By G. Flint Taylor
During a week in which Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s disapproval rate on two racially charged local issues skyrocketed, he found time to write a glowing letter to Federal District Judge Susie Morgan in support of former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard’s bid to become the monitor of the sweeping consent decree that the Department of Justice has obtained to oversee the New Orleans Police Department.
The 122 page decree comprehensively deals with issues of police use of deadly force; supervision, training and discipline; gender bias, domestic violence and sexual assault; arrests, searches and custodial interrogations; crisis intervention; and secondary employment. The decree also provides for transparency, oversight, and community involvement in the form of an interdisciplinary Criminal Justice Coordination Group, a Police-Community Advisory Board, a community based Restorative Justice Project, comprehensive audits, data collection and analysis, and an independent monitor, jointly selected by the parties and approved by the court. Judge Morgan entered the decree this January, and has set a fifth public hearing on the contested question of the monitor for the Superdome on May 28th.
After unsuccessfully trying to back out of the decree, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu proposed Hillard as the City’s choice for monitor. New Orleans civil rights attorney Mary Howell contacted me to investigate Hillard’s qualifications for the job. In response, I wrote a letter that attorney Howell, who has been courageously fighting against police brutality in New Orleans for more than 35 years, presented with her public comment. The letter set forth Hillard’s role in the continuing cover-up of the Chicago police torture scandal:
When Hillard became the Superintendent in 1998, the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS), after more than a decade of police cover-up and denial, had made an official determination that there was systematic police torture of African American suspects that was led by Police Commander Jon Burge which included the use of electric shock, suffocation, and mock executions; Burge had been fired; and OPS investigators had made specific disciplinary findings that Burge’s “right hand men” had tortured a number of suspects. Hillard’s top aide, rather than acting on these disciplinary findings, summarily overturned them, an act that Hillard expressly ratified. When more than 50 community groups and civic leaders asked him to reverse his decision and mandate an independent investigation, Hillard refused to do so. This conduct led to a continuation of the cover-up and wrongful imprisonment of numerous African-American men for another decade. These actions also provided the basis for Hillard and his aide’s inclusion as defendants in no fewer than five federal court torture/wrongful conviction cases, three of which have been settled for a total of approximately $17,000,000, while the other two are still pending. The letter also recounted Hillard’s role in two other Chicago high profile cases where he approved the wrongful arrests of two young boys for the murder and rape of 11 year old Ryan Harris and the subsequent arrest of 800 demonstrators who were peacefully protesting the start of the Iraq war.
In response, Hillard solicited a number of letters including from Mayor Emanuel, longtime powerful Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, and former CPD Deputy Superintendent Charles Ramsey. Emanuel, who wrote “as Mayor, a publicly elected official, and as a private citizen,” highlighted his recent appointment of Hillard as chair of the public safety committee in charge of facilitating the highly unpopular closing of 54 Chicago Public Schools. Emanuel also touted Hillard’s “personal integrity and high professional standards” and his confidence that, that, as monitor, Hillard would “play a crucial leadership role” in “helping the people of New Orleans begin to regain trust in their Police Department and the new practices of constitutional policing that will ultimately transform it.”
These letters did not sit well with two longtime veterans of the battles against police brutality and corruption in Chicago. In his public comment, Howard Saffold, a founding member and past president of the African American Police League who acted as the Coordinator of Security for Mayor Harold Washington, recounted how he was compelled to remove Hillard from his security staff, and shined a light on Hillard’s powerful advocates:
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no track record of Hillard, or those who have written in his support, advocating public policy changes in Chicago. It is a sad fact that retaliation from the desk of some of those powerful letter writers still rules here and silences voices of change. In fact, the all-powerful Ed Burke was one of the leaders of the 29 white aldermen who unsuccessfully sought to drive Mayor Harold Washington from power during his first term, and Charles Ramsey was Deputy Superintendent during a period where his direct supervisor, Superintendent Leroy Martin, was actively covering up findings of “systematic” police torture.
In her public comment, Mary Powers, longtime coordinator of Citizens Alert, a Chicago organization which has fought for police accountability for more than four decades, raised Citizen Alert’s “most serious concern” which arose from “Mr. Hillard’s consistent stonewalling of community requests that he employ the authority of his office to reopen investigations of systematic torture by Jon Burge and CPD officers under his command” and “substantially contributed to the continuation of a decades long police torture scandal.”
