A year-long investigation of private Facebook hate groups by REVEAL finds close to 400 current and retired law enforcement officers are members, including officers from small towns as well as big cities — including NYPD.
One guard at the Angola prison in Louisiana, Geoffery Crosby, was a member of 56 extremist groups, including 45 Confederate groups and one called “BAN THE NAACP.”
A detective at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, James “J.T.” Thomas, was a member of the closed Facebook group “The White Privilege Club.”
“One cop was fired before we even published,” writes Reveal’s Aura Bogado.
Inside these Facebook hate groups, which require the approval of a doorkeeper “administrator” before one can become a member, active duty and retired police officers are swapping memes and jokes in Confederate, anti-Islam, anti-queer, anti-women, and anti-government militia communities.
These cops have worked at every level of American law enforcement, from tiny, rural sheriff’s departments to the largest agencies in the country, such as the Los Angeles and New York police departments. They work in jails and schools and airports, on boats and trains and in patrol cars. And, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting discovered, they also read and contribute to groups such as “White Lives Matter” and “DEATH TO ISLAM UNDERCOVER.”
The groups cover a range of extremist ideologies. Some present themselves publicly as being dedicated to benign historical discussion of the Confederacy, but are replete with racism inside. Some trade in anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant memes. Some are openly Islamophobic. And almost 150 of the officers we found are involved with violent anti-government groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.
More than 50 departments launched internal investigations after being presented with our findings, in some cases saying they would examine officers’ past conduct to see if their online activity mirrored their policing in real life. And some departments have taken action, with at least one officer being fired for violating department policies.
Read More at REVEAL: ‘To protect and slur — Inside hate groups on Facebook, police officers trade racist memes, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia.’
Artificial intelligence might be a technological revolution unlike any other, transforming our homes, our work, our lives; but for many – the poor, minority groups, the people deemed to be expendable – their picture remains the same. “The way these technologies are being developed is not empowering people, it’s empowering corporations,” says Zeynep Tufekci, from the University of North Carolina.. “They are in the hands of the people who hold the data. And that data is being fed into algorithms that we don’t really get to see or understand that are opaque even to the people who wrote the programme. And they’re being used against us, rather than for us.” In episode two of The Big Picture: The World According to AI we examine practices such as predictive policing, predictive sentencing, as well as the power structures and in-built prejudices that could lead to even more harm than the good its champions would suggest.
In the United States, we travel to one of the country’s poorest neighbourhoods, Skid Row in Los Angeles, to see first-hand how the Los Angeles Police Department is using algorithmic software to police a majority black community. And in China, we examine the implications of a social credit scoring system that deploys machine learning technologies – new innovations in surveillance and social control that are claimed to be used against ethnic Uighur communities.
As AI is used to make more and more decisions for and about us, from targeting, to policing, to social welfare, it raises huge questions. What will AI be used for in the future? And who will stand to benefit?
(TT) — In February 2016, prosecutors in Houston filed a lawsuit against a truck: State of Texas vs. One 2003 Chevrolet Silverado.
Houston police had seized the vehicle after surveilling its driver, Macario Hernandez, and pulling him over after he left his house. They took the truck to court, hoping to keep it or sell it at auction to fund their operations, claiming the vehicle was known to be involved in the drug trade.
But the truck’s owner, Oralia Rodriguez, was never charged with a crime. She wasn’t at the scene when officers pulled over Hernandez, her son, and found 13.5 grams of marijuana in his pocket. In fact, Rodriguez said she had recently loaned him the car so he could drive his pregnant girlfriend to the doctor. The girlfriend was having difficulty with her pregnancy and was at risk of losing the baby, Rodriguez said. She was desperate not to lose her truck, which had recently had new tires installed among other repairs, which she was still working to pay off.
“My sole intention was to help out. … Now I am in this situation of losing what I have worked very hard for,” she wrote to local prosecutors. “I am begging you please allow me to have my truck back.”
Seven weeks after police pulled over the truck, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office resolved the suit and agreed to release the vehicle back to Rodriguez, on the condition that she never loan it to Hernandez. But Rodriguez still had to pay $1,600 to get her truck back, plus any towing and storage fees it had accumulated over the course of the lawsuit. (Hernandez pleaded guilty to delivering drugs and spent several months in jail.)
