Are police officers allowed to lie to you? Yes the Supreme Court has ruled that police officers can lie to the American people. Police officers are trained at lying, twisting words and being manipulative. Police officers and other law enforcement agents are very skilled at getting information from people. So don’t try to “out smart” a police officer and don’t try being a “smooth talker” because you will lose! If you can keep your mouth shut, you just might come out ahead more than you expected.

Friday, October 30, 2015

U.S. opens probe of Florida police money-laundering sting

By Michael Sallah
Miami Herald

fuck the police revok

MIAMI — After years of rampant abuses by undercover Bal Harbour police, the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the millions taken in by the officers who allegedly turned a money-laundering sting into a major cash enterprise, spending lavishly on travel and luxury hotels without making a single arrest.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago and the Internal Revenue Service last week carted away hundreds of confidential files of the Tri-County Task Force, including records that show the officers regularly withdrew large amounts of cash from the bank with no receipts to show where it went, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The Chicago office requested all the records of the laundering deals struck by the Bal Harbour cops with criminal groups across the country — 84 deals in Chicago alone — in what appears to be a sweeping examination of the millions laundered by the police through banks and storefront businesses in Miami, records show.

The ongoing probe follows a Miami Herald series, License to Launder, that showed the task force officers from Bal Harbour and the Glades County Sheriff’s Office posed as money launderers while they jetted into a dozen cities to pick up drug cash in a sting operation to clean money for cartels and other groups with the stated goal of arresting suspects.

Ultimately, they kept at least $2.4 million for themselves for arranging the deals — returning the rest of the money to the same criminal groups — but never made any arrests of their own.

During one trip to Chicago, two Bal Harbour cops picked up $198,000 stuffed in a torn tortilla box, stayed long enough to dine at Morton’s of Chicago, and then flew back to Bal Harbour to wire half the drug money to a bank in China.

One source familiar with the probe said the case was part of a larger inquiry that expanded to Bal Harbour police, who frequently picked up drug cash with the help of a federal-state task force that included the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, declined to comment.

In the written request to Bal Harbour, prosecutors for Chicago U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon also asked for the files of three informants believed to have helped the Bal Harbour cops to strike deals with drug groups in exchange for cash rewards.

“Follow the money. That’s what they’re doing,” said Dennis Fitzgerald, a lawyer and former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who examined the task force’s data for the Herald. “This was a task force whose objective was to make money. The objective was not to make arrests. They were not even writing police reports.”

Bal Harbour Assistant Mayor Patricia Cohen said she hoped the investigation would help the village move forward from a scandal that has dominated the community for months. “It’s unconscionable,” she said. “In many ways, we are all responsible. We allowed this to happen. We need to get to the bottom of it.”

The federal examination comes two weeks after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement opened its own inquiry into the task force, the largest undercover operation in decades in Florida in terms of dollars laundered, before it disbanded in 2012.

In an earlier investigation three years ago, federal agents found Bal Harbour misspent money from seized cars and cash to pay for police salaries, but investigators never examined the money raked in during the laundering sting — at least $71.5 million — until now.

Included in the evidence turned over to prosecutors last week: records that show the police tapped into the drug money — hundreds of thousands of dollars — to pay for the operation without seeking court approval, as required under Florida law.

Nearly 40 times, officers paid for first-class and business premium flights, frequently stayed at luxury hotels in San Juan and Las Vegas, and bought more than $125,000 in computers and weapons, including submachine guns. There were dinners at Bal Harbour 101 for $1,150 and Morton’s in North Miami Beach for $959.

In one case, they paid Bal Harbour’s finance director, Chris Wallace, $15,000 in drug money to cover his “overtime” costs for helping the police gather documents during an audit in 2012.

Tom Hunker, the police chief who created the task force and resigned in 2013, said he would not comment on any stories. In prior interviews, he said auditors sifting through the bank records would “not find anything wrong,” and that records were kept for all spending.

However, a recent audit of the task force’s finances by Anthony Brunson P.A., a Miami firm hired by Bal Harbour leaders, turned up troubling findings that were turned over to Chicago prosecutors.

Examiners found dozens of instances of officers withdrawing thousands at a time with no records to show where it was spent, according to sources who spoke to the Herald on the condition of anonymity. In addition, examiners found large cash deposits — millions of dollars — that appear to be laundering deals that do not show up in reports kept by police of the sting operation. Auditors believe the amount laundered was about $83 million.

Hunker said in a previous interview that all money withdrawn and any funds picked up for laundering were all properly documented. Mark Overton, who succeeded Hunker as chief, said police are still searching for any records that could help reconcile the differences.

The manager of the SunTrust bank branch that allowed the police to set up undercover accounts said any withdrawals of more than $10,000 were noted by his staff with the names of the police who took out the cash. Any other activities by the cops during their investigations were “completely out of my scope,” said Ivan Morales, who resigned his job as the audit was underway. “Our position was to process the transactions, like we would for any customer.” He said his departure was not prompted by the audit.

For three years, the cops conducted 332 deals with criminal groups to launder their money — one in every four taking place in Chicago. Officers were constantly working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DEA Group 37 and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, among others.