Historically, New Orleans has been a sister city to Chicago when it comes to a long standing tradition of racially motivated police torture, deadly brutality, and systemic cover-up. In a certain sense then, it should not surprising that New Orleans would seek a kindred spirit from Chicago to “monitor” its Department. Unfortunately, it is also not be surprising that the City’s Mayor and most powerful Alderman would attempt to swing some good old fashioned Chicago clout to help their sister city in police crime. Like their very unpopular move to close 54 Chicago public schools, their war with the Chicago Teacher’s Union, their refusal to apologize to the African American community on behalf of the City for decades of police torture, and their continued funding of Jon Burge’s defense, Emanuel and Burke’s advocacy for Terry Hillard is yet another galling manifestation of their abiding lack of respect for Chicago’s African American community.
Friday, September 27, 2013 1:53pm
TAMPA — Tampa police Sgt. Ray Fernandez may not have known the Jan. 23 DUI arrest outside Malio's steak house was a setup. He may indeed only have been a pawn in lawyers' schemes, used by a close family friend.
But Fernandez lied, the Tampa Police Department announced Friday. And he likely destroyed evidence.
Because of that, the agency fired its former DUI supervisor Friday.
Police Chief Jane Castor, who has faced criticism for her slow start to action, announced his termination at a news conference. "Sgt. Fernandez lost his impartiality and professionalism in dealing with this case," she said.
Fernandez worked for the agency about 19 years. He had been DUI supervisor for seven years and was making a salary of about $92,500, according to the city. He was informed at noon.
According to an internal investigation, Fernandez violated five regulations, including the agency's policy on truthfulness, which is a fireable offense. The FBI is still investigating the events of Jan. 23, and Fernandez does not face criminal charges. He will likely receive his pension, which is $73,196 a year.
Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Dan Bethards, who is a federally licensed gun manufacturer, holds an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that he made. Bethards alerted his superiors at DCI and law enforcement that he believed his direct supervisor, Jay Smith, was manufacturing and selling rifles and handguns without a license and had possession of a stolen machine gun. DOJ fired Bethards last week.
The state Department of Justice has fired the agent who alleged his supervisor was illegally selling and manufacturing guns without a license and possessed a stolen machine gun.
In an Oct. 10 letter from Deputy Attorney General Kevin St. John, Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Dan Bethards was accused of numerous rule and policy violations, many of them related to his allegations of misconduct against his former boss, Jay Smith.
Bethards’ allegations sparked an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In August, authorities declined to press charges against Smith, whom Bethards had accused of making customized weapons without a license for fellow law enforcement agents, including Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Off the World News Desk:
Police in Florida suburb make millions from drug sting operations, report finds
“Police in Florida have been luring big-money drug buyers to a small suburban town from across the United States and as far north as Canada, negotiating sales of cocaine in popular restaurants and then arresting the buyers and confiscating their cash and cars.
According to a six-month investigation by the Sun Sentinel, undercover detectives in Sunrise, Fla., seized millions of dollars from the drug stings, offering cash rewards for the confidential informants who help police attract faraway buyers, including paying one informant more than $800,000 over the past five years.
The paper’s investigation has led the police department to stop the cocaine stings, with Mayor Michael Ryan, who supports the police work, blaming the Sun Sentinel for exposing the department’s strategies and compromising the undercover work.
In announcing the end to the program, Ryan did not address the huge overtime payments the police earned, or the expensive incentives rewarding a network of secret informants, the paper reported. In one instance, a sergeant running the stings collected more than $240,000 in overtime during a three-and-a-half year period.”
A great example of how the "war on drugs" has become a corruption-inducing War on the People. - Wes
A former corrections officer at the DeKalb County Detention Center has been arrested for allegedly stealing cash from a detainee, Sheriff Jimmy Harris said.
John Weston Culpepper, 28, of Dawson, was arrested on count of third-degree theft of property and terminated from his position with the county after authorities determined he stole $325 from a detainee in September.
December 4, 2013
There is big money in the drug war for Federal agencies and State and local police forces.
I have told you before that the so-called war on drugs is a sham and a scam, and it corrupts Federal agencies and all police forces. American prisons and cemeteries are overflowing with victims of the faux drug war.
There are more than 2.4 million people in U.S. prisons. That’s more than one out of every 100 Americans, and that number has more than quadrupled since 1980. The most serious charge against 51 percent of those in Federal prisons is a drug offense. In State prisons, one in five prisoners is being incarcerated over a drug offense.
There is now a breaking scandal in Massachusetts that reveals how corrupt the war on drugs actually is. Annie Dookhan, a chemist with the Massachusetts crime lab, has been caught conspiring with prosecutors in that State to falsify drug evidence by tampering with samples and intentionally forging signatures. As many as 40,000 cases may have had their evidence tainted by Dookhan.