What happened to Rodriguez was perfectly legal. Under a process known as civil asset forfeiture, law enforcement can take cash and property they believe to be related to criminal activity, even if the person involved is never charged with a crime. Prosecutors then file suit against the property, and if successful, police may keep much of it for their own purposes.
Civil asset forfeiture is a tool supported by law enforcement leaders, who say it is necessary for fighting crime, but panned by both liberals and conservatives who see it as a violation of Americans’ civil liberties and sometimes refer to it as “policing for profit.” It’s a longstanding, nationwide practice that has regained steam under the Trump administration but faces constitutional challenges in court.
When police seize a person’s property, the onus falls on the owner to prove the property was “innocent,” or not linked to a crime. If a person doesn’t fight the seizure in court — which is what happens in the majority of cases — they lose their property automatically. Many cases involve property worth no more than a few thousand dollars, and attorneys’ fees can end up being more costly than the value of the property itself.
Last year alone, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors throughout Texas grew their coffers more than $50 million by seizing cash, cars, jewelry, clothing, art and other property they claimed were linked to a crime. That includes property seized under both criminal forfeiture — which requires someone to first be found guilty of a crime — and civil forfeiture, which allows the state to sue the property itself and doesn’t require a criminal charge. The Texas Attorney General’s Office, which tracks these figures, does not distinguish between the two.
How much property and money was seized from people, like Rodriguez, who weren’t charged with any crime? That information isn’t collected in any meaningful way in Texas, and state lawmakers, at the urging of prosecutors and law enforcement, have resisted attempts to report more detailed information about asset forfeiture to the public.
“One wonders if our colonial ancestors, transported to 2014, would be astonished — watching government seize, then sell, the property of guiltless citizens who have not been charged with any crime, much less convicted of one,” former Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, a Republican who has since been promoted to a federal appeals court by President Donald Trump, wrote in 2014. “A generation ago in America, asset forfeiture was limited to wresting ill-gotten gains from violent criminals. Today, it has a distinctive ‘Alice in Wonderland’ flavor, victimizing innocent citizens who’ve done nothing wrong.”
Extreme cases of abuse have occasionally grabbed the attention of the public and of lawmakers, who in 2011 made a rare move to rein in police seizures. That followed a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union a few years before, which alleged that police in the tiny East Texas town of Tenaha were conducting “highway robbery” by shaking down drivers — primarily people of color — for cash under threat of jail time. The suit accused law enforcement in Tenaha of threatening to have children removed from their families if the drivers they’d stopped on U.S. Highway 59 didn’t sign waivers allowing officers to seize their property without a court proceeding.
From 2006 to 2008, officers in Tenaha seized approximately $3 million from at least 140 people, according to the lawsuit, which was ultimately settled with local law enforcement not admitting to wrongdoing. With the lawsuit in the news, Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 signed legislation prohibiting the use of such waivers, forcing all forfeitures to go through court.
The law also limited how law enforcement can spend the money they seize, banning officials from using it to pay for things like margarita machines, as former Montgomery County District Attorney Michael McDougal did in 2005 — or trips to Hawaii, as a former Hill Country district attorney, Ron Sutton, did from 2002 to 2007. The legislation passed just months after a former South Texas district attorney pleaded guilty to misappropriating more than $2 million in seized funds, paying $1.2 million in bonuses to three secretaries and another $81,000 to himself.
The 2011 law faced almost no opposition, but some Democrats and Republicans at the Texas Capitol have called for further reforms to an asset forfeiture system they believe is inherently abusive. Lawmakers on the left cite forfeiture’s disproportionate effects on low-income people of color who can’t go to court to fight back. Those on the right cry out against government overreach that infringes on private property rights and snubs due process.
In recent years, however, most efforts to change the system have fallen flat at the Capitol. Sheriffs, prosecutors and police have urged lawmakers not to further limit a power they say is crucial to their ability to fight crime and drug cartels — and which they say was already cleaned up by the 2011 law. Law enforcement officials say taking money and drugs linked to cartels is one of the most effective methods they have to fight them.
“We’re sitting here at the tip of the spear of cartel activity, and we need asset forfeiture as a tool,” Jackson County Sheriff A. J. “Andy” Louderback said. “It’s a viable tool that we’re not misusing. … There’s accountability in the system that’s been there for a very long time.”