In one case, they picked up $98,980 stuffed in a Dockers shoe box from a money courier. In another, more than $242,000 in a book bag outside an ice cream store. In all, the cops collected $15.6 million in dozens of trips to Chicago.

Emails exchanged between Bal Harbour and Chicago agents show the frequency with which the Florida cops were jetting into the city. After one deal in 2009, a DEA agent sent a message to former Bal Harbour Capt. Greg Roye. “Thank you again for last week!! What size shirts do you guys (the chief, too) wear?”

Several former federal agents who once supervised money-laundering stings said the dozens of money pickups in Chicago should have resulted in arrests by the task force — the very reason it was created.

“They keep talking about this sting. They stung no one,” said Michael McDonald, a former Internal Revenue Service criminal agent who took part in Operation Greenback, one of the most famous laundering task forces ever created. “Their intent was not to arrest or prosecute. It was a gravy train for these guys.”

Bal Harbour police in 2012 created a report that said the tips they passed on to agents in Chicago led to 43 arrests from 2010 through 2012. However, Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesman, told the Herald in June that his agency could not verify the arrest numbers traced to the Tri-County Task Force. Bal Harbour police did not track any of the arrests through court.

Toward the end of the task force’s operations, DEA officials began to question the unit’s practices, demanding in an email on Sept. 14, 2012, that the officers turn over letters signed by state prosecutors in Florida authorizing their ability to carry out sting operations before they could work with DEA agents. No such letter was produced, but the task force continued to fly into Chicago — five more times — to pick up hundreds of thousands with the help of ICE and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, records show.

Fitzgerald, the former DEA agent who once worked in Miami, said the task force was driven by the deals, not government rules. “They did whatever they wanted to do,” said Fitzgerald, who wrote the book “Informants, Confidential Informants and Undercover Operations.” “No one was watching them. They were given a long leash and no one pulled the choke chain.”

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Reverse prostitution sting nets arrests

By DAVE GOSSETT - For The Weirton Daily Times

STEUBENVILLE - A reverse prostitution sting this week saw nine men, including four city residents, arrested on prostitution-related charges. 
Police Chief Bill McCafferty announced Tuesday night the sting operation took place during a two-day period in the North Street area of the city.

"We used a local law enforcement female employee for the sting, and I hope these arrests discourage men from outside of the city from coming here to look for a prostitute as well as the city residents from soliciting women for sex," McCafferty said.

The sting operation took place Thursday and Tuesday. According to a press release issued by the Jefferson County Drug Task Force, loitering to engage in solicitation charges were filed against:

* Timothy McFarland, 35, 3265 Sunset Blvd., Tuesday.
* Ralph R. Vancamp, 49, Wellsburg, Tuesday.
* John Stanko, 60, Canonsburg, Pa., Thursday.

Soliciting for prostitution charges were filed against:
* Pride D. Bankhead, 61, 267 Grammercy Place, Thursday.
* Michael J. Barnes, 33, Minerva, Tuesday.
* Rodney Lee Thomas, 40, 214 Kingston Ave., Tuesday.
* Bernard E. Merritt, 50, 195 Township Road 582, Steubenville, Tuesday.
* Charles E. Moore, 42, 169 Cathy Drive, Wintersville, Tuesday.
* Kareem Muse Howard, 27, Pittsburgh, Tuesday.

The police chief said the reverse sting operation was conducted by City Police and the Jefferson County Drug Task Force.

McCafferty said in July the police planned to go after customers seeking prostitutes in the city. "We had an undercover law enforcement officer participate in a sting operation that resulted in the arrest of Mandy Schiffman, 23, of Steubenville and Amber Long, 29, of Mingo Junction.

We are now planning a reverse sting for the men who are paying women for prostitution," McCafferty told City Council members at a July meeting.

"In the past we have used a female decoy in order to arrest a john who also is breaking the law. We will be doing that again in the near future. This takes some time to set the decoy up and the operation is run through the Jefferson County Drug Task Force. We have to get the right people together for this," warned McCafferty.
McCafferty said today the drug task force had been working with federal officials investigating an alleged heroin distribution ring in Steubenville and were delayed from pursuing the reverse sting operation until last week. "Our police officers check the North Street area at least six times on each shift. We still see some of the women out and we discourage them from standing in the area. "But we are also seeing fewer women.

We will continue our efforts to stop prostitution and will be planning more reverse sting operations in the future," McCafferty stated. The nine men arrested on the prostitution related charges are expected to appear in Municipal Court this week.

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Fuck School (part I)

Fuck School
By Christopher R Rice

My mom always said that I was the best and whenever I wasn't my dad would beat me within an inch of my crotch. 

We kept all sorts of trophies as proof and I've got the scars to prove the rest.

Parents are a burden the moment after conception, if I could I'd trade 'em in for a six-pack. The pricks never did me any favors, they only yelled at me and beat me. Who needs it?

I'd like to take you to Kmart, dress you in that crap and stand you in front of your friends. Lets see if you don't come home with a black eye.

You made this crappy world, never did a damn thing to change it. So I'm into self mutilation and suicide, why do you look so surprised? Did you think your drunken beatings would turn me into a model citizen? Maybe you didn't beat me enough?

