction was "Well, she oughta know."

I'll add one more note. This really happened. A government witness was a lying piece of convict trash, and he even looked untruthful when we took his statement.
Me: Maybe we should polygraph this guy.
Senior Prosecutor: we can't do that. Suppose he fails the polygraph?
Me: Then maybe we shouldn't be vouching for his testimony by putting him on the stand.
Senior Prosecutor: Whose side are you on?

That's the way her office was run. Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy.
4.17.2008 11:47pm
jccamp:
As S Haetir said earlier...
"Well, my post appears to be proof that I should not try to write anything salient late at night."

Goes for me too. Not my best effort, but the sentiment remains true.
4.17.2008 11:51pm
K Parker (mail):
whit,

Thanks for your answer. I fear I misdirected you by not making it clear (instead I just left it implicit) that I wasn't suggesting the state would be more competent. My question was triggered by this part of your statement:
I've even seen this with local PD SWAT, where they have to justify their existence (especially as a fulltime unit), so they will try to influence the criteria in which SWAT is called out/used, so as to make it SEEM like they are more needed than they are - in many cases for incidents that are better handled by patrol or other units.
I.e. the only point of my request was "pool[ing] resources and go[ing] with a regional swat, or contract[ing] with county or state."

So let me ask a further question. I don't know what department you're with (and certainly don't expect you to say!) but do you think even Seattle or King County really has enough workload to keep dedicated, full-time SWAT units busy?

And yes, in regard to your closing point I completely forgot to account for response time. Oops; there's obviously some kind of upper limit on the geographical area a shared SWAT team could cover effectively.
4.18.2008 2:14am
whit:
"So let me ask a further question. I don't know what department you're with (and certainly don't expect you to say!) but do you think even Seattle or King County really has enough workload to keep dedicated, full-time SWAT units busy? "

neither seattle nor king county has full-time SWAT, at least not in the sense that all they do is SWAT. Officers or deputies assigned to SWAT (tac-30 in the case of king county) are on call 24 hrs a day for the SWAT role and get ample time for training, but they also have other duties. for example, an officer may be assigned to a DUI car, or as a firearms instructor, etc.

but you are correct in that SWAT, like almost any govt. agency (or subdivision) will seek to expand its power/influence, etc.

"And yes, in regard to your closing point I completely forgot to account for response time. Oops; there's obviously some kind of upper limit on the geographical area a shared SWAT team could cover effectively."

yes. that's part of it. i really gotta emphasize the local control, local accountability thing. that's huge.
4.18.2008 2:47am
whit:
oh, and as for the smaller agencies, they DO pool their resources, as mentioned . for example, smaller agencies like Kent, Auburn, etc have a "valley SWAT" that is a multiple agency combined effort.
4.18.2008 2:51am
Brett Bellmore:

Ok, I thought you were referring to shooting at people. You know, the ones that have Constitutional rights. . .


Orin, the difference between shooting at somebody, and shooting in their general direction, when you have given them no reason to suppose you're not firing at them, may figure highly in your mind, but would not prevent them from, yes, even legally, concluding that you were out to kill them, and responding accordingly. If the police don't want citizens quite rightfully attempting to kill them, they should avoid creating situations where citizens may reasonably conclude that the police are attempting to murder THEM.

A search warrant may give police the right to search, and an arrest warrant may give them the right to arrest, but neither gives them the right to do so in an unreasonable manner. This implies any number of constraints the State may not have cared to write into the law: Allowing the subject of a warrant to read it, so they know you're not lying about having one. Allowing them to confirm that you ARE police, so that they know they're not the subject of a home invasion by guys in costumes. Letting people wake up, so that they're actually thinking straight. Not launching armed assaults on flimsy evidence of non-violent crimes, so that you're not risking things going pear shaped for no good reason.

Don't do those things, and you create a circumstance where the police have the right to do "X", and the subject of "X" has the right to fight back. Because they have no REASON to suppose the police have the right to do "X", and when the police do what they have no right to do, they're merely criminals wearing badges. That's bad, the police shouldn't create such circumstances lightly, right? We can agree about that, I hope?