The battle over reform will continue in January when the Texas Legislature convenes for its biennial session. At least two lawmakers have already filed bills that would limit asset forfeiture’s scope, and the Texas Republican Party asked lawmakers to abolish asset forfeiture without a criminal conviction in their 2018 platform. Still, reformers face long odds: Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have remained almost completely silent on the issue, and after last month’s elections, advocates lost one of their most vocal Republican allies in the Texas Senate.
“A great threat” to property rights
Outgoing state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, was so incensed about civil asset forfeiture that she led a press conference early in the 2017 legislative session to announce that a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers was ready to reform the practice. They filed a slew of bills that proposed significant changes to police power, ranging from a total abolition of civil asset forfeiture — by requiring a person to be found guilty of a crime before their property can be forfeited — to requiring more disclosures from law enforcement agencies about how and when they use it.
Other bills sought to help people whose property was seized, such as by making the government pay for any lawyer or court fees if the state loses or drops the case. Another proposal would have placed the burden of proof on law enforcement, rather than on property owners fighting to reclaim their possessions.
“Unknown to many, including some lawmakers, a great threat to the property rights of Texans is staring us right in the face,” said Burton, who lost her re-election bid in November. “The seizing and keeping of an individual’s property without a criminal conviction is in opposition to everything this country was founded upon, and it must change.”
But as Burton discovered as the legislative session unfolded, any effort to rein in asset forfeiture faces strident opposition from law enforcement and local prosecutors — groups that most Texas legislators don’t like to publicly challenge.
“Many times in my law enforcement career, we could not have been effective in doing away with gangs, drug cartels and whatever without the civil asset forfeiture,” Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said during the only committee hearing held to discuss civil asset forfeiture bills in the 2017 legislative session. “Many times forfeiting civil assets is the only way you’re going to get to the kingpin of the operation.”
At least 15 asset forfeiture reform bills were filed in the House or Senate last year. But not a single bill made it onto the floor for debate. The chairwoman of the committee to which many of the Senate bills were referred, state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, didn’t even hold a hearing on her own bill. (Huffman declined to say why but said she plans to file the same bill again next year.)
“The failure of forfeiture reform boils down to legislative gamesmanship and strategy, not a debate on the merits,” said Arif Panju, an anti-forfeiture advocate at the libertarian Institute for Justice, whose downtown Austin office is decorated with a “Don’t Tread on Me” poster signed by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky libertarian. “I would be shocked if folks did not recognize this as a problem at the highest levels of government.”
Yet, at the highest levels of government, President Donald Trump and his recently departed attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have spoken favorably of civil asset forfeiture, with Trump even telling a Texas sheriff last year he could “destroy” the career of an unspecified state senator who wanted to end the practice. Sessions, while at the helm of the U.S. Department of Justice, resurrected a federal policy intended to increase seizures throughout the country, though he did modify it to avoid improper forfeitures.
“With care — we’ve gotta be careful — and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures,” Sessions said in July 2017.
Fuel for America’s revolution
The debate over when the government should be allowed to seize private property is older than the U.S. government itself — and it helped spark a revolution. The British Crown’s abuse of “writs of assistance,” which allowed customs officials to seize what they considered contraband from homes and suspected pirate ships, outraged American colonials so much that the Founding Fathers counted it among the grievances justifying a break from Britain.
John Adams wrote that anti-forfeiture opinion “breathed into this nation the breath of life” and was one reason “the child of Independence was born,” according to historian Maurice Henry Smith.
After the U.S. won independence, the new federal government promptly gave law enforcement the same power to seize private property, as a tool for fighting crime. But historians believe the power was only infrequently used until Prohibition, when police seized vehicles used to transport alcohol. Most legal scholars agree that the current era of asset forfeiture began in the 1980s, ushered in by the war on drugs.
In 1984, the U.S. Comprehensive Crime Control Act gave federal law enforcement broad, unprecedented authority to seize property used to “facilitate” a drug offense. Suddenly, police needed to find only a loose link between a piece of property and an alleged criminal act.
The amount of money government agencies brought in through forfeiture skyrocketed in the following decades. In 1986, the U.S. Department of Justice’s asset forfeiture fund took in $93.7 million, according to the Institute for Justice. By 2014, annual deposits into the fund reached $4.5 billion.
Many states followed suit, passing their own permissive forfeiture laws, and the money flowed into local agencies. Police departments, sheriff’s offices and local prosecutors came to depend on the sale of seized property for a significant chunk of their annual budgets. In Harris County, home to Houston, the local district attorney’s office received forfeiture funds worth about 5 percent of its budget in 2017.