Dookhan, who recently pleaded guilty to all 27 counts of altering drug evidence and obstructing justice that prosecutors had filed against her, was a crime lab chemist for nine years. Her tampered evidence has put thousands of innocent people behind bars, and thousands more have had their sentences lengthened based on her fake “evidence.”
The Boston Globe published emails that demonstrated the cozy relationship Dookhan had with prosecutors. In one exchange with Norfolk Assistant District Attorney George Papachristos (who resigned in October after the Globe disclosed his flirtatious friendship with Dookhan), the chemist apparently was more than willing to acquiesce to the prosecutor’s request to inflate the size of a marijuana sample so that its owners could be charged with trafficking. The emails also show Dookhan was prone to fabrications, repeatedly making up grandiose job titles for herself, such as “special agent of operations” for the FBI and other Federal agencies.
Following Dookhan’s guilty plea, a second Massachusetts crime lab “chemist” has been fired after investigators determined she had fabricated her educational credentials. Kate Corbett worked alongside Dookhan and testified as a “chemistry expert” in dozens of court cases that led to convictions — even though her degree is in sociology. Defense attorneys argue that as many 180,000 Massachusetts drug cases may be tainted by the two women’s actions.
“I screwed up big time. I messed up. I messed up bad. It’s my fault. I don’t want the lab to get in trouble,” Dookhan was reported as saying. Her “screwup” resulted in prosecutors and drug cops getting promotions and glowing headlines for drug convictions and their agencies getting an increasing pile of tax dollars while their wrongly convicted victims lost their families, their livelihoods and years of their lives.
Mérida, 12th December 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan counter narcotics efforts have yielded more drug seizures per year since the government broke with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2005, according to a high ranking military official.
Special Report: Twenty-four years ago, the United States invaded Panama to capture Gen. Manuel Noriega on drug charges. Operation Just Cause promised the country a new day free of dictatorship and drug-tainted corruption, but it didn’t work out that way, as Jonathan Marshall describes.
By Jonathan Marshall
Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama in December 1989, marked a critical turning point in U.S. foreign and military policy. As the first large commitment of U.S. armed forces after the Vietnam debacle, it set the stage for the massive intervention in the Persian Gulf region a year later.[i] It also represented a dramatic escalation in Washington’s “war on drugs,” turning a mostly rhetorical metaphor into bloody reality.[ii]
Many accounts have chronicled the war of nerves leading up to the invasion. Only a handful, on the other hand, have covered the aftermath, particularly with respect to drugs.[iii] Reporters who came to Panama with the troops soon returned home when the brief excitement was over. Attention turned to Noriega’s historic trial and conviction in Miami for conspiring to aid the Medellín Cartel and its criminal allies. For much of the media, and even for most scholars, Panama without Noriega was just another Central American backwater.[iv]
Gen. Manuel Noriega is escorted onto a U.S. Air Force aircraft by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency after his arrest on Jan. 1, 1990. (U.S. military photo)
But a close look at the evolution of Panama’s connection to the drug trade in the immediate years after Noriega sheds light on several important questions. Does the public rationale for the invasion hold up to historical scrutiny? Did the Bush administration’s policies in the aftermath of Noriega’s ouster comport any better than earlier U.S. support for Noriega with its expressed commitment to fighting drugs by any and all means necessary? Finally, does the militant strategy of neutralizing drug “kingpins” appreciably affect the flow of narcotics to the United States?
It will surprise few students of the drug trade that Noriega’s downfall, like that of many bigger traffickers before and after, did nothing to hold back the rising tide of cocaine that flowed north from the Andean nations. What may be more surprising was Washington’s willingness to replace Noriega with civilian leaders who had an unambiguous (if not technically criminal) record of serving Colombia’s biggest drug lords by protecting their secret financial assets in Panamanian banks.
Key members of the new government had in the 1980s worked for dirty banks that Noriega, in a remarkable display of cooperation with U.S. law enforcement, actually closed down or put at risk. Some evidence suggests, in fact, that Washington’s new allies had opposed Noriega as much for his crackdown on drug money laundering as for his violations of democratic and human rights.
Needless to say, this framing is entirely at odds with the official version of events, which served to justify Washington’s reversal of policy toward Noriega. This article suggests that the war on drugs was a secondary policy priority even in the one theater where the United States resorted to a major show of force in its name.
The Noriega Legacy
To better understand the stance of Panama’s post-invasion government toward drug-related crimes, it pays to reexamine some of the widely ignored or forgotten clashes between the Noriega regime and the major Colombian “cartels.”[v] So great was their animosity that some notorious drug traffickers were actually pleased to see Noriega ousted — and likely also pleased by Washington’s choice of his successors.