Now, why were the Davidians armed in the first place? Aside from the fact that they've got a Constitutional right to be armed in their own home? Orin, these weren't the local police, or the Texas Rangers, they weren't even the FBI. They were the BATF, an agency which earned every bit of it's evil reputation as America's Gestapo. And they had just responded to an offer to search the place peacefully by accelerating their pre-determined plans for an armed assault.

The Davidians had no reason to suppose that they were about to be greated by reasonable folks in suits who'd politely look around. They had every reason to suppose they were about to be greeted by jack booted stormtroopers with little regard for either human life, or the rights of the citizenry. (Which, as it happens, they were right about.)

You might, under the same circumstances, decide to open the door for their convenience, and lay face down on the floor so as to appear as nonthreatening as possible, and just hope like heck that they weren't going to shoot you anyway and then plant evidence.

You, of course, are not a nutball cultist. And the BATF knew they were dealing with nutball cultists. They'd sought them out for that very reason, they needed to attack on film somebody even less sympathetic than themselves, so it would be on the evening news while a Congressional committee was asking them why they were selling "nigger hunting licenses" at a racist event.

The BATF created that situation, they're responsible for how it turned out. Even if the Davidians, too, could have behaved better. Never forget, the Davidians didn't load themselves into a cattle car, and drive over to the nearest BATF office to stage an assault for no good reason. IT WAS THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
4.18.2008 7:54am
Suzy (mail):
jccamp, thanks for posting the reply. That is definitely the kind of info I was looking for, and it's very disturbing. That puts the issue of her decision-making about how to prosecute these cases in an useful context.
4.18.2008 11:09am
Dan Hamilton:
Orin, please remember that the BATF had a 60 sec plan and nothing else. They were to exit the cattle cars, assault the compound, go after the armory on the second floor, and be in complete control of the compound in 60 sec. They had absolutly no other plan. THE BATF SAID THAT IN THE HEARINGS!!!

They NEVER even considered that the BDs MIGHT fight. It NEVER even occured to them! They NEVER even thought that anyone would be injured! The BATF didn't have even ONE ambulance standing by in the AREA. For all the Black suits and military gear the BATF EXPECTED a peacefull execution of their warrent. But it was to be only the BDs that were peacefull the BATF was to be in FULL attack mode and NOTHING ELSE.

And yet again, Orin, If David Koresh hadn't wanted to settle this peacefully WHY was he unarmed outside the front door????

Orin if you can answer THAT I will agree with you. But as Brett said

It takes two to surrender peacefully, just one to get gunned down.


Since the BATF shot Koresh, I would say that Brett is correct.

If whoever they are aren't intrested in peace. Fight them!
4.18.2008 11:33am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brett.
Someone asked why the BDs were armed. They'd found out the BATF were coming, so why not be prepared to surrender?
They'd found out the BATF was coming to make a combat assault, not a series of arrests. Being prepared to surrender only means more of you get shot.

Oren has subtly shifted the subject of the discussion to the citizen's duty to peacefully go along with the arrest. The original issue was punishing administrations for crimes and the BD and Ruby Ridge cases were mentioned as examples of crimes for which administrations were not punished.
4.18.2008 11:33am
Oren:
A search warrant may give police the right to search, and an arrest warrant may give them the right to arrest, but neither gives them the right to do so in an unreasonable manner
The judgment of reasonableness is properly made only by a judge, not by the target of the warrant.

Don't do those things, and you create a circumstance where the police have the right to do "X", and the subject of "X" has the right to fight back.
Absolutely not. Even in the most egregious case of police misconduct (Rodney King), your sole remedy consists of bringing the police to a higher authority - the courts. Full Stop. Allowing and individual to judge when they have a right to disobey lawful authority with force is to make a mockery of the law.

Aside from the fact that they've got a Constitutional right to be armed in their own home?
That right does not extend to brandishing your weapon at a lawful authority, which is a crime in every state and Federally. I have no problem with citizens owning guns, but it's eminently reasonable that the police seek to temporarily disarm the residents of a house when executing a warrant.

They had every reason to suppose they were about to be greeted by jack booted stormtroopers with little regard for either human life, or the rights of the citizenry. (Which, as it happens, they were right about.)
Ah yes, they knew that there was going to be a shootout and that later fact somehow prejustifies them arming themselves and menacing a lawful authority.