In some small towns, the seizures became an outright windfall. Take Reeves County, which has fewer than 20,000 residents and straddles two West Texas highways. In 2012, the value of seized assets was 15 times more than the local prosecutor’s annual budget, according to a report funded by the Texas Office of Court Administration.
Police and prosecutors say the money helps pay for their operating costs, such as computers, vehicles, training and travel, as well as crucial crime-fighting operations, like paying informants. They say the current system is working as intended.
“We are a decade removed from the last big, quote, so-called abuse in Texas. And it was something that was directly addressed by the Legislature,” said Shannon Edmonds, the governmental relations director for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
But reform advocates say that while the 2011 legislation was an improvement, it didn’t address what they see as civil asset forfeiture’s underlying potential for abuse.
Derek Cohen, a forfeiture reform advocate with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, said the 2011 bill “patched 25 percent of the holes in our boat.”
The 2011 reforms required agencies that seize citizens’ property to disclose how they spend money they get through seizures — but they don’t have to list what they seized in each case, what offense prompted the seizure and whether they filed a criminal charge or obtained a conviction against the property’s owner.
Several bills filed in recent years have sought to peel back the veil on police seizures by requiring agencies to report that information to the state, but none has ever come close to passing out of the Texas Legislature.
Edmonds said the extra reporting would be too burdensome, taking time and money away from law enforcement’s core mission. Individual asset forfeiture cases are public record, and members of the public are welcome to conduct their own studies, he said.
“The cost outweighs the actual benefit that you’re gonna get” from the reporting requirements, Edmonds said. “The idea that it’s gonna reveal all this great information is kind of a false promise.”
Other proposed legislation would have raised the legal bar for seizing property. Currently, government agencies only have to show that what they seized was more likely than not tied to criminal activity — a standard lower than the criminal bar of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Those bills failed to pass, too.
Steve Jumes, a Fort Worth attorney who represents clients who have had property seized under civil asset forfeiture, said the majority of cases he sees involve low-level drug offenses in which the value of property seized greatly outweighs the value of the drugs themselves. He described the case of a woman whose husband got caught in possession of drugs worth less than $500. The husband was criminally charged and ended up going to prison, but police also seized the truck he’d been driving when he was arrested.
The man’s wife, who was pregnant, needed the truck for medical appointments and to take her children to day care. Ultimately, lawyers negotiated an agreement in which the woman could buy the truck back from the police department at a reduced price.
“Unfortunately, that’s what success looks like in this landscape,” Jumes said.
Last year, state Reps. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, and Terry Canales, D-Edinburg — who stand on opposite sides of the political spectrum — filed legislation to put more onus on the state when pursuing asset forfeiture cases. Schaefer wanted to flip the burden of proof from an uninvolved property owner, like Rodriguez, to the state. He said the current system puts the burden on people to “prove a negative” — that the property is innocent and the owner was unaware of criminal activity.
“Now they’re in court and they’ve got to pay an attorney to figure all this out,” he told lawmakers during the lone 2017 legislative hearing relating to civil asset forfeiture.
Canales sought to raise the bar the state has to meet before it can claim the property. He also wanted to require the prosecution to pay all fees if the owner proved the property wasn’t involved in criminal activity.
“If you make it loser pays, that would rein in much of the abuse that’s going on because the first time that the state’s got to cut a check, they’re going to realize that they themselves can incur liability for doing it wrong,” Canales said. “But as it stands, they’ve got a free ticket to ride. Why wouldn’t they?”
Edmonds said such proposals seek to solve a nonexistent problem and that prosecutors work with innocent owners to return their property.
“People are not showing up to contest [asset seizures] because they did it,” he said. “These people are not coming to court and they’re not coming to the Capitol, so how can we gauge the validity of their argument if they never show up to either place?”
At the legislative hearing, Harris County Assistant District Attorney Angela Beavers testified that only four or five of the county’s up to 1,000 forfeiture cases went to trial last year. State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, said so few people fight government seizures because they don’t know how to take on the government without a lawyer, a luxury many can’t afford.
“The ones that did got lawyers like me and like Chairman Canales … they got out of it, and they got their money back,” Dutton said. Both lawmakers are also attorneys and have represented clients in forfeiture cases.