Noriega played a double game, apparently protecting some favored smugglers while earning Washington’s gratitude for helping the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) target the vital financial infrastructure of the major drug cartels.[vi] This was a matter of the highest importance to U.S. law enforcement.
As the House Committee on Foreign Affairs noted in 1985, “With more than one hundred banks, the U.S. dollar as the national currency, and strict bank secrecy laws, Panama is an ideal haven for laundering narcotics money. Unlimited amounts of money may be brought into and out of the country with no reporting requirements, and money laundering is not a crime.”[vii] A study by the U.S. Treasury estimated that nearly a billion dollars a year in drug cash flowed each year between Miami and Panama.[viii]
In a landmark case in 1985, Noriega permitted the closure of First Interamericas Bank, owned by one of the leaders of the Cali Cartel who was fighting extradition from Spain on drug charges in the United States. The bank laundered tens of millions of dollars for the Medellín Cartel as well.[ix] As we will see, several leading members of the post-Noriega government sat on the bank’s board of directors.
One of the high points of Noriega’s cooperation was Operation Pisces, a three-year undercover probe that Attorney General Edwin Meese called “the largest and most successful undercover investigation in federal drug law enforcement history.” Among those indicted were Medellín Cartel kingpins Pablo Escobar and Fabio Ochoa.[x] Panama contributed 40 arrests and seized $12 million from accounts in 18 local banks.[xi]
These money laundering cases garnered Noriega numerous friends in the DEA, but cost him important allies at home. Indeed, these local antagonists played a critical role in fomenting domestic opposition to Noriega’s rule. The reason was simple: Panama’s financial services sector accounted for about a tenth of the country’s gross domestic product and employed more than 8,000 people. They formed what the Wall Street Journal called “the nucleus of a thriving middle class.”[xii]
Noriega threatened this politically powerful sector when he opened negotiations with Washington in 1984 over a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that would make it easier for U.S. authorities to request privileged financial information in criminal cases.
“The negotiations, and the publication of the draft treaty in early 1985, caused squeals of indignant protest from the opposition, many of whose most prominent members were bankers,” noted John Dinges, one of Noriega’s biographers. “La Prensa, in banner headlines, said the proposed law put ‘at grave risk’ the secrecy ‘that is considered the pillar on which the International Financial Center of Panama rests.’”[xiii]
The opposition protested even louder when Panama’s legislative assembly finally passed a law to crack down on money laundering in December 1986.[xiv] A few months later Panama’s attorney general ordered the seizure of 52 accounts at 18 Panamanian banks as part of Operation Pisces — and threatened uncooperative bank managers with arrest.[xv] One local banker warned, “this could end the Panamanian banking system, because people will no longer believe they can count on bank secrecy.”[xvi]
Within two months, spooked investors withdrew as much as $4 billion of the country’s $39 billion in bank deposits. Newsday reported that Panama’s cooperation with the DEA in Operation Pisces had “sparked the most serious banking crisis in Panama’s history,” creating the greatest single “threat to military strongman Gen. Manuel A. Noriega.”
A Western diplomat said of Noriega, “The bankers can bring him down. They are complaining in Washington and they’ve got a lot of clout.” Opposition leader Ricardo Arias Calderón (the country’s future vice president) spoke for that powerful lobby when he declared, “I believe the continuation in power of General Noriega is a danger to the Panamanian economy.”[xvii]
Hornell, N.Y. -- A 39-year-old Hornell police officer has been charged with stealing $15,000 in cash from a police evidence room, the New York State Police said Saturday.
WASHINGTON – Nearly three months after an unarmed, young, black single mother with a one-year-old daughter in tow was gunned down in broad daylight by police on a crystal-clear autumn afternoon in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, a veil of official silence remains over the case.
The Secret Service, the Washington Metro Police and the Capitol Police have withheld virtually all details of the shooting from the family of Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Connecticut, and the public. Those details include forensics reports that would show how many times Carey was shot, her cause of death, the position of the body at the time of death, video and photos, multiple eyewitness accounts and an explanation as to why police believed deadly force was necessary to subdue her while she had her infant daughter with her.
No one has been charged in the case, which has been handed over to Attorney General Eric Holder for investigation.
A WND investigation shows at least seven security cameras in the immediate vicinity of the fatal police shooting Oct. 3, while a number of police cruiser dash-cams also likely recorded the incident as police surrounded Carey’s car. While cell phone cameras recorded the initial volley of shots fired by police on Carey’s car near the White House, none capturing the fatal shooting near the Capitol have surfaced. Officials won’t even confirm if video of the incident exists.
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