You might, under the same circumstances, decide to open the door for their convenience, and lay face down on the floor so as to appear as nonthreatening as possible, and just hope like heck that they weren't going to shoot you anyway and then plant evidence.
If you had any desire to keep yourself and your children alive, you'd do just that. If the BATF plants evidence, contest it in court.

The BATF created that situation, they're responsible for how it turned out. Even if the Davidians, too, could have behaved better.
I suppose this will never proceed past the mountain/molehill distinction there.

Never forget, the Davidians didn't load themselves into a cattle car, and drive over to the nearest BATF office to stage an assault for no good reason.
A warrant, duly signed by a Federal judge, does not qualify as "no reason". Try again.

They were to exit the cattle cars, assault the compound, go after the armory on the second floor, and be in complete control of the compound in 60 sec. They had absolutly no other plan. THE BATF SAID THAT IN THE HEARINGS!!!
And if the press hadn't leaked to the BD, that would have worked splendidly since no Davidians would have had any access to weapons, the ATF would be in complete control of the situation and nobody would have been hurt. As I've said before, it was terrible planning, bordering on negligence, not to have a backup plan. The ATF paid dearly for their mistake.
4.18.2008 1:22pm
Oren:
For all the Black suits and military gear the BATF EXPECTED a peacefull [sic] execution of their warrent. [sic]
It's generally understood that when one assaults which such overwhelming force that resistance is impossible, there are no casualties. People only get hurt when the sides are somewhat equally matched in strength. As I said above, they should have had a backup plan, but the initial plan of barging in full strength to catch everyone with their pants down was sound (until the leak).

They'd found out the BATF was coming to make a combat assault, not a series of arrests. Being prepared to surrender only means more of you get shot.
First off, I don't think that's the case. The original BATF plan involved catching everyone by surprise, getting to the source of the guns and cutting off any Davidian from them. No guns = no gunfight.

Now, suppose I accept the absurd proposition that, had the Davidians all been disarmed inside the compound when the ATF broke down the door and started executing them despite the total lack of resistance. How do you think that would play out? Do you think any agents would have escaped murder charges? Do you think Reno would have kept her job?

The only reason that most of the government escaped charges for their recklessly negligent behavior is that the Davidian's use of force in resisting made them such an unsympathetic plaintiff. At the point where you decide to fight back you pretty much lose any ability to recover later in court (see the BD wrongful death lawsuit, as compared to the Weaver family that banked a few million).

The whole point of a government is the absolute monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Sine qua non.
4.18.2008 1:36pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oren.

As to your rhetorical questions, yes and yes. Corey Maye is in jail, still, I believe. Katherine Johnson's murderers have suffered...something. The highers in each case are still on the payroll.

The whole point of a government is the absolute monopoly on the legitimate use of force. When it becomes illegitimate???

Anyway, the original post was about investigating a republican administration for things which struck BDS sufferers either as icky or an opportunity to make something out of nothing and gain political advantage that way.

RR and Waco arose to point out crimes which were not punished.

The BATF did not suffer terribly. Some of their shooters were injured and killed. The institution and the highers....? Show suffering.

So, the question of submitting peacefully is not exactly on point.
4.18.2008 1:48pm
Dan Hamilton:
Orin, how can you continue to ignore the fact that the BDs did not want a shootout? Did not want anyone harmed? Wanted to have a peacefull outcome?

Just because they were prepared to fight does not mean that they wanted to!! They were afraid of the BATF and the FEDs. They knew about Ruby Ridge and all the other BATF/DEA/etc raids were people were killed. They had every reason to be afraid.

If they had wanted to fight and kill the BATF they would have started shooting before the BATF got out of the cattle cars! It would have been a slaughter.

The BDs wanted a peacefull outcome the BAF did not!

And yet again, Orin, If David Koresh hadn't wanted to settle this peacefully WHY was he unarmed outside the front door????

Orin if you can answer THAT I will agree with you.

But as Brett said "It takes two to surrender peacefully, just one to get gunned down."

Since the BATF shot the unarmed Koresh, I would say that Brett is correct.