The fight for abolition
The most controversial legislative effort is complete abolition of civil asset forfeiture — which would require law enforcement to secure a criminal conviction before they can keep seized property, rather than simply claiming that property was more than likely connected to a suspected crime.
Burton, a Republican, and state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a long-serving Democrat, filed identical bills last year to do just that. Both died in committee.
Prosecutors, in testimony at the 2017 legislative hearing, responded with scenarios they said exposed shortcomings in the reformers’ proposals. A criminal case is often dropped against a person for reasons unrelated to their guilt — for example, the defendant might plead guilty in another case — but that doesn’t mean the suspected drug money should be returned to that person, Beavers said. A truck found with a hidden compartment containing millions of dollars, she said, might not result in an arrest if police don’t know if the driver was aware of the compartment — even if officers had every reason to believe that money was going to a drug cartel.
“In these cases, asset forfeiture is the key, or virtually the only, way to fight the criminals at the top of the organization,” Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner told the Tribune.
Dutton argued at the hearing that prosecutors were intentionally ignoring other laws or exceptions that could allow them to seize property in such a case. For example, advocates pointed to police authority to seize abandoned property.
“You’re making up an example that’s false. … You know and I know it’s false,” Dutton told Beavers during her testimony.
Canales, chair of the House subcommittee that held the hearing last year, said he would continue to fight for reforms to a practice he calls “un-American.” He has already filed bills on the issue for the 2019 session.
“The natural enemy of any sort of civil asset forfeiture reform is going to be law enforcement itself because of the amount of money that they receive,” he said. “It’s almost like we’ve turned to the dark side.”
But without support from Texas’ Republican leadership, advocates for reform worry that 2019 will look a lot like 2017: lots of bills that gain no traction. Neither Gov. Abbott nor Lt. Gov. Patrick responded to emailed questions for this story. In the past, Abbott has said asset forfeiture should be used to pay for border security operations.
“We have not seen any sort of public comment that would make me think that this would be a priority item for them,” Cohen said.
On that point, at least, forfeiture supporters and opponents can agree.
“I can tell you this, we rarely get asked about this issue by legislators,” Edmonds said.
A New Hampshire judge ruled authorities can examine recordings from an Amazon Echo voice assistant that may offer clues to the stabbing deaths of two women. A suspect in the case has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Prosecutors believe the Echo device recorded the stabbing and bludgeoning attack on Christine Sullivan, 48, as well as the subsequent removal of her body. They are seeking access to Amazon’s servers in order to recover the audio from that night. Tim Verrill is accused of killing Sullivan as well as Jenna Pellegrini, 32, at a Farmington, NH home and hiding their bodies under the porch, along with evidence of the murders.
The online giant, however, refused to allow access to the information “without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.”
Amazon’s Echo is supposed to activate only when the user utters a predetermined “wake word,” but there have been numerous reports of the devices turning on by themselves, speaking and laughing creepily without being activated by the user.
Verrill was arrested in February 2017, having fled across state lines to Lawrence, Massachusetts, and subsequently charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of reckless second-degree murder, and five counts of falsifying physical evidence in connection with the two deaths and his actions in concealing them.
This isn’t the first time Alexa has given evidence in a murder case. In 2016, a murder suspect in Bentonville, Arkansas allowed police access to his Amazon Echo device – perhaps believing it would exonerate him – after the company itself had blocked a search warrant for its servers. The case was also unusual because investigators used the man’s water meter as evidence, alleging the abnormally high quantity of water used over the course of the night implied he had cleaned up after the murder of a man found floating in his backyard hot tub.
Some police departments are so corrupt that it will require an intervention from mythical Gods to restore them to proper functioning. And this is universal. Crime after all is antisocial human behavior.
After nearly 4 years the former chicago police officer who killed Laquan Mcdonald has been found guilty of murder
Chicago, IL – After nearly 4 years, former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke has been found guilty of 2nd degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm after shooting and killing 16-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Van Dyke plead claimed he ‘feared for his life’ that fateful night, as the unarmed teen walked slowly down the street. However, the video of the incident was so damning that the cop was actually charged.
Surrounded by officers and suspected of breaking into cars on October 20, 2014, McDonald, was attempting to walk away from a group of Chicago cops when Officer Jason Van Dyke exited his patrol car. According to initial reports, McDonald was armed with a knife and lunged at Officer Van Dyke. Fearing for his life and the lives of his fellow officers, Van Dyke shot the teen in the chest out of self-defense.