They reject cause and effect. They claim your parents had nothing to do with your upbringing or how you turned out. So I want to know, why am I the way I am?

Fuck the government, fuck politicians too, fuck the courts and all the cops 'cause them fools never did shit for me.

Fuck my mom and fuck my dad too. Fuck society and fuck you too, you bitches
didn't do shit for me, you never did a damn thing!

I didn't need much, I practically raised myself.

Even a simple education none of them could give me. Hell your fucked up schools couldn't even teach me to read or write, I had to teach myself.
You lousy bastards just left me twistin' in the wind, in a world that's so damn cold. But I learned two words from my parents and from you...FUCK YOU!

When I come home from school, my parents are fighting, mom takes one to the right eye and she's down. Dad's counting to ten, get to your room and clean this mess up.
I turn thirteen, dad slaps me upside my head, I wish he was dead. I got to get drunk and stoned to make it through another long and boring day. When the teacher failed me it was like he was saying I was stupid or somethin', well I got two words for all of you ... FUCK YOU!

I'd trade my parents for a six pack if I could. What good did they ever do me?

Beat me and yelled at me! My dad was a mother fucker. He'd yell and beat me if I didn't do good in sports or on my report card. I got trophies as proof and scars to prove the rest. I never asked to come to this fucked up planet; you either commit suicide or work all day, killing yourself to live. Who needs it?

How can I thank them for the gift of life, when mines been a curse. I've never known the good life and probably never will. I break my back just to pay the bills. I've never lived the American dream, I wake up in the morning and just want to scream.

So if this is what life's all about, you can have it, I want none of it. I've had the reds, the blues and the pinks but one thing's for sure life stinks! Hell yea. Yea, yea life stinks.

So I got me a girl and I loved her to death but now she's in the back seat of my car fuckin' my best friend. So if this is what life's all about, you can have mine, I want out! Who needs all this bullshit?

I worked all day on my term paper and still didn't get a good grade. I go to work and bust my hump and yet I can't get a raise.

Now my girl's prego and wants me to believe it's mine, 'cause I got a steady
job at Blah Mart. Stupid trailer trash bitch must think I'm blind. Think I'd bring another life into this screwy world, to suffer with me?

So I punch her in the gut and throw her down a flight of stairs.

She's a little upset over the miscarriage but wants to stay together all the same.

I don't care what anyone says the world's insane. I said momma, momma you got to help me! She said I know how it feels son 'cause it runs in the family.
Now I've had the reds, the blues and the pinks. One thing's for sure, life stinks.


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Thursday, October 29, 2015

14 arrested in sports-betting ring, FBI says

LOS ANGELES – An investigation into an illegal sports-betting ring netted 14 arrests Wednesday, including a Menifee man and a Santa Clarita man who authorities say was the boss of the organization, officials said.

Cyrus Irani, 37, the alleged boss, was taken into custody at his home, the FBI reported. Irani was among 17 people who had been indicted by a grand jury in Queens County, New York.

Three of suspects remain at large.

The grand jury indicted the 17 people in New York, Nevada, Arizona and California on charges of “unlawfully operating a highly sophisticated sports gambling enterprise that stretched westward from Queens County and utilized offshore-based gambling websites,” an FBI statement said.

“The enterprise, which is alleged to have annually booked more than $32 million in bets, is also accused of laundering its criminal proceeds by depositing and withdrawing large sums of cash from various banks throughout the United States,” the FBI reported.

Among the others arrested today in the Southland were:

-- Clark W. Bruner of Downey, 56, who is alleged to have been Irani's second-in-command, known as a “primary agent.” Bruner allegedly administrated the accounts, managed various “agents,” and collected winnings from the agents.

-- Bruner's sons, Chris Bruner of Downey, 31, and Clark “CJ” Bruner, 33, of Menifee, both of whom are alleged to have been agents.
-- Saul Salami of Santa Clarita, 45, alleged to have been an agent.

-- Cassondra Smith-Luttman of San Diego, 32, alleged to have been an agent.

-- Julio Alvarenga of Santa Clarita, 40, alleged to have been an agent.

-- Jeffrey Metelitz of Valencia, 54, alleged to have been an agent.

-- Hyun “David” Chang of Long Beach, 37, alleged to have been a money collector; and

-- Thomas Cortese of Santa Barbara, 49.

Two Southern California suspects, Andres Arriaga of Valencia, 41, alleged to have been an agent, and Richard Vanderwyk of Seal Beach, 41, who is alleged to have been a money collector, remain at large.

According to the FBI, the operation used the offshore website,, to allow betting on both professional and college basketball, football, hockey and baseball. It also used an 800 phone number.

There allegedly were more than 2,000 “active bettors.” Investigators have seized more than $3 million from bank accounts allegedly controlled by Irani.

And back in Feb.....

Florida sports betting bust; Minnesota betting bill; NJ v. Leagues latest

Florida authorities have broken up an illegal online sports betting ring with alleged ties to New York’s Genovese organized crime family. Four individuals appeared at a Broward County bail hearing this week after being arrested with four other men last week following a 16-month investigation.