What if the courts are bad? At what point do you fight the injustice? If you wait until AFTER you are arrested how are you different then Jews on a train heading east? A warrant is not a magic wand. It does not place LEOs above the law. And especially in Texas LEOs know that use of excessive force can get them killed and the person who killed them would walk, having done no crime.

Orin, how can you hold that people should grovel in fear before the police, let the police do anything they want, put up with injustice, and even death when they don't even know if the police have a warrant, much less that it is a valid warrant???? To advocate that is to turn your back on the founders. It was actions such as these that caused the revolution. Are you blinded by the THEORY of Law?

I hear that the BATF is going to assault my house. I wait unarmed outside my house to greet them and peacefully solve the problem. They shoot me. I make it back into my home, grab a rifle and kill the BATF agents that have come to murder me. Orin, you say I am guilty of murder. You are wrong! I have a hard time believing that you are acctualy saying that.
4.18.2008 2:13pm
K Parker (mail):
Oren,
The whole point of a government is the absolute monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
Might I ask where you're from, and where you get these ideas? Because your statement I've quoted here is absolutely not true; you left one one very important word:
The whole point of a government is the absolute monopoly on the legitimate use of coercive force.
In every jurisdiction in the US, even under those with the most benighted gun-control/citizen-disarmament regemins, there is still a universally-recognized right to use violence in self-defense.

Dan H.
I have a hard time believing that you [Oren] are acctualy saying that.
Well, Oren did say above that the proper response was to file a wrongful-death suit, so who knows?
4.18.2008 2:54pm
Brett Bellmore:

"Absolutely not. Even in the most egregious case of police misconduct (Rodney King), your sole remedy consists of bringing the police to a higher authority - the courts. Full Stop. Allowing and individual to judge when they have a right to disobey lawful authority with force is to make a mockery of the law. "


Allowing the police to murder at will, with the victims legally obligated to permit themselves to be killed, makes a mockery of the principles our government supposedly exists to further. You're describing a country I wasn't born in, and have no desire to live in. Indeed, a country I'd feel morally obligated to rise up in armed resistance to! Fortunately, you're not describing THIS country, where people certainly do have a right, a LEGAL right, to defend themselves even against agents of the government, in the most egregious cases of police misconduct.

I don't have a hard time believing Orin said that, though. Some people worship the state, and place it above people, who they believe live at the state's sufference, and have no rights or recourses the state does not chose to allow them. It's a ghastly philosophy, in violent opposition to the principles this country was founded on, but it's all too common, especially in the legal community.
4.18.2008 3:17pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Oren, how do you get from where you are to where the Patriots were on April 19, 1775?
4.18.2008 3:42pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Person.
Oren might be living where he could walk to the Shaw Festival.
4.18.2008 3:58pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Has Reno apologized for her Miami shenanigans?
4.18.2008 3:59pm
Oren:
Orin, how can you continue to ignore the fact that the BDs did not want a shootout? Did not want anyone harmed? Wanted to have a peacefull outcome?
I don't believe that, for reasons that I've explained many times. If they didn't want a shootout, they would have put down their weapons and walked outside with their hands up like the rest of us. They would not have been shot en masse outside the compound clearly unarmed.

What if the courts are bad? At what point do you fight the injustice? If you wait until AFTER you are arrested how are you different then Jews on a train heading east? A warrant is not a magic wand. It does not place LEOs above the law.
You can petition the government for redress of your grievances in a court, the legislature or a Constitutional convention and take it straight to the people. I happen to believe very strongly in an affirmative role for the courts in protecting criminal defendants (even in the face of all the scorn that Earl Warren gets on this blog).

Orin, how can you hold that people should grovel in fear before the police, let the police do anything they want, put up with injustice, and even death when they don't even know if the police have a warrant, much less that it is a valid warrant????
I'm not advocating groveling in fear, I'm advocating letting the police have absolute control of the situation temporarily, pending the intervention of a higher power: the courts. I thought this was a relatively

For instance, quite a while ago, I was arrested by an officer based on the fruits of a blatantly illegal search of my vehicle. This was not pleasant (and the officer's insistence that he was going to search my car, PC be damned wasn't helping). He even made the mistake of turning his back to me while leaning over into my car, giving me a decent shot of grabbing his gun and shooting him. According to your logic, since he was in the process of violating my Constitutional right under the 4A, that would be justified? Do we really want every idiot on the street making that judgment? [epilogue: of course, it went to court and was suppressed and I walked]