But according to witness statements and police dashcam video, McDonald was walking away when Van Dyke opened fire. After McDonald had collapsed to the ground in a near-fetal position, Van Dyke continued firing his weapon until emptying his clip. As Van Dyke began reloading his gun, a fellow officer had to order him to cease firing at the dying teen.
McDonald’s autopsy revealed that Van Dyke shot him 16 times, including two bullets in the back, seven in his arms, two in his right leg, once on each side of his chest, and single bullets wounds to his right hand, scalp, and neck. Nine of the 16 entrance wounds had a downward trajectory. None of the five other officers at the scene fired their weapons.
Before McDonald’s family could even file a lawsuit, the city gave them a $5 million settlement on the condition that the family agreed not to publicly release the dashcam footage of the teen’s death. After suppressing the video for 13 months, the city received a court order to release the footage. The city released the dashcam video in 2015, which clearly shows McDonald did not lunge at the officers before the fatal shooting.
In May of 2015, Burger King district manager Jay Darshane accused officers of deleting the security footage after spending over three hours in the fast food restaurant on the night of the shooting. According to Darshane, the video equipment was working properly, but 86 minutes of footage, from 9:13 p.m. to 10:39 p.m., disappeared after the officers left.
Charged with first-degree murder, Van Dyke fired his first shot at 9:57 p.m. When asked if he was certain that the officers deleted the footage of the killing, Darshane answered, “Yes.”
Although 86 minutes of the surveillance video have gone missing, including the moment that McDonald was gunned down, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez claims no one tampered with the footage.
“We had no idea they were going to sit there and delete files,” Darshane said. “I mean we were just trying to help the police officers.”
Unable to clearly explain why the 86 minutes disappeared, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy blamed the missing files on technical difficulties. At a press conference, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez asserted that no one had tampered with the Burger King surveillance video. When asked who conducted the forensic testing, Alvarez did not appear to know the answer.
Alvarez responded, “That’s all I’m going to say on this.”
Although the police department and state’s attorney claim the officers did not delete those 86 missing minutes, remember that this information is coming from the same cops who initially lied about the shooting and the same officials who suppressed the police dashcam video for 13 months.
Below is the original news segment showing the officer sitting at the surveillance computer for several minutes.
The death of Laquan McDonald has been the impetus behind police reform across the country as well as in Chicago. Following the controversy surrounding his death the city of Chicago was forced to release years of police brutality videos, showing the horrifying abuse of the city’s citizens by their ostensible protectors.
Thankfully, for the sake of McDonald as well as the countless other victims of the Chicago police department, Van Dyke was finally held accountable.
Russia Provides Conclusive Proof That Ukraine Downed Malaysia Airlines MH17
Of course, proof, facts, evidence are no longer of any consequence in the Western World. Transparently false accusations can be leveled without any evidence provided, and the lie becomes a fact. “Russiagate” is a perfect example.
History is rewritten into fantasy because the historical facts are “offensive” to one “victim group” or the other. Identity politics has birthed a new world: history is whatever serves agendas. Nothing else counts. Truth least of all.
Decades ago when there was still some semblance of justice in the American justice system, police had to provide sound evidence for their case in order for the prosecutor to take up the case. The reason was that prosecutorial budgets were limited, and the career interests of prosecutors was to get as many convictions out of their budget as possible. Today, however, when even the innocent prefer to admit a crime rather than run the risk of a trial, prosecutors have endless strings of “convictions” without having to spend days or weeks in trial.
Today prosecutors no longer have to prove a case before a jury. They only negotiate with the defendant’s attorney a crime, whether committed or not, that settles the case.
Consequently, the police, knowing that there is scant chance of their evidence ever being tested in court, “solve” crimes by simply picking up someone and charging them. The explanations of some experts, who are not beholden to the corrupt system, is that the police, confronted with a robbery, for example, look to see who in the area had previously served time for robbery and select a former convicted robber to construct a case against. The police, like prosecutors, can rely on paid “informers” to provide “evidence.” Drug gangs, for example, use “cooperation with the police” to clear out rivals. The defendant’s attorney knows that, with his client’s prior record, he will be convicted by the naive jury regardless of the absence of evidence. Jurors very seldom believe a defendant instead of a prosecutor. The hapless and ignorant jurors think that defendants, i. e. criminals, lie, but not prosecutors or police. Consequently, no defense attorney trusts a jury. The easy conviction of the prior convicted is the reason for the high recidivism rate. Many of the convicted are serving a second or third prison time for something that they did not do.