The accused are facing multiple counts of bookmaking, racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and using two-way communications to facilitate a felony. The credit betting ring reportedly used password-protected websites based outside the country to process wagers while moving money via a network of agents and couriers. Police seized $1.2m from bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and the defendants’ homes.

The multi-state operation, which involved 10 different law enforcement agencies including the FBI, has connections to the federal indictment in August of reputed Genovese family member Daniel Pagano. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the Florida arm of the ring took in $1.2m since the investigation began in 2013.


As promised, Minnesota state Rep. Phyllis Kahn introduced the latest version of her
sports betting bill this week. The HF 765 legislation (read it here) would allow Minnesotans 21 years of age or older to place wagers on sporting events except those involving collegiate events featuring Minnesota teams.

The bill envisions a prime role for the Minnesota Lottery, either offering wagers on its own or in conjunction with a private operator, or merely acting in an oversight capacity. Wagers would have to be made in person – no internet wagers allowed – at ’sports wagering lounges,’ which could include state racetracks. Net winnings will be taxed at 8%. Rules for maximum wagers, the use of credit, the types of wagering tickets and license fees have yet to be determined.

If approved, the bill would take effect July 1, 2015. Should the bill pass, Kahn has said she hopes the state will challenge the 1992 federal PASPA sports betting prohibition in a different federal court district than the one that keeps knocking back New Jersey’s efforts to introduce its own legal sports betting system.


Speaking of, the NCAA and the four pro sports leagues opposing New Jersey’s sports betting quest filed their latest briefs with the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday. As with previous filings, the gist is that the state’s plans to
tolerate but not officially regulate sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and state racetracks are “cosmetic efforts” to circumvent PASPA.

The leagues say New Jersey’s 2014 law is “no more consistent with PASPA than the invalidated 2012 Law” because the law “ensures that sports gambling will occur only under the conditions of the state’s choosing.” Sparing no rhetorical flourishes, the leagues argue that New Jersey had a choice between either upholding PASPA or announcing an all-out statewide repeal of sports betting, but is instead creating “islands of state-authorized gambling’ in a “sea of prohibitions on sports (and other) gambling.”

Channeling baseball great Yogi Berra, the leagues say the 2014 law is “a case of déjà vu all over again” and the fact that New Jersey doesn’t want to accept the Court’s previous rulings “does not entitle them to another bite at the constitutional apple.”

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Impeach IRS chief

Impeach IRS chief

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican chairman of a powerful House committee moved Tuesday to impeach the head of the Internal Revenue Service, saying he violated the public trust and obstructed congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen failed to comply with a congressional subpoena, allowed documents to be destroyed and misled the public. Chaffetz chairs the House Oversight Committee, which has been investigating the IRS for more than two years.

Chaffetz called impeachment an appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and "demonstrate to the American people that the IRS is under repair."

The impeachment bid comes less than a week after the Justice Department said no IRS official will face criminal charges in the political controversy over the processing of applications by groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The decision closed a two-year investigation into accusations that stoked outrage among Republicans in Congress, who alleged bias in the tax agency's treatment of conservative and tea party groups in seeking the tax-exempt designation.

The Justice Department said it found no evidence that Lois Lerner or any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution. Lerner headed the division that processes applications for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections and has since retired.

In his impeachment resolution, Chaffetz said Koskinen violated the public trust in at least three ways: He failed to comply with a subpoena resulting in destruction of key evidence containing thousands of Lerner's emails; failed to testify truthfully to Congress about IRS handling of emails involving Lerner and other officials; and failed to notify Congress that key evidence was missing.

The IRS destroyed Lerner's emails in March 2014, but did not notify Congress that the emails were missing until June 2014 — three months later and well after the White House and the Treasury Department were notified, Chaffetz said.

The IRS said in a statement that the agency "vigorously disputes the allegations in the resolution. We have fully cooperated with all of the investigations."

Eighteen Republicans on the committee joined Chaffetz in co-sponsoring the impeachment resolution, which now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the oversight panel, called the impeachment effort "ridiculous," adding that, "just as in the Benghazi and Planned Parenthood investigations, it appears that facts simply don't matter to Republicans."

Cummings said there was "zero evidence" that Koskinen engaged in the wrongdoing alleged by Chaffetz. The IRS has spent $20 million and 160,000 employee-hours cooperating with the committee's "misguided investigation with no evidence of any political targeting," Cummings said.

EDITORS NOTE: We no longer have a government for the people. It is a government of politicians, by the politicians and the people are merely taxable subjects.

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Cops steal from people they stop

Cops steal from people they stop

EDITORS NOTE: Two Detroit cops are accused of stealing from people they stopped. This is not an isolated incident read below and see how cops are stealing from citizens all across the country, after routine traffic stops.

DETROIT (AP) — Two members of an elite Detroit police unit are accused of stealing money from people they stopped on the street and with fabricating information about an arrest.

Officers Charles Lynem, 28, and Chancellor Searcy, 31, were arraigned Tuesday on embezzlement, larceny, misconduct and falsely reporting a felony charges. Searcy also is charged with failing to uphold the law.

"Whenever an officer is accused of criminal misconduct, certainly it's a dark day for the department," Police Chief James Craig told reporters. "These allegations should not be a reflection of every Detroit police officer."

Lynem and Searcy are seven-year veterans of the department and were partners in Detroit's Tactical Response Unit, which targets crime hotspots across the city. Their arrests followed a yearlong investigation.

They're accused of taking money from three people, starting with a 33-year-old man who was arrested in March 2013 at a gas station. A "sum of money" was confiscated from him, according to the Wayne County prosecutor's office.

"There was wrongful conduct surrounding the detention, frisk, seizure of property and the arrest of the suspect," prosecutors said in a release.

In another instance, a 28-year-old man filed a complaint Aug. 4, 2014, at a police precinct after money was taken from him on the city's west side. Six days later, money was taken from another man's pocket during a pat down. That man also filed a complaint.

Prosecutors also allege that circumstances around a Sept. 27, 2014, arrest of a 41-year-old man on the west side for carrying a concealed weapon were "fabricated."

Related video: Police steal $160,000. after traffic stop

Searcy and Lynem were suspended with pay about a year ago. They were suspended without pay following Tuesday's charges.

"It tarnishes the badge," Craig said of the allegations. "Our men and women who wear the uniform work extremely hard and the vast majority just go out and serve this community with distinction and with honor.
"When someone from the family decides to go in a different direction it's troubling for many of our members."
Searcy and Lynem turned themselves in for arrest Tuesday morning. They were released on personal bond pending Nov. 3 probable cause hearings. Preliminary examinations were scheduled for Nov. 10.
No attorneys were listed in court documents for either officer.

From The New York Times:

''What we're seeing at local police departments is a pattern of greed and corrupt conduct, and it's happening all over the country..."

In New Orleans, 10 officers were convicted for their role in protecting a cocaine supply warehouse containing 286 pounds of cocaine in 1994. In Philadelphia, six officers pleaded guilty to corruption charges including planting drug evidence, conducting illegal searches and lying under oath, and 160 wrongfully convicted prisoners were released. In Chicago, in two unrelated cases in the last year, 10 officers in two police districts were charged with robbing and extorting money and narcotics from drug dealers.

In Washington, after the resignation of the police chief as his close friend and roommate was charged with extortion, city officials are looking into possible corruption in the department. And in Indianapolis, the F.B.I. is investigating the police department after one officer was charged with the death of a suspected drug dealer he was trying to rob.

Federal agents got wind of a corrections officer for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, Michael W. Joye, who sold drugs to an undercover agent and indicated he would provide security, first for the smuggling of illegal gambling machines and then for drug deals, according to a 99-page affidavit.

Officer Joye, the affidavit said, recruited 24 other officers and a deputy from the Sheriff's Department, and 18 from four regional police departments -- seven from Cleveland, three from Cleveland Heights, six from East Cleveland and two from Brooklyn -- to help out in the deals.

In what may be the largest and widest ranging police corruption investigation in the country in recent years, 44 officers from five law-enforcement agencies were charged with taking money to protect cocaine trafficking operations in Cleveland and northern Ohio, Federal authorities said.

Related video: Cops Raid Marijuana Dispensary, Destroy Surveillance Equipment, Eat Pot Brownies, Joke About Assaulting Amputee

The arrests were the result of a two-and-a-half-year Federal sting operation, which started out as an inquiry into organized crime in Cleveland, officials said.

Along the way, investigators discovered a large ring of police officers and sheriff's department corrections officers who readily hired themselves out to be escorts and security guards for people they believed to be cocaine traffickers, but who were really undercover Federal agents.

One Officer Joye, who was dismissed, was asked by the undercover agent if the other officers involved were trustworthy.

''I trust my guys real good,'' Officer Joye replied. ''We're a family, and not one of us wants to get busted. Nobody wants to get caught. These guys I have working for me, we're like a specialty, like a goon squad.''

And from The Underground Newz:

The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars.

In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies.” And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar.

“A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. “Just so beautiful, I mean, the cops were undercover and they were just like ‘Ahhhh.’ And he gets out and he’s just reeking of alcohol.

And it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, we can hardly wait.’ ”
Mr. Connelly was talking about a practice known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows the government, without ever securing a conviction or even filing a criminal charge, to seize property suspected of having ties to crime. The practice, expanded during the war on drugs in the 1980s, has become a staple of law enforcement agencies because it helps finance their work. It is difficult to tell how much has been seized by state and local law enforcement, but under a Justice Department program, the value of assets seized has ballooned to $4.3 billion in the 2012 fiscal year from $407 million in 2001. Much of that money is shared with local police forces.
The practice of civil forfeiture has come under fire in recent months, amid a spate of negative press reports and growing outrage among civil rights advocates, libertarians and members of Congress who have raised serious questions about the fairness of the practice, which critics say runs roughshod over due process rights. In one oft-cited case, a Philadelphia couple’s home was seized after their son made $40 worth of drug sales on the porch. Despite that opposition, many cities and states are moving to expand civil seizures of cars and other assets. The seminars, some of which were captured on video, raise a curtain on how law enforcement officials view the practice.

From Orange County, N.Y., to Rio Rancho, N.M., forfeiture operations are being established or expanded. In September, Albuquerque, which has long seized the cars of suspected drunken drivers, began taking them from men suspected of trying to pick up prostitutes, landing seven cars during a one-night sting.

Arkansas has expanded its seizure law to allow the police to take cash and assets with suspected connections to terrorism, and Illinois moved to make boats fair game under its D.W.I. laws, in addition to cars. In Mercer County, N.J., a prosecutor preaches the “gospel” that forfeiture is not just for drug arrests — cars can be seized in shoplifting and statutory rape cases as well.
“At the grass-roots level — cities, counties — they continue to be interested, perhaps increasingly so, in supplementing their budgets by engaging in the type of seizures that we’ve seen in Philadelphia and elsewhere,” said Lee McGrath, a lawyer for the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that has mounted a legal and public relations assault on civil forfeiture.

Much of the nuts-and-bolts how-to of civil forfeiture is passed on in continuing education seminars for local prosecutors and law enforcement officials, some of which have been captured on video. The Institute for Justice, which brought the videos to the attention of The Times, says they show how cynical the practice has become and how profit motives can outweigh public safety.
In the sessions, officials share tips on maximizing profits, defeating the objections of so-called “innocent owners” who were not present when the suspected offense occurred, and keeping the proceeds in the hands of law enforcement and out of general fund budgets. The Times reviewed three sessions, one in Santa Fe, N.M., that took place in September, one in New Jersey that was undated, and one in Georgia in September that was not videotaped.

Officials offered advice on dealing with skeptical judges, mocked Hispanics whose cars were seized, and made comments that, the Institute for Justice said, gave weight to the argument that civil forfeiture encourages decisions based on the value of the assets to be seized rather than public safety.
In the Georgia session, the prosecutor leading the talk boasted that he had helped roll back a Republican-led effort to reform civil forfeiture in Georgia, where seized money has been used by the authorities, according to news reports, to pay for sports tickets, office parties, a home security system and a $90,000 sports car.
In defense of the practice, Gary Bergman, a prosecutor with the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said civil forfeiture had been distorted in news reports. “All they hear is the woman was left on the side of the road and the police drove off with her car and her money, no connection to drugs,” he told other prosecutors at the session.
“I’m not saying that that doesn’t happen — it does. It should not. But they never hear about all the people that get stopped with the drugs in their cars, in their houses, the manufacturing operations we see, all the useful things we do with the money, the equipment, vehicles. They don’t hear about that.”

In an interview, Mr. Connelly said that the Las Cruces ordinance does only what the State Supreme Court has said is permissible.
Sean D. McMurtry, the chief of the forfeiture unit in the Mercer County, N.J., prosecutor’s office, said forfeiture contributes to only a small percentage of local budgets but it is a good deterrent and works especially well against repeat offenders, such as domestic violence perpetrators who repeatedly violate a restraining order. “We’re very proud of our forfeiture operation,” he said in an interview.
But in the video, Mr. McMurtry made it clear that forfeitures were highly contingent on the needs of law enforcement. In New Jersey, the police and prosecutors are allowed to use cars, cash and other seized goods; the rest must be sold at auction. Cellphones and jewelry, Mr. McMurtry said, are not worth the bother. Flat screen televisions, however, “are very popular with the police departments,” he said.
Prosecutors boasted in the sessions that seizure cases were rarely contested or appealed. But civil forfeiture places the burden on owners, who must pay court fees and legal costs to get their property back. Many seizures go uncontested because the property is not worth the expense.
And often the first hearing is presided over not by a judge but by the prosecutor whose office benefits from the proceeds, and who has wide discretion in deciding whether to forfeit the property or return it, sometimes in exchange for a steep fine.
Mr. McMurtry said his handling of a case is sometimes determined by department wish lists. “If you want the car, and you really want to put it in your fleet, let me know — I’ll fight for it,” Mr. McMurtry said, addressing law enforcement officials on the video. “If you don’t let me know that, I’ll try and resolve it real quick through a settlement and get cash for the car, get the tow fee paid off, get some money for it.”

One criticism of civil forfeiture is that it results in widely varied penalties — one drunken driver could lose a $100,000 luxury car, while another forfeits a $2,000 clunker.
In an interview, Mr. McMurtry acknowledged that he exercises a great deal of discretion. “The first offense, if it’s not anything too serious, we’ll come up with a dollar amount, depending on the value of the car and the seriousness of the offense,” he said. “I try to come up with a dollar amount that’s not so high that they can’t afford it, but not so low that it doesn’t have an impact. If it’s a second offense, they don’t get it back.”
Prosecutors estimated that between 50 to 80 percent of the cars seized were driven by someone other than the owner, which sometimes means a parent or grandparent loses their car. In the Santa Fe video, a police officer acknowledged that the law can affect families, but expressed skepticism of owners who say they did not know their relative was running afoul of the law.
“I can’t tell you how many people have come in and said, ‘Oh, my hijito would never do that,’ ” he said, mimicking a female voice with a Spanish accent.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Afghan sex abuse coverup claims

From the AP 10/28/15: US defense officials said they were opening an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by Afghan security forces and reports that US personnel deliberately overlooked it.

The probe by the Pentagon's inspector general comes on Tuesday, after The New York Times last month reported that US troops in Afghanistan had been instructed by their superiors to overlook cases of Afghan police or commanders sexually abusing teenage boys, even if it took place on military bases.
The practice is known as "bacha bazi," which means "boy play" in local languages.
"Is there -- or was there -- any guidance, informal or otherwise, to discourage reporting by DoD (Department of Defense) affiliated personnel?" a memo from the inspector general's office asks.
"What training on identifying and responding to alleged child sexual abuse... has been conducted or planned?"
The memo, sent to leaders across the US military, also asks for information on the number of cases of child sex abuse alleged against Afghan government officials that were reported to US or coalition forces.

The Times based its report on accounts from multiple soldiers and the father of a marine who was killed in 2012.

The report said a former US special forces captain beat up an Afghan militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave, and afterward was stripped of his command and withdrawn from Afghanistan.

The Afghan Interior Ministry has rejected reports that it was not addressing the practice of bacha bazi, which it called a "heinous and indecent act" that is illegal under Afghan laws.

The Afghan government has in the past tried to crack down on the ancient and outlawed practice of child abuse, which is prevalent across rural parts of the country.

Pretty gruesome stuff huh? Now, from Underground Newz 3/17/14:

Afghanistan detainee abuse scandal

More than five hundred men marched through the capital of Afghanistan's restive Wardak province in an outburst of anger against U.S. special forces accused of overseeing torture and killings in the area.

Shouting "Death to America", "Death to Obama" and "Death to special forces", the protesters called for the immediate withdrawal of the American soldiers and threatened to join the Taliban.

The New York Times reported that Bagram has an off-the-books, closed-to-the-Red-Cross detention center, there’s been continued suspicions that the U.S.’s legacy of torture has survived President Obama’s January 2009 executive order banning undisclosed “Black Site” prisons. Those suspicions accelerated after the BBC claimed to have confirmed with the International Committee of the Red Cross in May that the new Parwan center has a “Black Jail.” Human Rights Watch speculated that the military now calls it a “transit facility” to throw reporters and humanitarian monitors off the scent.

Red Cross Simon Schorno says that the group “is notified by the United States of persons arrested by its forces in the framework of the armed conflict in Afghanistan, regardless of the structures in which they are being held. This has been routine practice since August 2009 and helps us monitor the fate of persons detained until they leave U.S. custody.”

There’s a Special Housing Unit (SHU) in the Bravo bloc, a darkened hallway of interrogation booths. It’s dark in order to prevent detainees from seeing through the one-way glass, even as tiny cameras allow analysts to discreetly peer in. A table and three folding chairs are the only furniture.

Interrogations are suppose to comply with the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, the Geneva Conventions and the updated 2006 Army field manual on interrogations (PDF) that’s supposed to prevent future Abu Ghraibs. But the 2006 manual has come under fire from human-rights critics and anti-torture military interrogators for embedding what they consider abuse into its pages.

Information regarding an Afghanistan detainee abuse scandal appears to be reaching sufficient critical mass for it to join that regarding allegations of acts of brutality, abuse, and torture at Enemy Prisoner of War Camps in Iraq at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, among other locations.

Joint operations (CIA/Special Forces/Afghan militias) out of Camp Gecko have been the source of frequent torture allegations, from 2002 up to now.

Reuters interviewed dozens of residents of Wardak and Afghan government officials in Feb 2013, who allege that Afghan men working with a small unit of U.S. special forces illegally detained, tortured and killed suspected insurgents.


“People complain of being beaten, tortured by U.S. special forces on a daily basis,” Jalala told Reuters in his Kabul office.

Reuters spoke to the families of four of nine missing men, and all said their men folk were taken to the special forces outpost by Afghan men identified as translators, often in the presence of U.S. soldiers.

“My brother, Aziz-ul Rahman, was on his way to bring firewood to the mosque, when the Americans and Afghans forced him to stop, dragged him out of his car and started beating and kicking him,” Zabihullah, 22, from Nerkh village, told Reuters.

“Eventually they tossed him in an irrigation ditch near the village. He was badly injured, so we took him to the hospital and later to Kabul, but despite that he died,” said Zabihullah, who said his brother had three children.

Repeated complaints to the government, about the abuse by the joint U.S./Afghan operations, went nowhere.

Wardak: Tortured to death

In another incident a Swedish organization which runs health clinics across Afghanistan accused the U.S. military of occupying and damaging one of its facilities.

The incident occurred before dawn on February 11, 2013, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) said in a statement.

"Foreign soldiers entered the ... health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility," the statement said.

Doors and windows were broken and medical equipment was destroyed, SCA director Andreas Stefansson said.

Stefansson also said a group of Afghan special forces had bullied and threatened the lives of health workers at the Maidan Shar hospital several days earlier.

In Human Rights Watch's May 13, 2004, Open Files on Detainees Deaths: U.S.: Systemic Abuse of Afghan Prisoners, HRW writes that "Mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan is a systemic problem and not limited to a few isolated cases."

"Human Rights Watch called on the United States to immediately release the results of past investigations into misconduct by U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, including information about two Afghan detainees who were killed in U.S. custody in December 2002 and another detainee who died in June 2003.

"'Afghans have been telling us for well over a decade about mistreatment in U.S. custody,' said John Sifton, Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch. 'We warned U.S. officials repeatedly about these problems. It's time now for the United States to publicize the results of its investigations of abuse, fully prosecute those responsible, and provide access to independent monitors.'"

"In a March 2004, report "Enduring Freedom": Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch documented numerous cases of mistreatment of detainees at various detention sites in Afghanistan, including extreme sleep deprivation, exposure to freezing temperatures, and severe beatings. Detainees complained about being stripped of their clothing and photographed while naked.

Some of these abusive practices during interrogation were similar to those recently reported in Iraq.

Recent media reports have also documented new cases of mistreatment in Afghanistan. "The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)--an autonomous institution within the Afghan government--has also received numerous complaints about abuses by U.S. troops at its local offices in south and eastern Afghanistan, where U.S. military operations occur regularly. The commission repeatedly raised concerns about abuses with U.S. officials, as did local government representatives and officials with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan." Human Rights Watch has also made several formal requests to visit U.S. detention sites in Afghanistan, none of which received any response. Human Rights Watch made a request asking for access to all detention sites maintained by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other undisclosed locations. "'The United States has shown that it can't police its own prisons,' Sifton said. 'Human rights monitoring groups should be given access to all detention facilities in Afghanistan.'"Human Rights Watch said that the United States has still not provided any adequate explanation for the three detainee deaths that took place in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003. The first two deaths, which took place in December 2002, were specifically ruled homicides by U.S. military pathologists. (See "Deaths in U.S. Custody".)

It's time for them to tell the public what happened.' "Testimonies taken by Human Rights Watch in Afghanistan show that many detainees were beaten during the initial stages of detention. Detainees who were held in Kandahar airport reported being stripped naked, kicked and punched, and forced to endure freezing temperatures. "U.S. officials have told journalists and Human Rights Watch that U.S military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan employ an interrogation system that includes the use of sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and forcing detainees to sit or stand in painful positions for extended periods of time. ... 'We know now that abuse of detainees is an established part of the interrogation process,' said Sifton."

Fatality Count

  • Mike Dorning reports in the May 22, 2004, issue of the Chicago Tribune that the Army disclosed on Friday, May 21st, "that it has investigated the deaths of at least 37 people in Iraq and Afghanistan who died while in custody of U.S. forces since August 2002.
"Death certificates also released Friday listed blunt force injuries or suffocation, sometimes in combination, as the cause of death for eight of the detainees--raising the possibility that some prisoners may have died due to beatings or other mistreatment."

Ultimate Responsibility

David Sirota, Christy Harvey and Judd Legum wrote in the May 7, 2004, "Hard to Say You're Sorry" published by The Progress Report:
"One thing to keep in mind: At the end of the day, ultimate responsibility lies with the Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush.
Even after President Obama released the DOJ memos authorizing torture – along with a damning CIA Inspector General Report and a wide range of documents revealing bureaucratic discussions within the CIA about torture – the White House still fought the release of the phrase that would have made it clear that the CIA conducted this torture at the order of the president. And it did so with a classified declaration that would have remained secret had Judge Hellerstein not insisted it be made public.

Former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo made clear, the finding authorizes not just torturing, but killing, senior al Qaeda figures. Bob Woodward even reported that that CIA would carry out that killing using Predator drones, a program the CIA still conducts. And in fact, when the Second Circuit ultimately ruled to let the White House to keep the authorization phrase secret, it did so because the phrase also relates to “a highly classified, active intelligence activity” and “pertains to intelligence activities unrelated to the [torture] program.” Given what we know about the September 17, 2001 finding, that may well refer to President Obama’s still active drone program.

By releasing the DOJ memos and other materials, the White House provided what seemed to be unprecedented transparency about what the CIA had done. But all the while it was secretly hiding language describing what the White House has done.

Since the Global War on Terror (GWOT) began, there has been a struggle for what is perhaps best described as the “soul” of our military. Are we going to remain the principled military we have been, at our best, since our founding? Or did the 9/11 terrorist attacks usher in a new age where, since we now fight non-state actors governed by different rules, Americans may employ any technically legal method—no matter how brutal—to achieve desired ends?

Many Americans would say, Get down and dirty and do whatever is necessary to get the information to protect our troops and defeat the enemy.

But when we get “down and dirty” to protect our troops, we are actually placing them in graver danger. We must not forget, for example, that outrage over U.S. atrocities was the main motivation for many, if not most, Muslim men to become suicide bombers in Iraq.

We must maintain our ethical standards if we are to defeat our armed enemies on today’s battlefields. Any other approach will, lead slowly but surely to our own defeat.

EDITORS NOTE: I have always hoped that if I continued to publish the truth that one day it would see the light of day. Unfortunately I am still along ways from my goal.

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