I hear that the BATF is going to assault my house. I wait unarmed outside my house to greet them and peacefully solve the problem. They shoot me. I make it back into my home, grab a rifle and kill the BATF agents that have come to murder me. Orin, you say I am guilty of murder. You are wrong! I have a hard time believing that you are acctualy saying that.
Not only are you guilty of voluntary manslaughter (not murder, but ok), you are an idiot. As an unarmed suspect shot by the Feds (even under your patently preposterous hypothetical) you stand to gain millions in a Bivens action. As a armed suspect, you become entirely unsympathetic to the jury and your actions make the BATF look reasonable (after all, now they are arresting a suspect who resisted violently instead of one that was shot unarmed).

Allowing the police to murder at will, with the victims legally obligated to permit themselves to be killed, makes a mockery of the principles our government supposedly exists to further.
You are confusing the power of coercive violence at the point of inception with the totality of the circumstances in which LEOs are subject to the law. You can continue to play this sophist game where you conflate the two as long as you want, I'm not biting.

Also, LEOs have been convicted of murder, manslaughter and assault for unreasonably excessive force (right now, the Brooklyn case of Mr Bell is focused on just that). The notion that police, especially after the recent expansion of 1983 and Bivens, are above the law is so patently absurd that in most cases I wouldn't even think it bears mentioning. Every year, tens of thousands of complaints are lodged against officers in Federal Courts.

To advocate that is to turn your back on the founders. It was actions such as these that caused the revolution. Are you blinded by the THEORY of Law?
Oren, how do you get from where you are to where the Patriots were on April 19, 1775?
If you are seriously advocating that the American government is corrupt beyond repair and needs to be overthrown violently, I'm absolutely willing to entertain that argument. I don't think you are anywhere near meeting the burden of proof in that case.

Failing that argument, you have the duty to attempt to change the system democratically or within the confine of the Constitutional amendment process as opposed to resisting by force. There is no partial violent revolution - either you overthrow the government by force or you work within the confines of its strictures.
4.18.2008 5:18pm
Oren:
Some people worship the state, and place it above people, who they believe live at the state's sufference, and have no rights or recourses the state does not chose to allow them.
This is seriously hilarious. I've been a consistent advocate of limiting the State's power with respect to the citizens. I believe the Constitution is a document that endows the people with considerable and broad rights (including unenumerated rights, penumbras, emanations and auras of liberty) and that the government needs to meet a high standard (compelling interest) in order to violate them.

See, for instance, my continuing arguments with Clayton Cramer (started by an argument over Lawrence v. Texas and whether sodomy is a liberty interest) in which I advocated a rather extreme form of "presumption of liberty" in which the State may not interfere with any part of personal autonomy without compelling reason.

You have confused my advocacy of a manner of implementing government power with the scope of government power. I have no problem asserting that the government should be one of very limited powers (as I do) while simultaneously asserting that any challenge to government action must be in the proper venue - and armed resistance is not among them.
4.18.2008 5:23pm
htom (mail):
Oren, sadly, my faith in the police as just and impartial agents of the state has been destroyed by their acts. My opinion of the courts is not a lot higher, although I still think that they are less likely to indulge in initiating violence.

BATF initiated the use of violence in their encounter, failed to use "overwhelming force", and harvested a entirely predictable defeat. The FBI came along and tried to treat a bunch of religious kooks as if they were drug dealers. Things are not looking good for the visiting team. Then they decide to have their "this is not an assault" party, keeping both fire trucks and ambulances far away.

I don't have enough spit.

For those who want to know more, by serious folk, about the Branch Davidians &Waco, I recommend:

James Lewis, From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco;

Dick Reavis, The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation; and

James Tabor and Eugene Gallagher, Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America
4.18.2008 5:58pm
Dan Hamilton:

any challenge to government action must be in the proper venue - and armed resistance is not among them.


Orin so sad. When they come for you, you will go willingly believing that the courts will make it right. Long after the courts have decided that you are in the wrong.

Suppose:

1. Heller is decided for DC. Suppose that the SC says that there is no individual right to arms. Both are more then possible.

2. Congress Outlaws all so called assault weapons and orders them confiscated.

3. The BATF shows up to search and take my arms.

4. The courts will do me NO good. I have lost in the courts. If you believe the right answer is to give my arms to the BATF, I am sorry for you. I feel nothing but pity for someone that trusts the courts above reason.
4.18.2008 6:04pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oren.
You must be joking.
In the hypothetical where the guy waits, unarmed, outside his house, is wounded by unprovoked police gunfire and gets inside his house, you say he has millions of dollars locked up.
As if the unprovoked shooting outside would not be repeated if the cops got a good shot at him inside.
Give us a break.
One unprovoked shot means all the rules, legal, moral, custom, good sense, of dealing with cops are out the window. Because it's no longer an arrest but an attempted murder. The rules about submitting to an arrest do not apply to attempted murder.
4.18.2008 6:24pm
Oren:
Allowing the police to murder at will, with the victims legally obligated to permit themselves to be killed, makes a mockery of the principles our government supposedly exists to further. You're describing a country I wasn't born in, and have no desire to live in. Indeed, a country I'd feel morally obligated to rise up in armed resistance to!
This comment requires further response, IMO.

First off, I'd like to understand how a country in which this is really the case would work. A police officer raids a crack-house based on an unconfirmed CI - unconstitutional so blast away at him. Police man a drug checkpoint, unconstitutional - fire away.
4.18.2008 6:26pm
Oren:
Suppose:

1. Gonzalez v. Raich is decided for Gonzalez.

2. Congress outlaws all medicinal use of marijuana.

3. The DEA shows up to search and take my medicine.

4. The courts have done me NO good. I have lost in the courts. If you believe the right answer is to give my medicine to the DEA, I am sorry for you. I feel nothing but pity for someone that trusts the courts above reason.
4.18.2008 6:31pm
Oren:
Do you really intend to give license to every citizen to interpret the Constitution for themselves. Because if so, all of Federal drug law is out the window (clearly a violation of my pursuit of happiness and therefore Unconstitutional) and now I am licensed to morally oppose the DEA by force?

I would ask what you are smoking but the irony is a bit too much.
4.18.2008 6:33pm
Brett Bellmore:
Oren, we seem to have a rather major disagreement here over the extent to which the people delegated their rights and powers to the government, and what it is reasonable to do when they are overstepped. You've cited Weber's defintion of the state. Do you view this definition as normative or merely descriptive? And is it really a good description of OUR state? I understand the founders to have attempted the creation of a state somewhat less omnipotent than Weber envisions.

And, as was pointed out upthread, Texas law explicitly permits self defense against police. Is Texas, in your view, not really a state? Are Texas rangers routinely gunned down at traffic stops?

You have taken a lot of pro-liberty stances in the past, but it's rather much to swallow the assertion that, if a police officer tries to murder me, I'm obligated to let him, and hope that my heirs take him to the cleaners in court after the fact. Nope, sorry, unacceptable.

The Declaration of Independence stands for the proposition that a people, in extremity, are entitled to revolt against government. Why is not a person, in life threatening extremity, equally entitled? Society has no rights the people making it up don't have.

Oh, by the way, McWilliams tried your option in a drug case. Ended up drowning in his own vomit. Really worked out well, don't you think?
4.18.2008 6:47pm
Smokey:
While reading some things I didn't know about Ruby Ridge and Waco above, it occurred to me that the Clintonista chameleon Janet Reno only signed on to the Innocence Project to burnish her new bona fides as a Protector of Children.

Sorta like David Duke donating to the NAACP.
4.18.2008 9:54pm
Deoxy (mail):
Oren,

I understand your theory. It sounds nice.

BUT

You have not answered the issue of Corey Maye. Or Katherine Johnson. Or so many others.

Just answer me this: How bad does it have to get before you will change your mind? How often do the police have to get cauught planting evidence? How many people need to be killed by SWAT in wrong house raids?

Because as it is, you've placed the bar impossibly high: "any challenge to government action must be in the proper venue - and armed resistance is not among them."

That (and other such statements, above) is a quite categorical "NEVER", and no sane person will accept that.
4.21.2008 3:19pm