Unless the defendant and his attorney are double-crossed, as happened to “junk bond king” Michael Milken, the plea bargain sentence is less than a trial conviction sentence. The prosecutor gets another notch on his gun, the judge’s court docket is cleared, and the police can go back to coffee and donuts.
The persons who pay for the convenience of the justice (sic) system are the wrongfully convicted and their families, and American taxpayers who fund the incarceration of innocents so that crime-scared Americans are “safe.”
The US Constitution is a dead letter document. The Cheney/Bush and Obama regimes destroyed it, and Trump has done nothing to revive it.
The separation of powers is also lost as is, in many instances, judicial review. Dick Cheney, his minions, and the Republican Federalist Society succeeded in giving the office of the president dictatorial powers that vacate the Bill of Rights and American civil liberties. The only protection still standing is the Second Amendment, and the entirety of the liberal-progressive-left and the police state have the Second Amendment in their sights. The liberal-progressive-left is so insouciant that it either does not know or does not mind that it is allied with Dick Cheney’s police state to take away the last protection that the American people have from organized state tyranny.
Sometimes I wonder if, other than my readers, the entire American public is dead, walking zombies taking their directions from CNN, BBC, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post. This crowd of zombies is marching into Armageddon.
The source for Russia’s evidence that Ukraine shot down the Malaysian airliner is Johnson’s Russian List at George Washington University, 17 September 2018
Russia presents audio recording proving Ukraine’s complicity in MH17 tragedy
MOSCOW, September 17. /TASS/. The Russian Defense Ministry has ascertained that the videos showing the movement of a Buk missile system from Russia to Ukraine, presented by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine, were fabricated, ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters.
According to him, Russian experts thoroughly scrutinized those videos and came to the conclusion that they had been fabricated.
The Russian Defense Ministry has held a press conference devoted to the MH17 crash, presenting a detailed analysis of those videos and proof of their fabrication
The Defense Ministry also presented an audio recording proving Ukraine’s complicity in the MH17 disaster in 2014, Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the ministry, told the media.
General Konashenkov said the audio recording of a conversation between Ukrainian military servicemen was made back in 2016 in the Odessa Region during the Rubezh-2016 exercise and published in the Ukrainian mass media.
“If so, we’ll … [a synonym of the verb ‘shoot down’ – TASS] another Malaysian Boeing,” one of the Ukrainian military servicemen said in the conversation.
How the projectile was identified as Ukrainian
The missile, which downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, was made in the town of Dolgoprudny outside Moscow in 1986, delivered to a military unit deployed to Ukraine and was never brought back to Russia, Chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Missile and Artillery Department Lieutenant General Nikolai Parshin told reporters.
According to him, the missile fragments presented by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into the MH17 crash carried the numbers of the missile’s nozzle and engine. “Once we had the nozzle and engine numbers, we were able to find out the missile’s number,” he specified.
“There are documents in the archives of the Dolgoprudny Research Institute, which made it possible to find out the missile’s tail number. It came out that the missile was assembled on December 24, 1986, and delivered by rail to the military unit number 20/152, officially named the 223rd Air Defense Missile Brigade. It was deployed to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic’s Ternopol Region, which was part of the Subcarpathian Military District,” he added.
According to the general, the military unit was never withdrawn to Russia
The Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing-777 passenger plane travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk. The crash killed all the 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers. There were nationals of ten states among the dead. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into the crash is comprised of representatives from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.
On May 24, the team provided an update on the criminal investigation, claiming “the Buk-TELAR that was used to down MH17, originates from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade… a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry rejected all the allegations and said that none of the missile systems belonging to the Russian Armed Forces had ever been taken abroad.
Nevertheless, on May 25, Australia and the Netherlands issued a statement saying that they “hold Russia responsible for its part in the downing of flight MH17.” The two countries called on Russia to hold talks in order to find an appropriate solution and warned that the case could be submitted to an international court or organization.
Australia, the Dutch, the entirety of Western Europe and the UK are reliable accomplices to Washington’s and Israel’s enormous crimes against humanity.
The question before the world, the question that neocon John Bolton most fears, is whether Russian truths will prevail over Washington’s lies.
Washington is prepared to initiate World War 3 rather than accept the prevalence of truth over its lies.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone